Reflections in the Time of Pandemic: The Sayles Family

If you have been on Fletcher Road in the past year, you’ve probably noticed the Joke of the Day. The Sayles family began writing a joke on a whiteboard outside each day when the pandemic began as a fun way for the kids to practice reading and writing. However, it soon became something more as it brought joy to the entire community. The family has decided to retire the tradition after one year, saying that putting out a joke “every day just [isn’t] sustainable, both because finding decent jokes [is] getting harder and some days the kids just [aren’t] engaged in the project”.

Although the project became more challenging after the first 100 days, it remained a special activity for both the kids and parents. They would spend about ten minutes each morning finding, explaining, and writing a new joke for the board. Even though ten minutes is such a short time, it is a special time as the family members “all have something to discuss together”.

Reconnect at The Edge ~ JGMS Free Skate on Friday, March

Attention all John Glenn Middle School students, please join us for a night of reconnecting at The Edge Sports Center at Bedford.

The event will host a JGMS grade each hour
* 6:25-7:15 sixth grade
* 7:25-8:15 seventh grade
* 8:25-9:15 eighth grade

Pooled Testing for Covid Begins March 15 in All Schools

At least six weeks of weekly “pooled testing” for the Covid-19 coronavirus begins Monday in all Bedford schools for registered students and staff members.

The process, funded by state agencies for six weeks, accelerates identifying and isolating the presence of the virus.

Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad’s office wrote to parents Wednesday soliciting permission. The communication explained, “Pooled testing involves mixing several individuals’ test samples together into one ‘pool’ and then testing the pooled sample for Covid-19.”

The First Parish Sanctuary Project ~ Part 2: The Journey of a Proud Woman

Since January 2018, Maria Elena Macario has been confined to a makeshift apartment on the second floor of the First Parish Church in order to avoid deportation. “I didn’t come here because I wanted to, I came here out of necessity,” she said.

Maria, who would frequently attend church services and youth group sessions, has been adapting to the extremely limited interaction she’s been forced to have with parishioners and volunteers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She’s been passing time by crocheting, sewing, gardening — and learning.

“I just wanted to make the most of my time here and really learn as much as I could,” Maria said. “I have a table that’s right by the window, so that’s where I do all my studies.” (Quotes attributed to Maria were translated by sanctuary volunteer Sylvia Cowan.)

What Happens when the Seniors Rule the World

The vast majority of 75-year-olds have received their second shot of the Covid-19 vaccine.  With the new CDC guidelines, this population has been given permission (with exceptions) to return to some kind of normalcy.  This is an interesting sociological experiment. 

What happens when seniors are the only ones out and about?

The First Parish Sanctuary Project ~ Part 1: From Immigrant to Family Member, Dedication Pays Off

After more than three years of protecting an undocumented immigrant who has become part of their family, volunteers at the First Parish Church can finally breathe a sigh of relief knowing their work wasn’t in vain.

“Glorious news!” wrote First Parish minister John Gibbons in an email sent to parishioners and volunteers. “This morning, Maria received official confirmation that she has a one-year stay of deportation.”

This means the church’s sanctuary guest, Maria Elena Macario, can get a work permit, pursue further legal options, and move out of the church.

Although Gibbons said Maria would “not be leaving the church imminently,” he did say that she was looking to find new living quarters with her sons.

“Maria is relieved, overjoyed, and thankful to God and to all who have helped and accompanied her for the last three years,” Gibbons said, as he thanked members of the Sanctuary Coalition.

Maria’s stay of deportation culminates years of dedication, patience, and hard work from the many volunteers who have done so much to protect their sanctuary guest.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, a group of more than 400 dedicated volunteers from 10 local congregations banded together and scheduled around-the-clock shifts at First Parish to watch over Maria.

Assessor Candidates Inspired to “Give Back” to Town

Both candidates for the upcoming vacancy on the Board of Assessors were moved to seek the position by civic spirit.

Joseph Gilbert and Elliot Lovy told the League of Women Voters candidate forum Sunday that they decided to run because they noticed that there were no candidates.

One of them will succeed retiring Assessor Ronald Cordes on the board after the March 13 town election, joining Rebecca Neale, who was elected a year ago, and veteran Bruce Murphy.

Neither candidate has attended a virtual meeting of the board, and both recognize that they will need a state-mandated training course early in their term.

“We have been on the receiving end of a lot of hard work that goes on in this community. Reading about this opening, I thought this is my time to step up and give back,” said Lovy, a software developer and “statistics guy.”

Gilbert said he also noticed the opportunity. He cited his background and education in real estate and finance and noted, “It is going to be a very important and interesting year.”

The Select Board recently voted against a motion to change the town charter and bylaws which would have made assessor an appointed rather than an elected position. Gilbert and Lovy each endorsed that decision. “Independence is integral” to the position, Gilbert said. Lovy commented, “I came to understand that this position is about curating and governing data, building transparency and trust.”

Each candidate acknowledged that there’s a lot to learn. Gilbert said he has questions about how frequently taxpayers request abatements, how and when the board makes those determinations, and how soon the town expects to hire a full-time professional assessor. Lovy said he will need information about management of the property database, “mechanics of the meetings,” and the board’s role with the Select Board, as well as the abatement process.

New Poll – Vaccine Choices?

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine seems to be very close to being granted emergency use authorization from the FDA.  The two currently available vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are similar:

Two Generations Reflect on the Evolution of Bedford’s Black History

The second in The Bedford Citizen’s series honoring Black History Month, 2021

The fledgling U.S. Air Force began moving toward racial equality even before President Harry Truman’s 1948 executive order integrating the armed forces.

Two decades later, active and retired African-American Air Force personnel and contractors enriched the town of Bedford, diversifying the population to a level unlike most other Boston area suburbs.

Growing up Black in Bedford could be challenging, as the town was not immune from the racism that permeated much of society. But a sampling of voices from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s also testify to experiences that were rewarding – thanks to family, community, and enlightened educators.

Mail-a-thon 2021 ~ CSF Dollars for Scholars Has a New Look this March

The first week of March is almost here.

But don’t wait for the usual telephone call from Bedford Dollars for Scholars – even though that has been as dependable as crocuses for many years.

Dollars for Scholars is still conducting its fundraiser, but this year it is by mail instead of the annual student phon-a-thon.

World of Music Concert to Honor Black History Month

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impossibility of presenting live concerts for an audience, MCC’s A World of Music Spring 2021 Concert Series will present a series of live recordings of performances from venues in Bedford and Lowell. These concerts will be released on specific dates, and links will be provided on https://www.middlesex.mass.edu/worldofmusic/

February 26 at 7:30 pm: In honor of Black History Month the series will open with a Celebration of Black Composers from Europe, Africa, the United States and South America.