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Archive for the ‘More Than Words’ Category

Liz_MTW

Liz Markson, Resident Scholar and Waltham Committee member

As you are aware, the Waltham Committee has partnered with More than Words and supports their work through donating books. At the store, located at 273 Moody Street in Waltham, the youth run an inviting 501(c)3 nonprofit used bookstore featuring a wide array of titles, comfortable seating, and free wi-fi. A coffee bar offers Starbucks coffee, espresso, tea, and other popular café drinks, as well as delicious baked treats. Do give them a visit. On our part the Waltham Committee members thank Scholars for donating books and supporting this local initiative aimed at rehabilitating youth and rebuilding their potential through retail and online book sales. By supporting this social enterprise, WSRC through the Waltham Committee participates in this unique social innovation in action.

The Waltham Committee took its partnership with More than Words to an even newer territory. We invited the youth to visit WSRC gallery which was hosting an exhibit of photos by Vivian Maier. Titled Vivian Maier: A Woman’s Lens, this exhibit was one of its kind since it was being shown for the first time in the Greater Boston area.  The photographs are in striking black and white taken by Vivian Maier on streets of Chicago and New York in the 1950’s and 60’s.

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This  was the first time that the youth from More than Words came to the WSRC gallery. They were accompanied by Kelly Exley-Smith who is the Associate Site Director of Youth Development and Jennifer Pudder from More than Words. Michelle L’Hereux who is the Curator & Director of the Arts at WSRC and Rajashree Ghosh, Resident Scholar and Waltham Committee member welcomed them. Michelle spoke about the artist/photographer whose work has been discovered and displayed posthumously. She explained the history and techniques behind the photos. Each photograph was clear and tells a story and the youth were engaged and had plenty of observations and comments to make. Most of all they enjoyed the space and even tried their hand at the piano  in the salon! We feel that this interaction set the tone for continued partnership with More than Words.

In the end  Kelly Exley-Smith wrote,

“Thank you so much for having us!  We had a great time and the youth couldn’t stop talking about it on the way back.  For many of them, it was their first time in a gallery. They really appreciated having the opportunity to try out something new.,,,Thank you again for inviting our youth to your gallery and for giving themthe opportunity to experience something new.  I’m really looking forward to continue partnering in this work together.”

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Donation box in Carlisle, MA; photo by Ornit Barkai

While our relationship with More than Words has endured the test of time and despite changing members on both ends the book drives and recently catering has strengthened our partnership further.

Most Scholars have contributed to this relationship through their donations. During our walk organized last April, Ornit Barkai, Visiting Research Associate at WSRC joined the discussion at the store on what more Scholars can do to help More than Words. Bobby Nasson, Business Development Manager at the Waltham store asked for assistance and wanted to know contact persons in Carlisle where Ornit lives. His idea was to initiate book donations in that town. Ornit promptly followed up on this and after a few exchanges she excitedly reported back,

“I was delighted to spot More Than Words at our town’s Transfer Station the other week. This is seemingly the result of my previous attempts …. to introduce Bobby to the ‘right’ people in our town!”

The members of Waltham Committee thank Ornit for her efforts and her contribution to reach out to the organization that we have had a sustained partnership with and work with their plans to spread to other towns.

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The Waltham Committee members were pleased to organize for Scholars at WSRC a visit to the store More than Words. Scholars have participated in continued book drives thereby supporting a local cause. The Committee members have developed strategic relationships with the store and we hope to take this further by increased collaborative programs.

More than Words is a unique store and a non-profit social enterprise that empowers youth who are either in foster care or court involved. We were met by Ananda who welcomed us and led us to Alex who was our tour guide.  Although he was a new member of the team he was confident that he would reach his goal – to get into a school and gain a degree in Nursing. With an action plan in mind he presently trains to manage the store in its retail business – which includes collecting books, sorting, cataloging, for both online and regular sales. He looked forward to managing the cafe like Dan – who as we learned aced the competition and was rewarded for his achievements. We were joined by Rickie who had met his goal and completed his GED last month. Both Rickie and Alex were open to our questions about the books that finally makes the store and its unique program to enable youth to get on track.

In addition we also met with Bobby Nasson who is the Business Development Manager and during our conversations we realized there were many areas where the Scholars could contribute that would be mutually beneficial. An example is organizing tours at WSRC during art exhibits. Some Scholars present offered to check local libraries in their towns as further resources for book donations. We thank the More than Words team for hosting our group from WSRC and hope to develop collaborative projects together.

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The members of the Waltham Committee over the past few years developed a unique relationship with More than Words that looks promising in so far as outreach activities for WSRC is concerned.  In meeting their needs,  Committee member Rajashree Ghosh organized several successful book drives.  For the enthusiastic Scholars at WSRC this was an opportunity to contribute books to a worthy cause.  What better way to support a local initiative that  empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business!

The Committee continues to work with key individuals at More than Words. We thank Bobby Nasson, Business Development Manager for following up on each book drive and organizing quick pick ups. We certainly wish to thank the youth who prepared the box for contributions. On March 22 Bobby wrote ,

“Thanks a ton for all the donations today.
Your group always donates
such great quality books — the kids were pretty happy pulling them
out of the van.”

The Waltham Committee continues their conversation with Jennifer Stewart and Sharon Small at More than Words. In the near future we hope to participate in their “Author Series” where  WSRC Scholars can get an opportunity to showcase their work at the store.  More collaborative initiatives will follow as we work our way through the next few months.

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We are in the process of developing a new partnership with More than Words Bookstore and Cafe on Moody Street in Waltham. “More Than Words is a social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business.” Our first initiative has been a book drive to benefit this valuable organization. Jambalmaa Khainzan led the book drive at the WSRC where we have collected about 200 books. MTW will be selling these books to sustain their program to empower youth in the community. Thank you to all Scholars who donated such fabulous books!

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