News from our members

Fidelity Bank announces financials results

Exceeds expectations with a record year, strong growth in commercial loans and deposits

The year 2021 was an historic year for Fidelity Bank as annual results exceeded expectations including strong growth in commercial loans and deposits. The bank remained focused on its LifeDesign Banking approach of helping clients get where they want to be by providing the clarity, confidence, and care needed to make informed decisions about their financial future. Fidelity Bank shared its 2021 financial data and community growth at the Fidelity Bank Mutual Holding Company annual meeting on April 19.

The community bank, with headquarters in Leominster and 13 full-service offices, grew by 9.8 percent reaching total assets of $1.2 billion as of December 31, 2021, which is up from $1.1 billion as of December 31, 2020.

“As we recognize the strongest year in our 133-year history, we are grateful to those who have trusted us to guide them toward financial success,” said Ed Manzi, Chairman and CEO, Fidelity Bank. “Our results are a true testament to the commitment of our colleagues who provide service with care and develop innovative products to respond to the evolving needs of our clients.”

Highlights of Fidelity Bank’s Community Growth include:

  • Fidelity Bank’s LifeDesign approach was introduced to 2,398 new client households in 2021 and 392 businesses for a total of 2,790 new deposit accounts.
  • Experienced more than $398 million in new loan production by providing businesses $138 million in commercial loans, up from $93 million in 2020, and more than $229 million in mortgage loans and home equity loans, resulting in a more than 10 percent growth.
  • Completion of a second round of 291 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans totaling $25.9 million, with a two-year overall total of 738 loans resulting in $80.4 million in PPP loans.
  • Growth of $43.9 million in retail deposits from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2021 across all business segments, including consumer, business and municipal.
  • Exchange Authority, a leading consultant and facilitator for Section 1031 exchanges and a wholly owned subsidiary of Fidelity Bank, experienced a record year with a 30 percent increase in clients and a 42 percent increase in the average monthly balances. In 2021, the Exchange Authority appointed John Peculis to President and CEO, and announced it moved its offices to the Fidelity Bank Shrewsbury Street banking center in Worcester in February 2022.

Bank officials also announced the election of six new corporators of Fidelity Mutual Holding Company.

They are Melane Bisbas, Winfield Brown, Jody Guetter, Michael O’Neal, Roseanne Timmerman, and Jonathan Vitale, who will all serve a ten-year term. Matthew Campobasso, Janet Chambers, John Flick and Ronald J. (Joe) Salois were re-elected to serve a ten-year term as corporators of Fidelity Mutual Holding Company. Sheila Harrity, Scott Howard, and Mark Puccio resigned as corporators. Winfield Brown and Mary Ritter were elected to serve a one-year term as directors of Fidelity Mutual Holding Company. Brian Cirelli, Patricia Leonhardt and Ronald Marchetti were re-elected as directors of Fidelity Mutual Holding Company for a three-year term, and Maureen Marshall was re-elected as a director of Fidelity Mutual Holding Company for a one-year term. Alvin Collins was elected to Clerk of Fidelity Mutual Holding Company for a one-year term, and Judy Khallady was elected to Assistant Clerk of Fidelity Mutual Holding Company for one-year term.

Treating people with care and respect has always been a guiding principle at Fidelity Bank. Expanding on last year’s creation of the Fidelity Bank Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Board, the bank developed inclusion and diversity targets for client acquisition and colleague hiring and created a Vendor Management Policy to ensure inclusion and diversity among companies with whom the bank does business.

In 2021, Fidelity Bank continued to support the communities through its Community Dividend Program by supporting more than 220 causes totaling more than $400,000. Organizations receiving contributions in 2021 included Indian Hill Music of Littleton (soon to be Groton Hill Music Center when the organization opens its new home in Groton) to support outreach programs and provide scholarships for students at public schools across Fidelity Bank’s service area as well as Entrepreneurship for All, Inc.Black Box TheatreHeywood HealthcareReliant FoundationWooSox FoundationMarch of Dimes FoundationNeedham Community CouncilNewVue Communities, Inc.The Shine Initiative and the Worcester County Food Bank to name a few, as well as several causes promoted through Fidelity Bank’s weekly Caring Casual Fridays. Fidelity Bank has given out approximately $2.75 million since the program was renamed in 2013.

Click here to view Fidelity Bank’s 2021 Annual Report.

Fontaine Bros. appoints Sherri G. Pitcher to Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development

Pitcher’s business and marketing acumen, deep relationships in key markets will help drive continued growth and achievement of overall business goals

Fontaine Bros. Inc., a construction management and general contracting firm serving the public and private sectors since 1933, today announced the appointment of Sherri G. Pitcher to Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development. In this role, she will be responsible for leading and executing key marketing initiatives as well as supporting and enhancing new business development.

With more than 30 years of experience in marketing and business development, Pitcher comes to Fontaine Bros. from Fidelity Bank where she served as Senior Vice President, Senior LifeDesign Officer. Prior to Fidelity Bank, Pitcher served as Senior Director of Business Development for the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“Sherri brings a unique perspective to Fontaine Bros as we continue to expand our business and elevate our profile in and outside of central Massachusetts,” said Dave Fontaine, Jr., Vice President, Fontaine Bros. “Her excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as well as her marketing acumen, will help Fontaine Bros. continue to elevate our brand and strengthen key relationships in both our core markets and growing niches”

A resident of Worcester, Pitcher is an active member of the community and has served on numerous boards and committees over the years. She currently serves as Board Chair at the EcoTarium, Co-Chair of Worcester Homecoming 2022, a board member at the Juniper Outreach Foundation, a member of the MassHire State Workforce Board for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Co-Chair of the United Way Women’s Initiative Marketing-Membership Committee. She previously held various volunteer roles at Family Services of Central Massachusetts, Worcester Educational Collaborative, Worcester Garden Club and Worcester Art Museum. She is also a six-time marathon finisher, having completed the Boston Marathon twice.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Fairfield University.

Mount Wachusett Community College Helps to Address Equity in Healthcare through Diversity Simulation Training

In a recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), LGBTQ+ people reported different, and in some cases more challenging, experiences accessing care than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. They were more likely to report that a provider did not believe they were telling the truth, suggested they were personally to blame for health problems, assumed something about them without asking, and/or dismissed their concerns. Over 36% of LGBTQ+ people reported at least one of these experiences with a provider, compared to fewer than one in five (22%) in their non-LGBTQ+ peers.

The National League of Nursing (NLN) seeks to address these issues through the development of instructional resources with the goal of equipping nurse educators with the tools necessary to teach care of LGBTQ+ people and help them graduate a new nursing workforce that is both knowledgeable and culturally competent to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ individuals and decrease the health disparities they experience.

Mount Wachusett Community College was selected by the NLN to run a pilot simulation program to aid in the development of these instructional resources. A significant component of this pilot program is that the scenarios are based on caring for an LGBTQ+ individual. The Mount was fortunate to have volunteers from the community to serve as patient actors for these simulations.

Collene Thaxton, Faculty Chair of the Practical Nursing program, facilitated the simulated patient encounter with students and volunteer patient, River Luck, a group therapist who identifies as trans-masculine non-binary.

“Often individuals who are trans or transitioning avoid seeking health care due to the scrutiny they receive with regards to their chosen identity and what their legal documentation lists,” notes Professor Thaxon. “The goal of these trainings is to teach our students to be affirming and accepting as they provide care. These skills will help in overcoming the patient’s reluctance in obtaining healthcare, ultimately leading to outcomes.”

The NLN simulations moved through three scenarios with the patient, Jayla, who is in transition and non-binary.  The classroom is a simulated hospital room equipped with cameras and microphones connected to a nearby observation room where Thaxon and other faculty members can identify areas for improvement for both the students and the program. Following each scenario session, the students debrief with Thaxon and can ask questions to assess their performance.

In the first, the patient is presenting in a clinic setting with an injury that is several days old and needs attention. The students obtain the patient medical history and administer a tetanus shot. The student pairs then switch out for the second scenario, which involves the cleaning and dressing of the wound while continuing to learn more about the patient and encourage them to return for follow-up care. Finally, the third scenario is six months in the future, “Jaylen” has returned to the clinic and the nurses discuss continuing care and routine screenings.

For many of the students involved in the simulation, this was their first experience with a live patient, their work previously was conducted on patient simulation mannequins.

“Now is the time to do this, even if you don’t feel entirely comfortable, just do it. It’s how you will become comfortable,” Thaxon told her students. “We are so lucky to have someone like River here to help.”

“Having had negative experience in accessing healthcare myself, I was more than happy to participate in this program,” Luck notes. “These students did a wonderful job making “Jaylen” feel comfortable and accepted.”

“It is so important to not make assumptions about your patients. Encourage sharing by offering your own pronouns,” Luck adds. “Don’t make a big deal about it if you accidentally misgender the patient. Apologize quickly, fix it, and move on. If you get flustered and make it an issue, the patient will feel like it is an issue.”

“These educational resources will help train nurses to treat these patients in accepting and affirming ways, while still ensuring that the medical records of the patient are accurate,” Thaxon adds.

“MWCC is honored to be working with the NLN to help develop these vital instructional resources,” commented Dean of Nursing, Kimberly Shea, DNP, RN. “This is a valuable experience for our students and faculty alike. It is rewarding to know that we are playing a role in the advancement of equity and access to healthcare for LGBTQ+ individuals in our communities and beyond.”

About the National League of NursingThe National League for Nursing is the premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education. The NLN offers professional development, networking opportunities, assessment services, nursing research grants, and public policy initiatives to its nearly 45,000 individual and 1,100 institutional members. NLN members represent nursing education programs across the spectrum of higher education, health care organizations, and agencies.

Fontaine Bros. announces creation of The Fontaine Community Foundation

Foundation will formalize and amplify firm’s philanthropic efforts; unique employee directed giving component will broaden impact throughout the region

Fontaine Bros. Inc., a construction management and general contracting firm serving the public and private sectors since 1933, announced it has established a corporate foundation. The Fontaine Community Foundation, led by Fontaine’s Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Impact Elizabeth Wambui, is committed to developing partnerships with organizations that help build stronger communities with a mission to contribute to the common good. The Foundation envisions communities that thrive in quality education, have access to affordable healthcare, and have the resources to help young people grow and learn.

“Through the Fontaine Community Foundation, we can further enhance and expand our commitment to supporting the communities where we build and where our colleagues and clients live and work,” said Dave Fontaine, Jr., Vice President, Fontaine Bros.

A unique feature of the Fontaine Community Foundation is that each Fontaine team member will be able to direct a portion of the Foundation’s annual giving to worthy organizations and causes of their choosing.

“By creating and funding an employee directed giving component of the Foundation’s efforts, we are excited to not only connect with a broad range of worthy causes that are personally important to our team members, but also to create and grow the habit of philanthropic giving at every level of our organization” said Elizabeth Wambui, Executive Director of the Fontaine Community Foundation.

This summer, the Foundation will host an inaugural golf tournament at Longmeadow Country Club, 400 Shaker Road in Longmeadow, on August 8, 2022.

Proceeds from the tournament, which includes 18 holes of golf, lunch, and an evening program, will benefit dozens of organizations including the Nativity School of Worcester, the Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control Center, and many more throughout Massachusetts.

To learn more about the foundation or the golf tournament, please reach out to

Leominster DekHockey Center Sponsorship opportunities

The Leominster DekHockey Center is the oldest Street Hockey/DekHockey Center in North America EST in 1974.  The center is a fixture in the local area. It is the Home of Street Hockey and DekHockey.  Every year thousands of players play year round at the facility from ages 4 to over 50 years old. Over 3000 players, fans and spectators view the games every  week at the facility.

The LDHC is also host to the U.S. Nationals every May & the New England Classic in June, then the Can Am  in November. Teams from all areas and age groups come from as far away as California, Bermuda, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Long Island, Rhode Island, Southern Ontario, Montreal, Nova Scotia and the Chicago region.
For over 44 years, the players and teams from the Leominster area have been among the best in the world with Championships  in Pittsburgh, Niagara Falls, Quebec, Las Vegas, Dallas, Florida , Italy &

The LDHC facility is a great site to consider Sponsoring Youth or Adult teams and/or placing signage on one of the rinks and around the property. Over 40,000 cars a day pass by the facility.  Our customers are loyal hockey players who have been playing here for a couple of generations, please take advantage helping the youth boys & girls, young adults & families in continuing  to enjoy the game of DekHockey.

Bronze Sponsor

$500.00 per year.
1 banner signage.

Silver Sponsor

$1000.00 per year.
2 signage, choice of rinks.

Gold Sponsor
1500.00 per year.
3 banners one on each rink.
Also includes your logo and a link to your website on our website and access during 2 weekends a year to display/advertise your products/services.

Platinum Sponsor
$2500.00 per year.   Includes signage on the West Rink stands (5′ x 15′) viewable from Route 2.  Signs on the East Rink & North Rink  (5′ x 4′). Also includes your logo and a link to your website on our website and access during 2 weekends a year to display/advertise your products or services.

All signage is the responsibility of the Sponsor.                

It is a extra cost approx. $100 per sign (5 x 4)           

LDHC will approve and mount all signage to the desired locations.

* Funds for the signage are used to help defray the costs in the youth programs & assist the All Star Travel teams.  Funds for the sponsorship in the adult programs are used for the game officials or awards.      

Contact 774 364 2658   John Murray Marketing Dir for advertising opportunities.



AIS Co-Founder Bruce Platzman Transitions Focus to Philanthropic and Regional Economic Growth

Haritos to become CEO on June 1st as AIS poises itself for continued growth and increased market share.

AIS announced that the company’s co-founder and CEO, Bruce Platzman will turn the role of chief executive officer over to the company’s president Nick Haritos on June 1, 2022. Platzman, together with co-founder Arthur Maxwell, began AIS more than 32 years ago and grew the company into one of the largest office furniture manufacturers in the country. With over $200 million in annual sales, 800+ employees and a strong nationwide dealer network, AIS is poised for even more growth.

Revenue and size are not the only measures of success for Platzman. From the beginning, he has made it a priority to share the company’s accomplishments with those around him. Investing in the community by making financial and in-kind donations along with sharing his time and talent have always been of utmost importance to this highly successful entrepreneur and benefactor.

The transition takes place a year after Haritos assumed the presidency and four years after he began at AIS as the executive vice present of sales. Haritos has 30+ years of experience in the commercial office market working at major manufacturers and key dealerships.

According to Platzman, “Nick’s extraordinary leadership combined with his vast industry experience have equipped him for this critical position and I am confident he’ll excel in every way. There is nothing but opportunity ahead for the company and AIS is in good hands.”


Since its inception, philanthropy has been an important part of AIS’ DNA and a passion for Platzman. In his evolving role he will devote his time and efforts to giving back to the New England communities the company serves. He will further strengthen AIS’ presence with the United Way of North Central Massachusetts and Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, organizations that have been long-supported by Platzman and AIS and where he serves as a director on both of their boards.

Platzman is already actively involved in several organizations that work to strengthen the region’s economic health and prosperity through business advocacy, business-friendly policy, and creating public-private partnerships. The shift in focus will allow him to become even more active in these organizations including serving on the board of MassEcon, a statewide alliance of private and public sector partners, who support economic development in the commonwealth. He is also on the board of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce where he provides oversight and guidance to the chamber serving 35 cities and towns in Central Massachusetts. Platzman will also continue his long-time involvement with his home chamber, the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce where he is a board member.

“There is tremendous work to be done and I’m convinced that AIS can continue to play an important role in this area. My New England roots are deep and my love for AIS is strong. I look forward to dividing my time in ways that will help the company continue to grow and that will position AIS to give back even more to the communities we serve,” stated Platzman.


The company recognizes the importance of strategic succession planning to ensure continued leadership across AIS and throughout the extensive dealer channel. With a strong leadership team of industry veterans, specifically from the dealer sector, AIS is well-known for its corporate culture and putting dealers first. Both Platzman and Haritos come from dealer backgrounds and understand firsthand what it takes to run a successful dealership.

With decades in the industry and a wealth of experience, the high-performance leadership team assembled by Platzman, shares the vision. Along with all members of the leadership team, the company’s chief operating officer, Steve Savage, who has been with AIS for 27 years, will remain in their respective roles. This stellar team, soon to be led by Haritos, will provide stability and a seamless transition.

As for Haritos’ take on AIS’ trajectory, he commented, “Arthur and Bruce created a special company with a unique ‘can do’ spirit that helps our dealer partners succeed. It’s a privilege to continue their work with our talented teams. It’s an honor to lead AIS and, with an evolving landscape and much opportunity ahead, it’s an exciting time.”


From the beginning, the growth of AIS has outpaced competitors and led the industry by serving its dealer customers better than any other manufacturer. AIS will continue to focus on new product introductions, speed and ease of doing business.

Early College Designation Announced for Narragansett Regional High School in Partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College and Fitchburg State University

On March 28, 2022 the Baker-Polito administration announced the designation of eight new Early College programs including Narragansett Regional High School (NRHS) in partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College and Fitchburg State University.

Early College programs provide college exposure to students in high school who might otherwise not have considered higher education as an option. The Early College Designation put forth by the Massachusetts Bord of Higher Education (BHE) and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) states that approved designated early college programs in Massachusetts will provide equitable access; guided academic pathways; enhanced student support; relevant connection to career; and effective partnerships.

“We are proud to receive this designation, and grateful to our faculty and staff for supporting opportunities for NRHS students to explore their career interests and related college programming more deeply,” stated NRHS Principal Colby Young.

The Governor’s FY23 budget proposal includes $7.3 million for early college funding, representing a significant increase over FY22, to bring the total annual investment to more than $18 million.

“Early college is an invaluable tool that supports increased college enrollment among participating students, particularly students from groups historically underrepresented in higher education, and helps them succeed once they arrive on campus,” said Governor Charlie Baker in a press release from the Executive Office of Education on March 28. “Today’s announcement will boost participation rates at schools that already have programs, as well as launch new and exciting programs that will create more pathways to college.”

“This new designation is evidence of the success our existing programs have seen to date,” notes MWCC President James Vander Hooven. “Our Early College programs have helped hundreds of students start a college career that they might otherwise not have considered.”

“Early College programs improve outcomes and open doors of opportunity for students, and we are honored to build upon our record of success by adding Narragansett Regional High School to our list of partners,” Fitchburg State President Richard S. Lapidus said.

MWCC Early College programs have grown exponentially in recent years and currently include partnerships with Gardner High School, Gardner Academy for Learning and Technology, Leominster High School, Leominster Center for Excellence and Leominster Center for Technical Education Innovation, Fitchburg High School, the Sizer School, and now Narragansett Regional High School. Recruiting is now on-going for fall 2022.

One Man’s Artistic Journey along the American Coastline: Architect Creates Maps by Hand with Pen & Ink and Watercolors

“Men are a lost tribe,” says architect Joseph Tarella. “That’s why we need maps.”

The artist has had a lifelong fascination with maps of all kinds, but his primary focus has been on the coastline of the continental United States. He has drawn maps of that coastline from Cape Cod down to Corpus Christi, Texas, each one painstakingly researched and exquisitely executed. But while they are accurate renderings of the places they represent, they are essentially artworks, created with pen & ink and watercolors. These unique pieces will be shown starting on Earth Day, Friday, April 22, 4 – 7 p.m. at Pop-up Gallery Sitka, 227 Spring St. in Newport, R.I.

Mr. Tarella has created (and sold!) hundreds of maps of many locales along the East and Gulf coasts for more than 20 years, and he’s still going strong. Now Mr. Tarella has tackled one of the most storied locales in the Northeast, the shoreline bordering the city of Newport, Rhode Island.

“I haven’t seen anyone doing what I do,” says the artist. He began by revisiting a time when he made a map for a project he was working on as a young architect. Years later, when he designed his own house on Long Beach Island in New Jersey, he found himself reading about the shoreline of that island and then doing his own rough sketches of the coastline. Sketches followed sketches and the process continued as the rendering of the shoreline was refined again and again. Friends and neighbors would see the drawings and recognize the place being represented. Some would ask, “Hey, when that’s finished, can I have one?” Suddenly, before even thinking about selling the maps he made, Joe had customers.

“People were drawn to the maps because they knew the place I was mapping,” Joe recalls. “They accurately represented a place, not some imaginary scene. These were real things, real sights from their own daily lives.” There seems to be a strong emotional response to that sense of connection Joe’s customers have experienced first seeing the maps. The connection with their own homes at a specific location on a given map is very strong. Prospective customers find other spots that are recognizable and that are near and dear to their hearts. “When they look at the map and come upon an area that looks familiar,” Joe recalls, “then that seals it. They buy the map!”

The artist not only familiarized himself with many details of Long Beach Island and its shoreline at the time he created his 2001 map, but he later made a map of the island as it was in 1900. In both cases he found numerous errors — and corrected them. He is therefore exceptionally knowledgeable about every corner of the Island — certainly a good recommendation regarding the practical side of his art and craftsmanship.

Shorelines change over time. Joe read in The New York Times about a weather research project in New Jersey that referred to a collection of maps now in the Rutgers University Library. They date from the 1890s, and naturally show a different picture than the current maps show. “There were very few towns,” Joe notes, and some surprising differences. He compared those older maps with the current ones and began to note the “contradictions” between those 100-year-old maps and those in use today.

Joe identifies with the early navigators who “got in their little boats and sailed across the ocean and somehow got to the New World.” It was these adventurous people who settled the islands and the coasts of New England and the whole eastern seaboard. Art lovers can catch some of that adventurous spirit in Joseph Tarella’s one-of-a-kind creations.

California native Elizabeth Hughes is a tremendously versatile artist. She began as a dancer, turning later to writing in many styles and genres, most notably in poetry. Now, as a painter, she stays “connected to the rhythm, form, and emotion” that she first experienced in her dancing.

Her dramatic and forceful picture “Surviving Tree” depicts a large, long-lived tree that overlooks the ocean in Rhode Island as it goes about the business of surviving the elements, the endless change of seasons, and the constant vicissitudes of climate. While a pleasant blue sky can be seen behind the tree, still there is a dark, lonely quality about the tree itself. The artist seems to be honoring the tree for managing to live through so many years already, and perhaps many more to come.

Ms. Hughes studied the works of painter Frida Kahlo in Mexico in 1993 on a Kinnicutt Grant from the Worcester Art Museum. She has exhibited at many venues over the last 25 years, primarily in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She currently has work at Roughan McCarthy. Her work can often be found in shows at DeBlois Gallery, The Portsmouth Arts Guild in Portsmouth, R.I., and at The Mandala Way and Spring Bull Gallery in Newport.

New York-based painter Beth Barry shares Joseph Tarella’s affinity for the sea (particularly for the Massachusetts coast, where she grew up). She often recalls her first time in an airplane, when she marveled at “the color, shapes, and shadows created by the light from the sun,” with the rich palette of colors of the landscape striking her as the manifestation of a “supernatural light.” The way she is especially tuned into that light is evident in her painting, “Stormy Sand,” a freely abstract rendering of (perhaps) the sun sweeping over a desert floor to create exuberant flashes of yellow mixing with the blue of the sky.

Brooklyn-based abstract-expressionist Barbara Groh is intensely interested in “provoking thought, emotion, moods, and aesthetic pleasure” through her art. She paints in oil, acrylic, and cold wax. She is also a sculptor who works in earth and clay, quipping that these pieces are “literally grounding for her.” Her painting “Ham Song” shows her dedication to pure color and line for evoking emotion. More or less perfectly vertical and horizontal lines cut into a stunning cobalt blue field, offering the viewer a choice between the near-violence of the copper-colored lines and the almost hypnotic quietude of the blue.

Israeli-American artist Shira Toren, a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate from Pratt Institute, is eclectically inclined, having developed a method of combining graphite powder, pigments and ink into Venetian plaster substrates. Her painting “Roof Tops” is deceptively uncomplicated, and walks a tight-rope between blunt abstraction and a subtly rendered illustration of the title. Viewed one way, it is an abstract ordering of rectangles in similar colors. The viewer may blink and the picture now appears indeed to be rooftops as seen from a very high balcony, perhaps pushing the buildings depicted a little past what we would automatically agree is natural perspective.

Boston-based printmaker H.M. Sprague is the daughter of a master furniture maker. So she makes it plain that she has always had “an appreciation for natural materials.” Her prints made from woodcuts depict the very gnarled and twisted branches that might have been the original material of her woodcuts.

Susan Lisbin is based in Catskill, N.Y., where she paints decidedly abstract fields of color that may express emotions, moods, perhaps even some of the people in her life. “Related Forms XIV” shows us a large, showy field of red stealing all the attention in a crowded, closed-in room, as if he or she were the guest at the party who has the most to say and the most to show off. The large, grey cylinder across from the red field seems bored by this gathering. Or perhaps she (or he) is simply exhausted and is about to fall over from lack of sleep.

Marston Clough, based in Central Massachusetts, works in many different media, from drawing to etching to monotype, this last proving especially fruitful because it “allows looser, more spontaneous and more immediate results than etchings, woodcuts or linotypes.” He has also produced many oil paintings. Two of his works are in the Permanent Collection of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Paintings such as “The Red Shore” depict impossible sky-scapes that are nevertheless extremely compelling, exuberantly expressing emotion and mood.

Painter Ruth LaGue is a native of Alaska, the “big sky” country where she grew up astounded by the beauty and majesty of the mountains and the immense forests. Later, in her twenties, she travelled extensively in India, where she says she “became consumed by the ‘landscape of the spirit’ — that limitless interior universe that lives in each of us.” There is a minimalist quality in her work that allows the big features of her landscapes — the mountains, the sea, and so on — to quietly dominate the viewer’s attention, not in an overbearing way but gently and peacefully. She also has works such as her “Oceanside,” in which the paint is applied so thickly that the sheer mass of it has a hypnotic effect on the viewer.

Brooklyn native Susan Grucci’s love affair with the natural world goes back to her childhood, growing up near Jamaica Bay, a large wildlife refuge on the far eastern edge of New York City. Painting mostly in oils, she has rendered birds, trees, mountains and such-like lovingly and beautifully for decades. She has served as a consultant at the 92nd Street Y for 25 years, with many exhibitions of her work held at the Y’s Weill Art Gallery. Her sensitivity toward nature is best illustrated (so to say) by such paintings as landscapes (“forest-scapes”?) such as “Paradise Lost,” which displays old, remarkably resilient trees that nevertheless show their age. These are not scenes of neatly trimmed gardens, but rather portraits of very old survivors in a lovely but often harsh environment. These paintings command respect for their subject matter.

This exhibition will open on Friday, April 22, 4 – 7 p.m. at Pop-up Gallery Sitka, 227 Spring St. in Newport, R.I. There will be live music and refreshments. Visit and to learn more about the work of these remarkable artists.

Berkshire Bank Aids Ukraine Humanitarian Efforts with A $50,000 Contribution, Employee Donations, Supply Drive & Refunds Outgoing Wire Fees

Berkshire Bank, a leading socially responsible community bank with branch locations in New England and New York, has announced several actions it will take with its employees and customers in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. As a first step, Berkshire Bank’s Foundation will make a $50,000 contribution to the Ukrainian Federation of Americaone of the oldest Ukrainian organizations in the U.S. who are working to deliver humanitarian and medical aid. In addition, Berkshire’s donation will be leveraged in collaboration with Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island on 401Gives Day, a statewide day of giving in Rhode Island on April 1. The Bank selected 401Gives Day because it is a time sensitive campaign that provides Berkshire the opportunity to make a greater impact by inviting the public and business community to match Berkshire’s contribution ultimately increasing the amount of funds going to support Ukraine.

“As the situation in Ukraine continues to evolve, Berkshire Bank felt compelled to stand together and show our support as worldwide events impact all of us. Our Berkshire family has employees and customers with loved ones living in Ukraine. To strengthen our efforts, we are working to assist employees, customers, and the community by leveraging our resources and business operations to thoughtfully and strategically help individuals impacted by the invasion,” said Sean Gray, President and Chief Operating Officer at Berkshire Bank.

“All of us at Dorcas International stand firm with the people of Ukraine,” commented Kathy Cloutier, Dorcas International’s Executive Director. “We have heard from our neighbors and supporters, and we agree that given the state of affairs in Ukraine right now, we can and should serve as a catalyst for help when and where it is needed most which is right now, on the ground in Ukraine and Poland,” she continued. “This 401Gives, we are proud to partner with Berkshire Bank in support of Ukrainians.”

In addition to its significant financial contribution, Berkshire Bank has implemented several actions to harness its entire business to support those impacted by the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Efforts include:

  • Matched Contributions: Berkshire will continue to match employee contributions through its Giving Program to non-profits working to aid in relief efforts.
  • Supply Drive & Employee Volunteering: Berkshire activated a virtual supply drive to harness its employees and networks to provide critical supplies to organizations and people in Ukraine and neighboring countries. Its XTEAM® employee volunteer program is also hosting volunteer opportunities in some markets.
  • Customer Support: Berkshire will refund outgoing wire transfer fees to individuals sending money to family and non-profit organizations in Ukraine.

Berkshire Bank stands together with its colleagues, customers, and communities who have loved ones in Ukraine, and we support those most directly impacted by the conflict.

Masis Staffing Acquires TN and NJ locations of DAVIS Companies

Masis Staffing Solutions, headquartered in Worcester, MA, is pleased to announce the expansion of its business through the acquisition of two of the light industrial offices of the DAVIS Companies, a staffing firm which specializes in advanced manufacturing, engineering and IT and technology professional staffing.

The offices’ New Jersey and Tennessee locations support a strategic expansion of Masis’s services in these key geographies. The collaboration between Masis and DAVIS Companies positions both businesses for continued growth in their core service offerings.

Matthew Vaccaro, President of Masis Staffing, noted, “The Masis team has enjoyed working with DAVIS Companies on this transaction, and looks forward to building upon DAVIS’s long track record of outstanding service for clients and candidates in Vineland, New Jersey and Memphis, Tennessee.”

Brendon Davis, President of DAVIS Companies, commented, “ DAVIS is pleased to be working with Masis, a company that aligns with our focus on creating and maintaining an employee focused internal culture, that also provides our team members with growth opportunities. This acquisition allows each company to evolve and focus on their core markets.  For DAVIS, dedicating resources to continued growth in our Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology and IT verticals, as well as our Managed Services and enterprise teams is a key objective for 2022 and beyond.  This also supports Masis’s client service goals.”


Masis Staffing Solutions is a service-driven staffing firm providing custom solutions for clients’ hiring needs.  Masis specializes in on-site staffing program management, Master Service Partnerships (MSP), human resources support and placement in a variety of industries.  With significant expertise in manufacturing, distribution and professional recruitment and placement, Masis has offices throughout the United States to support clients’ hiring needs.

The DAVIS Companies is a preferred source for Staffing Solutions and Talent Advisory Services, specializing in contract, contract-to-hire and direct hire staffing for Engineering, Advanced Manufacturing, IT and Technology personnel.  With corporate headquarters in Marlborough, MA and offices in Georgia, New Hampshire, and Minnesota, we put great people to work in great companies.

For information about Masis Staffing, please visit  To learn more about The DAVIS Companies, please visit: