Mary Holbrow

Cambridge MA
I'm a retired journalist, mother of 5, grandmother, birdwatcher, garden lover. I live in Cambridgeport, work as a free-lance editor.
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Recently posted by mholbrow

September 29, 2015 - 10:59am The atmosphere was upbeat as volunteers, donors, and guests mingled during the reception and silent auction at On The Rise’s Prepare For Winter Dinner September 24. The fall fundraiser at the Royal Sonesta Hotel was the eighteenth since On The Rise, a day program for homeless women, was founded in 1995. It was a festive occasion, with opening remarks by Board President Carol Goss (at left in photo*), a talk by priest and author Rev. Cristina Rathbone (lead photo, above), and a video whose central character was Odelle, a formerly homeless woman who was present at the dinner. Executive Director Martha Sandler (at right) welcomed guests, noting that Odelle’s story had inspired, touched, and energized the organization. The dinner and silent auction raised nearly $200,000, she said. Ms. Goss spoke about the importance of creating and maintaining connections as women in the program undertake the journey from homelessness to shelter and then to housing. "It is in the bonds formed between the women themselves, and with our staff, that the true heart and soul of On The Rise is revealed," she said. "From these bonds, fledging hope begins to form--hope that is built on a feeling of... read more
September 18, 2015 - 9:38am At the 18th annual Prepare For Winter Dinner, On The Rise President Carol Goss will introduce the evening's speaker, the Rev. Cristina Rathbone of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, who works with area homeless people in an organization known as MANNA (Many Angels Needed Now and Always). The festive event begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge and features a reception and silent auction, with dinner served at 7:00. Carol Goss has served as On The Rise’s dedicated Chair of the Board of Directors for the past seven years. Carol has a long history of working with nonprofits in management positions, as a board member, and as a development consultant. She has consulted to Boston area nonprofits and educational institutions on a wide variety of projects, including capital campaigns, annual funds, development and communication strategy, as well as Board governance. Under her leadership and tireless community outreach, the Prepare For Winter Dinner has grown each year, now raising almost 20% of On The Rise’s annual budget. She is happy to call Cambridge her home. Rev. Cristina Rathbone is an Episcopal priest who serves as Canon Missioner for the Cathedral... read more
September 16, 2015 - 10:46pm It was Day Two of the City of Cambridge’s 2015 Charrette on Homelessness, Wednesday morning, September 16. The three-day event is designed to gather community information and opinion that will lay the groundwork for a planning process to address the issue of homelessness in the city. Speaking at the sessions are panels of local and national experts on homelessness. The series began Tuesday with a day-long public meeting at the Sheraton Commander at 16 Garden Street; today's meeting was the second in the series; the third and final meeting is Friday morning. Speakers at today's morning session appear in the photo above. The format for the meetings is called a "fishbowl": speakers sit in a circle with observers around them. Facilitator Larry Oaks is seated with his back to the camera. Going around the circle from left to right, they are: • Aaron Gornstein, President/CEO of Preservation of Affordable Housing • John Dunne, Senior Program Manager, Corporation for Supportive Housing • Chris Cotter, Housing Director, City of Cambridge Community Development Department • Greg Russ, Executive Director, Cambridge Housing Authority • Mark Winkeller, Executive Director, Caritas Communities... read more
August 25, 2015 - 9:48am Lead photo: Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in screened crate await release. “These Monarchs are making a magical journey,” Julie Coffey (at center in photo at right) told a crowd that had gathered at Lusitania Meadow Monday evening to celebrate the release of several dozen butterflies, a climax of the Monarch Watch program series at Fresh Pond Reservation. Ms. Coffey is Watershed Management Assistant at the Cambridge Water Department. About 65 people, many of them youngsters, had formed a procession to the meadow from the Walter Sullivan Water Treatment Facility for the event. The mature butterflies, brought to the meadow in crates at the head of a procession, seemed eager to get started, though they had to circle in the pale evening sunshine and then settle in the greenery for awhile to get their bearings. Many willing hands helped Ms. Coffey and Chief Ranger Jean Rogers to loft the butterflies or provided a momentary roost. The Monarchs have more than 3,000 miles to go in fall to reach their winter habitat in central Mexico. On the way back North next spring they will stop and lay the eggs that produce the new generation for the return trip, Ms. Coffey said.... read more
August 5, 2015 - 8:28am Harvard graduate student Samantha Hawkins is hard at work carrying out the responsibilities that go with the title of Miss Cambridge 2015, which she won in the Miss Cambridge/Miss Boston contest back in February at the Sheraton Boston hotel (photo by Scotty Schenk of Huntington News, Northeastern University). That was the first of three levels of competition in the Miss America contest. Samantha was the winner out of fifteen candidates in that round, making her Miss Cambridge; the title of Miss Boston went to UMass Lowell student Sabrina Ponte. Samantha and Sabrina thus became contenders for the state-wide title of Miss Massachusetts in the second stage of the Miss America race, which took place in Worcester on June 28. However, in the final round of that contest, Tulane student Meagan Fuller of Attleboro took the crown to become Miss Massachusetts; Samantha was second runner-up, but Meaghan will be the one to represent the state in the race for the title of Miss America 2016. The winner of that one will be announced after completion of the third and final Miss America competition in September in Atlantic City. Academic achievement plays a major role at every level of the... read more
July 24, 2015 - 3:55pm This has been a week of stand-out lunches at On The Rise, Inc., the day program for homeless women at 341 Broadway. Meals provided by volunteers on weekdays are a mainstay of the program, and this week several local restaurants came together in support of that operation. They have been bringing in selections from their menus--not normally an option for the women seeking assistance at On The Rise. The participating businesses have all been significant supporters of On The Rise in the past. They include: --Trina’s Starlite Lounge, in Inman Square. Co-owner Josh Childs does volunteer handiwork at the program’s roomy Victorian site, and has been involved in previous benefit activities. Trina’s specializes in American comfort food (lead photo) like chicken & waffles and cornbread. --West Bridge, located in Kendall Square. Co-owner Alexis Gelburd Kimler led a volunteer clean-up day and provided lunch at On The Rise’s home base last month. West Bridge cuisine is French-New England fusion. --State Park, in Kendall Square, whose co-owner Rachel Miller Munzer has provided turkeys for On The Rise holiday meals as well as silent auction items for fund-raisers. The State Park menu... read more
June 27, 2015 - 9:06am “We’re working to develop a set of recommendations for the city on what we can actually do about homelessness,” Ellen Semonoff (at center in photo at right) told a gathering of about 20 people at the Cambridge Community Center Thursday evening, June 25. Ms. Semonoff is Assistant City Manager for the City of Cambridge's Department of Human Service Programs. With her in the photo are Mike Payack, left, and Liz Mengers, right, also of that department. The meeting was the second of two this week that are part of a process called a charrette, a multi-stage community effort to gather opinions and recommendations about a single issue from people who have a stake in the outcome. In this case the stakeholders include residents, consultants, city officials and staff as well as homeless people and those who work with them. The earlier of the two meetings was at noon on Wednesday, June 24, at the Central Square Library. The organizer for both events was Shelly Chevalier (photo above left), Planning and Development Manager for the Department of Human Service Programs. The charrette process is part of a collaborative effort launched by the city to create a plan for addressing homelessness,... read more
June 21, 2015 - 11:28am As part of a project to develop a Strategic Action Plan on Homelessness, the city is seeking input from the public on the topic, according to an announcement from the Cambridge Human Services Commission. Residents are invited to share information, suggestions, and concerns about homelessness at two open meetings this week. The first, which includes lunch, is scheduled for Wednesday, June 24 from 11:30 am to 1 pm at the Central Square Library at 45 Pearl Street. The second meeting will be on Thursday, June 25, at the Cambridge Community Center, 5 Callender Street, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm; coffee will be served. Information: 617-349-6206; read more
June 19, 2015 - 11:06pm A rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” marked today’s 100th anniversary celebration of the opening of Harvard’s Widener Library, a memorial to Harry Elkins Widener of the Class of 1907. Leading the singing was Sarah Thomas (below, left), Vice President for the Harvard Library and Roy E. Larsen Librarian for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. She spoke briefly about the library’s history. (Above, 1913 portrait of Widener, by Gabriel Ferrier. At right, Widener as a character in 'The Lotos Eaters,' a Hasty Pudding play). “This was one of the two most important gifts Harvard has ever known,” Ms. Thomas said, adding that the other one was the original book collection and bequest from the college’s namesake, the Rev. John Harvard, back in the 17th century. More centennial celebrations will follow later this year, she said. The library was given by the family of the young alumnus, who was an enthusiastic book collector. He perished when the RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) Titanic struck an iceberg and sank during its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912. Harry’s mother, Eleanor Elkins Widener, was also on board, but she was picked up by a lifeboat. She donated her son’s... read more
June 11, 2015 - 4:12pm The meeting of the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association on Tuesday, June 9, was of compelling interest though attendance was light – about 20 people including presenters and CNA officers. Boston Olympics Organizing Committee members Nikko Mendoza (right) and Peter Campot (left) reported on a pending proposal to make Boston and surrounding area the official U.S. candidate to host the 2024 Olympic Games. Other contenders include Hamburg, Rome, and perhaps Paris. The final decision as to whether or not Boston is the candidate will be made in 2017, Campot said. Public support has been lukewarm because of concern about possible negative financial and practical impacts, as well as lack of transparency in the available information about the plans. A referendum on the question has been proposed for November 2016. Preliminary planning includes a proposal to locate housing for athletes at Columbia Point, according to Campot. The necessary 17,000 units would include both market properties and specially constructed units. Some 23 proposed locations for athletics events include table tennis at BU, and archery and aquatics in Harvard facilities on the Boston side of the river. Some MIT... read more
June 9, 2015 - 9:38am Show of Artworks by members of the Forever Creative ClassA collaborative program of the Agassiz Baldwin CommunityOffered by Living Well Network and Maud Morgan Arts Printmaking Studio20 Sacramento Street       read more
June 1, 2015 - 2:38pm Over a hundred supporters, volunteers, and friends gathered on May 28 at the Microsoft NERD (New England Research and Development) Center at 1 Memorial Drive to mark the 20th anniversary of On The Rise, Inc. The local day program, based at 341 Broadway, aids women who are homeless or in crisis. The Microsoft Center’s panoramic view over the Charles River provided a dramatic backdrop as On The Rise Board President Carol Goss (photo, right, with Treasurer Anthony Koenig, Jr.) announced the launch of a two-year capacity-building fund drive to support and expand its Keep The Keys initiative. Keep The Keys assists On The Rise women over the longer term as they make the transition from homelessness to housing. On The Rise Director Martha Sandler (left) also spoke briefly, noting that recent state efforts to get more people into housing have brought a growing need for the kind of assistance and guidance offered by Keep the Keys. Since 2008 Keep The Keys has helped 256 women to get housing, and about 200 of them have stayed connected to the program. Of those 200, 90% are still housed, according to Ms. Sandler. The goal for the fund drive is $700,000. “With the current housing shortages... read more
May 19, 2015 - 4:38pm On The Rise, Inc., a day program for homeless women, will celebrate its 20th anniversary with an evening get-together at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 28 at 1 Memorial Drive, where it will announce an expansion of services designed to help newly housed women retain their homes, in part as a response to Massachusetts' “housing first” approach to homelessness. The cocktail party will be held on the 11th floor of the Microsoft Building, the New England Research and Development (NERD) Center. (Photo: Martha Sandler, On The Rise Executive Director) Between 350 and 400 homeless women cross the threshold of On The Rise at 341 Broadway in Cambridge seeking services every year. They find a safe haven that offers nutritious meals, seasonal clothing, and a place to nap, shower and forge personal relationships in a supportive environment. As they develop a sense of trust, they can begin to address the underlying issues of their homelessness; these can include sexual and domestic violence, physical and mental illness and substance abuse problems. Advocates and staffers help more than 10 percent, between 30 and 50 of the women at On The Rise, transition into housing, according to Executive Director... read more
April 29, 2015 - 11:04pm The massive granite memorial to MIT police officer Sean Collier in the North Court at the corner of Vassar and Main Street was dedicated at noon today in a ceremony that was by turns impressive, heart-rending, astonishing, comforting, and inspiring. The crowd–estimated at 3,000 by the MIT news office–filled the tent where the service took place and the surrounding courtyard. The massive scale and sophisticated design of the monument create an impressive effect as the viewer approaches. Built of 32 great blocks of granite that form five arches linked by a keystone overhead, the structure recalls a hand, with two of its fingers aligned toward the spot where Officer Collier, 26, was shot on April 18, 2013. The granite evokes Collier’s enthusiasm for the outdoors and his hikes with the MIT Outing Club in the mountains of New Hampshire. Even as the ceremony honoring Collier went forward, a jury in Boston was considering whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 21-year-old local man they have found guilty of the fatal shooting, will face execution or life in prison without parole. . The dedication program featured remarks by MIT Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz; President... read more
April 29, 2015 - 9:15am A lively South African tune, “Siyahamba,” opened a program with a Peace theme performed by members of the Cambridge Community Chorus on Sunday afternoon, April 26 in the auditorium at the Cambridge Public Library. Led by Conductor Pamela Mindell, they showcased songs that will be performed at their annual Spring Concert, coming up at 8 pm on Saturday evening, May 30th at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, 48 Massachusetts Avenue. The full chorus is about 130 members; a cross-section of them were on stage at the library. “This is about one-third of us,” said Mindell, who took over the directorship last July. “Siyahamba” was followed by “Oseh Shalom,” a Hebrew prayer for peace composed by Cantor Jeff Klepper of Temple Sinai in Sharon, MA. The group will sing “Oseh Shalom” again as part of the city's Annual Holocaust Commemoration ceremony on Tuesday, May 5 at 7 p.m. at Temple Beth Shalom, 8 Tremont Street. Sunday's program at the library featured excerpts from The Peacemakers (2011) by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins, a major work to be performed by the full chorus and orchestra at the May 30 concert at Kresge Auditorium with the Worcester Children’s Chorus as guest artists. Peacemakers is a... read more
April 23, 2015 - 7:57am On Saturday, May 30th at 8:00 p.m., the Cambridge Community Chorus presents The Peacemakers, by Karl Jenkins, with the Worcester Children’s Chorus and instrumental ensemble, led by Music Director Pamela Mindell. Karl Jenkins’ 2011 oratorio sets the words of “messengers of peace” including Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama and Anne Frank to accessible, stirring music evoking many traditions, from monastic chant to the blues. Jenkins, one of the world’s most-performed living composers, has written that the ethos of the piece can be summed up in one line, from Rumi, the thirteenth-century Persian mystic poet: “All religions, all singing one song: "Peace be with you.” The Peacemakers was first performed at Carnegie Hall, New York, on 16 January 2012. The program also includes the serene Russian hymn “We Hymn Thee,” from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Opus 31, and “Te Quiero” (“I adore you”) by Argentine popular composer Alberto Favero. $25 General admission; $15 students and seniors. Reduced price tickets available on request. Tickets available online:, and at the door. Kresge Auditorium, MIT, 48... read more
April 15, 2015 - 8:38am A $320,000 public toilet for Central Square is the biggest of six proposed improvements chosen by popular vote in Cambridge's recent Participatory Budgeting Project to receive city funding. The results were announced at a Vote Results Party April 7 at the Citywide Senior Center. In an experimental program this spring the city offered community members age 12 and older a chance to decide how to spend $500,000 of the City's FY 2016 Capital Budget. Twenty options were on the table, and residents could vote for their favorites online or at various locations in the city between March 22 and 28. More than 2,700 votes were tallied, according to the announcement. The winners: 100 new street trees with tree wells and educational signs ($119,400) More computers for the Community Learning Center ($27,000) 300-350 bilingual books for Cambridge children who are learning English ($7,000) 24-hour access public toilet near Central Square ($320,000) 8 bike repair stations with tools and bike pumps ($12,000) Free WiFi in outdoor public spaces at Area IV, Frisoli, Gately, and Moore Youth Centers, Fresh Pond Golf Course, and the Cambridge Water Department ($42,000) The city is seeking public... read more
April 7, 2015 - 8:53pm --------------------------------------------------- Saturday, April 11, 2015, at 7:30 pm Harvard-Epworth Methodist Church, 1555 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge (near Harvard Law School) Wheelchair Accessible - Doors Open 7:00 pm D’Anna Fortunato, Mezzo-soprano, featured artist Mana Tokuno, Piano Ina Zdorovetchi, Harp Linda Toote, Flute Michelle La Course, Viola     “In this time of international strife, I felt that the most appropriate centerpiece of this concert should be the gripping chamber work--Earl Kim’s Now and Then--written in response to his having flown as an American airman over Nagasaki right after the atomic bomb fell.     Mr. Kim waited quite a few years to let this work rise within him, bringing the texts of Samuel Beckett and William Butler Yeats to full haunting impact.     Other works on the program by Ravel and others will complement and contrast with this work, utilizing the beautiful sonorities of the chamber ensemble and piano.”     – D’Anna Fortunato The concert will include: Earl Kim, Now and Then in 5 Movements for Voice, Flute, Viola and Harp Mohammed Fairouz, Refugee Blues (Boston Premiere) for Voice and Piano Benjamin Britten, 4 Songs for... read more
March 28, 2015 - 9:08pm Lead photo: Voters at the table fill out ballots. Isabel Luciano, in back by the door, wearing a black PB t-shirt, was one of the volunteers directing traffic at the Participatory Budget voting Saturday at the Community Center at 5 Callender Street in Riverside. Photo at right, l. to r.: Paul Creedon, Paige Clunie, and Michelle Monsegur handed out ballots and information. The people at this event are at work on an important question: How would you use $500,000 to improve Cambridge? The city recently undertook a pilot Participatory Budget (PB) process in which the community chooses five one-time capital projects calling for expenditures that total half a million dollars. Today–Saturday, March 28–was the last of three sessions at which residents over 12 could vote for their favorites. Earlier votes took place this week at the Cambridge Public Library and the Windsor Street Health Center. Online voting has also been an option. Participatory Budget programs have been undertaken in about 1500 cities in the US and abroad since 1989. Today at least a dozen Participatory Budget volunteers were on hand, directing the stream of people filing in and out of the Community Center at 5... read more
March 23, 2015 - 9:53pm When we get fed up with the cold, we talk about it. So do plants. Rhododendrons are particularly expressive, and they make good thermometers. On a March morning like this, a look out the window at a Rhododendron arboreum bush (lead photo) tells you whether you’ll need a ski jacket or just a sweater. Right now it’s mid-afternoon and sunny on March 23. It ought to be a balmy spring day, but the rhododendrons know better. Their long leaves are hanging almost straight down, rolled up so they look like string beans. That means “It's freezing! Wear the jacket!” According to an article by Erik Tallak Nilsen in Arnoldia, the quarterly magazine of the Arnold Arboretum, when rhododendron leaves look like that it means the temperature is -3 degrees C . Translated from Celsius to Fahrenheit, the rhododendron is saying the temperature is 26.6 degrees F. The outdoor thermometer nearby reads 25 degrees, but it’s in the shade, and the bush is a bit warmer because it's in the sun. Other plants along my street offer clues to the weather of this particular spring – if you can call it spring, considering how high the snowbanks are. The snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) on the left, now just... read more