Staff Spotlight: Dawne Dragonetti

Dawne Ben Bailey

Dawne with Ben Bailey, host of The BIG Show! Dawne played a major role in the success of this event.

Many of you may already know this wonderful, hard-working, and upbeat woman, but for those of you who haven’t been lucky enough to hear her proudly speak about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest, witness her make instant connections with those around her, or try her delicious baked goods, meet Dawne Dragonetti.

Dawne splits her time here with BBBSCMMW as the Development Associate & the Interview/Match Support Specialist for several of our site-based mentoring programs in Metrowest. Dawne has kindly answered the following questions so you all can get to know her better!

Dawne with sons Greg and Bryan in London cruising the River Thames.

Dawne with sons Greg and Bryan in London cruising the River Thames.

Q: What was life like before becoming part of the BBBSCMMW family?

A: I grew up in Fair Haven, New Jersey. I spent my summers at the beach in SeaBright with NBC anchor Brian Williams, shared a beverage with Clarence Clemons when he and Bruce Springsteen used to play at the area restaurants and bars and changed the diapers of Fox News Channels’ Brett Baier. I met my husband, Mark, while we were in college in New Jersey 32 years ago. I have two sons-Greg, 27, and Bryan, 23. My Mom lives on the Cape in Eastham and Mark’s family is back in NJ. I retired last year after 20 years as a Special Education Teacher at Center School in Stow where I also live.

Dawne with one of our Littles participating in The Discovery Museums' Traveling Science Workshop

Dawne with one of our Littles participating in The Discovery Museums’ Traveling Science Workshop

Q: How did you get started here at BBBSCMMW?

A: I don’t think I really understood the whole retirement thing…..it only lasted 7 days and then I was back to work! I started as a volunteer with the Director of Development, John Slattery, helping with The BIG Celebration held in Stow. I enjoyed working with him and the rest of the staff. As I learned more about BBBS I knew I wanted to be a part of it. The most rewarding part of teaching was seeing how you could make a difference in a student’s life and now, being a part of BBBS, I can continue to do that.

Q: What do you enjoy about working here?

A: Everything! I love working with such a young, creative and caring staff and also meeting all the friends that BBBSCMMW has. I am amazed by their dedication and their energy. I learn something new everyday….who knew you could teach an old dog new tricks!?

Matches painted pumpkins at the Fall Orchard Event

Matches painted pumpkins at the Fall Orchard Event

Q: What is one of your favorite memories working at BBBSCMMW?

A: It is hard to pick just one and I continue to make new ones everyday. One of my first and favorite was the Fall Apple Picking Event. It was wonderful to see all the matches, the kids on the waiting list, and the staff having a great time eating cider donuts, painting pumpkins and running around laughing and having a blast. I saw the dedication of our volunteers and staff. It was also great to see the kids trying to figure out what apple picking is all about.

Q: When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

Dawne's beautiful garden at home.

Dawne’s beautiful garden at home.

A: I like to keep busy. My favorite things to do are work in my gardens (veggie and perennial gardens), try new recipes out on the BBBS staff and anything craft related. Lately I have been trying my hand at making jewelry.

Q: What is one fun fact about yourself that you’d like to share?

A: I went to Norway for 10 days with my family and met relatives that I had been hearing about since I was little. We hiked fjords, climbed mountains, and ate some incredible food!

We are grateful to have Dawne as part of our BBBSCMMW family. We would like to thank Dawne for all of her hard work and dedication to this organization and our mission!

Dawne Intel

Dawne with co-workers Stephanie and Katherine at our STEM event at Intel!

Dawne TJX Marlborough

Dawne created a new program with ten new matches at the TJX Companies in Marlborough!


Worcester Area College Mentor Program: Field Days

Assumption Field Day Group

Field Day at Assumption College

Winter is finally over, spring is here and summer is just around the corner! Colleges and Universities have brought their academic years to a close and for our nearly 700 matches in our Worcester Area College Mentor Program, which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary!,  this signifies the end of our mentoring program year. Some matches have said, “See you in the fall!” while others will spend time together over the summer after transitioning to our community based program and a few have unfortunately said goodbye as the Bigs are graduating.

Holy Cross Field Day girl match

A match at the College of the Holy Cross Field Day

Holy Cross Field Day 1 match

A match at the College of the Holy Cross Field Day

To celebrate these mentors, mentees and the relationships they have created over the past year, we hold events or activities at each college campus called Field Days. Over the past month, we have held Field Days at The College of the Holy Cross, Assumption College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

Field Day is important for a few reasons, it’s an environment which is new and exciting for the Littles and it is completely different from the routine of the match, both Big and Little get to blow off steam and just enjoy the time. I think the event also provides some closure for matches that are either ending for the summer or permanently because either the Big or Little is graduating.

                -Katie Roy, Match Support Specialist

Assumption Field Day 2 matches

Matches at the Assumption College Field Day

Assumption Field Day one match

A match at the Assumption College Field Day

The Littles got to spend extra time with their Bigs playing sports, doing arts & crafts and playing a variety of games. Of course, there were lots of snacks, drinks and pizza for all the matches to enjoy! The Bigs were also able to give their Littles a tour of their school. Because our programs are usually held at the school or site of our Littles, this gives our Bigs the opportunity to show off where they go to school, provides plenty of room for special activities and allows the Littles to see what life is like in a college setting.

I love to see the kids get off the bus and run into the Bigs’ arms. I like to hear how much fun they had on campus and how the kids talk about going to that school once they leave campus. They can see a future right in their home town.

                -Melanie Perreault, VP of Programs

The Clark University Brothers and Sisters (CUBS) celebrated in a different way by renting out a movie theater for our matches to see Home, a heartwarming movie about an unlikely friendship between a young girl and an alien from another planet.

 Field days, or end of the year trips in our case, are important because it gives us a chance to wrap up the year with energy and enthusiasm. Our movie trip provided us with a space in which we could celebrate the progress our Bigs and Littles made this year. It also gave us the opportunity to recognize our Bigs who were about to graduate and our Littles moving up to the sixth grade. Field days are a great space to celebrate the year!

                -Jackie Lyon, Match Support Specialist

CUBS Match

A CUBS Match

Field days serve as a way for our matches to end the school year with a special memory. We would like to extend a BIG thank you to all of the colleges in our Worcester Area College Mentor Program and congratulate all of our mentors who graduated this year!

We would also like to thank Polar Beverages for donating all of the soda and water to our events, and Tech Pizza and Big Y for the discounted food items.

STEMPlay: The Discovery Museums Traveling Science Workshop

Discovery Nariely, Jamie and EvanAs part of our STEM Initiative, we partnered with The Discovery Museums to bring one of their many Traveling Science Workshops to our program at The Framingham Boys and Girls Club where Littles who attend the Club are matched with Bigs from Framingham High School.

This workshop was all about sound. Tuning forks, ping pong balls and wrenches were just a few of the items used to demonstrate that sound is vibration. The instructor started off each of the different experiments by explaining the tools she was using and having a couple of the Littles demonstrate. She then engaged the rest of the group by asking them why they thought what happened did. Next it was the matches’ turn to explore on their own! Discovery Cassie, Luis, Ashton and Josh Discovery Camila, Ashley, Sam, Jennifer

Our Bigs and Littles were able to learn and experiment with several hands-on activities, including creating their own mini instruments out of paper cups, string, a paper clip, and a wet paper towel. The matches even got to take home and show off everything that they made!

Discovery Olivia and ArianeDiscovery Erika and Carly

Our matches had a blast creating, experimenting with, and learning about Sound. A BIG thank you goes to The Discovery Museums for this wonderful opportunity to bring STEMPlay into our programs.

For more photos, click here.

CUBS Visit the Boston Children’s Museum!

CUBS Photo 3CUBS Photo 2

Clark University Brothers and Sisters (CUBS) with Bigs from Clark and Littles from Woodland Academy and Goddard School of Science and Technology took an adventure all the way to Boston last Saturday to visit the Boston Children’s Museum. The Bigs and Littles had a great time exploring the museum, seeing all of the fun and educational exhibits and spending some quality time together outside of the usual site-based programs. Going to the museum was a great learning opportunity for our matches! We love that our matches were able to combine education and fun all in one trip. 

CUBS Photo 1CUBS is not only a network of dedicated volunteers, it is also a club at Clark with a dedicated Executive Board who meet regularly to plan field trips and activities for our matches in addition to ensuring our site-based programs are fully supplied with the games and materials that keep our matches engaged. To the left is a photo of CUBS President Conner Daube, a senior at Clark, with his Little Brother, Prince. They have been matched at Goddard for nearly three years!

CUBS Photo 4CUBS Photo 5Clark Bigs and Littles had a great time at the Boston Children’s Museum! The agency truly values the extra time our site-based mentors put in to make these trips possible. We look forward to many more exciting trips to come!

THE BIG SHOW: March 29th, 2015

Big Show FB Event PageBig Show Blog 1 Big Show Blog 2Keep your calendars open on March 29 because Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MA/MW will be hosting an exciting fundraiser at The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts-The Big Show! Ben Bailey, comedian and host of the television show “Cash Cab,” will perform along with acts from local area colleges including The Clark Bars, The 13th Key and David’s Angels (Clark University); Sons of Pitches, Rhythm Nation Steppaz, Fools on the Hill and Holy Cross Cheer Squad (The College of the Holy Cross); African Percussion Ensemble and The Rockets Dance Team (Worcester Polytechnic Institute); Worcester State University Dance Team; and Becker College Dance Team.

Big Show Blog 3 Big show post 5The BIG Show is a fundraiser to celebrate 15 years of BBBS of CMMW’s Worcester Area College Mentor Program, which pairs college students with children in a one-to-one mentoring relationship which can last four, or more, years. The program, which originated at The College of the Holy Cross and now includes six other schools, has impacted more than 6,000 lives and is believed to be the largest of its kind in the country.

Big Show Post 4 Big Show Blog Post 8“Nearly 700 college students in the Greater Worcester area give their time each week to mentor a child facing adversity,” said Jeffrey Chin, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest. “We know it benefits the kids, but the college mentors report that the experience has a profoundly positive effect on them as well.”

Big Show Blog Post 7Big Show Blog 6“The BIG Show” takes place Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester. Full price tickets are $25 and $50 depending on seating location. Discounted tickets are available for $5 with college student ID. A limited number of VIP tickets, which include a catered pre-show reception at noon, are available for $100 or $75 (for two or more). For more information visit www.thehanovertheatre.org or call the box office at 877-571-7469.

“The BIG Show” is supported in part by The Hanover Theatre, Worcester Chamber of Commerce, Worcester Business Journal and WCCATV.
Worcester Chamber of Commerce LogoWorcester Business Journal LogoHanover Theatre Logo


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BBBSCMMW and EMC Corporation Celebrate Black History Month


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We gave 12 of our Littles canvases, paint, and a brief explanation of the history and meaning of Black History Month. What was the result? 12 pieces of amazing artwork representing each of their diverse and unique interpretations of what it means to celebrate Black history.

EMC 29Throughout February, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MA/MW partnered with EMC Corporation, a computer data storage company headquartered in Hopkinton, MA, to celebrate Black History Month. We partner with EMC through our site-based program at David Mindess Elementary School, where several volunteers from EMC will go for one hour a week to mentor a child in need, so when we were given the opportunity to expand this partnership by incorporating our program and mission into EMC’s Black History Month Closing Ceremonies, we were happy to be included!

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After supplying the paint and canvases, two employees from EMC, Eric Jamerson and Danita Sutton, joined the Site Based Program at the Framingham Boys & Girls Club to give the Littles and their Bigs a short explanation of Black History Month and to ask them to paint what they thought best represented everything they talked about. What each match came up with was truly beautiful. From crossed out words like “discrimination” and “hate” to peace signs to flags from all over the world, each match created a unique and creative masterpiece.

EMC 26EMC 25The paintings were displayed at EMC’s Closing Ceremonies, where a delicious lunch from Safari Cafe, a Kenyan Restaurant in Worcester, was served and guest speaker, Dr. Gloria Mayfield Banks, spoke about leadership, success, and the importance of mentoring.EMC 23

One of the things Dr. Banks said that resonated with all of the BBBSCM staff in attendance was how powerful the act of encouragement can be. The encouraging words of her mother played an important role in her journey to becoming the successful woman she is today.

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The paintings will soon be displayed at the EMC Corporation Corporate Office. A BIG thank you goes to EMC Corporation for including us in their Black History Month Celebrations and for their continued partnership and support.

To see more photos of the paintings and from the closing ceremonies, click here.

Staff Spotlight: Katherine

Katherine with Santa at the 2014 Annual Holiday Party

Katherine with Santa at the 2014 Annual Holiday Party

Have you ever wondered who you would talk to if you wanted to enroll your child in our program or volunteer to become a Big Brother or Big Sister? Wonder no more. Meet Katherine Ott, who began working at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest (BBBS of CM/MW) in April of 2012. She is our Customer Relations & Community Program Coordinator. She takes care of all inquiries within the agency, so when someone has a question, she’s the go to person to answer them.

Katherine graduated from Keene State College in 2011 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. She is a proud member of Psi Chi: National Honor Society of Psychology. That is where she first showed interest in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program where she was part of the Keene State Bigs Club. “I was hoping to be matched at that time, but (un)fortunately there were far too many Big Sisters and not enough little ones. At least all the kids that wanted to be matched were,” she said.

Katherine at a Waitlist Activity with a child waiting to be matched. She was her "Big for the Day"

Katherine at a Waitlist Activity with a child waiting to be matched. She was her “Big for the Day”

Katherine started at BBBS of CM/MW as an Interview & Match Support Specialist for both our site based and community programs, so she knows the ins and outs of the agency firsthand, as well as the impact it has on both our mentors and mentees. When asked what she enjoys about working for BBBS of CM/MW, she said, “I genuinely believe in the work that we do at BBBS. While the impact can be big or small for the Little and/or Bigs, you can see the positive changes in a child through the simple act of mentoring. I love being able to interview and meet some incredibly talented, dedicated people. Being able to make matches and seeing the smiles on the Littles faces makes my heart melt every time!”

Katherine, Dawne and Stephanie testing out the STEM activity at Intel!

Katherine, Dawne and Stephanie testing out the STEM activity at Intel!

Katherine’s position also allows her to work with a team to coordinate several Waitlist and Match Activities throughout the year. The most recent activity featured our new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Initiative, where Bigs, Littles and kids waiting to be matched had a blast learning about circuits and the scientific method at Intel. Katherine and the other staff members had a blast too!

Some fun facts about Katherine? She has a personal goal to visit every MLB park in the league. So far, she’s been to about ten and has three different ones lined up for the 2015 season. “I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a reason to go to places like Detroit or Kansas City, but I can promise that if I do, I’m going to a ball game as well!” she says. Katherine also just recently got engaged to her boyfriend of five years, Ryan. Congratulations, Katherine and Ryan!

Katherine SpotlightKatherine is a dedicated member of our team and wholeheartedly believes in our mission. If you would like to learn more about the agency, our programs, would like to become a volunteer, Katherine Spotlight 3or enroll your child into our program, please email Katherine Ott at Katherine.Ott@bbbscm.org    Katherine Spotlight 6

2015 Annual Meeting Elects New Board Members, Awards Outstanding Volunteers

Dan M and John S Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass. / Metrowest held its Annual Meeting last week at Hanover Insurance Group.  The Annual Meeting was attended by 75+ dedicated supporters, Alumni, staff, Board Members, Corporators and guests.  Attendees were treated to a cocktail hour and appetizers presented by Hanover Insurance Group before the meeting.

“I am thrilled that many of our friends and supporters came to our Annual Meeting event,” said Jeffrey Chin, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest.   “It was a great way for us to come together as an organization to review our past year’s accomplishments, as well as unveil what are sure to be exciting plans for the year ahead.”

Tim Garvin, CEO of United Way of Central Mass., was the keynote speaker.  Mr. Garvin spoke about the value of mentoring and the powerful impact it has on the Central Massachusetts community.

Dan Mastrototaro of Jefferson, MA presided over the meeting. He is currently serving his first term as Chair of the agency’s Board of Directors.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest also elected its slate of Officers for its Board of Directors for 2015. The new Officers for the agency, and their affiliations, are as follows:

  1. Board Chair: Dan Mastrototaro, of Jefferson – Mr. Mastrototaro is a Vice President at Hanover Insurance Group.
  2. Vice Chair: Chris Lucas, of Upton – Mr. Lucas is an executive at Netscout, Inc.
  3. Immediate Past Chair: Kelly Fitzgerald, of Shrewsbury – Ms. Fitzgerald is an executive for Bank of America
  4. Treasurer: Roy Angel, of Sterling – Mr. Angel is Vice President at MassDevelopment
  5. Secretary: Tucker Dulong, of Marlborough – Mr. Dulong is an Attorney for Catic

The agency also elected four new members to its Board of Directors: Tom O’Neill, Jonathan Ryan, Margaret Sullivan and Bill Sullivan, Jr.  A short biography of each new member is included below.

Tom O'neillTom O’Neill is a resident of Jefferson MA and is employed by The Hanover Insurance Group as a Director of Risk Solutions.  Mr. O’Neill has more than two decades of operational and management experience in youth services and the treatment of children with aggressive/reactive behaviors, learning disabilities and mental health diagnosis.

Jon RyanJonathan Ryan is a resident of Westborough MA and serves as The Director, Marketing Technology, for the Aberdeen Group, a Harte Hanks Company.  Mr. Ryan is involved in the community through his work with many nonprofits, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest, Inc. where he serves as a volunteer Big Brother. Mr. Ryan also volunteers for organizations and causes including VolunteerMatch, Pray for Matt Brown #3, Kiva, Walk for Hunger and Westborough Youth Lacrosse.

Margaret SullivanMargaret Sullivan is a resident of Hudson MA and is the Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Avidia Bank.  Ms. Sullivan has been with Avidia Bank for 19 years.  In addition to being an active Big Sister, Ms. Sullivan supports many local nonprofit agencies and mission-driven causes, including Relay for Life, Meals on Wheels, The ADA Committee of Hudson and various within the Hudson School district.

William C. SullivanBill Sullivan, Jr. is a Worcester native.  He joined the Sullivan Group in 1989 and is currently a vice president and principal at the firm.  Mr. Sullivan brings over 26 years of experience in Casualty Insurance with particular interest in nonprofits and their insurance needs to BBBS of CM/MW.  He is active in civic organizations including the YMCA of Central Massachusetts, where he is a current Board Member and Chairman of the Properties Committee, and the Worcester Economic Club.

Additionally, the event featured two award presentations to members of the organization for outstanding achievements and contributions to the agency.

The Colleen O’Brien Memorial Award is given annually to a Board Member who exceeded expectations in their contributions to the agency. It is named in honor of Colleen O’Brien, who passed away six years ago after serving on the Big Brothers Big Sisters ofRoy Angel plaque Central Mass/Metrowest Board of Directors. This year’s recipient is Roy Angel, the Board’s Treasurer. Mr. Angel exemplified the giving spirit and determined passion exhibited by Colleen O’Brien, including raising thousands of dollars for the agency and providing key leadership during the agency’s recent history.

RJ and LS BrigitaThe Dr. H. Martin Deranian Fellowship Award is given annually to a Big Brother or Big Sister who exceeded expectations in their contributions to their mentee and to the agency. It is named in honor of Dr. H. Martin Deranian, the agency’s (and nation’s) longest serving Big Brother (50 years+). Dr. Deranian, who lives in Shrewsbury and still practices in Worcester, has been involved with the agency for over fifty years. This year’s Deranian Award recipient is Rebecca Joseph, of Worcester. Rebecca has been matched with her Little Sister Brigita since 2012.

More pictures from the event can be seen here. Congrats to all!

Successful National Mentoring Month Concludes

NMM BBBSA Logo National Mentoring Month Logo

This January, it was our mission here at BBBS of CM/MW to participate in National Mentoring Month as fully as possible by raising awareness of our agency. We had an exciting and fulfilling month!

Max after completing a painting project

In the beginning of January, we kicked off a new social media campaign to illustrate how far just a little support can go, whether that is support from a Big to a Little, the agency to a family in need, or a financial donor to the agency. We initiated a blog series of spotlights which highlights different aspects of our organization, from our programs to the corporations we work with to the wonderful kids eagerly waiting to be matched. We have been and will continue using #ALittleGoesALongWay to spread the word.

National Mentoring Month Thank YouJanuary 15th was National Thank Your Mentor Day. We encouraged our staff, volunteers, Littles, and surrounding community to all participate by thanking the people in their lives that have influenced them in a positive way.

mlk day of serviceJanuary 19th was Martin Luther King Day of Service. Our AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring participated by serving in Springfield with MLK Family Services, who put together an amazing show honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and mission.

ymd bbbs 1On January 22nd, many of our staff members attended Youth Mentoring Day at The State House, which is an event put on by Mass Mentoring Partnership and the Highland Street AmeriCorps Ambassadors of Mentoring. The event celebrated the power of relationships and allowed us to meet with our legislators in support of our mentoring mission.

Bruins game Thank you Charlie 2Throughout the month, many of our matches were able to attend various sports games as well. 13 of our matches were treated to a night out at a Bruins Game thanks to the Highland Street Foundation who provided tickets to the game, a chartered bus to and from the city, t-shirts, hats and food vouchers. A couple of our matches were also able to attend a Patriot’s playoff game thanks to Charlie Tillett.

We had an amazing National Mentoring Month and we thank everyone who helped to make it possible!

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Max is Looking for A Big Brother!

Max after completing a painting project

Max after completing a painting project

Meet Max.

He is an adventurous, outdoorsy, and science-loving 9 year old. He is also eagerly waiting to be matched with a Big Brother.

Max is a great kid who is up to try anything new. His favorite activities include skateboarding, playing video games, fishing, and especially playing out in the woods; exploring and building forts. Max loves anything to do with science. His favorite class is Chemistry (stay away from Math, though!) He also loves to build things with wood and try new electrical projects. Zombies, Medieval Warfare, Archery, Legos and anything Military also sparks his interest.

Max at the skate park!

Max at the skate park!

Max is looking for a Big Brother who is funny, can introduce him to new activities, and who he can talk to. He would love to go to the skate park, the science museum, and the arcade with his Big Brother.

Max was adopted when he was less than a year old by his mother, Karen, who is also his Cub Scouts Leader, Basketball Coach and Friend. The two of them are very close, but joke that they could use a little time away from each other. Karen would love a Big Brother for Max who can give him advice, bond with him, and most importantly who can have fun with him.

Max in his baseball uniform!

Max in his baseball uniform!

A Big Brother for Max would mean a great deal to both Max and his mother. To learn more about becoming a Big Brother, click here.

We can’t wait to find the perfect Big Brother for Max!

***Update: Max was matched with Big Brother, Gabe, in February and he’s been enjoying every minute of it! The pair have been getting together about once a week for 2-4 hours each visit. They’ve done all sorts of activities, including spending hours jumping around at Skyzone, learning how maple sugar is made, grabbing brunch, talking and hiking. Here’s to a long and happy match for Max and Gabe! Max and BB