I mentioned in my open letter that my family has received unanticipated generosity from our community. I would like to publicly thank the specific organizations that have helped us and, in doing so, promote them as well. I would also like to thank and mention some of the people who have been so helpful.
I would like to start with the Stoneham Public Schools. The schools have supported us in lunches for all our children who have lunch in school (three of the five), as well as supplying gifts for the children. The elementary school children received toys for the holidays and the middle school children received winter clothing and toiletries. In gratitude for the support that we have received from Stoneham, any resident of Stoneham may purchase a Hold-it! Game Card Organzier for 1/3 off the retail price. If you live in Stoneham, enjoying playing board, card and/or roleplaying games, please contact me through the Innovatium web site to receive your Hold-it! at this special price.
The Winchester Community Music School has been outstanding in providing scholarships and grants so that our children, whom we think are very talented (but we may be biased), may continue studying music. The programs at the Winchester Community Music School are simply outstanding and the teachers are inspiring and nuturing. If you or your family are local and study music, you deserve to examine this organization and considering studying there.
The Little Gym in Woburn, MA was unhesitating in offering full scholarship to our four younger children who enjoy gymanstics there. When we decided that we needed to drastically cut expenses, we informed the folks at The Little Gym that we wouldn't be able to continue bringing the children. They asked us -- yes, asked -- to please continue bringing the children because they enjoy it so very much and are a positive addition to the class. And our kids do so enjoy it. Our six year old son does not stop cartwheeling and handstanding around the house. He has been practicing his counting by doing some 200 cartwheels each weekend and announcing his progress throughout.
Our oldest daughter, who enjoys performing, wanted to audition for the Winter Show with the Stoneham Theatre Young Company. The Young Co. made it possible for her to participate and perform with a significant scholarship.
There is also the Burbank YMCA in Reading, MA. As with other organizations, we informed them that we were not going to continue bringing the children for swim instruction and the Burbank YMCA responded with generosity. They have dramatically cut our family membership rate and has provided full scholarship to our children for their choice of swim class. Our older daughters are getting more serious about swimming and are now able to participate in the swim team preparatory course, which had been financially out of reach.
But wait, there is more! John Conserva gave us free piano tuning. John has done amazing work in maintaining and restoring our old, second-hand piano for as long as we have had it. He has kept it alive and tuned so that we have a means to teach and practice music in our home. John does all sorts of piano repair and maintenance as well as piano sales. Please, please, if you are local and have a piano, give John a call at (781) 438-7649. Let him know that the Degen-Portnoy's recommend him highly.
Alicia Gordon, of Gordon Lower PR, arranged for my wife and older girls to participate in a fund-raising event and raffle for the Turtle Lane Theatre. Because they were able to participate in the raffle, they won an amazing gift that includes head shots, voice lessons, and scholarship to the summer workshop and camp.
Erin Barry, of Stoneham, arrived with a gift card for food, an anonymously given (and sizable!) check, plus spent a significant amount of time calling the Toys for Tots program so that my wife could select some presents for the winter holiday for the children. Mrs. Barry already has eight of her own children, but nonetheless spent a great amount of her time and brought a tremendous amount of warmth and joy to our household. Thank you and blessings on you, Erin.
Martin Kruse, one of our neighbors, brought over one of his amazing holiday cheesecakes. Martin has been perfecting his recipie for years and perhaps will someday let the public at large enjoy this glorious experience. I can honestly say that I am saddended that my teenager now really enjoys cheesecake.
There are many more people to mention, such as family and other friends. My sister and her sons, my nephews, have asked that my family receive the gift money that would have gone to them. The even sent us a check to help us directly. My parents have been unhesitatingly supportive and generous, as have my in-laws. My best friend, for whom we often sit his dog while he and his family are away, has quietly slipped some cash into his thank you cards.
Those are organizations and some of the people that have, to date, helped us. We are meeting with additional groups that offer support for utility bills and food. Of course, we are supported by the Massachusetts Unemployment Assistance program and the Medical Security Program as well.
The value of these gifts are far beyond their monetary worth. The children understand (to varying age appropriate levels) that these are hard times. They were prepared to not have the opportunity to study music or performance or to participate in sports. Now they understand more about the value of these activities in terms of the personal growth and experience that they bring.
Hopefully, my next opportunity will arrive soon and we can begin our recovery and look toward returning the generosity we received. So in that light, if you need someone outstanding to lead the development of your software or web products, please get in touch with me. From me and my family to you and yours: we wish you a beautiful and wonderful 2009.