Friday, March 23, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tributes to Fakenham youth worker

WARM tributes have been paid to Paul Harrison the Fakenham-based youth worker who was killed when the motorcycle he was riding was involved in a road accident.

Mr Harrison, 33, was on his way to Cambridge, where he spent two days a week studying for a degree in theology and youth work. His long-term plan was to be become a pastor.

He had lived in Fakenham for about 10 years and his great passion was youth work. He was actively involved in a pupil mentor scheme at Fakenham High School.

He was a popular volunteer with the YMCA in Norwich, and chief executive John Drake said he was “stunned” on hearing of the tragedy.

YMCA Norfolk faith development worker Alexis Lloyd, with whom Mr Harrison worked, said: “Paul was an excellent volunteer for the YMCA. He fitted in easily at the St Giles hostel in Norwich, where he quickly made friends with residents and staff.

“Paul was willing to do whatever was asked of him, from putting up Christmas decorations to leading discussion groups. He supported some individuals on a one-to-one basis and was a great encouragement to me.”

Ms Lloyd said Paul would be missed very much and his loss had affected many of the hostel residents.

“Paul clearly knew Jesus very well - it shone out through his smile and open heart,” she said.

His widow, Ellie, said that Paul was a wonderful, loving husband and a great father to the couple's five-year-old son, Zacci.

At Fakenham Mr Harrison was well-known as a worker with the E.P. Youth Project, an independent ecumenical Christian charity.

A celebration of Mr Harrison's life, arranged by his widow, is being held on Wednesday at 2pm at Fakenham Baptist Church. Mourners have been told that formal dress is not necessary. They have been asked to take along a silver or blue balloon, and these will be released at his burial at the town's Creake Road cemetery.

Donations have been invited for the Big Red Bus Project (cheques payable to E.P. Youth).

The accident happened on March 12 on the A1065 Swaffham road at South Raynham, near the Whissonsett road junction.

Just minutes before the 9.20am accident four cars heading towards Fakenham - a blue VW Passat, black Ford Escort, blue Audi A4 and a purple Vauxhall Astra - had been involved in a minor collision on the same stretch of road.

Anybody with information about the accident is asked to call PC Steve Tyrrell on 0845 456 4567.


Mapping out a new path.

Slowly and steadily since she started her new job two months ago, Human Services Coordinator Alexis Silver is meeting with the leader of the myriad social service agencies across Framingham.

As she does, she is also working on a makeshift map, where the locations of the agencies are designated by different colored push pins. That setup is only temporary, said Silver, who plans to have a GIS version of the map made soon.

Until then, the plan for Silver, 44, of Jamaica Plain, is to get face time with as many social service providers as possible.

"My main task right now is to meet with everyone," said Silver, who has more than 20 years of experience in the human services field, including the development of partnerships between the private and public sectors.

She was most recently the associate director of development for the Jewish Rehabilitation Center of the North Shore. She has also been in charge of the South Bay Mental Health Center, a therapy program for Boston Public Schools students, adoption and community services in Cambridge and worked for the state Department of Social Services after graduating from college.

She earned her undergraduate degree from Northeastern University and her master's degree in social work from Boston College. While this is her first job in the municipal government, she said, "I've always enjoyed working with people."

She looks at the new position as "a challenge," but said it gives her "an opportunity to use some new skills" and "an opportunity to bring people together."

Silver believes her experience has made officials from various agencies and some of the people in town who fret about the spread of social services more comfortable about her capacity to handle the job.

"I feel like I'm getting a positive reception," she said. "They respect my background and the fact that I have a comprehension of the human services field and the delivery of programs."

Even so, Silver realizes she's essentially starting from scratch in her newly created position. That makes it tough to know exactly what steps she should be following, she said, but she's figuring it out pretty well.

"I'm able to pretty much create this position," said Silver, who points to communication and relationship building as her top priorities. "When you can sit down and talk about these issues, the challenges that have been faced over the years will take on a different tone. It takes time to get there.

"There's a lot of distrust that was generated over the years. It didn't happen overnight. It's going to be a process to turn that around," she said.

Silver said she read the report compiled by members of the PILOT Impact and Study Committee last year when she was interviewing for the position. The report recommended the town create the position Silver now holds.

It also pushes officials to collect payments in lieu of taxes from social service agencies, an effort on which Silver and other town officials are now working. She isn't surprised about the high number of social service agencies that have put down stakes in Framingham.

"Framingham is an urban hub for the surrounding towns," said Silver. "It's really a center. It's a place people come to work and there's access to public transportation here. People are drawn to Framingham naturally.

"You can get here what you can't get in Ashland or Sudbury or Holliston or any of the other surrounding communities. This town provides people with so many opportunities for personal growth," she said.

But, Silver said, that doesn't mean Framingham should be taking on all of the social service agencies who are looking to provide services to the people of MetroWest.

"Other towns need to share in the responsibility, but ultimately it's the agencies who decide where they want to go," she said. "It isn't just about siting. The town needs to know about these agencies and what they do."

Silver has joined the Local Official Human Services Coordinators and the MetroWest Mental Health and Substance Abuse Task Force in an effort to learn more about the agencies that call Framingham home.

"The big piece is making sure Framingham will continue to thrive and the people who live here will feel safe," she said. "It's about education and openness, and putting aside any biases and fears long enough to take in the information about someone else's differences."

Silver understands the resistance by some residents to seeing the town taken over by social service agencies, but believes that concept is universal.

"There's always going to be certain services that people don't want in their community," said Silver. "At the same time, I think anyone who you talk to can name someone in their families who have had alcohol or mental health issues. It's not just in Framingham. It's across the country."

Silver spends her free time enjoying exercise, yoga and skiing. She grew up in Worcester and has spent most of her life living in Boston, aside from a short stint on Cape Cod.

Craig MacCormack can be reached at 508-626-4429 or

Silver was most recently the associate director of development for the Jewish Rehabilitation Center of the North Shore. She has also been in charge of the South Bay Mental Health Center, a therapy program for Boston Public Schools students, adoption and community services in Cambridge and worked for the state Department of Social Services after graduating from college.

link: here

SCHERERVILLE: Master Po would be proud of Azatos martial arts students


SCHERERVILLE | To say Aislinn Wade bears a likens to a young Caine during his formative monk years on the classic TV show Kung Fu maybe unfair.

For Aislinn is the real deal.

Recently, the St. John 7-year-old took first place in kata (formed movements) at the Jennifer Malloy Memorial Karate Tournament held in Palentine last month. And last summer at the United States National Karate Federation national tournament in Ft. Lauderdale, Aislinn took a gold in kata and a silver in kumite (sparring).

Aislinn started training in karate three years ago. Azatos Martial Arts owner and head sensei Mike Nanay donated a free two-month subscription for a charity function at Aislinn's school, Forest Ridge Academy in Schererville. Luck had Aislinn's family winning the donation, so she joined with her twin sister, Alexis.

Though "identical twins," you could easily tell Alexis and Aislinn apart. Alexis has a orange belt; Aislinn has a red belt. Alexis has hair; Aislinn doesn't.

"It started in 2005," Aislinn's father Trevor said of alopecia areata, a baffling affliction that causes dramatic hair loss.

"Just a full week after we found out she had it, all her hair was gone."

There is no known cure for alopecia areata. Though not life-threatening, it's obviously not the best thing that could happen a girl starting school and interacting with new peers. Nonetheless. Aislinn seems to grow from challenging experiences ... or at least learns from them.

Take her first tournament.

"Now that was really something," Aislinn says of having to compete against older girls in order to fill out a bracket. "I guess I did okay."

In relation, Aislinn beams a cheerful expression, like being a confirmed underdog was an amusing "flashback" that she now looks back and chuckles at.

"The best part of this (martial arts training) is learning something new," Aislinn said. "Sensei makes it fun, and sometimes you get to compete."

Alexis and older sister Taylor also competed at the Jennifer Malloy Tournament.

"Taylor won a couple of golds, and Alexis is also doing well," Trevor said.

When it comes to belt rank among the Wades, "pops" is a little ahead of the curve with a brown belt. But let's give Aislinn, Alexis and Taylor their due -- often obligations to other extracurricular activities makes it difficult for all three to be in class at the same time. Trevor is usually always present.

"It's up to sensei (Nanay) when it comes to promotion," Trevor said. "You can be working real hard at home, practicing and thinking 'I'm ready.' But you've got to show it in class."

Nanay is proud of the entire entourage representing his school in Palatine.

"Right now, I'd say we're 90 percent when it comes to students placing at tournaments," Nanay said. "Our girls in particular have been phenomenal.

"We have two brown belts (Maria Kiousis and Cecilia Palomo) who have been outstanding in tournaments, and leaders and role models in class."


Spring Arts Preview: Film

Spring Arts Preview: Film
March 20, 2007 - 11:06am Arts & Entertainment

The wonderful thing about New York is that there’s a little something for everyone. So, if box office hits starring mutant superheroes are your thing, there will be a theater playing just that. Or if a documentary feature following a filmmaker back to his hometown in post-wartorn Iraq is more up your alley, then look no further than one of the many film festivals that will hit the town this spring. For the Hollywood fan, spring will bring several sequels to previous big hits. Animation abounds in films like Disney’s “Meet the Robinsons” and “Shrek the Third”; blood and gore hit the silverscreen in Tarantino’s latest offering; and superheroes—hopefully—save the day.—Rhea Saran

“Meet the Robinsons”: Disney’s new animated film tells the story of Lewis, a brilliant inventor, whose latest project, the Memory Scanner, is stolen by Bowler Hat Guy. Together with mysterious stranger Wilbur Robinson, Lewis travels through time to track down the bad guy. Look out for the voice of Angela Bassett as Mildred. Directed by Stephen J. Andersen. March 30.

“The Nanny Diaries”: The big screen adaptation of Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus’ bestselling book stars Scarlett Johansson as the beleagured young nanny who takes a job managing the 4-year-old of a very wealthy—and very dysfunctional—Upper East Side couple. Balancing work, school and romance is no simple task. Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. April 20.

“Spider-Man 3”: In this third installment of the Spider-Man series, Toby Maguire returns as the superhero next door. Balancing his duties and his love for Mary Jane isn’t easy – and is further complicated by new villains and a dark substance that is bringing out Peter Parker’s darker side. Directed by Sam Raimi. May 4.

KIDS’ CHOICE: “Shrek the Third”: The star cast of the first two Shrek movies are back. Mike Myers (Shrek), Eddie Murphy (Donkey) and Cameron Diaz (Princess Fiona) are joined by other big Hollywood voices in this third film about the lovable green ogre who faces new adventures, even though all he wants is peace and quiet in his swamp. Don’t miss Justin Timberlake as Artie. Directed by Chris Miller and Raman Hui. May 18.

“Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”: In this sequel, Ioan Gruffud (Mr. Fantastic), Jessica Alba (Invisible Woman), Chris Evans (The Human Torch) and Michael Chiklis (The Thing) return as the Fantastic Four, battling the powerful Silver Surfer and contending with the return of Dr. Doom. Directed by Tim Story. June 15.

For those who’ve tired of big screen blockbusters, there are plenty of independent, experimental new features, documentaries and shorts, as well as emerging directors to check out. The season’s festivals are the best bets:

36th New Directors/New Films: While not strictly speaking a film festival, this international showcase of films by emerging filmmakers is presented by the Department of Film, the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The screenings, from March 21-April 1, will take place at two locations: one at a theater at the MoMA and the other at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater (WRT). The list of films includes “The Inner Life of Martin Frost” by Paul Auster (US), “Glue” by Alexis Dos Santos (Argentina/UK) and “Reprise” by Joachim Trier (Norway), to name a few. In addition to screenings, there will be the HBO Films Roundtable, a forum for discussion with filmmakers and other special guests. And, in the afternoons at WRT, ND/NF Classics will screen a selection of films from past years of ND/NF.

14th Annual New York Underground Film Festival: According to the organizers, the NYUFF strives to promote films that push boundaries and break new ground. The festival will screen 14 feature films and 100 shorts, focusing on the best of “contemporary experimental and documentary work.” From March 28-April 3, these underground works will be screened at Anthology Film Archives in the East Village. The festival technically closes on April 1, with the remaining two days playing repeats. Nightly party information is available the day of at the box office. The festival will showcase works like “VIVA” by Anna Biller, a tribute to vintage sexploitation films and Nice Bombs by Usama Alsheibi, a personal documentary chronicling the filmmaker’s trip back to Iraq in 2004, among others.

2007 Tribeca Film Festival: Running from April 26-May 5, this downtown film festival is slated to present a whopping 159 feature films and 85 shorts. There will be as many as 75 world premieres among them and there are 41 countries represented, making this festival international in every sense of the word. Apart from the regular film showings (the schedule will be announced at the end of March), the festival has some special events planned, too. The Tribeca Drive-In will present free-to-the-public outdoor screenings at the World Financial Center Plaza. The Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival on May 5 will consist of a day full of sports film screening, panels and appearances by actors and sports stars. The Family Festival will include a day of family-friendly films and other fun activities. Tribeca Talks features panels of luminaries from the film and arts worlds.