City officials welcome new fitness studio, the Barre New Bedford

Posted Sep 6, 2018 at 4:53 PM

Mayor Jon Mitchell and other elected officials and business leaders recently joined with owners Gigi Yassine and Kayla Gillespie Doyle to officially cut the ribbon at their new fitness studio, The Barre New Bedford, at 50 Union Street (above Moby Dick Brewing Co.).

The Barre classes utilizes movements that are inspired by ballet, yoga, and Pilates, set to fun and motivating music, a press release states. The full body method activates one muscle group at a time with small, controlled movements, also known as isometric movements, which are very effective for burning fat and adding muscle tone.

During the class, muscles are sculpted and strengthened, by working them to the point of fatigue, followed by a deep stretch to lengthen them out and create long, lean muscles. Each class begins with a warm up and then travels through the body from the arms, thighs, seat/glutes, abdominals and ends with a cool down.

For more information, visit

Original story here.

The Love The Ave dishes up community pride via North End Restaurant Week

Posted Aug 30, 2018 at 3:01 AM

Portuguese steaks and hot dogs. Oven-baked bread and pizza. Custard cups and clamboils. Lobster rolls and Cubano sandwiches. Antipasto and chicken Mozambique. Hamburgers and French fries. Egg rolls and conchas. Scrambled eggs and sweet bread.

It’s all on the menu at one unique destination in the city: Along Acushnet Avenue and in the North End.

Recognizing the city’s notable concentration of eateries from Coggeshall Street north is one goal of the Love The Ave & North End Restaurant Week, taking place from Saturday, Sept. 15 through Friday, Sept. 21.

It’s an effort that has grown out of the group Love The Ave, which is vigorously finding new ways to help promote economic development along the North End commercial corridor with public art and special events.

And in the process, is creating durable community infrastructure.

For the Love The Ave & North End Restaurant Week, a new website has been launched to spotlight all the eateries on and around Acushnet Avenue, It’s there that you’ll find a listing of North End bakeries, eateries and restaurants.

Many of them are, and will continue to be, featured in special posts through Sept. 21. Thereafter, will be a permanent directory of the establishments as well as a means to share Love The Ave happenings and items of public interest.

On the group’s Facebook page,, all the posts are being shared — along with some mouth-watering pictures to whet the appetite for restaurant week.

The Love The Ave & North End Restaurant Week was dreamed up by Steven Froias, a member of the Love The Ave committee (and also a regular columnist featured in The Standard-Times).

Recognizing the sheer number of food establishments along The Ave and throughout the North End, he brought the idea for this special promotion to Angela Johnston at the New Bedford Economic Development Council. She also chairs Love The Ave steering committee meetings.

She loved the idea, took it to city hall, and got the enthusiastic support of the mayor’s office to move ahead with the project, which may be a pilot for a larger, city-wide restaurant week in the future.

Over the summer, Froias visited almost every place of culinary business along The Ave to lay the groundwork for restaurant week.

“It’s really been so much fun!” he said. “These are terrific small businesses which not only feed our bellies, but also our souls. They effectively function as community gatherings spots.”

It’s a diverse community, now, and that’s reflected in the food.

Alongside the many traditional Portuguese restaurants of distinction, and those highlighting New Bedford seafood, you find places like Dulce Mexican Restaurant and Sara’s Bakery, featuring cuisine that caters to a Latin American and Hispanic population.

They join iconic New Bedford eateries like Pa Raffa’s, which sits at the intersection of Ashley Boulevard and Acushnet Avenue and is the geographic end point of the restaurant week area, which begins at Coggeshall Street and runs from Ashley Boulevard west to Belleville Avenue east.

“Every time I post something about Pa Raffa’s, it breaks the Internet!” says Froias. “They’ve been great to work with and it’s fantastic that businesses that mean so much to so many are being acknowledged for what they represent in New Bedford with this week.”

In addition to encouraging residents and visitors to patronize Love The Ave & North End places during the week and more often afterward, the project is intended to create a sense of community and purpose among all the businesses.

“The bakeries alone along Acushnet Avenue — over a half dozen — lend distinction to the street. You can smell bread baking when you’re standing outside of Holiday Bakery or Padaria Nova Bakery,” points out Froias.

“Then, you have some of the best Portuguese and seafood you’ll find anywhere — all within a mile or less of each other! It’s really quite special.”

And, a destination in and of itself. Which is the whole point of restaurant week. Spotlighting what makes the area unique not only in the city, but in the region.

That, and of course, and the food.

“It hasn’t exactly been a heavy lift to spend the summer working on this project,” Froias said. “Especially when you also get to enjoy pumpkin ravioli at Cotali Mar; Steak Girassol at Girassol Restaurant & Cafe; French Dip roast beef at Endzone; tacos at La Raz; hot dogs at Dee’s; cacoila sandwiches at Cafe Portugal; bacalhau at Cafe Mimo; and many, many natas at Chocolate com Pimenta!”

Signature dishes and special restaurant week deals are all listed on featured posts on and will also be shared via the Facebook page. Also, posters have been made available to all the places on which they can feature their specials during the week.

A goal of the entire Love The Ave project has also been to counter the perception that Acushnet Avenue faces a greater public safety challenge than other spaces within the city.

Walking up and down The Ave all summer, Froias said he didn’t find that to be true.

“All the places I visited were full of customers. All these people obviously don’t buy into the negative stereotype of The Ave,” he says.

He points out that the New Bedford Police Department started a “Walk a Block” program last year under Chief Joseph Cordeiro. That entails police officers parking the cruisers for part of every hour and visiting the small businesses along the street in order to make their presence felt.

“Any urban area can get gamey from time to time — The Ave is no exception,” he said. “But the reality is that it is a vibrant place full of people all day long. I term it ‘relentlessly urban’ — you get it all here and that’s part of what makes the area so interesting to so many different people.

“Last Saturday, I was sitting in Lorenzo’s Bakery — a fantastic place boasting Puerto Rican treats and sandwiches.

“As I was eating one of the best Cubano sandwiches I’ve ever had, I looked out the window onto the street and thought, ‘This is it. This is the urban ideal. Sitting in a neighborhood business like this in the company of people who make this city special.’

“Then I walked over to Lydia’s Bakery for a piece of cheesecake to savor the moment!.”

Again, information on the Love The Ave & North End Restaurant Week can be found at The week happens from Saturday, Sept. 15 through Friday, Sept. 21.

Original story here.

Tabor Academy puts New Bedford arts, culture and community on the curriculum

Posted at 3:01 AM

Tabor Academy sophomore students started the school year off right with a visit to the region’s arts and culture capital, New Bedford, this past Saturday, Sept. 8.

Roughly 130 students came to the city to kick off the new school year. Tabor Academy is located in Marion, but the New Bedford orientation project is now on its third year.

This year’s theme was “know yourself, know others, build community” — as seen through the prism of arts and culture. Accordingly, a panel of city arts leaders and tour guides was arranged to explore the topic and then downtown New Bedford. (Full disclosure: This writer was one of the tour guides.)

Zoe Hansen-DiBello, strategy advisor and founder of Ethos — a philanthropic education strategy consulting organization; — explains how it all got started:

“Mel Bride, [Tabor] dean of community life, Tim Cleary, dean of students and myself came together three years ago and imagined what it would look like if we brought Tabor students to New Bedford for orientation as a way to bridge the two communities.”

Prior to the orientation, Bride and Hansen-DiBello had partnered to connect Tabor students to New Bedford Public School students through the community garden project, Grow Education.

This year’s arts and culture theme was selected because Hansen-DiBello, a city resident, believes, “In New Bedford, I find it intriguing that our public art is often rooted in the historical context of the city, always returning to our past to understand our present and imagine our future.

“In recent years, the city has been increasingly intentional in sharing the stories of those who are often overlooked — and so the panel and tour for Tabor students will recognize and honor New Bedford’s Abolitionists, thriving Cape Verdean culture, youth and hip-hop and the women leaders of New Bedford today but also the past as they are featured in the Lighting the Way Project.”

And, it certainly did.

The orientation tour began at the First Unitarian Church at the corner of Union and Eighth Streets. Two busloads of Tabor Academy students disembarked to enter the historic building and meet New Bedford arts and culture leaders and their tour guides.

The spoken word and hip hop artist Tem Blessed launched the morning with an energetic appeal to students to know themselves and what they’re all about. Blessed later closed the tour at Wings Court under the Cey Adams “Love” mural with another inspired piece of wordplay that concluded with everybody chanting “Tabor — Academy” and “New — Bedford” in unison.

Panelists at the Unitarian Church, Jeremiah Hernandez, Rayana Grace, Gail Fortes and Dena Haden amplified the tour’s theme: arts and culture is very much about finding and building community wherever you are, but especially so at this moment in New Bedford.

Hernandez referenced the magic of creativity as depicted in the Netflix series, “The Get Down” as a real-life entry point for people of diverse backgrounds to experience unique culture. The show chronicles the birth of hip hop, with a generous helping of street art, in the late ’70s Bronx.

His family — from the Bronx — brought both him and those aesthetic values to New Bedford and he says the art and music has essentially given definition to his life. That came to be manifested as UGLY Gallery, which he opened with friend and artist David Gaudalupe on Union Street and operated for several years.

Now, that same aesthetic can increasingly be found throughout the city — and Hernandez is still leading the charge as one of the founders of the public art group, SUPERFLAT, which was on the morning’s agenda.

From the church, the students were arranged in groups of 15 and sent out with their respective guides to experience arts and culture on the streets of downtown New Bedford.

Some saw the city’s nascent Abolition Row Park and neighborhood. Others checked out the 54th Regiment mural on the side of Freestone’s City Grille.

Everyone ended up in and around Wings Court, where the recently wrapped up first SUPERFLAT mural festival occurred. Well, maybe not entirely wrapped up…

In a bit of serendipity, Tabor students got to see artist Brian Tillett at work on his massive Jean-Paul Basquiat mural overlooking Custom House Square Park. Tillett is also a commercial fisherman in addition to being an accomplished artist.

When the day job at sea intervened, he simply put the art on hold to return another day to get back to work. That day was Saturday, and the sophomore class of Tabor Academy got to see the legendary face of Basquiat being applied to a downtown New Bedford wall.

It turned into a bit of a (recent) art history class, as many of the students were unfamiliar with the 1980s era New York City street artist. Which just reinforced the whole point of the orientation: to fuse diverse communities together across time and space.

Zoe Hansen-DiBello sums it up nicely. She says the Tabor Academy 2018 sophomore orientation was about “highlighting the vehicles of art and culture as a means to better know ourselves, to understand others, and to ultimately build community.

“The overall goal is for Tabor students and educators to be inspired by the examples seen here in New Bedford for building community through art and culture, and to return to campus ready to connect and create with one another.”

I would add that it’s also just plain thrilling to see the city’s arts and culture, and the people who practice it, making the grade as an inspiration for the next generation. An A+ gets awarded to this outstanding effort.

Steven Froias blogs for the coworking facility, Groundwork! at Email:

Original story here.

State sends $75K for First Baptist Church’s steeple

Posted Sep 10, 2018 at 5:46 PM

WHALE’s First Baptist Church project was awarded an emergency grant for $75,000 by William Galvin, secretary of state.

Teri Bernert, executive director of the Waterfront Historic Area LeaguE (WHALE), said the organization applied for emergency funding a few weeks ago when it found out more work was needed for the project, and therefore more money.

About a month ago, WHALE learned it would have to change construction plans for the church because of rotting wooden corner posts supporting the steeple, so a crane will have to remove the steeple where it will be stored in the parking lot until repairs are complete.

Bernert has told The Standard-Times that WHALE raised $100,000 through public donations, but the hope was to double that.

The organization reached out to state Sen. Mark Montigny, state Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral, Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office and the New Bedford Historical Commission who made phone calls to Galvin’s office, Bernert said.

“Without them, we wouldn’t have gotten the funding,” she said.

“First Baptist is an absolute treasure with national significance,” Montigny said in a news release. “Secretary Galvin clearly understands this significance along with the emergency safety hazard presented. The funding we secured today will make sure this historic gem is preserved for generations to come.”

“We’re still a little short, but we’re going to move forward and keep applying for funds and keep working on our capital campaign, but it’s important that we keep the project moving,” Bernert said. The group hopes to complete the exterior before bad weather hits, if possible.

Original story here.

‘College-going culture’ heads to Bristol

Posted Sep 7, 2018 at 3:01 AM

“Just Bristol” is the way to the future for Bristol Community College.

With a smart new logo and an updated brand identity, Bristol has reinforced its dedication to better represent its “college-going culture” in the region.

For the first time in the college’s history, the new logo will emphasize the “Bristol” in Bristol Community College, as it drops its BCC acronym.

The rebranding campaign was unveiled Tuesday on the first day of classes this new school year at Bristol.

“Community college is the new darling of higher education,” said Bristol President Laura L. Douglas.

Douglas, who began her stint as college head a year ago, said people are recognizing the fact that community colleges save families money while providing a quality education that either translates into immediate work or to additional study at four-year universities.

And, families are getting bigger once again, which means college must be more affordable.

For adult students, affordability can mean that a degree is within reach. Douglas said Bristol also offers those students convenience, flexibility and support.

“No one wants to give up on their dream of education,” Douglas said.

Douglas, after doing her research, came into the college with a goal of giving it a fresh new image that “matches where we are” in Bristol’s 21st century goals and innovation.

“When we create a college-going culture in our region, where students graduate and assume good jobs, we change lives for the better,” Douglas said in a press release. “Our new brand reaffirms this commitment to the community.”

Last year, the college received a $4.4 million grant from Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to accelerate innovative life sciences education and, most recently, leads the nation’s educational training for jobs related to offshore wind, according to the release.

Douglas said that as industries in the area have shifted from jobs that didn’t require a college degree to careers that demand higher education, workers must be prepared for today’s job market to attain greater prosperity.

“Many times, the people who live in our communities don’t think that the college education is within reach. But, we want them to know that you can attend college without racking up student debt,” Douglas said. “And, for adults who are preparing for college, we offer a high school equivalency program, English as a second language courses, and credit for work experience.”

The college and its revamped and easier to navigate web site emphasizes that “learning is within reach” for everyone, whether they plan to study full-time right out of high school or part-time while working or raising a family.

The new logo has a more “collegiate feel,” according to Vice President of College Communications Joyce Faria Brennan. It was created in “modern green” and accented in “Bristol gray.”

The rebranding campaign will include new signage at Bristol and billboards in the community.

To learn more about Bristol Community College, visit

Original story here.

New state effort will unify workforce development programs

Posted Aug 30, 2018 at 9:43 AM

MassHire, the state’s new branding initiative that will unify the state’s workforce development systems, was rolled out Wednesday by Gov. Charlie Baker and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta at the now former Fall River Career Center.

With more people looking for workers than people looking for work in Massachusetts, Baker said this branding is a good opportunity for the state.

Baker said the goal “in Fall River and across the Commonwealth (is) to really lift up this notion that … if you’re looking for people, there are people here who are looking for you.”

The state’s new initiative combined with the federal Workforce Opportunity Act passed in 2014 provides more flexibility to structure workforce development efforts, Baker said.

“We have the career centers and the workforce investment boards to serve as what I would describe as the brokers between and among the players,” the governor said.

They are “the folks who are looking for something, the folks looking for workers and the folks looking for the skill sets to change careers,” said Baker before a packed room of local and state workforce development staff, elected officials and some local business leaders.

The new initiative means that the 16 local workforce investment boards across the state will now be known as the MassHire Workforce Boards and the 29 career centers around the state become the MassHire Career Centers. The change in designations includes New Bedford.

In addition, the Massachusetts Workforce Development Board is the MassHire State Workforce Board and the Department of Career Services is the MassHire Department of Career Services.

Acosta, who was appointed by Baker last July, said work on the initiative has already started.

“This is exactly what the career centers are delivering today,” said Acosta. “But without the partnerships with the employers we couldn’t get it done.”

In fiscal 2018, Acosta said the career centers around the state have served 132,000 job seekers with 8,000 disabled and over 6,000 veterans while connecting 4,000 with training opportunities. They have also worked with 20,000 employers.

However a poll of employers showed only 6 percent were aware of the career centers’ services, which needs to change, she said.

Acosta said the unveiling of the initiative “is only step one.”

“We also know we need to modernize, we know we need to bring services to where the people are,” said Acosta.

Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board Inc.

Jim Oliveira, Executive Director

1213 Purchase St., 2nd Floor, New Bedford


Bristol Workforce Investment Board

Thomas Perreira, Executive Director

One Government Center, 5th Floor, Fall River


Original story here.

Acorn, Inc. wins 2018 APEX Small Business Award

Posted Sep 6, 2018 at 4:46 PM

The SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce has awarded Acorn, Inc. as the 2018 APEX Small Business of the Year, citing the company’s success in “turning unused but historically significant structures into bustling centers of residential life” in New Bedford.

The award committee noted that the Acorn had the vision to recognize New Bedford’s potential, and the desire to preserve its historic character with the development and management of the Lofts at Wamsutta Place, Victoria Riverside Lofts, and the Riverbank Lofts.

With nearly 500 units across 1 million square feet, maintaining above 98 percent occupancy rate, these buildings represent $100 million in private investment funds to the local economy, a press release from the company states. The properties proudly contribute over $800,000 to the city annually, create multiple job opportunities, and generate business for local vendors.

“We are deeply honored to receive this award,” said Quentin Ricciardi, CEO, “And of all our investments, the one that’s most important to us is our investment in our staff. As a family-owned and run business for over 70 years, we treat our employees like an extension of that family and as a result we have a team who believes in the mission of providing stunning and unique quality housing at reasonable rates. You can see this is the relationships they build with residents who contribute to canned food and clothing drives, and they way they give back to the community through Operation Clean Sweep and other community projects.” The majority of Acorn’s 30 management company employees reside locally and the company emphasizes the sourcing of operations and maintenance supplies to come from companies within the region.

Acorn was recognized for its commitment to sustainable and renewable energy as an example of their forward thinking, the release states. They currently have 2 megawatts of solar panels across the roofs of all properties.

Acorn Inc. is a Massachusetts-based real estate development and management company specializing in large scale, market rate adaptive reuse projects.  For over 50 years, the company has taken a holistic hands-on approach, through each stage of the process from development to construction and management.  Acorn, Inc. currently owns 3 million square feet of assets under management, primarily in Massachusetts.

Original story here:

DeMello, Lesley deal will bring ed degrees, teachers to city in innovative partnership

Posted Aug 14, 2018 at 9:27 PM

Cambridge-based Lesley University and the DeMello International Center have sealed their deal to offer bachelors and masters programs at the Union Street building in downtown New Bedford.

As one part of the arrangement, current New Bedford school district teachers who obtain a masters in education will be required to commit to an additional three-years in the district. Students seeking to obtain an initial license to teach through the masters program will be guaranteed a job in the school district with a three-year commitment.

“You’ve got to raise the skill level of this community if we’re going to be successful and be back to where we were, back in the whaling days,” said James DeMello, founder of the DeMello International Center where the partnership was officially announced Tuesday morning.

The program called Rising Tide Educational Initiative, geared toward working adults, will offer partial bachelors degrees in education and other interests. At this point, the programs are still being fine tuned.

The bachelors program will operate through a community college transfer model where students can transfer up to 90 credits which leaves only 30 additional credits to earn the degree.

Southcoast Health named one of ‘best hospitals’ in region

Posted Aug 16, 2018 at 7:41 PM

SouthCoast residents have access to one of the “best hospitals” in the region, at least according to U.S. News & World Report.

Southcoast Health announced its place in the magazines annual “best hospitals” rankings on Thursday.

Southcoast Health, which consists of St. Luke’s Hospital, Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River and Tobey Hospital in Wareham, ranked No. 9 among hospitals in Massachusetts and No. 2 in the Providence metro area.

The organization also received a “high performing” ranking for specialty care in Chronic Obtrusive Pulmonary Disease, colon cancer surgery and heart failure.

The criteria for the rankings included best overall patient care as well as specialized treatment in areas like surgery and cardiovascular services.

For the 2018-19 rankings, U.S. News & World Report evaluated data on almost 5,000 medical centers nationwide in 25 specialties, procedures and conditions

“We are delighted to have, once again, earned the distinction as one of the best regional hospitals, and recognized for achieving the highest performance rating for the treatment of COPD, Heart Failure and Colon Cancer Surgery,” President & CEO of Southcoast Health Keith A. Hovan said in a statement. “Southcoast Health is nationally recognized by a variety of independent organizations for the exceptional clinical care and service we provide to patients. These rankings are a reflection of the skill and dedication of our physicians, nurses and staff who passionately provide our patients with exceptional clinical care and service.”

Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation awards grants to non-profits

Bristol County Savings Bank (BCSB), through its charitable foundation, awarded grants totaling $122,200 to 19 non-profits in SouthCoast Massachusetts at a recent ceremony at the Holiday Inn Taunton. All total, the bank presented $271,313 in grants to 40 non-profit organizations in the New Bedford-Dartmouth/Fall River regions, as well as the Taunton/Attleboro and Pawtucket, Rhode Island regions.

The organizations in the New Bedford-Dartmouth/Fall River region that received grants from the Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation (BCSCF) are as follows:AHA! ($2,500), Argosy Collegiate Charter School ($7,500), Boys & Girls Club of Greater New Bedford ($3,000), Holy Name School ($6,000), Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford, Inc. ($2,500), Children’s Advocacy Center of Bristol County ($15, 000), Kennedy Donovan Center, Inc. ($8,200), Lloyd Center for the Environment ($2,500), Nativity Preparatory School New Bedford ($10,000), New Bedford Festival Theater ($5,000), New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center ($2,500), Inc., New Bedford Star Kids Scholarship Program ($10,000), New Bedford Symphony Orchestra ($5,000), New Bedford Whaling Museum ($10,000), Our Sisters’ School, Inc. ($10,000), The Schwartz Center ($10,000), Southcoast Mentoring Initiative For Learning Education and Service, Inc. ($5,000), uAspire ($2,500),and YMCA of Southeastern Massachusetts ($5,000).

Patrick J. Murray Jr., president of the BCSCF and president & CEO of BCSB, awarded the grants to the organizations. Also participating were Kristine Arsenault, assistant chief of staff for Jon Mitchell, mayor, City of New Bedford and representatives from the BCSCF – Southcoast Advisory Board and the bank’s branch offices in the New Bedford-Dartmouth/Fall River regions.

“In keeping with the bank’s mission of supporting our local neighborhoods to meet the growing needs of the population, our Foundation is proud to present grants to these 19 non-profit organizations doing good work in the Greater New Bedford and Fall River communities,” said Murray.

Bristol County Savings Bank is an active supporter in the communities in which it serves. The foundation was established in 1996 as part of the bank’s 150th anniversary celebration. Its purpose is to fund needs that contribute to the economic and the social well-being of the people and institutions located in the greater Taunton/Attleboro Region, the greater New Bedford/Dartmouth Region-Fall River Region and the Pawtucket, Rhode Island Region, with particular emphasis in the areas of education and literacy, economic development and housing for the low- to moderate-income population.

Since the foundation began, more than $19 million has been committed to hundreds of different non-profit organizations. In 2017, the foundation awarded $1.8 million to various 501(c)(3) organizations.


Original story here.