Teens at Plummer Home for Boys tell their stories in song

Judy Cranney (left), vice president of the Hospice of the North Shore & Greater Boston, and president Diane Stringer flank staff member Ousman Badjie of Lynn after he received an award from the organization.

MUSICAL OUTLET: Teenage musicians who live at the Plummer Home for Boys in Salem have released their third holiday CD.

The collection was produced as part of a music program that started in 2007 with the donation of a used piano to the group home. Since then, it has expanded into a thriving, fully outfitted program offering instruction in reading, writing, playing, and recording music.

Some of the boys also have performed publicly, including at the State House during Children’s Advocacy Day.


This year’s CD includes holiday classics, as well as two pieces composed by Plummer Home residents. The original songs are “Tranquility’’ and “The Way.’’

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With the support of music instructor Aaron Z. Katz, the boys are encouraged to write of their own struggles to come to grips with their pasts. The painful recollections - which stand in contrast to the more joyful songs on the CD - help tell the story of boys who struggle daily to heal childhood trauma.

“Watching the kids work so hard to express their experience through lyrics and music is profoundly humbling and moving,’’ said Katz. “Putting yourself out there with music can make you feel exposed and vulnerable. I see firsthand how hard that is for these kids to do, and I am in awe of them when they do it.’’

Plummer Home, on Winter Island, provides a safe and nurturing environment for boys ages 12 to 18 who have no families, or families who can’t care for them. It also has a preindependent-living program for ages 16 to 22.

“Everything we do at Plummer Home is designed to help our boys succeed as adults. And success requires the ability to communicate,’’ said executive director James Lister. “To be successful in music, you have to communicate with your band mates, so it is a perfect tool for teaching these skills. Our kids come from families in which healthy communication probably wasn’t modeled or taught. So we are really starting at ground zero.’’


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THANKS FOR HELPING: The Torigian Family YMCA of Peabody was among 70 national corporate and nonprofit organizations recognized at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., for their commitment to employing people with mental illnesses.

US Representative John Tierney presented the award.

Since 2006, the Torigian Family YMCA has employed members of Pioneer House, a day program in downtown Peabody for people with chronic mental illnesses.

As well as receiving socialization, a hot lunch, and recreational opportunities, members of Pioneer House receive employment training and community-based job opportunities.


For information about Pioneer House, visit

HONORED BY HOSPICE: Ousman Badjie of Lynn was presented with the Rick Vescovi Memorial Award by Hospice of the North Shore & Greater Boston at a recent staff appreciation dinner.

The award was established in memory of hospice social worker Rick Vescovi, who died in 2007. Badjie was honored for epitomizing the qualities Vescovi was known for: a collaborative work style; a friendly, open, and accepting manner; a humble and unassuming nature; loyalty; and a good sense of humor.

Badjie started at the nonprofit seven years ago as a hospice aide. He has since received his license in practical nursing and is studying for his registered nursing degree at Salem State University.

“Ousman makes sure that our patients have peace and dignity while on our services,’’ said Diane Stringer, president of Hospice of the North Shore. “He represents us well and we are so fortunate to have him on our staff.’’

WHO’S WHAT WHERE: Karen Crowley of Tewksbury, a nurse practitioner at Hallmark Health Medical Associates in Malden, has been chosen to serve on a new state commission focused on postpartum depression. Crowley is also an associate professor at Regis College in Weston, and a member of the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners. . . . StudyPoint, a national provider of private tutoring based in Stoneham, recently hired Brenden Tamilio of Beverly as national director of technology. Tamilio, who has more than 12 years of software architecture and engineering experience, is leading software development for the company’s educational technologies.

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