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    COMPASS Community College Collaborative Program successes

    Anais Chiclana (left) and Kristin Morrell recently graduated from the COMPASS program.

    SUCCESS STORIES: Seven women who have been homeless or at risk of becoming homeless recently graduated from the COMPASS Community College Collaborative Program held at Northern Essex Community College in Lawrence.

    The program is designed to educate and train people for entry-level jobs.

    For 17 weeks, the women worked 30 hours a week toward their goal. The first week was orientation, followed by four weeks of “Success at School and Work Boot Camp.’’ Another 12 weeks were dedicated to paid on-the-job training, where they logged at least 100 hours. They also earned credit for two college courses.


    At least two of the women received job offers along with their diplomas - one working for Sal’s Restaurant and the other as a preschool teacher for Little Sprouts.

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    Joanne Goldstein, secretary of the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, said by completing the program - which is one of seven offered in six communities in the state - the women are “in a much better position for long-term success.’’

    She said each woman has also served as an important role model to her children.

    “This program shows what can be done with your hard work and support from the community,’’ Jodi Wilinsky Hill, executive director of COMPASS, said at the graduation.

    Kristin Morrell, who had previous experience, said the program “brought back my love for the restaurant business that I thought I had lost.’’ The mother of a 4-year-old, she is working at Sal’s Restaurant in Lawrence.


    Anais Chiclana, the mother of three young children, said she is eager to begin working with preschoolers at Little Sprouts.

    Employer partner Susan Leger Ferraro, who was just 17 when she launched Little Sprouts - which now has 14 locations and serves 1,600 children - said each of the program’s participants “exceeded our expectations.’’

    The program is a collaboration of COMPASS, a nonprofit that provides education and support to improve skills; Northern Essex Community College; Little Sprouts; and the Lupoli Companies, which owns Sal’s Pizza, Salvatore’s Restaurants, and Riverwalk Properties. It will launch its second class this month with 16 participants.

    HARROWING JOURNEY: After growing up in Fall River, Chris Herren’s basketball talent landed him a spot in the NBA, playing for the Denver Nuggets and the Boston Celtics.

    Then, drugs nearly destroyed his life.


    Herren has recounted his harrowing journey to sobriety in a new book written with Providence Journal columnist Bill Reynolds, “Basketball Junkie: A Memoir.’’

    Herren speaks at the Pingree School in South Hamilton at 8:30 a.m. next Thursday. The public is invited.

    In 1999, Herren was drafted by the Nuggets in the second round of the NBA draft as the 33d pick overall.

    After a year with the Nuggets, he was traded to the Celtics, where he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in December 2000.

    Trying to work his way back to the NBA, he played overseas until 2003, when he came back to the states. His alcohol and drug use escalated until he had a near-death experience after crashing his car while using heroin.

    After extensive rehabilitation, Herren has been drug-free since June 4, 2008, and alcohol-free since Aug. 1, 2008.

    In June 2009, he launched a basketball player development company, Hoop Dreams, training more than 200 basketball players including some of the top prospects in New England.

    Off the court, he continues to share his story with audiences in the hope of reaching just one person and making a difference.

    Those planning to attend the Pingree event may call 978-468-4411, ext. 233, or e-mail

    WHO’S WHAT WHERE: The Merrimack Valley YMCA has elected new officers to its board of directors: Marko Duffy of Tewksbury, New England sales specialist at MacDermid Industrial Solutions, chairman; John Fouhy of North Andover, senior director of video production and services for Comcast, vice chairman; Kevin Smithson of Andover, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Boston, treasurer; and Rosa Lopez of Lowell, senior human resources representative at New Balance in Lawrence, secretary. . . . Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc., have named Donna Deveau of Lowell as director of development. A philanthropy professional, Deveau has held leadership positions at nonprofits in the region, including Lowell Catholic High School and Lowell General Hospital.

    Wendy Killeen can be reached at