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Nahant group aims to fund-raise for town causes

A Nahant group has formed with the mission of spreading the wealth — or at least raising some funds — all over town.

Named “01908,” which is the town’s zip code, the group plans to hold fund-raisers to benefit a variety of local organizations.

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“We’re supporting all things Nahant,” said Brendan Ward, one of the founding members. “We’re going to take a look at each group in town and see who needs help and who doesn’t.”

The group is running its first two events within the next month, including a Great Gatsby Cocktail Party on Saturday and the Art Gala on the Island on Sept. 1.

The group is the brainchild of Britte Roosien, who has become its leader (there are no formal titles), and her husband Tony.

“We were hoping to do something that was all-encompassing, and to really promote volunteerism and community service,” she said. “My children are 4 and 6 years old, and we’re trying to teach them by example and do things in our own town that could be beneficial for everybody.”

There are similarities between the 01908 group and the Nahant Education Foundation, which was re-energized four years ago and has raised more than $90,000 to supplement educational needs for the Johnson Elementary School. Foundation president Christine Kendall noted that some foundation members are also members of 01908.

“We’re all friends,” said Kendall, who is happy to have an additional fund-raising ally.

The broad mission makes the group unusual, along with a membership that Roosien has made intentionally diverse.

While the foundation is largely made up of parents with young families, the 15-volunteer 01908 group also includes people that Roosien refers to as “my elder advisors,” and other young adults with no children.

“One thing I’ve noticed in Nahant is that there are several diverse groups of people with very unselfish agendas looking to improve the quality of life, and the educational and recreational system in town,” said Andrew Bisignani, a longtime resident who became town administrator in late 2011.“They work together and they’re knowledgeable and committed.”

Ward, 35, grew up in Nahant and moved back in September. 2011. He was recruited by Roosien, his longtime friend.

When he returned, Ward thought that there was a conflict among residents after an unsuccessful attempt earlier in 2011 to pass a Proposition 2½ override that would benefit the elementary school. The issue came before voters at two elections, failing to pass both times.

It led to cuts at the school, and Ward felt it left a lingering discontent.

“There seemed to be a divide,” Ward said. “This is an attempt to bring everybody back to the table.” We’re trying to mend that fence, and move Nahant forward.

“We’ve been very well received,” Ward added. “People are excited and involved. I see this group growing and bringing in multigenerations of people, and new residents. It’s a great mix of what makes Nahant wonderful.”

The 1920s–themed Great Gatsby party, to be held at the private Costin Scalise residence, was nearly sold out at press time.

The Art Gala on the Island, a community event scheduled for Sept. 1, at the Nahant Country Club, features professional artists. It will include a children’s gallery event, with the theme of “What Nahant Means to Me.”

Professional artist Heather Goodwin and her sister Kerry Alice Collins are also collaborating with children on a driftwood-starfish sculpture to be displayed at the event, as well as a project in which the children create lanterns from recycled juice containers, also to be displayed during the gala.

Proceeds from the two events will be split between two groups, the Parent Teacher Organization and the Nahant Education Foundation, and will be used to fund arts education programs at the Johnson Elementary School. Future fund-raisers may benefit the town’s Council on Aging, the Nahant-based Safer Waters in Massachusetts, or other organizations.

For more information, go to 01908.org.

E-mail David Rattigan at DRattigan.Globe@gmail.com.
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