FABRIC OF CULTURE: About 20 years ago, Dover resident Mahmud Jafri was greatly amused when one of his daughter’s young playmates arrived at their home for a birthday party wearing a Disney Princess Jasmine costume, thinking that’s how all Muslim girls dress.
The episode made him wonder whether his role as CEO of a rug and home furnishings store might provide a teaching opportunity.
“Elementary-age children are so fascinated when they see something different,” Jafri said. “They have an open heart and mind to explore further.”
Since that time, Jafri has offered a free educational outreach program on the art of rug-making to third- and fourth-graders. The interactive workshop is designed to promote better understanding of the culture and traditions woven into rugs, and the stories that are told through their colors, symbols, and motifs.
Each workshop lasts approximately two hours, taking place either at the school or the Dover Rug & Home showroom on Route 9 in Natick. Students learn how the wool is dyed from colors made from natural products, the weaving techniques, designs, and all steps involved to complete a rug. Children then design their own carpet square.
Jafri said teachers often integrate the workshop with classroom lessons on Middle Eastern cultures. In addition to encouraging an appreciation for artistic integrity, he said, he hopes to provide a “human element to bridge the gap between politics and propaganda, which have created serious prejudices and stereotypes.
“This may be a small way of opening a window into another culture that isn’t so different from their own,” Jafri added, “but I think it’s meaningful.”
PAYING IT FORWARD: Distinctive Hospitality Group president Lou Carrier of Hopkinton remembers the support his family received from the Ronald McDonald House as he battled Hodgkin’s disease as a teenager.
To repay that kindness forward, he recently formed a partnership between his company’s latest restaurant, SKYBOKX 109 GastroSports in Natick, and Team IMPACT, a Quincy-based nonprofit that matches children facing life-threatening illnesses with sports teams at colleges across much of the United States.
Meals are offered free to Team IMPACT kids and discounted 50 percent for their parents at each visit to SKYBOKX 109, and a line for a
donation to the organization is printed on every guest check to assist with its fund-raising. In addition, information about Team IMPACT is on display at the restaurant’s entrance, and its events and other news are promoted via the restaurant’s website, newsletter, and social media platforms.
Bryan McDavitt, director of medical and athletic outreach at Team IMPACT, said that at least one child is currently matched with a team at 75 percent of the colleges in New England. Local examples include the football team at Framingham State University, women’s basketball at Bentley University in Waltham, swimming at Wellesley College, men’s lacrosse at Regis College in Weston, softball at Brandeis University in Waltham, and multiple teams at Wellesley’s Babson College and Boston College in Chestnut Hill.
The college athletes gain inspiration and life perspective from the relationships, Carrier said, and provide valuable support and camaraderie to their young “teammates.”
“I hope that for at least a little while,” he said, the Team IMPACT kids “are able to forget about their disease.”
For more information, visit www.goteamimpact.org.
FIRST FICTION FORAY: Dr. Nick Trout of Westborough
has had no shortage of material for his previous nonfiction books, which were based on his work as a staff surgeon at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.
In his debut novel, “The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs,” he bends the “facts and details to fit a story I’ve always wanted to tell,” said Trout (inset below).
The tale chronicles the return of veterinary pathologist Dr. Cyrus Mills to rural Vermont after a 15-year absence to take over the failing veterinary practice of his late father, from whom he has been long estranged. Although he intends to sell quickly and leave town, Mills discovers a connection to the town and its residents, both two- and four-legged.
Trout said fiction writing was the next logical step in his literary career. Previously, he wrote “Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing, and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon,” “Love Is the Best Medicine: What Two Dogs Taught One Veterinarian About Hope, Humility, and Everyday Miracles,” and “Ever by My Side: A Memoir in Eight Pets.”
“There have been many occasions when a case didn’t have a happy or feel-good ending, or a quirky or demanding client didn’t translate into an interesting story,” noted Trout, who also writes the “Second Opinion” column for a magazine aimed at dog enthusiasts, the Bark . “Fiction writing is a vehicle to elaborate on stories from my case files and take them in a direction that I want them to go, instead of where they went.”
Trout will host a reading and book-signing event Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Andover Bookstore, 89R Main St., in Andover. For more details, visit www.drnicktrout.com.
ROCK LOBSTER: Seven area students will perform in the Boston
Children’s Theatre production of “Reflections of a Rock Lobster,” opening Saturday and continuing through March 17 at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St., in Boston’s South End.
The play is based on the true story of Aaron Fricke, who in 1980 sued his Rhode Island high school and won the right to escort his boyfriend to the prom. Boston Children’s Theatre performed its world premiere last March, working closely with Fricke (who now lives in San Francisco) in addressing issues of bullying, prejudice, and civil rights.
Paul McCallion of Dover has the lead role, and Brookline’s Felix Teich plays Fricke’s boyfriend, Paul Guilbert. Other local youths in the 25-member cast include Hannah Doyon of Arlington, Emma Baxendale of Brookline, Julia Fein of Newton, Ainsleigh Caldicott of Sherborn, and Larson Miller of Weston.
For tickets and more information, call 617-424-6634, ext. 222, or visit www.bostonchildrenstheatre.org.
DANCE FOR CHANGE: The Lexington Global Warming Action Coalition’s sixth annual Go Green Dance will take place Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Heritage Hall, 177 Bedford St. in Lexington.
Trial Run, a band cofounded by Bedford lawyer Leonard Nason , will perform dance-friendly classic rock, blues, and Motown tunes.
According to Ricki Pappo, cochairwoman of the Lexington environmental group, the event’s proceeds will support efforts to raise awareness about climate change and promote actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Advance tickets cost $15, or $25 for two, at the Wales Copy Center, 1810 Massachusetts Ave. in Lexington. Tickets at the door are $20.
For more information, visit www.lexgwac.org.