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People

Jewish Family Services screening film on adoption

Katie and Gail Gregory of Framingham

Katie and Gail Gregory of Framingham

ADOPTION CELEBRATION: Fifteen years ago, Gail and Mike Gregory adopted their daughter, Katie, as an infant through Jewish Family Service of Metrowest, which is based in their hometown of Framingham.

“I have no doubt I would have been somebody’s mother, but I wouldn’t have been Katie’s mother without JFS,” Gail Gregory said, “and that has made all the difference in my life.”

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Gregory subsequently volunteered with the nonprofit agency, worked in its development department, and now serves as a vice president on its board of directors. Most recently, she helped organize an inaugural event to celebrate the Julia Michelson Memorial Adoption Education Series, to be held Thursday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Jordan’s Furniture in Natick.

The event will feature a screening of the award-winning documentary “Somewhere Between,” and a discussion and dessert reception with film director and adoptive parent Linda Goldstein Knowlton of California.

The series is the result of a donation from Holocaust survivor Max Michelson, a longtime Framingham resident who now lives in Newton, in memory of his wife of 62 years. Julia Michelson, a clinical social worker who had a special interest in adoption, died in 2011, at age 85.

Michelson said his wife would “wholeheartedly approve” of the fund he set up in her honor. The Michelsons helped start the local Jewish Family Service organization, and served as board presidents. Julia was among the board leaders who supported the launch of the Adoption Choices program in 1982.

Gregory said this week’s screening will have special meaning, aside from celebrating the importance of adoption.

“It’s a wonderful way to pay tribute to a wonderful woman whom we all miss very much,” she said.

The event is free, although registration is required; call 508-875-3100, ext. 100, or e-mail lshuster@ jfsmw.org. For more information, visit www.jfsmw.org .

FACING CANCER TOGETHER: After being treated for colon cancer in 2009, graphic designer and creative director Vartus Varadian was referred to Facing Cancer Together in her hometown of Newton, where she began taking Chinese brush-painting lessons as a way to take her mind off the disease.

When the group’s instructor, Randi Greenberg Meryl, lost her battle with cancer in June, Varadian stepped in to lead the class so its members could remain together.

Varadian will give a demonstration of Chinese brush painting at Giving Hope, an art exhibition and sale benefiting Facing Cancer Together taking place from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Waterstone at Wellesley, 27 Washington St. The event will also feature works by the Wishing Well Art Studio and a special tribute to the late Dr. Harriet Berman, cofounder and first executive director of the cancer support organization, whose nature photos will be on display.

Varadian enjoys the challenge of Chinese brush painting, and its rhythm of movement as watercolors are applied to rice paper in single strokes.

“It’s very therapeutic,” said Varadian, who is cancer-free once again, following a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia in 2010. “You’re with a nice group of people, and while you’re concentrating on this beautiful art, you forget all about your illness. It’s good for the soul.”

Funds raised at Giving Hope will benefit a wide range of support groups and programs, which are professionally facilitated at no cost to participants of all levels. For tickets and more information, call 617-332-5777 or visit www.facing-cancer.org.

SECOND STEP:Sarah Perry and her husband, Tony Kingsley, readily agreed last year to host a private dinner party as part of a fund-raising event for the Second Step, an agency fighting domestic violence in their hometown of Newton.

The couple is repeating the gesture for this year’s event on Nov. 2, but with an added commitment. Perry became the nonprofit organization’s executive director in June.

This year, they will host Dr. Robin Cook, author of medical thrillers including “Coma” and “Cure,” for Step Up to the Plate, an evening of simultaneous dinner parties at homes in Brookline, Chestnut Hill, Concord, Newton, and Weston. The event, which is in its ninth year, has raised approximately $1 million since its inception, with the money going to support of domestic-violence survivors and their children.

Also among the 13 celebrity speakers are Newton resident Barbara Brilliant, creator and executive producer of “Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy” on PBS; Hudson resident Jan Volk, former general manager of the Boston Celtics; former US congressman Barney Frank of Newton; Needham resident Gianfranco Zaccai, president and chief design officer of Continuum in West Newton; and Newton resident Dan Shaughnessy, a Boston Globe sports writer and commentator.

Perry said October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month is yet another opportunity to raise funds and awareness of the community resources available to its victims.

“Our work can be intense, because of the stories of trauma we hear,” she said, “but it’s also fulfilling because of the difference our staff makes in people’s lives every day.”

The dinner parties begin at 7 p.m., with tickets starting at $225. For more information, call Susan Keliher at 617-965-4173, e-mail skeliher@thesecondstep.org, or visit www.thesecondstep.org. The reservation deadline is Monday.

COMICS CONNECTION: Monsters, vampires, witches, and superheroes of all ages are invited to the Halloween ComicFest 2013 celebration Saturday at the Comic Stop, 134A Main St. in Watertown.

The event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will feature cartoon doodling by Popeye creator Fred Grandinetti of Watertown, who hosts the award-winning cable-access series “Drawing With Fred.” Appearances are scheduled at 10 a.m. with Spider-Man and Los Angeles-based actor Cuyle Carvin, who has been in multiple horror films.

Free comic books will be given out, and donations will be collected for veterans services during the event.

For more information, call 617-926-3430 or visit www.facebook.com/thecomicstop.

LECTURING LOCALLY: Arlington resident Robert McKersie , a professor emeritus of MIT’s Sloan School of Management, will discuss his new memoir, “A Decisive Decade: An Insider’s View of the Chicago Civil Rights Movement,” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Arlington High School, 869 Massachusetts Ave.

The moderator will be former Arlington High principal Charles Skidmore of Cambridge.

The program is part of Arlington Community Education’s “Conversations” series.

Admission is $5; reserve a seat by calling 781-316-3568 or go to www.arlingtoncommunityed.org.

People items may be submitted to Cindy Cantrell at cindycantrell20@ gmail.com.
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