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Plymouth girl visits El Salvador

Maria D’Ambrosio (left) of Plymouth and Halley Husted of Westwood in El Salvador.
Maria D’Ambrosio (left) of Plymouth and Halley Husted of Westwood in El Salvador.

EYE-OPENING TRIP ABROAD: Maria D’Ambrosio  spent part of last summer in El Salvador, learning about the lives of people who seemingly don’t have it as good as many Americans, but are in many ways far happier, she said.

“It made me appreciate what I have so much more,” said the 15-year-old sophomore at Plymouth North High School. “Whenever I hear someone complain that they don’t have the latest iPhone, I think of the people I saw there. They have barely anything, but they are the happiest people I’ve ever met.”

It was a great experience seeing other people’s lifestyles and interacting with them, she said.


“It’s great to see how they build their community around what they have, they can build so much out of so little,” she said. “Their houses are made of concrete and sheet metal and stone, but they appreciate what they have.”

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D’Ambrosio also enjoyed the food in her eight-day trip, which was organized by the Youth Leadership Academy, a program for ninth- and 10th-graders in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

“The food was so good, their favorite food is a tortilla stuffed with silk beans and cheese, called the ‘pupusa,’ ” she said.

She is a member of Christ Church in Plymouth, where she is an acolyte and plays the piano during church services. She plays the French horn as well, and would like to study music in college, and be involved with missions to other countries that involve music and music education.

She said she really learned what was important to the people of El Salvador when she joined a young boy playing marbles at a church. He was happy to share his with her, she said.


“It turned out to be one of the most moving experiences of my trip,” D’Ambrosio said. “It’s the things that we have, not the things that we want, that mean the most to us. I learned a very important lesson: Sometimes a few marbles is enough.”

WESTWOOD YOUTH IN “MONEY MATTERS”: Joseph Paul  of Westwood performed in “Money Matters” in October at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The show was created by Central Square Theater’s Youth Underground in collaboration with Cambridge Savings Bank’s CSBsmart Financial Education Program. It was performed in front of 300 Boston high school students and financial educators. Since its opening production in January, “Money Matters” has helped educate those in local schools across eastern Massachusetts and runs through the end of the school year.

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Richard Testa  of Abington was promoted to vice president and senior retail bank officer, and Vicky Jo Barbieri  of Plymouth to assistant vice president and residential and consumer loan officer at the South Shore Bank headquarters in Weymouth. Testa also serves on the board of the Weymouth Rotary Club and is chairman of the Weymouth Business Council of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce. Barbieri was recently assistant vice president and mortgage underwriting officer of South Shore Bank. She is a member of the Plymouth Lions Club.

  Julia Smith of Hanover joined South Shore Bank as manager of its Shaw’s Plaza branch in Weymouth. She comes to the bank after 11 years working with Sovereign Bank.

Dawn Mostow of Norwood, who owns Dawnamatrix Designs, teamed up with the Kanto Foundation to reveal the United States debut of her latex couture fashion, at Boston Fashion Week in October. Mostow said latex couture is a “revolution in fashion, merging fine art with high fashion,” and that her new collection for men and women features exclusive textured latex in unique patterns. Through the Kanto Foundation, the fashion-week event benefited the Soma City Earthquake Disaster Orphan Scholarship Fund and Hikobae Project, a theatrical play in English, based on the 2011 Japanese earthquake, Mostow said.  For information on the Kanto Foundation, visit  


Norwood resident Cindy McGrath, communications director of the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission, was elected to the New England Employee Benefits Council’s board of directors. The council is a 1,350-member nonprofit that advances knowledge and education in employee benefits for 2.5 million employees.

Cravings Café has opened a restaurant at 9 Grove St., Norwell, a location most recently occupied by Sal’s Pizza. Cravings Café is a franchise co-founded by Jay Johnson  of Duxbury, and also has restaurants in Kingston and Duxbury. The Norwell operation seats 32 and employs 35 full- and part-time workers, Johnson said. The fare includes artisan pizzas, charbroiled Angus burgers, wraps, hand-cut fries, and cupcakes. Johnson said the business is looking to open another four to six locations in the next three years.

Duxbury resident Gerald Nightingale  was named to the Easter Seals Massachusetts board of directors. He is director of IT Business Continuity and Risk Management at State Street Global Advisors in Boston, where he is a member of the State Street’s Disability Employee Resource Group. He also serves as chairman of Duxbury’s Special Education Parent Advisory Committee and is the co-chair of the Duxbury Municipal Commission for the Disabled.  

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at