WORKING AGAINST HOMELESSNESS: School on Wheels of Massachusetts, an Easton-based nonprofit that provides educational assistance for children affected by homelessness, recently celebrated its first 10 years of success with a Foxborough gala that raised more than $100,000. The group awarded David Howe of Easton its first "Champion for Our Kids" award, for his longstanding commitment to its cause.
"Homelessness is a serious issue in this country, and it's everywhere," Howe said in a phone interview. "It's in my town and your town. What happens is a lot of kids migrate to the cities, but lots of homelessness starts out in the Eastons or the Sharons or the Wellesleys."
Howe enlists the aid of his family to help School on Wheels. His children have handed out school supplies, and one of his daughters has sung the national anthem at the group's fund-raisers. Howe and his wife, Karen, donate gifts for the organization's Christmas parties, as well as raise money.
Howe has done well in business, he said, as owner and president of Evolution Sports in Easton and Sharon and the J. Derenzo Cos. in Brockton, helping him and his family to give back to the community.
"We've all worked in there doing many things," he said. "It's important that we do."
Howe said he was humbled by the award but gives full credit for School on Wheels' success to its founder and executive director, Cheryl Opper, who he said "is awesome, and a tireless worker. I think in another 10 years, SOWMA will be five times as large."
Currently, the group has 22 program sites and has trained nearly 1,500 volunteer tutors who work with 1,700 homeless children living in shelters, hotels, and motels. When the agency began, it had two tutoring sites and 10 students. Four more sites are opening soon, Opper said, serving 50 more students. Currently, 34 School on Wheels students are in college.
Kerenne Paul spoke at the gala, the first student from the organization to graduate from college. The 22-year-old recounted her journey from being tutored at a family shelter in Middleborough to getting her degree in May from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. She now works as a program assistant at Harvard Medical School, and wants to pursue her master's degree at Harvard Extension School.
"Homelessness happens for a multitude of reasons," Howe said. "Services may not be available, or there are mental illness issues, or just bad luck. Thank God for people like Cheryl who get us involved to help."
For more information, visit www.sowma.org.
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Southcoast Health has opened a Southcoast Health Urgent Care Center at Wareham Crossing, said Keith A. Hovan, president and CEO of Southcoast Health. He said the center is a community resource for immediate, non-emergency care and is open to adults and children, who are not required to have a Southcoast primary care physician to use it. . . . Carson Potash of Dedham was named an exercise technician/intern at ProEx in Boston, a physical therapist-owned practice specializing in orthopedic, spine, and sports medicine. Potash is pursuing a doctorate of physical therapy at Northeastern University, and works in the university's campus recreation department as a yoga instructor. . . . Sean Killgoar of Hanover and Bonnie Simmons of Abington were named partners in the Braintree-based accounting firm of Kirkland Albrecht & Frederickson. Killgoar joined the firm in 2009 as an audit director, and holds a designation as a Certified Construction Industry Financial Professional. Simmons has been with the company since 2011, when she started as an audit director. . . . Lillian Downes of Weymouth was named senior account manager for Brilliant Move in Avon, a moving, logistics/relocation and storage firm. Downes has 25 years of industry experience, said Jean Brilliant, company founder and president.
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at email@example.com.