Barn Babies petting zoo returns to Watertown

ANIMAL MAGNETISM: The Barn Babies traveling petting zoo was forced to cancel its visit to the Watertown Free Public Library on April 19, when the city shut down while law enforcement officials searched for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

To comfort children still reeling from the violence in their hometown, Barn Babies will return to the library with an extended visit on May 20. Open to all Watertown youths, registrations are being accepted for slots beginning at 12:30 p.m., with subsequent half-hour sessions filled according to demand.

Kerri Ymer, who runs Barn Babies with her mother Linda Kauranen, said she expects to bring along up to 40 animals, including diapered lambs and goats, a pot-bellied piglet, and lots of bunnies, chicks, kittens, and puppies wrapped in receiving blankets. Ducklings may ­also make an appearance in the Barn Babies enclosure, in which children may sit and hold any of the animals.


Barn Babies also visits schools, town events, rehabilitation facilities, assisted living and nursing homes, and private parties with its menagerie, which is assembled from local farmers and breeders. The animals live on Kauranen’s farm in Lakeville until they grow up, at which time they are returned to the farmers and breeders or, in the case of some puppies and kittens, adopted through Barn Babies.

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Ymer said she believes that animals are therapeutic for all ages, but she hopes the babies bring special joy and relaxation to the children affected by recent events.

“I know there will be smiles and laughter,” the Taunton resident said. “We just want to make their day a little brighter.”

To register, call the children’s department at the library at 617-972-6435. For more information, visit www.barnbabies.com.

PEDAL PARTNERS: Eleven-year-old Olivia Bonfilio of Medfield, 10-year-old Ryan Keleher of Waltham, 4-year-old Nathan Hecker of Arlington, and 22-month-old Autumn Buxton of Fram­ingham will be recognized next Sunday at Fenway Park as “pedal partners” in the annual Pan-Massachusetts Challenge fund-raising bike-a-thon for cancer research.


During the event, pedal partners and their families will meet the cyclists participating in their honor while enjoying games, activities, and brunch. The celebration marks the kick-off of the 2013 PMC Pedal Partner Program, which matches young cancer patients with teams of cyclists who will ride up to 190 miles across Massachusetts on Aug. 3-4.

More than 5,500 cyclists are expected to take part in the event this summer, and raise $38 million for adult and pediatric cancer care and research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and its Jimmy Fund Clinic.

Lauri Bonfilio said this is the third year that her daughter ­Olivia, who was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia in 2010, has participated in the PMC Pedal Partner Program. The fifth-grader completed her final chemotherapy treatment on May 2.

“These people put their heart and soul into riding for these kids they don’t even know,” said Bonfilio, noting that Olivia’s team — which has grown to a dozen cyclists — presented her last year with a much-cherished photo album chronicling their efforts in her honor from the time they met. “The team is like our second family. Their overwhelming and unconditional love has kept me going.”

For more information, visit www.pmc.org.


HERO AMONG US: The only recognition Kim Charlson seeks for her advocacy efforts as director of the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library in her hometown of Watertown is increased awareness of its services for the sight-impaired.

However, she and her guide dog, Dolly, received a standing ovation as “Heroes Among Us” before a recent game between the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks at TD Garden.

Another ovation was earned by the Perkins School for the Blind’s secondary school chorus, which was led by choral director Arnie Harris of Needham through a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The annual Perkins Night at the Celtics spotlights the school’s longtime partnership with the Boston Celtics Shamrock Founda­- tion, which presented a $50,000 donation to Perkins president Steven Rothstein.

According to Charlson, the library serves Massachusetts residents who cannot read ­ordinary printed material due to visual impairment, reading disability, or physical disability. Its free services and materials include large-print, Braille, ­audio, and downloadable books and magazines; machines to listen to talking books; and the new Library Without Walls book club conducted via teleconferencing.

Charlson, who vividly recalls “shaking hands with very tall people with big hands,” said she appreciates the Celtics’ dedication to recognizing community members for their contributions at every home game.

“It was a nice tribute to the importance of this work,” said Charlson, “and a chance for me to say we’re here, it’s free, and we’re ready to help.”

For more information, visit www.perkinslibrary.org.

SILVER ANNIVERSARY: Cantor Jodi Schechtman of Temple Beth Am in Framingham was recently honored for her 25 years of leadership at the temple. A series of celebratory events included a special Shabbat service attended by more than 400 people and a dinner- dance gala.

A resident of Framingham, Schechtman came to Temple Beth Am following her investiture from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City in 1988. She was the first cantor hired at the temple.

In addition to leading worship services, Schechtman presides over births, bar and bat mitzvahs, and weddings, which she said make her feel “like an extended member of people’s families.” This, she added, makes her “always aware of what a privilege it is to share with people at their most precious moments.”

Schechtman is director of organizational partnerships for the American Conference of Cantors, a member of the boards of the Union for Reform Judaism and Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts, and a member of the New England Board of Cantors. This month, she is receiving an honorary doctorate in sacred music from her New York alma mater.

BOSTON STRONG TODAY: Several local family and children’s music artists will present the One Family Musical Festival on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Exchange Conference Center on Boston Fish Pier, at 212 Northern Ave. in Boston. The festival is free, but donations benefiting One Fund Boston will be collected.

Performers include two Arlington residents, organizer Karen Kalafatas of Karen K & the Jitterbugs and Ben Rudnick of Ben Rudnick and Friends; Brookline’s Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys; Stacey Peasley of Natick; and Josh and the Jamtones of Wellesley.

For more information, visit www.onefamilymusicfestival.com.

People items may be submitted to Cindy Cantrell at cantrell@ globe.com