Ernie “The Bee” keeps on playing in Weston

Ernie “the Bee’’ Bilodeau of Waltham in action at  Sunrise Senior Living in Weston, where he has performed 85 times.
Ernie “the Bee’’ Bilodeau of Waltham in action at Sunrise Senior Living in Weston, where he has performed 85 times.

SING-ALONG WITH THE BEE: Twice a week for the past several years, Ernie “the Bee” Bilodeau of Waltham has driven his adult son Joey, who has Down syndrome, to get a strawberry frosted donut.

While passing by the Sunrise Senior Living facility in Weston on his usual route, the 72-year-old often thought to himself that the assisted-living residence “looks like a place that needs a piano player.” Two years after he inquired about volunteering, Bilodeau has celebrated his 85th performance, which as always ended with a sing-along.

Robin Zucker, activities and volunteer coordinator at Sunrise of Weston, said the residents and staff alike eagerly anticipate Bilodeau’s hourlong performances every Thursday afternoon.


“We’re very fortunate that Ernie found his way to us,” Zucker said. “Our residents love music. It’s a great way for them to reminisce while having a good time with each other.”

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Bilodeau, who is retired from his job as a computer programmer, holds a music degree and was a band leader and director for local musicals. He continually adds to his repertoire of more than 400 songs, which he keeps in constant rotation with the help of a spreadsheet. The most popular selections, he said, are show tunes, patriotic songs, religious hymns like “Amazing Grace,” and classics such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

“Music is healing at any age,” said Bilodeau, who quips that he may end up living alongside the residents he entertains. “It’s also a lot of fun.”

HELPING HEROES:Jerry Robbins, founder and owner of Newton-based Weldon Worldwide Services, was honored by the Boston Celtics at the Massachusetts State House on Aug. 6 for his support of the team’s Heroes Among Us outreach initiative.

Robbins, who lives in Hampstead, N.H., contacted the Celtics six years ago to offer his company’s chauffeured transportation services for free to each recipient of the team’s Heroes Among Us Award, which is presented at each home game to an individual or group for exceptional contributions to the community.


Robbins estimates that his company has provided more than 350 round-trip rides to the TD Garden from as far away as Western Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Timing is everything, he said, since award winners enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour before the game; they are formally recognized in a second-quarter presentation on the legendary parquet floor.

“We try to make it a complete evening,” Robbins said, “and that includes making them comfortable without going through the anxiety of driving into Boston.”

A longtime season-ticket holder, Robbins said he is continually humbled by the everyday heroes’ extraordinary acts of kindness, bravery, and selflessness.

He has a permanent reminder of each story in the form of a framed collage featuring the honorees’ photographs with the team’s captains, which the Celtics presented to him at the annual Heroes Among Us recognition ceremony.

“As long as I’m in business, we’ll continue to do this,” said Robbins, whose additional philanthropic efforts include donating transportation to breast cancer patients through the Needham-based Ellie Fund.


The award winners “are so appreciative, and we’re appreciative of them,” Robbins added. “It’s a privilege to be involved.”

TOP VOLUNTEER: Acton resident Lisa Robb was recently presented with the ActonBoxborough United Way Volunteer of the Year Award.

The United Way allocates grants to local health and human service organizations serving children, teens, seniors, families, and disabled community members. A former board member, Robb has been praised by her colleagues for the “energy and creativity” she brings to fund-raising. She founded the organization’s fall Casino Royale event three years ago, and has additionally contributed to a salsa dance party, summer cocktail party, and comedy shows.

In addition, Robb initiated the agency’s involvement in the Concord-Carlisle Community Chest Challenge mini-triathlon and relay race, with proceeds supporting three dozen local human service agencies, programs, and schools.

Robb, whose background is in sales and marketing, said the key is developing strong partnerships with local service organizations, town officials, and businesses whose sponsorships enable ticket sales and additional donations to directly benefit essential services.

Fund-raising “events are a great way to have fun while learning about local needs,” Robb said. “It’s all about awareness and helping your neighbors.”

For more information, visit www.abuw.org.

WAXING ARTISTIC: Several local artists are participating in a group show by MassWax, the Massachusetts chapter of International Encaustic Artists, at the Voltage Coffee & Art Gallery in Cambridge opening Friday and running until Oct. 6.

The 13 exhibiting members include Acton resident Kay Hartung, whose studio is in Maynard; Catherine Rogers of Shirley; Amalia Tagaris of Brookline, whose studio is in Needham; Nancy Tobey of Ayer; and Lola Baltzell of Brookline, who curated the event on behalf of MassWax.

Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves applying melted beeswax to rigid, porous surfaces such as wood, stone, and plaster. Because beeswax can be reheated and reshaped, as well as colored, textured, and polished, it can be used in painting, sculpture, and printmaking.

Cambridge resident Anna Schindelar, art director and curator at Voltage, said many people are fascinated by encaustic art, but don’t know how the pieces are created.

“This show will give our visitors insight into this very literally malleable medium,” she said, “and hopefully get more people involved in their local art scene.”

Artists will perform live demonstrations of the encaustic process during an opening reception Friday from 7 to 9 p.m., and throughout the duration of the exhibit.

For schedule updates and more information, visit www.voltagecoffee.com.

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

 Correction: Because of an editing error, a caption with the People column in Sunday’s Globe West misidentified a photo of artist Lola Baltzell