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By Lorelei Erisis | October 29, 2018 | 3 Minute Read
During the fight to protect and support the Yes on 3 Massachusetts 2018 Campaign, it’s important to have allies. An ally that I’ve known for many years in the struggle for full transgender equality is Nancy Stager, Eastern Bank’s executive vice president for human resources and charitable giving.
Her passion and dedication to working for good in her community is nothing short of inspiring. “I am—and have always been since I was a little kid—a fairness monitor, and a vocal voice for making sure that people are treated fairly.”
Stager joined the human resources’ division of Eastern Bank in 1995. Despite feeling hesitant about leaving the tech industry to join a bank, she felt that she could help evolve the culture. Luckily, Stan Lukowski, the chairman of Eastern at the time, was especially committed to the concept of community banking. And in a theme pointing toward her present work on the Yes On 3 campaign, joining Eastern Bank made Stager think more about other missions that the organization could support within the community.
Her commitment to the work she does is both infectious and uplifting. “It isn’t an ad campaign, it’s our DNA,” Stager said about the culture at Eastern Bank. “And for it to really be authentic and real, that takes effort every day.”
And the work that Stager does in the community, as a representative of Eastern, often intersects closely with areas that she is passionate about. For example, Eastern donates 10 percent of their net profits to charity every year to more than 1,600 organizations. In addition to donating millions of dollars, Stager—along with other employees of the bank—volunteer more than 60,000 hours of their time every year. It’s a perfect illustration of how Eastern Bank’s commitment to their values is really at the core of the company as well as its employees.
Stager’s work and support extend to issues affecting people across the world. Just recently, she attended a board meeting at Manomet, an international science and outreach-focused nonprofit, based in Plymouth that does research to, “come up with practical solutions for climate change issues.”
As far as the Yes on 3 Massachusetts 2018 Campaign goes, Stager urges everyone to vote. “I see the Yes on 3 question as one of the critical civil rights questions of our time,” she said. “It’s about respect and dignity, and allowing people to be who they are.”
She spoke passionately about her belief that transgender people should have the opportunity to simply be who they are, without stigma and with their basic rights protected. Then all of the energy they spend having to hide, or even just survive, could be turned toward more positive pursuits. They could be better able to work for the good of their families and their communities.
After learning more about what happened to the transgender community in North Carolina with the bathroom bill, Nancy Stager and Eastern Bank have been working especially hard, urging all to support the transgender community and vote yes on 3 here in Massachusetts.
“People who are transgender just want to live their life fully, and authentically,” Stager concluded. “Taking [the law] away will only impact a very small population. But if you start taking away civil rights from one small population, you can start taking them away from others. And that’s a really dangerous precedent.”
Join Nancy Stager and Eastern Bank for Good and vote Yes On 3 this November!
By Satta Sarmah Hightower | July 23, 2018 | 3 Minute Read
Massachusetts is steeped in history, from Salem’s House of Seven Gables to the Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord. While these famous sites attract visitors from around the world every year, there’s another important piece of the state’s history that’s worth checking out: Nantucket’s Black History Trail.
Like Boston, Nantucket was a key part of the freedom trail movement. Coordinated by the Museum of African American History and the Friends of the African Meeting House on Nantucket, the Black History Trail spans two significant locations that are part of the island’s black history—Downtown and New Guinea. The trail includes 10 sites across the two locations that will help you learn more about the lives of Nantucket’s Black community.
In the 1600s, the first enslaved Africans came to Nantucket with white settlers and about 160 years later, the island’s Black population numbered only 44 people. In 1773, Nantucket abolished slavery and African-Americans found jobs as laborers, tradesman, and farmers—and eventually within whaling industries. By 1820, the island’s Black population had grown to 274 and continued to increase throughout the early 1800s as Nantucket’s whaling industry grew.
One of the most prominent sites on Nantucket’s Black History Trail is the African Meeting House, which was built in the 1920s by the African Baptist Society. It’s served as a church, school, and social haven for the island’s Black community. Though the Meeting House closed in 1911, it reopened in 1999 after the Museum of African American History collected grants and donations to restore it. The Meeting House, which is located in New Guinea, also holds the distinction of being the only public building in Nantucket that the island’s Black community built and occupied during the 19th century.
The Florence Higginbotham House, located on York Street next to the African Meeting House, is another historic site on the trail. The house is named after Florence Higginbotham, an African American cook who moved to Nantucket to work for some of the island’s wealthy families. Higginbotham earned enough money through her work to buy the home, the meeting house, and two other buildings. The house was previously owned by Seneca Boston, a former slave who purchased the land in the late 1770s. Since then and for the better part of 200 years, the home was owned solely by African Americans.
“From Seneca Boston to Florence Higginbotham, we know at once that this home is a symbol of the sophistication of a Black community, who with great intention and a sense of purpose lived their lives to shape the world. This family was not simply reacting and surviving in this new republic, but put down roots,” museum officials said in a press release detailing the home’s historical and architectural significance.
The African Meeting House and the Florence Higginbotham House are just two of the four sites on the New Guinea section of the tour. Five Corners features the homes of prominent African Americans in Nantucket like Seneca Boston and Civil War veteran Sampson Pompey. There’s also the “Colored Cemetery,” where some of the island’s well-known African American community members are buried including Pompey, several religious leaders, and Eunice Ross, who helped to integrate Nantucket High School.
Downtown sites on the trail include the Unitarian Church, Sherberne House, Anna Gardner’s House, the Atheneum, Dreamland Theater, the Whaling Museum, and the Folger Museum.
Nantucket may be known for its secluded beaches and beautiful harbors, but the island also has strong ties to African American culture and heritage. Take some time to learn about this rich, cultural history during your visit.
Learn more about Nantucket’s Black History Trail and how the island is home to more than just beautiful beaches.
By Michael Givens | May 11, 2018 | 2 Minute Read
With 11 chapters across Massachusetts, from Cape Cod to Springfield, Keep Massachusetts Beautiful (KMB) has spent the last four years prioritizing recycling, litter cleanup, and beautification efforts in Bay State communities. They’re calling on all Massachusetts residents and visitors to do their part and keep the commonwealth clean.
“At the time, in 2014, there was no organization that was focused on cleaning up and preventing litter in Massachusetts,” said Neil Rhein, founder and executive director of KMB. “I saw the great success and impact our local affiliate, Keep Mansfield Beautiful, had in Mansfield and decided that this model could succeed in towns and cities across Massachusetts.”
KMB’s three areas of impact are beautification and community greening, waste reduction and recycling, as well as litter prevention and cleanup. The organization’s staff and member chapters explore local communities to pick up litter, recycle waste, and implement small projects that clean up local public spaces such as parks, monuments, traffic-heavy roads, and wooded areas. Rhein said he saw a distinct need in the Bay State to reduce high levels of litter in public spaces while also ensuring Massachusetts’ beauty remained intact for families moving into the state as well as visitors.
“We need to change the culture here in Massachusetts that simply tolerates the vast amounts of litter and debris that can be seen along virtually every highway and roadside,” he continued. “Tourism is a big part of our economy in Massachusetts, and current visitors cannot be impressed by the trash they are seeing. A cleaner, greener, litter-free Massachusetts is good for our residents, businesses, and our economy.”
Along with community projects to clean up areas of concern in Massachusetts, KMB and its local chapters also educate the public on the importance of recycling, picking up litter, and creating green spaces. As part of this community outreach and education, Marsha Goldstein—chapter president of Keep North Attleborough Beautiful (KNAB)—recently spent a full week educating kindergartners at five local schools about the importance of recycling. Goldstein taught the children about the importance of using cloth bags over plastic bags. She also taught the students about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—the largest accumulation of plastic in the world that floats in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California. She discussed the impact of littering on land and sea animals like turtles and fish.
When it comes to beautification projects, volunteering not only provides a service to our communities, it also provides an opportunity to build and sustain relationships. Some community members decided to volunteer to enjoy the great outdoors and lend a helping hand for the beautification of their state. By doing so, they were also able to spend time with neighbors. Rhein said that the signature statewide event, the Great Massachusetts Cleanup, is often successful because of the dedicated volunteers who show up for events every year.
“Our flagship program…attracted nearly 7,000 volunteers in 84 communities in 2017,” Rhein said. “These volunteers removed more than 136 tons of trash. The economic value of these volunteer hours exceeded $530,000.”
KMB’s board chair, Jane Peterson Ellis, started volunteering with her local chapter about 11 years ago and has been thoroughly engaged since. Her hope for the years to come is that KMB will grow across Massachusetts.
“I want every activist in Massachusetts working on clean and green initiatives to be aware of the resources and support [that] KMB can provide,” she said. “Eventually, I want to see a map showing KMB-supported organizations blanketing the state. That impact will create a cleaner, more beautiful, and healthier present and future for Massachusetts residents.”
Volunteer with a local chapter or with the statewide organization Keep Massachusetts Beautiful to do your part in creating a green future for the next generation.