The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of September 24 to October 1, 2020

Mount Wachusett Community College “Tea Time Speakers Series” Returns for Fall 2020

September 21, 2020, Gardner, MA - The nationally recognized Tea Time Speaker Series returns this fall with “Leadership is Not a Title, It’s an Action” from award-winning speaker Erika Gilchrist on October 26, 2020.

Gilchrist, a 20 year veteran of the speaking circuit, is the author of over a dozen books, creator of the WTF – Women Thriving Fearlessly! Brand, and founder of the largest conference for women in business in the Chicago area – the Women Thriving Fearlessly Expo. Additionally, she has been featured as one of the one of the “15 Most Powerful Women on the South Side of Chicago,” Chicago Woman Magazine, WCIU, CLTV, and Rolling Out Magazine.

Co-sponsored by the MWCC Office of Student Life, the “Leadership is Not a Title, It’s an Action” event is ideal for emerging leaders, starting them off with a strong foundation on which to build their strengths and authenticity. The virtual event will be held on Monday, October 26th from 12:30 until 2 PM. To learn more and register, visit

In addition to sponsorship by Gateway to College and the President’s office at Mount Wachusett Community College, MWCC is proud to present our Tea Time Speaker Series in collaboration with Durham Technical Community College in Durham, NC and Gateway College and Career Academy at Riverside City College in Riverside, CA.

“The opportunity to connect our students with students from across the country is a silver lining to the current COVID-19 restrictions for in person events,” states Sharmese Gunn, Tea Time Speaker Series Creator at MWCC. “We are thrilled to be able to work with our partners in Durham and Riverside.”

In February, Tea Time will celebrate Black History Month with a panel focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the significant role they play in American history and education. In April, for Sexual Violence Awareness Month Tea Time will present The “Vagina Monologue Moments”, a shortened version of the episodic play written by Eve Ensler followed by a “Meet the Monologuers” question and answer session. April’s co-sponsor will be Pathways for Change, Inc., a rape crisis center serving Central Massachusetts whose mission is to provide services to those whose lives have been impacted by sexual violence and education geared toward ending violence.

The MWCC Tea Time Speaker Series fosters conversation among the college community and surrounding community members around diverse issues current to our community and society. Tea Time events reinforce cultural awareness within the college community, acknowledge differences, and creates a healthy dialogue around diverse topics. The Tea Time Speaker Series is sponsored by Gateway to College and the President's Office at Mount Wachusett Community College. To learn more and register for a Tea Time Speaker Series virtual event, please visit

MWCC Pays Tribute to James O. Garrison, Longtime Community Supporter and Philanthropist

September 23, 2020 - Gardner, MA - On Thursday, September 17, MWCC hosted a gathering of family and friends to honor the life of longtime trustee, supporter, and community leader James O. Garrison in front of the MWCC Garrison Center for Childhood Education which he made possible.

Joining family members were current and former members of the MWCC Foundation Board of Trustees and college administration members including GFA Federal Credit Union President and CEO Tina Sbrega, Winfield Brown, President and CEO of Heywood Healthcare, Mark Hawke past Mayor of Gardner, and Daniel Asquino, retired President of MWCC.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know and appreciate Mr. Garrison’s generosity,” noted master of ceremonies, MWCC President James Vander Hooven. “I know that his gentlemanly demonstration over many decades of community leadership and service was not a result of business success, it was a result of character. Every time I come over to read a story to the children at the Garrison Center for Childhood Education, I am reminded of the domino effect of his impact on the region.”

“Over the years Jim’s wisdom, sage advice and guidance improved us all. He was a much sought-after member on many community boards, “no” was not in his vocabulary and he always found time for us. His quiet yet unassuming way challenged us to always be our best, to make sure we lived up to the mission of serving our members and community,” remembered Sbrega. “His time with us was indeed a gift and a blessing. He meant so much to the Greater Gardner Community and the business he touched so generously. A humble man, a man of integrity, a genuine gentleman who leaves an indelible mark in our community.”

“A testament to his character was his dedication to the people of the Greater Gardner area,” added Brown. “Jim understood people, their challenges, their potentials and spent a lifetime creating opportunities. It is fitting that we stand before one of their major contributions to the college and the region. Jim’s contribution to the health and social wellbeing of the Greater Gardner helped to weave a sustainable network of resources that were scarce and that without today would pose monumental challenges to our regions most vulnerable residents and social service organizations.”

“It is not only the large things he did, but truly the small acts of kindness and humanity that deeply touched me,” continued Brown. “Jim’s noble character and kind spirit live on in my organization, the Heywood Healthcare group. Jim was a blessing to Heywood Healthcare and the region at large and his legacy lives on and will endure.”

Dan Asquino, retired president of MWCC, remembered his close friend “We did not golf together, fish together, boat together, we just spent time together. Our friendship developed over many years and was enhanced over that time. The world in my estimation is a better place because of Jim Garrison and his family, while at the same time we are a little bit emptier because of his loss.”

In honor of the Garrisons enduring legacy, a scholarship has been established through the generous contributions of Heywood Healthcare, GFA Federal Credit Union and The MWCC Foundation. The James and Peggy Garrison Scholarship Fund will provide a $1,000 scholarship per academic year to a student in the MWCC Early Childhood Program selected as an “exceptional student” by faculty.

“I am pleased to introduce the first recipient of the James and Peggy Garrison Scholarship, Ms. Julia Richard,” announced President James Vander Hooven to the gathering. “Throughout her time at Mount Wachusett Community College Julia has maintained an exemplary GPA while working for the Department of Developmental Services in a group home for gentlemen with intellectual and physical disabilities. Julia is an active member and officer of the Early Childhood/Elementary Education Club. She is always willing to work with her classmates whether fundraising, planning, or implementing events with a positive and enthusiastic attitude. She embodies the qualities essential to being an early childhood professional: passion, positivity, intelligence, empathy, and flexibility.”

“Julia would tell you that some of the many lessons and skills she learned from the Garrison teachers were kindness, the importance of positive interactions and relationships, and creating a safe and loving environment for children,” said Garrison Center Liaison and Associate Professor of Early Childhood and Elementary Education Maureen Provost.

“Julia’s goal is to teach first through third Grade,” added Rosanne Morel, Early Childhood and Elementary Education Chairperson. “Children and families are fortunate indeed to have Julia as their teacher. She cares about others and will be impactful in her work. And, like Mr. Garrison, truly understands the importance of high-quality Early Childhood Education.”

Due to the need to social distance, in-person attendance at this event was limited. However, the event was live streamed by the MWCC Media Services department, and the recording is available at