Wellesley charity roundup: Library virtual gala flies by; Historical Society looks to the future; Junior Women’s Club rekindles fundraising efforts; Friendly Aid annual appeal; Thanksgiving dinner to be delivered to seniors

Our roundup of the latest Wellesley, Mass., non-profit news:

Library virtual gala flies by, raises funds

The prospect of sitting through a Zoom meeting at night after a full day on the computer for work is a tough sell. But when the Wellesley Free Library Foundation asked us if we’d be interested in attending its Virtual Gala this past week, we agreed since we are huge library fans.

And we have to give organizers huge credit for pulling off an enjoyable online event that flew by and raised a boatload of money for the organization, which funds library projects and resources such as unique play spaces, tech classes for kids and older patrons, and English as an additional language courses.  A silent auction and virtual paddle raise, along with ticket sales, fueled the fundraiser.

The traditional country club affair was not quite as swanky usual, though the Foundation made attendees feel special by arranging for elves to drop off gift boxes earlier in the day packed with fancy chocolates, cheese, and more.

We spotted a few nice dresses during the web conference, but most attendees went casual, some eating their dinners as they took in the action. Predictably, Lynne Smith stole the fashion show, though in a more understated way than usual. Her necklace and earring combo, paying homage to the the Foundation as well as the books of gala guest Susan Orlean, was magnificent.

lynne smith
Lynne Smith, center, sporting a necklace of tiny Susan Orlean boos. Also shown: Orlean, top left, host Lisa Hughes, bottom left, and Gary Smith.


Magnificent too were author Orlean and local news anchor and Wellesley library patron Lisa Hughes, who emceed the gala and interviewed the author of books such as The Orchid Thief, and more recently, The Library Book (a good read that intersperses personal history, library history, and a suspected crime).

Orlean acknowledged the morphing of libraries, but didn’t lament those changes. “Libraries have evolved since the beginning of time,” she said.

They aren’t “museums of books,” Orlean said. Rather, they “are spaces open to communities, open to everyone,” she said.

Upcoming changes to the Wellesley Free Library that Town Meeting this week threw its support behind are in that spirit.

Orlean said that with so many people working remotely—and getting used to the idea—could actually boost library use by those who stop toiling at traditional offices.

But here’s hoping the Foundation, notwithstanding its successful online gala, will be able to get everyone together in person the next time it holds the fundraiser.


Wellesley Historical SocietyThe future is now for the Wellesley Historical Society

For several years now there has been a sign reading “Future Home of the Wellesley Historical Society” in front of 323 Washington Street, which the 501(3)(c) organization purchased in 2012. The longer the sign has been there, the more frequently the group  has been asked “So when is the future going to happen?”

The fact is, the Historical Society has been moving toward the future since they bought the 4,000 square-foot space, raising over $1 million dollars that has gone to architectural planning; accessibility improvements; lighting; IT infrastructure; painting; and partial mortgage paydown.

Now they are launching a Capital Campaign to raise an additional $1.5 million to complete the project and realize the goal of having the space to collect, preserve, and share Wellesley’s history for many years to come.

More information here about the Wellesley Historical Society’s Capital Campaign and how to get involved

WHJWC fundraiser — Wellesley Home for the Holidays

Wellesley Hills Junior Women's ClubThe Wellesley Hills Junior Women’s Club is putting together two fundraisers. They’re rekindling an old favorite, Luminary Night, and bringing in something new, the Wellesley at Home Cookbook. Here are the details:

Luminary Night

WHAT: On Luminary Night, residents and local businesses are encouraged to line their front walks and driveways with the soft glow of candle-lit lanterns, a unifying site that can be safely enjoyed from a distance. The pre-packaged kits of 10 luminaries will be available for purchase here. New this year, a reusable tote bag stuffed with seasonal swag will complement each kit. Kits with totes are $30, with the option of purchasing additional kits of 10luminaries for $20.

WHEN: Friday, December 11th (rain date Sunday,December 13th)

Cooking up a storm

WHAT: The WHJWC has put together a limited edition Wellesley at Home Cookbook, unlocking access to cherished recipes from notables in the local food scene as well as tried-and-true favorites from current and former WHJWC members. Suitable for gifting to teachers, friends, and family near and far, it will be available for purchase for $35 on the website, along with the Luminary kits.

FUN FACT: Mrs. Swellesley has contributed a fabulous, quick, and easy chicken recipe that has saved dinner many a night at our house.

Thanksgiving dinner for senior citizens

wellesley fire thanksgiving dinner
Thanksgiving Dinner 2019

The Thanksgiving Dinner hosted annually by the Wellesley Fire Department will take place as a delivered meal on Sat., Nov. 21st, and is open to the first 200 Wellesley residents over the age of 60 who register. Registration can be done on My Active Center or by calling the Tolles Parsons Center at 781-235-3961 beginning on Wed., Oct. 28th at 9am.

Wellesley Friendly Aid keeps close to service mission during socially distant times

wellesley friendly aidWellesley Friendly Aid (WFA), a local 503(c) charity, has launched its annual fund raising appeal with letters and emails sent to Wellesley residents and businesses. All dollars raised are used to help Wellesley residents.

“Each fall we ask neighbors to help neighbors by making a donation,” said Deb Cogill, president of the 17-member Board of Directors. “Our funds come almost exclusively from Wellesley residents and organizations, and they are used for a range of programs to help our neighbors in need. Our Board members not only oversee the organization, but also serve as volunteers who organize and assist with many of these activities.”

Please make a donation directly through Wellesley Friendly Aid or by responding to the Annual Appeal mailing. For more information, contact Karen Mondell at office@wellesleyfriendlyaid.org.

Throughout 2020, WFA has been there to help residents with financial emergencies, many of which were linked directly to the pandemic. Some lost service jobs and others had medical or dental issues. Most summer camps were closed, but WFA helped support a COVID-compliant summer program for children of low-income residents. In years past, WFA has provided assistance with camp tuition for these students from preschool through middle school and anticipates doing so again, post- pandemic.

Many seniors and disabled residents living in Wellesley public housing are experiencing social isolation due to the pandemic. WFA sent notes with gift cards to let them know they are not alone. Normally WFA sponsors monthly socials for these residents, but unfortunately, these programs had to be curtailed.

Recently, WFA purchased a wireless printer and supplies for the many students living on Barton Rd who have been unable to print homework due to lack of access to a printer. With online schooling, being able to print assignments has become a necessity.
Some of the ongoing WFA programs include: mentoring first-generation high school students through the college application process, loaning medical equipment to any resident with such a need, and allocating emergency aid. There are photographs
and additional information about all programs here.

“At this time of year we also distribute Roche Bros. gift cards to needy families and senior citizens so they are able to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with a special meal,” said Karen Mondell, program administrator. In terms of emergency aid, Deb
said that every request is screened. Many of them are heart-breaking.

“We are a helping hand, but not ongoing support. Sometimes low-income individuals are just blindsided by bad luck and have no resources available to them. We have families, for example, hit with emergency medical bills that they simply cannot pay given their rent, utilities and other bills,” she said, “and sometimes cars and appliances break down at the same time. During the pandemic many residents have found themselves with even fewer sources of support to rely on.”

Last year Wellesley Friendly Aid assisted close to 400 residents through one or more of their programs. That support was made possible by donations to the annual fund.

“The generosity of Wellesley residents allows Wellesley Friendly Aid to help our neighbors,” said Deb Cogill, “and we count on those donations to continue this work. We are a quiet charity, but a lifeline for those less fortunate in our community.”