You Can’t Beat A Drum Circle!

By Mary Stanley, PR and
Marketing Coordinator, Mary Stanley

If there is any question about the benefits of a drum circle, it was answered this past month when music instructor Sean Carr brought his djembe drums to Pembroke Library for a community drumming workshop. This all inclusive circle, which brought together people from the community with individuals from New England Village, had the same results as previous drumming events: lots of laughter, lots of participation, and a little bit of noise!

As Sean so eloquently states at the beginning of each of his circles, everybody has rhythm. If you have a heartbeat, you have rhythm—and then he goes on to prove his theory.

If there are any inhibitions about joining the circle, those are wiped out within the first 5 to 10 minutes. In no time at all, when people hear the drumming and feel the rhythm, it somehow becomes infectious, and everyone is eager to join in. As Sean points out, there is no wrong way to drum. And he’s right—despite people meeting and drumming together for the first time, somehow they achieve cohesiveness and  harmony, as if by magic.

Beyond the music and the rhythm they create, without even realizing it, they are also achieving a kind of inner peace. Researchers and certified music therapists agree that drumming, like other forms of music, has a powerful effect on the brain and goes a long way in reducing stress and anxiety. Beyond that, researchers have found that drumming can relieve some forms of chronic pain. According to, drumming and other forms of music are great stress relievers. “Alongside the plethora of research on the effects of music on the brain, studies have found that drumming offers numerous health benefits. For women dealing with eating disorders, children with autism, cancer patients, war veterans living with PTSD, individuals with anger management issues, people with addictions, and even Alzheimer’s patients, drumming offers physical and emotional benefits.”

Drumming can be a form of communication or expression, says Sean, and is especially beneficial for those who have difficulty communication in the traditional manner. “When one person drums and another person answers that beat, either with a similar rhythm or something different, perhaps louder, that is a response. The two people are communicating,” he says.

To truly appreciate the transformation that occurs in a drum circle, you must witness this event. But be forewarned, one can only watch a drum circle for a short amount of time before they start tapping their feet, drumming their fingers, and asking to join the circle.

The Benefits of Buying Early

By Mary Stanley, PR and
Marketing Coordinator, Mary Stanley

As the calendar changes over to April, our thoughts may turn to spring and the gardening season. Though I do not have a garden of my own, I have a deep and profound appreciation for vegetables that are locally—and organically—grown. This appreciation was instilled in me by my grandfather, an avid gardener who grew a large variety of vegetables and whose bounty filled our dinner tables from July to November. Some of my fondest memories are of walking through the garden with him, as he proudly pointed to the small vegetables just starting to sprout from the plants. He taught me how to pick the ripest and sweetest tomatoes and what to look for in the perfect pepper. I loved spending summer days at my grandparents’ house; just before lunchtime my grandmother would send me out to the garden to pick yellow beans, tomatoes, or cucumbers, which she would then use for our lunch. Nothing tasted better than those meals made with the freshest of ingredients and an abundance of love.

Not everyone has the time or the space to grow an assortment of vegetables but that doesn’t mean we have lost our taste for fresh, organically grown produce. In fact, as more and more people place a high priority on eating healthy foods today, the demand for fresh fruits and vegetables has increased. But a trip to the local grocery store is not a guarantee that we are going to get the true farm to table experience—since not all of the produce is fresh and locally grown. One of the best ways to ensure that your table will be filled with the freshest of vegetables this summer is to buy a CSA. The acronym stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it refers to a program in which people buy “crop shares” in the early spring, and become CSA members. They pay for a 20-week supply of produce and begin picking up their “harvest” in June. By paying up front for their supply of vegetables, members are supporting the farmers during the planting and growing portion of the season and sparing themselves the expense and uncertainty of buying fresh vegetables at the grocery store.

The advantages to investing in a CSA program are as plentiful as the vegetables, themselves. Here are just a few good reasons to sign up for a CSA:

  • When you arrive at the farm stand to pick up your weekly supply of vegetables, chances are good that the produce was still on the vine or in the ground as recently as that morning, ensuring that your meals will truly be “farm to table” fresh.
  • CSA shares offer the opportunity to feed your family food that is free of pesticides and chemicals—is there a better reason to invest?
  • You get the benefit of having the “experts” select your produce. Because the weekly shares include vegetables that are ready for harvesting, the farmer and his crew—using their experience and expertise—are choosing which vegetables are ripe for picking.
  • Freshly picked, organically grown vegetables purchased at the farm tend to be less expensive than the organic vegetables sold in grocery stores.
  • Picking up your CSA shares at the farm stand gives you the opportunity to develop a relationship with your local farmer. If you bring your children with you, it gives them a better understanding of where their food comes from and an appreciation for the people who grow their food.
  • CSA shares tend to include a wide variety of vegetables, some that you may not be familiar with. This provides you with the opportunity to try something new—which is always a good idea.
  • And when you purchase your CSA from Colchester Neighborhood Farm and pick up your weekly shares, you get the chance to visit with Dapple, our famous celebrity donkey.

If you have not done so, please visit today and download an order form to sign up for your CSA shares.

There’s Nothing Down About It

A blog post by PR and Marketing Coordinator, Mary Stanley

On March 1st, we ushered in the campaign to “spread the word to end the word,” referring to the use of the “R” word.  This designated date fittingly rolls into a month-long promotion to raise awareness of Down syndrome. While most people are aware of this disability—and I use the term disability here, loosely—what we really need to stress this month are the abilities of people born with an extra chromosome.

In less than 30 minutes of research on people with Down syndrome, I came across several articles and blogs: one about a model, another about an author, and still another about a college student, all of whom possess the extra chromosome but refuse to let their diagnosis define who they are or limit what they can become. The common thread that runs through each of their stories is the need to change society’s perception of this disorder. Once we are able to do that and begin providing meaningful opportunities for individuals born with Down syndrome,  what we find are people who have the potential to live rich, fulfilling lives, who bring as much joy and love to friends and family as any other member of society.  From getting married—yes, I read about a couple celebrating 22 years of wedded bliss—to designing a clothing line, to owning their own businesses, to teaching pre-school, people with Down syndrome are demonstrating that, once the stigmas and, ultimately the barriers have been removed, anything is possible.

Changing the perceptions, I believe, begins with an understanding of who people with Down syndrome are and that understanding comes from families and friends sharing their wonderful and beautiful stories of the love and joy that these individuals bring to their lives and the overwhelming pride they feel in witnessing their accomplishments. “She doesn’t listen to what she can’t do and she makes everything seem possible.  Her smile alone is one that brings you joy in an instant.  We continue to be amazed at what she has overcome and how she has beaten such great odds.  No one looks at her and sees Down syndrome.  They look at her as a beautiful little girl who is ready to take on the world,” says a parent on the website,, an organization devoted to educating parents, future parents, and the world about Down syndrome.  Another parent on the website writes, “There is so much about Aiden that has brought our family joy and it’s hard to put it into words.  His smile alone is enough to melt your heart.  The constant love that he shows us is beyond words. He has brought our family and friends even closer just by being him and he has made all of us better people, more aware, more accepting. We couldn’t imagine life without him!”

To be clear, it is not just parents who have a profound love and admiration for people with Down syndrome. In a powerful essay written by 18 year-old Laura Hertzog, whose brother was born with Down syndrome, she writes, “ I didn’t ask for my brother to have Down syndrome, nor did my parents, nor did my brother. However, I know we can all agree David is the reason our family is so strong. It’s the reason my mother fights for to uphold human dignity every day. It’s the reason for my father’s compassion. It’s my reason for counting my blessings at night. It’s the reason for my sister’s generosity. Down syndrome may have put some road blocks in the way, may have caused some eccentric looks from strangers in the crowd, but ultimately Down syndrome has brought my family joy and has redefined perfection for each one of us.”

As we celebrate Down syndrome awareness month, and especially on March 21, which is World Down Syndrome Day, consider all that is possible for individuals with Down syndrome, when limitations are removed and opportunities of inclusion are offered. Please help others to better understand what it means to have Down syndrome by sharing your fondest and happiest memories of a person in your life with the extra chromosome.

The Sollar Wellness Center – Your Health is our Mission

Mary StanleyA blog post by PR and Marketing Coordinator, Mary Stanley

February can be a difficult month—usually cold and snowy—providing little motivation to stick to New Year goals and resolutions to stay fit, take better care of ourselves or to try something new. But thanks to community centers like the Sollar Wellness Center, getting healthy or stepping outside of our comfort zone to try new things, whether it’s a fitness program or an art class, has never been easier. Continue reading

A New Year and a Fresh Start

A blog post by PR and Marketing Coordinator, Mary Stanley

New Year’s Eve signifies the end of one year and the start of another—it is a time for reflecting on all that has occurred over the past 12 months and then looking toward the future with a renewed sense of optimism. For many people, 2016 may have been a difficult year—one that was fraught with difficulties or loss and 2017 represents a fresh start and a time to be filled with the hope that the next 12 months will be better than the last. Continue reading

In the Spirit of the Holidays

Mary StanleyA blog post by PR and Marketing Coordinator, Mary Stanley

With the holiday season well underway, it is difficult not to think about the spirit of giving and what that truly means. I remember as a child, carefully selecting items for the people on my list and being genuinely excited about giving the gifts I had chosen. Those memories serve as a reminder to me of what this season is really about—the sincere desire to give something special to someone for the sole purpose of letting that person know I care. Because of those experiences earlier in my Continue reading

Autumn: A time to celebrate family

Mary StanleyA blog post by PR and Marketing Coordinator, Mary Stanley

For many of us, the end of August marks a time when our children take that step into the next phase of their lives and go off to college. After moving them into their dorms and saying tearful good byes, the next time we get to see them may not be until Family weekend, typically scheduled for October or early November. When we come to visit at that time, we will see a change in them; they will have acclimated and adjusted to their new life, made new friends, and found a place where they are truly happy. They will be excited to share stories with us and we will find ourselves thoroughly enjoying our conversations with them. Continue reading

Art: A Reflection of Humanity

Mary StanleyA blog post by PR and Marketing Coordinator, Mary Stanley

While it is always inspiring  to see people participate in the annual Art is for Everyone event, this year it was especially moving and exciting to see people of all ages, abilities, and talent levels work together to create a piece that is both beautiful and a true reflection of the community.

Three years ago, New England Village joined forces with Cardinal Cushing Centers, Friendship Home, and South Shore YMCA to host a fun, art-focused event called Art is for Everyone. The mission of this event is to provide an opportunity to members of the community—those with and without disabilities—to  create pieces of art Continue reading

Remembering the Arts

As research into a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease continues, some in the medical field have discovered what those in the humanities have known for a very long time—that the key to living with this disease and other forms of dementia may be as close as your local art museum.

The impact that the arts have on the aging brain, especially one afflicted with memory issues, is nothing short of incredible. According to the website,, “studies show that art therapy can enhance communication, brain function, and social interaction for dementia patients. In fact, visual art can trigger dormant memories and emotions, inspiring conversations among these patients who normally struggle to express themselves. What’s more, when dementia patients create the art themselves, that activity stimulates the whole brain.” Continue reading