From fishing to the visual arts, nonprofit leaders put heart and soul into their work and share ideas for a brighter future.By Lisa Leigh Connors | Photography by Paul Blackmore
When Angela Zoni Mault stepped into her role at the Creative Arts Center a year ago, people who visited the center would tell her, “This is the best-kept secret in town.” Mault’s response? “I don’t want it to be the best-kept secret in town! I want people to know we are here,” she said. To get the word out about the center’s programs and exhibits, Mault started sending out weekly emails to people. She continues to look at the center’s programs with a fresh eye to make sure they remain exciting, fun and vibrant. “We want to inform people of the wonderful art resource that we are and have more people benefit from our classes, demonstrations and exhibitions.” This year, Mault is excited about the annual Festival of the Arts in Chase Park, which features more than 100 exhibitors in August, and Chatham Sparkles, a plein air event where invited artists paint around town, in September. Not only does she ensure well-known artists are featured in the workshops, she also spruces up the place when needed. This winter, she replaced the carpet in one room with hardwood floors. “If something can be improved, I want to change it. If I look at something that needs to be redone, I will improve it and ask, ‘How can we do this better?’ “I feel like we have a good simmer going,” Mault said. “Changes are being made and people are excited about it.”
Despite the decline of cod and tougher fishing regulations, John Pappalardo remains hopeful for the future of the fishing industry on Cape Cod. He compares the industry’s challenges and transitions to the U.S. auto industry in the 1970s. “It’s in desperate need of a new vision, retooling and delivering a new set of products to consumers,” he said. Pappalardo, who has been with the alliance for 18 years, believes there’s an abundance of opportunities for those who want to earn a living from the sea. But catching the fish is the easy part, he said. “It’s dealing with the government and finances that are difficult. Enter the alliance. His organization helps fishermen acquire permits and assists with loans. His advice to fishermen: “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Focus on building a business plan that depends on two to three fisheries, including monkfish, tuna, skate, and lobster.” In the long term, Pappalardo believes the Cape should create its own seafood brand. “There is a business opportunity to create a company that harvesters can sell into; the company would produce a calendar so you could check your iPhone to see what is locally caught and available,” he said. “The seafood market is the next frontier and there’s nobody distributing it.”
Chatham resident Bob Hughes says his wife allows him one cat and one dog. It’s a good thing because Hughes said he could never live without animals. “I think a lot of people feel this way,” said Hughes, who started the Chatham Pet Pantry with Chatham Animal Control officer Meg McDonough about a year ago. After working at the food pantry at St. Christopher’s Church, he discovered there was a growing need to help pet owners feed their animals. The pet pantry is located in a temporary space at McDonough’s police department kennel on George Ryder Road. “If we can help someone through a short stint of time by giving a person cat or dog food or litter until they get back on their feet, they end up keeping their pet, as opposed to bringing it to a shelter,” says McDonough, who is actively seeking a permanent location. The pet pantry has bins at about 10 different businesses in Harwich and Chatham, including Agway and Stop & Shop, where people can donate food, dog beds and toys.
If you drive through Chatham, you don’t see poverty, but it does exist, said Pat Vreeland, who has worked with the Chatham Children’s Fund for nearly 30 years. Vreeland says the Angel Fund, the financial support for children’s fund, helped 124 families or about 240 kids this past holiday season. “For a small community who only has 700 school-age children, that’s a big chunk,” says Vreeland. The challenges? Making the community aware of less fortunate children, without compromising confidentiality. The combined services of the funds meet a variety of children’s needs — from warm clothing to scholarships for after-school care and assistance with food, fuel, and medical/dental, says Vreeland. Financial support comes from sales of the Chatham Angel Ornament and community donations. The ornament is designed by a child and every single cent goes to helping children. “The biggest need is teenagers. People all want to shop for a 2-year-old girl or 4-year-old boy,” says Vreeland. “To me, they are the biggest unmet need.”
Dennis McFadden wants to dispel the notion that the Atwood museum is “musty, dusty stuff” or that it’s a “quaint little house.” In fact, McFadden said, the museum offers everything from lectures on current topics in the off-season to summer camps for middle-school students. “I am happiest when people are surprised and I have challenged their expectations,” McFadden said. “After stepping into this museum, visitors will come away with a better sense of what and where Chatham is and will not think of it simply as a beach and a couple of restaurants.” McFadden, who was associate director of the Davis Museum at Wellesley College before arriving at the Atwood in the summer of 2012, emphasizes the importance of developing exhibitions appropriate to Chatham, but also weaving them into a broader context within American history. For instance, earlier this year through May, the museum featured a series of lectures on wilderness to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the federal wilderness act. The only designated wilderness in the state is Monomoy. The lectures not only focused on Monomoy, but also what it means in American culture. The director is also hard at work on conserving and digitizing nautical charts. Once the project is complete, “people will be able to look at these voyages through the 19th century, he said. “Those kinds of things are another important direction for us to go in. We have to take advantage of possibilities that technology offers.”