Community Rises in Wake of Downtown Lynn Flooding

Community Rises in Wake of Downtown Lynn Flooding

October 3 , 2017 (published by the Lynn Item)

Eric Ciccone looks at all the merchandise that was ruined just in Bene Hardware & Commercial supply alone when Munroe St. Was hit with a flash flood on Saturday.


LYNN — Out of destruction came something good as business owners and residents on Munroe Street cleaned up the aftermath of flash flooding on Saturday that hit the city particularly hard.

“We’ve got some good neighbors,” said Eric Ciccone, co-owner of Beden Hardware & Commercial supply, which has been at 95 Munroe St. for more than 50 years. “Plasti-graphics on Central Street offered us their warehouse which was very generous. Fernando, who used to own a business down here, came by to help.”

A combination of high tide and flash flooding left parked cars floating on the stretch of road that connects Washington and Market streets and more than 800 property owners without power on Saturday morning. Ground-floor businesses took in varying levels of water, ranging from just a few inches to several feet.

The hardware store is covering the cost of a dumpster to fill with floor tiles, damaged goods, and trash from the store and is sharing it with neighboring Complete Labor and Staffing in exchange for cleanup help from the laborers, Ciccone said. Read Full Article…

Land of A Thousand Hills hosts fun night

Land of A Thousand Hills hosts fun night

May 8, 2017 (published by the Lynn Item)

Jaileen Malave, front, James E. Austin, left, Sokhan Prak, and Esther Summersett enjoy the open mic event.


LYNN — It’s only about 10 minutes into the Finals Week Breather + Open Mic at Land of A Thousand Hills Coffee Company, and Emily Urbina is hopeful for a good crowd.

The event, hosted by the The Haven Project, was open from 5:30-8 p.m. Monday for students and young adults. “Take a break; vibe out with us; enjoy great talent,” said a small flyer for the event.

Urbina, program director for The Haven Project, said the talent could include poetry, hip-hop performances, and more. Her hope for the event was that it engages the community in a greater way, she said.  Read full article…




March 20, 2017 (published in the Lynn Item)

Lynn Shelter Association’s “Off the Grid” photography project is exhibited at the Massachusetts State House.


BOSTON — The Lynn Shelter Association is using photography to give a close-up view of the struggles of homelessness.

The Lynn Shelter Association (LSA) , along with the Lynn delegation, and partner agencies, Homes for Families and The Haven Project, hosted a presentation of LSA’s “Off the Grid” photography project on Monday at the State House.

The photography exhibit displaying pictures of homelessness in Lynn will be on display in the State House this week.  Read full article


Gilmore Girls land in Lynn

Gilmore Girls land in Lynn

September 30, 2016  (published in the Lynn Item)

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co. on Munroe Street in Lynn/Facebook

By Bridget Turcotte

LYNN — If you’re out on the road, feeling lonely and so cold, you can stop by Land of a Thousand Hills.

On Wednesday, the Munroe Street coffee shop will be transformed into Luke’s Diner, where many watched the back-and-forth antics of the beloved over-caffeinated, mother-daughter duo of “Gilmore Girls.”

Land of a Thousand Hills is partnering with Netflix to promote the upcoming Nov. 25 release of a four-part return to the series.   Read full article

Raw, Thousand Hills Helps Young Artists Flourish

Raw, Thousand Hills Helps Young Artists Flourish

LYNN — It may not have the cache of a Newbury Street art gallery, but the Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co. has something just as flashy, a place for teen artists to show their work.

Raw Art Works, the nonprofit whose mission is to put paint brushes into kids’ hands, and the Munroe Street coffee shop have teamed up to present Art Motivates People, the work of eight teens created during a free, six-week summer program.  Read full article…


Something Positive Brewing with LPD

Something Positive Brewing with LPD

Jay and Bethany Pike talk with Patrolman Ryan Dulong, of the Lynn Police Department, meets with people at the Land of a Thousand Hills cafe on Munroe Street in on Saturday.

August 1, 2016 (Published in the Lynn Item)


LYNN — Eva Yeno, a West African native and Lynn resident, was curious about the “Coffee With A Cop” event and stopped by the Land of A Thousand Hills cafe to check it out.

“Talks like this help people trust each other more and that’s needed,” said the Lynn Classical senior. “I am going to encourage people at school to come to next month’s meeting and I hope everyone who attends spreads the word that the police are here to help us.”

Five years ago, police officers in Hawthorne, Calif., hosted the first “Coffee With A Cop” gathering to improve relations between law enforcement and the community.

Today, there are programs in all states. The Lynn Police Department held its third discussion at the coffee shop on Munroe Street.  Read full article…

Cummings Grant Received

Cummings Grant Received

The Haven Project awarded $100,000
Lynn nonprofit receives major Cummings Foundation grant
Lynn, June 10, 2016 – The Haven Project is one of 100 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 each through Cummings Foundation’s “$100K for 100” program. The Lynn-based organization was chosen from a total of 479 applicants, during a competitive review process.
The Haven Project is dedicated to serving the growing yet marginalized population of homeless and unaccompanied young adults on the Northshore. It provides much needed support thorough its drop in center located in downtown Lynn, which offers services surrounding issues of employment, education, housing, basic needs, and community support.
Representing the Haven Project, Gini Mazman, Executive Director and Founder joined 27307365700_1dca2bbf74_zapproximately 300 other guests at a June 9 reception at TradeCenter 128 in Woburn to celebrate the $10 million infusion into Greater Boston’s nonprofit sector. With the conclusion of this grant cycle, Cummings Foundation has now awarded more than $140 million to local nonprofits alone.
Emily Urbina, the director of the Drop in Center shared, “We are thrilled to be backed by such an amazing foundation. This grant will provide essential funding for our organization over the course of the next 4 years. That kind of support is rare and exponentially effective, because it frees us up that much more to focus on growth, sustainability, and most importantly our clients.”
The $100K for 100 program supports nonprofits that are not only based in but also primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. This year, the program is benefiting 41 different cities and towns within the Commonwealth.
Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the area where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate Cummings Properties. Founded in 1970 by Bill Cummings of Winchester, the Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages more than 10 million square feet of space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.
“We admire and very much appreciate the important work that nonprofit organizations like the Haven Project are doing in the local communities where our colleagues and clients live and work,” said Joel Swets, Cummings Foundation’s executive director. “We are delighted to support their efforts.”
This year’s diverse group of grant recipients represents a wide variety of causes, including education, homelessness prevention, elder services, healthcare, and food insecurity. Most of the grants will be paid over two to five years.
The complete list of 100 grant winners is available at

27584333685_3e6f1ceceb_zAbout Cummings Foundation
Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings of Winchester. With assets exceeding $1 billion, it is one of the largest foundations in New England. The Foundation directly operates its own charitable subsidiaries, including two New Horizons retirement communities in Marlborough and Woburn. Its largest single commitment to date was $50 million to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Additional information is available at
Homeless Youth at Witt’s End

Homeless Youth at Witt’s End



Featured in Lynn’s Item

Ian Witt walks 15 miles a week, turning local streets into trails.

But a special cause inspired him to hike 2,189 miles longer.

Next week, starting in West Virginia, he plans a trek to Maine, and then fly back and hike to Georgia. He will use the Appalachian Trail Guide as his map and hopes he can accomplish the adventure within six months.

Witt has dedicated the hike to raise money for the Haven Project. The Lynn nonprofit helps teens find homes.

Executive Director Gini Mazman is grateful for Witt’s help.

“Our goals here are simple,” she said. “We want to get these kids into safe homes and help make them responsible citizens. People like Ian help us make these goals possible. I can’t thank him enough.”

To make the journey, Witt quit his job at Slade Gorton, a Boston-based seafood products distributor and manufacturer, where he has worked since 2007 as a credit manager.

Witt plans to carry a 40-pound backpack filled with necessities, including a fold-up hammock, dehydrated food such as pasta, oatmeal and powdered milk, small bowls, a smaller fold-away gas heater, a six-inch metal shovel and clothes. He will also bring his cell phone and a battery charger. Witt expects to leave the trail occasionally to buy food and charge his devices.

Witt will depend on a state-of-the-art filter system attached to a bottle in his backpack. The device looks like a large flexible straw.

“I can put dirty water through that system and instantly drink clean water through the straw,” he said.

Witt plans to use baby wipes as his daily clean up routine. He’ll bring a bar of soap along, in case he’s lucky enough to find a clean creek.

As the departure day draws near, Witt said he is sad about leaving loved ones behind. He said that his mom, Chris Witt, who lives inSwampscott, was shocked when he first told her about his adventure. But she has come to terms with it and is happy for him, Witt said.

“She’s a nervous wreck, but supportive,” he said. “She knows me and my wanderlust well.”

“I understand that they couldn’t hold my job open for me, but they also told me to stop in as soon as I get back,” he said. “That’s a good sign.”

He hopes to be back home to celebrate his girlfriend’s birthday in November.

Trisha Gomez, his girlfriend of seven years, said she hopes they will talk regularly while he is on the voyage. She acknowledged that she is ambivalent as Witt prepares to leave.

“I am worried,” she said. “I know he’s smart, but so much can happen on a 2,200-mile hike.”

Haven of Hope

Haven of Hope


Article featuring the Haven Project from The Daily Item


Trisha Cole, left, a student, and Amy Velardi, her tutor, work on lessons at the Haven Project on Munroe Street in Lynn.

Located at the top of a steep set of stairs on Munroe Street, the Haven Project is a tough place to find unless you’re a homeless kid who needs to get out of the cold or talk to someone who has answers.

Haven Project has been around since 2011 and Director Gini Mazman said the organization helps 150 kids a year. These teenagers and young adults look like most people between the age of 17 and 24, but their stories are laced with pain and a legacy of few, if any, opportunities.

Mazman said some of the young people assisted by Haven endured abusive situations in their family homes until they escaped or were kicked out. Others are victims of a condition described by state youth workers as “aging out.” These teens are too old to remain in foster care but too ill-equipped for life to live on their own.

Lack of life skills and stability are the common denominators in the lives of youth assisted by the Haven Project. These are people, said Mazman and Haven drop-in center director Emily Urbina, who did not simply fail to learn common sense life lessons — they never were taught basic skills by someone who exercised a strong and loving presence in their lives.

Urbina said skills even their peers take for granted — knowing how to call in sick to a job, showing up on time for school, making an appointment — are absent from the lives of many homeless teens. Because their life-skill tool box is empty, homeless teenagers can’t stay in school and they can’t hold a job for any length of time. Because they can’t get an education or develop a career, they can’t find and maintain a stable living situation, and so the cycle repeats itself.

Haven Project tries to break the cycle, first and foremost, by showing homeless teens that someone cares about their predicament and understands what they are going through. The converted warehouse space Haven Project uses is a carpeted, comfortable place where teens can spend some time talking to people like Mazman and Urbina.

There is one rule in force at Haven — teens can always return to 57 Munroe St. and ask for help, even if they turn their backs on the employment and education opportunities Haven gives them a chance to try out. Urbina said this accepting and tolerant policy teaches homeless teens an important life lesson — they ultimately must be accountable to themselves if they want to break the cycle of homelessness.