Open Your Hearts and Home to Host a Foreign Student for Three Weeks

Hi, I am asking each one of you to consider opening your hearts and homes for three weeks this summer to Chinese students, age 12 - 18, coming to Grafton from July 14 - Aug 3, 2008 to study English, visit top universities and most importantly, live with an American family. Education First (EF) is the top in its field of international student exchange and is the translator for the Olympics with 50 field offices, but home-based in Cambridge, MA. The Educational Homestay non-profit (EHP) oversees these students providing local 24 hour support for families and students.

Host families would provide a bed and 3 meals a day, though students would be busy five days a week, from 9 am - 5 pm, in an educational course (probably Grafton Municipal Center) and/or at activities throughout the Blackstone Valley. This program will have academically elite and focused students, who will visit Harvard, MIT, etc., but they also need to learn that a well-rounded, happy home life is the most successful.

On weekends and evenings, the student(s) will share your family life. (Sometimes, Chinese students like to be coupled with another Chinese student.) They are expected to share chores, make their own bagged lunch for weekdays, and completely immerse into your family. They might travel to NYC for one 3 day weekend.

There are many benefits for hosting, including: exploring another world from home, learning about other cultures, speaking another language, making long lasting friendships. But there are also some financial benefits, too, including points, discounts on student exchange and adult travel or au pair services, and financial incentives - enhanced for those who commit before April 15th.

But most importantly, you can make friends from another country, join the students for certain activities and excursions and introduce yourselves or your children to another culture, language and way of life.

Please visit for more info or contact me: Ellen Onorato, Fay Mountain Rd, Grafton at 508-839-8885 / at anytime.

Lastly, there are broader implications as to why I have chosen to get involved and be a Program Leader with this wonderful organization.

The Blackstone valley is a treasure trove of history and recreational opportunities. In fact, it could easily be claimed as America's most storied place, with the 750 AD Upton Chamber, 1675 King Philip's War, 19th century Dale of Hope pacifist society, Grafton's Willard Clock Museum and John Eliot Praying Village and of course, the birthplace of the American Industrial Age, to name just a few assets. Five national scholars just proclaimed it to be the "epitome" of historical preservation.
Yet with all that and so very much more, the potential of generating tremendous economic development potential of tourism has never been realized, even with millions of federal tax dollars from the National Heritage Corridor. Yet, having broad networks in all 24 Valley communities, I know tourism can work, once a process is developed hands-on!

We all want to live where there is a thriving arts and cultural scene, preserved history and wonderful open space, trails, walking, biking, kayaking fun. We all want to live where small business, the core of our communities generously giving to our schools, Little Leagues and more, thrives.

Tourism is an economy that preserves our significant assets, restores a healthy river for kayaking or fishing, helps small business for dining, gift stores, etc and advocates for the arts, the bike path and much more. We have all the assets we'll ever need throughout the Valley, yet if not economically viable, it all could disappear! Your students (and I) will share these stories, itineraries and recreational assets for you to enjoy yearround! You will be shocked to find that our history surpasses Lexington/Concord or many other areas that have "branded" themselves better, yet offer less. So, please, consider opening your hearts and home for the personal experience that will be everlasting but also to help establish a viable process of itineraries for regional and foreign visitors to visit and support our B&Bs, hotels, restaurants, museums and historic and recreational assets for years to come.

Are you worried about working during the day or being away for part of the 3 week duration though you'd like to host? All this can be worked out, so please don't hesitate to call or email me....thanks so much. Ellen Onorato


Blackstone River Watershed Association Hosts Community Meeting

Are you looking for the opportunity to help protect and preserve your local rivers?

Please join us at Riverbend Farm Visitors Center, 287 Oak Street, Uxbridge, MA on Wednesday, March 19th at 7pm. We can tell you how to become part of our plan to make a difference and positively impact your waterways!

At the meeting, we will discuss local practices that are adversely affecting the Mumford, West, and Mill Rivers and to provide solutions to the communities involved through education and awareness of “river-friendly” behavior.

Over the past two years, volunteers have surveyed these Rivers and found various areas of concern including riverbank erosion, invasive plant species, stormwater runoff, vegetative buffer zone issues, pipe runoff and trash including old construction materials, machinery, booms, and litter.

These concerns have a negative impact on oxygen levels, overgrowth or eradication of native aquatic plants, pollution in the form of bacteria and other harmful chemicals, all of which upset the river ecology killing fish and other aquatic life and making our rivers an unhealthy resource to use.

How Can You Help? Survey and document problem areas along the Rivers; work with local municipalities to remediate current hazards and avoid potential threats to these Rivers in Douglas, East Douglas, Upton, Northbridge, Whitinsville, Uxbridge, Mendon, Hopedale, and Blackstone; and outreach to residents and businesses along the Rivers to implement “river-friendly” practices through education and awareness

With your help, we can draw more attention to these areas of concern and help make all of our rivers a more enjoyable natural resource!


Join us at Riverbend Farm Visitors Center, 287 Oak Street, Uxbridge, MA on Wednesday, March 19th at 7pm.

For more information please e-mail the BRWA at or contact Michelle Walsh, BRWA Outreach Coordinator at 508-450-8331.



A Call for Volunteers– Introductory Meeting March 19th at 7:00 p.m.

 North Grafton, MA – The Community Harvest Project, using volunteer labor, grows fresh vegetables for the Worcester County Food Bank .Over the last three years, the organization has supplied more than 100,000 pounds of vegetables to over 200 programs served by the Food Bank throughout Worcester County.  We are looking for new volunteers to join our team this growing season.   

On Wednesday, March 19th from 7:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., the Community Harvest Project will hold an informational session for anyone interested in learning more about the project or about becoming a volunteer . It will be held at the Brigham Hill Community Barn, 37 Wheeler Road in North Grafton.   Our current volunteer needs include, team leaders, field workers, mowers, and farm equipment operators, food preparers, data entry persons, and folks to work on fundraising events.  All volunteers work on flexible schedules. 

Volunteers are vital to our organization, as they contribute over 10,000 volunteer hours per year to operate the farm.  Volunteers are children and adults. They come individually or with groups. They represent civic organizations, church groups, schools and businesses.  If you love meeting people and working outdoors, this is the perfect volunteer opportunity for you.  Please come with all of your questions!

If you are interested in attending this meeting, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Michele Woz, at 774-551-6455, or via e-mail at  Please also take a few minutes to visit our website at  Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!   




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