Emily Mauch: Connecting Studies to Advocacy

Emily Mauch (RHHS ‘10)

Emily Mauch (RHHS ‘10)

Welcome back to our Ambassador Profile Series! This week, we are excited to profile Ambassador Emily Mauch (RHHS ‘10)! Emily joined the Foundation in 2016, and has advocated for two different organizations during her time with us: Partners for World Health and Maine Adaptive. Emily learned of the organizations while in physical therapy school at the University of New England, and was able to spend time volunteering for them both. Emily said, “both organizations look to improve the lives of others and are very dedicated to their missions which inspired me to contribute.”

During her first year as an Ambassador, Emily advocated for Partners for World Health, and organization which is “committed to reducing medical waste, improving the quality of healthcare in underserved countries, and education our local community about global health issues.” The organization collects medical supplies that healthcare facilities might be required discard, but are still safe and useable, and ships them to countries that need them. Specifically, a grant from the AFF in 2017 helped a Partners for World Health group, on a medical mission trip to Senegal, provide birthing kits and education to women in order to promote safe delivery of babies and health of mothers.

Most recently, Emily advocated for Maine Adaptive, and grant from the AFF in 2018 provided $5,000 for adaptive sports gear. The grant enabled Maine Adaptive to purchase an off-road adaptive hand-cycle which allows people with disabilities that require such equipment to participate in a summer cycling program. Emily explained that the organization aims to “help people with disabilities to develop skills, enhance independence, and find enjoyment in active outdoor recreation that otherwise would not be available to them.” Maine Adaptive also provides sports lessons throughout the year, and believes “that having access to and participating in recreational sports is integral to a well-rounded life for every person.”

Emily remarked that working with the Foundation has changed her own advocacy role, and that it has allowed her to develop advocacy skills and connect more deeply with her community. We’re so happy to have Emily on our team!

Emily is currently working as a Physical Therapist and lives in South Portland, ME.

Community Collaboration- Rotary Meeting

Founder Nick with Dave Wright, Red Hook Rotary Vice President, and Barry Ramage, Red Hook Rotary President.

Founder Nick with Dave Wright, Red Hook Rotary Vice President, and Barry Ramage, Red Hook Rotary President.

A note from Founder Nick:

The other week twenty or so Rotary Club members and guests were present for the weekly Breakfast Meeting held at Cancun's. It was so nice to be introduced to two of the three graduating Red Hook seniors who were awarded scholarships by the Rotary Club and honored at the meeting. The recipients present were Jacob Morrison, Liz Lowney, and the third recipient, unable to attend, was one of our own ambassadors, Tess Rothwell (RHHS ‘19)! My own remarks and presentation during the meeting focused briefly on the formation of our Foundation, our history over the last four and a half years, and our most recent giving. I also touched on our hopes for future local engagement and impact. When I asked the Rotarians to consider collaborating with us again this year on the No Cost Market, there was immediate support and a pledge of cooperation! Everyone was kind in complimenting us on our community involvement and I was grateful to speak on AFF's behalf in front of so many dedicated service-oriented community members. What a pleasant opportunity to chat about common interests! And breakfast at Cancun's was delicious!

Congratulations, Irene!

This past year the Foundation launched the Ascienzo Family Foundation Scholarship. The application was open to RHHS seniors who have demonstrated a commitment to giving back to their community, and are planning on staying in the area after graduation. We are thrilled to announce the inaugural recipient, Irene Celaya!

Irene Celaya (RHHS ‘19)

Irene Celaya (RHHS ‘19)

Irene is heading to Siena College in the Fall, and plans to study Business Marketing and Communications. The Foundation was impressed by her commitment to volunteerism throughout her time in high school, and her desire to continue giving back as she continues her education.

Here are some highlights from Founder Nick and Irene’s conversation this past weekend:

Nick: What have been your proudest accomplishments in and out of the classroom?

Irene: Algebra in 9th grade was a challenge. I did my best day-in-and-day-out and was rewarded with a grade in the 80’s on the Regents exam. I was so proud of that! My volleyball experiences were collectively very rewarding, as well. Becoming the captain of the team was awesome and I worked on my communications skills and leadership abilities in that role!

Nick: Other than your parents, who has motivated you the most in your life?

Irene: My sister Rosa, who is ten years older than myself; she pushed me to keep going and make our parents proud of who I was becoming.

Nick: How about your favorite teacher?

Irene: Mr. Swanwick my English teacher in my sophomore year. I remember a speech I gave in class on immigration that he helped me put together. He encouraged me throughout the year to be my own person and not listen to the opinions of others.

Nick: Your application for the AFF Scholarship included your volunteer time with Culture Connect in the Life, Language, & Culture program administered in the elementary schools at Mill Road. What is your one take-away from that experience?

Irene: The program would have been a great opportunity for me growing up, if it had been in existence. Since I love helping others, assisting young kids through that mentoring program made me feel good about myself, as well.

Nick: What was the process like in considering undergrad study?

Irene: At first I was undecided about a four year school and its costs. My parents and I agreed that Siena was a possibility, following a meeting with Mrs. D’Onofrio, the College and Career Advisor at RHHS. She provided the encouragement and guidance that my family and I needed.

Nick: What will you miss the most about Red Hook, its community and school?

Irene: There is great comfort in having grown up in such a warm and caring community. It’s been nice to know so many people in such a safe environment. I’ll miss my classmates, after 13 years of sharing our childhood and young adulthood together!

Nick: What about your favorite food?

Irene: Italian - I love pasta!

Nick: Favorite fun things to do?

Irene: Well of course volleyball! I also like to shop and adventure!

Nick: As a young woman - and one who has with her family overcome the challenges of immigration - what advice might you give to younger kids, especially girls?

Irene: Don’t take no for an answer, keep pushing yourself to be better, and don’t hide who you really are!

Nick A.'s "Boston Marathon"

Founder Nick A. had quite a full Monday! On the 10th, Nick took a day trip to Boston to visit and meet with four grantee organizations as well as three Foundation Ambassadors who live in the area. Here’s how his busy day unfolded:

9:00am: A get together with Howard Novick and Cara Giovanoni from The Home for Little Wanderers, the organization for which Ambassador Alex Parks has advocated for the past few years. Nick’s takeaway: the Home continues to commit its resources to well established programs that tackle the mental health needs of Boston’s youth, and does so with a view of expanding upon those services year to year. Howard and Cara were gracious in acknowledging Alex Parks’ ambassador advocacy, as well as that of his wife Leila who works in the Boston schools.


11:00am- Nick drove to Roxbury to view Fresh Truck’s operational hub. There to greet Nick were Josh Trautwein and Annika Morgan, co-founders of the mobile fresh food market whose mission is to radically change the health of those community members their trucks visit throughout the Boston region. Nick’s engaging conversation and visit included a “truck tour.” Nick got to see and learn more about the retrofitted school bus designed to carry fresh produce and foodstuffs while also allowing paying customers to walk through and shop as they would at a farmer’s market. Nick’s takeaway: Robinson Greig, our ambassador advocate for Fresh Truck, has found a great grant fit incorporating health and food sourcing. Josh and Annika are folks with great vision and heart who see unlimited potential- a third bus is in the works!

12:30pm- Time for a quick bite at the Dudley Cafe in Dudley Square, followed by a meet up at 1:30pm with representatives from Budget Buddies and our Ambassador Kyla Gabriel, who volunteers with the program. Anita Saville, one of Budget Buddies’ founders (soon to retire), Danielle Piskadlo, the new incoming Director, and Catherine Pedemonti, the Boston Outreach Coordinator were happy to chat about the history of Budget Buddies’ expansion. Broadly, the group promotes women’s empowerment through financial literacy programs. Anita, Danielle, and Catherine were just as energetic to learn of our background and unique funding model as they were in praising their trained volunteers who act as peer coaches for the women they teach. Nick’s takeaway: Budget Buddies has succeeded in making an impact in women’s lives, and will continue to do so, if for no other reason than the commitment and passion demonstrated by Anita, Danielle, Catherine, and Kyla!

Nick Ascienzo (Founder), Alex Parks (RHHS ‘06), Kyla Gabriel (RHHS ‘13), & Betsy Kirtland (RHHS ‘12)

Nick Ascienzo (Founder), Alex Parks (RHHS ‘06), Kyla Gabriel (RHHS ‘13), & Betsy Kirtland (RHHS ‘12)

3:00pm- How nice for Kyla to join Nick as they drove to East Boston for a discussion with Shakira Floyd from Crossroads Family Shelter. What a nice connection we’ve made with them through our ambassador Micaela Ryan, who has advocated for three grants on behalf of the organization. Crossroads houses 27 families, assists in their out-placement, education (including Budget Buddies programming), and other social service needs. Shakira was grateful for our funding, which has mainly supplied bedding, baby cribs, and move-out kitchen supplies to families. Her poignant description of the shelter’s activities and family life, as well as reflection on the city’s expanding needs, particularly struck Nick. We’re humbled to have a three year history with Crossroads, the only family shelter in East Boston.

5:00pm- Navigator Kyla and Driver Nick then headed for Cleary’s, an Irish pub which in the Back Bay area of Boston. They enjoyed some casual downtime, catching up over beverages and some pub fare with two other AFF ambassadors, Alex Parks and Betsy Kirtland. Nick’s takeaway: it’s nice to connect the dots of those passionate grantee contacts in the Boston area with a few of the ambassadors that made those contacts and our philanthropy happen! Our other Boston-based ambassadors Robinson Greig (Fresh Truck), Micaela Ryan (Crossroads), and Cassidy Blundell (Youth Cities) were knee deep in professional obligations that afternoon - we’ll catch up next time!

7:00pm- Nick was on the road again, this time thinking to himself: What a fun day to see so many wonderful people! And, how cool would it be driving the Fresh Truck home to the Hudson Valley?

Kyla Gabriel: Advocating for Financial Education

Kyla Gabriel (RHHS ‘13)

Kyla Gabriel (RHHS ‘13)

Meet one of our newer Ambassadors, Kyla Gabriel (RHHS ‘13)! Kyla joined the Foundation in 2018, and has jumped right into her advocacy. This past grant cycle she applied for a grant on behalf of Budget Buddies, a financial literacy non-profit in Boston, MA.

Kyla said that “raised by a longstanding lineage of social workers, I have always been passionate about addressing financial literacy and health inequities that disproportionately burden our country's most vulnerable populations.” For this reason, Kyla was drawn to Budget Buddies, which, as she describes, “has a fierce commitment to empowering women living on the economic margins.” A $5,000 grant from the Foundation helped to fund staff time, travel expenses, instructional materials, and other supplies related to adult and teen programs in Lawrence, Methuen, and Haverhill in 2019.

Budget Buddies’ work fit well into two of the Foundation’s mission goals: alleviating poverty and improving education. Kyla said, “moreover, the organization's mission firmly aligned with the Ascienzo Family Foundation's charge to assist local neighborhoods in the fight against poverty and to address the educational needs of those less financially capable. I thought a partnership with Budget Buddies was a fantastic opportunity for the AFF to play a role in empowering the lives of hundreds of low-income women and their families in the Great Boston Area.”

Kyla graduated from Brandeis University in 2017 with a double major in Business & Health: Science, Society, and Policy. She is currently living in Boston and working as a Digital Health Associate at Boston Children’s Hospital.