#ShopFranklin Spotlight – The Santa Foundation

Merry Christmas! For this week’s #ShopFranklin Spotlight, I interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Claus themselves – or at least, Franklin’s equivalent – Bob Sullivan and Jan Prentice of the Santa Foundation!

santa

© The Santa Foundation

The Santa Foundation got its start 29 years ago, when Bob and his wife decided to bring the Christmas spirit to some needy local families. Bob got a couple of names from the Food Pantry, and then he “bought the gifts, bought a Santa suit, went to their house, ‘HO HO HO!’ delivered their gifts and left.” Nearly three decades later, he’s still doing it, but the operation has since expanded to include ten volunteers who assist hundreds of families. Bob’s right-hand woman, Jan, goes by Mrs. Claus and never appears without her trademark reindeer-antler headband, even during summer fundraising events. “I have to wear my antlers because nobody recognizes me without my antlers!” Jan laughs.

The heart of the Santa Foundation is to help give its families some hope by providing them with Christmas gifts and giving them “one day of the year to be just like every other family,” Bob says. Jan adds that “we’re more concerned about the children… but we do take care of the adults too.” Local food banks, housing authorities, schools, and churches provide the Santa Foundation with names of families who could use assistance, but all families’ details are kept confidential so that their privacy can be preserved. Organizations or individuals can sponsor a particular family by purchasing items from the family’s anonymous wishlist, or they can simply donate whatever they would like, since Jan and the volunteers “put it all together and it all adds up.” If you’re interested in donating, the Santa Foundation only accepts new gifts to give to its families; “it’s a kick in the pants if you give a child something used,” says Jan. Gift cards are especially welcome, since “teenagers are the hardest to buy for,” according to Bob.

gifts

© The Santa Foundation

As a federally registered 501(c)(3) charity, the Santa Foundation now operates year-round to help the local community. Jan and her volunteers start shopping for next year’s Christmas gifts starting on December 26, but there’s more to the Foundation’s efforts than just Christmas. The Santa Foundation can also help pay a needy family’s rent, utility bills, or even help people in crisis get to shelters, no matter what season it happens to be. “Somehow it works,” says Jan. “We’ve never not helped someone.” Fortunately, Bob’s accounting firm, Sullivan and Associates, provides physical space and pays all overhead costs so that the Santa Foundation is free to pass along every dime of its $65,000 budget straight to its families. “We don’t get huge checks like the Heart Association. We’re local, you know,” says Bob, who wants to emphasize that every donation to the Santa Foundation makes a big impact since everything they receive is kept right here in the community.

All year round, the volunteers “work their butts off” night and day to get ready for next Christmas and address families’ day-to-day needs. “The volunteers we have here are amazing,” Bob says, and Jan has stopped keeping track of the hours she and the rest of the crew work. 148 families were helped last year in Franklin alone, and the community’s need keeps growing. Donations are accepted year-round, and the Santa Foundation also raises money for its efforts by selling calendars and holding a summer golf tournament. Bob’s accounting clients often donate and sponsor families, and even some of the gift recipients donate to help others. “Everyone is taken care of,” Jan says.

The Santa Foundation is located at Sullivan and Associates’ office at 1 Joy Street in Franklin. Check out their website or Facebook page to learn more and contact the organization!

Downtown Streetscape Update – December 22, 2015

The weather outside hasn’t been frightful, so the construction just keeps rolling along! From the office of Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, here’s the latest update on the downtown construction…

IMG_2240-2

“Jeff,

Walsh plans to continue working on site as long at the weather cooperates. Today they will be paving all excavated trenches. Tomorrow they will cut down the trees on the Franklin News side of the street. There will be no work on site Thursday. Monday they will return and continue electrical conduit work.

Thank You,

Anthony Tavalone

CE III MA DOT

(617) 233-0795”

Holiday Lights Guide

If you celebrate Christmas, you’ve probably looked at the calendar in the last couple of days and thought, “Christmas is NEXT WEEK already?!” At least I have – this can be a crazy hectic season. If you need a bit of a break, why not head over to my friend Renata’s blog, Franklin Living, and take a look at her New England Holiday Lights Guide for 2015?

Renata has put together a list of not only local light displays (complete with opening dates and times), but also holiday lights and festivals throughout the six New England states, just in case you happen to be traveling for the holidays. Check out her list and make sure you schedule yourself some time for a visit, just to remind yourself that the holiday season can be peaceful and beautiful too!

Giving Opportunity – Project PJ

Our community is full of opportunities to help others! Project PJ is one you might not be familiar with, but it’s going on right now at Elizabeth’s Bagels.

During your holiday shopping, just pick up a new pair of kids’ pajamas (any gender or size) and drop them off in the PJ Project box at Elizabeth’s. Donations will go to the Department of Children and Families’ office which serves our area, so that kids in need will have brand new, warm and cozy PJs for Christmas. It’s a great way to help support families in our community, so please consider making a donation. (I know you’re going to Elizabeth’s for coffee and a bagel anyway, so it’s not like you have to go out of your way!)

12360247_10153424737371676_2559230048973064799_n

© Elizabeth’s Bagels

Norfolk Registry of Deeds – November 2015 Update

  Every so often I like to share the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds’ updates on county real estate activity. Here’s the latest – check out the Registry’s website for more!

Norfolk County Registry of Deeds
Register O’Donnell Reports on November 2015 Norfolk County Real Estate Activity

Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O’Donnell reported increased property sales and mortgage activity for the month of November 2015, but also noted that some statistics were driven by dramatic swings in average real estate price and mortgage indebtedness due to several major commercial sales across the county.

Register O’Donnell noted, “The month of November saw a solid 14% increase in the number of land documents recorded compared to the same time period in 2014. In addition, the total number of deeds recorded increased 15%. 1,395 deeds were recorded in November compared to 1,208 in November 2014. This is an indication that the market in Norfolk County remains quite robust as we head to the end of the calendar year.”

While the number of real estate transactions increased, the total volume of commercial and residential sales in Norfolk County fell 32% coming in at $644 million. Also, the average sales price of commercial and residential property fell 41% to $750,673. “A valid question is how we can have solid increases in transaction numbers, but at the same time show significant decreases in total volume and average sale price. The primary answer was a property transaction that took place in Weymouth in November 2014, the sale of the Fore River Energy Center for $265 million,” noted the Register.

The mortgage market for the month of November 2015 showed both increases in recordings and a significant increase in total mortgage indebtedness. “The total number of mortgages recorded in November 2015 rose 11% to 2,325 compared to the same time period in 2014. This tells us a combination of low interest rates and a strong economy in eastern Massachusetts are resulting in consumers willing to borrow money to pay for critical expenditures such as housing and education costs,” noted Register O’Donnell.

November 2015 also saw an enormous 196% increase in total mortgage indebtedness coming in at approximately $2.38 billion. “This increase is explained by 3 separate $550 million commercial mortgages that were recorded against property in Weymouth, Walpole and Plainville,” noted the Register.

In November, Homestead recordings increased by 11%. “A Homestead provides limited protection against the forced sale of an individual’s primary residence to satisfy unsecured debt up to $500,000. Details on the Homestead Act can be found on our website, www.norfolkdeeds.org. I urge homeowners to consider this vital protection.”

A total of 24 foreclosure deeds were recorded last month compared to 15 filings in November 2014, a 60% increase. Register O’Donnell noted, “Lending institutions continue to work at clearing a backlog of mortgages stemming from the economic 2008 downturn. More troubling is the increase in Notice to Foreclose Mortgage, the first step in the foreclosure process. A total of 86 Notice to Foreclose Mortgage recordings were filed in November compared to 63 in November 2014. This is a clear indication that while our economy is strong, many people continue to face economic challenges.”

The Registry continues to work with Quincy Community Action Programs and Neighbor Works Southern Mass to help homeowners who have received a Notice to Foreclose Mortgage. Another option for homeowners facing challenges meeting their monthly payments is to contact the Attorney General’s HomeCorps program.”

Register O’Donnell concluded, “Reviewing the Norfolk County real estate statistics for the month of November 2015, I am struck by the solid increases in real estate sales and mortgage activity. This is clear evidence that the overall real estate market in Norfolk County remains on the right path. While there is no reason that we cannot continue on this path, there are a few variables that need to be considered. A rumored interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve has the potential to reduce consumer confidence. I am optimistic the overall health of our economy in eastern Massachusetts will allow us to weather any negative actions.”

To learn more about these and other Registry of Deeds events and initiatives, “like” us atfacebook.com/NorfolkDeeds or follow us on twitter.com/NorfolkDeeds.

The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, located at 649 High Street, Dedham, is the principal office for real property in Norfolk County. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center at (781) 461-6101, or on the web at www.norfolkdeeds.org.

Register William P. O’Donnell

Norfolk County Registry of Deeds

Bubbles and Bark – Today! 

Holiday parties are coming and you need to restock your liquor cabinet. Why not head down to Pour Richard’s Wine and Spirits this afternoon so you can give to a good cause at the same time? 

From 2-5 PM, Pour Richard’s will be hosting their “Bubbles and Bark” fundraiser for Forever Home Rescue, a local organization which has found new loving homes for over 4,000 dogs in need. Tickets are $10 at the door, all of which goes to Forever Home, and a percentage of any purchase you make during the event will go to Forever Home as well. Taste champagnes, bold reds, and more, try Hopkinton’s favorite gourmet hot dogs from Snappy Dogs, and have fun! 

Downtown Streetscape Update – December 4, 2015

From the office of Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, here’s the latest on the downtown construction: 

  
“Jeff,

 Given the great weather, the contractor now wishes to continue work for a few more weeks. The plan is as follows, so initially there is minor disturbance with the sidewalk on Main St.

 First, Walsh will set light pole foundations. This will involve removing a small section of sidewalk to excavate and set the foundation. There are (6) foundations on the Acapulco’s side of roadway and (5) on the opposite side of the roadway. We will begin on the Acapulco’s side of the roadway. Once those 11 are set, Walsh will do the electrical conduit crossings. There is a crossing on Main St at approx. sta 120+75, and a crossing at Dean Ave and Depot St. They will be saw cutting panels on both sides of Main St initially.
 If weather and time permit, Walsh will begin to excavate sidewalk to install electrical conduit for the street lighting beginning on the side of Acapulcos. This work will be last as it is the most intrusive. Again, time and weather pending, the conduit running underneath the sidewalk may not begin until the spring. We will know more as the next 1-2 weeks pass and I will keep everyone updated.
 I feel this is the best way to move forward initially with minor disturbance to the roadway and sidewalk and still enable them to continue getting work done. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank You,

Anthony Tavalone

CE III MA DOT

(617) 233-0795”