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Shaking It Up

The Cape is full of hard-working individuals who balance office work (or in some cases, field work with lending a helping hand in their community. Here are nine locals who are making Cape Cod a better place for future generations—and having fun while doing just that.

Photos by Dan Cutrona

Jen Villa

Age: 30
Title: Owner of The Little Beach Gallery in Hyannis and champion of
shopping local

Advocate for buying local, avid photographer, and green “scene” supporter, Jen Villa has carved out a comfortable and creative niche off Hyannis’ Main Street. The owner of The Little Beach Gallery, Villa works closely with the 40 plus artists she represents, many who live locally and she knows on a personal level. Since opening her gallery one-and-a-half years ago, Villa has worked tirelessly with other businesses and Cape chambers of commerce to hold events that increase the visibility of local shops.

“During these times it is important to remember the value of local hand-crafted work and the power of original artwork,” says Villa, who helps organize the monthly meetings of eco-friendly group, Green Drinks Cape Cod, and hold art fundraisers, including one for Hospice & Palliative Care of Cape Cod.

Michelle Desmond

Age: 35
Title: Treasurer and Board member of Cape Cod Children’s Place

Michelle Desmond is setting her sights high. Newly named as a Board Member and Board Treasurer of the Cape Cod Children’s Place (CCCP), a nonprofit resource and education center in Eastham, Desmond is also a pilot, flying small aircraft out of Chatham Municipal Airport. Community is important to Desmond as she has worked with the CCCP since last November.

“The CCCP has programs and workshops designed to help families from all walks of life,” says Desmond. “Workshops are provided at no cost to the participants and are funded by the grants and fundraising programs, including the CCCP’s Lunch Box Auction.” In addition to working for her family’s business, Desmond Will Drilling, Inc., Desmond volunteers as a high school volleyball coach.

This past September, Desmond participated for the first time in The Last Gasp, an event held by Cape Cod Charitable FunRaisers (CCCF), and was impressed with their efficiency. After seeing the good the organization does for the community, Desmond is working to set up a relationship between Cape Cod Children’s Place and CCCF.

Lynn Mason-Small

Age: 38
Title: Board of Directors for Community Visions and Vice President/
Director of Business Development for Rogers & Gray Insurance Agency

Lynn Mason-Small is not one to shy away from making her community a better place. Having worked tirelessly over the past five years to grow the Cape Cod Young Professionals, she successfully helped create an organization aimed at keeping young business people and their families in the region.

A past member of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Cape Cod & Islands, Mason-Small is currently working with Community Visions, a local nonprofit supporting recreation programs for children. “Our biggest accomplishment to date has been the renovation project at the Flax Pond Recreation Area in Yarmouth,” says Mason-Small. “The pond-front recreation area serves the needs of many Cape Cod families by offering affordable and educational summer camp programs for children.” The Cape native lives in South Yarmouth with her husband, Nathan Small, and sons, Liam and Joshua.

Melissa Averinos

Age: 36
Title: Owner of Yummy Goods in West Barnstable and co-founder of Handmade for the Holidays

“People need something not just to keep them warm, but to make them feel loved as well,” says crafter, quilter and local business owner, Melissa Averinos. Along with friend and fellow crafter, Beth Dunn, Averinos founded Handmade for the Holidays and made and collected 225 knitted or sewn hats, scarves, sweaters, and mittens to WE CAN and the Family Pantry this past winter.

No stranger to the crafting world, the Centerville native runs the self-described “quirky” gift shop, Yummy Goods, that she opened two-and-a-half years ago in West Barnstable. She also flourishes as a painter, fabric designer, and author. Averinos wrote and took the photographs for Small Stash Sewing, a favorite reference among quilters. She has been blogging about crafts, books, and the Cape on her popular website  www.yummygoods.com, for the past four years.

Owen Nichols

Age: 34
Title: Director of Marine Fisheries Initiative at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

There is never a dull moment for Owen Nichols, a Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology and Director of the Marine Fisheries Initiative at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies. Nichols spends his days on the water with local fishermen monitoring the longfin squid population in Nantucket Sound and working on improving the catch in weir traps and maintaining the heritage of this type of fishing.

“The great thing with these projects is that we came up with them together with the fishermen,” says Nichols of the collaborative research conducted between scientists and fishing boat crews to develop initiatives for sustainable fisheries. The Brewster resident and his colleagues are celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies throughout 2011.

Jitka Borowick

Age: 32
Title: owner of CleanGreen Cape Cod in Barnstable and avid volunteer for We Can

Jitka Borowick is proof that sometimes a little elbow grease goes a long way. The Czech Republic native always dreamed of owning her own business and with her eco-friendly cleaning company, CleanGreen Cape Cod, she also employs other hardworking locals.

“Buying local has less environmental impact,” says Borowick. “Local businesses create local jobs, use local resources and keep more money on the Cape. I also think that local business is part of what can hold our communities together and keeps them unique.” Having experienced her own transition when she moved to the U.S. seven years ago, Borowick also works closely as a volunteer with local women from WE CAN’s Pathmakers program. The optimistic Borowick knows that friendship and a little guidance go a long way.

Anne Van Vleck

Age: 40     Title: First Ever Executive Director of Cape Cod Young Professionals

Count on Anne Van Vleck to get the ball, or bike wheel, rolling. The new Executive Director for the Cape Cod Young Professionals (CCYP) is excited to be heading up the organization. This year will be Van Vleck’s first time riding The Last Gasp although as an avid cyclist (yes, that’s her bike in the photo) she has completed the MS Ride (Boston to Provincetown) three times. CCYP is one of Cape Cod Charitable FunRaisers seven beneficiaries for The Last Gasp this year. Van Vleck is most excited about the Career Connect Program, an initiative that is focused on fostering professional achievement that can thrive here on Cape Cod.

Additionally, Van Vleck is the founder of the Chatham Kids Care Club, which has had an enormous impact and boundless benefits for the children who participate and the community members for whom the projects are focused.

 “I am thrilled to be a part of Cape Cod Young Professionals,” says Van Vleck. “There is such a strong need for this organization, and CCYP is at a pivotal time in terms of making an enormous impact here on Cape Cod.” Van Vleck, her husband, and three sons live in Chatham.

Jackie Reeves

Age: 43
Title: Community Muralist

Sandwich figurative artist and muralist Jackie Reeves has put her paint brushes to good use over the years. The talented artist and mother of three daughters has carved time out of her own painting schedule to beautify the interiors and exteriors of local community buildings and schools.

“I love the idea of having more public art on the Cape that has been created by diverse members of our community and led by professional artists,” says Reeves, who along with partner Cris Reverdy, painted the 240 foot long, 30 foot high mural at the Barnstable High School Astro Park and Memorial Garden.

Currently, Reeves is working on reproducing an art history painting as a large scale mural on the hallway walls at her childrens’ school. Reeves has also recently completed a mural in the Sandwich Public Library with the High School Arts Honors students. Constantly growing with her art work, she is also currently attending a low residency MFA program at the Mass College of Art.

John Pappalardo

Age: 39
Title: CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association

John Pappalardo had a sweet taste of life on Cape Cod before the Chatham resident became the CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association (CCCHFA). As a summer resident, he shucked shell fish at the Beachcomber in Wellfleet, turning red under the hot summer sun. “That was before they had an umbrella over the raw bar,” jokes Pappalardo, who was a crew member on the F/V Pooh Bah and the Peggy B III before joining the CCCHFA in 1997. Recently named the CEO of the CCCHFA, Pappalardo and the association continually adapt to ever changing and strict policies on local fishing.

 “The CCCHFA has fought to protect a resource, a tradition and a way of life for almost two decades,” says Pappalardo, who is also active with local veterans issues. “We actively support fishing families and communities of Cape Cod and the Islands. By leasing fishing quota at affordable rates to local businesses we are in effect issuing grants to local businesses.”

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