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Shack-a-Thon

by Lynne Ober


Showing off their home for the evening.

What do you get when you put 60 active teenagers, some lively chaperones, cardboard, and duct tape together?  A Shack-a-Thon.

Working together in teams of 3 to 6, the teens, all high school students, built a cardboard house to sleep in for the night.  The parking lot at St. Francis of Assisi in Litchfield was covered with a shack town when they got done. 

This activity was the brainstorm of Jyl Dittbenner, Confirmation Director and Youth Minister for the parish, who brought the idea to the Youth Ministry Team after seeing a similar event at Quinnipeac University in Connecticut.  Dittbenner said, “I thought that our high school youth could really benefit from a service opportunity like this.”  News of the event was spread by word-of-mouth among the teens as the planning took place over the summer months.  Some of the teens wanted to come to earn hours for their Service Projects (required by the Confirmation Program as well as some area schools).  Others came out of a desire to help.

Parishioners got into the act by donating a mountain of cardboard, duck tape, tarps, and food for the event.  “We had a great time,” grinned Jyl the next morning.

The teens had to pay a $10 entry fee, bring proper gear to spend the night outside, sign the No Drug/No Alcohol pledge, and come ready to have some fun while raising money for a worthwhile cause. 

They arrived Saturday afternoon around 4:00 p.m. with their sleeping bags and worries about the weather.  Suddenly sleeping in a shack made weather more important than ever.  Dividing into teams, they began building their shacks and discovered that it just wasn’t as easy as it looked.

A barbeque dinner open to the public was scheduled for 5:00 p.m.  Teens, families, and parishioners who came to watch enjoyed the dinner.  Since the food was also donated, the $5.00 price also went into the fund for Habitat for Humanity.

As the evening wore on, teens learned lessons about homelessness.  Dittbenner wanted this to be both fun and a learning experience, and it was. 

Sleeping in a cardboard shack and realizing that for some people this was all they had – rain, snow, heat – made quite an impact on the exuberant teens.  “I wouldn’t want to live this way.  Not at all,” said Kyle. 

During the night the kids realized how cool the temperature can be even after an 80 degree day.  Said Brianna Saunders, “We’re building cardboard houses to get an idea of what it might be like to have no home.”  Twenty houses were built, but not all of them were sturdy enough to last the night.  Some of the teams ended up sleeping under an open sky; others covered themselves with the remnants of their homes.  When Jim Amadio was asked why he was sleeping under some boxes he replied, “Because it’s warmer!”

About $2,000 was collected for the Greater Nashua branch of Habitat for Humanity, with Courtney Starrett bringing in $255.

As the evening wore on, the teens got to watch a movie and had a bonfire.  Then it was supposed to be lights out.  “I think the girls slept some, but not the boys,” laughed Dittbenner.  “You could hear them most of the night.”


In Memoriam – Albert L. Lambert


Albert L. Lambert

Albert L. Lambert, 78, of Hudson, former Hillsborough County Chief Deputy Sheriff, died after an extended illness on September 21, at his home in Hudson.  Mr. Lambert was born on June 5, 1929, in Nashua; he is the son of the late Elizabeth and Philip Lambert.  On Thursday, September 27, after a memorial service led by Pastor Jim Harrington at the First Baptist Church of Hudson, Mr. Lambert’s burial was conducted at the Hills Farm Cemetery.  Following the service, which included military honors, family and friends gathered at the First Baptist Church for a time to remember Al.

Mr. Lambert was the husband of Tera (Ogden) Lambert for 54 years.  Mr. Lambert graduated from Nashua High School in 1948.  He served in the U. S. Air Force from 1951 to 1955 during the Korean War.  Mr. Lambert was a graduate of the New Hampshire Police Training School in 1957.  He served with both the Nashua Police and Fire Departments before joining the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department in 1969. 

In 1981 he retired as Hillsborough County Chief Deputy Sheriff.  Mr. Lambert is a former vice president of the New Hampshire’s Sheriffs Association and a retired member of the National Sheriffs Association, New Hampshire Police Association, Hillsborough County Law Enforcement Association, the Hudson American Legion Post 48, and the American Forestry Association.  Mr. Lambert was actively involved in the Hudson community; he served as a member of the Board of Selectman, from 1992 to 1994, and on the Budget Committee, from 1976 to 1977.

In addition to his parents, Al is predeceased by three sisters:  Clara Jason, Rose Gallant, and Ethel Dustin and six brothers: William, Philip, Robert, Walter, Ted, and Ernest Lambert.

Members of his family include his wife of 54 years, Tera Lambert of Hudson; a daughter, Valerie McMurray of Nashua; a son, Albert Lambert and his wife Jeannie of Morgan, Vermont; and three grandchildren: Kenneth Lambert and his wife Sarah of Hudson, Karrie McMurray of Nashua, and Kyle McMurray of Arizona.  Two great-grandchildren, Aaron and Amanda Lambert of Hudson, also survive Mr. Lambert, as do several nieces and nephews in the Nashua area.

Mr. Lambert believed in serving his family, community, and country.  He was politically active in Hudson prior to his long illness.  He surrounded himself with a circle of friends who were directly involved with the town government.  He thoroughly enjoyed lively discussions and debates about local and national issues. He was particularly concerned with the rising costs of government and used his extensive experience in the budget process to communicate this concern to the elected officials in Hudson.  He valued their friendship and dedication to Hudson and shared their community service values.

The present chairman of the Hudson Budget Committee, Howard Dilworth, was a colleague and friend to Al.  He shared these thoughts about the passing of his friend: “What I remember most about Al was his concern for the average working man, the little guy that had to pay for everything.  Al felt strongly that government should work for the people.”  Mr. Dilworth continued to reminisce about the way Al liked to talk about Nashua in the 1950s and 1960s and his experiences on the Nashua Fire Department driving the tiller position of the 1946 American LaFrance aerial ladder that was later sold to Hudson in the early 1970s.  “Al was an avid supporter of high school sports, believing that they gave youngsters an opportunity to do things.  While on the Budget Committee, he supported the establishment of football at Alvirne.”  Mr. Dilworth summed up his observations of Al Lambert’s character in this way.  “Al was a member of a generation that taught us values, such as the value of work, self reliance, and patriotism.  As these individuals pass from the scene, they leave a large void that will never be filled.  Al will be missed.”

He strongly voiced his opinions about issues, but always listened to others and considered all options.  Selectman Ben Nadeau expressed these thoughts when asked about his long time friend:  “Al was always up for a good debate on just about anything; from town and government politics to gardening, he always made any conversation interesting.  He believed wholeheartedly in standing up for your beliefs and what you thought was right.  Al always was there to help you whenever you needed him.  He was a great friend and will be deeply missed.”

Current Hudson Board of Selectmen Chair Shawn Jasper said, “Al Lambert was a rare breed of politician, one who could separate his professional life from his political life.  Even though he had been an officer of the law and a firefighter, he always stayed focused on his political goal of governmental efficiency and low spending.  Even those of us who were his friends would not escape his criticism when he felt we were going astray, but the conversation would almost always end with a hearty laugh and a smile.  I will miss him.”

Throughout his life, Al’s greatest joy was his family.  He and his wife, Tera, shared a special partnership.  During the years of service, to the U. S. Air Force, Nashua Police and Fire Departments, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, and the Hudson community, they were a team that shared the long hours and pressures involved in service to others.  Ruth M. Parker and Marilyn Rollins, longtime Hudson residents, stated, “Our family has been friends with our good neighbors the Lamberts from before they moved to Hudson.  In fact, we would like to think our parents Charles and Ruth E. Parker had something to do with their decision to move to Robinson Road.  In our friend Al, we remember all that is good about Hudson.  He had many positive qualities.  As we reflect on his life, we realize we will not find all of these qualities in any one person, but will recognize some of these qualities in each of our fellow neighbors and townspeople.”

A deep and abiding faith in each other made the many years of duty in law enforcement possible.  Al’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were a source of pride and delight.  He took his role as father very seriously; he and his wife were always there for their family.  He was particularly proud of the way his family worked together to overcome adversity and challenges to become even stronger.

An avid gardener and sports fan, he took pride in his home and garden, as well as the local sports teams.  He was not afraid of hard work and appreciated this characteristic in others.  Al was a man who was loyal to his personal creed of behavior.  He loved and supported his family and friends; he believed in service to others; he challenged those around him to try to be more than they were.

In recognition for their assistance during Al’s illness, the family has expressed their deep appreciation to Home Health and Hospice Care, 22 Prospect Street, Nashua.  Donations in Al’s memory would provide others with the same kindness and care.


New Guidance Program for Freshmen

by Lauren Danzi

Alvirne High School Guidance Department teams up with the English Department in a new proactive approach to reaching incoming freshmen.  The goal is to familiarize the students with the guidance department while teaching incoming freshmen how to be successful in high school.  The students are reading the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey, as part of their English class.  One of the six guidance counselors goes to freshmen English classes seven times to teach and lead them in discussions about the book.  Guidance counselors are hopeful this new program will be more effective than the old program where they only met with freshmen classes once for 45 minutes at the beginning of the year.  Director of guidance William R. Hughen and the English department both had a similar idea wishing they could find a way to get their students to read this book.  Hughen created a sheet of guidelines for each chapter that his counselors use while talking to the different classes.

During this class time, guidance counselors talk about things that every student needs to be successful and relates them to the book.  In the first chapter, Paradigms and Principles Students learn about how their views are not always accurate or complete and that they should keep an open mind to other people’s viewpoints.  Pairing this idea with guidance perspective, counselors talked about things like how to avoid believing gossip.  They also asked students what their expectations were in high school and what they expected from themselves, and then told students they should do things for themselves rather than focusing on what other people in their lives, like friends or relatives, might want for them.  When discussing the Principles side of things, guidance counselors talked to freshmen about the student handbook and the consequences of their actions.  They also talked about issues such as cheating and plagiarism.  According to Hughen, many freshmen do not fully understand what plagiarism means, especially in the age of the internet.  This component is not only helpful to understand to make high school years successful, it is also key if students wish to attend college where the penalties for plagiarism are greater.

Each counselor has a different approach to reaching the kids.  Hughen uses humor to catch students’ attention.  When talking about Paradigms, pronounced ‘Para dimes’, he brought two dimes into the class, held them up, and asked “Is this what Paradigms is?”  This joke formed a connection with the students and allowed him to help them understand what a Paradigm shift is and how it could apply to them.  Paradigm shifts are when a person or society shifts from one perspective to another.  An example in history would be when people shifted from thinking the earth was flat to believing it was round.  For high school students, a shift might mean making friends with a group of people they once avoided or deciding they like a subject that they hated.

Kathleen Alden, new guidance program this year, had a different approach.  She explained that the first year of high school should be a fresh start.  “That’s why you’re called freshmen,” said Alden, who felt this caught the students’ attention.  Then she explained to them how to have a proactive approach to high school.  “You can’t believe a thing you hear and only half of what you see,” she said, borrowing an expression from her father when explaining Paradigm shifts.  Later she got students involved in role playing to teach students the difference between assertiveness verses aggressiveness.  She showed them how they could disagree with a teacher in an adult way without showing disrespect.  Her next lessons will include projects that teach teamwork and the importance of listening.  One project involves blindfolding one student and having another instruct that student to perform a task.

The guidance counselor visits are once every two weeks until January 8, 2008.  The program ends right as students begin to pick their classes for the next year.  By then the freshmen are very familiar with the guidance program and how it works.  In February, guidance counselors sit with each freshman individually and go over their list of courses for the next year to make sure everything is in order.


Selectmen Deny Library Impact Fee Request

by Lynne Ober

There’s a lack of storage at Litchfield’s Aaron Cutler Library so staff have requested the use of $3,000 worth of impact fees to purchase an 8’x16’ wooden shed from Alvirne High School’s Building Trades program.

At the recent selectmen’s meeting, Library Trustee Diane Jerry and Library Director Vicki Varick discussed their budget request and went over details of the budget.  However, once that was over they left.  By the time that selectmen were discussing their request for impact fee usage, there was no one available to answer questions.

Selectman Pat Jewett made the motion to approve the request and selectmen’s liaison to the library Andrew Santom seconded.

During discussion, there were questions as to whether purchasing a storage shed met the legal requirements for impact fee usage.  According to the document submitted by the library, the shed would store a ladder needed to change light bulbs and tables for programs.

As Selectman George Lambert pointed out, state law prohibits the use of impact fees to just those items that support growth in the community.  Selectmen were unclear as to whether this request met those requirements or not.

Lambert finally suggested that the prudent track would be to modify the motion on the table.  “Let’s table this until a time certain, such as next week, and ask town counsel to help us decide if the legal requirement for the use of impact fees has been met.  We don’t want to do anything illegal.”  Lambert then leaned forward and specifically asked Jewett to modify her motion so that they involve legal counsel in determining the legality of the request.  “Just modify to table and give us a week’s delay.”

“There you go — micro-managing again,” declared Jewett, who refused to modify her motion.

Although discussion continued, selectmen did not have enough information to arrive at a decision as to whether the need for a shed was due to growth in the community, so Lambert again made an appeal to Jewett to modify her motion to allow them one week to check with town counsel.

When Chairman Raymond Peeples finally called for a vote, only Jewett voted in favor.  The motion failed 1 – 4.

Jewett immediately said she wanted to send it to town counsel for review, but Lambert pointed out that the topic had just been killed and noted that the opportunity to send to town counsel had come and gone because the motion wasn’t modified.

Selectman Al Raccio then encouraged the board to write a letter to the library trustees strongly urging them to get the request reviewed by town counsel for legality and, if it was legal, to come back with that documentation.

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