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Inspiration

Women Who Inspire Us: Emma Evans

March 14, 2012

Emma Evans is a lover of life.  You can see it in her face--and in the way she interacts with the world--exuding that elusive, infectious je ne sais quoi.  What's her secret?  Emma finds joy in so much: nature, fashion (we happen to know firsthand what a style-enthusiast she is), philanthropy, and community. She does what she loves and loves what she does.  Because of this inspiring lady, Ode chose Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary for our "Fashion with Compassion" campaign--we will be donating 5% of our profits to it this March.  Emma graciously agreed to educate us about the what/when/where/why of the organization, and to share some of the secrets behind her spirit.

Can you tell us a little about Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary?
Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary is part of the statewide non-profit, Mass Audubon. With the help of its generous members and dedicated volunteers, Mass Audubon protects over 34,000 acres of land – a number that is continuously growing. Each site is different, but Arcadia is a particularly special one. With approximately 700 protected acres of land, Arcadia is comprised of over five miles of trails, including one that is universally accessible. We offer an extensive education program that includes preschool, day camp, and a range of public programs for children, families, and adults. Arcadia is an incredible gem, set right between Northampton and Easthampton, easily accessible from main roads, and is the perfect place to come and learn about nature and wildlife, even if you don’t consider yourself an “outdoors person.” There is truly something for everyone here. The staff at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary also manage three other sites: Laughing Brook in Hampden, Lynes in Westhampton, and Graves Farm in Williamsburg.

How did you get started working at Arcadia, and what is your role there?
After a year of pursuing a master’s degree in Fashion Merchandising straight out of college, I decided to take some time off from school to reassess what makes me who I am. I started searching for jobs within organizations whose values align with my own. Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary was seeking a Visitor Services team member, and I applied for the job. I’ve been working for Mass Audubon at Arcadia for just about one year now. On any given day, I answer phones, take program registrations, share information about the benefits of a membership with Mass Audubon, as well as generate and manage a lot of the public relations around the sanctuary. I am currently growing in a role in fundraising and marketing the sanctuary. At the moment, our team is also working on planning the most fabulous gala dinner to celebrate the success of our great blue heron rookery, which is the where groups of herons nest in the springtime. We had 54 successful nests last year, and there are generally two baby birds per nest.

What are the best ways people can get involved or make contributions?
There are three great ways to get involved with Mass Audubon – become a member, contribute, or volunteer. A membership includes discounts on day camp and public programs, a subscription to Mass Audubon’s great publications like our Sanctuary and Connections magazines, as well as the ability to visit any of our sanctuaries free of charge as often as you’d like. Most importantly, becoming a member helps Mass Audubon fulfill its mission to protect the nature of Massachusetts. If you are able to contribute above the membership level of giving, the money goes directly to supporting your local sanctuary. When you make a gift to Arcadia, it goes directly to helping local children and adults, and protecting the local landscape. Because of our heavy involvement with our members and our incredibly small staff, the infrastructure cost is very low, which allows us to keep gifts in the education program or land stewardship. Arcadia is always in need of volunteers for a host of different projects. If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering, contact Jean Frances, Registrar and Volunteer Coordinator for Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary at jfrances@massaudubon.org.

Are there any upcoming events or programs you would like to mention?
There are three especially incredible events coming up! The first is “Big Night,” a family program at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary on March 31st, beginning at 5:30 pm. This program is a great way to learn about vernal pools and the unique opportunity for breeding that they provide obligate vernal pool species, like salamanders, frogs, and fairy shrimp.

An opportunity for a hands-on experience helping out is our Statewide Volunteer Day, taking place on Saturday, April 28th. Two sanctuaries in this area will be participating – Laughing Brook and Arcadia. For more information, you can visit www.massaudubon.org, or email arcadia@massaudubon.org.
Last, but certainly not least, on Thursday, April 12th, we are holding a gala dinner at the Garden House at Look Park to celebrate the success of our great blue heron rookery. All ticket sales support land stewardship at Arcadia. This event is by registration only. If you’re interested in finding out more, send me an email at eevans@massaudubon.org.

Photo Credit: Leah Duran

Where do you find inspiration?
As you might imagine, I draw a lot of inspiration from nature. As far back as I can remember, I have loved drawing trees and leaves. In college, I would sketch them in the margins of my notebooks. The reverence I feel for nature is reflected in my style as well. I love simple, organic pieces of jewelry. My jewelry tree is adorned with pendants made of geode sections, bracelets carved into feathers, necklaces of silver and gold leaves, and one made of dried acai berries. My favorite piece used to belong to my Grandmother. It’s an heirloom silver cuff bracelet etched into the shape of a bald eagle with a piece of turquoise set in the center. I tend to choose garments made from rich, nature-hued textiles; silk patterned with gorgeous floral, loosely knit cotton dip-dyed in shades of blue, mimicking the sky or the ocean. I find it awe-inspiring that the rich purple mountains not so far off in the distance are the backdrop to my everyday life. It’s hard not to be inspired by the wonders of this vast, gorgeous planet!

Who is your role model?
I have so many role models. I especially admire my mother and father: both talented and gifted in completely different ways.

What is your dream project?
One of my deep passions is darkroom photography. I love hand-developing film and making prints. My visual studies usually surround different shapes and textures, and I love to photograph women. I have always wanted to shoot the cover of Vogue. Soon, I’ll actually be completing a more attainable dream project of mine – setting up a raised bed garden! I do my best to eat local, sustainable produce, and love the idea of subsistence farming!

What are your plans for the future?
In terms of the immediate future, my partner and I are lucky enough to have been offered the live-in caretaker position at another Mass Audubon sanctuary, Laughing Brook, in Hampden, MA. There, we hope to continue carrying out the organization’s mission of conservation, advocacy, and education in the Springfield area. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share my love of nature, and continue to be inspired by the truly great things that Mass Audubon does for Massachusetts and our community.

One of my favorite places in the world, with my love. Happiness, love, beauty – so deeply inspiring.

What's your favorite line from a movie, song, or book? 
“The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost is a poem I’ve loved my whole life. My dad used to read it to me when I was young. My favorite part:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

If you were a piece of clothing, what would be and what color/pattern? 
I think I’d be a beautiful scarf. A dear friend recently told me that they’re my trademark piece!

What's the first line in a book about your life?
Gosh, I just don’t know…! I think you’ve got to know how it ends to know the beginning, right?

What is your favorite word, and why?
I love the word, “lively.” For me, it conjures up images of spring! Grass growing, buds opening, wind dancing lightly.

What's your go-to "happy" song? 
I absolutely adore the song, “Stay Young, Go Dancing,” by Death Cab for Cutie.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Be patient.

What super power would you like to have, and why?
I’d like to have the ability to be in two places at once! I’d love to be able to travel the world, while also remaining local and tending to my day-to-day responsibilities.

When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
I am so lucky to have a partner whose sense of humor keeps a constant ache in my cheeks from smiling so hard. We laugh every day. It’s a great life.

Inspiration

Women Who Inspire Us: Bridgette Fortier

January 23, 2012

Women Who Inspire Us: Bridgette Fortier

Bridgette has lent her charm and beauty to Ode in several of our photo shoots, and you may recognize her from our billboard or holiday commercial. We love Bridgette's poise, her sharp mind, and her generous heart, which she has shared with communities all over the world.  Because we believe in Bridgette and all she does, Ode raised money to help fund her next adventure in Kenya, where she will continue to make her mark and help those around her.

Truly an inspiring woman destined for great things, here's a little glimpse into some of what makes Bridgette Fortier one of our favorites.

How did you get started volunteering?
I got started in volunteerism, and community service after high school when I joined the Americorps NCCC program. I completed 850 hours of need based community service in Colorado, Texas and Alabama. Although I didn’t feel this program was a perfect fit for me, it inspired me to continue servicing others. This summer I did an interchange program in the Dominican Republic working as a doula in the maternity ward of a public hospital. This was the most eye opening experience of my life and encouraged me to do more international women’s health work. This spring I will be studying health and community development in Kenya. I hope to continue my service with mothers and babies; I have a great deal of passion for this work.

What would you suggest to others interested in doing volunteer work?
I would say that it is really important to be happy in what you are doing. Although you will come across very challenging realities, and have difficult experiences, it is crucial that you stay positive. Most importantly, believe in yourself, anything is possible! If I listened to all of my self doubts over the years I would not be doing the things I am now. I continually surprise myself with what I am capable of, and how much I continue to grow as a person.

Where do you find inspiration?
There is so much in the world that is inspiring! I find inspiration in people, and women in particular. I think women have incredible amounts of strength, intelligence and passion. I also find inspiration through music, fashion, nature and art!

What are your plans for the future?
To travel, have fun, work hard and be happy! More specifically I hope to apply to nurse midwifery school and practice internationally for a period of time before returning home to service my own community. Having a family is also really important to me, so we will see where that fits in!

What's your favorite line from a movie, song, or book?
“There is no greater gift to the world and to others than being true to your deepest self. So many times, out of fear of loneliness or other negative emotions, we form relationships that are good enough, but untrue to our uniqueness. Doing so risks flattening ourselves.”- William Powers , Twelve by Twelve

If you were a piece of clothing, what would be and what color/pattern?
I would be a floor length dress with a brilliant and intricate pattern.

What's your go-to "happy" song?
Probably anything Ray LaMontagne.

What super power would you like to have, and why?
Tough call, I might have to choose flying, there is a lot of freedom in flying.

When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
Honestly this happens quite often, usually in a state of exhaustion-perhaps over a delicious meal.

You can keep up with Bridgette and her travels on her newly launched blog, Through Inspiration.

Inspiration

Women Who Inspire Us: Maria Burke

December 10, 2011

Spark. Some women just have it. After five minutes with Maria Burke, founder of WillPower Foundation, you know she's got it. Everything about her is fire--her energy, spirit, heart (not to mention that hair!). And she's found a way to share it with all of Western Mass. We think you should meet her:

Maria and her son, Will

Maria and her son, Will

How Did WillPower get started?
Our son William (Will) was born with a rare brain malformation that challenges him with physical efforts.  We found that not all equipment or assistance is covered under insurance which totally surprised us!  We held a fundraiser so that we could get an accessible van for Will’s power wheelchair and a dear cousin, Matthew Donohue, suggested we start a foundation to help Will in the future – and other families like ours.  So we did just that…and now the WillPower Foundation exists to lend financial assistance to families and individuals with little to none of the bureaucracy normally associated with this process.

Since its inception in 2008, the WillPower Foundation has granted over $55,000 to more than 60 families in Western Massachusetts to help them meet the varied needs of their family members.

What is your role with the organization?
As a founder with several others, I work to share information about the Foundation with any- and every-one, help with the application review process and participate actively in fundraising and as a member of the Board of Directors.

Can you tell us one of your favorite stories about how WillPower has helped someone?

My favorite stories are the ones where we helped one family and now that family is out helping others…whether it be the child who needed an evaluation to confirm his  diagnosis and now his Mom is very active in her local Special Education Parent Advisory Committee and helping other Moms and Dads in so many ways (she is SUCH a great resources for people in her community!) or the Mom who learned a multi-sensory teaching program so that she could teach her son to read (he is!) and now she’s teaching the program to another family so their daughter will read too.

What are some of the organization's goals for the future?
The WillPower Foundation is at a critical juncture right now – we want to grow exponentially so that we can help all who ask for assistance.  The number of applications is astonishing and right now, we fund as much and as many as we can.

What's the best way for people to get involved?

Spread the word, participate in fundraisers, and donate money!

Some upcoming events

Sunday, December 11th
Third Annual Your Friends Are My Friends Brunch
Eastside Grill, Northampton, MA
$35 per person

Call 413-244-3262 or go to www.willpowerfoundation.org for more details.


WillPower Night – Springfield Armor
Saturday, January 14th
MassMutual Center, Springfield, MA

For more details, please go to www.willpowerfoundation.org

Inspiration

Women Who Inspire Us: Sabine Merz

November 9, 2011

Women Who Inspire Us: Sabine Merz

Whenever Sabine steps into Ode, she always brightens our day with her lovely smile and cheerful disposition. Sabine came by the store to pick out a few things before she left on a trip to Germany. We love her style and her positive attitude, and we were delighted to see her take a little bit of Ode with her to Europe!

Sabine was sweet enough to send us a note about her travels, as well as some adorable photos, including some of her Ode bag in action:

"It was time to go home, Germany that is. And at the end of a fabulous visit, the plan was to visit some friends in Switzerland as well. Of course, I took my favorite Ode clothes with me, such as a black and white Dolan jacket that kept me warm and cozy through various climates. There was also nice Graham & Spencer sweater, if a fancy occassion should occur, and occur it did. Oh, and there was also an Out of Print T-Shirt dedicated to Darwin's Origins of the Species, because I do think that we evolved.

"...And there was my Ode bag: because I ask you, how can one travel without one? And I did promise Kristin to take some pictures.

"Once arrived in Switzlerland, I shamelessly flaunted and showed off my Ode bag...on an antique sled, in the snow, in the high mountain air, on the unexpected half meter of snow, or during some crazy fun. And why not bring Ode to Europe? I had the bag and knew how to use it. So Grüzi Ode!"

Thanks, Sabine, for sharing your travel log with us!

Don't forget to send in your pictures for our "Where Has Your Ode Bag Been?" Send your photo of your Ode bag, with your name and contact info to Liz@odeboutique.com, and we'll enter you into a drawing to win a $50 gift card to Ode.

Women Who Inspire Us: Sabine Merz
Women Who Inspire Us: Sabine Merz
Women Who Inspire Us: Sabine Merz
Women Who Inspire Us: Sabine Merz

Inspiration

Women Who Inspire Us: My Nguyen

October 13, 2011

At Ode, we're fortunate enough to meet amazing women every day. We all notice My when she stops by the store, always looking fabulous. She contacted us with information about the Valley Community Development Corporation, and we're happy to be donating 5% of profits to them this month, thanks to her suggestion. Her style is impeccable, and her dedication to the community is an inspiration that we felt was well worth sharing.

How did you get involved with the Valley CDC, and can you tell us a little about your experiences working there?
I grew up in Oklahoma and then moved to Connecticut for college. I think that the combination of my experiences as a first generation immigrant and the transition between living in two completely different places spurred my interest in the ways communities develop, which is why I focused on housing policy and community development in my degree. When I moved to Northampton about two years ago, Valley CDC seemed like the perfect place to learn more about both of these issues. I feel so privileged to be involved with an organization that has done such great work for an amazing community. Being there for the opening of the King St. Apartments, their most recent development that provides ten affordable apartments for homeless and low-income residents, was an amazing experience. It was truly awe-inspiring to see that old house reconstructed as beautiful apartments. I was amazed by how much a small nonprofit could give back to the community.

Do you have any words of advice for people considering volunteer work?
I think it's important to start locally – to find nonprofits that support a community cause you care about. It's great to work for a large organization with a lot of support, but I think it is the small, local nonprofits that often need the most help because they don't have the same national platform to fundraise and recruit volunteers. Volunteering with organizations in your own community also allows you to have a more substantial impact.

What are your fashion influences?
I can't even begin to count the number of hours I've spent watching movies and I think that my style is the culmination of viewing almost the entirety of Edith Head's body of work. The movies she designed for – especially Rear Window, The Lady Eve, and Funny Face – shaped this beautiful ideal of the 50s and 60s for me. I love the balance of structure and femininity in the looks she created and I think that definitely comes across in my style. I tend to draw a lot of sartorial inspiration from films in general. It's difficult not to be inspired by visually stunning movies like The Wind that Shakes the Barley and I Am Love.

What are your favorite trends for fall?
It's really exciting to see more unexpected combinations of texture, pattern, and colors. I've always had a soft spot for mixed prints. I also love that there seems to be a 60s revival going on thanks to Mad Men – lots of tailored pieces that are still really feminine. Every fall I try to make capes the new 'coat,' so I'm ecstatic that I've been seeing so many!

If you were a piece of clothing, what you would be and what color/pattern?
Most definitely a cape in a beautiful Harris tweed – dramatic and highly impractical but well intentioned.

What inspires you?
The places I've traveled to and the places I want to go inspire me the most. My wandering heart is never satisfied so I'm constantly researching new places and planning dream vacations. I love not just going somewhere but learning everything about it – from the agriculture to local folklore.

[Chattman Photography]