Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

About Mary Howard

Mary Howard ’85 is a freelance writer and editor who lives in southeastern Connecticut.

Friendly competition

Luke Finkelstein (left) and Travis Blair

Class of 2015 friends and rivals Luke Finkelstein (left) and Travis Blair on the field after the 2016 American Soccer League finals; below, the two at Wheaton

Former teammates continue connection, rivalry on professional teams

Travis Blair ’15 and Luke Finkelstein ’15 are best friends. They were roommates at Wheaton and standouts on the men’s soccer team. “We’re like brothers,” says Blair. “We talk pretty much every day.” But on the playing field, it’s a different story.

In spring 2016, both men signed with professional teams in the American Soccer League (ASL): Blair as a forward with the Long Island Express, and Finkelstein as a midfielder with the Philadelphia Fury.

“The first thing we did [after being signed] was look at our schedules to see when we’d be playing each other,” says Finkelstein. “We couldn’t wait.” That first game was April 24, 2016, and two minutes in, Finkelstein had fouled Blair. “He tackled me so hard my shoe came off,” says Blair.

“I wanted him to know it was business,” says Finkelstein.

On the field, they are playing to win. “If anyone is getting by me, it’s not going to be him,” says Blair about his former teammate. But afterward, they’re typical friends, often grabbing a bite to eat together. “When it’s done, it’s done,” says Finkelstein. [Read more...]

Chamber honors Shannon Kelly Carter ’71

Shannon K. Carter class of 1971.Shannon Kelly Carter ’71 has been called a force of nature, a woman whose drive comes from wanting to better her community. On February 18, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber honored her with the Great Living Cincinnatian Award.

“It was not at all something I was expecting. So many of my heroes have received the award,” she says.

Awardees include Neil Armstrong, civil rights activist the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and Carter’s husband, Lee Carter, and stepfather, Nelson Schwab Jr.

Carter has a long history of service, beginning when she sorted clothes as a high school student at the Children’s Hospital Thrift Shop. She is best known for Crayons to Computers (C2C), a nonprofit organization she co-founded that distributes school supplies to teachers in Cincinnati’s underserved schools—for free.

“I am proud that we were able to give away $100 million in supplies while I was there,” she says. [Read more...]

Award-winning, rewarding work

Deirdre Houlihan DiCara ’77“Everyday is a feel good day when you are working with the homeless and hungry,” says Deirdre Houlihan DiCara ’77 about her work as executive director of FISH/Friends in Service to Humanity of Northwestern Connecticut.

As executive director, DiCara has increased awareness and services for those in need in her area. She oversees FISH’s many programs, including a 35-bed shelter, a food pantry, health services and life-skills training. Last year, the organization provided beds for 84 individuals and fed more than 2,000 through its food pantry. Though the mission is to provide “food, shelter and hope,” DiCara believes hope is the most important. [Read more...]

Homegrown champion

Judith Garcia ’13 elected to Chelsea City Council

Judith Garcia ’13Growing up in Chelsea, Mass., Judith Garcia ’13 played in an empty lot littered with used syringes and trash.

“My friends and I called it ‘War Zone,’” she says. It was not an optimal playground, but it was better than the city’s parks, which were ruled by gangs, she says. “At an early age, I wondered why we had no access to small things like parks.”

That wonder grew into a passion for community service, culminating in her recent election to Chelsea’s City Council, representing the Fifth District. With virtually zero political experience, she was the top vote-getter in the city’s primary (unseating the incumbent) and won the general election with 60 percent of the vote.

It was a historic election, with Latinos taking six of the 11 council seats, balancing what had historically been a mostly non-Latino council in a predominantly Latino city. Garcia was pleased with the outcome.

[Read more...]