Spring is Coming
A Message From Our Executive Director
Dear Friends and Family of NEHD,

I would like to take a few minutes to introduce myself to you all. I realize in the last newsletter you all read my bio and demographics and I also want to take a moment and share a bit of “who” I am.

One day during the Pandemic, I was having a low moment and talking to a friend over virtual coffee. In an effort to cheer one another up, we decided to tell each other what we found as positive traits in one another. This is what I learned from that conversation.

I am optimistic by nature. I see the positive in most things that happen in life. I am not Pollyanna and I give myself some time to see the situation and the reality of it and then I look for the good. What can I take from this? What can I learn? What can I control? How can I influence the situation in a positive way? We have so much to be optimistic about at NEHD. Each day I see how the staff, residents and the community care for one another. You can feel it when you walk through the doors; it is palpable.

I am innately curious by nature. I am curious and want to learn more about Deaf Culture, American Sign Language and the rich history of the residents and staff here. Each person has a story to tell and those stories make up the fabric of our community. I look forward to continuing to meet our residents, staff, and community members….

I am goal-directed. I start each weekday, month, and year with goals. What is important to me today? What is important to our community today? How can I best lead and what steps can I take toward our goals? It is easy to become overwhelmed with projects or a “to do “list. I once heard a phrase “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is, “One bite at a time.” Breaking my goals down into small steps helps me to reach my goals in a way that is less stressful and more productive. I hope to model this for all employees here so that we can all meet goals in the same manner.

I am family motivated. My family is the most important thing in the world to me. I very much love and enjoy spending time with my wife and kids. I also must say my two furry family members bring me peace and joy as well. To make a long story short we are a family of second chances. I also celebrate my new family here at NEHD. I see so much family in the community. People who care for one another and celebrate one another. People who love you in the good times and bad times. This is truly our community.

I am a spiritual person. I define this as celebrating and being grateful in life. I am so grateful to be a part of this community. Each day I strive to be fully present. It is easy to get caught up in the task of life and not appreciate a smile. One thing that is teaching me is to slow down. I must think about the signs.

Slowing down and being in the moment are two aspects of my spirituality that New England Homes for the Deaf is helping me celebrate. Thank you.
As we are starting our journey together, I look forward to learning about each of you and learning deeper level things of who you are as a person and what matters to you.

Health Corner
Music in a Deaf World

Music can improve mood, decrease pain and anxiety, and facilitate opportunities for emotional expression. Research suggests that music can benefit our physical and mental health in numerous ways.

Hearing people always assume that there is only one way to enjoy music, and that is by listening/ hearing to it. However, deaf people can enjoy music in ways that differ from how hearing people enjoy music, but they can derive pleasure out of it.

The good news is that all sound is vibration. So, while hearing people can listen to music, the deaf and hard of hearing take in music a different way: by feeling it.

First, deafness does not mean that someone does not hear anything at all – there are varying levels of deafness. Second, deaf people can feel the vibrations produced by the music being played and consume those vibrations through their body. The humming sound produced by picking a bass string or the boom of the drums can be felt very easily by them. The lyrics evoke different types of feelings, and the combination of vibrations and lyrics is how deaf people enjoy music.

However, deaf people do not have to just depend upon vibrations and sign language interpreters to enjoy music.

NEHD started with a Drum room with textile wall panels with texture and vibration when playing music when the Cummings Center awarded the home a grant. We also have African Drums, maracas, drum set, tambourines, and guitars with amplifiers.

During COVID19 the Activities director was able to take an exercise course called Ageless Grace.

Ageless Grace is a cutting-edge brain fitness program based on neuroplasticity that activates all 5 functions of the brain - analytical, strategic, kinesthetic learning, memory/recall, creativity and imagination - and simultaneously addresses all 21 physical skills needed for lifelong optimal function. This course is taught with music playing. Residents can feel the beat/ vibrations through the floors and beach balls.

During COVID19 our music program has expanded allowing us to purchase 2 iPods and 2 portable speakers with colored lights that play with the beat of the music. Our residents enjoy the music through amplified vibrations being produced by the large speakers around them, made available through funds from People’s United Foundation. The portability allows for easy access throughout the building. Our Deaf and Deafblind residents react in stunning fashion and with joy when the new speakers vibrate and light up the room. We now incorporate Morning exercise and all daily activities with music. Including Golf, Birthday parties, bowling, and hangman.

As the facility starts to open again Residents are looking forward to having a dance as well as give recognition to deaf and hard of hearing artists everywhere.
Photo Gallery
  • People’s United Foundation has awarded NEHD with funds to create a wellness gym for our rest home residents. Stay tuned for details as we design our new space.

  • New England Homes for the Deaf has a fabulous Fundraising Cash Calendar for June 2021. Sales end the last day of May. The calendars are $10 each.  All money raised goes to Resident funds for special programs. You can enter to win via the donate button on the NEHD website or via this newsletter.  
Second Wind Dreams posted this:

Alfred is deaf and legally blind with a great personality and lots of energy! Alfred came to NEHD about four years ago from New York. Alfred does not let his disabilities get in his way! He is highly active within the facility, especially the “sports” games the activity department has put together. Alfred is a competitive guy and likes to have fun. One of Alfred’s biggest enjoyments in life is sports. His favorite sport is basketball. Growing up, Alfred was always playing basketball with his friends and was even on a team! Alfred’s dream is to have a real (actual size) basketball hoop set up out the back of NEHD overlooking the water. Due to Alfred’s blindness, he would require glow-in-the-dark netting and basketball. Alfred would benefit from a new pair of sneakers custom made to his feet due to a medical condition. Please help Alfred’s dream of having his very own basketball hoop come true!
(watch our Facebook page for more Dreams fulfilled)
"Homing Racing Pigeons", a story about Paul Larocque
By Shirley Larocque, a resident of 2 years at New England Homes for the Deaf, in Danvers, MA

This is the story and life of my beloved husband, Paul, who loved training and caring for homing pigeons.

When Paul was a small boy, he was walking along on the street, and stopped to watch many birds flying around a man's house. When Paul's sister Lucille went looking for Paul, she found him talking with the man. Lucille explained that Paul was deaf. Paul continued to visit the man daily.

After Paul was finished with school at Boston School for the Deaf in Randolph, MA, he started to learn more from that man about homing racing pigeons, by training the birds on the road before each race and going to his club in New Bedford and Fall River, MA, in preparation for the weekend races held in the spring and fall.

There are two different seasons, one in the spring for the young birds from birth to 2 years old to race. Young birds are to be trained on the road many times before starting their first race. They start at home from the pigeon's coop practicing and flying around the local home area for 2 or 3 weeks. Then they are ready for the road, 3 miles to start with up in the sky to study their way back to home. Then 10 or so miles for several weeks in different areas on the road to make sure they know the way back home in preparation for the spring (April to June) race. The race to be flown is always from the west - mostly in the state of New York. One way straight to each owner’s home in Massachusetts on the Mohawk Trail (Route 2 East) highway.

The other race in the fall with the older and very experienced having raced in the previous spring race, go from Albany, New York to Syracuse, New York, weekly, weather permitting) - Sept to late Oct.

Paul moved to Gardner when he and I were married in 1965 and bought a ranch-style house in Gardner where we settled down. Three years later Paul started his homing racing pigeon hobby- a very active one for Paul to have all those years. Poor me, having to hold 50 pigeons at a time ready for yearly shots, like the flu shot, in the basement of our house! I put on gloves so I would not get a feeling of the bird's body, holding each bird one at a time. Then I put them back into the bird's carrier to be transferred to the pigeon coop.

Sometimes, I went for the ride along the Mohawk Trail when Paul was training on the road. We stopped by for a picnic, stroll and even played cards all afternoon at the nearby senior centers out of town, on the way home from training. Paul received many diplomas, awards, and a few trophies over the years. Paul passed away on July 4, 2009 at the age of 72.
About NEHD
New England Homes for the Deaf, founded in 1901, is a life plan community that offers a continuum of care to Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing seniors, including independent living, rest home, skilled nursing community, Deaf senior centers, short-term rehabilitation services, respite care services and hospice care.

The New England Homes for the Deaf mission is to provide long term healthcare, housing, recreational activities and social support for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing individuals in an accessible, barrier-free and culturally-sensitive environment with optimal communication and architectural resources.