Dinner On Us


Families of Dinner On Us

April 1, 2013—At 5:20PM, the Dinner On Us event, held by the Office of Family Resources, began in the Earthfoods Café.

The scent of cheese pizza and the squeals of laughing and crying children flowed through the air. The energy in the room was high and the feeling of controlled chaos overpowering.

“Hi Katie,” exclaimed Erika Loper, the Lead Teacher at the Amherst Family Center, as well as the Teacher of the children at the Dinner On Us event. She looked at Katie, a young child at the event and asked, “did you ride in on your dragon today?” Katie stared up at Erika with her light brown eyes and short, dark brown hair, and with a quiet reservation nodded yes. Katie is just one child of a total of 38 adults, who attended this Monday’s event.

The Dinner On Us program provides Amherst Family Center families, as well as UMass students, and undergraduates an opportunity to learn more about parenting and family relations. With workshops offered nearly every Monday evening according to the Office of Family Resources website, over the course of one semester, the program is able to offer lessons on a variety of topics.

Today’s workshop was devoted to “Television’s and Electronic Media Impact on Young Children and on Parent-Child Interactions.” Professor Emeritus, Daniel Anderson, of UMass Amherst led this hour-and-a-half discussion. Professor Anderson focused his attention on the impact of educational television and background television, on a child’s development based on their age group.

A substantial portion of his presentation addressed the studies that his lab has conducted in discovering how television impacts children under 12 months, under 24 months, and under 3 years. Additionally however, Professor Anderson provided suggestions for the parents with reference to their particular family situations and questions.

One family asked that Professor Anderson speak to how parents should address commercials that may appear appealing, but do not offer the message parents wish to suggest. With the example of a McDonald’s commercial in mind, Professor Anderson told the parent that telling a child that McDonald’s is bad after the commercial airs is, in fact, more effective than saying nothing at all. The words a parent uses with a child are integral to the child’s learning experience, explained Anderson, and often can be more effective than the media.

By attending the workshop, which parents must register their family for, each member of the family receives a free dinner, in addition to being able to attend the workshop. The family also receives a free parking pass, as well as supervised children’s activities while the workshop takes place.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Top 6 Career Lessons

 After reading interviews and articles from those who have succeeded as writers, below are the top six lessons I learned about succeeding in journalism. 

1)   Dabble in different styles of writing. Eventually it will lead you to a style that you will want to work with for the rest of your career.  (McPhee)

2)   Focus your writing on the subjects you’re passionate about. Find a position that will allow you to do this and that is where you will succeed. (Dread)

3)   The most direct way to a career isn’t always the best way. You can learn a lot of valuable skills from positions outside of your end goal (Adams)

4)   Use all of my skills to make myself a unique asset to a company. Show that I stand out by combining the skills that I can offer. (Adams)

5)   Learn how to approach subjects from a fresh and new perspective. This is a necessity for attracting readers. (Silver)

6)   Read and write often. These are the most effective ways to improve at the craft. (McPhee and Silver)


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Craziest Thing Happened

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Food Bloggers


Sommer Collier is the author of A Spicy Perspective. Collier is a food blogger who not only provides her readers with recipes, but also lessons in cooking. She breaks down the steps into manageable, or bite-sized, pieces for her readers to digest. In each post Collier tells a story, while providing a picture of a delicious meal she whipped up, that you can’t resist trying to create yourself. Her ability to draw the reader in by her pictures as well as relate to readers through the stories of her daily life are why I want to follow her posts.  Also, the fact that she does not only focus on recipes, some of her posts are about appliances and cabinetry, and other important components of a kitchen that traditional food blogs frequently ignore.

Jeanine Donofrio is the author of Love and Lemons. Jeanine’s recipes are mostly vegetarian, and as the exuberant meat eater that I am, I would like to follow Jeanine’s blog to see how she varies her recipes to appeal to all people, not just vegetarians, vegans, and those who are gluten free. Her blog pops with color, lots of greens, reds, yellows, and oranges, which keep me coming back for more. She is also constantly using vegetables I have never heard and combining ingredients I have heard of in ways I never expected, like the walnut-mushroom veggie burger, which left me no option but to read the recipe. I would like to follow Donofrio to understand more about vegetarian cooking as well as how one maintains a food blog by varying what kinds of recipes included.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized



(Four of the ten units affected by the fire that occurred at approximately 4AM on January 21, 2013 in the Rolling Green Apartment Complex .)

On the green grass behind the charred building that he once called home, Mark Metivier’s voice softened and his brown eyes dropped as he described the fire-kissed posters that line his bedroom walls. Metivier, a UMass student and victim of the January 21st Rolling Green fire said, “I can still picture the inside,”as the scent of burnt plastic passed through the air.

At approximately 4:00AM residents of Rolling Green were jolted out of their sleep to evacuate their homes. “We heard some ruckus outside and then there was kind of a bang,” said Metivier. The fire, which ignited shortly before, was just beginning its unforgiving rampage through the apartment complex.

“I grabbed my phone and a jacket and then we ran outside,” he said. In only his boxers and a black fleece jacket, Metivier braved the below freezing temperature. Standing with his roommates, they could only hope that their apartment would withstand “the smoke and a red glow from behind the building,” said Metivier. “I was shaking, more than the normal you’re cold shaking,” he said, “It was uncontrollable.”

“[My roommates and I] thought for a really long time that [our apartment was] going to be fine, but it just kept spreading,” explained Metivier. At approximately 7:00PM, several hours after the fire had been extinguished Metivier and his roommates were escorted into their home to search for any salvageable belongings. Metivier was able to rescue an electric razor and a clock that his roommate gave to him, “but that was pretty much it,” he said.

Adam Karp, another resident of Rolling Green, slept unaware that night of the tragedy occurring on the opposite side of the apartment complex. “I woke up and the power was out and I thought, ‘that was weird,’” he said. “Then, I got all of these texts asking, ‘are you okay,’” said Karp. By then Karp had seen the fire department in the complex, but nobody knew the extent of the damages. Now, Karp passes by the affected area every day on his way in and out of the complex. “It is a little strange to see, but I trust the management at Rolling Green and I don’t feel unsafe,” he said. “It’s weird to think people used to live there though,” said Karp.

Taking the life of one student, and the prized possessions and peace of mind of many others, this fire shocked the Amherst community. Then a natural question arose. How will the community come together to aid the displaced residents, including two families and 22 students from UMass Amherst?

Following the fire, Rolling Green offered available units to those affected. Metivier and his roommates were given apartment number one near the entrance to the complex, which looks directly out toward the 10 units involved in the fire. Additionally, the American Red Cross gave the victims $250 each to buy food, blow up mattresses, and clothes, as needed.

The first night, “the new apartment was empty and I was exhausted” said Metivier. “I went to bed with no problems,” he said. This peaceful sleep did not continue for long though, as about a week later, Metivier and his roommate woke up at approximately 4:00AM every night. “I figured it was the new environment and crappy mattress, but then it dawned on me that it was 4:00AM every single night,” said Metivier.

The fire impacted the roommates significantly more than they anticipated. However, they did not seek help from resources offered by UMass. Rather, they tried to continue life as normal, attending school and spending time together. The roommates then began to replace belongings. First with wicker outdoor chairs from their parents, then new televisions, beds, clothes, and computers, until eventually, their new apartment “started to seem more like home,” said Metivier.

Metivier’s response is one of many responses from those who witnessed the Rolling Green fire and experienced traumatic loss. According to Nupur Jain, a psychological counselor for the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, or CCPH, at the University Health Services of UMass, every individual’s reaction to such an event will differ. “There is no right or wrong way to behave after you have experienced a trauma,” she said.

In hoping to maintain the psychological health of those individuals affected by the fire, CCPH offered its services.  Students can seek individual counseling, meetings for grief, stress reduction, and living with loss, as well as requesting outreach services such as workshops on coping. Many affected students have been using the available options, and psychologically benefiting as a result.

Some students may “have post traumatic stress disorder, flash backs, difficulty sleeping, and even bad dreams or nightmares,” said Jain. “They may be constantly feeling like they’re in danger even though the event has passed, or having feelings like a loss of control,” she explained. As a result those affected may isolate themselves, be angry or impatient, or even self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. A better option is to ask for help. “Students who use the resources available to them demonstrate signs of strength…it takes a lot of courage to admit ‘I can’t do this right now, and I need help,’” said Jain.

In moving forward from this event as a community, it is important to note that students who were not directly impacted by the fire may still contribute to the healing process of those affected. If a friend or loved one has a sudden change in behavior, “reaching out to them is key,” said Jain, “sit your friend down and say, ‘these are the behaviors I noticed. I’m worried about you and I want to know what’s going on.’” It may be the very invitation your friend was waiting for to express his feelings.


Others will convey their feelings through their actions. Metivier stood on the lawn behind his old unit, and staring up through his bedroom window he expressed powerful feelings before uttering a single word. The metal surrounding the glassless window was blackened, framing the clear blue sky because the roof was missing.  The white blinds were melted, and the silver gutter hung down haphazardly.

“I think about what the apartment used to be,” said Metivier. “It’s tough because it was home, and I can see it every single day as I walk by.” Though the community has continued on around him, Metivier and his roommates have a stanch reminder of their experience daily. “We can see our old burned apartment, and all the other ones too…There’s just no getting around it,” Metivier said disappointedly.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Rolling Green Fire: Student Reactions

Students largely represent the Amherst community. Thus, in evaluating the response to the Rolling Green Fire, gauging student reactions is a necessity. Today on campus, I approached 10 random students outside of the DuBois Library to inquire about their knowledge surrounding the Rolling Green fire.

Of the ten students, while everybody knew that a university student had been killed and other university students had been displaced as a result of the fire, only one student knew somebody that had been directly affected. This student, Anne Blackney, knows a female student who lost all of her belongings, as far as Blackney was aware, and was displaced. Blackney however had no knowledge of the steps her acquaintance has taken in finding temporary shelter, nor the options that we, as UMass students, have to help contribute to those who were affected.

I asked each of the ten students where they first learned of the tragedy that occurred at Rolling Green. Three students responded that they learned about it through the mass email sent to the student body regarding the fatality that resulted; five students said they learned of the events through other students, and the remaining three students read about the events in the Daily Collegian.

The way in which students learned of the event are relevant because these will be the most affective ways for students to continue gaining knowledge on the fire and the consequences. Most of the students knew little about the situations of students who were affected just over two weeks ago, and their interest in the topic decreases daily. Thus, as a community we must continue drawing attention to the affects of this tragedy by word of mouth, as well as through media outlets such as the Daily Collegian to keep this story relevant and help those affected.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Rolling Green Apartment Fire: Emotional Impacts

The consequences of a traumatic fire in the Rolling Green apartment complex, Amherst, MA on January 21, 2013

Turmoil resonates in those effected by the fire in the Rolling Green apartment complex, Amherst, MA on January 21, 2013

The loss of family, a friend, or a loved one can be traumatic, as can the loss of all of one’s worldly possessions. On the surface, the Rolling Green fire resulted in the loss of a beloved community member as well as the displacement of dozens of students and a couple of families. Beneath the surface however, lie equally important effects of the fire.

This fire had the ability to strip away tenants peace of mind and sense of security—two valuable possessions that many of us take for granted each day. When your daily routines are interrupted by an uncontrollable event and you need to begin from scratch, you may find that other symptoms strike, possibly symptoms of grief and trauma.

According to Professor Russell T. Jones of Virginia Tech, signs of trauma manifest different across age groups. For those students affected by the Rolling Green fire, some possible signs they are experiencing trauma include:

  • Unrealistic feelings of guilt
  • Increased level of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and behaviors as well as nightmares
  • Males externalizing reactions and expressing emotions through their behavior
  • Females internalizing reactions and possibly isolating themselves, showing signs of depression

Additionally, the fire may have resulted in grief in many affected individuals. According to webmd.com, if an individual was coping with grief, he would likely exhibit, denial, bargaining, depression, anger, and acceptance, respectively. These are important signs to be aware of for friends and families of those affected in order to care best for their loved ones in their time of need.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized