The Latest News From Mayhew

Monadnock Reunion, January 31, 2017:


Unlike every other reunion, this one began on a somber note, with a remembrance and moment of silence for longtime and dear Mayhew friend, Cheryl Burrows, who passed away on January 20th.  A school guidance counselor and educator in Keene for decades, Cheryl was well known and deeply respected for always going the extra mile (and then some) for her students and their families.  With Cheryl on your side, you knew you could face up to or face down just about anything that came your way.

Cheryl was personally responsible for matching Mayhew with dozens and dozens of deserving boys who went on to form deep and strong ties with the program and who stood out for what they brought to the Island and Mayhew beyond the Island.  Long after her retirement from the school district, Cheryl brought her warmth and humor and steel trap memory to the Monadnock Reunion, year in and year out.  Boy, did we miss her tonight!  But then again, this IS Cheryl we’re talking about…She was here.  She always will be.  Thank you, Cheryl!

Lots of other folks were here tonight, too.  Among them…Nate (2013).  The story of how Nate got “here” tonight is nothing short of inspiring.  You see, his second summer (2014) and some long stretches in between then and now have been, well, tough, to say the least.  No one knows this better or more intimately than Nate.  Many in his shoes might have simply given up and stopped walking altogether.  Not Nate.  When things were at their toughest, Nate kept right on keeping on.  For about a year now, he has been focused passionately on joining his local volunteer fire department as an Explorer.  His hard work and intelligence have him earning honor roll distinction at school and closing in on realizing his Explorer goal.  Nate, we can all learn a lot from the way you’re going about making things happen in your life!  Congratulations!

Talk about making things happen…Program alum and former longtime member of the Outreach Staff Matt Fifield (2002) zipped by after wrapping the work day at C&S Wholesale Grocers, where he was recently promoted to Senior Accountant.  Matt brought smiles and some chuckles as he re-“counted” Mayhew times on the staff; shared stories of dad hood (Matt and wife Torrey are parents to two beautiful daughters, Emma and Adyson) – and life in general…Statiu (2009) is taking control of his academics in high school and setting his sights on a possible career as an arborist…Jacob (2009) is likewise making positive things happen in school and reports that he has been accepted into a vocational college in Ohio.  That’s a bulls eye and a Buckeye all in one, Jacob!

What is Matthew’s (2010) assessment of the upgrades/renovations at his alma mater, Symonds School (our host site for tonight’s reunion)?  “I love it…I like what they did with the library entrance [adding a door and reconfigured entryway].”  He points out the tiled “Symonds School” mural high above the cafeteria and gives a wide smile.  Another thumb’s up assessment from this proud alum…

Let the games begin!  Matthew joins Program Extension Coordinator Grayson Richey in introducing and demonstrating some of the evening’s contests.  The contestants?  Reunion attendees split themselves into two teams: “What’s Your Name?” and “Ferocious Felines.”  And then the fur starts flying!  One of the first games is “Fishy Face,” where we catch Landon (2015) using every last forehead muscle he has to push/nudge/scare the cheddar cheese Goldfish sitting atop his noggin toward his watering mouth.  Landon, you have the patience and persistence of a “reel” angler.  “Fin”tastic job avoiding the temptation to use your hands! 

Regarding fantastic anglers, Mathew (2016) enthusiastically encourages Outreach Worker Jim O’Brien to come over to meet his dad.  Mathew’s introduction?  “Hey, Dad, this is the man, the legend – of fishing.”  Casting back to his first Mayhew summer (in 2016), Mathew remembers well the big bass Jim helped him bring in; it was among the biggest catches of the season…Who is behind almost all of the greatest photo catches this evening? None other than first-year Link Evan (2014), who has his own camera at home and who thoroughly enjoys taking lots of photos of friends, family and the natural world. 

Among the many moments Evan chronicles is the “Sunflower Butter Ping Pong Catching Contest.”  As many Blog readers and reunion attendees know, this is where the contestants slather sunflower butter on their foreheads before proceeding to “catch” a ping pong in their forehead “mitts.”  In demonstrating the slathering and catching, Keith (2012) and Grayson Richey don’t skimp at all!  By the time Grayson is done, the sunflower butter has avalanched to his eyelid.  Keith looks like he applied his “butter” with a trowel, a fact which has him and the audience building up lots of laughs….Seeing all this, Graison (2016) turns to his fellow Ferocious Felines, “I want to do this!”  So does everyone else!  Could be a “sticky” dilemma for the group but, in true Mayhew fashion, they work it out. 

Congratulations to all of tonight’s attendees for sticking it out through two previous postponements (due to inclement weather) and making this final January 2017 reunion more than “a good start on the future!”

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow Mayhew keeps on rolling everywhere the boys, staff, alumni, families and friends take it.  Mayhew is you and it is happening right now. 

Newfound/Pemi/Upper Valley/North Country Reunion, January 21, 2017:


Almost as soon as Aisayah (2013) and Hunter (2016) stepped through the door, they were ready to jump into setting up for the reunion.  Hunter grabbed a broom and dust pan and took to sweeping the gym floor.  As he did, he quipped, “This reminds me of chore time [on the Island].”  He then joined Aisayah in making a couple of welcome signs for the doors, with Aisayah putting a little artistry into his.

As for the folks seeing Aisayah’s artistry and walking through those doors…It was a steady and smiling flow of old and new friends…Representing Mayhew alumni were: Matt (1995) and Ben (2015).  Matt proudly called up a photo of his 5-year-old son on his phone and shared some of his favorite Mayhew memories (more on that soon).  Ben, who had been out of touch for about a year, brought along his girlfriend, Shanna, and shared a bit about his senior year in high school.

There was lots of visiting before the reunion games kicked off.  It was both tender and wonderful catching up with the family of Mayhew’s dearly departed Juanita Woodward.  From the mid-80’s through 2001, Juanita was so much more than Mayhew’s cook.  She taught the teens under her charge – all of whom were Mayhew alums – what hard work looked like.  She held them to high standards and, well, you knew if you weren’t meeting hers.  For most, Juanita was their first-ever boss.  She was tough but always fair.  And she cared – profoundly – about everyone who worked with and for her.  Not in a touchy-feely, mushy way but in a way that was clear and genuine nonetheless.  When Mayhew’s beloved Don Magaw passed away after battling cancer in the spring of 2001, Juanita was bound and determined to return to the Island that summer, even though she herself was having health issues. That fall, Juanita passed away after losing her own battle with cancer.  To this day, the mere mention of Juanita’s or Don’s name to any boy, alum or staff person who knew them brings a lot more than a smile. 

Juanita’s (there’s that more-than-a-smile) family attending today’s reunion included her three daughters (Sheila and Vinnie, thank you for the wicked delicious cupcakes and brownies!) and her great granddaughter.  They seemed to enjoy being back at Mayhew almost as much as everyone else enjoyed having them back.  And they’re looking forward to a Mayhew Island comeback this summer! So are we!  An extra special moment came when Matt (1995), who was on the Kitchen Staff for Juanita’s last two summers, came over to share some of his memories and appreciations of Juanita. 

On the way to building more memories…Everyone in attendance was divided into two groups in preparation for the reunion games to come.  It was the “Fierce Lions” vs. “Happy Birthday, Jim” (more on that soon).  While the Fierce Lions didn’t seem quite ready to truly “Roar,” they were ready to have fun, so was HBJ…Cameron (2016) and Ashlar (2013) fitted themselves with sunflower butter “mitts” on their foreheads for snagging ping pong balls during Ping Pong Toss.  Their battle started slowly and then…Ashlar “caught” a ping pong. Then Cameron did.  Then Ashlar did.  As the clock ticked away to just seconds left, the crowd cheered; the pressure intensified.  And when the buzzer went off?  There was not one winner; there was a whole roomful. 

A sweet prelude to the showing of the 2016 Summer Highlights Video was the delivery of a cake aflame (Ok, it was a single lit candle) to Jim O’Brien (Community Outreach Worker), who celebrated his 28th birthday today.  Just a week ago, Jim had another special celebration, his graduation from his Master’s in Fine Arts program at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.  Congratulations, Jim, on this tremendous achievement!

An extra special “Thank you!” to Paulo (2016) and his family for exemplifying dedication.  Paulo had been feeling under the weather in the morning and was only on the cusp of feeling better when he and his family decided that, yes; they were going to make the long drive from the North Country to Bristol to be part of the reunion.  While they weren’t able to arrive until the very end, it was wonderful to see Paulo, to hear his Saturday story and to be reminded of how important it is for us all to come together to support one another.

Concord Reunion, January 20, 2017:


It was encouraging to see Marcus (2009) join the reunion set-up crew and then take the stage as host of the evening’s trivia contest.  In high school, Marcus has been taking some encouraging steps, too, joining the Yearbook Staff and also gearing up for the school’s techno dance tomorrow evening. Enjoy stepping out, Marcus!

Dylan (2016) proudly shows off his Mayhew wristband, which he has worn every day since he purchased it in the Mayhew Market this summer…Damien (2013) continues to fly high with the Auxiliary Air Force outside of school hours.  This is his third year of being with The Force.  Can Jedi-hood be far away?

Brothers Isaac (2010) and Devin (2015) get warmed up with some chess action and then wow the crowd during the Marshmallow Toss (from one’s hand to another’s waiting mouth), succeeding in tossing and catching a fluffernutter-busting 32 marshmallows, a new reunion record!

Proving that no one every truly leaves Mayhew…Dave Bird (Staff alum), the man who inspired the Bird’s Nest climb on Island and who inspired so many of the boys and his fellow staff to fly higher for many years, swooped in to share in the camaraderie and fun of the evening. As did Dianne Walsh-Green (Trustee alum and current referring official), who, as a longtime school social worker in Manchester, connected many boys with Mayhew, starting in 1979.  For more than 20 years, Dianne helped lead Mayhew from her position on the Board of Trustees.  And now? She is still referring boys – and making the time to visit them, to let them know how much she cares about their Mayhew progress…Another caring member of the Mayhew community, Ken Fuller (Staff alum), also made the reunion stronger with his upbeat presence and good humor.  A former member of the outreach staff working in the Concord and Monadnock regions, Ken has been running an alternative school program in the Pembroke school district for many years now, earning widespread acclaim for his efforts in helping his students find their best.  Ken is also coach of the Merrimack Valley High School Boys’ Soccer Team and brought them out to the Island last spring to help put up the Arts Building.

It was great seeing some other familiar faces make the reunion, too…Eritier (2016) didn’t arrive until several minutes in but he wasted no time at all in seeking out the 2016 Summer Photo Album to take a trek down Memory Lane…Dylan (2016), who graduated the 8-year program at the start of the summer, arrived a bit after Eritier, but he, too, got right into catching up with his Mayhew friends and memories.  Dylan has started a new full-time job at a local tire supply business.  We hear he’s turning into a real “road” scholar…Sticking with the academic theme, Marcus (2013) is now President of his fraternity at Southern NH University and keeping up a full-time academic load.  Halfway through his junior year, Marcus has been Mayhew’s Assistant Cook for multiple summers now, ensuring that the boys and staff are always well-fueled with delicious and nutritious meals.

A big “Thanks!” to Marcus and everyone in attendance tonight for re-charging the Mayhew community in lots of ways! 

Seacoast Reunion, January 19, 2017:


And we thought tonight was “just” another Seacoast Reunion?!  Oh, contraire!  Thanks to Jackie Boroff’s (Staff alum) investment of thoughtfulness and baking skill, there are more than enough homemade cupcakes for everyone to enjoy in an early celebration of Shawn’s (2016) eleventh birthday, which will be tomorrow.  Shawn seems genuinely surprised by and pretty happy with the whole “party.” 

We hear from Devon’s (2014) grandmother that he has continued to excel on his swim team.  They had a recent meet and, out of 6 events, Devon came in first twice and second once.  Beyond this, he has taken seconds off his time in a few events, through constant practice and improving his technique.  As if he weren’t busy enough in the pool and in school, Devon made his school’s basketball team and is driving toward success on the court as well.

Speaking of driving toward success, literally…Mayhew alum and staff veteran Cody (2016) arrived to the reunion in the driver’s seat of his own car, purchased with his wages from Micronics, a filter manufacturer on the Seacoast. Cody has been learning welding at Micronics and did a great job tonight of helping Grayson Richey (Program Extension Coordinator) connect fun and challenge in facilitating the reunion games.

And what were some of the game highlights?  Jackson (2015) leapt into volunteering for one of the early games, jumping up and down and up and down with energy, remarking, “I think I’m the ‘jumpiest’ kid here.”  Yup, we think so, Sir…The group is split into two teams for the Minute-to-Win-It competitions.  Their names?  Quack and Insert Name Here…Jackson inserts himself happily into the toilet paper toss, doing his best to hoop up the rolls being hiked his way from about eight feet. His hiking partner not being the most accurate, Jackson takes several rolls to the face and keeps laughing throughout…More laughter rolls along when we shift to the Ping Pong Catch competition.  What makes for the laughter and the challenge? You’re only allowed to “catch” the ping pong ball with your sunflower-butter-smeared forehead!  It’s messy and marvelous. It’s hard to tell whether it’s the contestants—Kasper (2016), Jesse (2016), Ashton (2014) and Emily (Staff family member) – or the audience having more fun.

In some between-the-hilarity-and-hijinks moments…Ryan (2013) says he and his family just moved into a new house, which they’re enjoying. There is, however, one downside: their dogs seem to like the new neighborhood even better than the house, making frequent “escapes” to meet their neighbors…Dante (2016) is enjoying his first year of middle school…Up in high school, Tyler (2011) is enjoying his junior year and excelling in his classes.  He has his sights set on attending UNH in two years, where he hopes to pursue a degree related to biotechnology.  Outside of school, Tyler keeps a very busy schedule, working at a fast food restaurant, where he has been role modeling a team approach, even in those moments where…well, his teammates and supervisors aren’t always doing the same.  That sounds like you, Tyler: hanging in there, taking the high road, doing your best.

Thanks to everyone tonight who took the same approach to making the reunion a lot of fun and a memorable experience!

Lakes Region Reunion, January 18, 2016


Is Grayson Richey (Program Extension Coordinator) ready for medical school?  Brytin (2015) had us wondering with a tale told at Grayson’s prompting.  He told of spraining his ankle in his first summer; Grayson’s immediate arrival on the scene; quick diagnosis and remedy: “Ok, let’s amputate.”  Lo and behold, Brytin’s ankle felt better real quick!  What a “heel”ing “feet,” Dr. Richey!

Earning membership in the Outer Circle (Mayhew’s honor society) is one of the program’s greatest challenges – and achievements.  Andrew (2014) brought this truth home through his decision to wear his Outer Circle bandanna to the reunion, more than a year-and-a-half after first donning it…Another sharp dresser, Brandon (2010), came attired in a necktie and collared shirt.  At last year’s reunion, Brett Billings (Staff alum) encouraged everyone to come with a tie or to don one upon arriving. And everyone was more-than fit to be “tie”d.  Perhaps the experience collared Brandon?  He said he wears ties occasionally now throughout the school year.  The conversation spreads a bit and the phrase “dress for success” popcorns around a corner of the room.  Sean (2013) snacks on it and serves up the following kernel: “Whatever you’re wearing is ‘dressed for success,’ because whatever you’re comfortable in is success.”  Hmm…That’s depth, Sean.  Thank you for wearing it in such an approachable and ponderable way!

On the subject of ponderable…As several early arrivers jump into an impromptu bit of fun, relay racing the wheeled chairs into a better configuration for the reunion, Noah (2016) cautions with a sparkle in his eye: “Hey, guys, make sure you’re being ‘chair’ful!”  Oh, boy!

Swiveling back to Brandon for a moment…He proudly reports that he is on pace to graduate high school early next school year and that he has his eye on pursuing Job Corps and concentrating on acquiring skills in electronics.  Meanwhile, he’s focusing on school during the week and on his job as a prep cook at a Lakes Region eatery. Tasty news, Brandon!...Music to one’s ears jumps into the air from Noah (2014) playing of his ukulele.  He has been playing for about a month and is really enjoying it.  Thanks, Noah, for sharing this soundtrack for the rest of us.  When not plucking the strings of his uke, Noah does a different kind of playing after school: he’s a happy veteran in his indoor flag football league.  He recently wrote an enthusiastic thank you note to the Rier family of Mayhew’s Bob Rier Athletic Fund for helping to support his enrollment fee in the league.  That’s a move worth cheering, Noah!

During the Minute-to-Win-It competition, pitting the self-titled Destructive Pickles against the Jogging Augers, all of Noah’s receiving practice appears to pay off, as he catches 16 marshmallows in his mouth…Catching some memories of the past couple of Link-Up summers, Tim (2012) sidles up to the Link-Up photo board and notes that he really liked the biking trek to Fort Ticonderoga…One of Jaekwon (2014) favorite summer memories?  “Winning the Humannn Chess Game.”  For the uninitiated, that’s the championship match of the community-wide chess tournament.  The two finalists play on a regulation board while, in the middle of the Mayhew hockey arena, 32 of the boys assume the roles of life-sized chess pieces, making moves corresponding to those made by the finalists.  Some games last a few minutes, others run into a second day.  Regardless, it’s a cerebral spectacle.

What’s Reunion Week’s next move?  The Seacoast reunion, 1/19, 6-8pm, Woodman Park Elementary School, Dover, NH.  See you then. 

Manchester Area Reunion, January 14, 2017:


When no one arrived to open the door to the inside, the more than 40 Mayhew folks waiting in the parking lot decided: “Heck, let’s have the first-ever OUTSIDE reunion in Mayhew’s 48-year history!”  While the temperature was a tad brisk, the warm enthusiasm of everyone created enough heat to go around.  Here’s an inside look at some of what was happening outside:

Aaron (2011) arrived proudly wearing his Manchester Memorial football jersey.  Record-wise, it was a tough season for his JV team but he loved playing linebacker, where he came just ten feet away from recording a sack during one game.  He told a chuckling story of being asked to play defensive line briefly during his first season on the team.  Though he gave up several inches and many pounds to the offensive lineman he faced, he gave it his best shot anyway – impressing himself and his teammates.  Elsewhere on the gridiron…Damon (2014) enjoyed his season, playing wide receiver, defensive back and a few other positions.  And he appreciated reuniting today with football rival and Mayhew friend Jacob (2014)...On the hardwood, Emmanuel (2011) has been playing hard and well for the Manchester Memorial basketball team.  Not surprisingly, he’s a teammate who is looked up to and leaned on regularly.  Recently, a member of the Mayhew community living in Dover reported that Emmanuel was mentioned and photographed a few times in a Foster’s Daily Democrat story on Memorial’s game against Portsmouth…

Tayler (2013) took some time to warm up to the Reunion but, toward the end, he participated in the “fishing for gold” event.  More on that later…Well, Ok, more on that now: There was a lot of fun to be had with the various challenges that Program Extension Coordinator Grayson Richey and Extender Abe (2009) threw out to the crowd, which became two teams, The Builders and the Super Chickens.  You should have seen the smiles and wobbling laughter during the dizzy race, especially when Camron (2015) spun and sprinted against Steven Rossmeissl (Outreach Worker).  Then it was the marshmallow toss and catch, with the “mitt” being mouths.  Staying with the edible, how many different techniques can there be for sliding a goldfish cracker from your forehead to your mouth, using only gravity as the engine?  Tayler tried about two or three strategies.  Then there was Arandea (2014), who crunched a few using the slow-steady-slide-extended-tongue approach.  And how did brothers and fellow “fishermen,” Jared (2013) and Devin (2012), do?  They tasted cheddar a couple of times…

It was not cheesy at all seeing Brett (2012) for the first time in a long time!  Brett, thanks for making the time to make the reunion!  And thanks Lisa Clark (Development Director) for your Facebook exploring, which helped reconnect Mayhew with Brett…On the subject of reconnecting…

Wow!  It was great to see Mayhew alum Eric (1989), who captured the record for being the oldest alum in attendance (we know you’re still young at heart, Sir).  And equally wowing was the arrival of Eric’s brother, Kerry (1992), who, when we last saw him, was 14-years-old.  Now engaged, a father of two and in the midst of a career as a truck driver, Kerry brought great warmth and spurred some memorable stories of his time in the program.  As a warm-up to the games, we remembered together the time Kerry and his cabin group, Apollo 7, were atop Mount Cardigan, enjoying the view and their accomplishment. Kerry had left his bag lunch open on the rocks as he shot the breeze with his cabinmate Jamie.  When next he looked, a crow was picking through the bag.  Kerry sprinted over and as he did, the crow grabbed his sandwich and flew off with Kerry making a mad dash after him.  Kerry never did catch up to his sandwich but the story caught us all thinking about our own memorable moments atop Cardigan.

Later, in a one-on-one reunion moment with his old cabin counselor Jim Nute (Executive Director), Kerry related a different but equally memorable Mayhew story.  He told of the time another boy had accused him of doing something he hadn’t done and how the staff at the time took the other boy’s word for it, leading Kerry to have to spend an extended disciplinary timeout away from the group.  It was clearly a moment that still stung Kerry, even 25 years later.  And it was an important reminder that, as staff, how careful we have to be not to duplicate such mistakes and, if inadvertently we do, how crucial it is to recognize it, to own up to it and to apologize for it.  Impressively, Kerry took home an additional lesson from that moment and other disciplinary timeouts he had experienced with Mayhew as a boy: “The discipline taught me, basically respect.”  Kerry, thank you for teaching us plenty in this moment and so many others!

One more Kerry moment…Just about the time the sun was getting low, bringing the temperature noticeably lower, Kerry hopped in his truck and left.  Twenty minutes later, he pulled back into the parking lot with hot chocolate for everyone.  Kerry!  In so many ways, you made this reunion!  Thank you!

And big “Thanks!” to other reunion-makers like…Ben (2009) who brought lots of memories flooding back, particularly with fellow memory-maker, Jon Eaton (Staff alum), who made yet another reunion a stirring experience.  And he should know such experiences well, Jon was “Mayhew” for the boys throughout the Manchester area for many years…One of those who remembers Jon well was not physically in attendance but clearly had Mayhew on his mind.  Program Director Colin Buckley received a text about ten minutes into the reunion from program and Summer Staff alum Brandon (2010 program grad, 2015 Summer Staff).  Brandon was texting from Texas, where he works in sales for HP.  He figured today must have been the day of the reunion.  Yup, Brandon, you may be in Texas’ time zone but your internal Mayhew clock is still right on time!

Three more timely arrivals…The incomparable Ed Thompson (Staff alum) just a day away from heading off on another international adventure – this time leading a gap year experience overseas – brought great energy and shared in the fun and stories and the history-making of this outdoor reunion…And Abbey Wilkman (Summer Staff alum) and Sam Hunter (Summer Staff alum) did the same, with Abbey stepping up to the plate to challenge NH-native Aaron in a mini NH trivia contest.

More trivia?  When and where is the next Mayhew reunion?  1/18, 6pm, Franklin Savings Bank, 61 Laconia Road, Tilton, NH. For the other dates, go to and click on the “Upcoming Events” icon.


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