January 2024 Newsletter

January 2024 Newsletter

January 2024 Newsletter

Welcome to the January 2024 edition of the Daniels Foundation Newsletter. In this issue, we explore the following topics. Click on the links to read the articles!

Program Spotlight: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)! Going back as far as 2010 the Daniels Foundation has supported CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) with grants that support their effort… Click here to read more…

Generation 2: William S. Nicholson! Nick Nicholson (Uncle Nick to me) was born in Providence, Rhode Island. His family owned a number of local grocery stores… Click here to read more…

Painting and Golf! Our December meeting has come and gone, which means that a new year has begun for the Foundation and the board. As has recently been our tradition, we also bid farewell to two retiring trustees this year: Christina Eaton and Dwight “Raider” Blake… Click here to read more…

Program Spotlight: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

Going back as far as 2010 the Daniels Foundation has supported CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) with grants that support their effort. Founded in 1977 in Seattle WA, CASA has supported child victims and at-risk youth throughout its national advocacy system, with more than 93,000 volunteers who speak up for youth in the court systems of 49 states.
In Worcester between 400-500 at risk youth in the Worcester Juvenile Court system are supported by the efforts of CASA. The Daniels Foundation grant ensures that these youth have 1:1 advocates to engage with the court for the best and most appropriate outcomes possible. The funds will be primarily used to recruit, train, and oversee more than 300 volunteers, each of whom commit 15-20 hours per month in child advocacy. In their own words (taken from the grant application):

“For 42 years, CASA has been the only agency reporting to the courts on the best interest of these children. Reaching as many as 300 youth annually, CASA has been best described as the “eyes and ears” of the court and regularly serves as the “arms and legs” of an overworked child protective system. Without CASA, thousands of children would be at increased risk of falling through the cracks of the juvenile court system and remaining in unhealthy and unsafe homes. Children removed from their homes due to abuse are more likely to have been exposed to trauma, more likely to have changed schools, more likely to have moved from one home to another, and less likely to have access to comprehensive assessments.

As a result of these life experiences and system failures, foster children frequently repeat a grade, do worse on standardized tests, or drop out of school. Many of these same children also have behavioral issues or special needs that may make succeeding in school more challenging. Too often, foster children are automatically placed in special education simply because of their foster care status rather than having the benefit of rigorous assessment of their actual needs and strengths.

Currently, one hundred percent of the children we serve are abused and neglected, range in age from 0-17, and 57% identify as BIPOC (Black Indigenous Persons of Color). One hundred percent reside across the 60 Worcester County cities and towns, 100% are deemed indigent by the courts; 88% are living below poverty, and nearly 50% are removed because of parental issues related to substance use/mental health problems.”

Clearly this is a critically important program which protects the most at-risk children in the county, and we are pleased to provide funding to support CASA.

G2 Profile: William S. Nicholson 1919-2014

Nick Nicholson (Uncle Nick to me) was born in Providence, Rhode Island. His family owned a number of local grocery stores, and while he attended Moses Brown, he learned to love reading  history. Uncle Nick spent his vocational career in the securities industry as a stodgy stockbroker with Kinsely & Adams, now part of Morgan Stanley.

But, as his daughter Sandy Booth said of her dad, the real Nick “had a dare devil streak”. So, it comes as no surprise that the pull of the motorcycles and the Appalachian Mountain Club outweighed college.

Nick skipped college, and in his 95 years that dare devil cheated death not once but three times. Nick lived a charmed life.

Brush w death #1

Nick had a love of motorcycles and cars, a real gear head. His first brush with death was a serious accident. In his late teens Nick would race motorcycles with friends in Rhode Island. On one fateful day, Nick was racing when his handlebar clipped a telephone pole and threw him off. He landed so fast and hard that he was knocked unconscious. His friends saw his lifeless body and figured he was dead, so they picked up his limp body and put him in the back of a pickup truck. They decided to take him to a funeral home, because that’s what one does with a dead friend in depression era Rhode Island. Later, to everyone’s relief, Nick regained his senses. Can you imagine – behold, not dead!

Nick, arguably in a less dare devil moment, met and married Priscilla Daniels, the second daughter of Clarence and Janet Daniels. They would have three children, Sandra, Dwight and Christina. After Priscilla tragically died in 1950 Nick married Joy Anderson and they had David and William.

Nick joined the war effort in 1941. By 1945 he was a 1st Lieutenant in the famed 10th Mountain Division and his unit was heavily engaged in fighting the Germans in Italy’s northern Apennines.

Brush w death #2

On March 3rd, 1945, Nick, a communications officer in the 86th Regiment, was coming back to headquarters traversing an open field when a German artillery shell exploded near him, severely wounding him. A large piece of shrapnel struck and broke his rifle, which he was holding across his chest. His rifle saved his life. That piece of shrapnel, however, smashed his arms and mangled his hand, resulting in Nick losing his thumb and middle finger and breaking both arms.

Once stabilized Nick was carried by 3 GIs and one German POW on a stretcher to the rear area, and eventually he was taken to a general hospital in Florence.  His recuperation would take almost an entire year.

While in the Florence hospital, gangrene set into his arm and he was told the prognosis was that he would lose that arm. Meanwhile, back in Worcester, his mother-in-law Janet Daniels was friends with the wife of the Colonel in charge of all communications in the Italian Theater. Janet’s friend made a phone call to her husband in Italy and shortly thereafter the Colonel made a bedside visit to Nick, accompanied by another Colonel who was in charge of the hospital. They chatted with him, pinned a purple heart to his pillow, and the next day four surgeons spent hours working on his arm. It was saved.

Most retellings of Nick’s hospital stay credit penicillin with saving his arm. Penicillin played a key role, and it had only been available for a few years, but that phone call was extraordinary (with our cell phones, we would think nothing of that today). But consider it in the light of the time it was made. There was a world war, it was land line only, transatlantic cable and analog, and so physical wire connections had to be made by operators. Thus the telephone minutes were expensive and precious.

But this part of the story leads back to one more interesting family connection: It was the manufacturing innovation and creations of Janet Daniels’ father-in-law, Fred Harris Daniels, six decades earlier, that helped expand the wire manufacturing industry and made the price of telephone wire per foot low enough to make worldwide telephone systems economical. Without FHD there would be no transatlantic cable, without that cable no timely phone call, without the phone call no surgery. And, without the surgery, Nick loses the arm. A simplistic view perhaps, because a lot more went into telephone expansion than FHD’s innovations, but a Daniels connection nonetheless.

Brush w death #3

Self inflicted injuries are always embarrassing, as anyone knows who has tried to slice onions paper thin with a kitchen knife. Uncle Nick was towing one of his sailboats from Maine to Grafton. David Nicholson recounted to me that they had to stop at L.L.Bean on this trip, as everyone who drives through Maine does. At the store Nick decides, presumably, that he is all set with duck shoes, so he buys a pocketknife instead.

While David, Chrissy and Dwight are off doing something Nick decides to trim a piece of this and that on the boat. Of course he pulls the knife towards him self. It’s a brand-new knife, sharp enough to cut bricks so it slices easily through this and that and Nick impales himself in the chest.  Deeply.  There is blood, lots of blood, and then some. Nick stuffs towels into the wound, stems the bleeding, tells the kids he is fine, and they go back to Grafton.

The next day he goes to his doc just because..  and gets a bunch of stitches.  The doctor tells Nick that the wound was 1/2 inch deep and 1/2 inch from his heart. Just a little bit one way, and it would have been a different kind of day for Nick.

Most of the bios and stories I have written for our newsletter are fun for me to write. I enjoy the hunt for stories and the fact checking.  But this one took the cake.  I knew none of this. I have to thank Sandy, Chrissy and David and wish I had more time to talk to Dwight and Bill. I only knew Uncle Nick from Foundation meetings, where he was actively engaged with investments, and the rare visits as a youngster to Kinsley & Adams, which to a child looked like some Dickensian office.

—  Bill Pettit Jan 2024

Painting and Golf

Our December meeting has come and gone, which means that a new year has begun for the Foundation and the board. As has recently been our tradition, we also bid farewell to two retiring trustees this year: Christina Eaton and Dwight “Raider” Blake. While last year saw us going bowling in honor of Sarah Daignault, this year we celebrated by engaging in a pair of the pastimes that our newly minted emeritus members are known to enjoy: Painting and (virtual) golf.

The hosts of our annual meeting, African Community Education (ACE, whom you may have read about in these pages), were kind enough to let us use one of their adult education classrooms after the meeting for a painting workshop put on by local artist and educator Denise Morgan. Yes, that’s right, your hardworking trustees were each tasked with the recreation of a beautiful autumn landscape painted by our instructor. If you have ever attempted to follow along with Bob Ross, then you may have an inkling of what we experienced. Results… Well, they varied. There were trees; whether they might be classified as “happy” is a matter of opinion. Regardless, fun was had by all, and each of us was able to take home their own original work of “art.”

From there we proceeded to the Tee Up Taproom where we enjoyed some food and drink and hit the virtual links in homage to one of Raider’s favorite hobbies. We practiced driving golf balls into virtual landscapes with great abandon, and a few of the more skilled players present even played a few rounds on a virtual course. All in all, it was an enjoyable sendoff for our two long time trustees, and we wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.