Celebration of Friendships with Chef Napoli

On Saturday, February 10 from 2-4pm, mentors, mentees and staff from Partners for Youth with Disabilities, as well as the BU PRLab team had the pleasure of attending and participating in PYD’s first Chocolate Workshop. The workshop, taught by Boston’s famous pastry chef, Lee Napoli, was also known as “A Sweet Celebration of Friendships.” The goal of the workshop was to share the chocolate making experience with mentors and mentees and bond these relationships more tightly. A big group of participants, including five mentees, seven mentors, and the PYD team, were guided by Chef Napoli in making and decorating gourmet chocolate truffles.  Each participant took home their very own chocolates from their inspiring “chocolate making adventure,” but not before putting in quite a bit of work.

Making the Chocolate Truffles:

  1. Usually, you would have started by making the ganache, but thanks to the efforts of Chef Napoli, all of that was already made, panned, and waiting for the teams when they arrived. 
  2. Scoop the ganache into balls with a melon baller, roll them until they are round, and put them on a tray where they will wait to get decorated.
  3. Break and then cut GIANT chocolate blocks so they could be easily melted into liquid.  
  4. Dip the ganache balls in the melted chocolate and make sure that they are completely covered, then slide them onto the tray with a fork and get ready to decorate.  
  5. Now, the chef can either drizzle white chocolate, or drop some sprinkles onto the candy, but make sure it’s done before the chocolate coating dries.  
  6. Once the chocolate balls are dried, package them into little boxes, take them home, and indulge!  

Every attendee enjoyed preparing and decorating the chocolates alongside one another, but enjoyed getting some quality time in with their friends and mentors even more. Each mentor and mentee pair collaborated to create their special chocolates.

One mentor who participated, Sandeep, was very pleased with the inaugural Chocolate Workshop, “having mentors and mentees come out for the chocolate workshop is very special. We were making an absolute mess, but we were smiling all the way through. It was a wonderful event, we had a great time, and I don’t think anyone can wait to eat these truffles.”

Chef Napoli was very happy with the event as well. “It was a very special experience for the mentors and the mentees, and it was the first time for the PYD teams to enjoy this kind of gourmet culinary experience.”

Chef Napoli also said, “I teach people all the time; I love to teach. The more challenging, the better”, sharing her experience about the workshop. The chef claimed, “It is a very nice afternoon,” which she said with the same friendly smile that was shared among all who attended the event. It was quite generous of Chef Napoli to have donated her time and chocolate to help us learn. The final chocolate products tasted even better than they looked; a testament to the type of teacher and person she is.  

Heartfelt thanks and best wishes to Chef Napoli from PYD, each mentor and mentee pair, and all of the volunteers for participating and truly putting the icing on the truffles and sweetness in mentoring!

John, Mentee and Chef Napoli


This article written with <3 by PYD’s BU PRLab Team of Spring 2018.

With many, many thanks to Chef Napoli of Chocolee Chocolates for her generosity. To host your very own chocolate workshop (including birthday parties & corporate events) contact Chef Napoli at  chocoleechocolates@gmail.com.

PYD Ready to Run its 2017 #GivingTuesday Campaign

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday! Most everyone knows about Thanksgiving. Less may know about Giving Tuesday—the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This year, it’s November 28th. Gratitude is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving, while Giving Tuesday is the perfect opportunity to show how grateful you are to your community by offering help along with a pinch of love.

For those who are not familiar with Giving Tuesday, it aims to celebrate people’s generosity. And asks you to act! The holiday was created in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation in the hopes of encouraging more people to give to non-profits locally, nationally and internationally. Since then, large and small organizations alike have  embraced the day.

As a non-profit organization that illuminates the potential of all youth with disabilities, PYD seeks financial donations, in-kind gifts, volunteer support and many other types of contributions. On Giving Tuesday, our focus is to raise monetary funds through donations to continue our award-winning mentoring and inclusion programs that empower youth of all abilities.

We have received amazing support on Giving Tuesday’s of year’s past, and would like to give back to donors in a unique way this year. A customized thank you art piece will be sent to everyone who donates to PYD on Giving Tuesday. We realize that while words may have limits, art has no boundaries. Therefore, in addition to a thank you note and special gift, we will be creating unique thank you’s using one-of-a-kind art pieces specially provided by the Westford Academy Community Art Club. Art can convey a lot of emotion. We hope to use our thank you art to deliver our happiness and gratefulness to you.

“Girl with a heart” drawing by student from Westford Academy’s Community Art Club


Giving is a beautiful thing. We invite you to make a donation, and hope to inspire you to give generously to PYD on Giving Tuesday for a bright, inclusive future. You may give securely here. Or reach out to Nicole directly if you would like to make a gift: nmalo@pyd.org, 617-556-4075 x17.

If you would like to help PYD in another way, consider becoming a volunteer. If you’re inspired artistically, you can create your own piece of art and share it on social media, tagging @PYDboston with the #IAMPYD hashtag.  By sharing your own artwork, you can encourage others to join us for a good cause.

This post was written by  Yuxin (Cathy) Dai, Yidan Gao, Lavinia Fung and Samantha Santoro of the BU PRLab. Edited by Nicole Malo.

Your Change Can Bring Changes

What is charity? We hear about people making huge donations or travelling across the world to help others, but charity is not limited to these two options. There are many of us who want to contribute to our communities, but are worried about the amount of time and money we are able to give. However, we need to remember that an ocean is made of millions of tiny water drops. When we each contribute something small, eventually it can become something big. But how small can our contribution be? It could be as small as the penny in your pocket.KidCents logo in different bright colors, red, green, yellow, blue, orange,pink

The Rite Aid Corporation is a prominent drugstore chain based in the United States. It has been devoted to improving the health and wellness of local communities through their Rite Aid Foundation. The KidCents program, founded by Rite Aid in 2014, now works with more than 440 non-profit organizations to realize their purpose of improving children’s lives. Through enrolling in the KidCents program, your purchases at the Rite Aid Pharmacy will be rounded up to the next whole dollar amount. This leftover change will go to an organization of your choosing (like PYD!)  to make meaningful differences in the lives of children in your local community.

Partners for Youth with Disabilities joined the KidCents program in 2015. Over the last two years with the KidCents program, PYD has received almost $20,000 from the Rite Aid Foundation. PYD just confirmed that we will continue to partner with KidCents for our third year in 2018! Over the past few years, close to 100 people chose us as their KidCents beneficiary. Today, we are looking forward to seeing even more people choose PYD as their charity for the KidCents program.

As a part of this mission, we would like to share the artwork created by our team and fellow artists within the community to motivate people to sign up for the KidCents program and we hope choose PYD as their beneficiary. We have produced a sketched illustration (which you can find on our Instagram) as well as a flyer that we will distribute in the community.


This sketched picture will also serve as a start of PYD’s Giving Tuesday campaign. By posting this picture on social media, PYD is encouraging more people to create artwork for the cause. If you would like to lend a hand, you can turn in your art to info@pyd.com or submit it on social media using the hashtag #IAmPYD.


Lavinia’s #Inktober art KidCents


Join the conversation and add your #Inktober art on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Be sure to tag #IAmPYD!

This post was written by  Yidan Gao, Yuxin Dai, Lavinia Fung and Samantha Santoro of the BU PRLab. Edited by Nicole Malo.

Q&A for the PYD RFP process

The full Disability Mentoring Initiative Request for Proposals can be found at this link.

RFP timeline:

  • October 6, 2017: Proposal released
  • November 15, 2017: Proposal due date
  • December 10, 2017: Decision announced
  • January 1: 2018: Collaboration begin


Question 1: Are the monthly ongoing mentor and staff trainings through the National Center for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities delivered online?
Answer 1: Yes, the ongoing mentor and staff trainings and meetings are hosted online.

Question 2: Is the 2-hour pre-match orientation and training session prior to first mentor and mentee outing (Item no. 4a), and the additional 2 hours of training prior to mentor being matched with mentee (Item no. 4b) – are these online sessions (or, if not, where are these trainings held)?
Answer 2: These training sessions should be held and facilitated by the collaborator for their mentors. These should be offered in person.

Question 3: Quarterly in-person training sessions for mentors (Item no. 4c) – are these held in Boston? Are these trainings held during the week or on weekends? Are we able to build those travel costs into the budget?
Answer 3: These are held and facilitated by the collaborator at a time and location of their choice. Expenses related to the trainings can be built into the budget.

Question 4: Could our mentors be assigned to multiple mentees, having some one-on-one meetings with them and also group meetings?
Answer 4: Preference will be given to one-to-one matching.

Question 5: I am working with a group of young men that fit the criteria for at risk youth for this grant. They reside for a period of nine to twelve months in a low security residential DJJ facility. Are they still eligible?
Answer 5: Yes, as long as they meet all of the eligibility requirements listed in the RFP.

Question 6: In terms of partners to sustain the services beyond the grant, while I could name some potential partners I don’t think I would have enough time in four or five weeks to get absolute commitments. Would that be adequate for the purposes of applying to the RFP?
Answer 6: Listing potential partnerships can suffice for the proposal.

Question 7: I wasn’t sure if we could apply seeing we are in MA. Would you consider us because we are outside Boston?
Answer 7: Yes, as long as services are delivered in other parts of the state outside of Greater Boston (outside of the 128 beltway).

Question 8: What are the data collection and evaluation tools (do we have to download software, purchase programs, etc.)? Would we incur a cost for these tools?
Answer 8: Evaluation tools are provided as PDF documents to offer online or hard copy. Collaborators can determine the best way to store this data (examples include spreadsheets, Survey Monkey, existing data base).

Question 9: Please provide an example of the “service projects and activities throughout the year” (Item no. 24) so that we may build these costs into the budget.
Answer 9: Service projects and activities can be determined by the collaborator and can include a variety of options (sporting events, cultural events, game nights, etc.). Often community partners will donate tickets to events.

Question 10: Is a sample project budget available?
Answer 10: There is not a sample budget available.

Question 11: What is allowable rate for overhead and occupancy?
Answer 11: If an entity has an established indirect rate with a Federal agency that is valid at the commencement of the contract, it may use that indirect rate. Expired indirect rates must be renewed in a timely manner. If the entity does not have an established indirect rate, it may use the de minimis rate of 10%. Bidders should be aware that claiming indirect expense does not increase the overall amount of funds available for the project, but would reduce the amount of fund available for direct expenses.

Your Dream Is Bigger When You Think of Others

Melissa M. MacDonnell, Legends Honoree 2017

Partners for Youth with Disabilities is joyful to introduce our third and last (but certainly not least) Legends Honoree, Melissa M. MacDonnell, President of Liberty Mutual Foundation and Vice President of Liberty Mutual Insurance.  Melissa sat down with us to discuss her career path and who inspired her journey along the way. She is an example of kindness. She defines herself through the impact she has on friends, family and mentees, not external accolades.

Even though she holds a prominent position at Liberty Mutual Foundation, Melissa describes herself as an introverted person. Her goal is to “keep her eyes on the prize” to help the most vulnerable in our communities. She thinks about the impact she can have by doing her job well; she holds great respect for Liberty’s CEO David Long who himself is deeply committed to the community, and in particular, accessibility and inclusion. Melissa’s courage and motivation come from her passion in giving back to the community. In addition to working at Liberty Mutual, she also serves on the boards of Horizons for Homeless Children and the Don and Marilyn Rodman Foundation. She is a member of the Leadership Advisory Board for Rosie’s Place, and is a volunteer at the Sudanese Community Center. For fifteen years, she acted as a big sister for a young woman from Germaine Lawrence, a residential treatment program for girls. She’s also served as a Vice Chair for both the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts and Mass Mentoring Partnership, the Chair of Faith and Action at United Way, and as a board member of Bruce Wall Ministries. Think that’s all?  Not even – Melissa has helped chair record-breaking fundraisers for the Big Sister Association, Whittier Street Health Center, Salvation Army, and Community Servings, and was also a participant in LeadBoston and Boston Women Build in the Bayou.

In recognition for her great contributions to the community, she’s been awarded the Women for Whittier Award, named to the YWCA’s Academy of Women Achievers, and listed as one of the Top 40 Under 40 by Boston Magazine. While humbled by all of these honorable awards and incredible achievements, in her opinion, helping a woman from Sudan get her driver’s license is one of her greatest personal successes. Melissa has mentored the woman, who spoke very little English at the time. It took her four times to pass the permit test and seven tries to pass the road test–all to be able to drive a car– a task that for many of us, comes with the kind of freedom and liberation we often take for granted. Melissa understands the impact of aiding others in achieving even the smallest things, and because of that, she’ll continue to keep mentoring and supporting as many groups as possible. “[Your] dream always has to be bigger than a job,” Melissa advises young adults. “Follow [your] gut, and embrace who you really are.” Her dream, which included philanthropy, stems from her deeply compassionate family and her role model of a mom. Her own parents and family served as a host family welcoming in youth in addition to having ten kids of their own. Motivated by her parents’ caring words and deeds, she is dedicated to giving back to the community.

According to Melissa, PYD is succeeding in meeting the important needs of young people with disabilities and providing them with comprehensive programs to help them thrive. As a center for inclusion, PYD puts great efforts into reaching deeper into the community and encouraging more and more young people with disabilities to find their own identities.

Melissa appreciates that “PYD opens up an entire world for young people with disabilities.” PYD is humbled to have Melissa as our respectable honoree and to have this chance to recognize the greatness she has contributed to the community. We hope to see everyone on May 18th to join in the expression of gratitude to such an influential person.

This post was written by Juan Zhou, Jackie (Xiao) Yan, Olicia Mannion, and Mary Grace Alcaro of the BU PRLab. Edited by Nicole Malo.

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