Click here for a pdf copy of the Fall 2015 CONNECTION Newsletter

Greater Fall River 
Health Update
January 4, 2016

Click here for the new WalkFallRiver web site

The fifth annual Polar Plunge in the past six years to benefit the Forever Paws Animal Shelter took place at 10:00 a.m. on New Year's Day, 2016, at Sandy Beach in the City's South end. The event drew about 100 people to watch dozens wade into the fifty degree water with the air temperature in the mid 30s. Forever Paws Animal Shelter Board Chairperson Gail Furtado thanked everyone for their support, "It's a great way to start the New Year, 2016, and this happens to be our 20th anniversary, so we're going to have an event in the future when it's a little bit warmer," she commented. Following a countdown by Mayor Sam Sutter, everyone splashed and some dove in, but no one stayed very long before returning to the shore to dry off. All were welcomed into a crowded warming tent to enjoy hot chocolate provided by Greater Fall River Re-Creation. Forever Paws staff were pleased with the turnout and hoped that the donations will help them continue to provide shelter to animals throughout the year.  Click here for a six-minute video and here for more photos.
Dozens of people streamed into the newly-constructed YMCA on Sharps Lot Road in Swansea for the Community Open House on December 19, 2015 to try out the gorgeous new facility. YMCA Southcoast  CEO Gary Schuyler, COO and VP of Operations Nancy Bonell, and Facility Executive Director Jeanine Achin were on hand to welcome guests  "We're absolutely thrilled to be adding the Stoico/FIRSTFED YMCA to our portfolio of YMCAs across Southeastern Massachusetts ," stated Schuyler. The renovation of the former Grace Gospel Church, which has since relocated to County Street in Somerset, was accomplished with the help of a $1,000,000 gift from the Robert F. Stoico/FIRSTFED Charitable Foundation for which the facility has been named. The building houses a full size gymnasium, a huge fitness center, a children's play structure, a spinning room, and a meditation center on the second floor with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the extensive property. Click here for a three-minute video and here for more photos and text.
At its December 17, 2015 planning meetings held at the Children's Museum of Fall River, organizers of The Parent Academy were honored with the presentation of a Moving Forward Award from the Fall River Herald News. Following the presentation, the group was shown a four-and-a-half video about the Academy scripted by David Weed of Partners and produced by Phil Sabatino of FRG-TV. Then, students from B.M.C. Durfee High School, who created and produced and one-minute jingle that accompanied a video promo of the Academy, performed their choral number live for the group. "It was quite a meeting," noted Parent Academy Organizer Barbara Allard. "We couldn't have been more proud of our own award or of the students who stepped up to produce a fabulous promo for us," she added. Click here for a five-minute video of the award presentations and here for more photos and text describing the meeting.
The sixth AHA! Fall River event took place on a rainy but warm night on December 17, 2015, this time with the theme of "Classic Holiday Creativity." More than fifty events and activities were held at fifteen locations in downtown Fall River offering crafts, music and exhibits with a holiday theme. "We're here tonight with AHA! -- art, history and architecture -- celebrating Christmas and the Holidays with kids around the area doing ornaments, seeing Santa, having fun, and listening to great music," commented Maria Vann, Museum Director of the Marine Museum of Fall River. The atrium of Government Center was filled with families visiting the various booths and sampling some of the holiday food. Likewise, the Cherry and Webb Art Gallery was filled with music and crafts as well as a live Santa Clause who looked like he came off of a painting. Click here for an eight-minute video of the event and here for more photos and text describing the event.
On December 12, 2015, walkers at Heritage State Park got back most of the half-mile-long boardwalk along the Taunton River that they have been using for years. The boardwalk has been undergoing renovation for most of the past year. "Sandy and Joe of Swansea have been walking on the boardwalk for the past three years but have had to switch to the paved path away from the water during construction. "Quite a few people come here already, but it could handle a lot more," stated Joe. Henry and Irene Langlois of Fall River have been walking every day since they were married fifty-three years ago. "I love the fact that it's improving Fall River," stated Irene. The $3.5 million project has replaced much of the supporting structure as well as the decking with 30,000 square feet of a South African tropical wood that is expected to last at least fifty years. The original pine decking had become very rough and difficult to walk on.. Click here for a short  video and here for more photos.
Representative Carole Fiola invited Fall River seniors and other residents to join her and Representatives Paul Schmid and Alan Silvia in welcoming House Elder Affairs Committee Chair Denise Garlick to a forum in the atrium of Government Center on December 14, 2015. After pointing out that the number and proportion of seniors is expected to grow by 20 percent by 2030, Representative Garlick used a series of posters to explain how the approximately $3.7 billion that the Commonwealth spends for elder services are spent each year, noting the importance of each one of the program before opening the forum to questions from the audience. Before and after the session, participants were invited to look over material about elder services provided by Bristol Elder Services, Family Service Association, Saint Anne's Hospital and Southcoast Health. Click here for a nine-minute video of portions of the forum and here for more photos and text..
The31st Annual Holiday Children's Parade stepped off from Kennedy Park shortly after 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 5th with 120 groups from local schools and organizations lined up to walk a heart-healthy half-mile parade route on South Main Street from the Park to Government Center. "Everyone wants to be in this parade," said Greater Fall River Re-Creation's Jamison Souza who, along with Annemarie Holly, helped with the organization of the event, the largest Holiday Parade in New England. In the photo to the left, the CD-Rec Dancers rehearse before Stephanie Gold and Annemarie Holly lead the start of the Parade that featured Durfee High School students from The 84 tobacco-free group  Click here for the Herald News article. Click here to see larger versions of all of the photos. Click here for a 21-minute video of this year's parade and here for all thirty photos from the parade,
Family Service Association opened a Family Resource Center at 45 Rock Street, Fall River, in September 2015 to provide information, referrals and community resources to individuals or entire families. The Center also offers parenting education groups, support groups, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Healthy Cooking Workshops, tutoring assistance, and a Homework Club. Any family may request an assessment and referral for any child requiring assistance by meeting with a clinician and family partners. They will then develop a family support plan and help to connect the family to any resources that the family may need in the community. The space at the facility includes a resource section for information and brochures as well as toys and space for children to be involved in play groups. The space also includes a computer center with laptops accessible to families to use. The space is used for Active Parenting, Life and Job Skills classes as well as a Caregiver Support Group for family members dealing with Alzheimer's and dementia. Click here for a 2-minute video tour and here for more photos of the space.
World AIDS Day was celebrated in Fall River on December 2, 2015, beginning with a ceremony at Gromada Plaza in front of Government Center. About two dozen people gathered at noon to mark the 26th anniversary of the worldwide event and the 11th time that people have gathered to mark the day in Fall River. According to Fall River Health and Human Services Director Henry Vaillancourt, M.D. there were 234 people living with HIV infection in Fall River as of January 2015. "The good news is that sixty percent [with HIV] are still living, and that number increases every year.," he stated. "Unfortunately, there are approximately 3,700 people in Massachusetts who are infected with HIV and do not know it," he added. Connie Rocha-Mimoso of Seven Hills Behavioral Health stated "I just want to acknowledge the agencies and thank them for their efforts not just today but on a daily basis." Click here for a 15-minute video of the noontime event and here for more photos and text
The third and final Family Fun Night of the calendar year was held at the Doran Community School on December 3, 2015. Partners School Wellness Coordinator Marcia Picard welcomed over 100 parents and children to participate in a program that engages them in some healthy movement while learning about nutrition and a range of community resources that they can access to maintain or improve their health. Participants were offered sessions on nutrition by Rose Couto, RN, of Saint Anne's Hospital and one on movement with Fitness Leaders Mike Ramos and Angelique Henry. Participants also had the opportunity to speak with representatives of eighteen agencies including the Bristol County District Attorney's Office, BMC HealthNet Plan, Children's Advocacy Center, Early Childhood/Family Community Engagement, Fall River Public Schools, Family Service Association, Greater Fall River ReCreation, HealthFirst Dental Program, Labor Ready, People Incorporated, Road to Healing, Saint Anne's Hospital, Southcoast Health, United Neighbors of Fall River, WIC, and Partners for a Healthier Community covering its Soda-Free Challenge. Click here for a 25-minute video and here for more photos.


Join Dr. David Weed and Registered Dietitian Amanda Raposo on Jan. 6th for a Low-carb Support Group!

Psychologist David Weed, Psy.D. will join Registered Dietitian Amanda Raposo for informal discussion and support for those following or interested in low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss without hunger or to either control or prevent Type II diabetes.

The group has been meeting every first Wednesday of the month at the Diabetes Management Program, Southcoast Health, 1st Floor of Durfee Union Building, 1, 283 Pleasant St. Fall River.

There is no charge to participate in the group. Participants are free to join the group at any point, though regular participation is encouraged. 

For more information, contact Dr. Weed at 508-324-2411 or by e-mail at Click here for a descriptive flier that you can post!

If you can't make this one, you can join a similar group every Saturday morning from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the Kuss Middle School starting on January 16th.


Healthy City Fall River Update is sent to over 500 participants in Healthy City Fall River, a partnership between the City of Fall River and Partners for a Healthier Community with a mission to improve the health status of all those who live or work in the City of Fall River. For further information about Healthy City Fall River, go to To see all of the web pages describing Healthy City activities, go to In order to send announcements of Healthy City events or to subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, contact the Coordinator at Agencies: please add this e-mail address or our fax number (508-324-2429) to your standard media notification list so we can cover your event on the Healthy City Update.