News Briefs

Spring Garden Talk Planned

Join the Shirley-Eustis House Association and The Roxbury Historical Society for an online discussion about garden plants as cures for illness and preservers of wellness in early New England. Master Gardener Mary Lou O’Connor will share surprising facts about the history of some of our most common kitchen garden plants. She will also reveal how Native American knowledge and African traditions combined with European herbal treatments to make for a particularly American herbal medicine cabinet.

“Lots of people have heard how Cotton Mather learned about vaccinations from his enslaved man Onesimus. But that wasn’t a one-time thing. At the local level in communities across New England, healers and housewives often shared their knowledge about herbal treatments with each other,” says Mary Lou. “Kitchen garden plants like St. John’s Wort and Comfrey, for example, had a long history of medicinal use in Europe and Africa. While Native Americans learned about these plants from colonists and enslaved Africans, they also shared their knowledge about indigenous American plants with the newcomers. One of the most famous examples is tobacco. We’ve been exploring these fascinating exchanges as we develop the gardens at Shirley Place.”

The event is free, but a suggested donation of $12 per participant would help defray costs. Proceeds benefit the Shirley-Eustis House Association. or contact the Shirley-Eustis House at [email protected] or call 617-442-2275 for more information.

The Shirley-Eustis House is a National Historic Landmark located at 33 Shirley Street in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The 1747 house, preserved at Shirley Place, is a relic of British rule in colonial North America, and one of only four colonial governors’ mansions remaining in the United States. The Shirley-Eustis House Association preserves the site in order to explore the early history of our nation and the community of Roxbury. More information about guided tours, events and programs can be found on our website:

The Roxbury Historical Society researches Roxbury history from before the landing of Europeans to the present day. RHS works to preserve community memory by collecting oral histories and offering opportunities for community presentations and discussions.

MVES Holds Free Virtual Workshop Series

Mystic Valley Elder Services will present a FREE Virtual chronic disease self-management workshop series My Life; My Health, beginning Wednesday, March 16 to April 20, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Learn how to connect virtually thru a Zoom platform and take the class from the comfort of your home. You don’t want chronic disease, pain or discomfort to limit the activities and life you enjoy.

The series is for anyone living with an ongoing medical condition, such as arthritis, asthma, chronic back pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, COPD, diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart disease, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke. Topics will include managing and controlling pain, beginning (or improving) an exercise program, handling stress and learning to relax, increasing energy, and eating for your health and wellbeing.

Class size is limited, so reserve your spot today. To register or if you have any questions about the program, contact Donna Covelle at [email protected] or call 781-388-4867.

Goldberg Announces Interim Lottery Executive Director

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg announced that Michael Sweeney, Executive Director of the Massachusetts State Lottery, is departing from the agency for a new role outside of state government.

“I want to thank Michael for his countless contributions to the Massachusetts State Lottery over the last seven years, and am grateful for his prior service at the State Treasurer’s Office,” said State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg. “ I wish him well in all his future endeavors.”

The Treasurer has appointed Mark William Bracken as interim Executive Director. Bracken is tasked with leading the strategic business operations of the Lottery and its five regional offices as the Treasurer begins the search for a permanent Executive Director.

Bracken has worked for the Massachusetts State Treasurer’s Office since 2011. He is currently an Assistant Treasurer and Director of the state’s Unclaimed Property Division. He attended St. Anselm College and Suffolk University Law School where he received his JD. Bracken has also served as the President of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. The Massachusetts State Lottery was created in 1972 to generate local aid revenues for the Commonwealth’s cities and towns.  Since its inception, the Lottery has returned more than $29 billion in net profit to the Commonwealth. For more information about the state Lottery, please visit

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