Donor Profiles

Steven Soppe

Steven’s enthusiasm for craft and education began long before his introduction to North Bennet Street School. His introduction to carpentry and woodworking was through the theater club in high school and one of his first jobs as a lighting designer. He continued building and learning while working full-time in the computer information technology field, informed by watching every episode of The New Yankee Workshop, and The Woodwright’s Shop.

In 2002, and with his self-taught skills, Steven left computer technology behind and began spending his time building bookshelves and kitchen cabinets in his home. One project led to another and Steven’s desire to learn the best methods and sharpen his abilities brought him to NBSS.

Steven’s mother was one of his biggest supporters, financing his one-month trip from New Jersey to Boston for the NBSS Introduction to Fine Woodworking workshop in 2006. “Don’t miss the opportunity”, Steven says, when talking about having a chance to come to NBSS. From there, Steven jumped at many opportunities to train at NBSS, taking courses in carving, turning, wooden molding plane making and furniture embellishment. He has made his trek to Boston many times and became a passionate member of the NBSS community.

“Quality” is the word Steven uses when describing NBSS programs, instructors, students and their finished work. His mother, who supported him taking his first class at NBSS, taught him about the importance of tradition, honor, community and the need for educational diversity through her involvement on the board of trustees at her boarding school, Linden Hall School in Lititz PA. Steven joined the Linden Hall board as treasurer and credits his time as a board member and his mother’s ideals and principles with his approach to supporting NBSS.

Steven uses his experiences and his love of woodworking to guide him in the special projects he supports. He wants to be sure that the school and all the programs are maintained, treasured and continue far into the future. As for his future endeavors, Steven plans to expand his studies at NBSS into different programs, signing up for the piano technology workshop this summer, and continuing to contribute to the school as opportunities arise.

Starr Moore

Starr Moore is a professional gemologist and jewelry designer. She first arrived at North Bennet Street School in the summer of 2000 to take a two-week Introduction to Jewelry Making workshop. She knew she would benefit from some hands-on instruction in the practical side of jewelry making… knowledge that would enable her to communicate with the jewelers hired to convert her designs into wearable jewelry.

The same morning she began her workshop, her good friend Rosemary Trainor, a veteran teacher in the Jewelry Making Program was named director of the program. While struggling to learn basic jewelry making skills, Starr also saw a different basic need—to clean the very dirty classroom! After taking stock of what was needed, Starr was off to buy cleaning supplies. During the next two weeks, she learned bench skills and, with the help of her classmates, left the classroom much cleaner and neater than she and Rosemary found it.

That philosophy of leaving something better than she found it caused Starr to think about the program in its entirety. As she and Rosemary talked about the needs of the program, Starr recognized that seed money to buy new equipment would make a big difference. So Starr wrote a check—and, as she saw the program grow and evolve, Starr continued to write checks. When Starr heard that the school was moving, she knew that each department would need funds to help outfit the workshops. Once again, Starr wrote a check—and another and another. Each check had a specific goal and combined they have resulted in a gemstone “library”, a new laser welder, new benches for jewelry workshops and more.

Starr’s philosophy is “leave a place better than you find it.” The NBSS jewelry making and repair program at NBSS is remarkably better because of her generosity!

 

Morgan Palmer

Morgan Palmer is one of a long line of Hunnewell family descendants with a deep interest in North Bennet Street School. Morgan, who is dedicated to preserving Hunnewell family traditions, learned about the school more than ten years ago from Lisa Hunnewell von Clemm, a longtime NBSS board member and he has been a supporter of the School ever since. “I’m no good at craft and never was,” he says. “But there was an impressive group of people from different branches of the family interested in the school and I knew there must be something special about this place.” One special connection between the school and the Hunnewell family is through NBSS founder Pauline Agassiz Shaw, whose husband Quincy Adams Shaw was connected to the Hunnewell clan.

“There was an impressive group of people from different branches of the family interested in the school and I knew there must be something special about this place.” 

Morgan’s giving philosophy is to focus on the need for operational support, especially during campaigns. He knew that a new home was a necessity for the school, but he made his contribution through the annual fund. “I increased my annual fund giving during the campaign and plan to continue to do so,” says Morgan who visited the new building during the grand opening and thought the space was perfectly suitable for the school.

The Hunnewell family maintains an abiding interest in NBSS. Morgan notes “There are 4th-, 5th- and 6th-generation family members that I get to see at the school’s events.” He is committed to continuing the support through future generations. Among those who have been involved in the school in recent years are Frank Hunnewell, who served as an Overseer until this past December and Walter Hunnewell, a Board member from 1999 to 2005. 

BRUCE DAYTON

Bruce Dayton was first introduced to North Bennet Street School when he enrolled in the ten-day Fundamentals of Fine Woodworking workshop in 2001. He had always been interested in the arts and was looking for a handson experience. North Bennet Street provided the perfect combination. It was not long after he took a class at NBSS that he was recruited by then Executive Director Cynthia Stone to join the NBSS Board of Directors.

Originally from Minnesota, Bruce attended culinary school in San Francisco where he met his wife Lynn. They moved to Massachusetts so that she could enroll in a gastronomy program at Boston University while Bruce completed his BA in English at Boston College.

Bruce says that as long as he’s been on the Board there has been talk about moving the school. He was a member of the original committee that began looking for a new location. Now, more than five years later, he is thrilled to see the new facility at 150 North Street become a reality.

“This is a flat out cool place to be ….one that exudes a rich culture of dedication to fine craft-making. We are preserving an important link between history and the future, one that will help to ensure that crafts remain an integral part of our social fabric.”

Bruce’s biggest hope is for the school’s top notch reputation to spread far and wide. “We are one of the premier schools in the country and should be at the top of everyone’s list in fine craft circles, both nationally and world-wide.”

 

Peter Feinman, CA '83

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“NBSS’s mission resonates strongly with me and I want to support the school as it trains more talented craftspeople in Massachusetts and beyond.” 

Peter Feinmann created his career path by artfully combining a proclivity and a passion. North Bennet Street School provided the critical link.

A self proclaimed organizer in the neighborhood where he grew up, he attended Trinity College and developed a love for architecture and the ability to think critically. A serendipitous request from a friend to substitute for an injured construction worker introduced Peter to the industry. To progress in the field, he realized he needed to master the craft of carpentry. North Bennet Street School, with its accelerated and targeted curriculum, provided the perfect solution. After graduating in 1983, Peter became a project manager for a condominium developer in the Lexington area and discovered his true calling—that of construction management. He left the developer in 1987 when he founded Feinmann, Inc., a residential design/build firm.

In honor of his accomplishments, Peter received the NBSS Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008. He maintains his bond with NBSS and has advocated for the school since his days at the bench, serving on the Committee of Overseers, as Annual Evening of Craft Chair, and currently as a program advisor and member of the Board.


Peter is excited about the new building and says “It is fun to watch the school’s vision come to fruition… a home for all programs and a prominent 
place in Boston’s history for years to come.”

 

Lisa Hunnewell von Clemm

In craft, there is often an an influential person whose passion fuels the interest of others. Such was Hollis Hunnewell, a talented craftsman who built parquet floors, did needlework, built furniture and chopped wood to heat his bookbinding studio in the family's home in Wellesley, Massachusetts. It was in that studio that Hollis' daughter, Lisa Hunnewell von Clemm, began her love affair with bookbinding.

 

Lisa moved to London fifty years ago with her husband Michael von Clemm where they raised their family. She enrolled in a part-time bookbinding course taught by the eminent Sally Lou Smith—later a mentor and great friend. In 1986, she won The Annual Bookbinding Competition sponsored by Designer Bookbinders and has organized the competition ever since. In 1994, she was made an honorary fellow of Designer Bookbinders, the foremost society devoted to the craft of fine bookbinding, and continues to support the craft in London and Boston.

The Boston Athenaeum mounted an exhibit in 1986 titled “Family Bindings: The Books of Hollis Hunnewell and Lisa Hunnewell von Clemm.” The family's bookbinding story is charmingly told in the exhibit catalogue.

Lisa is a collector of modern fine bindings and artists books. Her true passion is for the forwarding and finishing of bindings, for the vocation of bookbinding and for the vocational mission of the North Bennet Street School.

 “What I respect is the craft. Students must master the basics of how a book is constructed, which NBSS does really well. Then they can take off and do all kinds of wonderful things.”

A longstanding and generous supporter of NBSS, Lisa currently serves as a trusted mentor and program advisor to the bookbinding program and is a veteran member of the school's governing board. “North Bennet Street School is deeply ingrained in my family. From the founding days, there has always been a member of the Hunnewell family involved with the school.” In fact, she is a distant cousin of NBSS founder Pauline Agassiz Shaw.

Lisa hopes to pass the baton to a younger member of the family. At the moment, that encouragement takes the form of an open invitation to her teenaged grandchildren for tea and books on Sundays.

Paul Marshall, PA '03

“As my journey shows, the skills I learned are high quality and portable, making it possible for me to earn a living almost anywhere. “

Like many NBSS alums, I came to North Bennet Street School through a circuitous path. Mine took me from my home town of Santa Cruz on the west coast to Vermont where I first learned about this incredible piano technology school in Boston. After two years as a student in the NBSS piano department, I went back to San Francisco then to Los Angeles and finally back to San Francisco where I started a business and have lived ever since. As my journey shows, the skills I learned are high quality and portable, making it possible for me to earn a living almost anywhere.

From the very first day, my time at NBSS was memorable. I looked around during orientation—people of all ages and from all walks of life— people who would be sharing this new beginning with me. It was a little intimidating and absolutely inspiring. I’ll take it one day at a time, I thought. My days, which added up to two academic years, were days spent in the company of incredible instructors Jack, Chris, David and Debbie. I learned something new every day and I didn’t want it to end.

But end it did, and when I left with my diploma, I went back to the west coast and eventually started my business—the San Francisco Piano Shop. I’m happy to say I’m quite busy and I know none of this would have been possible without the training I received at NBSS. So when I received a request for a contribution from the School, I decided that I could contribute the equivalent of one tunings worth of income—and I did.

I know how much the School means to me. I want the School to last as long as possible, so I hope others will consider joining me and make a gift to NBSS’s Annual Fund.

 

Natalie Q. Albers 

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Natalie Q. Albers 

“I saw a need and I was delighted to find a way to fill that need. My goals were to leave a legacy for North Bennet Street School while at the same time making a provision for my own financial future.”

Natalie Albers has lived in New England for most of her life. She heard about North Bennet Street School when she was living in Milton and was delighted to be asked to join the Board in 1980, beginning a 20-year Board tenure and a further decade as a member of the Corporation and Overseer.

During her time on the Board, Natalie served on a number of committees including the Scholarship Committee. As she read scholarship applications, she learned that a North Bennet Street School education was a life-changing opportunity for students. As a result of her engagement, Natalie was inspired to make a Legacy Gift to the School. She set up a Charitable Remainder Trust for which NBSS is the beneficiary. Natalie receives the income generated by the trust during her lifetime.

Natalie believes that her gift will inspire her children to do something similar—and she is thrilled to know that her gift will help future generations fulfill their dreams of productive and creative lives spent working in traditional trades.

As the result of her gift, Natalie is now a member of the 1885 Society, North Bennet Street School’s Legacy Giving Society.

 

Paula Garbarino, CA ’80, CF ’88

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Paula Garbarino, CA '80, CF '88 

 "... for the last dozen years I have made it a priority to make a financial contribution to North Bennet Street School -- a very special place."

Essential in the nature of the human being is the drive to be a maker. Early humans made tools to hunt, to farm, to build shelter, to make useful things and the urge to decorate them. From trial and error the very best ways of making were developed based on the attributes of available materials and the vast capability of the human hand. Skill was developed and passed on. Industrialization added new capability but it also contributed to the depletion of the human element and the aspects of making that require precise skills. Long standing skills were lost.

In my lifetime, I’ve seen an impressive growth in hobby-oriented handcraft (publications, stores, TV shows) while, at the same time, institutions that preserve traditional skills have died. Across the country, technical training at all levels has decreased and often disappeared. It is sad to think how many people are deprived of the pleasure of manual training.

I was a maker from childhood, creating miniature houses and furniture, needlecraft, beads, pottery and stained glass. I can’t conceive of my life without handwork to do. The training in both the carpentry and furniture-making programs provided the opportunity to work and excel in areas I wouldn’t previously (as a woman) have dreamed possible.

"I’m still awake to the miracle that I can make a living at what I love to do."

I’ve said it for years (and heard it from many others) that the time spent at NBSS was the best in my life. I continue to visit the school... always leaving stimulated and inspired by the student work and impressed with how much the organization does to validate hand-skill training.

After graduating, I established a business. I’ve worked with crews to build two houses, built several kitchens and more than one hundred pieces of furniture. The financial road has been bumpy, but for the last dozen years I have made it a priority to make a financial contribution to North Bennet Street School -- a very special place.