Securing the Future
Walk among the workshops at North Bennet Street School (NBSS) and you’ll see bright red stickers with silver lettering emblazoned on dozens of pieces of equipment and machines. Each one indicates that the item was donated to NBSS from the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association (MCMA), a centuries-old organization with whom the School has long had a special relationship.
Founded in 1795 with Paul Revere as its first president, MCMA’s original aim was to promote the mechanical fields—especially inventions, handcrafts, and artisanship—through regular exhibitions and programming. The organization also served another fascinating purpose at the time: serving as something of an accrediting body for the trades.
“Early on, we were an organization of artisans with apprentices, who were trying to keep apprentices from leaving their employ early and claiming they were a carpenter, or printer, or whatever the trade might be,” says Marty Joyce, former president of MCMA and current secretary.
MCMA quickly became a charitable organization, helping its members support their families, pay burial expenses, and so on. Today, it continues that philanthropic tradition, providing funds for vocational training in the trades and related industries to over 20 organizations in the Commonwealth.
NBSS is one of their long-running beneficiaries, with a decades-long relationship that has touched each and every one of the School’s nine Career Training programs and Community Education. Over the years, MCMA’s grantmaking has provided for a wide range of machinery that includes band saws, mortisers, jointers, dust collection system, engraving machine, and tools galore. Practically, this means MCMA has generously funded more than a hundred pieces of equipment, many of which are still in use today.
This year, MCMA continued its longstanding support with a commitment to the Locksmithing & Security Technology (LK) program, providing vital equipment that helps students train on the latest technology within their field.
Provost Claire Fruitman CF ’96 notes that this substantial grant advances the School’s commitment to both traditional trades that rely on hand skills, and the integration of modern technology in the classroom.
“We are continuously evaluating how to incorporate and integrate technology into all of our programs, whether newer models of machines, or modern tools or equipment like those in Locksmithing. We couldn’t do this as quickly without support from MCMA.”
This newest grant from MCMA will go toward what’s known as access control equipment, which includes proximity card readers, like those you tap against a sensor to open a door. It will cover four card readers, a control box, software with an annual renewal for three years, three computers, and security cameras. All of it is essential technology for the LK program.
“Students will have an opportunity to use the program software, understand the mechanics, and diagnose issues that arise with access control systems. For instance, if there’s an issue with a keypad, they’ll be able to go to the software first, and then examine the hardware,” says Eddy Dacius LK ’13, Locksmithing & Security Technology Department Head.
“MCMA has been a true partner, supporting us for decades with their generous contributions to the School. They have helped generations of NBSS students be ready for whatever they encounter on the job.”
Eddy says the grant will be a game-changer. There was no existing equipment, and students learned “on paper,” or in more theoretical terms, the concepts of access control rather than through hands-on practice and knowledge. “We want the students to get closer to what’s the future of locksmithing, and having access to the equipment will be key,” he says.
Unique to MCMA as a charitable organization is that its board members visit each organization during the grant cycle to meet with potential grantees. Harry Dodakian, one of those board members, toured North Bennet for this year’s grant cycle and visited the LK program.
“We were impressed by how organized and professional the facilities for the Locksmithing program were. There were working examples of doors, hinges, and locks, plus electronic systems too. North Bennet recognizes the modern era of locksmithing includes both mechanical systems and technology.”
Claire echoed this sentiment, as we see more and more people installing smart home systems, including doorbells and locks, as well as security cameras. “The future is here. But inside all of those technology pieces is still a mechanical lock, so what we’re teaching is still extraordinarily relevant.”
Claire echoed this sentiment, as we see more and more people installing smart home systems, including doorbells and locks, as well as security cameras. “The future is here. But inside all of those technology pieces is still a mechanical lock, so what we’re teaching is still all the more relevant.”
“MCMA has been a true partner, supporting NBSS for decades with their generous contributions to the School,” Claire shares. “We’re so grateful to have benefited over the years. Their support has helped generations of NBSS students be ready for whatever they encounter on the job.”
This story is part of our FY23 Annual Report. View more issues here.