Officers and Executive Committee
President – Rachel Young
Vice President - Demetri Kasperson
Treasurer – Mara DeWitte
Secretary – Sandra Polanik
Board of Directors
Growing up having an interest in drawing and painting, Rachel decided to transform her interest in Art into Fashion Design for her future career. She studied Fashion Design and Merchandising for 4 years at Framingham State University, graduating in 2014 with a BS. She joined QVCAH Board shortly after her graduation seeing the board as an opportunity to stay immersed in hands on art, and to be inspired by other local artists.
Today Rachel works as TJX Companies as a Product Development Specialist for Adult Sweaters. For the QVCAH Board, she helps with Online Marketing and Post Card development, among other responsibilities. For the future, she hopes to see the community grow further interest in the Arts Center, so QVCAH can continue to provide successful Gallery Exhibitions and Workshops.
Mara DeWitte grew up in the woods of Northwestern Connecticut riding horses and exploring the rivers and streams near her home. After graduating from Elms College with a degree in Spanish, she began a career at Cigna 24 years ago, where she is currently a Project Manager. Mara is passionate about animals and has been a key volunteer with Our Companions animal rescue since 2007. She is an accomplished nature photographer and is continuously inspired by her frequent hikes, trips to the beach, and time spent outside. She also enjoys expressing her artistic abilities through painting, ceramics, and crafting with her niece and nephews.
Mara has been involved with the Ruth Wells Center for the Arts for 3 years; serving as Secretary and President for the last two years. Art played an enormous part of her childhood, wandering the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and taking classes at the local art association in her hometown in CT. Since those experiences impacted her, her passion is to bring opportunities to experience art to children of the community.
She lives in Southbridge with her husband Guy, and their dogs Clancy and Matilda and cats Maisie and Molly.
Sandra’s career in Hospitality grew organically through her passion for entertaining combined with referrals from friends and family to organize a wide variety of tailor-made private events. Deciding to parlay that experience to a meeting and event planning business, she received her B.S. in Hospitality Management from Johnson & Wales University and is currently working toward a MBA in Hospitality from JWU.
As the sole proprietor of Polanik Event Services, LLC, she performs event planning and consulting, site selection, venue sourcing, and meeting management. She is Notary for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
An artist at heart, she dabbles in wood carving and creating glass jewelry through lamp working and fusing techniques. In addition to being a Board Member with the Ruth Wells Center for the Arts, she volunteers with the American Red Cross.
Sandra is Massachusetts native and has resided in Charlton for over 6 years. She enjoys traveling and experiencing the various foods, cooking techniques, and recipes of other cultures.
Simone Germain, Special Events Coordinator
Simone Germain is a freelance artist who specializes in custom artwork. Her paintings can be found on many different surfaces and her creative talents have led her to leave her artist impressions on various homes, churches and businesses across New England. Owner of a paint party business called Art by Simone, she travels to various venues and homes instructing groups how to create a painting step-by-step. Those that paint along with her are able to take home a painting they are proud of. She enjoys working in many different mediums such as acrylics, watercolor, pastel, ink, clay and more.
Among her repertoire of artistic endeavors, Simone works for the Jack O Lantern Spectacular, which is a huge organic art show on pumpkins held every October at Roger Williams Park Zoo. Simone also designs logos, t-shirts, and signs as well as creates murals and sets for community theater groups.
Simone is actively involved in sharing art in the community. She is currently working with special needs individuals at Seven Hills in Sturbridge MA and women in recovery at Safe Landing in Leominster MA. In addition to the title of Special Events Coordinator at QVCAH, she covers the position of Member at Large on the executive board. Simone is also on the board of directors at Charlton Arts and Activities Center representing the community theater group Pasture Prime Players.
Simone is thankful to have studio space where she can create daily in her home in Charlton MA. When she is not painting she enjoys raising chickens and ducks and taking long walks with her dogs. Simone loves her great big family and thanks them for supporting her art career.
Melissa Parent was born in Southern Massachusetts and received her BFA in painting from Maryland Institute College of Art. Her work mainly consists of oil paintings but ranges from drawings, mixed media, photography, and sculpture. Parent currently resides in Southern Massachusetts where she does small to large-scale work on commission.
Barbara (Earls) Day
Barbara (Earls) Day is a Southbridge resident, living in the 1885 house her dad and family grew up in since the early 1900’s. Over the years, she has been an active member of Gateway Players Theatre, Inc, school PTA, Friends of Jacob Edwards Library and the Ruth Wells Center board. She is an avid reader and loves doing needlework. A member of the JEL” Knitting with Sonya” group, she has organized the library participation in World Wide Knit in Public Day each June. Her participation in the arts is as an organizer and fabric artist, also known as a knitter! She retired from doing child day care after 39 years. Prior to that she was a social worker, doing marriage and family counseling. She has degrees in Counseling Psychology and Sociology. She is proud to be on the Ruth Wells Center board and enjoys bringing art and cultural programs to the community.
Charlie Gaulin - Artist In Residence
Charles E. Gaulin was born in Southbridge, Massachusetts in1951. Gaulin was inspired by longtime friend and fellow painter, Alex Gazonas, who stated many times that “you have to bomb a thousand times to learn the poetry of watercolor.” Following this advice, Gaulin has produced a prolific body of work in the aforementioned medium; covering a vast array of subjects through experimentation of technique and repetition of imagery. More recently, he has expanded his efforts into the realm of oil painting under the tutelage and friendship of artist, David Lussier of Wilmington, Ct. His emphasis on expressionistic and impressionistic manipulation of color is defined by what he terms his “language for the viewer.” Gaulin states, “I feel as if I am not working on a piece, just designing and placing light and shadow with every stroke.” “Charlie” as he’s known to his friends, meets weekly with a group of fellow enthusiasts known as Studio of Four for plein-air painting excursions or studio painting sessions. He produces much of his work in his studio at the Art Center in Southbridge.
Demetri has served on the Board of Directors since 2006 and the Executive Board since 2010. He has maintained involvement in several other committees including The Estate Committee, The Communication Committee, The Education Committee, The Special Events Committee and The Artist in Residency Subcommittee. Demetri was born in Southbridge, MA and grew up in neighboring Woodstock, CT. The son of a Clark University Research Librarian and Geography Professor, he studied illustration and painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and has lived in a variety of places, including Boston, New York City, Paris, England, Sweden and Greece. In 2007, Demetri along with Monika Agnello, established a contemporary art gallery, performance space, and studio in Southbridge – Sevengaits Project Space. In 2009 he founded Rive Gauche Realty, LLC a company that invests in real estate interests for artists. He is an avid painter and guitarist. Recently, he has focused on the establishment of an annual journal of poetry and prose, the Quinebaug Valley Review, which will be published by QVCAH in 2013.
Julie Prohaska comes from a background of music, graduating from Northwestern University with Bachelors and Master’s degrees in vocal performance. As a classical singer she spent most of her musical career singing opera and concert in the U.S., Germany, and Austria. A later degree in interior design has led her to many art projects and, in the last several years, to jewelry design. Of great interest to Julie are the spiritual and healing properties of the stones she wraps, and she finds it important to offer the most appropriate stone to those seeking more than just a piece of jewelry. Her work has appeared at “Gallery 873” in Kayenta, Utah, “The Art Loft” near the Chatauqua Institute in New York State, at “A Hand in Healing” in Farmington, CT, and at “Celebrations Gallery” in Pomfret, CT.
Julie has been very involved in the Arts Center during the past five years, serving as Fundraising Chairperson, President of the Board for two years, Member-at-Large, and on the Board of the Southbridge Business Partnership as representative from the Arts Center. Her greatest wish for our organization is that Southbridge and the surrounding area will discover how important art is to the growth and creativity of all, especially our young people.
Julie resides in Worcester with her husband, Otto, and two lovely cats. Their son, Adrian, is a television Editor in Los Angeles. She is on the Advisory Board for the Arts Center.
Elise Capillo is the President of Epic Marketing Solutions a boutique agency specializing in marketing services, website design and commercial photography for individuals and small to medium size businesses. She resides in Southbridge MA and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Arts Center.