By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING — The North Reading Board of Selectmen, home of the midnight meetings, have probably been responsible for more disrupted more family dinners, missed school concerts and rescheduled anniversary celebrations than any other five men in town.
But Monday night, the members enthusiastically went the extra mile to make amends by endorsing a great idea from the Community Impact Team.
Recognizing the pressures families are under today, including time management problems and the stress that limit the time a family can spend together, and citing studies that show families who eat dinner together regularly have lower incidents of drug and alcohol abuse, the board unanimously proclaimed Thursday, March 12 as “North Reading Night Off.”
The Selectmen urged all town departments, including the schools, community organizations, sports leagues that regularly schedule events for students and families to suspend all activities that night beginning at 5 p.m. so families can “slow down and spend important time together.”
Marci Bailey, Amy Luckiewicz and Rita Mullin were on hand to explain the “Night Off” idea has been tried by other communities like Needham with great success and positive feedback.
CIT surveys have shown that time management and stress were key issues for families in North Reading, said Bailey. “One night off on March 12 is not much, but it’s a start. We encourage all town departments and committees to join us in pledging to take a night off, go home and enjoy dinner with your wives and families after a long winter. Put your feet up.”
Bailey said they would also be visiting local restaurants to encourage them to offer discounts to families that night. “It’s not a fundraiser. It’s another way to facilitate families to enjoy dinner together” since children should not have homework that night. It could also help out local restaurants, encouraging families to patronize North Reading restaurants.
And the CIT’s efforts aren’t limited to North Reading Night Off. On Wednesday, March 4, they’ll sponsor a speaker, John Mattleman, at the high school. Mattleman, the Youth Services director in Needham and a parenting expert, will speak on “The Secret Life of a Massachusetts Teen.” The event will be held at 7 p.m. and will focus communication with teens, how to talk to them and how to listen effectively.
The event will be free. Pre–registration is not required but it’s encouraged. This can be done online at www.northreadingcit.com/
Luckiewicz said nine town committees and departments have already committed to taking the night off on March 12.
The Community Impact Team is a partnership between the North Reading Police Department, Youth Services, Elder Services, school department, Parks Department, Fire Department and Board of Selectmen.
North Reading Night Off won’t change the culture in one night, but it can provide a few hours for families to enjoy a stress free evening together.