By Barbie Kiberstis
A life well-lived, even if too brief, is sure to leave a lasting and positive impression on those left behind.
This is certainly the case with the late Michelle “Mish” Bennedetti, a former Methuen resident and social worker in whose memory her family and friends created MishStrong, a local fund-raising charity. Bennedetti died in 2019 at age 51 after a courageous battle with cancer.
“Michelle lived her life to help others … whether it was her family or the children and families that she served in her line of work,” remembers Methuen’s Kathy Izzi, Michelle’s cousin and friend.
MishStrong was created to continue doing just that.
“MishStrong was founded by a group of people that wanted to turn a sense of loss into positive impact in the community Michelle served. We are humbled that we are able to keep Michelle’s spirit present,” said her brother Mark DeLuca, who led the nonprofit’s creation.
MishStrong will be presenting a fun-filled night with a cabaret show, “Almost Better Than Broadway,” on March 8 and 9 at Andover’s Old Town Hall, with a portion of its proceeds directly benefitting St. Ann’s Home and School here in Methuen. Tickets are $40 per person.
The organization, which began in 2020 “at the height of Covid,” said board member and event coordinator Michael Therriault, hosts an array of events that include 5K and 10K road races, “Disco Bowling” and the upcoming professional-level, all-volunteer cabaret show.
“Michelle was full of life and always caring,” remembers Therriault. “Her job as a social worker was not easy, but she was always doing extra. We are glad to continue her work”.
St. Ann’s Home and School for kids in Methuen currently houses 150 permanent residents and educates 120-plus students. Director of Development John Rice says,
“The support from MishStrong makes a real difference in the lives of these kids. It makes them feel loved and cared for.”
With proceeds going toward things like iPads, backpacks and school supplies, Rice says, “We also use some of that funding from MishStrong for things like day trips to a water park or amusement parks, things that help normalize these kids’ lives, most of whom do not have families of their own.”
The MishStrong Foundation continues its tireless work to provide scholarships to local students, donations to food pantries, book fairs, all endeavors that honor the way Michelle lived her life. If you would like to donate, volunteer or learn more about Michelle and MishStrong, visit mishstrong.org. For a fun night out and to help continue Michelle’s good work, follow the “Events” link on the website to purchase tickets to “Almost Better Than Broadway!”