Phone: 781-593-7700 x1253

At the beginning of 2020, a small group of Swampscott residents got together to discuss a difficult topic: aging.

The Swampscott for All Ages Committee commissioned a needs assessment to see where the town was lacking in resources for its elderly residents. A big fear of many of those residents was that as they got older, they would have to leave the homes that they had made for themselves, moving into assisted living or nursing homes to get the necessary help that they needed to do everyday tasks.

“We found that about 18 percent of our population missed doctor’s appointments in the last year because of lack of transportation,” said Heidi Whear, Swampscott’s director of elder services. “We found that there were people that have needs that are going to require more and more to stay in their homes.”

The assessment also found that an overwhelming 85 percent of respondents wanted to stay in place as they got older.

To address the issue, Whear, along with volunteers from the Senior Center, Council on Aging and Swampscott for All Ages Committee, started what they hope will become the solution for aging residents in the area: Seaglass Village.

The organization is not a physical location, but a network of volunteers available to help with rides, household tasks and anything else that seniors in Swampscott, Marblehead and Nahant may need.

“If they need any help or services, someone in the office will match them to a volunteer,” said Library Director Alyce Deveau, who was chosen as the Village’s first-ever director. “It might be something like replacing a doorknob or taking out an air conditioner.”

Seaglass Village is modeled after a more widespread village movement, which started in 1999 in Beacon Hill when a group of friends developed a community-based approach to help them age in place. Since then, more than 300 villages have been created across the country, including several others in Massachusetts.

“It’s nice because they all work together,” Deveau said. “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Both Deveau and Whear, the organization’s founding president, emphasized that they don’t want to take the place of other local organizations that serve seniors, but rather want to supplement them by offering the services that aren’t currently available. 

Often, that is because other organizations are concerned about the liability of doing those tasks. However, Seaglass Village will be insured, and all volunteers will have to pass a Criminal Offense Record Information (CORI) check, be up to date on vaccinations and have a clean driving record if they plan to provide rides to members. 

Members pay an annual fee, but Whear noted that they are working on fundraising for scholarships to ensure that cost does not prohibit anyone that wants to from joining.

Thanks to help from the community, the organization has secured an office space, and will move into its official home at First Church in Swampscott in October. They have also had many people reach out to sign up to volunteer, and have both financial donations and gifts like a rug and computer for the office.

Until they officially open and begin offering services later this fall, the members of Seaglass Village have focused on staying connected through the pandemic, holding beach gatherings to provide a social outlet.

“Our aging population is suffering so desperately from isolation,” Whear said. “What the village can do is offer a friendly call or a cribbage game on your front porch.”

For more information on membership and volunteer opportunities or to make a donation to Seaglass Village, call 781-718-0401 or visit

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She calls it “The Gigi Method,” and tennis players got an on-court tutorial in early August at the Nahant Tennis Club with former two-time Olympic gold medalist and 17-time major winner in doubles tennis Gigi Fernández.

“It was an awesome day from start to finish,” said Andrea Gogolos, who is on the Board of Directors at the Nahant Tennis Club. “It’s so incredible to have someone who reached the pinnacle of their sport come in and teach you a whole new way to play tennis.”

In international competition, Fernández represented the United States and won gold medals in doubles play alongside Mary Jo Fernández in 1992 and 1996.

“Winning the Olympic gold medal is a life-changing experience, and nothing matches that,” said Fernández. “Not many people remember or relate to the 17 Grand Slam victories, but everyone remembers who won the gold medal. No one can ever take that away from you.”

Fernández now spends her time coaching adult players how to excel at doubles. She travels the country doing clinics and camps and hosts The Gigi Method Tennis Camps for enthusiasts who want more in-depth instruction from Fernández. 

Her patented approach includes six steps: positioning, court coverage, the serve, the return, shot selection and competition. 

Fernandez ran through skills-building lessons at the Tennis Club grouped around positioning and coverage at the net to avoid passing shots, how to eliminate middle confusion, secrets and benefits of the stagger formation, movement patterns at the net for optimal poaching, and how to beat the lobbers. 

Fernández is considered to be one of the greatest doubles players of all time. She is an International Tennis Hall of Famer and the winner of 17 Grand Slam doubles titles with various partners along with two Olympic gold medals. 

“It was incredibly informative and interesting, because her method and strategy are so different from what a lot of us have been taught about doubles play,” said Gogolos. “We really learned a lot, and it’s making me want to take part in more of her clinics in the future.”

The event was also a big day for the Nahant Tennis Club, a small nonprofit that resides on the grounds of Nahant Country Club. Nahant has a special connection to the game of tennis, having been the site of the first-ever tennis match, when Jim Dwight and Fred Sears faced off on Dr. William Appleton’s lawn in 1874. 

“We’re a small club and we don’t have the big membership or hallowed grounds that some other bigger clubs have,” said Gogolos. “To be able to have an event like this and work with an international tennis star is just incredible and we’re very fortunate.”

Fernández was named in 2002 Puerto Rican Athlete of the Century. In October 2014, espnW voted Gigi Fernández the 10th-most-influential Hispanic athlete in history. The big-serving and hard-hitting native of San Juan, Puerto Rico was the first female athlete from her country to become a professional in any sport.

Fernández was fiery, tenacious, exuberant, and displayed her emotions on the court freely en route to 17 major doubles titles with four different partners. Fourteen of those titles were shared with Natasha Zverera, who complimented her spirited partner perfectly. While the duo weren’t complete opposites, Zvereva’s all-court game balanced her partner’s aggressive mantra. Whereas Fernández was fire, Zvereva was ice.

Appropriately, the pair entered the Hall of Fame together in 2010.

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Kim Hughes-Floutsakos remembers the first time she met NBA superstar Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo. 

It was 2001 and the Swampscott native was teaching English in a suburban Athens private school called Athens College, and all of a sudden one of the male faculty members walked into her classroom with a tall, skinny 7-year-old.

“Giannis wasn’t enrolled in the school at the time, but he was hanging out in front of the school’s gate and one of the men at the school just kind of assumed that he should be in school and brought him into my classroom,” said Hughes-Floutsakos, who is the daughter of the late Jim Hughes, a well-known Swampscott businessman and coach. “He and his family were very poor at the time, and we all did our best to help him out with things like clothes and food and whatever else we could give.”

Antetokounmpo’s rise from son of impoverished immigrants to NBA superstar and champion with the Milwaukee Bucks is one of the most unlikely stories in all of sports, and Hughes-Floutsakos had a front row seat to the early days of that rise. 

But things were not easy for the Antetokounmpo family in Greece. For the first 18 years of his life, Antetokounmpo — who is now 26 years old — couldn’t travel outside the country and was effectively stateless, having no papers from Greece or Nigeria because, despite being born in Greece, he didn’t automatically receive Greek citizenship; Greek nationality law follows “jus sanguinis,” or determining one’s citizenship based on their parents’ nationality. His parents’ status as immigrants made it hard for them to find work, forcing Antetokounmpo and his brothers to help provide for the family. 

Despite all of the challenges, Hughes-Floutsakos remembers Antetokounmpo’s selflessness and determination to provide for his family above all else.

“He was such a sweet boy, and he was also supporting his family at the time so he really grew up fast,” said Hughes-Floutsakos, who currently lives in Swampscott. “He would bring lunches from school home to his family and things like that, but he was also always such an outgoing, positive and smart person. He was just a really good kid through and through.”

And she can’t remember a time when he wasn’t playing sports, especially basketball.

“He was always a gifted athlete and he pretty much always played basketball,” said Hughes-Floutsakos. “He was so outgoing; he was always the one who was organizing the games and leading the other kids.”

In her time teaching Antetokounmpo subjects like English, Greek and Arabic over the years, she came to know his family as well. Antetokounmpo’s father, who died at age 54 in 2017, was a former professional soccer player in Nigeria and his mother is a former high jumper. Three of Antetokounmpo’s four brothers — Thanasis, Kostas and Alex — are currently professional basketball players, with Thanasis right beside Giannis on the Bucks roster. 

“They’re an incredibly proud family and they’re so close,” said Hughes-Floutsakos. “Their mother is such an amazing woman and all of the kids have just become such great people.”

Antetokounmpo was drafted 15th overall by the Bucks in 2013 — making him an instant millionaire. The stories of him sending all of his money back home to his family in Greece have been talked about since then, including the time when, in 2014, he sent so much money to his family that he didn’t have enough for cab fare from the Western Union to the arena for practice. He ran most of the way there in 20-degree weather before a local couple gave him a ride to the arena.

In the eight years since he’s been drafted, Antetokounmpo has turned himself into the quintessential NBA superstar. And on Tuesday night, after defying the odds once more and taking home an NBA championship, the young man that Hughes-Floutsakos taught English to 20 years before stood in front of an international audience and spoke perfect English.

“I mean, he’s just a superstar,” said Hughes-Floutsakos. “It’s so funny to look back at the young, skinny kid I knew all those years ago and then see him now with all he’s accomplished. 

“And it’s not even just what he’s done on the court, it’s what he’s done for the kids of Athens and other disadvantaged kids,” Hughes-Floutsakos said. “I’m just so proud of who he’s become, and I know everyone else in his life is just as proud.”

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