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Merrohawke to Honor Jacalyn Bennett with Strong by Nature Award

April 11, 2018 -– West Newbury resident Jacalyn Bennett will be honored with a Strong by Nature award at Merrohawke Nature School’s Annual Fundraising Auction benefit on Saturday, April 28th at Alnoba in Kensington, NH. In celebration of Merrohawke’s 10th Anniversary year, Merrohawke board of directors in 2017 developed this award to recognize a member of the community who acts with the earth-minded integrity that Merrohawke hopes all children will embody as adults. This individual is one who exemplifies Merrohawke’s core values and demonstrates a moral compass that actively advances environmental and social justice in his or her community.

Bennett’s love for life, nature, and its beauty began at a very early age.  “I can’t recall a time when I questioned my role in embracing and protecting the beauty of our Mother Earth,” Bennett says. “In all of the years since then, my love for our planet and its beings has compelled me to be a steward for Right Action, in particular the Protection of Women, and to give a voice and opportunities to those who otherwise wouldn’t be so fortunate.”

In 1989, Bennett founded Bennett and Company, with founding principles that remain true today. These principles focus on ecological awareness and responsibility, human kindness, fare wage for fair work, equality, and encouragement for team members to be their own personal best.  Believing the best way to help others is through providing jobs, Bennett is proud to now provide more than 1,000 opportunities for global employment, either it her Bennett and Company Newburyport headquarters or her wholly owned John Stuart Bennett, Guahgzhou, China garment factory.  Further, more than 75 percent of her global team is comprised of women. The company’s long-time suppliers also embody values and ecological practices that align with Bennett and Company. With over 30 years of experience in all aspects of the apparel industry, Bennett has won accolades as one of the best lingerie designers in the country.

The appreciation of education and art, particularly painting, have been very important to Bennett throughout her life.  In her youth, Bennett was given an opportunity teach terminally ill children at Coney Island Hospital in NYC for six years and underprivileged children in New York City in the early 1960’s who had been virtually abandoned.


“These experiences taught me that every child on our planet should be loved and cared for,” she says. “Teaching painting was a gift that I could give them. To be able to create a work of art is a gift, and a process which allows the artist to experiences personal inner growth. I am fortunate to have learned the art of Italian Renaissance Landscape painting from a renowned French artist and dear friend.  My philosophy is that I am responsible to share and inspire the creation of beauty, and I receive the greatest joy in teaching painting. This is true with my Newburyport team, my China Management team, the young Sri Lankan women who have taken refuge at Sarvodaya Suweseta, who include teenage mothers who are victims of rape, as well as handicapped women, all of whom were cast out of their families and society.”

For 30 years, Bennett has unwaveringly supported organizations for social justice and peace such as Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka. With a lifelong mission to support and protect women and children against abuse and violence, Bennett’s consistent financial support of Sarvodaya Suwasetha has given outcast young mothers with babies an opportunity to have a place to stay and to learn a trade. Bennett helped to found Sati Creations, a company and factory established with the purpose of providing jobs for these young mothers. In addition to donating much needed sewing machines, Bennett supplied leftover fabric used to make handicrafts sold to benefit Sarvodaya Suwasetha. In 1990, Bennett helped found Vishva Niketan International Peace and Meditation Center in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. After the tragic Tsunami, Bennett traveled to Sri Lanka and assisted in the relief effort for two months. In 2008, she sponsored Dr. Charika Mariainghe, founder of Child’s Rights Law International, to attend the annual Buddhist Women’s Conference to receive the 2008 Woman and Engaged Buddhism Award.

Locally, Bennett has supported many charitable causes in the greater Newburyport community. Perhaps her greatest joy is in having founded the Insight Meditation Center of Newburyport, whose Mindful Meditation techniques she has practiced since her teenage years.

“The balance, peace and inner joy that meditation can bring to one’s existence is quite literally life changing,” Bennett says. “It is and has been my strength and foundation through everything I have experienced, be it joy or challenges. My practice has helped me stay the course- to be able to be the person that I am proud to be.”

Merrrohawke Nature School, located on the waterfront in Newburyport, is a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded in 2007 by Rob and Kate Yeomans. Merrohawke serves upwards of 2,200 youth annually by guiding learning in nature that inspires empathy, resilience, and a deep connection to the earth. Merrohawke endeavor towards a world where every child grows into an adult able and committed to better our world.

The fundraising auction benefit is open to the public, and will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 28 at Alnoba in Kensington, NH. In addition to honoring Bennett, the event will feature a live auction and plated, locally sourced meal from the Farm at Eastman’s Corner. For tickets and more information, please visit or call 978-463-2233.

PRESS CONTACT:  Kate Yeomans ( or 978-888-7815)

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