Calmer Choice, non-profit organization in Barnstable, Massachusetts Calmer Choice, non-profit organization in Barnstable, Massachusetts

Business Alliance Partner: Cape Cod Aggregates

Sabrina Kane, Secretary of the Calmer Choice Board of Directors, recently interviewed Laura Lorusso Peterson, President of Cape Cod Aggregates, to learn about their involvement with Calmer Choice.

Laura is currently training to be a Calmer Choice instructor and Cape Cod Cape Aggregates has been a Business Alliance Partner since 2018.

Cape Cod Aggregates is family-run sand and gravel business. In its present form, the company has been in existence since 1981, but the business's foundation goes back to 1957 when Laura's grandfather built the business. He then sold the business to his brother (Laura's great-uncle), who resold it to Laura's dad and two brothers in 1981. Today, Laura works with her father, two brothers, and her husband.

From Cancer to Mindfulness

Laura's path to Calmer Choice started when she had treatment for thyroid cancer and sought help with anxiety and stress for the process of getting her thyroid medications straightened out.

Her doctor referred her to the Benson Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at MassGeneral Hospital in Boston and she enrolled in their SMART program.

At first, [mindfulness] did not jibe with me, but they showed me the data, and then I started practicing and I saw results. Laura Lorusso

She attended a Calmer Choice Business Alliance Partnership event where Dr. John Gabrieli from MIT presented his research on brain science and mindfulness that resulted from a collaboration between Calmer Choice, parents, and the MIT scientists.

At this event, a Mullen Hall student also shared how to do 5-finger breathing. His mother shared how they would do the breathing in the car, and how the exercise "opened up space for the two of them to discuss their feelings and manage them in ways that felt good."

Why Calmer Choice?

In response to the asking why Calmer Choice is a good fit for CCA's philanthropy, Laura replied, "My family has always been focused on giving back to the community and targeting kid-oriented organizations, such as sponsoring sports teams."

"Children are a [demographic] the organization has always helped, and with this donation, you are getting the most bang for your buck...Starting from the ground up, it's a great investment in the community. You've got to start at the beginning. Calmer Choice is an opportunity to help a lot of kids at the beginning, and give them skills that will benefit them for their entire lives. And if they share that with their parents then the effect is like a ripple in a pond, it keeps spreading out, and spreading out, and spreading out."

Laura shared the qualities she tries to cultivate in herself to help with resilience and stress management. "Mindful listening is a big one," she replied. "Doing a 20-minute sit every day. Paying attention to feelings and triggers and having the awareness that I don't have to act on them right away."

When asked what she felt we can do to help children be their best selves, Laura shared, "Listening to kids is huge. For example, you might see a parent in a store, and a kid will see a picture of a toucan bird on a box and a parent will say, "I told you we aren't getting that cereal, let's go," when really the kid was just expressing fascination with the toucan."

She adds, "Taking the time to pay attention to what's going on and the big picture, that's what's important. Community involvement is part of my job, that's the benefit of a family business, and that's the reason why our family has always given back to the community. That's the soul food. At the end of the day, that's what lights my Dad up, those connections with people. I think the reason why we do give back is we need that, we need those types of meaningful connections, where something, in this case, money that we provide is making a real difference in somebody else's life."