AROUND THE VALLEY
NECC Alumna Receives Prestigious Writer’s Award
The award has been presented annually for the past 35 years by the Whiting Foundation. It is given to select fiction and nonfiction writers, poets and playwrights. The prizes are designed to recognize excellence and promise in a spectrum of emerging talent, giving most winners their first chance to devote themselves full time to their own writing, or to take bold new risks in their work.
Antigua, 30, who graduated from NECC in 2009 with an associate degree in liberal arts, was one of three poets to receive an award of $50,000. She is a Dominican American poet born and raised in Massachusetts. Her debut collection, “Ugly Music,” (YesYes Books, 2019) was the winner of the Pamet River Prize. You can read a review in mvm’s 2019 summer reading guide.
Greater Lawrence Family Health Center Calls for Support Amid Crisis
The Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (GLFHC) is calling for philanthropic support to help them provide critical health care services for the Merrimack Valley’s most vulnerable populations. Please consider a gift to the GLFHC COVID-19 Response Fund. With early matching support from the George C. Wadleigh Foundation and Eastern Bank, the fund will be used to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health center’s patients, staff and clinicians.
Community health centers in Massachusetts are projected to lose more than $150 million in the next three months. GLFHC has had to temporarily close three sites and the result is a 40% decline in patient visits.
GLFHC provides health care to over 61,000 patients, including those among the homeless population. Help them mitigate this impact of the COVID-19 crisis with your philanthropic support and please share this with your network.
Lazarus House Sewing Graduates Make Masks for Coronavirus Frontline Workers
Students who have learned to sew in the Lazarus House training program have joined the effort, led by 10-year Lazarus House volunteer sewing teacher Bonnie Mahan, to produce face masks helpful in the protection from COVID-19.
Mahan has already created over 100 kits with the material needed to make the masks. She continues to compile the kits and send to her students, all of whom received refurbished sewing machines from Lazarus House upon graduation.
More than 15 students continue the effort from their homes using the kits or their own supplies. Two students, Pam Aldrich of Salem, Mass., and Rosa Almonte of Lawrence, joined in the effort to provide PPE masks.
The masks do not meet the N95 mask standard recommended for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, but Mahan has made them useful, nonetheless.
According to the CDC, fabric masks are an option when other PPE supplies are not available.
Instructions on making masks can be found on the Deaconess Hospital website:
If you make your own, they may be mailed to Lazarus House for distribution at 412 Hampshire Street, Lawrence, MA 01842.
Pentucket Bank Announces Increase in Community Contributions Amid COVID-19
Scott Cote, CEO and chairman of Pentucket Bank, announced on Friday that the bank will be increasing its charitable community donations by 20% in 2020, over the $400,000 that the bank donated in 2019.
This announcement comes as communities across the nation continue to be adversely affected by the rapidly evolving state of the COVID-19 virus.
Beginning the week of March 30, 2020, Pentucket Bank will increase charitable giving by 20%. To assist with the immediate needs of their community partners, the bank will disperse the first $25,000 of the total committed increase to 10 local social service agencies, each receiving $2,500, over the next few weeks. The bank intends to place these funds in the hands of several agencies that are continuing to provide critical services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The first four recipients are Sarah’s Place Adult Day Health, Isaiah 58, Home Health Foundation and Emmaus Inc. All donations will be announced at PentucketBank.com.
United Way COVID-19 Family Support Fund Distributes $378,000
Less than two weeks after launching a fundraising effort to help individuals and families impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley announced it has distributed over $378,000 to 36 community-based nonprofit agencies across the region to provide flexible emergency financial assistance to individuals and families impacted by the crisis.
United Way mobilized its broad network of nonprofit agencies who have a track record of working with the organization to administer flexible emergency assistance for families impacted by income disruption. According to a recent poll by MassINC for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, 16% of Massachusetts residents said they have lost their job and 23% of people making less than $50,000 of less say they have lost a job since the pandemic hit the region. The assistance will help families impacted by the COVID-19 crisis meet their basic needs for food and supplies, childcare and housing.
Since United Way launched the COVID-19 Family Support Fund on March 14, more than 1,000 donors representing individuals, corporations and foundations have committed over $1.2M to help working families affected by the crisis.
Individuals can dial 211 for comprehensive information and referrals related to the virus, including information on where they can access flexible funds through the COVID-19 Family Support Fund. Payments will be sent to the vendor or provider of services. Money will not be given to individuals directly.
The list of distributions from United Way’s COVID-19 Family Support Fund through March 27, 2020 to Merrimack Valley organizations includes:
Trahan Supports House Passage of $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Stimulus Package
On Friday, House Rep Lori Trahan supported passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a historic stimulus package designed to help families, workers and small businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill will now go to the President’s desk for his signature.
“We are facing an unprecedented health emergency. Families, workers, health care workers and small businesses need immediate help from Congress to weather the storm. This legislation is an important step in our ongoing effort to act decisively on behalf of the American people. I am glad that, through hard work and productive negotiations, we were able to produce the bold, pro-worker bill that was desperately needed in this moment,” said Congresswoman Trahan. “As we begin work on additional assistance packages, it is imperative that we all recognize the role we have to play in flattening the curve. Stay home if you can, practice social distancing, and wash your hands regularly. These practices will save lives.”
The CARES Act provides Massachusetts’s third district with critical support:
- Homelessness Assistance (Emergency Solutions) Grants — $4,000,000,000 to address the impact of COVID-19 among individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance.
- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) – $5,000,000,000 is provided to enable states, counties, and cities to rapidly respond to COVID-19 and the economic and housing impacts caused by it, including the expansion of community health facilities, child care centers, food banks and senior services. It also waives the cap on funding public service activities.
Here are a few of the numerous initiatives in this historic piece of legislation that will benefit the residents of Massachusetts broadly:
- A $150 Billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund: Creates a $150 billion state and local Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide states and localities additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. It is estimated that Massachusetts will receive approximately $2,673,000,000 in funds to benefit our state’s residents.
- $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits: Includes numerous provisions to improve unemployment benefits including providing an additional $600 per week for the next four weeks, providing an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits, and expanding eligibility to include workers in the gig economy and self-employed workers.
- Immediate Direct Cash Payments to Lower and Middle-Income Americans: Provides for immediate, direct cash payments to lower- and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, beginning to phase out at an annual income of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a household. These payments will provide individuals with the cash they need right now to survive with much of the economy currently shut down.
- More Than $375 Billion in Small Business Relief: Provides more than $375 billion in small business relief, including $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll; $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers; and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants.
- Approximately $200 Billion for Our Hospitals, Health Care Workers, and Health Research.
- More Than $100 Billion in Additional Emergency Appropriations.
Lawrence General Hospital Issues Updates, Calls for Support
In the last 14 days, Lawrence General Hospital (LGH) has seen an ever-increasing number of symptomatic individuals seeking testing and treatment at the hospital, and their immediate concern is not having an adequate supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline care givers.
Please visit LawrenceGeneral.org/about-us/covid-19-donations.aspx to learn what is needed and how/where to donate. The website also includes information regarding:
- COVID-19 screening options that include their community screening phone line at (978) 946-8409.
- Temporary hospital no-visitor policy.
- Real-time COVID-19 information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The costs associated with providing increased 24/7 front-line staffing, equipment and resources are enormous. Consider making a donation at LawrenceGeneral.org/donate.
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Matthew Thorne Joins Merrimack River Watershed Council as Executive Director
Matthew Thorne, a resident of Concord, N.H., has been appointed executive director of the Merrimack River Watershed Council (MRWC). Thorne brings with him experience in nonprofit management, environmental stewardship and environmental advocacy.
Thorne has served as associate director of the Manchester, N.H., based Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success since 2018. Prior to that his career path found him working in environmental causes throughout Washington state’s Puget Sound region. Thorne has also worked in Alaska as an environmental educator and field guide for Alaska Island Community Services.
The MRWC is dedicated to improving the health and vitality of the Merrimack River, a river that provides drinking water to 600,000 people and is ranked as one of the nation’s top 10 Most Endangered Rivers by the U.S. Forest Service.
For more information on the council, visit Merrimack.org