AROUND THE VALLEY
NECC Offers Free Mobile Farmers Market in Haverhill and Lawrence
After suspending the mobile farmers market temporarily in March, Northern Essex Community College (NECC) launched a socially distanced market in September in order to serve a growing need during the global pandemic. Adjustments to obey social distancing protocols included having individuals sign up in advance, receive a timed appointment and drive on to campus and get their food without having to leave their vehicle.
Janel D’Agata-Lynch, NECC’s civic engagement, service-learning and community resources coordinator, estimates that an average of 50 to 60 cars visited each campus for each market and that from September through November about 250 distinct households and over 1,000 individuals were served.
NECC’s farmers market starts back up this Jan. and run monthly on the 4th Tuesday of each month.
Greater Lowell Community Foundation Awards Additional Funding in Latest Round of COVID-19 Response Grants
The Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) announced that it granted an additional $55,000 in emergency grant funds from the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. A dozen local nonprofits, from organizations that provide essential supplies to individuals in need to those who serve the hungry, have been announced as the recipients of these grants.
In total, the community foundation awarded $55,125 to 12 organizations serving Greater Lowell. The GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund awards were the 11th round of grants disbursed by the community foundation this year.
This round of grants has aided organizations such as Lowell Alliance, an organization that helps Lowell families and neighborhoods thrive by connecting them with critical resources, including diapers; and the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation, which helps local veterans and military families through its Food4Vets program.
New UML East Campus Exhibits Honor Lowell’s French Canadian Immigrants
UMass Lowell recently installed a new series of panels that in the area of Pawtucket Street in Lowell to commemorate the Little Canada neighborhood that was once located there, including the lives of Lowell’s French Canadian immigrants.
The exhibit consists of four panels, which are considered a “collaborative project between the university’s facilities management and community relations offices, the Center for Lowell History, Lowell National Historical Park and the Lowell Historic Board” according to an article by Ed Brennan.
The panels offer an opportunity for visitors to learn about Lowell’s historic French Canadian culture and the role that this community plays within the city. For more details, check out Brennan’s full article here.
Baker-Polito Administration Awards $67.4 Million in Additional Grants to 1,366 Businesses Most Impacted by the Pandemic
The Baker-Polito Administration announced $67.4 million in awards to 1,366 additional small businesses in a second round of grants through the COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC). Additionally, the new Sector-Specific Small Business Relief Grant Program, also administered by MGCC, is now accepting applications from businesses from sectors most impacted by the COIVD-19. Both grant programs are part of a new $668 million relief package.
The businesses being notified of their successful grant application include many that are owned by minorities (50%) and women (48%). Restaurants and bars, beauty and personal services, health care and retail are among the top sectors receiving relief in this second round of awards. The first round of grants announced last week totaled nearly $49 million in support of 1,158 Massachusetts small businesses.
Experts Say Cashless Economy is Leaving Some Charities in the Lurch
Buskers and charitable organizations that collect donations via street appeals are going largely empty-handed this season due in part to the increased use of mobile payment services, according to a business expert.
Banking apps such as PayPal and Venmo offer a convenient way to transfer money at the click of a button — particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic when individuals may be reluctant to touch coins and paper bills. But, potential donors in an increasingly “cashless” society are wary of using the technology to give to some charitable causes, said UMass Lowell’s Spencer Ross, an expert in digital marketing and consumer behavior who has studied the issue.
“It seems like it would be instinctive to donate via tap-and-go apps but it’s something people haven’t quite figured out yet,” Ross said.
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union Announces New Prize Linked Savings Program
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union has announced the launch of a unique new savings program, the WinStrong Savings Account, available for Massachusetts residents beginning Jan. 2, 2021. The WinStrong Savings Account offers a new and exciting way to save money. For each $25 you increase your savings balance each month, the member will receive one prize drawing entry into monthly, quarterly and annual drawings, with a maximum of four entries per month. All of the money deposited remains with the account holder and, as a bonus, they receive entries qualifying them for a chance to win cash prizes. Prizes include five $50 monthly prizes, two $500 quarterly prizes, and one $5,000 annual prize.
For more details about opening the WinStrong Savings Account visit here.
Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership Receives Generous Donation
The Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership (MVHP) has received a $25,000 Grant from the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation. MVHP is receiving the grant for its work in addressing housing insecurities compounded by the COVID-19 outbreak. The grant will support the comprehensive training program for first-time home buyers of low and moderate income.
Jim Wilde, executive director of MVHP, states “During the pandemic, we have experienced a significant increase in demand for our home buyer training program and financial counseling services. Eastern Bank’s support of our efforts is generous and greatly appreciated.”
MassDevelopment Awards Nearly $4.5 Million to Improve Taxi and Livery Business Competitiveness
MassDevelopment has awarded 85 grants totaling $4,465,619 from the Taxi & Livery Business Support Grant Program to support 104 small businesses operating in the taxi and livery industries and two taxi and livery industry associations.
The first round of the Taxi & Livery Business Support Grant Program offers taxi and livery operators financial assistance to secure products or services that will aid in improving their competitiveness and enhancing safety capabilities in the rapidly evolving market of for-hire transportation.
The grants will fund expenses including dispatch systems or other equipment, technology-enabled ride-hailing systems, safety enhancements, workforce training programs and business consultant services. Furthermore, it will help industry associations fund aggregated improvements that will have a collective impact on the taxi and livery industries in Massachusetts.
Lowell Couple Welcomes Lowell General’s First Baby of 2021
Izabela Grace Casara Cruz was born at 2:35 a.m. New Year’s Day to parents Jean Casara and Zuleisly Cruz of Lowell. Izabela arrived a day early, her parents say, but she was ready, needing just a couple of pushes to come into the world. She is 20.5 inches long and weighs 8 pounds, 1 ounce.
City of Lowell Conducts Parking Study
The city of Lowell is using a Housing Choice Grant award from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) to conduct a comprehensive parking strategy.
The Lowell Parking Study will review and analyze existing parking conditions including parking inventory, utilization, policies, management, regulations and pricing, and analyze the parking supply and demand compared to existing land uses. The parking study will help ensure that the parking system is consistent with the city’s economic development and transportation planning goals, including the ongoing GoLowell Multimodal Complete Streets plan.
Please take a few minutes to help them identify what has been working and what can be improved by taking the survey, available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Khmer.
For more information on the study, you can follow them on Facebook @GoLowell , check out their website, or email them at parkingstudy@LowellMA.gov.
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Karen Gomes Elected as Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts’ Vice President of Board of Directors
Home Health Foundation President and CEO Karen Gomes has been elected as vice president of the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts board of directors.
Founded in 1969, the Boston-based Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts is a nonprofit trade association of home care agencies that promotes home care as an integral part of the health care delivery system.