United Way announces $2 million in emergency assistance for basic needs
BOSTON – In a press conference today at Boston City Hall, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who has been leading a Food + Fuel campaign for Boston residents this winter, joined United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley President Michael Durkin as United Way announced details of $2 million investment to provide individuals and families with emergency assistance for food, heat and other basic needs this winter. Since October, United Way has been leading a community effort – called the Community Support Fund-- to raise funds for Massachusetts residents seriously impacted by the economic recession. Today’s event details United Way’s swift distribution of $2 million into 25 health and human service organizations in the greater Boston and Merrimack Valley regions. These investments come at a time when even more individuals and families need assistance.
A report issued on January 16th by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and The Council for the New American City predicts that greater Boston will have the fifth biggest job loss in the country during 2009. The combination of job losses with rising costs of living creates a volatile situation for local residents. In a recent survey of its network of agencies, United Way found that nearly 70 percent of organizations have seen an increased demand for services this year over last. Nearly a third of surveyed agencies have reported seeing “significant increases in need.”
“Because of the strength of our network, we realized early on that United Way was in a unique position to lead a wide-scale, swift, and efficient response to the rapidly rising need in our communities,” said Michael K. Durkin, president and chief executive officer at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “We have an important responsibility to keep as many people as possible from homelessness, utility shut-off and other financial crises and we have been working around the clock to do so.”
One of the earliest commitments was a $300,000 investment in conjunction with the City of Boston’s Food + Fuel Campaign.
"Boston is lucky to have such a strong partner in United Way, as they have again demonstrated their commitment to Boston's residents by using its network to raise funds that directly impact our communities," Mayor Menino said. "From providing food and shelter assistance to addressing other basic needs, United Way's investment in the Food and Fuel Campaign has helped support some of the most vulnerable residents of our City."
The Community Support Fund launched in the fall as an urgent fundraising drive aimed at distributing funds swiftly into the community. At its launch United Way declared that 100 percent of the funds raised by the Community Support Fund would be funneled directly into food and financial assistance for people in need without administrative cost. Raising funds as quickly as possible to respond to the crisis has required a strong awareness campaign, which was built, pro-bono, by Boston advertising firm PARTNERS+simons and run through the support of media partners including NECN, Comcast, and Universal Hub. From a dozen local musicians who hosted a benefit concert in Somerville, to more than 200 Facebook pages, to individuals giving from $5 to $50,000, the campaign has also relied on grassroots support. Finally, support has resounded in various forms from the City of Boston, Liberty Mutual Foundation, The Barr Foundation, State Street Foundation, The Boston Foundation, National Grid Foundation, Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the Eaton Vance Sponsored US Charitable Gift Trust.
To channel relief directly to the people who need it most in the Boston area, United Way has tapped the following organizations from its network of health and human services agencies. These United Way partner agencies were selected based on their history of providing emergency basic needs and their ability to link clients to help that will advance their self-sufficiency after the crisis has subsided. In total, 25 geographically diverse United Way partner agencies, from Boston to Lowell and Malden to Quincy, were announced today as recipients of Community Support Fund investments. A full list can be found at the end of this release.
United Way’s Community Support Fund will continue to raise funds for basic needs throughout the winter and over the course of the recession. Residents who want to learn about where to go to access help from the Community Support Fund can contact Mass211. Mass2-1-1 is the state’s hotline for information and referrals regarding health and human services. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Residents can also contribute to the Community Support Fund by dialing 2-1-1 or by visiting http://www.supportunitedway.org/csf to learn more.
Full list of Community Support Fund organizations
Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. (Boston)
American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay (Boston, Waltham)
Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (Boston)
Catholic Charities (Boston, Haverhill, Peabody, Salem, Somerville)
City Mission Society (Boston)
Ensuring Stability through Action in our Community (Boston)
Greater Boston Food Bank (Greater Boston)
Greater Boston Legal Services (Boston)
Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, Inc. (Boston)
Project Hope (Boston)
The Salvation Army (Boston, Cambridge, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, Malden, Medford, Quincy, Randolph, Revere, Salem, Somerville, Weymouth)
Travelers Aid Family Services (Boston)
Cambridge Family & Children's Service (Cambridge)
Heading Home, Inc. (Cambridge)
Tri-CAP (Everett, Malden, Medford)
Community Teamwork, Inc (Lowell)
Merrimack Valley Food Bank, Inc. (Lowell)
Family & Children's Service of Greater Lynn (Lynn)
Lynn Economic Opportunity, Inc. (Lynn)
Quincy Community Action Program, Inc. (Quincy)
South Shore Day Care Services (Randolph, Weymouth)
Casa Myrna Vazquez (Boston)
Council of Social Concern (Woburn)
Newton Community Service Center (Newton)