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May 18, 2022
Food Access; Mental Health; Rebuilding; Chief Program Officer

March 29, 2022 — Rachel’s Table gets $75K to provide access to healthy food in western Massachusetts. MetroWest youth grant $40K to support mental health issues. Marlborough Public Library Foundation gets $250K for reconstruction project. Family Services of the Merrimack Valley appoints inaugural chief program officer.

Rachel’s Table Gets $75K to Provide Access to Healthy Food in Western Massachusetts

The Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts last week announced that it received a $75,000 commitment from Arbella Insurance Foundation over the next three years to support its Rachel’s Table program which helps alleviate hunger and reduce food waste in the region.

“The funding we received from Arbella Insurance Foundation will allow us to grow our commitment to ensuring direct access to healthy food,” said Jodi Falk, director of Rachel’s Table. “Through Growing Gardens, we also hope to help our partner agency’s constituent communities define what nourishment means to them, while building, and maintaining gardens that cultivate their sense of agency, empowerment, and physical and spiritual nourishment.”

The Growing Gardens’ trainings will be done in partnership with the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), which will help train and mentor participating agencies. The first cohort includes Christina’s House, a home for women and children in transition; Robinson Gardens, a low-income housing community; CSO’s Friends of the Homeless, an on-site mental health and recovery service; and the Church of St. Andrew’s, a church community that will donate 100 percent of its harvest to those in need.

Founded in 1992, Rachel’s Table each week engages more than 200 volunteers who collect food from more than 60 donors such as local supermarkets, restaurants, caterers, farms, and bakeries, and deliver it to more than 50 agencies, including soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters in the Pioneer Valley.

MetroWest Youth Grant $40K to Support Mental Health Issues

The Foundation for MetroWest, based in Natick, last week announced that its Youth in Philanthropy program, which educates students about the areas of greatest need in their communities, recently granted $30,000 across six area nonprofits.

Receiving the grants were the following:

  • A Place to Turn, to support the Healthy Learners program to provide health and wellness items to teens.
  • The Children’s Room’s, to support a full year of grief support services to a family at no cost.
  • Circle of Hope, to purchase and distribute basic support resources to more than 300 homeless college students at Framingham State University.
  • MetroWest Mediation Services, to support 50 cases in the Harassment Order mediation program to facilitate conversation and end conflict.
  • NAN Project, to support peer-to-peer mental health education and suicide prevention programs for students in the MetroWest.
  • REACH, to create educational programs to urge young people to prevent violence through a Peers Against Violence Educators program to promote long term healthy relationships.

Since launching in 1997, the Youth in Philanthropy program has educated more than 2,000 students who have granted more than $1.2 million to more than 200 MetroWest youth development organizations.

Marlborough Public Library Foundation Gets $250K for Reconstruction Project

The Marlborough Public Library Foundation, a Marlborough nonprofit that raises funds for capital improvements to the Marlborough Public Library, recently received a $250,000 donation, the largest since it was established in 2002.

The donation, from town resident Alison Grice, will support the foundation's capital campaign for the reconstruction of Marlborough's main library, according to a report in A 200-seat community room in the new library will be named for her parents, Marion and David Grice.

"Marion and David Grice had a tremendous impact on many people through their active participation in the city, and with this donation, Alison will be doing the same. She is truly honoring her parents, who taught their children to care about their community," library foundation President William Keyles said in a news release.

The reconstruction project, which broke ground in September, will add a 16,000 square-foot addition and restore the 117-year-old Carnegie Library section of the building. The renovation is slated to be done next spring.

Family Services of the Merrimack Valley Appoints Inaugural Chief Program Officer

Aida Castro

Family Services of the Merrimack Valley, a Lawrence-based nonprofit social service agency, last week announced it appointed Aida Castro to the newly created position of chief program officer.

As chief program officer, Castro will be a key member of the senior leadership team, managing a large portfolio of programs reaching thousands of residents throughout the Merrimack Valley. Additionally, she will help set the strategic direction of the organization.

“Through her entire professional career, Aida has shown extreme dedication to helping others,” said CEO Elizabeth Sweeney. “Aida has strong ties to the local community and has received local and state recognition for all her work. We are thrilled to have Aida continue her professional advancement at Family Services and look forward to her ongoing contribution to the organization.”

Castro joined Family Services in 2006 as a parent education program coordinator before being promoted to family programs supervisor. Castro holds a master’s degree in human services administration from Springfield College.

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