Grant Won; Union OK'd; Teaming for Strength; 'Visionary' Leader Dies

March 5, 2019 — Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts gets $10K... WBUR journalists approve union...Viability teams with Innovation Accelerator to increase financial independence...Rob Restuccia, 'visionary' nonprofit leader, dies.

Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts Gets $10K Grant

Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts (Habitat NCM), based in Acton, which builds houses to help eliminate poverty housing and homelessness, recently received a $10,000 grant from Rollstone Bank & Trust to support its Critical Repair Program to help families living in affordable homes in the Leominster/Fitchburg area.

The funds will be used to purchase construction materials and cover the cost of a construction manager for critical home repair projects, including changing or repairing siding and roofs, modifications for accessibility including ramps, floor repair, window replacement, insulation, and updates to meet city codes.

"Helping low income homeowners maintain the safety and comfort of their homes through critical home repairs is a fundamental part of our mission,” said Carolyn Read, executive director for Habitat NCM, which serves 25 communities, in a release issued by the bank. “We have been actively meeting with regional social service agencies and town government officials to ensure that local, low-incoming homeowners know they have a place to turn for help with these critical home repairs.”

Applicants for assistance from Habitat North Central Massachusetts must demonstrate their ability to pay a zero-percent interest loan for the home and invest sweat equity of eight hours per $1,000 of loan amount on the construction of the home.

WBUR Journalists Approve Union

Journalists at WBUR, the nonprofit National Public Radio station operated by Boston University (BU), voted 73 to 3 last week to unionize.

The exact number of employees who will be included in the bargaining unit is still in dispute, as BU disputed ballots filed by 11 employees, the station reported.

“We are thrilled with the results,” said WBUR digital producer Ally Jarmanning. “We have gotten to the point where we want to have a real, active, meaningful role in some of the decisions that are made about our workplace. We want to make WBUR an even better place to work. Part of that is organizing. This vote gets us there.”

WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz and BU Senior Vice President Gary Nicksa said in a joint statement, “We fully respect the rights of our employees to make informed choices about their employment. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively to ensure that WBUR is a place where all employees can thrive and do their best work at Boston’s premier public radio station.”

The union election comes one year after the high-profile firing of one of the station's star employees, former On Pointhost Tom Ashbrook, WBUR reported, noting that "Investigators hired by BU found he had created an abusive work environment. The Ashbrook revelations led to a broader investigation of complaints at the station and a report that called for substantive action to address concerns with management and WBUR morale.."

Viability Teams with Innovation Accelerator to Increase Financial Independence

Viability, a nonprofit based in Northampton that provides services to people with disabilities and other societal disadvantages, which formed from the merger of Community Enterprises and Human Resources Unlimited merged two years ago, has teamed with the Innovation Accelerator to increase their financial independence and impact.

"In the merger, we formed a business development department to really focus on being the best human service agency we could by learning outside in the business community and always being progressive," said Carla Gaouette, Viability's senior vice president of business development, quoted in The Republican. "Typically in nonprofits, you don't treat changing services or starting a service as a business. You look at it as a need. I think it has to be both. It was a new concept for us.

"The accelerator has you do research to see what the market is and the need is and if there is a need that could be purchased and used. It took us to a new level of how to do business and how to think of what we're doing internally."

Paul Silva, who created the accelerator, was quoted, "This is a nonprofit whose leadership and line employees aren't afraid to reinvent how things have been done so they can increase their impact by 10 or even 100 times what it was before."

Rob Restuccia, 'Visionary' Nonprofit Leader, Dies

Rob Restuccia, the founding executive director of Health Care For All (HCFA), a Boston-based nonprofit that was instrumental in implementing health reform in Massachusetts in 2006 and since has been a leading advocate for comprehensive, affordable, and accessible health care, died Sunday of cancer. He was 69.

HCFA announced his death, calling him "a true health care leader and visionary."

Restuccia was the lead health care organizer of the Health Care For All Coalition that was launched in the mid-1980s, and then became the founding executive director of HCFA when the organization incorporated in 1989. Restuccia served in this role until 2003, with the last four years of his tenure serving as the executive director of HCFA and the newly launched national organization Community Catalyst, where he held the position of executive director until his illness in the fall of 2018.

Marcia Hams, board chair of HCFA, said, "Rob was deeply committed on a very personal level to the people most hurt by our system. From this foundation, he united partners across a wide-range of stakeholder groups—hospitals, providers, insurers, businesses, and policymakers—to work with consumers for positive change."