East Boston Organizations get Some Resiliency Fund Dollars

East Boston organizations that have shifted focus to helping residents during the COVID-19 pandemic have received additional grant money from the Boston Resiliency Fund last week.

Mayor Martin Walsh announced the fund’s Steering Committee distributed $826,000 in funding for three Eastie-based community organizations as well as 18 others across Boston during the 10th round of the Boston Resiliency Fund.

The three Eastie organizations have been providing food, basic necessities, and additional support for Boston’s most vulnerable residents.

 “The Boston Resiliency Fund has been a lifeline for many organizations that are helping residents with their basic needs during this public health crisis,” said Walsh. “By distributing over $20 million to organizations, the Fund has had an extraordinary impact in our community, supporting over 225,000 families in need.”

Money will be going to Eastie Farm and will allow the nonprofit to continue their work serving families with meals prepared by local restaurants. Since the start of the pandemic Eastie Farm has partnered with Bon Me and Tawakal Halal Cafe to prepare fresh food for Eastie families.

The group has also been providing groceries and produce through local distributors to over 600 community households who are homebound.

Eastie Farm’s Kannan Thiruvengadam has been responding in two ways to help during the pandemic–by increasing its food rescue and distribution as well as serving as an integral part of Mutual Aid Eastie.

“In our pursuit of zero-waste, we have been, even before the coronavirus outbreak, locating excess food (in restaurants and commercial kitchens) and bringing it to hungry families in East Boston via the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen or Crossroads Family Shelter or directly to families’ doorsteps,” said Thiruvengadam. “We have now increased that effort. In one day alone, we distributed more than 1,000 pounds of protein in East Boston, by rescuing excess food from Bon Me Restaurant.”

Grant money will also go to Maverick Landing Community Services. This grant will provide food and supplies for one month of running the food program including expansion to a second drive by site to the Umana parking lot with local partners.

Maverick Landing Community Services has been partnering with the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Watershed on East Boston’s waterfront to distribute food across the community.

With help from the ICA’s caterer, The Catered Affair, over 2,000 boxes of much-needed fresh produce and dairy will be delivered to East Boston families by the end of the summer.

According to Jill Medvedow, Director of the Boston (ICA), the food donation initiative is a collaboration between the ICA and  Maverick Landing Community Services; East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC); East Boston Social Centers; Eastie Farm; Orient Heights Housing Development; and Crossroads Family Center.

Finally Boston Resiliency funding will go to St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children. The grant will support additional costs such as food, sanitation and supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic across three of St. Mary’s programs, like Crossroads Family Shelter in Eastie. Crossroads has been a transitional homeless shelter for women and children in Eastie since the 1980s.

Crossroads Director Lauren Antonelli said Crossroads also serves more than 500 families annually via its community food pantry.

“Now, more than ever, our services are critical in supporting families during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

Antonelli said funding from the City will help to supplement some of the immediate costs the shelter’s families are facing, as well as provide some relief for the shelter, which is seeing increased operational expenses.

Funding will go directly to Crossroads clients in the form of gift cards to purchase food and essential hygiene supplies.

Since the first round of fund distribution, the fund has raised over $31 million from over 6,300 donors and distributed more than $20M to date to 249 organizations.

Jack Connors, Jr., member of the Boston Resiliency Fund Steering Committee, said the Fund is still accepting donations from individuals, organizations and philanthropic partners who wish to contribute and offer their support. All of the donations will be awarded to local organizations. 

“It is both encouraging and inspiring to know that the citizens of Boston, corporate and individual, have responded in such a way as to allow for an impressive outreach effort to folks in neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by COVID,” said Connors. “The Boston Resiliency Fund’s insistence on using an equity lens is appropriate and a part of the healing process to which we all must contribute.” 

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