Last week Mayor Michelle Wu and the Age Strong Commission announced Maverick Landing Community Services (MLCS) was the recipient of a new grant program, “Creating Community and Reducing Social Isolation”.
Wu said the new grant program is designed to provide funding to nonprofit community organizations, like MLCS, to create new or expand current programs inviting older adults to engage more for better physical and mental health.
MLCS was one of 16 community organization to share in the $360,000 this funding round.
“Connecting our older residents with more opportunities to build community is crucial to our City’s recovery,” said Mayor Wu. “It’s clear that the ongoing pandemic has only exacerbated the challenges that our older adults face as they try to stay engaged and connected. These investments will help build community for older adults and support our local organizations as they work to expand and build opportunities for our older adults to engage.”
MLCS Director Rita Lara said Maverick Landing is a partner with the Community Healing Center Project, and will use its share of $27,000 in grant money from the city to reduce social isolation for seniors in Eastie.
“MLCS is a community partner alongside healing practitioners, group facilitators, and educators who will offer healing and wellness activities for underserved seniors in East Boston who are not currently engaged in social activities and who may be experiencing trauma from isolation,” said Lara. “The project will feature multigenerational community healing events with various healing modalities such as mindfulness activities including meditation, yoga and other therapies such as Reiki, group education, and mentoring and will also seek to connect seniors with activities in the wider community that promotes health and wellness.”
Lara said as part of the program activities will be taking place with seniors residing in the Maverick Landing mixed-income housing development, Barnes School elderly housing and Victory Gardens apartments but are also open to all Eastie seniors who may be experiencing harm from social isolation.
“This project has been developed and designed by a constellation of partnering individuals and organizations who have been working collectively during the pandemic to support community healing,” she said.
Other community partners in this project include the Cooperative Center for Development and Solidarity (CCDS), Mutual Aid Eastie (MAE), Neighbors United for a Better East Boston (NUBE), Veronica Robles Cultural Center (VROCC), Eastie Farm, Zumix, and the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC).
Commissioner of Boston’s Age Strong Commission Emily Shea said strong social connections and networks can boost a person’s lifespan by 50 percent, according to an article in Scientific American magazine. Socially-connected communities are more likely to thrive because a virtuous cycle is created when social connections are strengthened: civic engagement and a sense of belonging increases, which further deepens social networks.
“We’re thrilled to have received so many applications,” said Shea. “Through the pandemic, we had to stop our in-person programs that once got folks out of the house and engaged with each other. Sure, we pivoted to offering programs online, which is something, but nothing like the benefits of in-person human connection–which is valuable to all people, not just older adults.”