United Way Honors Sen. Edwards as Legislative Champion Advancing thriving, Equitable Communities   

  Special to the Times-Free Press

United Way of Massachusetts Bay recently recognized State Senator Lydia Edwards as one of the organization’s seven inaugural Legislative Champions for her exceptional leadership and steadfast commitment to advancing  thriving, more equitable communities.      

United Way of Massachusetts Bay Board Chair Tom Samoluk
presents Sen. Lydia Edwards her award.

In recognition for her initiatives to further economic justice in the Commonwealth, United Way of Massachusetts Bay honored Senator Lydia Edwards as a Legislative Champion for her advocacy on behalf of housing instability and people experiencing homelessness and an unshakeable courage to challenge existing housing paradigms. 

 “I am deeply honored to be recognized by United Way of Massachusetts Bay and our community partners for our collective efforts in pursuing economic justice and amplifying community voices,” said Senator Edwards. “This award is a testament to the power of collaboration and the tireless work of so many dedicated individuals and organizations. Together, we are making significant strides toward a more equitable and just Commonwealth.” 

“United Way of Massachusetts Bay is proud to recognize Senator Edwards for her leadership building a Massachusetts where everyone has access to financial wellbeing and prosperity is shared across race and ethnicity,” said Tom Samoluk, U.S. General Counsel & Head of U.S. Government Relations at John Hancock. “Senator Edwards is a changemaker, a ‘good trouble’ maker and a policymaker who is blazing trails for communities across the Commonwealth.” 

Also honored were Senator Brendan Crighton, Senator Pavel Payano, Senator Jason Lewis, Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Representative Andy Vargas, and Representative Joan Meschino. 

United Way of Massachusetts Bay briefed lawmakers and other stakeholders on the organization’s new strategic direction embracing a new approach to philanthropy to unlock opportunities and amplify community voices, and the role policy can play in creating change statewide.     

“Just as legislators bring forward some of the best ideas for change from their constituents and their stories, we also believe that creative, innovative solutions are rooted in the lived experiences of people who have faced – and overcome – the systemic, entrenched barriers that held them back,” said Karley Ausiello, Chief of Community Impact.   

As part of its new approach to philanthropy and advancing equity, United Way of Massachusetts Bay has increased its investments in organizations amplifying community voices in policy and advocacy.  

“This increased investment in our public policy portfolio of $1.2 million shows we are deeply committed through our New Way Forward to working in partnership with the Legislature and community partners who are also invested in creating system change through policy and advocacy,” said Christi Staples, Vice President of Policy and Government Relations.  

United Way of Massachusetts Bay’s public policy partners include Action for Boston Community Development, Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs, Boston After School & Beyond, Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, Inc., Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust, Inc., Essex County Community Organization, Fortaleza, Inc., Harborlight Community Partners, Lawrence CommunityWorks, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership, Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, Inc., Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Inc, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, Inc., Strategies for Children,  The Midas Collaborative, Inc., UTEC Inc., Vietnamese American Initiative for Development, Youth Justice and Power Union (YJPU). 

United Way of Massachusetts Bay has played a critical role over the past six months in partnering with the Commonwealth to ensure families with children and pregnant women have access to emergency shelter. To date, UWMB has launched 11 SafetyNet Shelter sites that support an estimated 225 families daily through the $5M SafetyNet Shelter program. United Way also successfully advocated for $150M in ARPA funding for permanent supportive housing for individuals, families, youth and young adults, including $15M for the Massachusetts Alliance of Supportive Housing, which will create 388 new supportive housing opportunities and more.

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