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Grant targets hunger, addiction, housing

  • Orange Town Hall STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Selectboard Chairman Ryan Mailloux STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/4/2019 7:33:37 PM

ORANGE — Conflict mediation, home-delivered meals, high school equivalency exam prep, access to local food and help for recovering addicts are the five areas the town is targeting for a social services grant this year. 

The Selectboard voted to submit the town’s proposal for this year’s Community Development Block Grant program, and the town is asking for $546,057 for local social services, as well as continuing a housing redevelopment program and an emergency generator for the town’s third well for drinking water. 

Of the $546,057 it is asking for, $147,000 is for administration by the Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority, which works with the town in facilitating its grant-awarded programs; $139,057 will pay for the generator and related construction; $160,000 is for housing rehabilitation and $100,000 is for social services.

If awarded the grant, the five social services programs will receive up to $20,000 each. The organizations selected by Franklin County HRA for the social services portion of the proposal are Quabbin Mediation, LifePath, the Literacy Project, Seeds of Solidarity and CHD. A representative from each organization gave a presentation to the Selectboard Wednesday detailing what would be done with the money awarded. 

Quabbin Mediation

Quabbin Mediation is a local organization that specializes in conflict resolution and mediating conflicts involving at least 75 people. The organization has facilitated programs at the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School teaching students problem-solving and communication skills, as well as “active bystander” training — stepping forward when witness to bullying. 

According to Executive Director Sharon A. Tracy, a grant would allow the organization to provide community mediation services in Orange for free. 

“I went through the program when I was in high school, and it was a wonderful program,” Selectboard Chairman Ryan Mailloux said. “There’s still tactics, if you will, that I utilize today that I think have made me successful in this capacity.”

LifePath

LifePath has provided nutritional, hot, home-delivered meals to locals — primarily seniors, but also handicapped people and their caregivers for 44 years, according to Director of Community Services Lynne Feldman. 

With grant money, the nonprofit would be able to serve an estimated 130 people through the home-delivered meals program. Deliveries, Feldman said, are not only a hot lunch, but also serve as a wellness check for elderly people living alone. 

“When we’re able to access those funds were not forced to put people on waiting lists,” Feldman said.

According to Feldman, 70 percent of the LifePath clients surveyed say the delivered lunch is their main meal of the day, and 28 percent reported there would be a shortage in food in the house without the delivery program. 

The Literacy Project

The Literacy Project trains people for the High School Equivalency Test, known as HiSET, before they take the test at Greenfield Community College or Mount Wachusett Community College.

Executive Director Judith Roberts said the nonprofit plans to serve 36 residents of Orange, if the grant is awarded. 

“We like to think of ourselves as the on-ramp for the road out of poverty,” Roberts said. 

Orange resident Adam Day, 36, said the Literacy Project has helped him tremendously. He said his goal after obtaining high school equivalency is to “not stop there,” and to continue to find ways to improve his education and life. 

“I only passed the ninth grade, and my biggest regret was leaving high school,” Day said. 

The Literacy Project also provides scholarships to pay for taking the test — the $100 HiSET fee can be a barrier, Roberts said — and offers classes in computer skills as well as helping program participants with their résumés and job hunting. 

Seeds of Solidarity

Local farming and education nonprofit Seeds of Solidarity plans to partner with Quabbin Harvest if awarded grant money, and provide workshops on topics like farming, gardening and financial literacy. 

Pat Larson, filling in for Executive Director Deb Habib, said the money would also allow at least 20 families to receive farm shares, giving them access to local and healthy food for free.

CHD

CHD provides therapy to recovering addicts, as well as to their family members, at its Orange outpatient clinic. According to Clinic Manager Kathryn Mulcahy, a CDBG would allow staff training in a “strengthening families” curriculum, as well as facilitate a 14-week program on sober parenting. The program would also include a separate group for children who have parents in recovery. 

“The beauty of this program is the knowledge can’t be taken once the grant runs out,” Mulcahy said.

Funding

The source of CDBG funds is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which apportions money to states based on population and demographics. In Massachusetts, those funds are allocated to communities by the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development. The grants are typically awarded in July or August. 

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268. 




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