During this Covid-19 health crisis, Fenway CDC staff continue to work remotely to provide essential and emergency services for tenants and community residents. If you are aware of anyone who needs our help in the following areas, please email Iris Tan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 267-4637 x 25. Requests will be forwarded to our respective program staff to follow up.
1. ESSENTIAL SERVICES: Because of your support, we continue to help residents find housing, get social services, and receive financial counseling. Fenway CDC helps individuals and families stabilize their lives and take steps toward self-sufficiency.
2. EMPLOYMENT & EDUCATION: Fenway CDC’s new online Jobs Board http://www.fenwaycdc.org/jobs-board directs job seekers to job openings and links them to employers whom we know through our past Career Fairs. We are still providing career counseling, resume editing service, and job placement email, telephone, or video conference call.
As you probably know, in the past two months, the MA unemployment rate has skyrocketed. In the third week of April, 250,000 people filed for unemployment in the state. As the virus shut down all but the most essential businesses, the most vulnerable have been especially hard hit.
Through Fenway CDC’s Community Development Block Grant Program with the Boston Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, we continue to collaborate with education and employment partners to serve those individuals. We help them stabilize their lives and enter education programs, provide job skills training, and employment opportunities, so they can overcome barriers and secure jobs that pay a living wage. To do this work, we have established partnerships with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Cambridge College, Northeastern University, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and many others.
3. FOOD ACCESS
Even before the pandemic, Massachusetts was considered the most expensive state in terms of the cost of a meal. (Feeding America’s figures tally a meal cost at $3.63/per person.) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of groceries nationally grew 2.6 percent in April, the biggest increase from one month to the next since 1974. The number of families and individuals served in March by the state’s food pantries was up 46% in a year.
In Massachusetts, the rate of applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), has risen 360% since the pandemic began. That number only applies to residents who are qualified. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates 8% of Massachusetts residents are non-citizens and therefore are ineligible for a safety net programs like SNAP.
Since mid-March, Fenway CDC has been helping Lifeboat Boston food pantry distribute up to 150 bags of free and fresh healthy fruits and vegetables weekly to those community residents who can’t afford food. We provide safety guidance, gloves, masks, and sanitizers to keep volunteers safe while actively promoting this critical service. The food pantry distributes up to 250 bags of food weekly.
Starting June 17th, every other Wednesday, Fenway CDC will re-open our Fenway Fair Foods program at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, from 3pm – 5pm. In compliance with the MA state’s safety protocol, we will provide this essential service to keep vulnerable residents from going hungry. Residents can get a free bag of up to 10 pounds of fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread. Fenway CDC distributed 2,500 bags of produce last year. Please visit www.fenwaycdc.org for updates.
4. MENTAL HEALTH: We provide regular wellness checks to over 600 residents in our 9 buildings and provide referrals where needed.
5. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: We promoted the Census 2020 to ensure that Fenway residents are counted so the city can receive its fair share of federal funding for critical services.
6. BUSINESSES: We distribute information about available loan funds, Small Business Grants, and other useful resources to restaurants and businesses in the Fenway.
7. FENWAY CARES: Fenway CDC collaborated with 5 area non-profits and resident volunteers to establish Fenway Cares to provide mutual aid services to vulnerable residents.