FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2013
Boston, MA – As costs rise and wages decline, many low- and moderate-income families in Massachusetts face desperate times this winter. Today, MassNeeds – a statewide coalition of corporate, public and private foundations supporting more than 200 nonprofit organizations – announced that 51 funders have committed approximately $13 million to help provide hunger, heat, housing and health care support for Massachusetts residents – a more than fifty percent increase over last year’s efforts. Among the nonprofits MassNeeds supports are the Wellesley Food Pantry and Women of Means in Wellesley.
The increased commitment comes at a critical time for Massachusetts nonprofits, which are facing drastic cuts in federal aid and the looming possibility of a government shutdown in early 2014. The MassNeeds campaign has set records in each of its five years, with contributions of more than $30 million to Massachusetts nonprofits. It has also served to highlight urgent basic needs faced by children, families, the elderly and the hundreds of organizations stepping up to meet those needs.
Blake Jordan, Executive Director of the Highland Street Foundation, believes that economic uncertainty only adds to the pressure nonprofits, and those who rely on them, face this winter. “Although Massachusetts has fared better than most other states, many residents are still struggling in the aftermath of the economic downturn. We hope others will join us in supporting those organizations working on the frontlines to serve those in need,” said Jordan.
Founded in 2009 by The Boston Foundation, Eos Foundation and Highland Street Foundation, MassNeeds partners with Associated Grant Makers – the regional association of philanthropic organizations – to build awareness around the escalated need for housing, heating, health care and hunger assistance during the winter months and to support those nonprofits that are providing these services in the Commonwealth. MassNeeds encourages individuals interested in donating funds, goods, skills and time to visit www.massneeds.org, where visitors can view a list of trusted nonprofit organizations providing access to food, shelter, health care and home heating fuel throughout the state.
Catherine D’Amato, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), says solving the problem is simple, but not easy. “Climbing food costs and lower wages, coupled with a decrease in the amount of food provided to GBFB by the USDA, make the need for public, foundation and corporate support even greater this year,” said D’Amato.
Food insecurity is just one of many problems facing working adults, families, the elderly and veterans throughout Massachusetts. With the cost of home heating oil at $4.00 per gallon and natural gas prices expected to rise, many Bay State residents are concerned about keeping warm this winter. ”With a six percent decrease in federal fuel assistance, more residents will turn to MassNeeds’ partner organizations for help as temperatures drop,” says Kathy Tobin, Energy Programs Director at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD). “Without additional financial support, many of our clients will not have the resources to refill their oil tanks during the coldest time of the year.”
Although the Massachusetts housing market is on the upswing, 19,000 people are currently homeless in the Commonwealth, and Joe Finn, President and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, anticipates that the demand for housing will be greater than ever in the coming months. “Limited affordable housing coupled with strained budgets and increases in the cost of living are sure to impact the number of individuals and families seeking shelter in Massachusetts this winter,” said Finn.
While most Massachusetts residents have access to health insurance, hundreds of thousands of our citizens still rely on safety net hospitals and health care centers for treatment, especially during the winter months. “Each of the four basic needs – food, heat, housing and health care – is interrelated. Every winter we see more and more patients with preventable medical conditions as a result of inadequate food, heat and housing,” said Mark Marino, National Account Executive at Health Leads, a not-for-profit health care organization that enables hospitals and health centers to connect low income patients to the basic resources they need to be healthy.
To learn more about the MassNeeds campaign and the local, regional and state-wide agencies serving those in need visit www.massneeds.org.
Founded in 2009, MassNeeds is a coordinated effort, driven by corporate, private and public foundations, to address urgent hunger, housing, heating and health needs across Massachusetts during the winter. MassNeeds is dedicated to raising awareness about basic needs and highlighting organizations that help Massachusetts residents and catalyzing others to take action. For more information, please visit: www.massneeds.org
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