The recently created Mutual Aid Network is a way for Watertown residents to help their neighbors, and for people in town to get assistance during the COVID-19 outbreak, including food, financial assistance and even face masks.
The combined effort by the Watertown Community Foundation and the Wayside Youth & Family Support Network kicked off last week, and has already garnered a team of volunteers. Jan Singer, executive director of the Watertown Community Foundation said that people can request assistance or volunteer to provide help through this Mutual Aid form.
The idea of Mutual Aid is to connect people, Singer said. Normally the groups would create a central drop-off and pick-up site, but that is not possible with places like the Watertown Library and Town Hall closed due to orders by the Governor.
Mutual Aid provides a way for getting those in need in touch with those with the items they want. Singer said she has already had people reach out offering to make masks and those who need them can put in a request.
“We are hoping people go there and put it in as a need,” Singer said. “We do know there are people who are making them and have extras, but there is always the matter of coordinating the work between people in need and those who can help.”
The need is growing with the new Emergency Order requiring people age 5 and over to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth in public, passed Thursday by the Watertown Board of Health. Singer also said she has seen offers from people on the Buy Nothing Watertown West and East Groups on Facebook offering to make face masks.
The Community Foundation has also created the Watertown Resilience Fund, to respond to emergency needs of residents during the Coronavirus outbreak. The Foundation made a donation to the local food pantries, and provides help to others. Many people have donated to the fund, Singer said, and that is just one way people have helped.
“I have to say Watertown is amazing. So many people have stepped up in so many ways,” Singer said. “We love Watertown because it is a very close knit community, everyone helping everyone else. We are happy we can be part of that. Unfortunately, we don’t have millions of dollars to help. We do have ways to connect people and we do have grants through social services to make sure people don’t go hungry and know the resources available to them.”
More information about Mutual Aid
The Watertown Community Foundation sent out the following announcement:
The Watertown Community Foundation’s (WCF) Community Resilience Fund, created to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 emergency and similar crises, has teamed with Wayside Youth & Family Support Network to fund a new part-time Community Coordinator.
Sophia Suarez-Friedman, a Master of Social Work candidate at Boston College, has been a clinical intern with Wayside’s Multi-Service Center for the past year. She will add the duties of coordinator as she completes her clinical work.
In a few short weeks, Sophia has created Watertown’s Mutual Aid Network, and connections between individuals in need with resources and volunteers who can help are already being made. Aid includes providing cleaning and safety supplies, personal care items, clothing, food and delivery, translation services, social support, care packages, transportation, housing, storage, childcare, activities for kids, dog walking, tutoring, and technology support.
Thus far 20 community members have signed up for aid and more than 40 residents have signed up to help. If you know a neighbor in need please let them know that there are people ready to help.
In addition to the Mutual Aid Network, through our grant partnership with Friends of Project Literacy, WCF has been able to take in a donation of 45 laptops to distribute to ELL adults. All language classes have gone online but many adults had no way of connecting. We’ve been able to clean the machines, purchase chargers, and distribute the laptops through Friends of Project Literacy. We were also able to purchase 50 N95 masks to donate to frontline health care workers in Watertown.
Through years of partnering with programs and organizations, we are able to deploy resources quickly and efficiently to those in need. We remain committed to serving the needs of our community in these unprecedented times, and we hope you will join us if you can.
Donations may be made:
Watertown Community Foundation-
Community Resilience Fund
P.O. Box 334
Watertown, MA 02471
For instructions on donating appreciated securities, or other questions you may have, please contact Jan Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Watertown Community Foundation, a public, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, works to build and sustain a vibrant, close-knit community in Watertown – now, and for future generations. To accomplish this, WCF raises funds from individuals, families, businesses, and foundations; awards grants to nonprofits and community projects; and builds networks of donors, grantees, program participants, and stakeholders.
WCF Board of Directors
David Siegel and Darshna Varia, Co-Presidents; Robert Airasian; Albrik Avanessian; Emily Barclay; Jennifer Davis; Eleanor Donato; William B. Ford; Ashley Morris; Mary Ann Mulligan; Antonia O’Hara; Anthony Paolillo; Maria Panaggio-Phillips; Christine Parker; Lora Sabin; Robert Shay; Curtis Teixeira; Elaina Themistos; Lauren Coughlin Unsworth; and Kathryn White.
About Wayside Youth & Family Support Network:
Founded in 1977, Wayside Youth & Family Support Network is a non-profit, nationally accredited human services agency headquartered in Framingham that is dedicated to building strength, hope and resiliency through its family-based outreach services, residential treatment programs, and community-based counseling services to more than 6,000 children, youth and families throughout Central, Eastern and Northeastern Massachusetts. The Multi-Service Center is a program of Wayside located in