Our 2018 #GivingTuesday Campaign Was a Success!
Our 2018 #Giving Tuesday Campaign was a resounding success! With generous individual donations, a $60,000 Board matching gift, and five corporate sponsorships, we raised $142,716 for #GivingTuesday. Your generous contributions were designated to support the following programs or funds: Ascentria area of greatest need, Adoption, Fashioning the Future Fund, Forsberg Independent Living, Foster Care, Good News Garage, Immigration Legal Assistance, In-Home Care, Luther Ridge, Maine Mental Health and Disability Services, Ruth House, Services for New Americans and Unaccompanied Refugee Minors.
We were also thrilled to welcome the following corporations as sponsors for the Campaign: Hays Insurance Brokerage of New England, Sheehan Health Group, CliftonLarsonAllen, Unidine Corporation, and Philadelphia Insurance Companies. Special thanks for your contributions, and for your partnerships throughout the year!
Thank you to all who generously contributed to our campaign – we couldn’t have done this without you!
First Annual President's Reception in Honor of Ascentria Giving Society Members
On Wednesday, October 24, Ascentria supporters and staff gathered at the Worcester Client Center for the first annual President’s Reception honoring members of the Ascentria Giving Society. The Ascentria Giving Society is an annual leadership-giving program that supports innovative direct service and social enterprise initiatives that are making Ascentria a leader in the human services field. Giving Society members contribute $1,000 or more in unrestricted funds in a given year to ensure the individuals and families we serve have the resources and tools they need to move forward in their lives.
The reception included an art show, meaningful networking opportunities, a powerful speech by President and CEO Angela Bovill, and a moving testimonial by former refugee and famed Iraqi singer, Nazar Khaled, that he followed with both tender and joyful songs sung in Arabic.
For more information about the Ascentria Giving Society, visit ascentria.org/ags.
Good News Garage Awards 5,000th Vehicle to a Neighbor in Need
While most of Vermont received its first snowfall of the season, a Vermont family received a gift that would make the looming winter weather much more tolerable. On Tuesday, November 13, Good News Garage, a member of Ascentria Care Alliance that provides affordable and reliable transportation to families in need, awarded its 5,000th vehicle during a ceremony at its Burlington, Vermont location.
“This is a remarkable milestone,” said Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in a written statement. “I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the entire Good News Garage team for placing your 5,000th car.”
With the room packed full of community supporters and partners, Good News Garage founder Hal Colston began the ceremony by expressing his satisfaction with how many people the organization has helped since its founding in 1996. Vermont Lt. Governor David Zuckerman and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger also attended the celebration. "Without transportation, economic opportunity is greatly reduced for the vast majority of our population,” Zuckerman said. “We do not have, outside of some parts of Chittenden County, the public transportation that we need to help people get to and fro, whether it's work or food or services, so a vehicle really is a lifeline."
Vermont Governor Phil Scott issued a proclamation declaring November 11-17, 2018 as Transportation Access Awareness Week in Vermont. The proclamation cites the role that access to reliable transportation plays in the struggle to move out of poverty and towards self-sufficiency.
Angela Bovill, president and CEO of Ascentria, concluded the ceremony with remarks about the role of transportation in overcoming poverty. "If you look at some of the primary causes of poverty, transportation is number two, right behind mental health and substance abuse," Bovill noted. "It is a big deal, and our ability to assist families is only limited by the number of vehicle donations we receive.”
The event ended with the presentation of the 5,000th car’s keys to the Thorburn family of Rutland, Vermont. The family was awarded the car through Good News Garage’s JumpStart program after meeting program eligibility criteria, including employment, income level, and sponsorship from a reputable individual or organization. "This car will make life so much easier,” said Job Thorburn. “Even with just laundry and going shopping, just the little things you take for granted when you have a car. It'll make life a lot better.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit GoodNewsGarage.org or call 877.448.3288.
The Giving Tree
With Christmas approaching, we want to thank our faith partners for their compassionate support of our Christmas gifts program. With joy and thoughtfulness, hundreds of church members chose special gifts for our clients. These gifts will bring the recipients great joy and the kind gesture will assure them that people in their local communities care about them. On behalf of everyone at Ascentria, we sincerely thank members from the following congregations for sharing the joy of Christmas with many of the individuals and families across our agency:
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Westborough, MA; St. Paul Lutheran Church, Arlington, MA; St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Worcester, MA; Anna Maria College, Paxton, MA; Advent Lutheran Church, Middleboro, MA; Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Norwood, MA; Faith Lutheran Church, Andover, MA; House of Prayer, Hingham, MA; Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, N. Quincy, MA; Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, North Easton, MA; Peace Lutheran Church, Wayland, MA; Immanuel Lutheran Church, Holden, MA; Christ Lutheran Church, West Boylston, MA; Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Worcester, MA; Concordia Lutheran Church, Concord, NH; Bedford Presbyterian Church, Bedford, NH; Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church, Salem, NH; First Lutheran Church, Brockton, MA; Saint Pius X Catholic Church, Middletown, CT; and Life Song Church, Sutton, MA.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Shares the Gift of Nourishing Food
For the fifth year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) chose Ascentria as a community partner for their annual company-wide Service Day, held on September 21. During this event, 100 BCBSMA volunteers enthusiastically helped to prepare 200 gift baskets filled with fresh fruit and healthy snacks, and 200 gift baskets filled with all of the ingredients needed to make a large pot of hearty vegetable soup. With generous funding from BCBSMA for this Service Day project, Ascentria, in turn, purchased the fresh vegetables from Waltham Fields Community Farm, which helped to support another local non-profit’s work.
Among the grateful recipients of these baskets were our foster children and their families; refugees and immigrants; unaccompanied refugee minors; teen mothers and their children; adults with disabilities and seniors in our residential programs. Sharing the gift of nourishing food with hundreds of Ascentria’s clients was a successful collaborative effort thanks to BCBSMA’s commitment to supporting community partnerships!
Volunteer Mentors and Tutors Are Making a Difference!
For the fourth year the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program has been fortunate to work with a Highland Street AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring (AOM). AOM’s
are AmeriCorps members who are placed at youth-serving organizations statewide to help develop and strengthen mentoring programs. Vonia Adams our current AOM has been with us since August and is currently working with an amazing group of 25 volunteer mentors and tutors that engage with youth aged 14 through 20. The goal of our mentoring program is to teach our youth independent living skills, such as healthy coping skills, healthy relationships, how to navigate college, etc. We also focus on exposing our youth to new experiences and opportunities around the city of Worcester, MA both within the mentoring program and with their respective mentors. Tutors work with our youth on any subject that they need help with, from math to social studies to college applications. When Vonia was asked what it is that she likes best in her role she said, “What I like most about being an AOM is working with the kids. These kids are smart, funny and very talented. We have gifted artists, singers, poets, writers and photographers and I love seeing what they can do.”
Citizenship Clinic Offers Free Services to Immigrants
Ascentria’s Immigration Legal Assistance Program hosted a free citizenship clinic on Saturday, October 13, 2018 at our Client Center in Worcester, MA. Becoming a U.S. citizen is one of the most important and valuable things an immigrant can do. In order to be eligible for naturalization, immigrants must be permanent lawful residents who are at least 18 years old, have had a green card for at least five years, and have lived in the state or district where they are applying for at least three months.
During the Citizenship Clinic, employees and volunteers were pleased to help 32 individuals complete their citizenship applications. They know that being a citizen will benefit those that they helped in many ways, including giving them the right to vote, obtain access to services, and exercise their rights.
The Ascentria Immigration Legal Assistance Program provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrants in Massachusetts, serving a wide range of new Americans and survivors of violent crime, such as:
- Asylum seekers
- Immigrants and refugees
- Unaccompanied minors
- Survivors of violent crime, domestic violence, rape, sexual violence, and human trafficking