Florence House is Moving!
Florence House, one of Ascentria's teen parenting programs, is moving to a new, larger location in Worcester. The Florence House is a teen parenting program where teen mothers and their children are provided transitional living in a safe, supportive and therapeutic residential environment. Florence House currently houses nine mothers at a time; the new location will accommodate one additional client, allowing us to serve approximately 28-30 families each year. The residential neighborhood, increased play space, more cohesive layout, and increased access to community resources make the new site much more beneficial to the mothers and their babies who live at Florence House.
Ascentria is collaborating with a local partner, Worcester Community Housing Resources (WCHR), on this initiative. WCHR will own and manage the new property and Ascentria will lease it from them for the Florence House program. WCHR is a private, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to create and preserve affordable housing opportunities for low to moderate income households and to initiate and support neighborhood revitalization throughout Worcester County.
Ascentria's move-in costs include infrastructure (computers and phone system), furnishings and moving expenses, totaling nearly $120,000. We are grateful to The George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation and The Stoddard Charitable Trust for awarding us $45,000 towards this goal! If you would like to support our goal, please designate your gift to "Florence House move" through our online donation form or by check. The mothers and their children are looking forward to moving into this new space!
"Ready to Go" Program Expands into Worcester
Good News Garage, a member of Ascentria Care Alliance, that provides affordable and reliable transportation options for people in need, recently launched a pilot of its Ready To Go program in Worcester, Massachusetts. Ready To Go uses donated vans to transport individuals and families to essential life activities, including work, daycare and education at no cost to the rider.
“We’re excited to begin helping more people better their lives through reliable transportation by bringing this program to Massachusetts,” says Stacey Todd, Ready To Go program manager.
Ready To Go began in Vermont in 2000 and now schedules more than 30,000 rides in the state each year. The program continues to expand in Vermont, especially in areas like the remote Northeast Kingdom and other areas without a network of public transportation. The Worcester pilot is the program’s first expansion outside of Vermont. Clients in Ascentria’s Services for New Americans program have become some of the Ready To Go pilot’s first riders!
Ready To Go in Worcester provides rides to current recipients of Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and former recipients who are receiving the Transitional Support Service Stipends through the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA). Rides around the greater Worcester area are available on weekdays between 6 am and 6 pm using a fleet of five vans. The Massachusetts DTA Employment Service Program is funding the pilot program.
With the launch of this pilot, the need for donated vans is greater than ever. After faithfully serving a family or two, a donated van can be given a new life serving an entire community of families. Ready To Go helps these families start a new, more self-sufficient and stable life that’s no longer limited by a lack of transportation.
For more information about Good News Garage, or to donate a van, car, or truck, visit goodnewsgarage.org or call 877.GIVE.AUTO.
Ascentria Celebrates our Volunteers!
On April 25, more than 100 people gathered in Worcester, MA to celebrate and appreciate our Massachusetts volunteers and community partners. We cannot do the work that we do without them and we were thrilled to have this opportunity to say thank you! Special thanks to our generous sponsor, Thrivent Financial, for making this event possible. Attending the event were individuals that volunteer as mentors, tutors, community circle members, interns, researchers, graphic designers, board and committee members, teachers, childcare providers, legal assistants, and more. Their volunteer service impacts the lives of refugees, including unaccompanied refugee minors, individuals with developmental disabilities, children in foster care, immigrants, seniors, and teen mothers and their babies. We were inspired by the stories and testimonials given by several volunteers and community partners. Their words touched our hearts and reminded us all of the power of human connection. Special thanks to Brie Tangney, Jeffrey Warden, Molly Caulfield, Janice Johnson-Plumer, Eida Norford, Frank Kartheizer and Saint Cyr Dimanche for expressing, so eloquently, why they invest their time with Ascentria.
Fourth Annual 50 Days of Easter Campaign
Rising together with our partners in ministry, we answer the “call” to serve for the sake of others! During April, May and June, many of our faith partners welcomed Ascentria ambassadors for a special day of prayer and celebration of our partnership in ministry. Congregations appreciate having this opportunity to learn about the services that Ascentria provides and engage in conversation that further deepens their understanding and commitment to the people that we are honored to serve. Special thanks to Ascentria’s ambassadors: Glenn Appel, Mike Balinskas, Lisa Brennan, Christine Coelho, Eryn Cotter, Ailish Donovan, Jeffrey Kinney, Bill Mayo, Stephanie McCarthy, Beth Singley, Winnie Spillers, Janet Waters, Melissa White and Johanna Young.
With an abundance of gratitude we thank the following churches for welcoming Ascentria ambassadors during our 50 Days of Easter Campaign: Bethany Lutheran Church, Cromwell, CT; Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Natick, MA; Christ the King Lutheran Church, Holliston, MA; Emanuel Lutheran Church, Hartford, CT; Faith Lutheran Church, Quincy, MA; First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Brockton, MA; First Lutheran Church, Malden, MA; First Lutheran Church, Waltham, MA; Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Westborough, MA; House of Prayer, Hingham, MA; St. John’s Episcopal Church, Walpole, NH; St. Paul Lutheran Church, Arlington, MA; St. Paul Lutheran Church, Gloucester, MA; Trinity Lutheran Church, Worcester, MA; and Zion Lutheran Church, Oxford, MA.
New England Synod Assembly
Ascentria enjoyed participating in the 2018 New England Synod Assembly in Springfield, MA. Attending the assembly gave us an opportunity to share details about the work of Ascentria with the more than 400 attendees representing Evangelical Lutheran Churches throughout New England. We were honored to be invited by Bishop Hazelwood to have one of our clients speak during the assembly. Nazar Khalid shared details about his journey as a refugee and expressed gratitude to Ascentria and the United States for providing support to him and his family after they fled Iraq in 2006. With the help of Ascentria’s Microenterprise Development Program, Nazar and his wife opened Ahalna Foods, a popular restaurant in West Springfield, MA. We thank Nazar for sharing his story and for introducing us all to Znoud El Sit, a delicious Middle Eastern dessert that he and his wife make at their restaurant!
Heartfelt thanks to the following congregations that brought us donations of personal care items and sheets. We look forward to sharing your generous gifts with the individuals and families that we serve throughout New England! Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Sturbridge, MA; Christ Lutheran Church, Natick, MA; Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Willimantic, CT; Emanuel Lutheran Church, Hartford, CT; Emanuel Lutheran Church, New Haven, CT; Emanuel Lutheran Church, Worcester, MA; First Lutheran Church, Portland, ME; Grace Lutheran Church, Needham, MA; Grace Lutheran Church, West Springfield, MA; Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, North Easton, MA; Lutheran Church of Framingham, Framingham, MA; Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Kingston, RI; Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Simsbury, CT; St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Bristol, CT; St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Bristol, CT; St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Ellsworth, ME; St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Framingham, MA; St. John Lutheran Church, Danielson, CT; St. John’s Lutheran Church, New Britain, CT; St. Mark Lutheran Church, Norwich, CT; St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Avon, CT; St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, East Longmeadow, MA; St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Holyoke, MA; Trinity Lutheran Church, Shelton, CT; Trinity Lutheran Church, Westbrook, ME; and Trinity Lutheran Church, Worcester, MA.
Shout out to volunteers Paul Fydenkevez, Julie Denio, Ana Hakhinyan and Laurie Travia from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts for taking the time out of their busy schedules to help sort and organize the donations for us! We truly appreciate your hard work!