2013 Excellence in Collaboration Award Winner: Sharing the Harvest Community Farm
Sharing the Harvest Community Farm is a non-profit, volunteer-driven farm that aims to help fight hunger in our community. It was established in 2006 to reduce hunger, create volunteer stewardship and increase agricultural education. Both New Bedford and Fall River are listed among cities with the highest concentrations of hunger in Massachusetts. United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Hunger Commission coordinates food distribution to emergency food pantries and kitchens, throughout Bristol County to ensure an efficient and cost effective supply of food for residents in need. All of the food harvested at the farm is picked up by the Hunger Commission and distributed to area soup kitchens and food pantries feeding those in need. Sharing the Harvest was created in 2006 for the express purpose of producing fresh, local, and healthy fruits and vegetables for distribution by the United Way Hunger Commission. While the Hunger Commission has provided food for local food pantries and soup kitchens since 1987, there was no consistent supplier of nutritious, fresh vegetables. Sharing the Harvest Community Farm filled that niche. In its first seven seasons Sharing the Harvest grew, donated and delivered more than 143,000 pounds of food and hosted more than 10,000 volunteers.
CONNECT is a systems changing anti-poverty program that has drawn regional and national attention for its six-agency collaborative structure. At CONNECT, low-income individuals find workforce development resources (job readiness, placement, and retention services; education and skills training) paired with affordable housing assistance, income supports, financial education, asset development and financial services. Clients utilize one-on-one coaching and peer support programming to identify short and long-term financial goals, to tap into the many services made available through the six partners and to benefit from personalized support for goal persistence. In June 2012, CONNECT was awarded a highly competitive three-year $3 million US Department of Labor Workforce Innovation Grant award, just one of 26 grantees nationwide. Throughout 2012, CONNECT scaled up its services and reached 2,400 individuals; an expanded facility will soon open that will allow the partners to serve 4,000 annually and to offer a broader array of employment-skill building educational programs. Together the six CONNECT partners are integrating and co-locating their complementary services to achieve greater economic impact for low-income families and greater efficiencies for human service and workforce development systems.
Spectrum Health Systems, Inc.
Spectrum Health Systems is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals impacted by addiction and/or mental illness. Since 1969, Spectrum has evolved from a single-site treatment program to a multistate organization providing a range of services to high-risk populations. Today, Spectrum serves over 44,000 individuals each year through more than 125 institutional and community-based programs, from Maine to Washington State. Founded in 1972, the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center (EMKCHC) has grown from a small practice housed in Worcester public housing to a multisite, full-service provider of primary care, medical specialties, dental, mental health and social services throughout the Central and MetroWest areas of Massachusetts. EMKCHC serves over 22,000 patients of all ages at their medical and dental offices in Worcester and Framingham, and their dental office in Clinton. To address the issue of low access to health care providers, Spectrum collaborated with Kennedy CHC to construct on the second floor of Spectrum’s Outpatient Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) at 585 Lincoln Street location in Worcester, a primary care medical office, which was completed in December 2011, creating two patient exam rooms, an office, waiting area and laundry/utility room.
The Community Gems
Founded in 2004, the Community Gems is a collaborative partnership among five nonprofit organizations who work together to advocate on behalf of Boston’s neediest children and families. The Community Gems is comprised of The Boston Higher Education Resource Center, Children’s Services of Roxbury, La Alianza Hispana, Roxbury Youthworks, Inc., and YouthBuild Boston. The Gems partnership is characterized by its commitment to improving the lives of those in need through collaboration. These partnerships provide an array of essential services for families and youth in crisis, including: specialized behavioral health services, high-quality peer leadership and mentoring, alternative education programs, and community-based support. The Gems also refer clients to each other’s programs and collaborate in other ways. Roxbury YouthWorks has trained the Children’s Service of Roxbury foster parents on the prevention of commercial sexual exploitation of children. YouthBuild Boston built a playground for CSR’s preschool, painted their homeless shelter and also put a new roof on La Alianza Hispana’s main office. Collectively, the Community Gems programs serve nearly 20,000 residents of Boston at every stage of life.