Seventeen nonprofit organizations serving Lawrence, Andover and North Andover residents affected by the Sept. 13, 2018 gas disaster have been awarded more than $420,000 in grants from Essex County Community Foundation’s Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund.
The Fund was originally established by Governor Charlie Baker, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan and former North Andover Town Manager Andrew Maylor in the immediate wake of the tragedy to provide financial relief to the thousands of residents affected when over-pressurized gas lines set off fires and explosions throughout the three communities.
Of the $12.6 million raised by the 6,887 donors to the Fund, $12.2 million was granted to two lead nonprofits that provided resources to affected residents in three phases from October through December of 2018. This latest round of grants helps to create new and expanded opportunities to support individuals and families still recovering from the effects of the disaster.
“It’s important for people to know that the long-term effects of the gas crisis will linger for some time,” said Carol Lavoie Schuster, ECCF’s vice president for grants and services. “And these one-time grants support programs and services that are needed now and will be necessary over the next 12 months to address the continued needs of those affected by the gas explosions.”
Food support, disaster preparedness, financial literacy and counseling services are just some of the types of programs being supported by this round of funding from the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund.
“We are very proud to award these grants to some really great organizations and programs still working to help our friends and neighbors in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover recover,” said Lavoie Schuster.
The following is a full list of grant recipients:
- ACT Lawrence: Emergency Financial Opportunity Program (Lawrence). ACT will expand their financial emergency program to equip residents with the skills required to manage their short-term financial needs and plan for long-term financial stability.
- Andover Elder Services: Grab and Go Bags (Andover). Andover Elder Services will provide case management and disaster preparedness by preparing and distributing Grab & Go Disaster Preparedness bags.
- Bread & Roses (Lawrence). A community kitchen and emergency food pantry in Lawrence, Bread & Roses will expand program capacity by 30 percent in 2019-2020.
- Center for Women & Enterprise (Lawrence, Andover, North Andover). The CWE will hold three 6-week programs to help local business owners – men and women – assess their losses and formulate strategies to recover.
- Centro De Apoyo Familiar: Community Transformation Program (South Lawrence). A collaboration between community agencies and faith-based organizations to bring community resources such as financial education, consumer protection education, tenants’ rights information, immigration resources and other resources in partnership with the Attorney General’s Office.
- City of Lawrence Fire Department: Mass notification Program Code Red (Lawrence). This bi-lingual program will allow the City of Lawrence and all its departments the ability to keep people informed of all types of activities in the face of crisis through a multi-platform messaging delivery software.
- Delamano (Lawrence). This program will provide gas crisis victims who are also survivors and victims of domestic violence with access to emergency housing and transportation.
- Family Services of the Merrimack Valley: Psychological First Aid (Andover, Lawrence, North Andover). FSMV will train local professionals to create a cadre of individuals with the knowledge and skills to respond to the emotional toll of the gas disaster.
- GLCAC (Lawrence). GLCAC will provide training to staff in the LIHEAP, Lead Inspection Services, WIC and Early Learning Division programs in disaster preparedness, trauma-informed care and services and in the Health Homes curriculum.
- Groundwork Lawrence & The Center: Lessons Learned: Grab & Go Bags (Lawrence). Groundwork Lawrence and The Center will work together to create Grab & Go Bags, ensuring that Lawrence seniors and others have what they need if they have to leave their homes during an emergency.
- Groundwork Lawrence: We Are Lawrence (Lawrence). Groundwork Lawrence will ensure the sustainability of the We are Lawrence website and social media pages as a vibrant and robust resource for the community.
- Harvey Girls, Inc.: Debbie’s Treasure Chest (Lawrence). To provide clothing, books, toys and toiletries to Lawrence families impacted by the gas crisis.
- Lawrence Catholic Academy: Student Support Project (Lawrence). LCA will provide additional support for students whose families were gas crisis victims through counseling services, enrichment programs and professional development of faculty and staff.
- Lawrence CommunityWorks: Post-Crisis Housing Stabilization Project (Lawrence). LCW will provide matching funds for their Family Emergency Fund as they continue efforts to achieve long-term recovery and financial stability for families most affected by the gas crisis.
- Merrimack Valley YMCA (Lawrence). Through these resources, the MVYMCA will expand their current food program to residents impacted by the gas crisis at the Lawrence YMCA.
- Neighbors in Need: Food and Relief Recovery Project (Andover and Lawrence). Funds will support NIN food pantries in the gas-impacted neighborhoods of Lawrence and Andover to enhance access to abundant health food.
- Town of North Andover: Mental Health First Aid Access (North Andover). The Community Support Department of the Town of North Andover will train 16 individuals as Mental Health First Aid Training Instructors, who will in turn train community members as a means of identifying individuals experiencing a mental health concern or crisis.