Community Foundation Annual Meeting Highlights Community Needs and Impact of Philanthropy
TEWKSBURY, MA – Nearly 175 residents, business leaders, and nonprofit professionals attended the Greater Lowell Community Foundation’s 2017 annual meeting ‘Embracing our Neighbors’ on June 6, 2017 at the Tewksbury Country Club.
Greater Lowell Community Foundation Executive Director Jay Linnehan spoke about the impact of charitable giving on the Greater Lowell Community, citing the nearly $1.15 million awarded by the Community Foundation to students and nonprofits in the last year. Linnehan talked about a commitment to strategic growth in Greater Lowell communities that would build the endowment and allow for increased support of community needs. “As a Community Foundation, I believe we have a special responsibility and a fiduciary duty to both our community and to all that invest and trust in us. We need to do more and leverage our collective resources throughout the region to better support our community,” Linnehan remarked.
Linnehan highlighted the backing of the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation, which offered the Greater Lowell Community Foundation a matching grant to help spearhead this growth. “Now through June 30th, every dollar donated to the Greater Lowell Community Foundation up to $75,000 will be matched by the Parker Foundation. This is a great opportunity that will allow your gift to have double the impact,” Linnehan said.
Karen Frederick, Chief Executive oOficer at Community Teamwork, presented the results of the community development organization’s recent community needs assessment. The assessment was collected through surveys with hundreds of residents, community focus groups, and collaboration with key organizations.
The top five priorities identified by community members included housing and homelessness, substance abuse, jobs, mental health, and food and nutrition. Community Teamwork will work with local partners, funders, and governments to address these issues through advocacy and policy change.
Sheila Och, Chief of Community Health and Policy at Lowell Community Health Center, spoke about the lens through which we see the world, the diversity of our community, and the need for cultural competence in the workplace. Och illustrated how biases can contribute to poorer health outcomes and a lessened quality of life for stigmatized groups. She offered strategies for embracing our neighbors in a diverse community.
The event also showcased the recipients of the Community Foundation’s 2016 Opioid Abuse & Prevention grants. The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell, Casa Esperanza, Inc., The Center for Hope and Healing, Inc., Lowell House, Inc., Megan’s House, and Zack’s Team Foundation received a combined total of $76,500 to address opioid addiction. The Community Foundation reaffirmed its commitment to offering funding opportunities to address opioid addiction in the upcoming year.