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Aug 31, 2023

Massachusetts makes history with free school meals for all

Massachusetts became the eighth state in the nation to permanently adopt free school meals for all students. This policy change was included in the state budget Governor Maura Healy signed earlier this month.

Research shows when a child is well fed, they perform better in school, are at lower risk for obesity, and adjust to social situations better. Now, with universal meal access available across the state, there will be less stigma around economic status and family situation. This bold move has been a long time coming and ensures a more equitable educational environment within local schools.

This historic legislation was advanced by the Feed Kids Coalition. Project Bread, a Foundation grantee, together with school districts, social justice organizations and other community groups saw food insecurity among young people and their families rise front and center during the pandemic. Just two years after the Coalition began its work towards School Meals for All legislation, their vision is made real and has sparked a national movement. 

Read more in The Boston Globe.

Two local organizations honored with Aging Innovations and Achievement awards

AgeSpan and Coastline Elderly Services, organizations that have received funding from the Foundation, were recognized with Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards at the USAging Annual Conference.

AgeSpan was noted for providing culturally competent medically tailored meals in Merrimack Valley. This pilot partnership with Merrimack Valley Accountable Care Organization and City Fresh Foods of Boston resulted in participants continuing their engagement for an average of four months longer than with non-tailored options and a reported increased satisfaction. 

Coastline Elderly Services was recognized for their weekly technology training program in New Bedford, Mass. where students are taught how to access the internet and communicate safely with others. Because of the demand, training sessions for new beginners and intermediate cohorts are being added to the program.

CONNECT TV series addressing loneliness in Mass.

The Massachusetts Taskforce to End Loneliness and Build Community has launched a monthly TV series called CONNECT: Addressing Loneliness in Massachusetts.

The series explores themes related to connected, healthy aging. Produced by Winchester Community Access & Media Inc., the program airs on local media and YouTube monthly.

The first episode, which aired in May, was hosted by Sandra Harris, president of AARP Massachusetts. She discussed current trends with healthy aging expert Caitlin Coyle, Ph.D., director of the Center for Social & Demographic Research on Aging at the University of Massachusetts.

Start watching and learn more about the coalition's work below.

Jewish Family & Children's Service to expand dementia friends work with LGBTQ+ community

Dementia Friends Massachusetts is part of a global public awareness program that helps everyone in a community understand how dementia affects people and how each person can make a difference through respect, patience, and communication skills.

Jewish Family & Children’s Service offers hour-long Dementia Friends sessions facilitated by trained volunteers connected to the community they serve. An expansion, supported by Point32Health Foundation, will engage the LGBTQIA+ Aging Project and other organizations to support culturally relevant and meaningful training.

For information about training sessions, contact Beth at [email protected].

Learn More

Marion to become a Dementia-Friendly community

Dementia Friendly Massachusetts supports communities that promote inclusivity and humanity by acknowledging the human dignity of individuals with dementia, and providing supportive programming, welcoming environments and opportunities to learn about dementia.

Marion, Mass. already hosts a Waterfront Memory Café for adults diagnosed with early to moderate Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. This weekly gathering is a safe, supportive environment where people can interact, find support, establish friendships and share concerns.

Now, municipal leaders and the Council on Aging are working together to identify additional community needs, share resources and develop a plan to earn the official "dementia friendly" designation to address the need in Marion.

Marion joins more than 150 Commonwealth cities and towns engaged in dementia-friendly activities; 113 have signed the dementia-friendly pledge.

Somali Bantu Community Association model yields results

The Somali Bantu Community Association's Liberation Farms has an inspiring mission - to provide "food justice, community building, and education in the form of inter-cultural and inter-generational exchange and reciprocal learning of farming traditions."

At the farm, new Americans struggling with food insecurity work collectively to grow healthy, culturally appropriate foods for themselves and for food pantries, shelters and schools in Lewiston, Maine.

Funding from the Foundation supports their work.

Their story was featured in the Boston Globe.

One-stop digital literacy with Way Finders in Springfield

Respect for each other plus a desire to learn and understand technology are at the heart of Way Finders' digital literacy class for older adults launched in May 2023.

This effort, in partnership with Tech Goes Home, builds on the organization's Flexing Civic Muscle program, which has received Foundation funding since 2019.

Volunteers noted that participants "were all very emotional about the opportunity to have one-stop access to training, a device and Wi-Fi." 

Read more about the program and its impact here.

WalkMassachusetts welcomes new Co-Executive Directors

WalkMassachusetts, a statewide pedestrian advocacy organization, announced Althea Wong-Achorn and Brendan Kearney as the organization’s new co-executive directors. 

While they are new to these roles, Althea and Brendan collectively have spent over a decade at WalkMassachusetts (formerly known as WalkBoston) in different positions.

Brendan began as the organization’s communications and development coordinator in 2013 and became the deputy director in 2019. In 2020, Althea joined as WalkMassachusetts’ development director and became deputy director of operations in 2022. Communities across Mass. will benefit from their dedicated support and leadership.

Health equity survey open to organizations in Eastern Mass.

Atrius Health Equity Foundation, a newly formed foundation, is committed to fund lasting, community-led change to create health and opportunity for all. To support this mission, they are asking for community feedback to help design and drive their programming.

If you represent a community organization in Eastern Mass. consider filling out the foundation's online survey to inform their program design.

Together, we can end Alzheimer's

Each year, the Point32Health Walk to End Alzheimer's team raises funds to support critical programs and services for families, advocacy for those living with Alzheimer’s, and research to find a cure. 

This year, the team plans to participate in 10 walks across the core states where Point32Health works, with individuals participating both in person and remotely.

We have an ambitious goal for 2023 -to engage 450 colleagues, friends and family members, and raise $105,000 through participation in the Walks and other efforts, including a mini-golf tournament in October with our colleagues.

Point32Health Foundation will match all contributions to the Point32Health team--doubling the impact!

Back to school drive delivers for students

Being prepared for school each fall is essential for academic success. Yet not all those heading to school have access to the same resources or supplies. Every August, Point32Health colleagues participate in an annual Back-to-School Drive.

Together, we donated nearly $15,000 in school supplies, including backpacks, pencils, pens, glue sticks, highlighters, notebooks, calculators and more.

These supplies are distributed through nonprofit organizations serving diverse communities in each of the states we serve: Boys and Girls Club of HartfordPenobscot Bay YMCACanton Alliance for Public Education (CAPE), Friendly HouseGirls Inc. of New Hampshire and Rhode Islanders Sponsoring Education (RISE).

Volunteering experiences strengthen team bonds

Colleagues at Point32Health are encouraged to volunteer. In fact, they have 24 hours of paid time off specifically available for community service.

Team volunteering has become a popular way for many to serve. Last month, the Senior Care Options Care Management team served at My Brother’s Keeper and the Product Data and Operations Management team volunteered with South Shore Stars. Their positive reflections below demonstrate the remarkable effects giving back can have in the workplace.

“Volunteering together gave us the chance to build teamwork and morale while being able to help support South Shore Stars," said Paul Murray, product configuration and QA specialist for Point32Health’s Product Data and Operations Management team. "It was such an enjoyable opportunity for our team.”

“The team was happy to give back and gained perspective on all the programs offered by My Brother’s Keeper," said Vickie Pereira, care management manager for Senior Care Options. "Trust and bonds were formed that day. It was a great experience overall."

Upcoming events

Connecticut Age Well Collaborative Practical Action for Aging, Dementia and Disability Inclusivity: Best Practice Guidelines

Date: September 13 | 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Location: Virtual

RI Food Policy Council, Policy for the People Series: Municipal Food Systems

Date: September 19 | 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

Location: Virtual

2023 AARP Livable Communities Workshop – Economic Development: Connecting to Opportunity

Date: Wednesday, September 27 | 1 - 5 p.m.

Location: Virtual

The CHANGE AGEnt Summit

Date: Wednesday, September 27 | 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Location: Augusta, Maine

Senior Agenda Coalition of R.I. 15th Annual Conference: The Politics of Aging

Date: Tuesday, October 10 | 7:45 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Location: Warwick, R.I.

Mass Council on Aging 2023 Annual Conference: Taking Charge of Change

Date: Wednesday, October 11 - Friday October 13

Location: Danvers, Mass.

RI Food Policy Council, Policy for the People Series: Legislative Priorities 2024

Date: October 17 | 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

Location: Virtual

RI Food Policy Council, Policy for the People Series: The Federal Farm Bill

Date: November 8 | 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

Location: Virtual

RI Food Policy Council, Policy for the People Series: Food Advocacy 101

Date: December 12 | 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

Location: Virtual

Point32Health Foundation in the news

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