July 2020
A Message from the Executive Director - A Higher Purpose
 
Of the many impressive features I've appreciated during my first year at JAS, the most striking is our staff's deep commitment not only to our program work and operational effectiveness but also to the pursuit of equity, and racial and economic justice. This commitment to this higher purpose has been contagious and has helped us remain effective and connected through these recent difficult months.
 
As you will learn more in this newsletter, we have made this commitment to equity explicit with our new vision and mission statements, which articulate both what we do (create access to stable housing and build pathways to economic opportunity) and why we do it (to help build a more equitable community). These statements are aspirational, as they should be. While most of our efforts are devoted to the hard work of helping people secure stable housing and pursue economic opportunities, we also aspire to play a role in correcting the injustices that have deprived so many community members of these essential elements of a fulfilling life.
 
As members of our leadership team expressed it, we want to take our work from transactional to transformational. Our mission statement commits us to continuing to transact to get things done within our broken system while we also aim to transform that system toward the equitable community we envision. And we pursue that with the power that comes from the alignment of our mission and vision with our staff and board's deepest aspirations - and with all these components aligned with this historical moment.
Just-A-Start's new vision and mission

At the beginning of this year, Just-A-Start's staff and board kicked off a process to revise our vision and mission.
 
You know us for our track record of creating secure homes and connecting residents with sustaining careers, and this work absolutely continues. But with 50-plus years of history behind us, it was time to revisit and update our vision and mission statements to better align with our work and aspirations. After several months of reflection, we're proud to share the results with you:
To learn more, please visit our reflection about the process here
Will you take 30 seconds to make Rindge Commons a reality?

Rindge Commons is reaching a critical milestone, and your support will make all the difference. Starting next week, Just-A-Start will present plans for Rindge Commons to the City of Cambridge's Planning and Zoning Boards. These meetings will determine whether the project receives its permit to move forward, and your voice is powerful.
 
When you add your name to the Rindge Commons petition:
  • You help more families live affordably and stay in Cambridge.
  • You open doors to accessible education and quality jobs for local residents.
  • And you stand up for a community that believes in economic opportunity for all.

Together we can make this community a reality. 116 people have already signed onto the project -- will you join them?  Please sign and share the petition today!
"On the right life track": IT students celebrate first virtual graduation

Just-A-Start's third Information Technology Careers Program cohort celebrated their graduation in June. Without missing a beat, students and their instructors transitioned to remote training in March, completing their studies with at-home hardware kits and plenty of practice troubleshooting online. 18 graduates celebrated together at home alongside their families, while valedictorian Belaihun Woldetensay reflected on their experience. 

"We have spent the past nine months working hard, eager to learn new concepts. Now we are standing on the right life track. We are prepared to move on and to take on whatever challenges come next in our lives," he said. "Life brings us here from different corners of the world. We have different cultures and different languages, but we are able to share our experiences, feelings, and values too. I hope we will continue to provide support and encouragement for each other in future times."
 
Several graduates recently began positions in Hardware Operations, with other graduates currently interviewing for a variety of roles. Do you know a company that could benefit from hiring JAS's talented graduates? Contact Korynn Stoyanoff, Manager of Workforce Development, at KorynnStoyanoff@justastart.org!

Nourishing neighbors together

A new partnership between JAS, Life Science Cares, About Fresh, and the Cambridge Volunteer Clearinghouse has helped to stock JAS's residents with fresh produce during the pandemic. JAS's funder and partner Life Science Cares secured a several-ton donation of fruits and vegetables, delivered weekly by About Fresh. The Cambridge Volunteer Clearinghouse then partnered with JAS to recruit volunteers to distribute produce boxes to JAS's residents across Cambridge-- 880 25-pound boxes, to be exact!
 
"Thanks a lot for the fruits and vegetables. They came at the right moment. Buying groceries is so difficult for me these days," a resident shared during delivery. Thank you to our partners and volunteers Candace A., Greg G., Simona B., and Alissa L. for helping to strengthen and nourish our community. For more information about volunteering, please visit CVC's volunteer list here.
Feedback, please: housing opportunities in The Port/Area 4


Just-A-Start is planning to transform the surface parking lot at the corner of Broadway and Windsor into an affordable condominium building. What would you like to see incorporated into the project? Please share your feedback with us and learn more about future community meetings at the project's coUrbanize site.