Credit: Thomas Reale Photography

Launching An Annual Appeal

Though 2020 was filled with unexpected loss and crisis, one thing that has endured is the strength of the Greater Ashmont community. Despair was shed for hope and hurt was met with compassion. Greater Ashmont Main Street is honored to have played a significant part in these efforts. This global health emergency has halted our anchor events including our Annual Gala, the Dot Jazz Series, the Dorchester Bike & Brew street festival, and the Holiday Pop Up Market. But it sharpened our focus to see families fed; our small businesses connected with resources, pivot, and positioned to thrive; and our community work hard to maintain a safe, clean, healthy, and beautiful environment for all.

Read below to hear from some of the people and small businesses we've helped this year, learn what we have been working so hard on, and donate today to help us raise the $25,000 needed to close the budget gap created by our inability to hold our usual large scale public fundraising events.

"Operating not one but two businesses in this neighborhood, I truly understand the value of a strong Main Streets organization. Greater Ashmont Main Street has been a fantastic partner, particularly in these trying times."
Tara O'Riordan, General Manager, Ashmont Grill & Tavolo

"GAMS has been incredibly nimble and supportive of our pop-up food distribution operation. Their serving as a fiscal agent allowed for donors to easily make donations and their office space was ideal - anyone who could get out could access it. We averaged 150 bags a week, and had volunteers delivering to folks who were truly homebound and had no other options. GAMS support has meant what started as an idea came to full fruition in a matter of hours and ran smoothly from mid-March through the end of July. Schools and families expressed their deep gratitude and were amazed that we were not a more formal group like a church or city agency. The capacity for neighbors to support neighbors during this time has meant a lot to many of us." Lisa Graustein, neighborhood resident and volunteer coordinator of the spring food relief effort (Boston Globe article)

From March to July, over $42,000 in small and large donations, plus at least $3,000 in in-kind donations came through for this relief work. Additional significant partners in this effort included American Provisions, the Ashmont Grill/Tavolo, Beacon Hill Friends Meeting, Codman Academy, Hope & Comfort, Lamberts, and Pho Hoa/Reign Drink Lab.

Additional Greater Ashmont Main Street food access work in 2020:
  • Distributed 7 rounds of Fresh Truck produce boxes sponsored by the Mayor's Office of Food Access to 200 families each round, including many food insecure local essential workers
  • Hosted 18 weeks of the Ashmont Farmers Market 14th season, modified for pandemic safety. The continuation of the market allowed us to accept more HIP/EBT/P-EBT than ever before, as well as distribute and accept over $3500 in market coupons from the Mayor's Office of Food Access, and $9100 in market coupons from the Massachusetts Farmers Markets. These were given to us to support neighbors facing food insecurity, and to subsidize the continued survival of our local farm vendors and the Ashmont Farmers Market itself.
"Greater Ashmont Main Street has been a strong pillar in our community. They have been very instrumental in the continued growth of our brand Dareales.They’ve been supportive and welcoming of the Dareales Flagship store, since the grand opening in June of 2019, and have played a huge role in the recovery efforts of the brand since being looted in summer 2020. Dareales appreciates all of the support and assistance GAMS continues to provides us." Chris Bray, co-founder DAREALES
Small Business Support in 2020 :
  • We and our partner Mandorla Music kept our commitment to our local musicians by paying them despite the cancellation of our Dot Jazz Series’ March through June concerts
  • Assisted small businesses to come into compliance with the state and citywide COVID-19 rules around reopening and navigate the multi-phase re-opening plan itself
  • Assisted in securing the temporary transformation of public spaces into patios and café zoned street dining to support the survival of restaurants like Ashmont Grill, El Barrio, and Tavolo
  • Coached several small business owners through the application process for unemployment benefits, which were made available to those who are self-employed, independent contractors, and workers with limited work history, etc. for the first time as part of the pandemic relief packages
  • Supported 10 small businesses in qualifying for $1000 Boston Main Streets Foundation immediate relief funds, and two additional businesses in qualifying for BMSF's more expansive Technical Assistance, which is funding new POS equipment, website design, online ordering solutions, etc., all tailored to their specific needs
  • Supported over 30 small businesses in obtaining City of Boston ReOpen funds of up to $2K for adaptation needs, like PPE, plexiglass, etc.
  • Supported over 40 small businesses through education about and application support for Boston's Small Business Relief Funds; the Commonwealth's Small Business Grant Program; the federal EIDL and PPP programs, and other CARES Act related relief. These various relief resources have brought more than $250,000+ of governmental financial relief into the commercial corridor. A strong Main Street organization has been essential to get the word out about all these different programs and connect mom and pop operators with technical assistance to help with getting their applications together.

Beautification & Public Spaces and Development & Historic Preservation in 2020:
  • Continued to advocate in partnership with Liveable Streets Alliance with the City of Boston and the Commonwealth for the DotGreenway project
  • Created an extensive organizational history timeline to secure institutional memory in preparation for the departure of our long-tenured Executive Director
  • Continued to monitor proposals for development in the commercial corridor, give the proponents feedback, and represent the views of our members in the public comment process
  • Financially sponsored the seasonal sidewalk planters maintained by local small business owners
  • Replanted the concrete planters in Peabody Square East & West, as well as doing final fill in work in the raised garden beds based on what thrived from our 2018 Revitalization Project, during a socially distant clean up and gardening day
  • Selected nine local artists for new utility boxes, which have been permitted for the City's Paintbox program; two have been completed at this point and the rest will be done in the spring
  • Advocate on an ongoing basis with the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services, Boston Police Department, Streets (PWD/BTD), and the MBTA around public safety and maintenance concerns
If this is what we can accomplish during a crisis, imagine the possibilities of what we can do together post-pandemic. Envision thriving small businesses filling vacancies along the commercial corridor, a DotGreenway fully designed and preparing for build out, and a bustling Ashmont Farmers Market continuing to providing food access to the community when we can have live music and placemaking every week safely again.

Your donation to Greater Ashmont Main Street will help us rebuild and reimagine what was lost during COVID. Your investment is a critical supplement to our limited public funding and makes so much more possible in our community. We hope we can count on you to help us meet our goal of raising $25,000 before the end of 2020!