When there is a need.
Our mission to change places and change lives is deeply intertwined with what our community identifies as a need. The public speaks, GWL listens, and together we act. That's how we started working toward environmental justice 19 years ago to create green spaces, increase access to fresh healthy food, improve public health, and nurture the next generation of environmental leaders. Six weeks ago, we were ready to launch our September action plan - we stood ready to clean the Spicket River, we stood ready to harvest vegetables at Costello Urban Farm, we stood ready to start another year of innovative school enrichment services. But with the events of September 13th, the immediate aftermath, and the weeks following, we changed course. We implemented all of our programming, meeting our mission and delivering on our areas of service, but also stretched and stood ready to act because it was clear that our community needed all of us to respond. Together.
At our core, Groundwork Lawrence is dedicated to listening to the voice of the community. This time there was a shout. We heard it, and with our partners and dedicated supporters, including New Balance Foundation, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU), Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank, BlueHub Capital, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, we responded.
What did we do? First, we canceled our Spicket River Cleanup and, that weekend, our staff volunteered at the Lawrence Senior Center, coordinating donations and volunteers. We then worked with community liaisons to determine priorities of need and matched those needs with corporate citizens looking to get involved. Knowing thousands were suddenly forced to use canned and microwaveable food, we adapted our fresh food strategy. We pivoted the produce grown at Costello, normally for sale at our farmers markets, and donated that produce to soup kitchens and food pantries. We increased our fresh snack policy in our school enrichment classes, making sure each student had a healthy fresh snack in the classroom and was also able to take something home. Through a partnership with Essex County Community Foundation, we helped streamline relief requests and disbursement, providing relief funds to families directly affected by the extended outage of gas. We're proud of the work we did and are doing.
Following the crisis, thousands lost access to basic necessities - shelter, warmth, and food. The challenge to provide those very basic needs was daunting. It was, and remains, a challenge too great for any one individual or organization to respond to it. Nobody did this alone. No one could. But through a history of collaborative and deep partnerships, our community demonstrated our resilience, strength, and ability to pull together. And respond we did. Together.
When there is a need, we will be there. Our strength and history pull us together to respond to a crisis. As residents, as supporters, as family members, as Groundwork Lawrence. As a community. We are proud to be a part of this moment and we thank you for your unfaltering support and hard work.