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Published on April 29, 2022

Mount Auburn Hospital Awards Grants To Support Community Health Priorities

Funds will support organizations in Waltham, Arlington, Watertown, Somerville and Cambridge

Cambridge, Mass. – As part of its longstanding commitment to the community, Mount Auburn Hospital (MAH) is awarding up to $10,000 in grant funding to each of eight community-based organizations that offer services in Cambridge, Arlington, Waltham, Watertown, and Somerville over the next year.

The grants are part of Mount Auburn’s Community Benefits Program and are intended to support programs that address community health priorities and meaningfully impact populations and community members within the Mount Auburn service area that face the greatest health inequities. Criteria included five focus areas that were identified during the hospital’s most recent Community Health Needs Assessment, which completed in July 2021: Behavioral Health, Chronic and Complex Conditions, Access to Care and Community Navigation, Social Determinants of Health and Racial Equity.

“Mount Auburn Hospital is proud to be your community hospital, and we want to find ways to honor and invest in our surrounding communities,” said Chad Wable, president, Mount Auburn Hospital. “We share many goals with our community partners. We collectively aim to provide quality healthcare for all by reducing health disparities and inequities for those most vulnerable in our community. It is our hope that these grants will boost local non-profit organizations to help us reach our shared goals.”

The following eight organizations were selected to receive one-year grants valued up to $10,000:

Africano Waltham – Africano Holistic Health Program

Africano Waltham is community-based organization that works with African immigrant youth and their families to assist them in educational assistance, visual and performing arts, and cultural connections. During the COVID-19 pandemic, services have expanded to include hunger relief, mental health support, and referrals to other agencies for services such as medical, housing, and legal services. With this funding, Africano Waltham will staff a social worker to set up organizational systems, keep in touch with families, and provide referrals and follow-ups. The social worker will be a central point of contact and support the organization in its mission to addressing needs of immigrants in the community.

Arlington EATS – Fresh Bucks Program

Arlington EATS Fresh Bucks provides access to fresh, locally-grown produce, meat, and bread through the Arlington Farmers’ Market. In its first season, the Fresh Bucks farmers’ market voucher program was a huge success providing vouchers to clients who may not otherwise have the ability to pay for fresh, healthy food at the farmers’ market. The Fresh Bucks Program allows people to increase their purchasing power at the local farmer’s market. This funding will allow Arlington EATS to continue increasing access to fresh local food to clients.

City of Watertown – SNAP Match Program at the Farmer’s Market

Watertown’s Farmers’ Market provides access to farm fresh and specialty foods, addresses food insecurity, promotes healthy living, supports local agriculture and businesses, and builds community. The market’s SNAP Match Program provides eligible (SNAP enrolled) customers a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $15 a week during the 19-week season. The Healthy Incentive Program (HIP), an affiliated benefit that helps SNAP users maximize benefits and gain access to free, fresh produce is also available from our HIP-certified vendors. This funding will support the market’s growing SNAP Match Program and provide eligible customers easy access to affordable local, healthy foods. In 2021, our SNAP Match increased more than 50 percent, a result of ongoing efforts with outreach and education about the market’s food assistance programs.

DeNovo Center for Justice and Healing – Culturally Informed Psychological Counseling

DeNovo Center for Justice and Healing provides culturally informed psychological counseling to uninsured or underinsured adults who are unable to access help by other means, filling a critical gap in access to mental health services for people with low incomes. This funding will support free or low-cost mental health services, including individual therapy, group counseling, assessments and referrals, and case management to help clients heal from the emotional effects of violence, abuse, torture and poverty.

Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) – Mental Health Counseling Initiative

Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) works with and for the Brazilian, Cabo Verdean, Portuguese and other Portuguese-speaking communities to build healthy and successful lives through the provision of direct social and health services, as well as advocacy and development support. This grant will help MAPS expand its pilot short-term, temporary, remote and free Mental Health Counseling Initiative. The project will benefit those who speak little to no English and find it difficult to access critical mental health services due to economic, language, cultural, and/or other barriers, such as unfavorable immigration status. The new counseling program utilizes six experienced, bilingual/bicultural Portuguese-speaking counselors—three from within MAPS outside their regular program hours, and three consultants from the community who have worked with MAPS for many years.

Somerville Homeless Coalition – Project Soup, Resource Navigator/Case Worker

The mission of the Somerville Homeless Coalition is to provide homeless and nearly homeless individuals and families with individualized supportive services and tailored housing solutions with a goal of obtaining and maintaining affordable housing. This funding will support a resource navigator to connect families and individuals to public and private benefits to boost household income. The hope is to use this pilot as a pivot point to move away from a “crisis response model” to a proactive “upstream intervention model.” This paradigm shift allows for more critical time and opportunity to introduce clientele to a greater range of services and support. The goal is to help families access resources, which they have found previously unobtainable, to increase household income (e.g., access to job programs) and decrease household expenditures (e.g., securing benefits), thereby fostering a more stabilized lifestyle.

Transition House – Recruiting Trauma Informed Counselors Representing the BIPOC Community

Transition House addresses domestic violence through intervention and prevention with an ongoing priority to end domestic violence in the community. Counseling services at Transition House are regularly over-booked and unavailable for new participants. To meet this need, this funding will help to recruit and train additional counselors in the community. These counselors will work to expand the Transition House community team's counseling capacity and make counseling services more accessible to communities of color and those who do not speak English as a first language.

Waltham Fields Community Farm – Produce Prescription Program

Waltham Fields Community Farm cultivates sustainable and equitable relationships between people, their food supply, and the land from which it grows. This funding will support the Produce Prescription Program (also known as Veggie Rx). The program will supply a 20-week CSA share of produce to up to 30 participants. Participants are chosen by their health care provider to have or be clinically at risk for an identifiable diet or nutrient- related disease (e.g., pre-diabetic) and are provided a “vegetable Rx.” The weekly share reflects what has been recently harvested, and typically is ample vegetables for a family of four.

About Mount Auburn Hospital

Mount Auburn Hospital was founded in 1886. A teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, its mission is to provide clinically excellent care with compassion and to teach students of medicine and the health professions.

Mount Auburn Hospital is a part of Beth Israel Lahey Health, a health care system that brings together academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, community and specialty hospitals, more than 4,800 physicians and 36,000 employees in a shared mission to expand access to great care and advance the science and practice of medicine through groundbreaking research and education.

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