To that end, they convened a forum to get ideas from local agencies. What they got were six local social service partners who have been able to help Springfield Partners use the stimulus funds to expand their services, hire staff and develop
At the behest of Governor Deval Patrick, Jeffrey Simon, director of the Massachusetts Recovery & Reinvestment Office, paid a visit to Springfield Partners to see firsthand the impact the stimulus funds have had on the agency and its partners.
Thanks to the partnerships - with Springfield Housing Authority, Square One, Springfield Vietnamese American Civic Association, Puerto Rican Cultural Center, YWCA YouthBuild, and Valley Radio Reading Service -- the impact is diverse and wide ranging.
Pam Wells, the resident service manager of the Springfield Housing Authority,
Steve Plummer, was hired with stimulus funds as a credit and eviction counselor and he has served over 1,000 clients, helping them with financial literacy, the court processes, negotiating with landlords and providing stimulus-funded late rent payments. "Ninety-nine percent of landlords don't want to evict," he said.
The agency was able to hire a multicultural Alzheimer's services coordinator to help those afflicted with the disease stay in their homes by providing support to their families. "We make it easy for the caregiver," said Elsa Dones, the coordinator. "Then the family realizes they can keep the patient at home."
Hang Tang, the executive director of the Springfield Vietnamese American Civic Association, said she was able to expand the agency's immigration services and help her clients access benefits, literacy classes, transportation and family education. Kim Lee, the vice president of advancement for Square One, a childcare center, said that the stimulus funds enabled them to hire a teacher and develop a comprehensive nutrition curriculum, with materials, which they are not only implementing at their own center but they are also using for training teachers in other programs.
Springfield Partners for Community Action: Stimulus Spotlight
"The nutrition program allowed us to change our whole environment," said Lee. "We are using farm fresh locally grown agriculture and are saving 30 percent on our food bills. The local farmers are thrilled."
For Dawn DiStefano, director of resource development for the YWCA YouthBuild
The agency's weatherization program was also able to expand thanks to stimulus. In addition to hiring six people, the program is on track to weatherize 2,000 homes - an average of 1,000 a year. Prior to stimulus, Joe Kerigan, the weatherization director said they were weatherizing about 213 homes a year.
Randy Moquin, had been on unemployment for nine months, before he started training as an energy auditor through the stimulus-funded green jobs training program at Springfield Partners. He has been on the job for nearly a year.
"I am very fortunate," he said. "I have a great new career now."