Jeffrey Simon at Springfield Partners for Community Action
When Springfield Partners for Community Action received its stimulus awards in June, 2009 -- $838K as a Community Service Block grant and $8.5 million for weatherization services -- Mary Cassidy, the anti-poverty agency's director of planning and development, said they wanted to make sure they used the funds in the most effective way possible.

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

Springfield Partners for Community Action
programs to help their clients - Springfield's most neediest - get back on their feet.

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,

Springfield Partners for Community Action
said the stimulus-funded GED classes for the residents of public housing will change the course of these students' lives. Erica Sulikowski, the agency's childcare director, said they were able to hire a family involvement coordinator to work as a liaison with the parents and other childcare centers. "We can make sure the kids' needs are met," she said.

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."

Springfield Partners for Community Action

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

  • $9.3 million

  • Working with 6 local agencies

  • YouthBuild: 30 students

  • Puerto Rican Cultural Center: ESOL, GED and more

  • Springfield Housing Authority: GED classes

  • Square One: new staff, development of nutrition curriculum

  • Multicultural Alzheimer's Services: new staff

  • Homelessness prevention: new staff and rental assistance

  • Springfield Vietnamese Civic Association: enrollment assistance

  • Weatherization program: on track for 2,000 homes

"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

Springfield Partners for Community Action
program, the stimulus funds gave the 30 youth in her program - mostly women - the opportunity to learn to be energy auditors and to learn energy efficient construction through a partnership with Springfield Partner's weatherization program.

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."