Jeffrey Simon
The Montachusett Opportunity Council is an anti poverty agency that serves Fitchburg, Leominster, Gardner and surrounding towns and cities - 30 in all. Last summer the agency received a total of $5.2 million in Recovery Act funds and as Bob Hill, executive director of the Fitchburg Housing Authority said, "Timing was great with ARRA funds."

Recovery Act Impact: Montachusett Opportunity Council

  • $5.2 million

  • Weatherization: $2.8 million

  • Community Services block Grant: $634K

  • Homeless Prevention: $776K

  • Emergency Food & Shelter: $40K

  • Elder Nutrition: $59K

  • Child Care & Head Start: $262K

In fact the agency was able to maintain and start many programs, hire new staff and provide more clients with assistance thanks to its Recovery Act funding, which spanned the range of services provided by MOC. Recently, at the behest of Governor Deval Patrick, Jeffrey Simon, director of the Massachusetts Recovery & Reinvestment Office, paid a visit to MOC, to see firsthand the impact stimulus funds on this agency.

Jeffrey Simon and weatherization crew
Simon's first stop was at Fitchburg multi-family home receiving weatherization services thanks to MOC's stimulus-funded weatherization program. The agency received $656K in weatherization program support and administration and $2.8 million in weatherization contractor payments through the Worcester Community Action Council for the work MOC is doing in the North Central region.

The money is being put to good use. As Kathleen McDermott, executive director of MOC, noted, the agency has exceeded its goals so far with over 220 households weatherized by the end of September, 2010. Each house, she said, experiences about 30 percent in energy savings.

The agency expects to weatherize over 300 additional households by March 2012.

Roundtable at MOC
The agency's contractors added 7 crew members and MOC hired 2 energy auditors, 1 support staff and retained 5 employees with these stimulus funds.

The agency received $634K in Community Services Block Grant which is used to support its adult education programs, English for Speakers of Other Languages classes, financial education counseling, free income tax preparation and other skills training programs. The grant also funded summer youth employment programs and a Homework Help Center in a local housing project as well as a nurse assistant training scholarship program. One of the scholarship recipients, Jess Graham, said the scholarship was "a steppingstone to further my education."

Roundtable at MOC
MOC also received $776K through a Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Grant which it used to prevent families from becoming homeless and to get families in shelters into stable housing. The agency's emergency Food & Shelter Program, received $41K in stimulus funds which it used to provide one time rent or mortgage payments and utility assistance. Its Elder Nutrition program, which received $59K, was used to purchase food for MOC's home delivered meals.

The Child Care and Head Start program received $263K which went to educational development for the teachers, health and safety improvements in the building the purchase of a bus and the streamlining of access to services for the families.

"We serve over 800 children," said Deb Hubbard, Director of MOC's Child Care and Head Start. "Now we were able to get a new bus."