Preface: We do not work - or exist - in a vaccum. Our notion of the people of Urbane is intentionally broad, as it includes Staff, Collaborative members, partners and community stakeholders. In this particular forum, we hold and cede digital space to periodcially uplift individuals, organizations, and places that are doing the work and inspire and motivate us to do so in turn.
Our inaugural spotlight features the fantastic Community Economic Development Center (CEDC) of New Bedford (MA.) We were fortunate enough to be invited into New Beford by Corinn Williams, the Executive Director of CEDC, based on some of our work in the state over the past five years, along with our our development and operational fluency with markets such as Flatbush Caton Market. Were we a bit skeptical at first about taking on work - at the time, sight unseen - with a potential client we had never interacted with previously, in the throws of a pandemic? Ummm, yes. But what we quickly came to realize is what community members and residents of New Bedford's North End already knew: CEDC = Trust. Whether it was Corinn, Brian Pastor, Miriam Watkins, Ken Rapoza, or other amazing staff members, CEDC's committment to putting the needs of their residents first was - and is - unparalleled. They are in many ways the embodiment of how trust transforms a neighborhood.
It is perhaps easier to describe the activities and/or services that they will not take on in service of supercharging a local economy that works for all - and I think that list might be close to nothing. They are on the front lines and in back offices for residents, working early, late, and on weekends to get things done. While we could continue waxing poetic on their praises, in addition to checking out a summary of our project there, please take a listen to this wonderful feature out of WBUR, a local Boston NPR station, entitled "Consider This: New Bedford's Community Economic Development Center Bounces Back From Fire" on CEDC's work and resilience in the face of extreme adveristy - namely a deadly fire that also decimated their offices in April of this year. (An embedded link to the conversation follows and is also available here.)
So cheers to these unsung - or not sung loud enough yet - heroes of Achusnet Avenue and the North End!
But wait, there's more! this is how you can help CEdc right now:
The Community Economic Development Center (CEDC) is located in the North End of New Bedford and helps new immigrant families and long-term residents find their way to economic opportunities through skill-building, providing access to critical resources, and by promoting neighborhood revitalization. Many of the families the CEDC works with are essential workers in seafood processing, grocery stores, and health care, putting them at continued risk for Covid-19. Additionally, these workers often live in shared housing that makes quarantine difficult. Others have lost their jobs and are not eligible for unemployment or for stimulus payments and are now facing food insecurity and homelessness. While operating remotely, the CEDC team is meeting the needs of their community by providing direct services through a live hotline, remote telephone consultation, and online support.
Prior to COVID-19, the CEDC was working on a grant to engage local artists in improving vacant spaces, offering financial education in Spanish for newcomers, planning to rehabilitate and redevelop a former movie theater to create community space, and more. These fundraising initiatives have now been put on hold due to the crisis. Currently, the CEDC is engaging the community to focus on structural change that will address some health and social inequity that this crisis has surfaced. The CEDC will offer emergency support for members of the community affected by this crisis.
– $100 helps a family that is food-insecure with a gift basket containing a gift card, local resource list, personal protective equipment (PPE) (and a children’s activity kit to help support a family for a week.
– $150 supports a worker who tests positive for COVID-19 with basic supplies and staple foods. After 15 days, the family will be given a $100 grocery gift card to help get them back on their feet as they return to work.
– $250 helps an immigrant family pay a medical, phone, or utility bills with a pre-paid cash card with a specific focus on undocumented families.
– $1000 helps the CEDC support their staff to help 10 families work through language and technology barriers to apply for and receive longer-term emergency benefits like unemployment, fuel assistance, SNAP, and local emergency funds.
Make a donation here! or make checks payable to: CEDC/COVID-19 Relief
1285 Acushnet Ave. New Bedford, MA 02746
For additional information or questions please contact Corinn Williams (information redacted for spambot purposes, but is available on CEDC website.)