The Presentation School Foundation Community Center received funds through the Harvard University Allston-Brighton Emergency Response Grant Program in efforts to support community.
When the Our Lady of the Presentation School was closed over 15 years ago, the community rallied to maintain the building as a neighborhood institution. The result: the Presentation School Foundation (PSF) Community Center, a hub for organizations and individuals committed to the neighborhoods of Allston and Brighton.
The Foundation recently received funding through the Harvard University Allston-Brighton Emergency Response Grant Program, which will be used to help the six partner organizations that call the building home to continue providing essential services such as food pantry operations, social service outposts, and childcare services.
“The COVID-19 crisis is so unlike anything anyone has ever experienced, it could be easy to feel overwhelmed as [one] organization trying to respond to community need,” says Clodagh Drummey, the organization’s executive director. “I think being a part of a group of organizations working [collaboratively] to address the problem is tremendous – it gives you a feeling of possibility. It gives you hope.”
One of those partner organizations is the Allston Brighton Neighborhood Opportunity Center (AB NOC), which has been focused on distributing food to members of the community in need. AB NOC still runs its food pantry as a drop-in location where those in need can pick up food, but a solution was needed for those without the ability to go to a food distribution site. The emergency funding from Harvard has enabled PSF to even more thoroughly clean the Center prior to any food distribution, an important task even which has become even more essential – and more frequent - during the ongoing global health crisis.
Drummey also said the members of a group convened by the Allston Brighton Health Collaborative developed an idea to enlist volunteers who would bike supplies from food distribution sites to those who need healthy food.
“Having something like 30 organizations working together and being strategic on how resources are allocated, we can make a big difference,” Drummey says. “These folks pour themselves into their work, and they rely on volunteers from the community. They are [a group of] neighbors who care about the community and want to make it better.”
She notes that by engaging with this group of organizations all striving to better the neighborhoods in which they exist she can connect those that call the PSF Community Center home with essential resources.
PSF’s existing relationships and partnerships have been key to maintaining its commitment to those they serve. She notes specifically partnerships with like-minded community groups, City Councilor Liz Breadon, and Harvard University.
“Our needs have changed and there are new expenses that we did not have to anticipate four or five months ago to allow us to open the community center in a safe way,” Drummey says. “Having the support of institutions like Harvard has been incredibly helpful.”