November 5, 2015 | CONCORD
By Kelly Driscoll
This article is one in a series about the organizations supported by the Concord-Carlisle Community Chest.
Being a board member of the Chest has expanded my understanding of the need within the Concord-Carlisle community. I deeply admire the amount of important and impactful work being done by a range of organizations to support our neighbors; important work often being delivered quietly yet effectively.
I have seen how the Chest is uniquely positioned to help identify, evaluate and address the most pressing human service needs in our community and support this essential work. It provides significant financial support to nonprofits, town agencies and local projects. The Chest is able to see what is needed and respond, supporting the efforts of the committed and talented individuals delivering services to some of our most at-risk community members. In some instances it serves as the primary funder of small programs or positions.
The Youth Services Coordinator is an example of a position that emerged from an identified need and is funded primarily by the Chest.
The position was initially created in 2009-2010 as part of a long-term response plan developed by the Town of Concord after a series of youth suicides impacted the town. Current Youth Services Coordinator Jennifer Clarke facilitates coordination and collaboration amongst stakeholders and is able to bridge the gap between community need and available resources. Ms. Clarke states: “Our community is fortunate to have a wealth of resources and services to support healthy youth development. Highlighting these opportunities gives us a chance to do great prevention work. That said, youth and families are not immune to life challenges and unforeseen circumstances that require increased intervention. Our ability to empower youth and families with resources they need and the tools to navigate tricky situations is important to maintaining a healthy, vibrant youth community.”
The Teen Buddy program is another impactful program primarily supported by the Chest. Teen Buddy is a social mentoring program designed to provide older student/younger student mentoring opportunities in a structured program of social enrichment activities. Julee Vitello, program administrator, describes the value of the program: “It’s amazing to watch how the friendships develop and the student-to-student relationships mature over the year, and sometimes over several years. Children are connecting to peers and other students that they may never have met; and they are being exposed to activities that they may not have been exposed to otherwise. I am especially thrilled when former little buddies return on their own, and volunteer for the programs as Concord-Carlisle High School students.”
As community members, we all benefit from the range of wonderful programming. The Chest also provides access to programs that would be unavailable to those on restrictive budgets. Through its grant making, the Chest offers financial aid to 150 qualified families and individuals who wish to benefit from the Concord-Carlisle Community Education program, thus making the diverse offerings in the course catalogue available to many more.
I feel fortunate to live in a town with such tremendous resources. Likewise, I feel very fortunate to have an organization like the Chest that continues to identify what is missing. Where can we offer support? How can we make the tremendous range of programming available to all community members? How can we support the work of the dedicated individuals providing services to the most at-risk individuals? Finally, I feel grateful to my community neighbors who support the Chest and allow it to implement its important mission.
Additional Education & Programs for Children and Adults funded by the Community Chest:
Center for Parents and Teachers
Emerson Hospital Pediatric Intervention
English at Large
Kelly Driscoll has lived in Carlisle for 14 years and is a board member of the Concord-Carlisle Community Chest.