By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Southborough – Founded in 2014, the Southborough Community Fund (SCF) awarded 10 grants totaling $30,000 in its first year. SCF is one of three town funds formed within the Foundation for MetroWest (FMW), of which Judy Salerno serves as executive director.
“One of the things the foundation does is assemble a group of people in their community to work on building local resources,” she explained. “We serve 33 cities and towns. We recognize that not everyone identifies with all of MetroWest; they do identify with their individual town, such as Southborough.”
The other two FMW town funds are in Lexington and Wellesley.
Southborough resident Tom Crotty is a FMW board of trustees member and the SCF board chair. He redirected his philanthropic attention locally after about 10 years of helping international, national and Boston-based charities.
“I realized that I was supporting lots of different nonprofits, but none in my own backyard,” he said.
Crotty recruited six other Southborough residents and established the SCF board: Betsy Crowley, Cathy Kea, Mary McGuinness, Noreen Reilly Harrington and Michael Spataro.
“The board members put our wallets together and contributed $30,000,” he said. “In 2015, we will again contribute capital.”
SEF’s first annual appeal was recently conducted and generated donations. Fundraisers are also planned.
Following the FMW guidelines, SCF invited nonprofit organizations to apply for grants within three categories: environment, arts and culture, and family and human services.
A grant was awarded to the Southborough Open Land Foundation to support the expansion of its wildlife survey, as well as nature walks and programs for environmental advancement.
The Assabet Valley Mastersingers received a grant for its choral work, “Annelies” based on “Anne Frank; The Diary of a Young Girl.” A grant was given to Southborough Access Media for its video project “Southborough Veterans: Lessons in Local Life and Paying it Forward.”
“We thought both of these were good projects in the arts and culture because each has a lot of Southborough involvement in them,” Crotty noted.
Most grant recipients were in the family and human services category, including the Southborough Town Agency Collaborative.
“Three separate Southborough agencies – the Food Pantry, Senior Center and Youth and Family Services – came together to create an application for a grant for the Emergency Need Fund,” Crotty explained.
Among examples of emergencies that he cited are home heating oil, prescribed medications, and gas cards for unemployed residents seeking jobs.
Two grants were given for pilot programs. The Friends of the Southborough Council on Aging (COA) received a grant for a program pairing elders with volunteers, who will visit them regularly. Another grant went to the Friends of the Southborough COA and Fire Department Collaboration to purchase three Knox Boxes for frail seniors needing well-being checks. (A Knox Box is a high security key safe designed for single family homes that only local emergency responders can access).
“If these pilots go well, we would look to provide future funding to expand the programs,” Crotty said.
A grant was given to the Southborough Recreation Department to purchase two Freedom Concept Adaptive Bikes, which will help youth with severe developmental mobility challenges learn to ride a bike and build confidence.
The Southborough Library received a grant for a science and literature program for preschool through upper elementary school age children.
A grant was awarded to the Southborough United Parishes Food Pantry to support the Food Insecurity Program.
Crotty is looking forward to SCF’s future impact on the town.
“We gave $30,000 in 2014; our goal is to triple that within two years,” he said. “We need to build a brand and get more people to know about the SCF, so that we can build momentum and participation throughout the town.”
For more information, visit foundationformetrowest.org/southborough.