By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Marlborough- Bill, who was recently divorced, is trying to establish his own living accommodations, support his two children and run his own small business. He wants to be independent but doesn’t know how. Through his church he learned about the Financial Fitness Center, conducted by the Marlborough Community Development Corporation (MCDC). Its mission is to encourage financial self-sufficiency through education and coaching services.
With determination and a need to get his life moving forward, Bill made an appointment by calling the MCDC office located at 40 Mechanic Street. He was told that he must be prepared to make a commitment by signing up for at least a year of coaching – working one-on-one with a volunteer from the MCDC. He agreed and immediately received help with budgeting and a disciplined structure on buying and preparing food economically while eating in a healthy manner. His life took on a new meaning and he continues to keep regular contact with his coach.
“Currently we coach individuals using Crittenton Women’s Union’s Mobility Mentoring model and also offer free tax assistance by IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers for those earning $50,000 or less,” said Lynn Faust, MCDC executive director “The mission of the MCDC is to help all residents of Marlborough and surrounding communities to build a strong foundation for family self-sufficiency and civic engagement by acting in partnership with concerned organizations and individuals in ways that respect the dignity of all and leverage our cultural, racial/ethnic and economic diversity to create a richer community life.”
As members of the Human Services Coalition, an association of organizations in the greater Marlborough area that meet monthly to learn, share and support each other, the MCDC is able to expand and develop new programs as needed.
At the present time, about 40 percent of the low or middle income residents seeking help are senior citizens, residents in their 60s and 70s who are struggling to keep their homes and savings, according to Faust.
“Women may be divorced or their husband died and they had not handled the finances and find they have to learn. Many have co-signed a college loan for a child or grandchild who can’t meet the financial obligation and they have to help pay until the family member can assume the responsibility,” she said.
Volunteers are trained to mentor people by taking them out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle and introduce them to budgeting, helping with a disciplined structure on meeting daily expenses and learn how to save money.
“We live in a high-living cost area – housing costs and taxes are high therefore many need to increase their income,” said Faust. “We also encourage many to learn new skills to allow them to get better jobs.”
The MCDC has also initiated a nutritional education program where residents are invited into kitchens at local churches and clubs – the First Church Congregational, the Hudson Elks and Marlborough Moose Lodge – and are taught home economics, “which hasn’t been taught for a generation,” said Faust.
“We feel a lack of cooking properly leaves families undernourished and impoverished. If someone knows how to cook and is a smart shopper they can provide meals for $40 per person per week – rather than buying pre-packaged food or fast foods. They are taught to eat healthier and more economically.”
The Coalition recently created a hoarding task force to assist residents who may have a hoarding disorder after the need became apparent. Volunteers started immediately to study the problem and are helping those afflicted to rid themselves of the shame they feel and are also offering help to their family members.
“Task Force members are helping families of hoarders to understand that it is a mental illness and that there is help for all,” said Faust.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer or needs help for themselves or a family member may call the MCDC at 508-361-6926 to schedule an appointment.