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MetroWest Nonprofit Network

by Janelle Davis

The MetroWest Nonprofit Network (MWNN) has been providing capacity building support and resources for local small and medium nonprofits for over 25 years.  As a community pillar, they saw an opportunity during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to step up and help by forming the Emergency Phone Line Project.

MWNN’s Emergency Phone Line Project works in collaboration with the City of Framingham, the Framingham Board of Health, Framingham Public Schools and Voice of the Community.  MWNN has been a saving grace in the community, taking on a leadership role in setting up and running a system to address the emergency food needs of homebound and disabled residents in Framingham, Massachusetts.  Residents can dial into the number five days a week to request food and toiletries to be delivered directly to their homes.  In the phone line’s first few weeks, about six deliveries were made per day and that number has now increased to 10-15 deliveries per day.

The phone bank and delivery teams consist of staff from local nonprofits, community volunteers and include bilingual speakers as majority of residents utilizing the service speak Portuguese and Spanish.  The team fields phone calls from residents, determines their needs and enters them into a database.  Since the Emergency Phone Line Project began, over 120 calls have been received that have assisted 249 individuals including 70 children, 18 elderly adults and 4 disabled adults. 

Leading the project are Executive Director of MWNN, Anna Cross, and a coordinator from Voices of the Community.  Both individuals have assisted in training, coordinating and scheduling staff and have both personally completed daily deliveries.  MWNN’s role as a connector to nonprofits and its ability to tap into resources within the community have been an invaluable asset to the phone line.

Going above and beyond the Emergency Phone Line Project, the project leaders participate in weekly city conference calls to coordinate with other city-wide efforts.  Some of these efforts include working with South Middlesex Opportunity Council to serve 500 meals to clients and organize food delivery to local apartment complexes.  Other local collaborators include A Place to Turn Food Pantry and the YMCA to provide daily food and toiletry distribution.  Leveraging their phone system project, MWNN even coordinated triage for emergency call lines to connect residents with services such as Meals on Wheels. 

In addition, MWNN has helped link agencies such as The Salvation Army, TEMPO, Framingham State University, Interfaith Clergy and United Way to each other in order to streamline efforts.  MWNN has worked to secure funds from foundations and individual donors to support nonprofit partner agencies and provided feedback to funders regarding emerging needs in the nonprofit community. MWNN has also participated in outreach efforts to find additional in-kind toiletry and food donations.

The Emergency Phone Line Project will continue well into the future and will continue to evolve.  MWNN has plans to initiate follow up calls with every resident that was served by their program to determine if they have been able to access other food resources or have a need for a recurring food support network. 

To learn more about the MWNN, visit their website at .