U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, bottom, leads a Facebook Live discussion about enhanced child tax credits that were passed as part of the American Rescue Act. Speaking with Trahan are Chris Santos-Gordon, director of the Center for Financial Self Sufficiency at Community Teamwork, Inc., top left, and Sarah Bartley, senior director for community impact at the United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley. Screen capture from Facebook Live
May 14, 2021 at 6:51 a.m.
LOWELL – Parents across the Merrimack Valley and nation can expect to get a second round of help to ease the pain of the COVID-19 pandemic — in the form of monthly cash payments from July to December or a lump sum payment next year — thanks to enhanced child tax credits contained in the America Rescue Act.
U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Westford, said the existing child tax credit of $2,000 per child was expanded by the American Rescue Act to instead be $3,000 per child and $3,600 for each child under 6 in 2021.
“This is a lifeline for a lot of people, especially those in poverty who stand to get an average of $4,300 per family,” Trahan said.
Trahan led a Facebook Live discussion of the tax credit with Sarah Bartley, senior director for community impact at the United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley, and Chris Santos-Gordon, director of The Center for Financial Self Sufficiency at Community Teamwork, Inc.
Santos-Gordon said parents will be able to get the tax credits even before they file their 2021 taxes, with monthly cash payments being available for part of the annual credit from July to December.
The monthly payments will be up to $250 for each child under 6, and up to $300 for each child under 18.
Exactly how much each family gets via those monthly payments should be calculated by a tax preparer, Santos-Gordon said.
“You really won’t have to do anything. If you file your taxes already, it’s going to happen for you,” Santos-Gordon said. “I would just suggest you try to get into the IRS portal so you can make a decision whether you want the monthly payments started in July or whether you want is as just one lump payment.”
Families who elect do so can also just claim the full tax credit as part of their 2021 return and refund.
Bartley said families qualify for the full enhanced tax credits if their income is below $75,000 per year for single filers, $112,000 for head of household filers, and $150,000 for those who are married and file jointly. Some who make more than that will still qualify for reduced credits.
“Families are going to see more cash in their pockets,” Bartley said. She said the enhanced credits will increase the average family’s refund by about $2,000 over other years. “This is a really important lifeline for so many households, especially families struggling with lost hours during the pandemic.”
With tax day — delayed by the pandemic — arriving on May 17, Bartley pointed out that anyone can file their taxes for free online via www.MyFreeTaxes.com, which was created by the United Way and IRS.
Bartley said her own family used the website this year, and that while it wasn’t as intuitive as some online tax websites that cost money, she said help was available by phone, and that qualifying families can get free help from a tax preparer as well.
“It screened for things we were eligible for and helped us maximize our return,” Bartley said.
The enhanced tax credits were passed as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act, signed in March by President Joe Biden in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The extra tax credits are in addition to direct payments to taxpayers that were already distributed as part of the same law.
For more information on the tax credits, visit: https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/advance-child-tax-credit-payments-in-2021.
Final round results in nearly $4.8 million in grant awards to 108 additional businesses; More than $687 million in direct cash payments delivered to 15,112 of state’s hardest hit businesses
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 6, 2021
LOWELL – Today, Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, legislators and key partners celebrated the success of the Baker-Polito Administration’s COIVD-19 business relief program administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC). Gathering in person at the family- and minority-owned Panela Restaurant in Lowell, a program grantee, the Administration announced the end of the program, which has provided over $687.2 million in direct cash grants to 15,112 businesses across the Commonwealth. Among the awardees included in the final round were 108 additional businesses that received a total of approximately $4.8 million in COVID relief grants.
First launched in October 2020 as part of the Administration’s Partnerships for Recovery initiative to stabilize and grow the Massachusetts economy, this program became the biggest state-sponsored business relief program in the nation after being infused with an additional $668 million in December. Established to provide direct financial support for businesses, the Administration has tapped numerous partners to ensure specific economic sectors and priority demographics known to be the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic applied to the program and were prioritized for aid.
Over the duration of the program, 43 percent of MGCC grants were awarded to minority-owned businesses, and 46 percent of grants went to women-owned businesses. Businesses owned by veterans, individuals with disabilities, or that identify as LGBTQ, as well as those operating in Gateway Cities and not previously awarded aid, also received substantial grant support. Additionally, one-third of the total program funding (about $224 million) has benefited the hard-hit restaurant and bar industry, with personal services like hair and nail salons ($91 million), and independent retailers ($62 million) rounding out the top sectors.
“Thanks to the work of Mass. Growth Capital, more than $680 million in direct financial assistance has been deployed to over 15,000 businesses across Massachusetts, many of which are located in the communities that have had the greatest need during this pandemic,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Recognizing that our small business community employed close to half the Commonwealth’s workforce prior to the pandemic, this program has been instrumental in helping to keep these enterprises going while supporting a substantial percentage of our workforce as we approach what we hope are the final months of this public health crisis.”
“This program, which was designed to provide vital support to small businesses in need, is one component of our larger strategy to help the Commonwealth’s economic recovery from this unprecedented public health emergency,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “I want to applaud MGCC for their success with this program and thank their partners for helping to spread the word, which allowed us to provide direct support to those businesses that have been hit the hardest, including minority- and woman-owned businesses, restaurants and downtown retailers.”
The 15th and final round of awards totaled approximately $4.8 million in grants to 108 additional businesses. Among the final round of recipients, grants were awarded to 25 minority-owned, and 26 women-owned businesses; 24 recipients were located in Gateway Cities, and 28 businesses had not received any prior aid.
“I want to express my deepest gratitude to Larry Andrews and his team at MGCC for going above and beyond in their efforts to ensure that this important aid went to businesses located in Gateway Cities, met a demographic priority such as being minority- or women-owned, or were operating in sectors among the hardest hit during this pandemic,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “In addition, I’d like to thank MGCC’s partner organizations, which include Amplify Latinx and locally the Entrepreneurship Center @CTI with us today, who truly made this program successful because of their extensive outreach to the communities that are traditionally underrepresented.”
To increase applications from underrepresented groups and achieve equitable access to funding, MGCC worked with a statewide network of local non-profits, small business technical assistance providers, and other organizations that support minority enterprises to reach businesses and entrepreneurs that would match the program’s priorities. These partners include the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA), Amplify Latinx, the Business Equity Initiative, the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC), LISC, LEAF, the African Community Economic Development of New England (ACEDONE), and the statewide Coalition for an Equitable Economy.
“The success of this program was a direct result of the leadership of the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Secretary Kennealy; and the team at MGCC, who rose to the occasion to stand up a new program and deliver an unprecedented amount of relief to small businesses across Massachusetts that have been impacted by the pandemic,” said MGCC President and CEO Larry Andrews. “Also critical to this program’s success was the extensive network of partner organizations, including Amplify Latinx, for their work to reach out to businesses that serve communities of color, groups that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus, or who are traditionally at a disadvantage, and provided the necessary technical assistance through the application process.”
MGCC will soon be announcing two new funding opportunities focused on small businesses. A program called Biz-M-Power will assist low-income and moderate-income entrepreneurs acquire or improve their brick-and-mortar location, purchase new equipment, and other capital needs. Businesses will crowdfund through local residents, neighborhoods, community members, and other stakeholders and become eligible for matching grants. Another new program will help small businesses access tools and services to develop their digital capabilities, including social media, website development, and team collaboration.
These awards have been part of a steady deployment of grants and capital funding to support economic recovery throughout Massachusetts and are a key part of the Administration’s larger strategy to assist small businesses and support an equitable economic recovery across the Commonwealth.
“It is essential to recognize the significance of culturally and linguistically responsive outreach to minority and underrepresented groups, which was a major contributor to the program’s success,” said Amplify Latinx Executive Director Rosario Ubiera-Minaya. “These partner organizations are all well positioned and trusted by minority communities to effectively and quickly respond to the challenges faced by these businesses. The collaborative approach centered on the partner organizations has helped ensure that the collective work going forward is as intentional and impactful as possible. Keeping direction will position minority-owned businesses for stability and growth.”
In addition to this business relief program, recovery efforts consist of MGCC Small Business Technical Assistance grants and matching grants for Community Development Financial Institutions and Community Development Corporations; the Regional Pilot Project Grant Program, which is a $5 million initiative designed to activate vacant storefronts, support regional supply chain resiliency, and create small business support networks; the $1.6 million Travel and Tourism Recovery Grant Pilot Program to promote recovery in the tourism industry; the ongoing My Local MA marketing initiative to encourage residents to support their local economies by shopping at Massachusetts businesses and attractions; and a $9.5 million effort underway to help 125 communities pursue locally-driven, actionable strategies to support downtown and commercial districts through the Local Rapid Recovery Planning program.
Lowell» Community Teamwork is pleased to announce that Barbara Warren has been promoted to the position of Division Director of Housing and Homeless Services.
Warren has been with Community Teamwork since 2011, serving first as rehousing and stabilization manager and most recently as deputy division director of Residential Programs.
In her new role as the division director of Housing and Homeless Services, Warren’s administrative focus will be on the variety of housing programming and supportive services that Community Teamwork provides across 72 cities and towns within Massachusetts. These programs vary from homelessness prevention and homeless shelters to administering subsidized housing to more than 3,600 tenants as well as youth services and Community Teamwork’s vocational leadership program, YouthBuild of Lowell.
Barbara Warren COURTESY CTI
“I am very excited to take on this new role and continue this incredibly important work,” Warren said. “The need for a community response to addressing homelessness and affordable housing is central to the work that we do at Community Teamwork. This past year has really highlighted the need for all of us to come together and find real solutions to these very real problems.”
Warren joined Community Teamwork after graduating from UMass Lowell’s Community Psychology Graduate program. Over the past 10 years working for Community Teamwork, she has managed rehousing programming for homeless families as well as the Emergency Assistance Family Shelter.
More recently, she has led the agency’s efforts to address individual homelessness in Lowell.
Warren serves on the board of directors for Homes for Families, an advocacy organization for families in shelters.
Lowell Sun 5/2/21
The Sun News 4/26/21 https://bit.ly/2QWMD86
Lowell City Councilor Sokhary Chau has announced the distribution of Sun Santa funds and Fire Victims funds to residents left homeless due to the Westford Street fire in February.
Seven families were devastated and became homeless because of the blaze.
“Along with Mayor John Leahy, we partnered with Community Teamwork Inc., of Lowell,” Chau said. “ The community raised over $ 13,000 to directly benefit those who lost everything.”
In addition, the Sun Santa Fund contributed separately to the victims to help them with their daily needs.
Special thanks for coordination and assistance should be mentioned for Community Teamwork by Kathleen Plath, Joann Howell and CEO Karen Frederick. Also, coordination by Terry McCarthy, director of the Sun Santa Fund, played as a vital part in providing relief for the fire victims.
“We are very grateful for the efforts of these individuals who work tirelessly for the Lowell community,” Chau said.
Pictured: City Councilor Sokhary Chau, left, and CTI CEO Karen
Frederick with two representatives of two of the families displaced by a fire on Westford street in February.
Lowell General Hospital’s mass vaccination site at the Cross River Center isn’t normally open on Wednesdays, but this week it was for a good reason. The 1001 Pawtucket Blvd. site opened Wednesday morning to vaccinate about 1,000 members of the hardest- to- reach communities in the region, thanks to a partnership with the Greater Lowell Health Alliance. https://bit.ly/32hu54F …
Bryanna Payne, a case manager at Community Teamwork Inc., joined clients in getting vaccinated Wednesday. She said it was a relief to get the vaccine and to see so many others getting vaccinated.
“ I think it’s amazing,” Payne, of Leominster, said of the effort. “ I think it’s super important for it to be accessible to all the populations of Lowell.”..
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“Crossing the bar” is a common term in boating that refers to the death of a mariner
Armand ‘Butch’ Milot led Lowell Motor Boat Club
The late commodore in the place he loved, on the Merrimack River, in front of the Lowell Motor Boat Club on July 10, 2018.
By SCOTT SHURTLEFF |
PUBLISHED: April 7, 2021 at 6:14 a.m. | UPDATED: April 7, 2021 at 6:15 a.m.
LOWELL – “Crossing the bar” is a common term in boating that refers to the death of a mariner.
Last month Armand “Butch” Milot “crossed the bar” at 71 years old, but his bright spirit continues to moor itself inside the Lowell Motor Boat Club.
Milot was the longest serving commodore in the 146-year-old club’s history, serving at its helm for 27 years, overseeing finances, maintaining the boathouse and recruiting members to the popular club whose ocean is a wonderful stretch of the Merrimack River upstream from the Pawtucket Dam all the way into Southern New Hampshire.
In his wake and at his wake, a community grieves but remains grateful to have known the man who touched so many lives.
“He was a great leader,” said long-time member John Marchand. “He was not afraid to get his hands dirty; grab a shovel in the winter or cut the grass. When other members see him doing maintenance, they would chip in. Everything is done in-house and Butch was the one to delegate. And no one questioned him; out of respect for the man not so much the title.”
The flag at the Lowell Motor Boat Club recently flew at half-mast to honor the passing of the club’s longtime leader, Armand “Butch” Milot. Milot’s friend, John Marchand, left, and the club’s new commodore, John Manning, admire the flagpole that Milot installed.
In October 2020, Armand “Butch” Milot with YouthBuild member Derek Monroig.
Armand (Butch) Milot receiving his well-deserved Retired Commodore’s Flag on 30 June 2020 after serving as Commodore of the Lowell Motor Boat Club for 27 years. Butch was the longest serving Commodore in the club’s 146 year history.
The late commodore in the place he loved, on the Merrimack River, in front of the Lowell Motor Boat Club on July 10, 2018.
Also speaking reverently was incumbent commodore John Manning, of Westford, who replaced Milot a year ago.
“When Butch died (March 8, 2021) we not only lost an incredibly effective commodore, we lost our friend.” Manning proudly shows guests at the LMBC the changes, upgrades and additions that Butch made to the old building.
A sunroom that overlooks the river toward the spires of Lowell General Hospital is named in his honor. An upstairs deck hosts cookouts, a coffee spot on the front lawn hides in the shadow of an adjacent flagpole.
All of these are part of Milot’s legacy. His efforts as commodore include the construction and reconfiguration of docks and mooring points.
“He was the first to offer the Lowell Police Department free dock space at the club,” said Manning.
As the river has gained in popularity among recreational boaters and personal watercraft, that space has been key for local public safety personnel. River One is the Lowell Police Department vessel that still rests at the ready at LMBC. The Lowell Fire Department also has access to emergency launches.
“The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary holds annual ‘safe boating’ classes for the public. This is another way that Butch gave of himself,” Manning said.
The Lowell Motor Boat Club was founded in 1875 and incorporated in 1937. The current boathouse at 487 Pawtucket St. was constructed in 1937, after the Great Flood of 1936 destroyed the original building.
The club is entirely volunteer-based, meaning members enlist to help with upkeep such as mowing the lawn and pulling the pier from the water at the end of the season.
But his impact extends far beyond the single acre parcel along the southern bank of the Merrimack on Pawtucket Street.
At CTI’s YouthBuild, Milot was known as Armand.
“We didn’t know who ‘Butch’ was,” said Siobahn Sheehan, program manager of YouthBuild. “I didn’t even know he was the commodore of the club.”
He kept the many personal and professional roles separate from each other but treating each with fervor, enthusiasm and the focus to perform it successfully. His lifelong vocation as a contractor led him to YouthBuild, where he served as crew leader and teacher for more than three years.
“He was a staple here as construction supervisor,” said Sheehan. “He was great with the kids,” she said of his work with the group of at-risk youth under his tutelage. “He taught them carpentry and trained them how to get certified. Vocational school atmosphere, great role model beyond the trades, professionalism and accountability. There is a huge gap in the soul of our student body.”
Aside from the many homes that Milot and his students built, they also boast the construction of two horse barns at Andover’s Ironstone Farm, where DeeDee O’Brien formerly served as
executive director. “He supervised the whole project, the volunteers and the kids from YouthBuild. Everybody worked together,” she said.