Tag Archive for: Greater Lowell Community Foundation


New center named for Rita O’Brien Dee

Tewksbury resident Rita O’Brien Dee, surrounded by friends, family, and colleagues, was honored by Community Teamwork in Lowell for her half century of service to the organization. The Rita O’Brien Dee Center for Behavioral Health & Development will be a resource for Community Teamwork and providers across the community who are working with children with behavioral, emotional, and developmental challenges.                                                                                                              (Paige Impink photo)

By PAIGE IMPINK News Correspondent paige@yourtowncrier.com

TOWN CRIER – Oct 16, 2021

TEWKSBURY — She thought she was attending a board meeting to accept a donation from a supporter of Community Teamwork, a vital services organization she works with in Lowell. But, when Rita O’Brien Dee saw her face on colorful t-shirts and friends and family under a festive tent, she realized something else was go­ing on.

Community Teamwork CEO Karen Frederick wel­comed O’Brien Dee and explained the surprise.

“We’d like to welcome Rita and acknowledge more than a half century of service to the community, and to the Commu­nity Teamwork family by dedicating The Rita O’Bri­en Dee Center for Behavioral Health & De­velopment,” said Freder­ick.

Through a generous anonymous donation and a subsequent grant from the Greater Lowell Com­munity Foundation, Com­munity Teamwork was able to establish the program, located at the James Houlares Center on Phoenix Avenue in Lowell. The center will be the headquarters for programs and services that promote healthy social-emotional development for children, in­crease children’s success in school, strengthen children and families, and mitigate adversity through trauma-inform­ed care.

According to Child and Family Services Division Director Meghan Siem­bor, “This opportunity could not have come at a better time… This opportunity enables us to meet a critical need and ad­dress a significant public health issue — children’s mental and behavioral health.”

Siembor praised O’Brien Dee.

“Her love for children is unparalleled as is her passion for giving back to the community,” said Siembor. “It truly is an honor for me and the staff across the Division of Child and Family ser­vices to be able to develop this Center in her hon­or.”

O’Brien Dee was visibly moved.

O’Brien Dee has been involved with Commu­nity Teamwork for 56 years. As a single parent raising five children on her own, she faced difficult struggles trying to work, put food on the table, and keep a roof over the heads of her family.

O’Brien Dee started her career as a teacher aide at Head Start, and earned her Associate’s Degree and quickly be­came an early childhood teacher at the center. O’Brien Dee was in the classroom for 27 years.

Upon retirement, O’Bri­en Dee joined the Head Start Policy Council and Community Teamwork’s Board of Directors. O’Bri­en Dee is also a member of many CTI committees and supports numerous initiatives.

According to data collected by CTI, mental health has emerged as a prominent community need, jumping from the fourth-most cited community need to the second-most cited need from the prior survey cycles. The impact of the pandemic is notable.

Key information also points to mental health as the most pressing is­sue in the community behind the need for better housing, according to CTI’s data for the great­er Lowell community.

O’Brien Dee is known in Tewksbury for her participation in the Friends of the Library, the Tewksbury Historical Society, and is an active member of the Tewks­bury Senior Center, Gar­den Club, the Democra­tic Town Committee, and is a former election wor­ker.

O’Brien Dee has been an inspiration and example of giving back to the community, not just in Tewksbury, but in the greater Merrimack Val­ley.

If you would like to donate to help support the new Rita O’Brien Dee Center for Behavior­al Health & Develop­ment, please contribute to the Greater Lowell COMMUNITY Foundation c/o The Rita O’Brien Dee Center for Behavioral Health and Development




GLCF Grant Helps Nonprofits Improve Virtual Programming


Local nonprofits create new online programming thanks to technical-training classes from Lowell TeleMedia Center, funded by a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation

Eva Cortes, a WIC breastfeeding peer counselor, provided well-baby sessions online when Lowell’s Community Teamwork Inc. benefited from LTC’s Media Making classes, funded by a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. COURTESY GLCF


November 28, 2020 at 5:51 a.m.

LOWELL – Virtual well-baby visits for new moms and infants. Monitoring a nest of turtle eggs in the wild. Cooking videos led by a local nutritionist. Online nature walks with a botanical illustrator.

These are just a few examples of the new online programming local nonprofits have created, thanks to technical-training classes from Lowell TeleMedia Center, funded by a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.

Last spring, when the pandemic forced nonprofit organizations into lockdown mode, they moved their face-to-face programs online. However, as summer fast approached, many realized they needed help creating virtual programming to attract young people.

A baby Blanding’s turtle was hatched from a nest monitored by Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust as part of its virtual summer programming. The LPCT received LTC training to create virtual content as part of a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. COURTESY GLCF

“Kids are usually outside running around during the summer, but all that changed this year with COVID-19,” LTC Executive Director Wendy Blom said. “Our local nonprofits knew they had to start offering online summer programming — and they had to do it quickly.”

Recognizing this need, GLCF awarded a $5,000 grant to LTC to organize a series of Media Making classes for 10 youth-serving nonprofits.

Offered in late June and early July, the training covered Zoom, social media, TikTok, cellphone video, podcasting and iMovie editing.

“In our spring Zoom meetings with local nonprofits, they let us know they wanted skills training for virtual programming,” said Jay Linnehan, GLCF President and CEO. “Our nonprofit partners needed to pivot their in-person programming online and wanted it to be quality, engaging content for discerning youth. We knew LTC could provide that training.”

The response to Media Making classes was overwhelmingly positive, Blom said.

“I was amazed that so many organizations — and how many staff — wanted to take our classes,” she said.

LTC trained 115 people, she said, and both small and large nonprofits took advantage of the six courses. The online content they created was also highly varied.

Jane Calvin, executive director of Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust, said her staff of four welcomed the training.

“It was perfect timing,” she said. “We had already started creating virtual content but had questions about how to do it better and how to get it out to a wider audience.”

One of the few accredited urban land trusts in the country, LPCT protects land throughout Lowell and provides community programming to connect residents to natural resources in the city, including outdoor after-school and summer programs.

“When COVID shut everything down, I told my staff, ‘Be creative! Let’s take advantage of this time to get out to Trust properties we haven’t videoed before,’” Calvin recalled.

So, Environmental Educator Emily Wood began making virtual nature walks, encouraging viewers to create nature journals to keep track of the plants and animals they encountered.

Wood’s engrossing videos also feature beautiful time-lapse botanical illustrations she draws on camera.

The trust also created virtual content teachers could use, added Calvin. In previous years, three Lowell science teachers had run popular “turtle adoption” programs in their classrooms. Shortly after COVID-19 shut down schools, a trust staff member noticed that a rare Blanding’s turtle, a threatened species, had laid eggs in her neighborhood. She began making short videos as she kept watch over the nest.

During the summer, in conjunction with Zoo New England, LPCT monitored the nest, and eventually, eight baby turtles hatched. Trust staff and volunteers are now raising the turtles in a terrarium in the office and plan to release them back into the wild next spring.

Lowell’s Community Teamwork Inc., a community action agency with more than 500 employees, also benefited from the Media Making classes, according to Amy Weatherbee, Manager of Grants & Planning.

“By March 16, word of mouth just shut down, so word of mouth went virtual,” Weatherbee said. “We had to pivot quickly to online program delivery, and when this opportunity at LTC came up, we jumped at it. Not only did our summer youth programmers want training, but we also asked if staff from other CTI divisions could attend Media Making classes,” she said.

The foundation agreed, and CTI sent more than 30 staffers from across the organization to the virtual classes.

As a result, CTI’s Entrepreneurship Center began hosting daily Zoom calls for small-business owners with questions about how to apply for federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, Weatherbee said.

No longer able to hold in-person nutrition workshops, a nutritionist in CTI’s Women, Infants &;Children, or WIC, program created a series of popular “healthy eating” cooking videos. Another WIC staffer moved her well-baby sessions online and, in the process, discovered that her client list grew because new moms found it easier to attend virtually.

According to Weatherbee, these are just a few of the many ways CTI utilized Media Making classes to improve client outreach.

“The foundation was great,” she said. “It stepped in and quickly provided much-needed help to agencies that had to switch to the realities of remote work,” she said.

“This type of grant,” said Jennifer Aradhya, GLCF’s vice president of marketing and programs, “is what community foundations do best — convening nonprofit partners, identifying a common need and providing a funding solution. This partnership is real grass-roots philanthropy at its best. And in this case, the skills our partners gained have set them up nicely for future programming.”


Kathy Register, Special to the sun


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Valuable, Virtual Internship

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This summer Project LEARN launched Commencement 2 Careers – Valuable, Virtual Internship

By Emma Murphy

emurphy@ lowellsun. com

Lowell » A new Project LEARN program is giving high school students the chance to gain real-world work experience through local internships even amid COVID-19 public health restrictions.

This summer Project LEARN launched Commencement 2 Careers, a two- month virtual program that teaches students how to build resumes, dress for the job and use essential tools like Microsoft Excel. After learning those skills in the program’s first few

Interns » 4a

Lowell High class of 2020 graduates Shaveen Gachau and Stacey McGuire, who have internships through Project Learn’s commencement 2 careers program, chat with Lowell High teacher Kendra Bauer and Project learn executive director LZ Nunn.

Franky Descoteaux, director of the entrepreneurship center @cti, poses with Lowell High class of 2020 graduate Koby Pailin, who has an internship through Project Learn’s commencement 2 careers program. at top, 

Julia Malakie Photos /Lowell Sun

From Page 1a

weeks, participating students then intern for a local participating business or organization.

“ COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted our students and families here in Lowell,” Executive Director of Project LEARN LZ Nunn said in an email. “ The goal in creating C2C was to develop real- world work experience and skill building, in a virtual setting, which our graduates can take into college, career and life experience into the future.”

Available to recent Lowell high graduates and rising seniors, the program paired 40 interns with 13 host sites around the city, including Lowell High School and CTI. The students each received a $ 500 stipend and obtained 45-50 hours of work- based experience.

According to Nunn, the students developed skills in collaboration, team work, workplace communication, presentation, research and MS Office Suite.

Recent Lowell High grads and Commencement 2 Careers interns Shaveen Gachau and Bryan Montal said they appreciated the program for the practical skills it taught them.

“I learned how to be professional and how to use technology to my advantage, especially during this time,” Gachau said.

Gachau, 18, just started classes at UMass Boston, where she is majoring in international relations. Just a week into her freshman year Gachau said she has already used some of the technology she learned to use over the summer.

Montal, 18, jumped at the chance to participate in the program because he wanted workplace experience before starting college this fall. Montal is studying computer science at UMass Lowell.

“ Since I was going into college I wanted experience in any type of workplace,” Montal said. “ I just wanted to get experience at the intern level.”

Both Montal and Gachau interned through Lowell High School working with an English teacher to develop curriculum for the 2020-21 school year.

“ I’ve always seen it as a student but never as a teacher,” Montal said of the curriculum development.

Gachau was able to work with her senior year English teacher, Kendra Bauer, to help develop curriculum. According to Gachau, the interns were tasked with reading “ How To Be An Antiracist” and developing questions and worksheets for Bauer’s incoming students.

For Gachau, the internship came at an opportune time. She was supposed to intern for Lowell Alliance earlier this year, but it was canceled just a few weeks in due to the pandemic.

According to Nunn, Commencement 2 Careers was designed to accommodate students who need flexible schedules and who might have trouble finding transportation to and from their internships.

“ There are other interns who have other jobs and summer school and they’re able to fit time in,” Montal said.

Franky Descoteaux, director of the Entrepreneurship Center @ CTI, learned about the program through Nunn.

“LZ always puts together great stuff,” Descoteaux said. “Even in the pilot stage she’s got good ideas.”

Descoteaux participated as one of the 13 intern hosts and oversaw a team of interns who helped her with research. The Entrepreneurship Center had recently received some grants to connect with small, local businesses and help them through the pandemic.

The center’s interns were tasked with identifying all small businesses in the area, categorizing them by type of business and assign contacts. It was a large task that Descoteaux said would have been a challenge for her to complete without the help of the Commencement 2 Careers interns.

Beyond help completing the project, Descoteaux said she agreed to participate because she enjoys working with high school and college- age students.

“ I love helping young people in particular think about their life and what they create for themselves in their life,” Descoteaux said.

Commencement 2 Careers was funded by the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, a grant from the state and private donors. Currently the organization is looking for funding for the next round of virtual internships.

Moving forward, Nunn said Project LEARN hopes to expand the program to serve over 100 students annually.

Both Montal and Gachau said they would recommend Commencement 2 Careers to other students.

“ If you ever need a referral for a job or another internship they’re very open to do it, they’re very good at answering questions ( about) getting a job or career or getting into higher education,” Gachau said. “ We don’t have a class on how to make your resume better, you don’t have a class that teaches you how to dress; these people are offering it.”

Lowell high class of 2020 graduates shaveen gachau and stacey mcguire, who have internships through project LEARN’s commencement 2 careers program, talk to Lowell high teacher Kendra Bauer. Gachau worked with Bauer, her senior year English teacher, to help develop curriculum. Gachau said the interns were tasked with reading ‘how to be An Antiracist’ and developing questions and worksheets for Bauer’s incoming students

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Greater Lowell Community Foundation awards additional response grants for rent relief

The grants were part of the seventh and final round of distributions from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist area nonprofits serving vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Volunteers provide fresh food delivery for adults with disabilities at Minute Man Arc, a recent grant recipient from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund through GLCF.

LOWELL – The Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) announced that it awarded $290,000 from its GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to nonprofit organizations, this includes targeted funding to provide rent relief to families and individuals that face a loss of housing due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. The grants were part of the seventh and final round of distributions from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist area nonprofits serving vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are so grateful to the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund for supporting our neighbors in Greater Lowell who are unhoused or at risk of becoming homeless,” said GLCF President & CEO Jay Linnehan. “These grants boost the efforts of our tremendous nonprofit partners who have continued to go above and beyond during the pandemic to support those who need it most.”

“As of June, Massachusetts and Greater Lowell had the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 17.5%, with the city of Lowell exceeding that rate at 20.5%. Coupled with the July 31st expiration of the Federal Unemployment supplement payments, we at Community Teamwork fully expect to see a secondary increase in demand for assistance from families who are trying stay safe and to remain in current housing,” said Karen Frederick, CEO of Community Teamwork. “We are so grateful for this Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund grant opportunity through GLCF, which allows us to help families so tragically impacted by job loss and housing insecurity as a result of this pandemic.”

The following 10 nonprofits receiving grants in the latest round of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund are:

  • Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell, Inc. – to provide emergency rental and food assistance
  • Clear Path for Veterans New England, Inc. – to purchase and provide food and groceries for veterans and their families unable or without means to access food due to COVID-19
  • Coalition for a Better Acre, Inc. – to provide financial support to low-income residents impacted by COVID-19 for rental payments for low-income housing
  • Community Teamwork Inc. – to provide financial support to low-income residents for housing
  • Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. – to prevent food insecurity among seniors
  • International Institute of New England (IINE) – Lowell – to provide emergency rental assistance
  • Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) – to provide rental assistance in cases of urgent need
  • Minute Man Arc for Human Services Inc.- to purchase and provide food and groceries for home-bound people with physical and mental disabilities
  • Minuteman Senior Services – to prevent food insecurity among seniors
  • Paul’s Soup Kitchen, Inc. – to purchase food to produce meals for the homeless

The Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund supports those across the state most impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis, focusing on essential frontline workers and vulnerable populations including the homeless, immigrant populations, people with disabilities and those facing food insecurity. The Fund works in concert with regional community foundations and non-profit leaders who partner with local leaders to understand the response and relief landscape, strategically filling in where gaps are pronounced. For more information, visit MACovid19ReliefFund.org

“The Mass COVID Relief Fund grant opportunity through GLCF was instrumental in enabling Minute Man Arc to purchase and store food supplies for our eight group homes,” said Jean A. Goldsberry, CEO of Minute Man Arc. “Emergency funding like this is supporting the needs of people with disabilities in eastern MA and keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe and healthy.”

To date, GLCF has awarded nearly $2.5 million through 172 rapid response grants to nonprofits battling COVID-19 and the resulting fallout from the virus through the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.

Donations to the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund can be made online at www.glcfoundation.org or by mail to the GLCF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund c/o GLCF, 100 Merrimack Street, Suite 202, Lowell, MA 01852.

International Institute of New England (IINE) staff with “back to school” donations. IINE received multiple grants from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund through GLCF to support refugees during the pandemic.




GLCF, CTI and Middlesex District Attorney’s Office Partner in Drug Court Transportation Project

GLCF, CTI and Middlesex District Attorney’s Office Partner in Drug Court Transportation Project

Community Teamwork, Inc. (CTI) receives $10,000 Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) Grant

Lowell, March 13, 2019 – Community Teamwork, Inc. (CTI), Greater Lowell Community Foundation and
the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office are announcing a first-of-its kind partnership to provide
transportation to individuals to and from Drug Court. Last year CTI received a $10,000 grant from
the Greater Lowell Community Foundation to help start the pilot program, which kicked off in
October, and is currently providing services three women who are being picked up from a Lynn Sober
House and transported to their court appearances. The goal is to accommodate up to 13 individuals
each week.

“This partnership with the office of District Attorney Marian T. Ryan, Community Teamwork and the
Drug Court is the capstone of a multi-year commitment to fund programs for opioid prevention and
treatment in our area and help ensure success for participants. In response to the opioid epidemic,
the Community Foundation has awarded more than $160,000 in discretionary funds to support local
nonprofits,” said Greater Lowell Community Foundation President and CEO Jay Linnehan.

“By providing this transportation option we are filling a service gap that was prohibiting some
individuals from easily accessing the courts, which is essential to successful completion of drug
court,” said District Attorney Ryan. “We continue to work with the courts and our community
partners to ensure the criminal justice system is not just punitive. To do this we need to think
outside the box to come up with innovative solutions that will hopefully lead to a successful
outcome and ultimately interrupt the often cyclical effects of substance use disorders.”

The Drug Court is a special session within Massachusetts district courts where judges, prosecutors,
defense attorneys, probation officers, police and social-service workers team up to work with
defendants on probation whose crimes were motivated by substance abuse. Many defendants are placed
where treatment beds are available, which can be

located in Sober Houses far from their community and the Drug Court. These defendants risk
violating probation because they are unable to secure transportation to attend their trial. In
addition, various modes of transportation, such as public transportation and taxis can be cost
prohibitive and often defendants can find themselves back in the neighborhoods and streets where
drugs are being sold.

Community Teamwork recognized that its Transportation Department, which brings children to and from
school, had flexibility to use drivers and vehicles during the school day to respond to other
community needs. With funding from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, CTI is deploying
drivers and vehicles to fill this need. GLCF provided a $10,000 grant to support the cost of a
driver and van for Community Teamwork to facilitate this innovative approach to assist the Drug
Court and its clients. Together, CTI, GLCF and the Drug Court probation officers developed a
framework for what the program might look like as well as a strict Code of Conduct which the
participants would have to follow in order to receive the benefit of this program.

“Most often, these defendants are in need of other basic services which CTI can provide, such as
housing, financial literacy, child care, etc. Through this pilot program, which can send employees
from CTI to work with the probation officials and social workers, we are able to identify the
various resources available to the defendants. We could not have taken this novel approach without
the help of this grant from GLCF,” stated Meghan Siembor, Director of Child and Family Services.

About Community Teamwork

Community Teamwork is a catalyst for social change. Our driving mission is to help people help
themselves with child care, family supports, nutrition, fuel assistance, housing, skills training,
employment, financial education, and individual asset and small business development. As a
Community Action Agency, a Regional Housing Agency, and a Community Development Corporation,
Community Teamwork helps nearly 50,000 individuals from 63 cities and towns in northeastern
Massachusetts gain greater economic independence.

About the Greater Lowell Community Foundation

The Greater Lowell Community Foundation is a philanthropic organization comprised of over 350
funds, currently totaling over $35MM, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life in 20
neighboring cities and towns. The Community Foundation annually awards grants and scholarships to
hundreds of worthy nonprofits and students, and is powered by the winning combination of
donor-directed giving, personal attention from its staff, and an in-depth understanding of local
needs. The generosity of our donors has enabled the

Community Foundation to award more than $13 million to the Greater Lowell Community since 1999.


Program Contact: Meghan Siembor – Division Director, Child and Family Services 978-654-7130,  msiembor@commteam.org

Media Contacts: Julia Ripa – jripa@commteam.org, communications@commteam.org,  978-654-5628  OR Meghan Kelly,  781-897-8325, Meghan.Kelly@state.ma.us

Fantastic article in the Lowell Sun (3/29/19) by Rick Sobey about how the Middlesex DA Marian Ryan GLCFoundation and CTI are partnering to help drug-court defendants go to their hearings – They are using CTI buses during the time of day when they are not in use! BIG return for a very small investment!