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Americans are quickly learning to live under unprecedented restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus and flatten the curve from deadly cases of COVID-19, but thousands of our neighbors increasingly need help.

Millions of people have been put out of work as the closure of nonessential businesses has shut down whole sectors of the economy. Millions more are working remotely and adjusting to livelihoods, schooling and recreation all happening under one roof all day. Gateway Cities such as Brockton and Taunton have been particularly hard-hit as the homes of so many renters, hourly workers, new Americans and front-line healthcare workers.

There is stress and anxiety in every household, but it’s magnified in homes where people were already struggling to make ends meet before this global pandemic hit. Brockton has been especially hit hard by the coronavirus. The city has over 1,200 cases as of April 15 and the second highest rate of infection in Massachusetts.

The economic stress is palpable: more than 100 eviction notices have been filed in Brockton’s housing court since the pandemic arrived in Massachusetts; local food pantries and other service providers are struggling to keep up with demand; and data shows that communities with the lowest average household incomes are experiencing higher rates of infection.

This means that organizations serving at-risk populations are needed now more than ever – even as the challenges and dangers presented by COVID-19 make delivering services all the more difficult. Nonetheless: organizations in Brockton, the South Shore and the Southcoast region are making tremendous efforts to reach our most vulnerable citizens. As our communities rally together during these challenging times, it’s crucial that residents know what services are available to them.

365体育官网The Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro South have repositioned their daily meal assistance programs to provide weeknight grab-and-go dinner services for anyone 18 and under at both their Brockton ad Taunton locations. So far the the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro South are averaging about 150 meals per night – with a single dinner available per child Monday through Thursday and three meals per child available for pickup on Fridays. Grab-and-go hours are 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. HarborOne is proud to support the them, but the need is great, and more support is welcome.

365体育官网Food pantries have also shifted into higher gear as they race to meet increased need and address the elevated risk of food insecurity brought on by unemployment, disruptions in food access and supply chain slowdowns.

Interfaith Social Services – which operates a food pantry in Quincy – has seen both high levels of anxiety and worry among its clients, and unprecedented levels of support and assistance from volunteers.

365体育官网Interfaith is experiencing a significant decrease in the amount of food it is able to rescue from local supermarkets, as well as a decline in revenue of more than $10,000 per month from the necessary closing of its thrift shop. Cash donations are desperately needed. The good news is that as little as $1 can purchase the equivalent of five meals. Donations of nonperishable food items, toiletries and cleaning products are also needed and can be dropped off at Interfaith Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and also 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays – 105 Adams Street, Quincy.

In Brockton, where The Charity Guild has served the Greater Brockton area since 1971, food pantry clients have adjusted well to an outdoor grab-and-go food distribution system set up to comply with social distancing guidelines. The Charity Guild is seeing a marked increase in new clients, as the COVID-19 crisis creates more economic peril and food insecurity each day.

365体育官网The food pantry has added an additional day (Mondays) for food distribution –specifically to social service agencies collecting meals on behalf of clients; and the Guild has also partnered with the non-profit Hope & Comfort to distribute soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes and other personal hygiene items. Community donations of cash, as well as non-perishable food and personal hygiene items, are always welcome.

Managing household financial stress and accessing emergency financial services are also critical as small businesses, individuals and families cope with the economic shock waves of COVID-19. The Capital Good Fund offers micro loans in multiple states including Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The Fund’s “Crisis Loan” program was implemented in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and provides emergency loans from $300 - $1,500 with a deferment period of three months with no payments of interest or principal.

365体育官网This public health crisis is like nothing we have seen in recent history: an unprecedented event that requires unprecedented cooperation at every level of society. The organizations that provide critical services to keep families safe and healthy deserve our gratitude. And they deserve whatever support we can give them.

James W. Blake is CEO of HarborOne Bank.


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