Local Charity Boosts Up Creativity to Help More, Do More
Malden's Housing Families and other organizations are running the Boston Marathon to help combat homelessness.
Few sectors of the economy have felt the effects of the recent recession as acutely as charities and nonprofits. Organization managers say contributions have decreased across the board, while the needs of the families they serve continue to increase—sometimes exponentially. To keep offering services and reaching out to the local community in times like these, nonprofits have had to get creative.
That’s exactly what Malden’s Housing Families Inc. is doing.
A non-profit group dedicated to eradicating homelessness in the Greater Boston area, Housing Families offers individualized support programs to families and supporting programs aimed at empowering at-risk youth.
Backed with bids from John Hancock and the Jerry Ridge Foundation, Housing Families hopes to raise $70,000 with runners in the 2011 Boston Marathon, one of their major fund-raising events of the year.
“It's really a huge undertaking,” said Krystle Kelly, development manager at the nonprofit. “It takes our runners so long to work up to this, physically and mentally, and then with the fundraising. If they don't raise enough to match the bids through donations, then they've agreed in writing that the remaining bid amount will be charged to their credit cards. It's an enormous commitment.”
In 2010, Housing Families helped 73 families avoid foreclosure on their homes and offered individualized support and outreach services to more than 400 at-risk kids and their families. This year, their goals are even more ambitious, and their fund-raising efforts have had to follow suit.
The runners in the Boston Marathon may be the torch-bearers of the fundraising efforts for that event, but there are other ways to get involved. Housing Families needs volunteers the day of the marathon to help cheer on the runners.
“We give our volunteers maps that show where we're going to be standing and cheering on the runners,” Kelly explained. “I had never understood before I volunteered as one of the spectators how important that role is. The spectators are just as important as anybody else because they keep the runners going. It's a great experience.”
The Boston Marathon is one of the main fundraising efforts the organization has planned this year. But the group has seen its efforts increasingly banded together with those of other local area charities and nonprofits. In this way, they can pool resources and be more efficient in meeting the needs of the community.
“There's been a real shift in that direction [with the economy],” Kelly said. The development manager added that the nonprofit frequently works with local social services organizations, food banks such as Bread of Life, and actively refers clients to other local services.
The Malden nonprofits also hold group fundraising events, such as a large dinner-dance just after the holidays. Housing Families also participates in the Rodman Ride for Kids Event, a bicycling event that takes place in September. Just last year, the ride raised more than $8 million for at-risk youth in Massachusetts, which was distributed to agencies and organizations throughout the state.
“We don't all see each other as competition anymore,” Kelly said. “We're all going after the same $20, so why not split it and work together to help as many families as we can?”
To help Housing Families as a volunteer and spectator the day of the Boston Marathon, or donate to runners, contact Krystle Kelly at 781-322-9119, ext.113, or visit the nonprofit’s website at www.housingfamilies.org.