By Rev. Bria Belim, Covid-19 Grant Coordinator
October was a busy month for the churches that are part of the Covid-19 Grant. We know that Covid-19 has a long and intense effect on so many parts of our common life, especially on communities that have historically been denied economic resources. These churches, through a Mass. Council of Churches supported grant, lead ministries that support health and well-being in the local communities in a variety of creative ways. I am incredibly proud of the work that our churches have been doing as it relates to covid and mental health.
- Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in New Bedford has begun surveying the community looking at pre-covid housing and the lack of post-covid housing. Bethel has partnered with several organizations to accomplish this work, such as a City Community Relations Specialist, Director, New Bedford Public School Committee, ATS Unit, WATC/ Highpoint and others.
- Cathedral of the Beloved in Pittsfield has created a mental health resource card has to be distributed at all Cathedral touch points – worship services, coffee and conversation at local coffee shop, while distributing coffee, water and snacks as we walk the streets of Pittsfield; we will also share these cards with local food pantries and partner organization. Leaders at CotB attended a 1-day Bridges Out of Poverty training; and from this training will serve as a basis for engaging community members in upcoming offerings.
- Cathedral in the Night in Northampton has been meeting with the community and local leaders and artists. They are preparing to begin a 6 week writing group to focus on sharing stories for healing and a songwriter/novelist will be leading the group.
- Calvary Baptist Church in Haverhill hosted a community fellowship with candy and giveaways for youth, children, and families to celebrate the fall and enhance mental health and teach about the principles of God.
- Greater Framingham Community Church’s food distribution continues every other Friday to 120 households who need food assistance. The need in community is growing and five more families placed a request this week. Partnerships continue with Market Basket, Door Dash, and Framingham Public Schools wrap around program. New partnerships were requested with Hope & Comfort in order to supply toiletries. GFCC and Edwards Church are the designated distribution sites in Framingham used to support the migrant community. Through donations of toiletries, clothes and household items, the church is striving to make the transition to the United States more palatable and comfortable. GFCC hosted the second vaccine clinic (series of 3) occurred on Oct. 22 in conjunction with The Latino Health Insurance Program and MetroWest Pharmacy. Associates were available to help with Medicaid enrollment. Flu and Covid-19 vaccines were offered. GFCC has started the first in a series of 3 line dancing classes started to stress the importance of exercising in the community. The classes also enhance brain/body coordination skills that are lost in the aging process. With improved overall health through exercise, the goal is to improve mental health and improve the immune response.