SMOC'S MISSION To improve the quality of life of low-income and disadvantaged individuals and families by advocating for their needs and rights; providing services; educating the community; building a community of support; participating in coalitions with other advocates and searching for new resources and partnerships.
Honoring the Past; Celebrating the Future
At a recent board meeting, SMOC recognized Wellesley artist Alexander Golob for the mural he created in a common area at our headquarters entitled: Honoring the Past; Celebrating the Future. The left side of the mural depicts a Caribbean island scene, which morphs into the New England shoreline and then into SMOC’s architecture at the right, celebrating the pilgrimage many of our clients have made from the Caribbean to the US. The mural is acrylic paint and incorporates Haitian tin art.
SMOC Financial Services Launches
SMOC Financial Services held two events recently, one at SMOC’s Framingham Headquarters and the other at our Martin Luther King, Jr. Opportunity Center in Worcester, to celebrate the launch of our microloan fund/small business technical assistance program. Microloans will range from $1,000-$25,000 and outreach will focus on minority, low-income, immigrant, women, veterans and disabled entrepreneurs within the MetroWest and Worcester regions.
WIC’s “Good Food Project” Showcased
SMOC’s Women Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition program hosted the federal regional USDA Administrator and WIC’s Regional Office Director and Policy Director for a tour of the USDA funded “Good Food Project”, a hands-on cooking instruction and nutrition education program located in WIC at our Framingham Headquarters. Julie Mason, a WIC nutritionist, demonstrated the art of cooking nutritious and delicious, quick and budget conscious meals.
Governor Baker Visits SMOC to Announce "Urban Agenda" Award
Governor Baker visited SMOC on Jan 14th to announce the State's "Urban Agenda" Award to the Framingham Business Resource Alliance, a community collaboration led by SMOC. Together the partners will launch a one-stop microenterprise center at SMOC's Framingham headquarters. This initiative will boost the launch and growth of new businesses headed by downtown entrepreneurs, especially including immigrants, women, veterans and the disabled.
Successful Women in Clean Energy Initiative
On November 9, we celebrated the graduation of 13 women who participated in the first ever Successful Women in Clean Energy training. This pilot program was funded by MassCEC with the goal of creating a strong, replicable program model. During the 5 weeks of training, participants were taught energy efficiency and conservation with a focus on solar, customer service skills, employment and life skills. Upon completion, graduates will be placed in 6 month fellowships with a goal of finding permanent jobs with competitive wages. Friends and family of the graduates were in attendance along with local officials, student mentors, program staff and representatives from MassCEC.
SMOC Celebrates Re-opening of 10-12 Coburn Street in Framingham
The Open House was held on Oct. 15 to celebrate the reconstruction of 10-12 Coburn Street in Framingham. The property was badly damaged by a fire last year (fortunately nobody was harmed). The new space will provide affordable supportive housing for two families. We would like to thank Mass Housing for providing financing for this project to supplement insurance proceeds. The ribbon cutting ceremony, pictured here, was attended by local officials, financing and construction partners, SMOC Board members and staff.
SMOC's 2015 Summer Jobs for Youth Graduation
This summer, 14 youth aged 17-22, participated in the Summer Jobs for Youth program. They were placed in 10 different paid internships both at SMOC and the United Way Pearl Street Cupboard and Café. The youth participated in on-the-job training and a series of workforce development workshops aimed at enhancing their job readiness. At the end of the program, the youth were better prepared for employment. Each participant finished the program with a new toolbox of skills as well as a resume, cover letter and a thank you note.
SMOC Supports Worcester's Youth
As a member of Worcester's Chandler Street Business Association, SMOC will be sponsoring the work of four neighborhood youth this summer within the Chandler Street Business Association Summer Youth Employment Program. This valuable program allows the neighborhood youth to be involved in the direction of their neighborhood on many levels. Pictured here are SMOC Executive Director Jim Cuddy and The Pho Hien Buddhist Temple Youth Director, Hieu Nguyen, representing the Chandler Street Business Association.
A Cause for Celebration
On June 19, the Joan Brack Adult Learning Center held its annual Graduation Ceremony at Framingham Town Hall. The event celebrated the 9 HiSET (formerly GED) and 16 English as a Second Language (ESL) graduates. The grads received words of inspiration from guest speakers from Mass Bay and the Framingham School Committee, while state and local representatives, board members and proud family members joined in the festivities.
YARCM Program Graduation
The SMOC YARCM Program (Young Adult Residential Case Management) recently celebrated the graduation of two of its residents. Both men, John Abbott and Robert Ryan, have completed the one year program with special distinction and both have remained at the residence to serve as House Managers and mentors to the current YARCM Program participants. Families of both men attended the graduation, as well as the entire YARCM group (pictured here). We are grateful for, and humbled by their accomplishment.
Sunflower Garden Dedication
On a sunny day in September, SMOC staff and friends partook in the dedication of the new Sunflower Garden at 7 Bishop Street. The garden was dedicated in memory of longtime SMOC staffer, Moses Mohammed. The sunflowers bring a welcome ray of sunshine to Bishop Street. Passersby are welcome to stop and rest on a nearby bench and enjoy the garden.
Building a Culture of Care
SMOC's history has been published by local author and Board member Hugo "Holly" Hollerorth. The book is called "Building a Culture of Care: The Ongoing Saga of the South Middlesex Opportunity Council." It is an in-depth look at the origins, history and evolution of the organization through the years. Pictured here are the author (center) with staff members Susan Gentili (left) and Darlene Assencoa (right).