Building Communities
Changing Lives

April 2023

Dear Friends and Supporters,

This is the time of year I love. It's the time of year when event season is in full swing and we are all able to come together to support the many organizations throughout the Merrimack Valley that help to make it a vibrant and giving community.

At Community Teamwork, we are preparing for our Spring Celebration which will be held on Thursday, May 25th at Four Oaks in Dracut. We are extremely excited to announce our 2023 Champions of Community Action, Cathy Mercado, Executive Director at the Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership, Stacey Thompson, Lowell School Committee Member and Director of Learning and Workforce Development at Lowell Community Health Center, and Richard Chávez, Senior Vice President of Commercial Lending at Enterprise Bank. We hope you will be able to join us in honoring these three individuals who embody "Community Action". More details can be found below and at our Spring Celebration Page.

In addition, April is a busy month and we are happy to join with you and our staff in the celebrations of Fair Housing month, Financial Literacy month, Celebrate Diversity month and, Passover, Easter, Cambodian New Year, Earth Day, and Eid-al-fitr (celebration after Ramadan).

We are so fortunate to be part of a community which recognizes and celebrates the contributions of our rich and diverse residents and ancestors.

Gratefully,
Advocacy and State Budget Priorities for FY24

At Community Teamwork, we consistently advocate for legislation which will help our community and this year is not different. From participating in Advocacy Days at the State House, meeting with our Legislators, or writing letter, everyone from our Leadership team to our front line staff gets involved.

Pictured: Meghan Siembor and CFS Team with
State Representative Vanna Howard at the State House

Our focus includes early education and care, housing and rental support, small business technical training, shelter support, human service infrastructure, and community support across the Commonwealth. We are proud to be a significant contributor in helping individuals and families to become and remain self-sufficient and are pleased to work with our legislators toward that goal.

Please click on the the link below for a flyer outlining Community Teamwork, Inc.’s (CTI) State Budget Priorities for FY24.


For more information, visit:
ArtDesigns Comes to Fruition with the help of the Entrepreneurship Center
Top L-R: Car Wraps, Awnings, 3D Channel Letters
They also offer PVC, Indoor and Outdoor Signage, Installations, A-Frames & more
ArtDesigns is a commercial signage company where ideas come to life. The company was founded in November of 2017 in the living room and garage of Luis and Diana Valdez' apartment. Luis and Diana were looking for business ideas to undertake as entrepreneurs.
 
From their hobby, Luis and Diana began to see the need and demand for a sign company in their community of Lawrence. Their first project came from a family member who owned a gas station. They purchased their first vinyl cutters; it took them 11 hours to install a simple sign, but they were so proud and enjoyed the process so much that they decided to start their own company. 
The Entrepreneurship Center Announces New QuickBooks Program for Small Businesses

The Entrepreneurship Center (E-Center) is launching a new program - QuickBooks for Small Businesses - available to businesses in Middlesex and Essex Counties. The QuickBooks Program offers small businesses educational training and usage of accounting software to enhance their ability to manage and grow their companies, providing increased ability for economic success. Through a group setting of classes and one-on-one thereafter, business coaches will provide ongoing support to small business owners to ensure they are on the right track.

For more information on the QuickBooks Program, please visit our website

E-Center QuickBooks Program: English flyer
CTI All Staff Training Day Reflects on Who We Are
As part of CTI's ongoing discussion and education in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion topics, we were shown the renowned documentary, Who We Are - A Chronicle of Racism in America - former ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jeffery Robinson's groundbreaking documentary on the history of U.S. anti-Black racism at our All Staff Training Day.

After the documentary, the staff - led by Saadia Ahmad, CTI's Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Kayla Page, Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity Programs, Southern New Hampshire University - engaged in complex conversations that took bravery, respect and empathy, which was not always comfortable. Through these conversations, we can all learn to recognize and challenge issues of bias, diversity and inclusion and the impacts on the staff, our clients and our community. It was a very emotional, meaningful day of further discovering who we are. The first of many in this evolving journey.
CTI Board Members Bernadette Wheeler, Rita O'Brien Dee and Alexandra Tugbiyele
Karen Frederick, CEO and Saadia Ahmad, Director DEI - both of CTI and Kayla Page, Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity Programs, SNHU
Carl Howell, CPO, CTI
The Culinary Program at YouthBuild of Greater Lowell Wins Best Chili of Annual Chill Night

Once again the YouthBuild of Lowell Culinary Team has won the top award; this time for the Best Chili in the Annual Chill Night cook off. They also won First Place and Best Presentation in the Lowell Winterfest 2023 soup competition at Lowell City Hall that was held in March. The team continued its stellar job when they catered the recent Habitat for Humanity Gala. And, just the other day, Mayor Sokhary Chau awarded YouthBuild Culinary a Citation Award for their contributions to the Lowell community.

The Culinary Program at YouthBuild is rocking - Led by YouthBuild Culinary Arts and Mentorship Coordinators Anna Jabar-Omoyeni and Jason Viteri.

Congratulations!

April is Fair Housing Month

Community Teamwork introduces its new Fair Housing Program. Everyone is entitled to housing without discrimination. Discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, family status, disability, and source of income are all prohibited.

The Fair Housing Program offers free Fair Housing trainings (virtually or in-person). Fair Housing is housing without discrimination. Tenant and advocate trainings focus on rights, self-advocacy and enforcement. Trainings for housing providers (landlords & property management) focus on rights and best practices. Every Thursday, the Fair Housing Program also hosts an open house where questions can be answered virtually.


CONTACT THE COMMUNITY TEAMWORK FAIR HOUSING PROGRAM

Contact us at (978) 654-5736 or fairhousing@commteam.org OR



Application Period for Fuel Assistance 2022-2023 EXTENDED and Benefits INCREASED
Electricity and Gas prices have recently skyrocketed. Individuals and Families at most income levels are struggling to keep up with inflation and soaring food and energy prices. Fortunately, help with fuel costs is available to more families than may be realized.

Please see details below and/or visit our website to see if you or your loved ones qualify.



UPDATE: WITH THE EXTENSION OF THE WINTER SHUT-OFF MORATORIUM TO APRIL 1, 2023 BY THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC UTILITIES - DHCD HAS EXTENDED THE LIHEAP (FUEL ASSISTANCE) APPLICATION PERIOD FROM APRIL 28TH TO MAY 12TH. The heating season remains November 1st through April 30th. Applications may be updated with any changes to household size or income through May 12th.
With the extension of the application deadline, other program-related deadlines are extended as follows:
• Last day to complete incomplete applications- June 12th
• Local appeal deadline- July 10th
• Primary payments should be made by the end of July
• Deadline to issue local appeal decisions - August 7th
• State appeal deadline – September 11th
• Deadline to issue State Appeal decisions - October

UPDATE: DHCD has increased the benefits amount utilizing all remaining LIHEAP client benefit funds. The new chart will be posted on the DHCD website www.mass.gov/hed/fuel and CSG has been notified of this increase. Vendors will be notified of the increase - which could be between $50 and $250 depending on income level.
 
Additionally, all eligible LIHEAP applicants who pay for their heat may receive secondary source payments for utilities (electricity/natural gas) with usage that occurred between November 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022. Secondary payments cannot be made for eligible applicants whose heat is included in their rent. Secondary payments can be only initiated after an agency makes every effort to make payments on the primary heat account first.  



Calling all Housing Provider Partners in Lowell and Lawrence

Community Teamwork is looking for 2 and 3 bedroom units in Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill and surrounding towns.
 
Units must be deleaded. We can offer longer term leases. This is a special program in which CTI is the “Tenant” and responsible for paying the rent (some extra benefits to the owners).
 
If interested, please send the following information:
Address, # of BR and requested rent.
 
Please email your responses to Avi Glaser aglaser@commteam.org
SSSPRING CELEBRATION 2023 SPONSORS
EVENT SPONSOR
SILVER SPONSOR
There are ALWAYS Ways to Help
If you find yourself in a position to help, your contribution will aid our efforts on every front as we work together to defeat COVID-19, care for our clients and families in their hour of greatest need, and emerge stronger than ever.