NNHN's One-Year Anniversary: Day 4
A note from Newton Neighbors founder, Martha Bixby:
When I first moved to Newton, I was so inspired by the incredible breadth of options for getting involved in our community. From environmental issues and conservation, to responding to food insecurity, to learning about local politics. Even with so many options as a newcomer it was hard to learn about the best ways to get involved, meet people, and feel like I was a part of the community.
Shortly after moving here I was lucky to connect with a fellow mom of young kids who also cared about building community in Newton. Caitlin and I worked to build a project we called Welcoming Newton, dedicated to creating community and providing information to those who are new to Newton - or still feel new, as so many of us do!
For almost a year we made plans, started sending a monthly newsletter featuring one of Newton’s villages through the eyes of a local “village guide,” attending events each month and encouraging newcomers to join us. We were also planning a big “Newton 101” event with the Newton Free Library. When everything changed as Massachusetts shut down in response to COVID-19, our plans were also put on hold. Instead, we threw our efforts behind the biggest way our community could come together in the face of COVID - Newton Neighbors Helping Neighbors. We offered our time, we shared space on our website for important information about their work, and partnered together wherever possible.
At this year milestone, we are excited to formalize the partnership between Welcoming Newton and Newton Neighbors Helping Neighbors and to announce that together we are now one incorporated non-profit organization - Newton Neighbors!
This last year has shown how quickly people are willing to mobilize and contribute to our “neighborhoods.” One of our goals as Newton Neighbors is to continue to build the community network and to showcase other organizations who are doing great work in and around Newton. This is where you, our facebook page members, have made such an impact.
We have been introduced and connected to important partners whose work is linked to our mission. This includes the Newton Food Pantry, Centre Street Food Pantry, the Post 400 food pantry, Welcome Home, Cradles to Crayons,The Newton Rotary, The J.M. Barry Boys and Girls, The YMCA Newton, The Newton Housing Authority, The Arabic Baptist Church, The Second Step, Thom River Early Intervention, and so many more. We are grateful for these partnerships and we hope you will support, volunteer and get to know them as well.
At this time, we are also grateful for the partnership and fiscal sponsorship of Newton Community Pride. Newton Community Pride is behind so many of Newton’s fun and community-building events - from fireworks to Newton Serves. We are grateful to have their umbrella over us as we venture into new territory as an incorporated non-profit organization.
Check out this statement of support from Gloria Gavris, Board Chair at Newton Community Pride: “Newton Community Pride is happy to have the opportunity to assist Welcoming Newton and Newton Neighbors Helping Neighbors in their growth as a new consolidated non-profit in our community. Both groups of volunteers have done so much this past year for so many of our residents. We wish them well and support their collective mission of volunteerism and service in our city.”
It truly takes a village to do this work - and we are grateful for all parts of Newton’s villages who have connected during this challenging time.
One incredible part of our village has been our Tufts University interns! I want to highlight the important work our interns have done for Newton Neighbors in our data collection and brand building.
Building a Brand My name is Kiran Ahmad and I am a junior at Tufts University studying Community Health. I am interested in the intersection between art and health - how we feel and experience comfort through visual aid. As an intern for NNHN, creating a brand seemed an important way to foster community. When I thought about a logo design, I started with, “what does this organization feel like and what might that look like from a design perspective.” One of the values of NNHN is showing support and respect and to me that feels like a hug and an outreached hand. Integrating hearts and hands is a beautiful way to show how the community is connected.
Data Matters My name is Sophie Schoeni and I am a junior at Tufts University studying Community Health and Child Studies and Human Development. I’ve been working as an intern helping NNHN to track our efforts and monitor gaps and assets in our community. This work helps us ensure that we are aligning our work with neighbors' needs, building on community strengths, and adapting as things change. This means continuously working to learn about our community and using what we learn to guide our work. Over the last year, we partnered with the Newton Food Pantry to do a Community Needs Assessment, which involved interviews with social workers and other community stakeholders. Through this work, tracking ongoing requests, administering a survey and collecting individual impact statements, we are asking questions, tracking data, listening, and learning.