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Welcoming and Connecting Neighbors: February in Newton

February in Newton

It's February! Happy Lunar New Year and Black History Month, and we hope you enjoyed the recent snow. Having featured "village guides" of most of Newton's villages, we are now turning to profiles of places that bring Newtonians together. We begin this month with Family ACCESS, which serves local families with indispensable services. Stay tuned in the coming months for profiles of other local institutions - and if you would like to suggest one, please email us at newtonneighborshelping@gmail.com. Read on for information on fun winter events, a new community veterinary clinic, ways to support neighbors, and more.

Community Spaces: Family Access

A big thank you to Maureen Lister and Wendy Valentine for answering our questions about Family ACCESS! They provided so much wonderful information that the full organization profile is available on our website, here. The interview below is slightly shortened to fit the newsletter. Tell us about your organization - where is it located, when was it founded, what is your mission?

Family ACCESS (A Center for Comprehensive Education and Support Services) of Newton was founded over 100 years ago by a group of progressive women to provide support for the children of domestic workers employed in the grand homes of West Newton Hill. In 1907 they opened their doors to 10 children, and just one year later they were serving almost 300. The mission of Family ACCESS is to strengthen children, families, and the community by providing programs that nurture child development, promote effective parenting skills, and provide economic mobility.

Over the years Family ACCESS programs have continued to expand and evolve to meet the emerging needs in Newton and surrounding communities. During the pandemic, Family ACCESS offered 30 parent-child groups and 75 parenting sessions and embraced EMPath’s Mobility Mentoring, a coaching model that supports single mothers moving from poverty to self-sufficiency.

Historical Photo - This photo from the 1940’s shows a group of young girls learning to sew, one of the skill-building activities the organization offered to the community.

What programs do you offer?

The Early Learning Center (ELC) serves up to 144 children each year in an NAEYC accredited, inclusive care and preschool education for children from infant through Pre-K, with 20% of slots subsidized for low-income families. With the forced closing or reduced capacity of many childcare centers during the pandemic, ELC has continued to provide safe, affordable childcare, offering full-day, full-year programs. “Access for families to quality care for their children is very difficult for a variety of reasons,” says Wendy Valentine, Program Operations Director. “The cost of care in Massachusetts is the highest in the nation. Many families were impacted financially by COVID illness and related loss of employment, so there are many challenges for families in finding and affording care in our local community.” [...]

Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS), a two-generational intervention, includes home-visiting to respond to developmental/behavioral challenges, young parent support services, including counseling for pregnant and parenting teens, and economic mobility coaching to help families become financially secure. [...]

Early Literacy Services (ELS) offers home-based and community programs in literacy and early reading skills for families whose children are not attending pre-school. During the pandemic, they offered virtual home visits with literacy specialists and Zoom groups to promote reading strategies and engagement. Their programs ParentChild + and Raising-a-Reader are national, evidence-based literacy programs that model interactive and shared reading for parents with young children.

The Child Assault Prevention Program (CAP) teaches children the importance of assertiveness, peer support, and turning to trusted adults for assistance. Before the pandemic, CAP reached 3100 elementary students in three communities. During the 2020 school year, when so many classrooms were conducted virtually, CAP developed innovative online resources for parents and teachers. [...]

Do you offer programing in languages other than English?

We offer programs in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Family ACCESS Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS) is the only provider of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking young parenting groups in some of the communities we serve. [...]

What is your favorite thing about the village/neighborhood near your building?

Family Access purchased and moved into its current location at 492 Waltham St. in West Newton in 1981. This building was previously the location of the old Davis School. I love it when a family comes to one of our programs and has a past connection to the building because a parent or grandparent was a student at the Davis School. It is wonderful to see this space continuing to serve new generations of children in our community.

How can people find out about programs or events? How do people stay in touch with your organization?

For more information on all of our programs, log on to familyaccess.org. You can subscribe to our Community Connections Newsletter (full of great local activities for families with young children) here: https://www.familyaccesscommunityconnections.com.

Local Events

Newton Community Pride's WinterFEST: Join your neighbors and friends at WinterFEST, an outdoor fun filled afternoon. Watch a 5 foot polar bear come to life with a live ice sculpture demonstration, live music performance by the Boston College Accoustics, be wowed by the glow in the dark hula hoop show, stroll along a winter pop-up market, take pictures with Olaf from Frozen, and more. All events are free and open to all!

“LoveFEST" is a retail shopping event from All Over Newton designed to drive revenue to Newton’s small businesses for Valentine’s Day shopping, to dovetail with Newton Community Pride’s upcoming WinterFEST. To make shopping local even easier, ALL Over Newton will post an online LoveFEST webpage of participating Newton businesses. From there, shoppers can browse and purchase Valentine’s Day gifts directly from shops all over Newton, from chocolates, to heart-shaped bowls, flowers, aprons, restaurant gift cards, and more. Most online purchases can then be picked up at WinterFEST on February 13—just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Love Local: The Charles River Chamber of Commerce's Find It Local Directory is filled with ideas for shopping and giving.


Lunar New Year at the New Art Center: Join the New Art Center and friends from the Cambridge Center for Chinese Culture (CCCC) for a special Lunar New Year Celebration this Sunday, February 6 from 12:00PM - 2:00 PM! This Cultural Community Day celebrates the Asian Lunar New Year with art, decorations, and traditional martial arts demonstrations. Save the date for upcoming workshops from Newton Youth Services:

  • College Acceptance & Financial Award Review – “How to make the best decision for you.” Thursday, February 17 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. via Zoom webinar. Pre-registration required.

  • Supporting Transition Age Youth Workshop Series: Wednesday, March 9 and Wednesday, March 16 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. via Zoom webinar. Talks will focus on both general considerations for supporting adolescents with post-high school transition and supporting the successful post-high school transition for youth with mental health and unique learning needs.

  • Social Media/Technology & Mental Health: Katie LeClerc Greer, a nationally recognized digital safety expert will share the latest tech trends, safety issues, and tips on how to help young people have a productive, healthy relationship with technology. Learn what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next when it comes to your young person and technology. Thursday, April 14 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. via Zoom webinar.

City News

Snow shoveling ordinance

From the City of Newton website: To ensure pedestrians safe travel throughout the City, the City of Newton requires all property owners or occupants of a building to maintain all paved and concrete sidewalks abutting their property or business in a non-slippery condition free of ice and snow within 24 hours after snow has ceased to fall or ice has formed.

The City is also asking everyone to please check on their neighbors to see if they need help with clearing, especially older neighbors and people with health concerns.

Helping Neighbors

Consider helping one of Newton Neighbors' ongoing programs! 1. Our bulk food delivery volunteer slots for the next few months just got finalized! Email us at newtonneighborshelping@gmail.com to connect with Allen, who runs this amazing program that runs from Jamaica Plain to Watertown to Framingham to Sharon.

2.Deliver food from food pantries in Newton to families who are unable to access the pantries themselves. We need drivers in February and March.You can sign up to deliver during one or more of the following times:

  • Wednesday afternoons from Newton Food Pantry, pick up food at assigned delivery times between 12 - 3pm.

  • The 1st Saturday of the month from Centre Street Food Pantry, pick up food between 1:30 - 2:30pm.

  • The 3rd Friday of the month from the American Legion Nonantum Post 440 Mobile Food Bank, pick up food 9 - 9:15am (before the pantry opens to the public).

February signups: https://volunteersignup.org/7WRBL

March signups: https://volunteersignup.org/7W9KQ


3. Help the Newton Neighbors Newton Community Freedge team every other Thursday! A few February and March sign ups are still available - please sign up here.

Need Support? Have something to give? Community resources:

New Community Veterinary Clinic: The Veterinary Technology Program of UMass Amherst – Mount Ida Campus in Newton is opening a community veterinary clinic beginning in February! We are looking forward to being able to offer vaccines and other non-urgent wellness care to the Newton area and surrounding communities and sliding scale pricing for qualified families. They will be open during allotted times on Fridays and will be by appointment only. To schedule a non-urgent appointment call 617-243-1640.

Food assistance: information on the three food pantries, grab and go, and more available on the city's website here. Info on the Newton Community Freedge (free fridge), a 24/7 free community food resource, is available here.

The Horace Cousens Industrial Fund is a charitable trust, established in 1930, which gives financial help to Newton residents who are faced with a temporary but severe financial problem. Grants are for one-time specific needs. https://www.newtonma.gov/home/showpublisheddocument?id=41413

Welcome Home, Inc. is a home goods pantry based at Trinity Church in Newton. Want to shop? Email welcomehomemass@gmail.com to schedule an appointment. www.welcomehomemass.org Urgent needs at the moment:

Newton Neighbors has a Facebook group to connect community members to support one another and share resources for people who live, work, pray, play and/or learn in Newton. Join here.

Find local events & learn more about what’s happening in town

There are lots of great resources to find out what's happening in Newton - check out some that might interest you below!

We’ve created a landing page for those new to town, featuring important apps to download and helpful email lists to sign up for. Check it out here: www.newtonneighbors.org/welcoming-neighbors

In addition, visit the following web pages and subscribe to these newsletters to find out more info about what’s happening in town - events, important city discussion and decisions, and more.

  • Join the Newton Neighbors Helping Neighbors Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/newtonneighborshelping/

  • Local media: New TV is Newton’s local cable access TV station: https://newtv.org/, the Newton TAB is our weekly newspaper, the Newton Patch is online, and the Boston Globe has a “Newton Report”.

  • Mayor Fuller’s newsletter: https://www.newtonma.gov/government/mayor-fuller/updates

  • Amy Sangiolo’s Community Newsletter covers local government and events: https://amysangiolo.com/

  • Village 14: https://village14.com/ They aim to be “the “go to” place for discussion of any issue in Newton, but there’s also plenty of room for humor and a bit of fun too.

  • Arts & Culture & Community: Newton Community Pride: https://newtoncommunitypride.org/, Newton Arts Calendar: http://newtonartscalendar.org/; Newton Cultural Alliance’s weekly newsletters: https://newtonculture.org/

  • Newton’s City Calendars: https://www.newtonma.gov/government/public-buildings/calendar

  • Newton Free Library’s Calendar of events: https://newtonfreelibrary.libcal.com/calendar

  • The Charles River Chamber of Commerce has a regular "Need to Know" newsletter covering local business issues and other topics of local interest https://www.nnchamber.com/

  • All Over Newton has local shopping and restaurant information and guides: https://www.allovernewton.com/

  • The Newton Senior Center's "Coming of Age" newsletter has info of interest to local seniors. Subscribe here.

  • Bike Newton has a weekly newsletter www.bikenewton.org, with information on weekly rides as well as other items of interest for cyclists of all ages and abilities within Newton

  • Love a local newsletter, website, or other news source you don’t see here? Email us at newtonneighborshelping@gmail.com to suggest it!

Support the work of Newton Neighbors

You can now make tax-deductible contributions to us! Thank you to Newton Community Pride, our fiscal sponsor. If you would like to make a donation, please do so here.

Or mail a check to: 1294 Centre Street, Newton 02459

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