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Springfield, hilltown organizations among recipients of state ‘healthy aging’ grants totaling $14.7M

MassLive.com logo MassLive.com 9/27/2020 By Peter Goonan, masslive.com
logo: MassLive Logo © John Beattie | jbeattie@masslive.com/masslive.com/TNS MassLive Logo

SPRINGFIELD — Organizations in Springfield and area hilltowns are among the recipients of the state’s new “community health and healthy aging” grants, totaling $14.7 million across the state.

The state Department of Public Health announced the grants on Friday. They are intended to allow the recipients and their community partners to develop strategies for promoting healthy aging and “removing systemic barriers to health by advancing health and racial equality,” the department said in a news release.

One of the largest grants was $1,023,255, awarded to Men of Color Health Awareness (MOCHA), based in Springfield.

The organization will form “affinity groups (of MOCHA graduates) to focus on specific policy, systems, and environmental change issues to disrupt systemic structural racism,” the state said.

“Our hope is that community members, people truly affected daily by structural and systemic racism will have an opportunity to have their voices heard and know that there is power in mobilizing as a community,” the organization said in a statement.

Springfield officials have said health disparities are particularly evident in minority and low-income communities.

In all, 32 organizations and 35 of their community partners across the state were awarded grants, ultimately impacting 163 communities statewide, officials said.

“All of these organizations have committed to address the root causes of health inequities by disrupting systemic barriers to health and tackling institutional and structural racism head-on,” said Associate Public Health Commissioner Lindsey Tucker. “These efforts also include working to ensure that our communities are age-friendly by creating healthy community environments for people of all ages. During the pandemic, the need to support such efforts is even more imperative.”

The state listed three core areas of focus:

those working on long-lasting, community-driven policy, systems, and environmental changes that will make it easier to lead healthy lives and reduce health inequities;

those organizing and coordinating Community Health Improvement Planning efforts to collectively set and address community health goals, and;

those working to address policies and systems that increase opportunities for healthy aging.

Al Vega, the director of policy and programs at the Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging funds, said that to really lessen the impact of public health disparities on communities of color, “we must look to those communities for genuine inclusive solutions and examine all our work through a racial equity lens.”

Other grant recipients in the area include:

All Farmers (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture Inc.), $382,577

Collaborative for Educational Services, $1,003,000

Franklin County Community Development Corporation, $807,740

Franklin Regional Council of Governments, $1,032,468 and $280,000

LifePath, $265,154

Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, $404,660

Hilltown CDC, $315,966

The town of Ware, $370,044

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, $375,006 and $931,766

Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, $113,864

Other recipients were:

Cambridge Public Health Department, $374,998

City of New Bedford Health Department, $375,000

Coalition for a Healthy Greater Worcester, $461,450

Community Health Network for North Central Mass, $356,896

The town of Randolph, $365,000

Cape Ann Mass in Motion, $343,631

MAB Community Services Inc., $276,205

Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, $14,853

Montachusett Regional Planning Commission $75,000

Healthy Aging Valley Neighbors, $12,121

Vietnamese America Initiative for Development Inc. (VietAID), $24,998

Citizens' Housing and Planning Association, $500,000

Communities that Care Coalition, $350,000

Everett Community Growers, $598,390

Harborlight Community Partners, $381,246

Health Care for All, $150,000

Lawrence CommunityWorks Inc., $999,166

Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance (MHSA), $750,000.

Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts Education Fund, Massachusetts Public Health Association, $999,772

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