HCN News & Notes

Community Foundation Awards $20,000 Grant to MHA

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts donated a capital grant totaling $20,000 to MHA Inc. to pay for improvements to the kitchen and handicap ramp at the agency’s Florida Street women’s residential treatment program. The program, which falls under MHA’s Mental Health Division, is for women who have serious mental-health issues that currently prevent them from being able to live successfully on their own. The program’s goal is to support the residents so they can live with greater independence.

“In the Florida Street women’s program, MHA helps residents learn skills so they are not reliant on the service system anymore,” said Christine Palmieri, vice president, Recovery and Housing for MHA. “In the mental-health-services system, treatment doesn’t always have to happen in a clinical environment; it can happen most anywhere. Since the kitchen is the heart of any home, we know from experience that rehab often happens there. By upgrading the kitchen at Florida Street, MHA staff will be better able to connect with women in a home environment in a much more natural way. Staff and residents can share recipes and cook meals specific to their ethnicity or family history. They can learn about planning and preparing healthy meals, proper food storage, and fire safety. Perhaps most importantly, they can work together and then sit down to share communal meals, building connections with each other and the staff. Sharing in the work and rewards of meals, learning about different cultures, building connections and friendships — all of these can revolve around the kitchen. It’s a great place for these women to grow.”

Cheryl Fasano, president and CEO of MHA, emphasized the importance of making the agency’s residential programs as homelike as possible.

“The Community Foundation’s continuing confidence in the value that MHA is providing for our community is highly gratifying,” she said. “The whole premise of residential treatment is that it happens in the community where people live. Providing the highest-quality treatment within an environment that looks like a house and feels like home is fundamentally important to our approach. MHA is thrilled that the Community Foundation has made such a generous donation so we can make the Florida Street women’s program kitchen modern and inviting. We’d like to thank the volunteers at the Community Foundation who review grant applications and help determine which nonprofits are funded. MHA is thankful for the $20,000 grant, which is critical to our bricks-and-mortar resources, and also for the consequences of that investment.”

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