“Solutions at Work” NEEDS YOU!

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Kristina Kehrer's picture

The 26-year-old nonprofit, Solutions at Work, is on the verge of extinction. The only things that can save it are: quick thinking on the part of the city, the will of the people, and/or a big fat check.

Solutions at Work was created in 1989 by a group of homeless individuals who knew exactly what social services were needed, and missing, in order to help people step out of the vicious cycle of poverty and homelessness.

The umbrella organization oversees several programs with the mission statement of “providing individuals and families with resources and opportunities to strengthen their self-confidence, achieve self-sufficiency, and participate in helping others.”

The programs managed by Solutions at Work:

THE CHILDREN’S CLOTHING EXCHANGE: A clothing barter system.

THE KIDS SPACE: A comfortable, safe place for families to come and participate together in creative activities, or just sit, relax, and chat.

GET CONNECTED: Refurbishes donated computers and give them freely to people in need.

SolutionsWear: Provides appropriate interview clothing for men and women who are unemployed, underemployed, laid off, or re-entering the workforce.

MOVING UP: Provides low-cost moving services to people transitioning out of homelessness or for those living in poverty.

SPEAK UP: An awareness program for the community to learn first hand from those who have experienced homelessness, about the true plight of this burgeoning community.

The last several years have been financially tough for the organization, but 2015 has been a year of one thing after another. They have had a rash of break-ins, continual management turnover, and their Solutions at Work truck (we’ve all seen it) was stolen and never recovered. However, the biggest problem is money.

Solutions at Work is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that runs on donations, grants, and help from the city. According to Board President, Ken Sanginario, fundraising has been difficult. “Financial support fell off a cliff. There are a lot of great charities and good causes; everybody’s support gets diluted. It’s been a gut-wrenching decision [to dissolve Solutions at Work]. If worse comes to worse, Sanginario hopes that outside organizations will absorb each of the programs.

It is gossip in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood that alerted me to this situation. Very concerned parents informed me that the Children’s Clothing Exchange is going to close at the end of October. They are frantic, extremely upset, and want to do everything they can to keep this program alive and accessible.

The Children’s Clothing Exchange is located in a basement at the Roosevelt Towers Housing Complex on Evereteze Way, and is beloved by many Cambridge parents (of all socioeconomic strata) simply because of its genius. It is very simple: You trade a bag of new/used clothing, for another bag of clothing. If you don’t have clothes to trade, you can donate time to earn credits.

As program participant Achala states, “It helps to clear out the old [hand-me-down] clothes, which takes up space. I depend on it [the program] for my kids clothes.”

A group of concerned parents set up a meeting with the mayor, which was postponed because the city is looking for a way to keep the organization open. There is talk of a petition, but all aspects of this situation are in limbo and pending.

At a time when elections are looming, hold the politicians feet to fire. Make them keep this organization alive. Call your local reps now.