The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has donated a Capital Grant totaling $20,000 to MHA, Inc., to pay for improvements to the kitchen and the 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 are preventing 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 & 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,” Fasano 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.”

About MHA:

MHA is a nonprofit provider of residential and support services based in Springfield, MA, providing services throughout the Greater Springfield area to people impacted by mental illness, developmental disabilities, substance abuse and homelessness. Our core values are Respect, Integrity and Compassion.

MHA has 400 full- and part-time employees and serves more than 600 participants annually. We operate 25 residential sites, as well as extensive outreach and supported living programs. MHA receives state and federal funding from multiple sources including the MA Department of Mental Health (DMH), MA Department of Developmental Services (DDS), MA Department of Children and Families (DCF), MA Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), the MA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHDC) and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

MHA was founded in 1960 by concerned citizens to provide advocacy for people with mental illness living at Northampton State Hospital. Throughout the deinstitutionalization movement MHA developed a continuum of housing and support options to participants with a wide variety of needs. Our services reflect the belief that everyone deserves quality affordable housing, the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential and the support to pursue their personal vision and meaningfully participate in the life of their community.

About the Community Foundation of Western Mass:

The Community Foundation is a catalyst for positive change in the Western Mass region; engaging partners, raising flexible endowment, leveraging resources to solve problems and contribute to the common good. We envision a Western Massachusetts that is thriving, collaborative and generous, where there is opportunity for all.

We take an intentional, results-driven approach and see ourselves as a hub for civic engagement and as a permanent resource.

The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts seeks to enrich the quality of life of the people of our region by:

  • Encouraging philanthropy
  • Developing a permanent, flexible endowment
  • Assessing and responding to emerging and changing needs
  • Serving as a resource, catalyst, and coordinator for charitable activities
  • Promoting efficiency in the management of charitable funds