Members of MHA’s Resource Center recently took part in a volunteer activity to help keep animals warm and comfortable at the Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center (TJO) in Springfield. Four volunteers made ten no-sew blankets specifically to donate to TJO so staff there can help animals that are waiting for their forever homes.

MHA’s Resource Center, located at 147 Magazine Street in Springfield, helps individuals who are survivors of an acquired brain injury (ABI) or living with a disabling medical condition such as multiple sclerosis or severe diabetes to live their best life. Every program and activity is designed for members to create opportunities for independence. Resource Center staff help members overcome barriers individually through natural, sustainable community supports and life-stage appropriate accommodations in relevant parts of their lives.

MHA’s Emily Gracewski, Day Supports Coordinator, spearheaded the effort, and Resource Center members made the donation of blankets to Caroline Kelly, TJO’s Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator. “MHA’s Resource Center members wanted to do something for the animals, which is great, and we are using the blankets they made as bedding to give the animals a comfortable place to sleep,” said Kelly. “When their group came in to make the donation, we gave them a tour.”

Elizabeth Stelzer, a student at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and a Resource Development & Branding intern with MHA, helped coordinate the project. “It was a great experience connecting MHA and TJO to make the project a success for everyone involved,” she said. “The volunteer blanket makers were enthusiastic and TJO was grateful for their donation. We stayed for a little while to look at some of the animals, which put everyone in high spirits. We are hoping to work with TJO on more projects in the future so our folks with developmental disabilities have some meaningful volunteering opportunities.”
To learn more about The Resource Center, please call Emily Gracewski at 413-233-5336 or email her at

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 700 participants annually. We operate more than 30 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.