It’s National Health Center Week, and we’re celebrating the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF), a community partner that’s stepped up BIG TIME during the COVID crisis.
Thanks to the small, yet mighty GLCF team for helping us to care for our patients and keep our employees safe.
Even before Governor Baker declared a State of Emergency, GLCF began offering grants to obtain PPE, disinfectant, and hand sanitizer — all in short supply, but vital to keeping people safe and preventing infection.
That meant President & CEO Jay Linnehan would show up at our door with masks, gowns, and hand sanitzer on what seemed like a daily basis. And we weren’t alone. So many area nonprofits had similar experiences.
Jay is quick to deflect credit: “We didn’t do that on our own. We had help from so many generous donors and suppliers.”
And it underscores one thing (of many) that makes community foundations special: The ability to quickly marshal philanthropic support and mete out the bounty. Says Jay, “We leave no stone unturned, and we are able to move quickly.” That “quick flip” has been vital during the pandemic.
It’s also why the Mass COVID-19 Relief Fund turned to community foundations, including GLCF, to help distribute emergency grants throughout the state. This meant distributing an amazing $2.3 million to 100-plus local nonprofits, large and small. No easy task. Zooming seemingly around the clock and poring over a spreadsheet that would have made most of us go cross-eyed, the team made sure assistance went where it was most needed.
GLCF support has certainly been vital to making sure that social distancing doesn’t prevent the Health Center’s 34,500 patients from accessing care. GLCF/MA COVID funding supported unanticipated costs, like beefing up our call center to meet increasing demand, adjusting medical interpretation to accommodate telehealth, and providing critical, multi-lingual outreach to the community with a focus on Spanish, Portuguese, Khmer, Arabic, and Swahili.
As Jay points out, “We’ve learned something new every day throughout this crisis. But for me, what I hadn’t realized is how many people are stretched to the margins. Food, shelter, clothing, getting out ever-changing health information, everything was in jeopardy.”
Founded in 1997, GLCF has earned the trust of the communities it serves, and the philanthropists who make its work possible. That trust has been critical during this pandemic. “We know our community partners, organizations like Lowell Community Health Center, and the incredible work they do,” says Jay.
At GLCF, the focus has always been on bringing together the financial resources of individuals, families, and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities. Like here at the Health Center, the GLCF’s Board is comprised of community members who serve as the foundation’s “eyes and ears.”
“We’re able to align philanthropy with community needs because we’re boots on the ground,” says Jay.
“To say we are thankful for GLCF would be an understatement,” says Susan West Levine, CEO of Lowell CHC. “They are there for us in the best of times. And clearly, they are here for us in one of the most difficult of times.”
Jay notes, “There is still much work to be done for the communities we serve and making sure there is a focus on equity and access as they recover. The Health Center is one of our crucial partners in that.”
Something tells us this team will continue to roll up its sleeves to get the job done.