AP NEWS

Chelmsford Community Fund Boosts Nonprofits

September 23, 2018

The Chelmsford Community Fund presents a $1,000 grant to Chelmsford Community Exchange last week. From left, Co-chair John Thibault, Selectman and steering committee member George Dixon, Food Pantry Founder/director Sandy Donovan, Co-chair John Chemaly, and Greater Lowell Communiy Foundation President & CEO Jay Linehan. SUN/Julia Malakie Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

CHELMSFORD -- A group of Chelmsford residents have come together to create the Chelmsford Community Fund to support nonprofit organizations in town.

On Wednesday afternoon, its first grants, of $1,000 each, were awarded to Budget Buddies and the Chelmsford Community Exchange, otherwise known as the Chelmsford Food Pantry.

“The genesis of the fund really comes from looking at all the great work that’s being done in Chelmsford by the nonprofits and seeing the need to help fund some of these organizations,” said John Thibault, who co-chairs the fund’s steering committee with John Chemaly.

They credited the leadership of Selectman George Dixon, who also serves on the committee, as being instrumental in its creation and bringing everyone together.

“He led us to this point,” Chemaly said. “We started out with nothing six months ago. Now we have over $10,000 in the fund.”

Each of the approximately 10 people serving on the committee contributed to the fund. The committee will soon kickoff a campaign to raise more than $20,000, and solicit proposals from Chelmsford-based nonprofits for medium and small grants the organizations can use for programming, equipment and other needs.

Greater Lowell Community Foundation President & CEO Jay Linnehan Jr. said the foundation is happy to administer the fund.

“There’s lots of needs in our community, and we’re just delighted to be part of the folks that can help out, and address some of these needs,” Linnehan said.

Budget Buddies founders Anita Saville and Kathy Brough said they were honored to be among the fund’s first recipients.

Saville said it’s particularly meaningful, considering the organization’s start in Brough’s Chelmsford living room almost 10 years ago.

Dixon said he’s supported them from their small beginnings, and his daughter, Kerri, enjoyed volunteering as a financial coach for low-income women.

“No matter how big we get, Chelmsford will always be our home, so we appreciate being recognized by the hometown team,” Saville said from Budget Buddies’ Turnpike Road office.

“It’s a gift from God, it really is,” Chelmsford Community Exchange founder and Director Sandy Donovan said outside the pantry, located behind the town offices on Billerica Road.

Donovan said donations have been down, so the $1,000 from the new fund will go a long way in purchasing food for the pantry.

She said the pantry serves between 80 to 100 families in need each week. Families can come once a week for food, or twice if they are homeless, Donovan said.

Dixon said Donovan has “done a fantastic job” and shown “tremendous dedication” over the more than 25 years she’s run the pantry.

“That’s the type of people we have in Chelmsford,” Dixon said. “We’re here to support them.”

A dedicated page will be set up at glcfoundation.org for people to donate directly to the fund. In the meantime, anyone wishing to contribute can send checks designated for the Chelmsford Community Fund to the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, 100 Merrimack St.

#202, Lowell, MA, 01852.

Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.

AP RADIO
Update hourly