Since 1927, the Wellesley Service League (WSL) has provided numerous volunteer services in a variety of cultural and education ways, and in conjunction with other charitable organizations, for the town of Wellesley.
Due to the onset of COVID-19, WSL had to reevaluate how to safely proceed with their operational responsibilities. “In true WSL form, we were determined to support our service partners and community in any way we could, while adhering to strict health and safety protocols,” said current president Kim Moldaver-Carr. Services such as Dish and Deliver, Food Pantry and the Ellie Fund remained open, while again adhering to strict health and safety protocols. “It was imperative that our community know that we remain steadfast in our support," Moldaver-Carr said, "and that while these are unprecedented times, our volunteers are at the ready and want to help our community - especially during these extraordinary times. As a result, we provided $1,600 in grocery store gift cards to the town social workers to be distributed for any population in need … We also provided $400 to the Meal Scholarship Program of MassBay Community College and provided generous gifts of arts and crafts to the Charles River Art Center that was distributed to 28 residential homes so that residents remained creative and engaged during this health crisis.”
The Wellesley Service League received a grant, in May 2020, for an initial round of funding from the Wellesley COVID-19 Relief Fund, created to respond to needs in the community arising from the ongoing viral crisis. This grant allowed WSL to expand their initiatives to support community members who required immediate assistance. This funding provided learning materials and school supplies for remote learning; arts and crafts supplies; and games and pizza lunch every other Friday throughout the remainder of the school year.
The COVID-19 Relief Fund is a partnership between the Community Fund for Wellesley and the Wellesley Board of Selectmen.
“We were, and remain, deeply concerned about the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable families and the negative effects that the stress and anxiety could have on those who need extra support at this time," explained Moldaver-Carr when asked what inspired WSL to set up these relief programs. "For example, we could no longer continue our in-person program and lunch service on the Wednesday half-days for children living at Barton Road. School had switched to online learning and we brainstormed how we could provide practical and meaningful support for the children. We reached out to Maura Renzella, youth commissioner for the Town of Wellesley and the chair of the Wellesley Housing Authority, and Pam Meehan, the resident service coordinator for Wellesley Housing, and asked how best to support the children. Maura, in turn, had conversations with the Wellesley Public School social worker and it was clear that the children would benefit from remote learning kits to complete homework assignments with greater ease and efficiency (please note that the kits have been distributed not to only Barton Road, but also to other students in need). We also addressed the necessity of downtime activities for the children. Recreational life as we knew it was grinding to a halt, and we wanted to support the children in lieu of the monthly activities that WSL would normally provide. As a result of these conversations, we decided to also provide creative outlet opportunities, including family board games, arts and crafts and age appropriate individual creative activities.”
With regard to upcoming programing, WSL and Moldaver-Carr are hopeful about continuing to work closely with the community and brainstorming ways through which the organization might still volunteer and serve its client populations. “We expect that many of our service opportunities will look very different in the fall," says Moldaver-Carr. "At this time, we expect to continue to volunteer at the Food Pantry and Dish and Deliver, while continuing to follow health and safety protocols. We are working with all of our services to try to find opportunities where we can help either virtually or in some other contactless way. WSL and its service partners maintain clear lines of communication and have always worked together to help our community. While we cannot predict the future with any certainty, we are certain that with continued diligence, creativity and true caring, WSL volunteers will maintain our service commitments to our community with practical, compassionate and generous support. WSL is beyond thankful that our grant request under the COVID-19 Relief Fund was approved by the Community Fund for Wellesley, an endowed fund of the Foundation for MetroWest.”