Fields Corner non-profits join forces in services push

A coalition of eight existing non-profit organizations based in Fields Corner plan to streamline and better coordinate their services, thanks a funding boost from Boston Children’s Hospital. The new group— Fields Corner Crossroads— hopes to roll out its network after concluding a year-long planning process and transitioning into a three year "implementation phase."

Michelle Nadow, president and CEO of DotHouse, Lisette Le, Executive Director of VietAID, and Candice Gartley, Executive Director of All Dorchester Sports and Leadership (ADSL), discussed their vision for the collaborative with the Reporter this week.

“Sometimes this community in Fields Corner feels like a small town,” said Nadow. “Although it has access to the resources of a big city, it very much has a neighborhood feel and can sometimes be isolated. Through this collaborative, we want to break down the barriers to those resources and figure out how the eight of us can provide a more seamless access to those resources.”

“Ideally, we want it to be so that if someone is interacting with one of our agencies, we can easily connect them to our partners who have different services they need,” Nadow added.

After receiving an initial $150,000 grant from Boston Children’s Collaboration for Community Health in 2019 for a Children's Health Equity Initiative, Crossroads has since been awarded a $1,000,000 investment to implement their vision over the next three years.

VietAID’s Le says the partners will share information and connections.

“Fields Corner is grounded in similar but different populations,” Le explained. “One resident might go to DotHouse for care but lives in a VietAID housing unit, or could have one child in ADSL, and grandparents that don’t speak English...We all recognize that the issues our individual clients are talking about are happening across organizations.”

DotHouse Health and VietAID are the “backbone” organizations that applied for — and won— the competitive $150,000 grant from the Children’s Health Equity Initiative in August 2019. The other partner organizations in the collaborative include All Dorchester Sports and Leadership (ADSL), Asian American Resource Workshop, Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester, Louis D. Brown Institute for Peace, MassCOSH, New England United for Justice, and Dorchester Youth Collaborative (DYC), which has since closed, citing pandemic-related problems. 

Nadow mourned the “unfortunate” closure of DYC and praised the crucial work it had done for teens and young adults in the neighborhood for decades. The Crossroads team intends to step up to help fill the void, she said.

“This is a very distinct population of older adolescents and young adults that that organization was so good at reaching,” Nadow added. “We have to figure out how to make sure there aren’t any gaps.”

The ADSL’s Gartley told the Reporter that she has had conversations with Emmett Folgert, head of DYC, about taking over some of the programming of the now-defunct organization. 

“A lot of these conversations with Emmett are about how can we absorb as much of their programming as we can without taking ADSL down the tubes, as all of us are coming out of this pandemic,” said Gartley.

“Our programs align very closely with DYC objectives,” she added, “so I think we can step in and make sure those programs are maintained.”

Gartley added that she was speaking with the landlord about potentially acquiring the DYC space, a small second-floor headquarters located just across Dorchester Avenue from where DYC and ADSL kids would share courts and ball fields.

“In a perfect world it would be awesome because we have completely outgrown the rooms in the fieldhouse,” she said. “It would really allow us to expand our activities and seasonal offerings. Our programs increase exponentially in the summer and contract dramatically in the winter. This space would allow us to offer programs we always wanted to.”

In developing an “age-based health equity framework,” Le thinks Crossroads can make young people a part of the process as the group transitions from its planning phase to its three-year implementation phase.

“We hope our collective clout will allow us to leverage more resources from the government and other foundations,” said Le.

The group plans to hire staff in the coming weeks to support the plans for Crossroads.

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