Centerboard, Marcus Partners Help Provide a Path Out Of Homelessness

Centerboard CEO Mark DeJoie, Legacy, Grace, Isaiah, and Marcus Partners CEO Paul Marcus.

Centerboard CEO Mark DeJoie, Legacy, Grace, Isaiah, and Marcus Partners CEO Paul Marcus.

After spending 18 months in shelters with two children, something as simple as having your own space to call home can seem like a dream that will never come true.

But last month, that dream came true for Grace, her 18-year-old daughter Legacy, and 7-year-old son Isaiah.

Continuing a years-long dedication to public service and volunteer projects, Boston-based Marcus Partners oversaw a major overhaul of a two-bedroom apartment in Lynn. From painting the walls, to scrubbing the floors and stocking the fridge to providing new furniture and bedding, the Marcus Partners volunteers handed over the keys to a shining new home to Grace and her family.

“I’m really excited, this is really my lucky day,” said Grace. “It’s been a challenge to find a place to live and not know where you are going to stay with kids.”

For the past 18-months, Centerboard has worked with Grace on her journey from homelessness to independence. Of course, Grace, who works as a graphic designer while raising her two children, has worked hard to make a better life for her family.

But Grace said she greatly appreciates the help Centerboard has provided along the way as she navigated the path from shelter living to finding the apartment for her and her children.

“The staff at Centerboard just seems like they care a little bit more and they treat you like you matter,” she said.

As the finishing touches were put on the apartment, Marcus Partners CEO Paul Marcus and Centerboard CEO Mark DeJoie were on hand to help welcome Grace, Legacy, and Isaiah to their new home.

Marcus thanked his employees who volunteered their time to help turn the space into a bright, airy oasis. He also thanked the volunteer help from Timberline Construction and Aurora, Inc. for their roles in the project.

Marcus and DeJoie were both steadfast in their praise of Grace for working hard to make a better life for her and her family.

“Grace did everything she needed to do, she’s working and following the system,” said Susan Gillis, a Centerboard program director. “It shows what happens when everyone works together.”

Centerboard Awarded Mentoring Matching Grant of $7,500

Centerboard announced it has been awarded a Mentoring Matching Grant of $7,500 from Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP), a statewide organization fueling the movement to expand empowering youth-adult relationships in Massachusetts. Centerboard is one of 37 mentoring programs throughout the Commonwealth to receive a Mentoring Matching Grant.

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Funding for the grants stems from the Massachusetts  FY19 budget, where it was funded at $750,000, through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This represents a 50% increase in state funding over the previous year. Since 2009, MMP has awarded more than $4 million in Mentoring Matching Grants to youth serving organizations throughout Massachusetts. This year’s grants will create and support more than 2,000 high-quality matches statewide. Awarded funding is intended to create or support existing mentoring matches and help to increase positive attitudes toward school. The Mentoring Matching Grants is unique in its use of private-sector support, as grantees are required to match, dollar-for-dollar, the total amount awarded with cash or in-kind resources.

The money will be used to help fund Centerboard’s T.R.U.E. Mentor Program. The Teach ONE. Reach ONE. Uplift ONE. Empower ONE (T.R.U.E.) Mentor Program provides academic and social support for boys and young men ages 6 to 18.

“The T.R.U.E. Mentor Program helps our mentees increase their motivation and confidence, set and achieve new goals, give direction to their academic and future career choices while expanding their network, and enables them to unlock their potential and gain leadership roles,” said Mark DeJoie, Centerboard’s CEO.

“We are proud to invest in Centerboard with a Mentoring Matching Grant,” MMP President and CEO Lily Mendez said. “This critical funding will allow Centerboard to create or support existing mentoring matches and help to increase positive attitudes toward school, ensuring youth are given every opportunity to develop into productive, successful adults.”

Find out how you can donate here.

"I don't tell them, I show them everything is going to be okay."



When families come to Miguel, Family Housing Advocate at Centerboard , they don’t have much, sometimes nothing at all, and they don’t know what to expect.  Miguel explains, “That first conversation is you, basically trying your best to let them know they are going to be okay and that they don’t have to be scared. Often times they are on the verge of tears, their kids are with them and they have nothing.” 

Centerboard is a community-based organization headquartered in Lynn MA whose continuing mission for the last 29 years is to revitalize communities by investing in their people and places.  Most of Centerboard’s work is getting Greater Lynn families and children back on their feet.  Centerboard isn’t interested in providing a handout as much as teaching families the ways to become self-sufficient. 

Miguel always reassures his families and works to get them to a better place.  Even in that first visit, he can see a difference in them -- a sense of comfort that they did not come in with. Miguel will then spend time going over how he is going to help them turn their lives around and prepare them for their better future. 

“I try to make it as painless as possible, so in the beginning that can be an interesting conversation. I usually go home thinking about how they must feel and hope I’ve made a positive difference in their lives.”

Centerboard’s staff is committed to helping Greater Lynn’s families and children receive the services and support they need.  Centerboard staff’s motto is we will do “whatever it takes” to ensure their families receive the support they need to become self-sufficient, contributing members of their communities.

As a 501 © (3) nonprofit organization, Centerboard and our client families and children, rely on the support of individuals and families like yours. Let them know you care. Please show your neighbors your support by making a heartfelt gift of just $5.00. Your generous gift is fully tax deductible and Centerboard will turn it into hope and homes for our families and children.  In today’s troubled world, isn’t it good to know that people, like Miguel, are guiding Greater Lynn’s underprivileged families and children to a happy, self-sufficient future?

Make your gift today. You'll be glad you did! 

Centerboard employee rallies with community members to help a family in need!

Our very own Kim O'Neill went above and beyond for one woman and her young daughter who had been striving to get out of shelter and into their own home. As the small family had nothing, the mother was hesitant to move into an apartment she would not be able to furnish. Kim reached out to "Wakefield Mom's" of Facebook and her garage quickly filled up with beautiful donations of all kinds. On move in day Kim worked tirelessly to get the place all set up to reveal to the family. Upon seeing their new apartment, the mother was speechless and the young daughter could not hold back the tears. A big thank you to the Moms of Wakefield and all who came together to support this little family. Your impact made a world of difference and of course, thank you Kim O'Neill for continuing to go above and beyond for families in need! 

Four Employees Graduate from Suffolk Nonprofit Certificate Program

This one year course is specifically designed for mid-career professionals in nonprofit organizations. Recognizing the complex and challenging set of skills that are necessary to excel in human services management, this program includes six blocks of classes in key subject areas. This certificate program is offered in partnership with Suffolk University in Boston and with Clark University in Worcester. Congratulations to Ebony White, Agnes Kahindi-Misigah, Jennifer Ford and Jacqueline Reyes. We value your hard work and commitment to working so hard in order to help more people in need. 



Lynn Fire Update

Thank You Greater Lynn Community!!

On Saturday, January 21st, many, many families were helped thanks to the generosity of the Greater Lynn Community, Centerboard Staffers and the amazing volunteers who dedicated their time to make our Clothing Distribution Day a huge success!!

Dateline: January 9th, 2017

On New Year’s Day, a 5-alarm fire on West Baltimore St. in Lynn made 64 people instantly homeless with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The call for donations went out and the Greater Lynn community responded with such robust compassion that all of us here at Centerboard were overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion. 

We all know times are tough out there for everyone. We also all know that when the chips are down, communities come together to support one another. Centerboard led the effort along with Lynn Museum/LynnArts, the Lynn Shelter Association, Lynn Economic Opportunity, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the Salvation Army to gather all manner of things the fire victims would need in the cold of January. Clothing, house wares, coats, mittens, hats, toiletries, diapers etc. filled our entire 4,000 square foot engagement center. Additionally, countless people showed up to volunteer to sort, organize and offer their kind words in the face of such a neighborhood tragedy. 

On behalf of the Board of Directors, staff and volunteers, we send our heartfelt thanks to everyone who selflessly gave of their time, possessions and dollars to help out our neighbors in need. This type of caring and generosity are why we at Centerboard are so thankful and proud to call Lynn home!

Community Engagement Coordinator

We have exciting news here at Centerboard! We have recently brought on a new Community Engagement Coordinator. Ladies and Gentleman, introducing Justin Morley! 

Known by many as Justice Born, Justin is a Lynn resident. He has been on board for about 6 weeks and his resourcefulness along with his experience as a community organizer and event planner has made an immediate impact on our families. Through organizing events, workshops and other community based initiatives at our Visionspace Gallery, Justice focuses on creating atmospheres of diversity which are safe, inclusive and judgment free. Aside from his work with us, he also does outreach for the homeless and leads the Wreck Shop Movement, which is a driving force in the local Hip Hop community, known for having a positive social impact with their "Hoodies For The Homeless" initiative as well as their free events and roster of talent. Justice uses his experience of being homeless 6 years ago as motivation to do more to help people going through similar hardships. 

Centerboard is beyond thrilled to welcome Justice into our family and we look forward to supporting him in his amazing community work!

Another Successful Tax Prep Season!

Here at Centerboard, we’ve had another very successful VITA season. VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. It is an amazing program that engages local volunteers and pairs them with that community’s residents who need quality tax preparation. The volunteers are trained and certified by the IRS and there is no cost to participate for those getting their taxes done. An important element of the program is to inform people on the various tax codes that may apply to them. One of these is the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC is a refundable tax break provided by the state of Massachusetts in order to provide a meaningful boost to the after-tax earnings of low-income working families. It is available only to tax filers with earned income and provides benefits primarily to workers with children.[1]

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a valuable resource to working families as it provides some financial relief for those trying to stay out of poverty. We all know that poverty affects children the most and through this credit, hard working families are able to provide more to ensure that their children are able to live a healthier life.

During this year’s tax season, our VITA program was able to process over $200,000 in returns via the Earned Income Tax Credit. We were able to help numerous families while also providing a boost to Lynn’s local economy. Thanks to BMC HealthNet Plan for sponsoring this important community initiative!



Volunteers Needed for VITA Program 2015

Its VITA time again! Not familiar with VITA? It stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. This program is an amazing and impactful community initiative that helps local residents get quality tax preparation without the hefty price tag. Volunteers sign up and receive up to date training from the IRS on the current standards, rules and regulations of tax preparation. Participants in the program receive their tax prep for free. This program provides a valuable service to all the communities it serves and we are very happy to bring it back to Lynn, thanks to our sponsor BMC HealthNet Plan.

Volunteers are truly what make this program go, (aside from Rockstar Centerboard employee Marisol!), and this year will be no different. We need a dedicated staff of volunteers to fulfill several different roles. The hours are flexible, the training is free and the time commitment is up to you!

Over 4 years of Centerboard’s VITA program, our volunteers have helped to generate over $4 million in tax returns, the majority of which goes right back into Lynn’s local economy.

Here is a brief description of how you can help. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please email your contact information to Marisol HERE.

Greeter/Screener – You greet everyone visiting the site to create a pleasant atmosphere. You screen taxpayers to determine the type of assistance they need and confirm they have the necessary documents to complete their tax returns. Tax law certification is not required for this position.
Tax Preparer – You complete and successfully certify in tax law training, including the use of electronic filing software, to provide free tax
return preparation for eligible taxpayers.
Quality Reviewer – You review tax returns completed by volunteer tax preparers, ensuring that every taxpayer receives top quality service and
that the tax returns are error-free. You must be tax law certified at least at the Intermediate level.

If you are looking to learn a new skill set, brush up on your tax skills or give a helping hand to your community, volunteer for our VITA program today!