We Rise Grand Opening a Moving Success

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The dangers and heartbreak of sex trafficking and the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children were front and center at the grand opening of Centerboard’s new We Rise program in the Visionspace Gallery on Jan. 17.

Staff, community, and survivors were on hand to talk about the new program that brings together survivors of commercial sexual exploitation with key community allies in order to prevent, intervene against, and promote recovery from the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC).

“It was well attended and the program was spectacular as far as telling people the plight of the girls we work with,” said CEO Mark DeJoie.

We Rise has gotten off the ground thanks to the extremely hard work of the staff, as well as a number of important grants from the local community and beyond.

A grant from the Women’s Fund of Essex County includes three years of funding, $5,500 each year to provide prevention services, including running the 10-week My Life, My Choice Prevention Groups. The Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation provided a $10,000 grant for the My Life, My Choice Prevention Groups and to educate the community about the sexual exploitation of children. A $12,100 grant from The Boston Foundation will support prevention services, including the My Life, My Choice Prevention Groups, and help educate the community about the sexual exploitation of children. The John W. Alden Trust provided a grant for $12,500 to provide prevention services, including running the My Life, My Choice Prevention Groups and educating the community about the sexual exploitation of children. A $10,000 grant from the Saab Family Foundation will also help fund the My Life, My Choice Prevention Groups and educating the community about the sexual exploitation of children.

We Rise also received a $300,000 contract for two years from the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance with a two-year option for renewal to provide community education about CSEC, launch an emergency 24-hour emergency-intervention hotline focusing on Lynn and Peabody with plans to expand, and provide transitional and ongoing supports for survivors exiting the life.

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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.