Acton Boxborough Resource Center Powered by Acton Boxborough United Way
by Alissa Nicol
ACTON: On September 6, a volunteer orientation was held at the newly opened Acton Boxborough Resource Center (ABRC), located in the regional school district’s Administration Building at 15 Charter Road. The space became available when the Carol Huebner Early Childhood Program moved to the new Boardwalk Campus last year. The ABRC was made possible by a partnership between the district and Acton Boxborough United Way (ABUW), and a $100,000 legislative earmark secured by Senator Jamie Eldridge. According to the district’s press release, the center “will connect Acton and Boxborough residents to local resources, striving to advance the district’s core values on wellness, equity, and engagement. The center will emphasize assisting families with language barriers, those joining the community from abroad, and families who would benefit from additional community-based services and supports beyond those offered in the schools.”
ABUW Executive Director Katie Neville, ABUW Board of Directors President Carol Buysse, and ABUW Volunteer Engagement Coordinator Maureen Ryan-Friend, led the tour and orientation for the new volunteers in attendance. The elementary school Registrar’s office has been relocated to the Resource Center so that staff and volunteers can provide assistance to families during the registration process. Current volunteers speak Portuguese, Spanish, Mandarin, Tamil, Hindi, and Ukrainian, and translation technology is available for these and other languages spoken by visitors. Using a Chrome Google Translate extension installed on the center’s laptop, websites for local support organizations like First Connections, Open Table, Household Goods,and others can be switched to the visitor’s native language. Neville reported that a FaceBook page is coming soon.
The Resource Center has backpacks and school supplies available for children, and a clothing closet called the AB Exchange. The closet is outfitted with fixtures from the Gould’s clothing store which closed recently, and features quality, gently-used children’s clothing and accessories in all sizes. There are toys to keep children occupied, and the Friends of Acton Libraries donated books so each child can take a book home to keep. A large conference room, currently being used to sort clothing, will eventually be set up for English Language Testing. This room will also potentially be the site of meetings and workshops offered by community organizations such as Women’s Money Matters and English at Large.
Volunteers are CORI checked (for criminal records) and sign a confidentiality agreement to comply with the federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) law. Additional volunteer greeters are needed. Staff are hoping volunteers will be able to work shifts 2-4 times a month. Those who are interested can reach out through the Volunteer Opportunities tab on the Resource Center page of the abuw.org website. Anyone ages 14+ can volunteer, and a student internship will be introduced at a later date to add evening hours for the center.
Buysse emphasized that the Resource Center exists to serve all community members, not only families with school age children or families new to Acton and Boxborough. Initially proposed to be named the AB Welcome Center, the team who brought the center to life wanted to ensure that all community members know they can access it at any time, even if they’ve lived here for years, even if they have no children or their children have grown. The ABRC provides information on housing, food security, jobs, transportation, mental health, language learning opportunities, volunteering, town government, social connections, faith organizations, trails and other recreational opportunities, free resources (food, clothing, household goods), civic
engagement, cost-saving programs (legal, housing, childcare, medical, utilities, etc.), and more.
The ABUW staff offices are all being relocated to the Resource Center. The center is currently open Monday - Thursday from 9am-3pm. Staff hope to have a presence at the schools’ fall open houses and back-to-school nights. An Open House for the ABRC is scheduled for September 13 from 1-4pm, with a ribbon cutting at 3:30pm. Senator Eldridge
will be a special guest. Additionally, the center is hosting a Resource Fair in the adjacent Auditorium on October 2 from 4-7pm with food trucks on site.
PHOTO: ABUW Executive Director Katie Neville speaks with new volunteers Danielle Rosa, Luciana Hipolito, Elaine Freitas & Ezili Mayo-Joseph in the Acton Boxborough Resource Center. (Alissa Nicol)