Fun 107 and the United Way of Greater New Bedford are launching our sixth year of making Holiday Wishes come true. We are looking for some help to find deserving families for the program.
It’s hard to believe, but October is here and the holidays will be here before you know it. The holidays are a joyful time for so many, but it is also a time for stress and worry for others here on the SouthCoast.
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a rough year for many people. Some of us have lost jobs that we’ve had for years. Others have children struggling with emotional problems, while some have suffered the horrible loss of a loved one from COVID-19.
For the past six years, Fun 107 and the United Way of Greater New Bedford have teamed up to bring much-needed relief and holiday cheer to local families here on the SouthCoast.
Ideal candidates for Holiday Wish are families that are struggling in 2020. COVID-related or not, we’re looking for families that have just been up against it lately and could really use a break. Whether it is a sickness of a parent or a child, a lost job, or a recent death in the family, our Holiday Wish program is all about helping families that are living and working here on the SouthCoast. Specific consideration will be given to families that fall between the cracks of other agencies and charities.
If you or someone you know could benefit from a little boost this holiday season, please let us know about it by filling out the form at the link below. Share it with anyone you think might benefit. United Way of Greater New Bedford will select five SouthCoast families for us to spotlight the week of December 7 and 1 for the Mini Miracle program on WBSM.
Each morning, Michael and Maddie will share a local family’s story. Then, the magic begins. Local businesses call in to help solve adult problems like broken appliances, needed clothing, or things to help in the home. Our audience helps bring the holiday magic to life, with donations of new toys for the children in the family.
It’s one of the most important weeks of radio we do all year, and it makes us proud to be from the SouthCoast.
Each year, United Way of Greater New Bedford hosts a Campaign Kickoff to launch the beginning of our annual fundraising campaign. Money raised during our campaign stays local and supports a wide variety of programs and services in Greater New Bedford in the areas of Health, Education, Financial Stability, and Basic Needs.
To kick off this year’s campaign in a big way, we are hosting a Fresh Start for Kids Drive now through October 1st. Many students in our local public schools have struggled throughout the pandemic with the most basic needs. By joining together, we can make sure these students have what they need to stay healthy and safe. We hope you’ll join us and make a difference in the lives of kids in our community!
You can be a part of the Campaign Kickoff in 3 ways:
Purchase items off our Fresh Start for Kids Drive list at local store and drop off to us on October 1st from 3-6 pm at Big Value parking lot located at 718 Dartmouth St., Dartmouth.
Purchase items on our Amazon Charity list and have them mailed directly to our office – We’ve already received a handful of packages at the office with items!
Tune into our Facebook page on October 1st as we announce our 2020 Campaign Cabinet and premier our Campaign Video!
Hope you will join us for this year’s Campaign Kickoff!
United Way of Greater New Bedford and Sid Wainer & Son are partnering to distribute free, fresh food boxes to families through a program with the USDA. Below are the upcoming distribution dates:
Our Sisters’ School
145 Brownell Ave, New Bedford
September 8th (Tuesday)
East Fairhaven Elementary
2 New Boston Rd, Fairhaven
800 Middle Rd, Acushnet
Stuck at home? We’ve got you covered – Let’s kick-off summer together with Clammed Up!
From June 12th – 19th you can be part of the festivities by purchasing a clambake with lobster from Mike’s Restaurant to enjoy in the comfort of your home, enjoy entertainment by musician Mike Silva, learn how to make what is sure to be your new favorite cocktail with The Cocktail Guru, Jonathan Pogash, and bid on our online auction filled with local getaways, seaside art, experiences and more!
Here’s the schedule of what to expect:
Friday, June 12
Noon: Online auction launches
4-6:30 pm: Clambake with lobster pick-up (#1)
Thursday, June 18
5 pm: Tune in on United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Facebook page for The Cocktail Guru’s “Some Good Booze” segment featuring Clammed Up’s signature cocktail
Friday, June 19
4-6:30 pm: Clambake with lobster pick-up (#2)
7-10 pm: Tune in on United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Facebook page for a Clammed Up concert brought to you by musician Matthew Silva
9 pm: Online auction closes
Reserve your Clambake to enjoy at home during Clammed Up!
Clambake with Lobsters are $60 each and will be cooked for you by Mike’s Restaurant and will include all the traditional items we feature at the annual clambake including: clams, linguicia, sausage, red potatoes, onion, corn on the cob, a cup of Mike’s “Award Winning” clam chowder, and of course a lobster! Meals are not complete without dessert- so we’re adding in a S’mores Black Tie Cookie!
Clambakes can be picked up either Friday, June 12th or Friday June 14th at Mike’s Restaurant – but only if you reserve your meal ahead of time!
Get your tickets now!
United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Mini-Grants program is truly a hidden gem in our community.If you have never heard of our Mini-Grants program, you have missed out on so many great projects that have come to fruition through funding provided by this program. It is a program unique to UWGNB – NO other United Way operates this program. In fact, over the years, we’ve received calls from other United Ways asking how we do it, but no other community has successfully launched another Mini-Grants Program.
So what is Mini-Grants?
This program established in 1995, was a way for all volunteer grassroots groups to identify a need in their neighborhood or greater community and do something about it. Since its inception, the program has funded 808 projects, totaling to over $820,000!
Mini-Grants empowers groups of friends, neighborhoods, schools, already established community organizations, etc. to create change by submitting an application for up to $2,500 of grant funding. Projects must be small in scale, innovative and achievable within 1 year, build community by engaging citizens to address a need, and be under one of UWGNB’s impact areas of health, education, financial stability, or basic needs. Groups MUST be all volunteer with at least 3 members unified by a common cause, have annual budgets/income under $40,000, and be located in Greater New Bedford (New Bedford, Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Freetown, Marion, Mattapoisett, Rochester, or Wareham).
Are there any projects I might know?
If you look around Greater New Bedford, you probably are familiar with Mini-Grant funded projects and don’t even know it!
For instance, have you seen the little libraries outside of the New Bedford Fire Stations? Those started with a Mini-Grant awarded to the Friends of the New Bedford Public Library to increase access to books and encourage reading.
What about the K-9 Sgt. Sean M. Gannon Memorial Playground located at Campbell School in New Bedford? We funded a “Cocoon Chair” installed at the playground. This chair is fun for all children, but specially designed for those with autism spectrum disorders to allow them to enjoy the playground with their friends and family.
I have a great idea, how do I know it is a fit for Mini-Grants?
Applications are now being accepted for the Mini-Grants Program until April 8th at Noon.
So what are you waiting for? Make a difference in our community by turning your great idea into a reality!
Filing Taxes: Not Fun, But Not Hard with MyFreeTaxes.com
No one loves filing taxes, right?
But this year, it’s easier than ever for simple returns if you use MyFreeTaxes.com!
MyFreeTaxes is a long-standing partnership of United Way and H&R Block, which provides the software. Anyone of any income level can file simple returns for free. That means simple federal and up to three state tax returns –without spending any money in tax preparation fees.
So far, MyFreeTaxes has helped 1.2 million people save $250 million in tax filing fees and brought more than $1.7 billion back in returns. The software links you to a secure H&R Block website. It walks you through the filing process and screens for common tax deductions and credits you may be eligible for, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Child Tax Credit. That’s part of our effort to make sure you get back every penny possible. There is 24/7 chat help, and a helpline with *real people* (IRS-certified experts) who are available every day, 10 am-10 pm EST at 1-866-698-9435.
Other simple tax situations covered in MyFreeTaxes include: W-2 income; limited interest and dividend income reported on a 1099-INT or 1099-DIV; student education expenses, credits or student loan interest; unemployment income; claiming the standard deduction; EITC; child tax credits; child and dependent care expenses.
Unfortunately, MyFreeTaxes no longer provides a free return to filers who are self-employed. Self-employed filers will need to report all of their income and expenses on a Schedule C form, which is not included in the MyFreeTaxes software. If you are self-employed, and wish to use MyFreeTaxes to file your taxes, you will only be charged $24.99 for a federal return and $18.50 for each state return (a 50% discount).
In any case, MyFreeTaxes is fast. It’s easy. You can do it from anywhere: your phone, tablet or laptop. You can start on one device, and finish on another. You can upload your W-2 form, letting MyFreeTaxes fill in all the details.
IMAGINE that you were expecting your first child, you have no family locally to help you, and are newer to the area. You have no idea what a baby really needs, and have at least a million and one questions like – What are the necessities my baby needs? What is the best way for my baby to sleep? Am I feeding my baby enough? What ways can I start teaching my baby? Are there any programs or support groups that can answer my questions?
Having a baby is a exciting, but scary time for any parent – especially if you are in a situation like this. United Way’s Women United is doing their part to help families with new babies with thier Baby Bundles program. In 2019, Women United started Baby Bundles as a way to provide new moms the answers to some of the questions about their babies and a few necessities that will get them started. Last year, 100 babies were welcomed with a Baby Bundle at Wareham Nurse Midwives and the Greater New Bedford Health Center.
So what exactly is in a Baby Bundle for new babies?
Baby Bundles includes a package of diapers, a package of wipes, a burp cloth, bib, pacifier, small toy/teether, wash cloths, a baby book, baby blanket, stuffed animal, and of course no Baby Bundle would be complete without a little United Way swag, so we include a Live United onsie and bib for the new baby. We also provide literature about safe sleeping, early learning/literacy and on local programs like our Family Resource & Development Center, WIC, and FamilyWize.
How can I help?
It’s easy to be a part of Baby Bundles!
Make a $50 donation to purchase the items for 1 Baby Bundle.
Pick up a few items on your next run to the store and bring the to United Way or drop at any one of our Baby Bundle Drives – full list below.
Purchase items right from our baby registries and have them sent right to United Way. We are registered at: Target, Walmart, or Amazon.
If I am a new mom (or soon to be mom) looking for help, what should I do?
Visit our Family Resource & Development Center located at 128 Union St. 3rd Floor, New Bedford. Any family with a child under 18 is welcome to the services provided by the FRDC – whether you are looking for a parent support group, information on other local programs, or help filing for WIC, we’re here to help. The FRDC also has computers available for clients to do job or housing searches. You can call to make an appointment – 508-994-4521 OR stop by Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 5 pm (some Saturdays 8:30-noon, call for details.)
Who is hosting a Baby Bundle Drive?
Acorn Management Sites
American Family Care (AFC)
Anne Whiting Real Estate
Black Tie Cookies
Buttonwood Park Zoo
Care Free Homes
Coastal New England Federal Credit Union
First Citizens’ Federal Credit Union
Lafrance Hospitality – Waypoint, Merrill’s on the Wharf & Rosebrook
New Bedford Credit Union
Taunton Federal Credit Union
The Polished Look
The Wash House Salon
Webster Bank (South Dartmouth)
NEW BEDFORD — A piece of cement was used to smash the windows and mirrors on a United Way of Greater New Bedford’s truck that delivers food to the hungry.
The 2005 refrigerated truck was found by a volunteer Wednesday morning vandalized, said Victoria Grasela, VP of Marketing and Community at United Way of Greater New Bedford.
“We found a piece of cement that was used to crack the windows and break the mirrors on both sides,” she said, believing the vandalism happened early that morning or sometime overnight on Tuesday.
The truck was parked in its usual spot on Parker Street in a lot near New Bedford High School. A PACE vehicle parked nearby in the same lot also had some front window damage, Grasela noted.
The Hunger Commission truck is used to bring food to those in need throughout the Southcoast.
“It’s frustrating,” Grasela said, because now the truck is out for repairs.
But the food deliveries are still being made, thanks to PACE lending United Way one of their vehicles.
“PACE has a truck they are letting us use,” Grasela said, adding the Hunger Commission program continues.
Anyone with any information about the vandalism are asked to call New Bedford Police at 508-991-6300.
In 2019, United Way of Greater New Bedford saved community members over $495,000 on prescription medications – a staggering 70% increase from 2018 – by promoting the use of FamilyWize Prescription Discount Cards.
FamilyWize cards are easily obtained and can save you an average of 43% on prescription drugs and 5% on pet medication – whether you have insurance or not. When you present your Discount Card to your pharmacist, you earn instant savings. You can also compare prescription costs right on the FamilyWize website to make sure you are getting the best price!
“My husband lost his job, leaving us without medical insurance. His prescription varies at local pharmacies from $123.02 to $140.47, said Angela, FamilyWize user. “With the FamilyWize discount I can get this at Walmart for $19.71!”
United Way’s partnership with FamilyWize offers a solution to an issue people across the country face every day as prescription drug costs continue to rise. “Because my prescription was almost $300 a month, I had to work an additional part time job just to cover the cost,” said Deb, FamilyWize user. “With the FamilyWize discount card my prescription cost went down to $38 a month!”
“Our partnership with FamilyWize ensures residents in Greater New Bedford don’t have to choose between paying their rent and picking up their needed prescriptions,” said Michelle N. Hantman, President & CEO of United Way of Greater New Bedford. “We’re proud to support such a needed health program in our community,”
This program is one of the longest-running prescription savings programs in the country and is accepted at most pharmacies nationwide, covering all FDA-approved prescription medications. FamilyWize has no eligibility requirements.
Get your card today at United Way of Greater New Bedford, familywize.org, downloading the FamilyWize app, or by right clicking and saving the card on this page!
Since 2005, FamilyWize has helped over 13 million people nationwide save more than $1.5 billion on their prescription medications. To learn more about FamilyWize and your Prescription Discount Card, visit familywise.org.
NEW BEDFORD — The city made national news earlier this month when the FBI raided houses in the near North End as part of “Operation Throne Down,” a multi-state operation targeting members of the Latin Kings gang.
Twenty-two of the over 60 members of the Latin Kings identified and charged in the operation were part of a New Bedford Chapter of the gang, according to affidavit written by FBI Special Agent Dominic Coppo, and had been operating out of numerous apartment buildings in the city’s North End, distributing controlled substances and actively engaging in “fights, feuds, shootings, attempted murder, and open brawls.”
The national spotlight, along with the descriptions of the gang’s violent activity, brought renewed attention to the presence of both national and neighborhood gangs in New Bedford.
In 2018, the New Bedford Police Department confirmed 19 active gangs with 505 “validated” gang members in the city, which represented a 17% increase over 2017, according to a report from the Charles E. Shannon Community Safety Initiative (Shannon).
Shannon is a fund through the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security that is awarded to communities that “demonstrate the presence of risk factors for youth and gang violence.”
When asked about the increase in gang members from 2017 to 2018 New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro said, “There are a few variables that would play into that, us being more efficient and effective in validating (gang members), and a combination of people from outside the city moving in, and just some newer members that joined.”
As for how the numbers compare to years past overall, Cordeiro said, “We’ve seen cycles, we had a really sizeable sweep with the Latin Kings and as we’ve just seen with the DEA, that should influence the cycle so we should likely see a decrease especially if they go down for federal sentences.”
The DEA sweep Cordeiro was referring to occurred on Dec. 5 and resulted in eight men from New Bedford being indicted on drug trafficking charges.
Cordeiro said he wanted to highlight the work of his Police Department and issued the following statement, “Last year the New Bedford Police Dept. has taken 71 guns off the streets and made 232 gang-related arrests. Our officers are committed to ensuring public safety and reducing gang activity throughout the city in partnership with all agencies who receive Shannon funding here in New Bedford and across the state.”
The Shannon report lists the largest gangs in the city in 2018 as the Latin Kings, the United Front/West End gang, Shotgun Crips, Bloods, TeoGang, and the Gangster Disciples.
Reporting from The Standard-Times over the last decade also mentions the Maniac Latin Disciples, the Monte Park or South End gang, and the Ruth Street gang.
Though TeoGang is listed as a gang in the Shannon report, there is some dispute as to whether it is a gang.
Renee Ledbetter, the director of New Bedford Shannon, said, “It’s a group of people that are empathizing with each other about one of the kids that passed away …something they did to commemorate him, so that’s what it was.”
In 2016, 15 year-old Mateo Morales was stabbed to death near the Temple Landing (formerly United Front) Housing Development by members of the Monte Park gang.
When asked if it was a mistake that “TeoGang” was listed as a gang in the 2018 Shannon report, Ledbetter said “I’ve only been the director since August, so I’m not quite sure what was reported.”
Chief Cordeiro said, “We do not have a formalized Mateo gang that we’ve identified here.”
The South End (Monte Park) and West End (United Front) neighborhood gangs have a long-standing rivalry, according to Cordeiro.
“They’ve just lasted generations. We’ve got to be on our third generation of West End, South End gangs,” the chief said, adding that it was “disheartening” because he ventured to guess most members of the groups don’t actually know what started the conflict.
“Why you don’t like somebody only because they’re from a certain part of the city is baffling to me,” said Robert Mendes, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater New Bedford/Wareham. “A lot of kids will just turn around and say I’m part of the West End gang (just because they live in the West End).”
Cordeiro did make a distinction between the neighborhood gangs and national gangs like the Latin Kings saying they “are a homegrown gang, they’re not as voluminous or as sophisticated in many ways, but I think they would fall under the criteria (of a gang).”
In the past community activists, like John “Buddy” Andrade, have fought against the South End and West End groups being identified as gangs.
“Monte Park is a park named after a World War I hero, not a gang,” he told The Standard-Times in 2017. “The Monte Park gang doesn’t exist.”
Following the raid of the Latin Kings, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said, “New Bedford is a city…. It is a city of 100,000 and like virtually every other, there are gangs…Compared to other places New Bedford is in good shape.”
The statistics for Fall River show that the Spindle City, with a population of 89,420, also has 19 street gangs, but a higher number of gang members at 632.
The Shannon reports list Brockton’s population at 95,672 in 2018, that’s 552 over the listed population for New Bedford, with 18 active gangs and 198 estimated gang members, both lower than New Bedford’s numbers.
Gang members in New Bedford are “validated” by the police and sheriff’s department using a point system, which include different criteria that are worth a certain amount of points, and it takes a minimum of 10 points to be a validated gang member, according to information from the Bristol County House of Correction.
The criteria include four points for observed association, five points for information from a reliable informant, eight points for participation in a publication (e.g. a picture published on social media in which someone is flashing gang signs or wearing gang colors), and 10 points for tattoos or markings.
The system of validating gang members has recently received criticism from Ward 4 City Councilor Dana Rebeiro who said at a City Council meeting last Thursday that based on the criteria, she would have been considered a gang member and that black and brown people are already over-policed and over-prosecuted.
Speaking in response to gang-related motions before the council, Rebeiro said “these are our kids” and “These kids are in gangs because they are hurting.”
Forty one percent, or 207, of the 505 validated gang members in 2018 were under the age of 25, according to the Shannon report.
New Bedford has programs specifically targeting youth who are at high-risk for joining gangs, including two managed by the United Way of Greater New Bedford, New Bedford Shannon and the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI).
“A lot of the reasons people get into gangs is because they’re looking for a family, they’re looking for a place to belong, a sense of value, a sense of worth,” Director of New Bedford Shannon, Renee Ledbetter, said.
Ledbetter said they offer intensive case management services for some of the youth they work with and work to educate them on “different life values and try to develop their mindset and help them see that there’s a better future for them.”
They are currently working with 192 youth between the ages of 10 to 24 year old and have successfully moved an additional 100 students into a positive phase where they are doing well academically and socially, according to Ledbetter.
Mendes said the Boys & Girls club is seeing a decline in their membership numbers 14 years and up, which could be attributed to several things like the availability of afterschool activities and can’t necessarily be attributed to gangs.
However, Mendes said, “As someone who has worked in these fields for the last 40 years it’s troubling so see how kids are getting involved in that activity at an alarmingly younger rate.”
Due to the decline in teenage membership, Mendes said, “Now we have to (curtail children from getting involved in gang activity) at an early age, we have prevention programs and life building skills targeting kids that are 7, 8, 9 years old in hopes that they will take those life skills and values and maintain them when they get older.”
Mitch Librett, a criminal justice professor at Bridgewater State University and former New York police officer, explained reasons similar to Ledbetter’s for young people joining gangs. “Young people, coming-of-age teenagers, who are growing up in neighborhoods where there’s a great deal of social marginalization/deprivation, living in a world where there’s still some degree of vestigial racism and ethnic prejudice, they become attracted to some of these gangs because it helps them develop a sense of self esteem/power.”
Another reason people join gangs, according to Librett, is protection in prison.
“Once a person becomes arrested for a serious crime and is sent to a state prison, they find themselves in an atmosphere where it can be dangerous not to have some sort of gang affiliation,” Librett said.
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said, “Prisons are always a place where people can either strengthen their gang ties or try to recruit people in prison … but the thing I think is important for people to know is I have a gang unit inside my facility.”
That gang unit works to identify gang members, classify them, and then house them in the safest place, according to Hodgson.
According to Hodgson 20-25% of the population are involved in gangs, “Our biggest gang is Gangster Disciples and we have 65 members of the Gangster Disciples.”
The Latin Kings are also present in the jail, with 41 members, but according to Hodgson the rivalry between the gangs that exists on the streets of New Bedford doesn’t cause issues in the jail.
“That’s why classification is so important. They’re put in the proper housing units so they’re not in that kind of situation,” Hodgson said.
As for people recruiting for gangs in the jails, Hodgson said, “It’s very difficult for them to do recruiting here because we have staff in there that have their finger on the pulse.”
According to Hodgson, his gang unit shares any information they discover about gang members with local law enforcement.
There is also an effort in the jail to prevent gang members from returning to their gangs once they get out.
Hodgson explained that SSYI funds a case worker that works specifically with gang members to help them develop a re-entry plan with potential places to live and job opportunities that will keep them away from gangs.
As for gangs in New Bedford he said “we do have a serious gang problem that we have to keep addressing and stay on top of … This is not anything new for us, the growing drug problem has exacerbated the problem.”
Ledbetter said, “I think the city’s moving in the right direction. I don’t think it’s any worse than any other city.”
However, there are more steps that could be taken to address the gang problem, Ledbetter said.
“We would have more results if everybody in the community was able to reach out and lift another young person up because they are people just like we are and they are hurting…. Talk to a young person and let them know that they are worth something.”
Published by Southcoast Today: https://www.southcoasttoday.com/news/20191222/2019-newsmaker-of-year-youth-seeking-self-worth-are-vulnerable-to-new-bedford-gang-families