For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2016
Contact: John Guilfoil
Bedford Neighbor Brigade Gears Up for the Holidays, Seeks Volunteers
BEDFORD – With the holiday season upon us, the Bedford Neighbor Brigade is looking to spread the word about their services to the community and encourage those who are interested in volunteering to sign up.
The Neighbor Brigade establishes community-specific networks of volunteers that can be mobilized to help residents facing sudden crisis manage their day-to-day tasks like meal preparation, rides and basic household chores. Using a web-based coordination system, the Brigade manages recipient requests and the recruitment of volunteers to fulfill those requests sensitively, quickly and free of charge.
The Bedford Neighbor Brigade chapter is one of the oldest in the organization, founded in March 2010. Chapter leader Amy Mason was dear friends with Neighbor Brigade’s founder Pam Washek, who started the organization after suffering her first bout with cancer in 2002. She wanted to “pay forward” the acts of kindness she received from her own neighbors during her cancer treatments. Sadly, Pam lost her battle with cancer in 2012.
“I have been blessed to work with this organization from the beginning and have seen how our small gestures can make such an enormous impact in the lives of those who are struggling,” Mason said. “This time of year can be especially difficult, so we are eager to help existing and potential participants in their time of need. We are always looking to expand our presence in town, both with volunteers and people who may need assistance, so I would encourage anyone who is interested in learning more to reach out!”
There are currently 31 Neighbor Brigade chapters — 26 in Massachusetts, two in Connecticut, one in Rhode Island, one in Maine and one in New Jersey. The Bedford Neighbor Brigade chapter has a total of 268 volunteers who have donated approximately 670 hours of their time to serve 211 clients and families in need.
Since its founding, the Bedford Chapter has served 710 families and completed 2,332 tasks. Last year, volunteers made 79 meals — 146 meal servings — performed 46 dog walks, gave 45 rides and allocated four community drives for those in need. About 52 percent of the Bedford Neighbor Brigade’s clients require assistance after surgery, 40 percent of clients used the service following a cancer diagnosis and 8 percent reached out to the Bedford Neighbor Brigade after an accident.
“Bedford Neighbor Brigade isn’t just about giving someone who’s having a hard time a break from shopping and cooking,” said John Laferriere, a former recipient who now volunteers for the organization. “The meals we received after my wife’s death were a reminder that we live in a community where people care about their neighbors. It meant a lot to us then, and it feels so good to be a part of that now, and to make and deliver meals to others in need.”
In addition to the services that the Bedford Neighbor Brigade provides to its clients, they also partner with other local organizations including the Bedford Food Pantry, the Bedford Council on Aging and the Bedford Green. They recently completed a pie drive for the food pantry and a Thanksgiving meal drive for the veterans at the Bedford Green, and have coordinated hygiene product drives in the past.
The Neighbor Brigade is always looking for new volunteers who want to make a difference in someone’s life. For more information about how to get involved, visit the Bedford Neighbor Brigade chapter website.