Mom Squad Hopes to Keep Serving Western Mass
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Last year, Tamara Ako-Brew was unemployed, and looking for a place to live with her two young daughters in tow. “Unfortunately I had a house fire, maybe two weeks after the Mom Squad program, and I lost everything I had. I had just found an apartment, got my kids into daycare. Without Mom Squad, I was at that point where I didn’t want to go anymore. Probably worse than that,” Ako-Brew shared.
Once she learned about Square One’s Mom Squad through HAP Housing, she took advantage of the opportunity.
The program provides the opportunity for homeless families, specifically those headed by women, referred by the Department of Transitional Assistance, to volunteer so they can build work experience.
At the same time they provide free childcare so moms going through difficult times have the chance to get back on their feet. “It’s sad, but I myself grew up in the north end of Springfield, so I know what it’s like to be living in a community with limited resources. Having someone to talk to about your issues, it makes it easier for them,” Mom Squad Director, Zulma Torres said.
The program is only a year old, but already has made a significant impact. Of more than 50 moms this year, 33 of them are now employed.
Women like Tamara have been able to find a career because of it, “It’s a good program and it could help out a lot of moms as long as you could help out yourself. I’m planning on getting a CNA, I’m actually a medical assistant.”
Even with all its success, funding for mom squad is about to run out at the end of the year, which means it would leave a lot more local mothers in despair. “The funding is with the Department of Housing and Community Development. We’re trying to submit a second round, because they like to fund new programs and this technically isn’t new, but it’s moving into a new phase. So that’s the argument,” said Square One’s HR Director, Karen Smith.
The program costs $50,000 to run.
Square One was able to get additional money to help Zulma keep her position through the end of the year. They hope to be granted the same amount of money so they can continue to uplift a new crop of women and families in need.
Square One is always looking for non-profits that want to provide volunteer opportunities, along with companies who would like to provide jobs.
If you would like to help out, donate, or apply to the Mom Squad, contact Zulma Torres at (413) 858-3164.