Service agency looks to public for help with last leg of the campaign
Wellspring Multi-Service Centers, which have experienced a tremendous increase in requests for services as a result of the pandemic, have raised more than 80 percent of their $2 million fundraising goal through the generosity of key donors and stakeholders. The social service agency, located in Hull and Weymouth, is now seeking support from the public to raise the remaining $330,000 this year.
The initial phase of “The Drive for Wellspring” campaign began in 2018 in response to an increasing need for services by those struggling with financial, emotional, and physical challenges. An accompanying goal is helping clients achieve independence on the path to becoming productive members of their community, whether as individuals or families.
“Wellspring first shared the news of the campaign with key stakeholders in a quiet phase,” Kelly Loftus Fleming, director of development and advancement, told The Hull Times. “At a breakfast summit held at the Nantasket Beach Hotel, Hingham resident Jane Carr made the first pledge to the campaign, creating the momentum that would continue to build and bring the organization to where it is today at almost 85 percent of the campaign goal.” Other major donations followed.
The fund drive is a major component of Wellspring’s ability to continue its mission of assisting South Shore residents needing help with food insecurity, navigating the system to receive benefits, education, legal advice, counseling, and other considerations, according to Wellspring President and CEO Vinny Harte.
While the Hull community is by far the biggest population Wellspring assists, the organization serves the entire South Shore. “There are no geographic or economic boundaries. It’s about helping people to help themselves,” he said.
Wellspring recently made the decision to establish an additional location in Weymouth to reach a new population and to afford the clients who go there the same services those already receiving assistance in Hull have come to rely on.
“The second location and the funding from the campaign will bolster the existing programs Wellspring has to offer by creating an expanded service area and a convenient location for those who use public transportation,” Fleming said.
Wellspring is already providing transportation to clients from surrounding communities, particularly those participating in the education programs offered there through the “Ticket to Ride” program.
“The Weymouth site will enhance the efficiency and accessibility for ‘Ticket to Ride’ drivers and clients alike,” Fleming said. The van will continue to pick up individuals at their homes as needed and act as a shuttle between the two Wellspring locations.
The fundraising effort goes hand in hand with the implementation of Wellspring’s strategic plan, which includes improving programs already in place and “enhancing what we already do,” Harte explained. “We want to be sure we are doing everything right and reaching the people whom we need to reach.”
Key to the plan is addressing the burgeoning need for affordable housing. “That’s our biggest unmet need,” he said. “We’re not going to be buying property for that purpose, but Wellspring is working with government agencies, local organizations, and landlords to form our response to the housing crisis.”
New programs, including ones that generate revenue, are also on Wellspring’s agenda “so that we will be less dependent on donations,” Harte noted.
As an example, Wellspring recently purchased a food truck that, in conjunction with Aunt Dot’s Kitchen, will provide food during the summer months to schoolchildren who are eligible for free breakfasts and lunches during the school year and to other members of vulnerable populations, such as the homeless and seniors. The food truck is also expected to generate revenue when it participates in local events.
In her role as Wellspring board member for nine years and currently chairwoman of Wellspring’s Program and Services Committee, Hull resident Marie Wentling gets to “see and hear firsthand from the dedicated staff members about the great work they do to support our community.”
A few years ago, when the strategic planning process leading to the launch of the capital campaign began, members of that committee quickly realized there was a need to increase staffing to meet the needs of Wellspring’s clients.
The “Drive for Wellspring” has enabled the organization to increase staff hours for legal services, community outreach, and counseling services in Hull and to open the new location in Weymouth.
Fleming shared the numbers reflecting the high demand for services during the coronavirus pandemic, along with some of the ways Wellspring has been accomplishing its goals during this record year.
In 2020 alone, there were 12,468 client visits across all the services at the Hull location. The Aunt Dot’s Kitchen food pantry recorded 10,152 visitors.
In addition, through a partnership with the Hull Public Schools, Wellspring provided 31,420 meals to schoolchildren during the time the schools were forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“These are the highest numbers we have seen in the organization’s history,” Fleming said. “Much of it has to do with the incredible hardship, both financial and emotional, that neighbors faced and are still facing as a result of the pandemic.”
Fleming believes that Wellspring’s unique model of treating “the full picture of need in a client’s life is also a factor in the increasing numbers [of people asking for assistance]. Word is spreading that Wellspring is a resource and a place to start when you need assistance but don’t know where to begin.”
For more information or to donate to the fundraiser on behalf of Wellspring, visit www.wellspringmultiservice.org.