Just-a-Start Property Hit by Fire; Leaders Cited; Grants Available

December 6, 2016 — A 10-alarm blaze in Cambridge damaged two buildings owned by Just-a-Start Corporation...Eight women leaders at Massachusetts nonprofits were named among the most influential in the state...Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts invites nonprofits to apply for up to $240,000 in grants.

Fire Damages Buildings Owned by Just-a-Start Corporation

Two buildings owned and managed by Just-a-Start Corporation, a Cambridge-based nonprofit community development corporation, sustained heavy damage Saturday when a 10-alarm fire raged in a tightly packed East Cambridge neighborhood.

Deborah Ruhe, executive director of Just-a-Start, said buildings at 40 and 50 York St., comprising 36 living units, were damaged and the residents evacuated. Two other buildings, at 26 and 30 York St., were also evacuated, but residents have returned. A total of 15 buildings plus several vehicles were damaged or destroyed.

All 53 residents of the four buildings escaped injury in the mid-afternoon conflagration.

Temporary housing has been provided for those who could not return to their homes, and Just-a-Start is looking for replacement affordable housing.

"The city has been a tremendous partner, and has started a fundraising campaign that is looking for $1 million to assist everyone who was displaced," she said.

Ruhe said a dollar value has not yet been placed on the damaged structures, adding that rebuilding plans will be decided after a full damage assessment is made. The four buildings, which were insured, were rehabbed in the early 1990s at a cost of $4 million.

Just-A-Start, which provides affordable housing, education, and workforce training, owns and manages 597 housing units in East and North Cambridge.

Fire officials believe the blaze began at or near a three-story house on nearby Berkshire Street that was undergoing renovations. As of today, no cause had been determined.

Eight Women Heading Mass. Nonprofits Named " Women of Influence"

Eight women who lead Massachusetts nonprofits are among 25 recently named by the Boston Business Journal as "Women of Influence."

The annual listing cited them for being "women of courage" and "inspiring others to follow in their footsteps."

Included in the 2016 listing, published last Friday, were:
  • Faina Shtern, president and CEO of AdMeTech Foundation, Boston, which raises awareness regarding early detection and treatment of life-threatening diseases

  • Deborah Re, CEO of Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, Boston, which matches girls ages 7-15 with professionally trained and supported women mentors

  • Lisa Kelly-Crosell, president and chief human resources officer of Boston Medical Center, Boston, a 496-bed academic medical center

  • Deborah Hughes, president and CEO of Brookview House, Dorchester, which helps homeless mothers and their children out of homelessness

  • Joan Wallace-Benjamin, president and CEO of The Home for Little Wanderers, Boston, a child and family service agency

  • Joanne Conroy, CEO of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Burlington, a teaching hospital affiliated with Tufts Medical School

  • Gloria White-Hammond, executive director of My Sister's Keeper, a faith-inspired, multi-racial, collective of women who assist communities of women around the world

  • Kathleen McCartney, president of Smith College, Northampton, an independent women's liberal arts college

Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts Offering $240K in Grants

The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, based in Easthampton, which supports economic and social equality for women and girls in western Massachusetts announced that it is accepting applications for up to $240,000 in grants to nonprofits serving women and girls in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties.

Grant recipients will receive conditional funding commitments for the multi-year grants to deploy innovative programs that help shift the landscape for women and girls. Successful applications will demonstrate meaningful partnerships among two or more organizations, agencies, or projects.

The Women’s Fund’s said the grant making process will focus on economic prosperity for young women (aged 12-24) as a foundation for long-term change. In addition, the organization will support gender-focused projects that help drive the conditions for economic prosperity for women of all ages.

In addition to the financial award, the Women’s Fund will invest $7,500 into each partnership by offering one full scholarship, each year of the grant period, to its Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact.

Letters of intent are due by 5 p.m. on Jan. 6. Details.