QCAP Opens Doors to New South West Community Center

Quincy Community Action Programs held a ribbon cutting on Nov. 29 to celebrate the reopening of its South West Community Center. From left to right: first row: QCAP Board President Tim McAloon, Esq., Mayor Thomas P. Koch, Paul M. Connolly, Pat Connolly Second Row: Board Asst. Treasurer Doug Moseley, Board Vice President Josephine Shea, CEO Beth Ann Strollo, South West Community Center Director Melinda Alexander Third Row: Board Member Emeritus Jim Murdoch, Board Treasurer Reverend Sheldon Bennett, Board Member Maureen Ayers, Board Member Michelle Higgins, Board Member Linda Perry, Board Clerk Nan O’Neill, Esq., Board Member Pat Packard, Board Member Mike Berry. Photo courtesy Nicole Chaput Photography.

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, Quincy Community Action Programs, Inc. celebrated the Grand Re-Opening and Ribbon Cutting for the new South West Community Center in South West Quincy, where the nonprofit has been serving food since 1968.

Over 130 people were in attendance including elected officials, funders of the project, community partners and private donors. Guests gathered for a light breakfast and tours of the new facility, including the new food pantry warehouse, a children and family engagement room, and office space where clients can access services such as housing and heating assistance and free income tax preparation.

Mayor Thomas P. Koch and Speaker Ronald J. Mariano were in attendance as keynote speakers. Both congratulated QCAP leadership and staff for opening the new facility that will provide critical resources for local families who are struggling to make ends meet.

Paul and Pat Connolly surrounded by their family after the building dedication to Paul. Front Row: Kevin Connolly, Paul Connolly, Pat Connolly, Sandi & David Connolly. Back Row:  Joseph, Kyra and Erin Connolly, Carol & Bryan Connolly. Photo courtesy Nicole Chaput Photography.

The building was dedicated to long-time Quincy resident and member of the QCAP Board of Directors, Paul M. Connolly. For 20 years Connolly has represented the South West Quincy neighborhood – first on behalf of his son, former Ward 4 Councilor Bryan Connolly, then on behalf of the low income residents of South West Quincy who elected him as their representative to the QCAP Board of Directors. Speaker Mariano and Mayor Koch offered warm and personal congratulations to Paul Connolly for his contributions to the community and this well-deserved recognition.

Josephine Shea spoke on behalf of the QCAP Board of Directors stating, “Paul’s dedication to the South West Quincy community, his unwavering support of QCAP’s Food Center and overall mission, and his steadfast belief that every person deserves to have their basic needs met with dignity, make QCAP leadership proud to honor Paul M. Connolly with the dedication of the new South West Community Center in his name.”

Paul and his wife Pat raised three sons in Quincy and instilled these values of service and leadership in their family. Their son, Bryan, now an attorney, has donated countless hours to Quincy Community Action Programs assisting with the development of QCAP’s Head Start Center at 22 Pray Street, and now the South West Community Center at 18 Copeland Street.

The project was funded by public COVID-related funding to address food insecurity, state community action funds, as well as generous donations from local businesses, foundations and private donors. Beth Ann Strollo, QCAP Chief Executive Officer, thanked the many supporters in attendance, noting the support from Mayor Koch and Speaker Mariano, the Quincy state delegation and the many local banks, foundations and businesses who sponsored the project.

“I want to offer our sincere gratitude to all of you – the contributors, supporters, donors – you gave us the resources to transform this building into what it is today.”

Strollo also recognized the project’s architect Jim Edwards and general contractor Commonwealth Building Inc. for their excellent work throughout the renovation process..

The opening of the new food pantry and client services center comes at a critical time when the cost of food, housing and fuel are on the rise, and many families are feeling the effects of the added stress on household budgets. As many residents begin to recover from the pandemic’s financial impact, low-income households and communities of color are having the most difficult time bouncing back. Quincy Community Action Programs, Inc. is seeing food insecurity among local families remain high. As the community need for food has grown over the last 24 months, so has QCAP’s need for increased pantry storage space at their long-time Food Center in South West Quincy.

Also attending the ribbon cutting were: Mayor of Braintree Charles Kokoros, QCAP Board President Tim McAloon, Speaker Ronald Mariano, Paul Connolly, Sen. John Keenan, Rep. Bruce Ayers Second row: Linda Perry, Josephine Shea, Beth Ann Strollo, Mike Berry Third Row: Board members: Reverend Sheldon Bennett, Michelle Higgins, Maureen Ayers Back row: Board Members: Doug Moseley, Nan O’Neill, Pat Packard, James Murdoch

“The need is great,” says CEO Beth Ann Strollo. “While the pandemic is easing for some, recovery has been slow for many in the low-income community. Families continue to make hard decisions about whether to pay their rent, their heating costs, or put food on their tables. We are thrilled to open our doors to this new Community Center as a resource in the neighborhood we have been serving since 1965. We cannot thank our supporters enough for helping to make this a reality for our neighbors in need.”

More than a food pantry, the South West Community Center is a welcoming place to gather for cooking and nutrition classes, menu-planning workshops, family engagement activities, and more. The new Center is here to help during the holidays and beyond by providing assistance through monthly food orders, holiday meals and gifts, mobile food pantries and food delivery services.

“This new building will allow us to address the increased needs of so many residents, not just in South West Quincy but throughout the local area through mobile pantries and food delivery services launched in 2021 in response to both the pandemic and the long time problem of food insecurity,” said Strollo.

Donations to the Center are welcome during the holidays and year-round. Food donations to QCAP’s food center help to fill gaps caused by the increased need, and they help supply the pantry with items that are more difficult to find such as cooking oils, spices, and coffee. There is also an ongoing need at the food center for donations of non-food items such as cleaning supplies, toilet paper, feminine products, soap, and toothpaste and toothbrushes. QCAP also encourages monetary donations at this time of year and can stretch every dollar donated to the food center to have the biggest impact on clients who are struggling with hunger.

“A donation to QCAP helps us ensure that households get healthy, nutritious food and other services like heating assistance that help families get by in very challenging times,” says South West Community Center Director, Melinda Alexander.

The pantry at the Center is accessible to clients and donors five days a week from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except on Wednesdays when it is open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. to accommodate working families. For more information on the services the food center provides or donations needed, please call 617-471-0796.

QCAP also provides heating assistance to residents in Quincy, Braintree, Milton, and Weymouth. Heating assistance can help significantly reduce monthly bills, even if heat is included in the rent. For more information on this, please call 617-657-5301 or visit qcap.org/energy.

Rental assistance is also available through QCAP’s housing program. QCAP has helped families avoid eviction through rental assistance funding and advocacy. For more information on eligibility, please call 617-657-5376 or visit qcap.org/housing.

“We are thrilled to be opening the new Center that will provide a place to turn for help when our neighbors face challenging times. This project would not be possible without the support of such a caring community. We are grateful for the ongoing support of our community, local elected officials, volunteers, and donors,” reflects QCAP CEO Beth Ann Strollo.

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