On Tuesday, the fellows had the opportunity to meet with Clare Higgins, the Executive Director of Community Action of Franklin and Hampshire Counties.
In our first visit to Greenfield, Clare presented an overview of the programs that Community Action provides, how the organization is financially supported, and the challenges that they face. Looking ahead, the Fellows will be visiting a few other sites in Greenfield and hear from a number of people involved in providing social services.
Below are a few thoughts after our brief time with Ms. Higgins.
“This visit made me realize that Community Action is an attempt to chase social justice and change institutions, yes, but above all of that it is an implementation of kindness. It is about humans helping each other because we live in a capitalist society where the poor are disadvantaged and the wealthy have power.”
- Lydia Smith
"After our first visit to Greenfield, I learned that I need to be ready to expand my view of a town I thought I knew well. This visit opened my eyes to many different programs that are actively engaged in helping those who need it. Not only was I oblivious to these programs, but to these problems throughout Franklin County. I am glad that I had this experience because I have began to think more thoughtfully about what issues people face in our area."
- Eli Nicolson
“I felt like our visit to Greenfield was successful. I definitely wish we had more time; Clare Higgins is an interesting person who reminds me a little of Dorothy Stoneman. Like Youthbuild, Community Action is addressing poverty in various areas in Massachusetts. I felt very included in the conversation as Clare Higgins got more into the details of the program and who they partner with. It was also kind of weird for me given that some of the programs she was addressing that helps to assist people in poverty are programs that I grew up on, such as WIC, Food Stamps, and Section 8 housing. It’s a bit strange to me to be strategically planning out which ways we can help and address poverty, especially when they’re so synonymous with what I’ve seen growing up. We treat it as such a big deal, when to me it’s never felt like one. I’d never say I had money but I never considered myself poor.”
- Iiyannaa Graham Siphanoum