While the Fenway Community Center (FCC) remains closed until Governor Charlie Baker lifts his stay at home order, many Fenway organizations have joined forces with the FCC to create a group called Fenway Cares.
Fenway Cares, according to FCC Executive Director Robert Kordenbrock, was born out of community activist and FCC board member Kirsten Mobilia’s desire to find a role that the community center could still play during the closure.
“I took that idea and reached out to colleagues at their respective organizations,” Kordenbrock said, and several came together to create Fenway Cares, which helps facilitate the distribution of information and pairs those in need with services and volunteers.
Fenway Cares consists of the Fenway Alliance, the Fenway Community Development Corporation, the Fenway Civic Association, the Fenway Community Center, Grace City Church, and Operation PEACE.
Kordenbrock said that over the last couple of weeks, Fenway Cares has set up an email account and a phone number, and the primary goal has been to let the neighborhood know that this group exists. They have also created an intake form on which people can indicate one of three things: that they would like to help in some way, if they are in need of assistance, or if they have information to share.
Kordenbrock said that so far they have been able to distribute translated fliers with information to the neighborhood, as well as organize a distribution of 318 boxes of fresh produce in collaboration with City Councilor Kenzie Bok. Fenway Cares was able to see who needed the produce through its intake form.
“It was a nice way for Fenway Cares to at least play a small role,” he said.
“The other piece where we’ve seen the most movement,” Kordenbrock said, has been taking the information people have shared and gathered from various online resources—such as mutual aid groups—and creating an open source resource page that they have been sending people who have requested assistance.
Kordenbrock said that the most effective role these Fenway organizations have the capacity to play right now is to facilitate the delivery of resources to residents, rather than serving directly like they normally do.
Fenway Cares organizes helping people with things like picking up medication, either through putting the resident in touch with other organizations who can help, or reaching out to its core of volunteers to see who might be able to assist.
The Fenway Community Center itself is also working on ways to keep residents connected throughout the closure of the physical community center.
Neighborhood Chat is offered Wednesday evenings from 8:00-8:30pm and Friday afternoons from 1:00-3:00pm via Zoom. For more information, visit fenwaycommunitycenter.org.
“We’re exploring what that looks like,” Kordenbrock said. He also said the FCC is hoping to join Councilor Bok in setting up wellness calls for older residents.
“It’s a fluid situation,” Kordenbrock said. “This was a unique opportunity for the Fenway organizations to come together to serve the neighborhood.”