MVOC Hosts Community Info Session for Housing Expansion Project

On Tuesday June 25th MVOC’s Executive Director, Stephanie Marchetti, and State Representative Jon Zlotnik co-hosted an event at the Winchendon Historical Society so that community residents and officials could come together to learn more about MVOC’s housing expansion plans.

After over 4 years of pre-development planning in partnership with Anser Advisory, Barbara Sokoloff & Associates, JWA Architects, and Commodore Builders, the Winchendon Housing Expansion Project is ready to move forward!

This project is an (approximately) $25m redevelopment of the Poland and Streeter Elementary schools, funding largely by state and federal funding sources, that will provide 44 1-bedroom apartments to homeless and high risk veterans throughout the region.

The MVOC is aiming for an early fall groundbreaking, likely in September, which will be followed by 15-18 months of construction.

While the project is funded enough to move forward, the MVOC is asking for the help of the community to raise additional monies that will support beautification efforts towards the exterior of the property and will minimize the private loans MVOC will take out in support of this work. For more information on these opportunities, check HERE.

New Years Lunch for Veterans

In January, Jane Barnes Interiors and and Barnes Building & Remodeling returned to MVOC to host a New  Years Luncheon for our veterans. These are two of the teams that worked on our pantry remodel this past fall and have stayed in touch ever since to continue to show their appreciation and support of our veterans.

 

Holiday Goodwill for Veterans

Each holiday season organizations and individuals from throughout North Central Massachusetts gather together to support our Veterans. Here are just some of the goodwill donations we received:

Rolling Thunder VT Chapter 1 submitted a monetary donation in support of our housing programs.

The family of Gardner veteran Peter Griffis gathered together on the one year anniversary of his passing to host a series of fundraisers that will support our housing expansion project.

The Winchendon American Legion submitted a donation to support Cathy’s House, our permanent supportive group home for female veterans and adult female family members of veterans.

The MVOC worked with over a dozen other food pantries and the United Way of North Central Massachusetts to make sure no families were without a meal for the holidays.

In addition to these pictured donations, the MVOC also received winter jackets, food pantry items, and additional monetary donations from many other local individuals and groups. We are so appreciative of the continuous support of this community.

 

LIGHTS, CAMERA, RESCUE AT MVOC!

GARDNER, MA- On Thursday July 20th cameras began rolling at Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center (MVOC) when NBC’s George Oliphant and the “George to the Rescue” crew arrived to begin shooting an episode of the show’s 15th season. George and his crew will be “rescuing” MVOC’s food and clothing pantry for an episode of the show to air this November.

For over 40 years MVOC has provided housing and support services to veterans and veteran families throughout North Central Massachusetts. The pantry itself offers not just food and clothing, but household goods, hygiene items, books, and more operating solely on donations and local partnerships. The pantry is located in the basement of MVOC’s Central Street Gardner location and the show will be performing a much needed top to bottom renovation of the space, working with local interior design team Jane Barnes Interiors to get the work done.

“While our pantry works hard to serve veterans and their families, the space itself is long overdue for an update. We are beyond excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to see the surprises in store for us! We won’t see what the space looks like until it’s finished and revealed, but the renovations done in previous episodes of the show are always amazing and such high quality.” said Executive Director Dr. Stephanie Marchetti.

MVOC Executive Director Stephanie Marchetti, George to the Rescue Host George Oliphant, and MVOC Founder Cathy McWilliams

Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors Cathy Stallings McWilliams shared “I am not only extremely grateful, but tremendously excited that George to the Rescue has chosen MVOC as its next project! Providing much needed free of charge renovations to our food and clothing pantry will not only be wonderful for our dedicated employees and volunteers who work so hard providing these necessary services to our clients, but will offer a comfortable, updated and relaxed atmosphere for our Veterans and their families who utilize these services.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to George and his crew for not only choosing MVOC to provide these amazing remodeling updates, but for also bringing MVOC and its’ mission to our Veterans into the national spotlight!”

A temporary pantry has been set up in another area of headquarters so that the film and contractor crews could have full access to the space for the approximately 8-week long renovation. Electricians, flooring crews, painters, artists, and more have all donated their time and resources to make this project amazing for the veterans of North Central Massachusetts.

MVOC Receives VA Suicide Prevention Grant

Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center receives VA suicide prevention grant
Grant supports local suicide prevention efforts for Veterans and their families

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is continuing its mission of preventing Veteran suicide by working with community-based organizations across the country, including Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center.

Through the Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program (SSG Fox SPGP), MVOC received just over $320,000 from VA to support its efforts helping local Veterans.

The SSG Fox SPGP is a three-year program that provides funding to community-based organizations with innovative approaches to preventing Veteran suicide. With its SSG Fox SPGP award, MVOC plans to enhance mental health and wellness efforts for Veterans in North Central Massachusetts area.

“Suicide prevention for our veterans is of vital importance,” said Stephanie Marchetti, Executive Director. “It’s not just about statistics or headlines—it’s about saving lives and offering hope. The MVOC has a demonstrated history of working with high risk veterans and via this grant we will be able to expand our counseling team, offer more reintegration activities for veterans (like fishing classes and sporting events), provide additional financial assistance grants, host peer to peer groups, and more. While the MVOC has been focused on supporting veterans for over 40 years, particularly those struggling with mental health, this grant ensures the continue of these efforts.”

For more information about MVOC, visit veterans-outreach.org. For more information about the SSG Fox SPGP, visit MentalHealth.VA.gov/ssgfox-grants.

If you’re a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive 24/7, confidential support. You don’t have to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to connect. To reach responders, Dial 988 then Press 1, or text 838255.

5th Annual Jesse H. Stallings Speaker Series hosts Veteran Blair Morin

GARDNER, MA- On Sunday August 27, 2023 Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center hosted its’ 5th Annual Jesse H. Stallings Speaker Series at Monument Park in Gardner, MA. Expanding off the success of last year’s event, this year featured live music from Kali Stoddard-Imari of RallySound and a discussion on veteran PTSD and mental health care from US Air Force Veteran Blair Morin. The event also hosted folks from the Montachusett Suicide Prevention Task Force and Clear Path For Veterans, as well as Mayor Mike Nicholson and State Representative Jon Zlotnik.Despite the rain, about 60 attendees gathered for music, conversation, and refreshments. Kali Stoddard-Imari moved his set to the back of the stage so folks could join him under the covering and the remainder happily huddled under pop up tents elsewhere in the park. After the musical set, Blair discussed his time as a medic in the Air Force, the mental health struggles he faced upon return, and continues to face today. His speech encouraged veterans to talk to each other and professionals and get help if they need it, emphasizing that 22 veterans a day already lose their lives to suicide and it’s only together that we can decrease that statistic.

Said Executive Director Dr. Stephanie Marchetti, “it is a privilege each year to organize this event, to honor Jesse Stallings’ memory and our founder Cathy McWilliams’ dedication to veteran suicide and homelessness prevention, as well as to provide a stigma-breaking opportunity for our veterans. As any veteran I’ve talked to has heard me say a million times- please come in and see us if you need help, and even if you don’t need help come in and visit us anyway. We are here for you and we want you here.”

The MVOC is grateful for the support of many sponsors for this event, to include: Fidelity Bank, Commodore Builders, ELM Electrical, Piper Electric, Rollstone Bank & Trust, Mount Wachusett Community College, Fitchburg State University, Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center, Wachusett Mountain Association, Padgett Business Services, Rally Sound, and Polar Beverages.

The MVOC offers veterans throughout central Massachusetts housing, mental health counseling, financial assistance grants, benefits resource guidance, a food and clothing pantry, and more. The organization is headquartered at 268 Central Street in Gardner.

 

MVOC Hosts Annual July BBQ for Staff and Residents

On Friday July 7th MVOC hosted it’s annual parking lot BBQ, with attendees including MVOC residents and staff, community partners, and veterans within the region.

MVOC’s President and Founder Cathy Stallings-McWilliams with Navy Veteran Scott

Pictured left to right: MVOC Board Clerk Brad Heglin, MVOC President and Founder Cathy McWilliams, State Representative Jon Zlotnik, Gardner Mayor Mike Nicholson, MVOC Executive Director Stephanie Marchetti, Gardner City Council President Lizzy Kazinskas, and Gardner Councilor at Large George Tyros

 

Attendees enjoyed free BBQ, outdoor games, and music for the afternoon.