2020… what a year!

There are so many emotions experienced when reminiscing on the year that 2020 was. As we turn another page to the new year, we wanted to reflect on the highs NETA Cares experienced over the last 12 months.

Pre-Covid.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, NETA Cares was able to squeeze in a few hands-on volunteer opportunities in the community.

The team frequently retires old, worn uniforms. Rather than throwing the material away, employees turned t-shirts and sweatshirts into sturdy, braided dog toys. These dog toys were then donated to the VCA Brookline Animal Hospital and Happy Tails Doggy Daycare in Franklin. Volunteers were excited to see a furry friend enjoy a new toy right away!

Next up, Valentine’s Day! The staff warmed hearts as they made and delivered homemade Valentine’s Day cards to local senior centers. The Brookline crew visited Goddard Assisted Living Home, while Franklin workers shared their love with Benchmark Senior Living.

In March, NETA Cares had a few employees volunteer their helping hands at the Brookline Community Center for Mental Health’s Women at the Center event. This event gathered women of all ages to support mental health initiatives for young girls in the community. From registering attendees, to crowd guidance, to breaking down the whole setup post-event, these volunteers were prepared to dive into any request needed of them.

Then… Covid-19 cases began escalating in MA, and lockdowns were in place. How could NETA Cares continue to support the community, but in a Covid-minded fashion? There needed to be a pivot, and some strategic and creative planning.

2020 Drives.

Drives proved to be a powerful way to give back to the community, especially in a time of need. A huge milestone to kick off the year was a 1300 lb donation of food to the Northampton Survival Center in Western MA. This Center is dedicated to improving the quality of life for low-income families throughout the Hampshire County.

Shortly after, Northampton collected dog food for Kane’s Krusade. Kane’s Krusade works in the most underserved neighbors in Western MA to give people and their pets access to veterinarians, dog food, proper nutrition and preventative care.

In Eastern MA, the Brookline Food Pantry has worked incredibly hard to help neighbors struggling to make ends meet week after week. To date, they have served 650-700 families weekly (which is 4x more than pre-Covid). NETA Cares hosted two drives to benefit the Brookline Food Pantry, calling onto our patients and customers for support more than ever before. Both drives proved to be successful, filling an entire car + truck of food.

NETA called upon its customers and patients once again in Northampton’s toiletry drive for the Northampton Fire Department. These much-needed toiletries would benefit the Massachusetts Medical Reserve’s temporary planned shelter. Once that drive ended, toiletries were then collected for the Grove Street Inn, the only year-round homeless shelter in Hampshire County, located in Northampton.

One of the final drives to close out the year supported Amherst Survival Center, where tons and tons of food were collected and distributed. The Amherst Survival Center was one of the only shelters accepting donations when Covid-19 cases increased significantly.

For the holiday season, Brookline teamed up with Project Just Because to collect cold weather clothing and toys. Project Just Because provides resources for families in need state-wide. Northampton hosted a toiletries drive for Interfaith Homeless Shelter in Northampton.

During-Covid.

Green Team to the rescue! A Brookline favorite, our local Green Team was out weekly picking up trash in the neighborhood, helping to further green and environmental initiatives! Even in the hottest and most humid days, our team could be seen in their masks picking up trash along Route 9, the train station, surrounding streets, and beyond.

NETA is dedicated to helping reduce our global footprint. In fact, Green Team launched in both Franklin and Northampton in 2020.

2020 was the year of the masks and hand sanitizer. NETA Cares shipped hundreds of masks to local businesses in both Brookline and Northampton. Hand sanitizer was dropped off to senior centers, assisted living homes, fire stations, police departments, hospitals and other healthcare centers.

Time to get virtual.

Many organizations pivoted with virtual events, or Covid-friendly distanced events. NETA Cares was excited to be a part of them.

In July, our beloved Corporate Cup to benefit Boston Children’s Hospital turned a 8-hour outdoor field day into an all-week affair. Each day at noon, the team would meet via Zoom and participate in a multitude of events, all to support the patients and important work being done at BCH.

Golf tournaments proved to be a successful, Covid-friendly activity. NETA Cares had golfers participate in 3 tournaments – two benefiting the research happening at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and one to support the Children’s Advocacy Center of Hampshire County.

Chris, Systems Operations Specialist, commented, “It was a perfect day to get out and play a round of golf for charity! Both of my grandfathers received excellent care from Brigham and Women’s over the years and it was a pleasure to give a little back to them for their service. Thank you to Woodland Golf Club and NETA Cares for getting us out there for a great cause!”

Bry, NETA Brookline Security Manager, echoed Chris’ sentiment, “It was an honor to represent NETA Cares at this event by supporting Brigham and Women’s hospital’s efforts in predicting, preventing, and treating the most challenging diseases.

NETA Cares then completed the Step Up for Stepping Strong month-long challenge to take 500 million steps together. By walking or running their way to fitness and great prizes, our employees helped raise support and awareness for The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation Brigham and Women’s Hospital!

Finally, what is a year without a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning? (said no one ever.) NETA Cares runners took another month-long challenge to complete a 5k in honor of the Franklin Food Pantry. Entries were $25 per person, and 35 folks participated. Every dollar directly impacted the Food pantry. NETA Cares is excited to continue to collaborate with FFP in 2021.

Social Equity.

NETA has worked to be a leader in the social equity space.

NETA is a founder in the first-in-the-nation jails-to-jobs program, CultivatEd. It is a public-private partnership w/ Roxbury Community College, Greater Boston Legal Services, MA association of community colleges, Urban League Lawyers for Civil Rights Boston, MA Suffolk County Sheriff’s Dept and several cannabis dispensaries. Participating dispensaries are partnered with a Fellow. The fellow receives education, legal services provided pro bono, and is enrolled in 8-week fellowship program with the dispensary. NETA was matched with its first fellow in December 2020, and will report back with more updates to this program.

NETA also launched a Security Equipment Grant Program. NETA understands the financial barriers that economic empowerment or social equity participants in the cannabis industry will face. NETA offered an application on the website for economic empowerment or social equity participants to apply for up to $25k towards compliant security equipment.

NETA continues to work with social equity applicants and other organizations to provide guidance, information and tours to equip applicants with the tools they need to operate compliantly in MA. Other educational appearances include sponsoring the state house news services marijuana policy forum in June, participating in the minority cannabis business association policy summit, and more. You can read a full list of NETA’s participation on: netacare.org/socialequity

Looking forward to 2021.

So, what’s the plan for 2021? As we continue to monitor the Covid-19 world, NETA will be continuing on as best as we can. Local drives will thrive, Green Team will deploy weekly, partnerships and collaborations will shape, social equity work will be completed, and that is just the beginning.

To get specific, the first event NETA Cares is proud to present is a Joyflow Yoga Workshop on Thursday, Jan. 14th at 6:30pm, in partnership with the Paper Bag Mask Foundation. Joyflow is a unique yoga experience crafted by Sarah Gaines that allows you to move your body in a way that feels good, notice your thoughts along the way, and use your breath to break through what’s holding you back from stepping into the fullest expression of yourself.

That’s not all… everyone who registers will be entered into a raffle for some unbelievable prizes!

– Zafu Meditation Cushion – valued at $65.95

– Lululemon Reversible Yoga Mat – valued at $78.00

– Annual Subscription to digital wellness app, Prezence – valued at $44.00

Register here!

We hope to see you there!

 

We will continue to update the website with NETA Cares’ happenings as best as possible, but our Facebook page is always the most current resource.

Happy New Year! Happy 2021! Onward to great things!

Be sure to check out our 2020 – A Year in Review Gallery.

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