IMPORTANT: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has changed the application process for emergency rental and mortgage assistance! Click here to learn more.
Emergency funds from the United Way: A game changer for Resident Services
A big thanks to the United Way of the Franklin and Hampshire Region for their donation of emergency funds to our Resident Services team. Their support of our tenants—and their trust in our staff to deliver that support—is helping people to stay housed.
In the words of Director of Resident Services Shalyn Kempema:
“The emergency funds we received from the United Way have really been a game changer, I can’t stress that enough. When we come across a tenant that we know is struggling, we’ve never had something like this before, where we can give tangible assistance in a way that best benefits tenants and supports their housing stability.”
Tech Foundry interns at Way Finders earn high praise—especially for their communication skills
Way Finders is a proud employee partner of Tech Foundry, a nonprofit workforce development organization based in Springfield. Offering a free 18-week IT training support program—which includes a four-week internship—Tech Foundry is helping to meet the Pioneer Valley’s need for entry-level IT workers. Way Finders was delighted to have interns Terrance Blalock and Haroon Rahmani, graduates of Tech Foundry’s fall 2023 cohort, on board for January 2024.
From graduation to new employee orientation: Meet Housing Resource Associate Jenny Martinez
In the same month that Jenny Martinez completed Way Finders’ Self Sufficiency Program, she was welcomed aboard the Housing Education Services team. In her words:
“It was Housing Mobility Program Specialist Sol Pagan who said, ‘There’s an opening at Way Finders that you might want to check out.’ She knew about my background and told me to apply. She helped me step by step, and luckily, I was hired. My role is speaking with people all day, helping them out, it’s very rewarding. Every day I learn more. The team is awesome, they’re all great people.”
Spotlight on Bob Dorfman of Dorfman Capital: “Way Finders’ mission is pure”
Way Finders is proud to stand for affordable housing in western Massachusetts. But standing at our side? A bevy of partners—generous, talented, dedicated. People such as Bob Dorfman, of Dorfman Capital, who believe in and support our work.
A specialist in placing Massachusetts tax credits, Dorfman has helped fund several Way Finders’ developments. He’s also a big fan of the CITC program, a state-funded tax rebate program designed to promote philanthropy to community development corporations. In his words:
“Way Finders’ mission is pure, it’s to the heart of creating homes for people that need support to get started in life. The foundation of one’s life is home, it all starts there. For a small business, Dorfman Capital is a major contributor to the capital stacking of many projects. One of the ways I give back is through this beautiful CITC program. It’s an unusually good opportunity to leverage a dollar for someone like me. I’m a big believer in tithing and the CITC program is one of the ways I do so.”
Introducing Taeron “I always keep a smile” Odom of Turning Point
When one good thing leads to another, and another? Lives can change. Families can change. Futures can change. Meet Taeron “I always keep a smile” Odom, a single father and participant in Way Finders’ Turning Point program, our permanent supportive housing program for young parents experiencing homelessness. Support from the Hall Foundation toward the program helped Odom get on the road, get online, and get a new job. In his words:
“Carmen offered me a chance to try something else, something new. To live on my own with my daughter at Turning Point. So I came, and it has been great. Living here just taught me to be a better person, a better father. Without them supporting me, I would’ve never gotten to where I am today.”
Advocating for Improvements to the Housing Bond Bill
I was recently driving home from work, listening to the radio, when I heard City Council President Jesse Lederman advocating for Springfield to create a municipal affordable housing trust—citing our Greater Springfield Housing studies from 2021 and 2022. Music to my ears!
Way Finders’ 2023 Toy Drive: One pop-up toy shop, 500+ smiles
One of the first to pop into Way Finders’ pop-up toy shop at the Springfield Housing Center—the result of our 2023 Toy Drive—was Compliance Manager Kenny Castro. In his words:
“This is fun, this is my favorite time of the year! This is an opportunity to make a family’s holiday season just a bit less stressful. Families are already living a very uncertain life right now within our programs. We do our best to make sure that we’re meeting their needs. But during the holiday season, families can really feel somewhat down when they’re not able to provide for their kids when it’s all around you. So being able to alleviate that for them, even with just one extra gift, it’s amazing.”
Thank you, from all of us at Way Finders, to those who supported our Toy Drive!
Zooming in on Way Finders’ Board member Leonard Underwood
A conversation with Way Finders’ Board member and Springfield entrepreneur Leonard Underwood, of Underwood Photography and Upscale Socks:
“The need for Way Finders’ services is certainly great, especially among young people. Way Finders is definitely filling that hole or that gap when it comes to housing, and being that epicenter, if you will, for housing resources. Seeing the progress of late has certainly given me hope, knowing that we’re moving in the right direction. Way Finders has great leadership, and I’m glad Governor Healey is on board with prioritizing housing.”
Landlords Frank and Barbara Skrzypek love the SNO Mass program—here’s why
In 2019, Longmeadow property owners Frank and Barbara Skrzypek—owners of Enfield Carpet & Flooring—rented to their first tenant through Way Finders’ SNO Mass program, which helps Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher recipients with school-aged children move to communities that offer greater opportunity. In 2023, they rented a second property through the program. In their words:
“We felt we were in a place to help other people, especially to give access to the schools. I love the SNO Mass program, it has connected us with honest people and it’s helping another person,” said Barbara.
“As a landlord, you can get lost sometimes and just thinking about what you can get for rent. I mean, our values, it’s not always about that. It’s not always about money, honestly,” said Frank.
Feeling the glow
She’s feeling the glow—that energy and spirit that comes with having everything going for oneself. Introducing 2023 Family Self-Sufficiency Program graduate Cynthia Torres of Springfield, who shares her glow-up story and gratitude for her Way Finders mentor Evelyn Baez. In Cynthia’s words:
“You may have a million people in your life to speak to, but nobody is going to tell you what you need to hear. They’ll go around it. Because they’re family, or they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Evelyn goes straight to the point. ‘No, you’re wrong. You need to cut it out.’
“The FSS Program didn’t just help me financially, it also helped me to be a better person and lifted up my whole household. I am the rock and I was broken. Now everything is bonded together. I have everything going for myself, I never felt the glow that I feel right now.”