FRAMINGHAM – The MetroWest Health Foundation recently presented its Community Health Leadership Awards at its virtual annual meeting.
The Deborah Blumer Community Health Leadership Award was presented to Sue Crossley, of Natick.
The Deborah Blumer Community Health Leadership Award is named for the late state representative from Framingham, who served as the founding chair of the Foundation’s board of trustees.
Crossley is the executive director of Family Promise MetroWest. Family Promise is a national model that formerly used faith-based congregations to house homeless families.
She increased programming at Family Promise, hiring “family coaches” to facilitate classes on financial literacy, career development, and parenting support, as well as offering individual case management and support when needed.
With the arrival of COVID In March 2020, the program’s housing model was no longer feasible. Church buildings closed and families and volunteers could no longer safely sleep and eat communally. She quickly mobilized financial support and secured hotel rooms for the families in shelter. She also worked with her staff to ensure that families’ basic needs were met.
When COVID slowed, Crossley seized the opportunity for a bolder way forward. She led the agency through a strategic planning process that resulted in plans to transform their offices and day center into family shelter space. Families will no longer need to move to a different church each week.
Rather, they will have their own space with staff and services on site. She has also shifted the agency to doing more to prevent homelessness by supporting families before evictions.
Although she is retiring this summer, Crossley leaves an agency that is stronger both fiscally and programmatically and a region that has benefitted from her advocacy and support for affordable housing for all.
The MetroWest Health Foundation is a catalyst for a healthy MetroWest, providing more than $5 million in annual financial support for preventative and responsive health programs that have a positive impact on the health of the 25 communities in the MetroWest area of Massachusetts. To date, the foundation has provided more than $70 million in financial support that helps residents and their families lead healthier lives.