FRAMINGHAM – The MetroWest Chamber of Commerce awarded its non-profit partner of the year award to Needham-based Hope & Comfort.
The organization’s mission is to “provide essential hygiene products such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, menstrual products, and more to support and improve health, self-esteem and hygiene education of youth in MA, families in need in Massachusetts,” said MetroWest Chamber of Commerce CEO & president Jim Giammarinaro at the 127th annual meeting held at The Verve Hotel in Natick on November 16.
“I just “I want to say an enormous thank you to the Chamber of Commerce. This is a real honor and a privilege. They’re nice like this where I’m really reminded of, as we talked about earlier, gratitude and compassion. And it’s a real honor amidst a nonprofit community that as many of you know, there’s 30 to 40,000 nonprofits in Massachusetts. There are hundreds and hundreds in the Metro West area. This nonprofit guide in looking at it today at Hope and Comfort some of our core values and culture, and Carrie we’ll talk about what we do a little bit more. But it really is about collaboration and teamwork. We are stronger together. There’s so much that can be gained by sharing resources and ideas, and there are wonderful partners here. A Place to Turn Jewish Family Services of Metro West, MassBay Community College comes in every month for basic hygiene products. And we couldn’t do it without the collaboration and teamwork of these amazing partners. So I want to thank again, the Chamber of Commerce,” said Founder Jeff Feingold in his acceptance speech at the annual meeting.
“Thank you for the recognition and the reason why we’re so grateful for the recognition is because it gives us an opportunity to talk about this problem. It’s a problem that a lot of people don’t know about right here in our home state of Massachusetts. So our mission, as was mentioned, is to end hygiene and security. You might be thinking, so what exactly does that mean? Hygiene and security refers to not having the ability to afford basic products. So shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, basic things like that. That’s what it is. In Massachusetts alone, there’s 2 million people who suffer from hygiene insecurity. 2 million people think about that. But the things that you did this morning to get ready for your day or to get ready for this lovely evening, thank you so much for having us. Basic things, you know, take a shower, you soap, you shampoo, you get out of the shower, you put your deodorant on, you brush your teeth. It’s all just part of your normal routine. Now imagine your life. If you didn’t have that, how different would it be? And I’ll share a couple of examples of what it means to people,” said Hope & Comfort CEO Kerry Carter.
“It’s children, it’s youth, it’s adults it’s families. And they come from various types of situations. We have people that we’re helping out that are victims of domestic abuse. They’re homeless people. They are people who are in our children, our youth in the foster care system. They’re immigrants. They’re refugees. They’re working families,” said Carter.
“Just two weeks ago we met a woman who was telling us about her situation. She is an aunt, she’s supporting her sister and her two nieces. She’s working two jobs and she’s thinking right now trying to figure out, do I need to get a third job, a third job on top of all that. So she can afford things like this, basic need of hygiene products. So if you don’t have these things, it’s, it’s much more than the products themselves,” said Carter. “What are the repercussions? I think they fall into two basic buckets that we hear about a lot. Pain and shame. So shame. What do I mean by that? People feel ashamed of they don’t have these products. We hear some stories about children who they don’t wanna take their coats off when they’re in their classroom, even though it might be a warm spring day. They don’t wanna take their coats off because they know they smell and they’re gonna get bullied. We heard a story recently about a young woman who didn’t go to school. She was a high school student on days where she had phys ed because she knew she was gonna be ostracized. So that’s a lot of days to miss high school. It’s a lot of days we hear about adults with constant pain in their mouths from dental decay. Think about walking around when you have to go to the dentist and you’re like, oh my gosh, this is terrible.”
“Imagine that’s your day every day. That’s what people who have hygiene and security suffer from every day. And what we’re doing is we’re working to end that situation. That is our mission, that is our goal to end it in Massachusetts. So in Massachusetts as I mentioned, there’s about 2 million people suffering from this. And we distributed last year, 2 million products. In order to meet the total need, it would take about 70 million products. So where a long way down this path. And we’ve got a long way to go,” said Carter.
“If you or anyone of might be interested in helping there’s several ways that you could do that. You can visit our website, which is www.hopeandcomfort.org. We have volunteer opportunities. You can do a donation drive. Of course, we always take your money. Admit that. There’s lots of different ways that connect us to people who might be able to help us from a talent perspective. There’s lots of ways that we would love your help. So the last thought I’ll leave you with today is that it’s not just about the products. There’s ways that we think about this. It’s, it’s not just toothpaste, it’s health. It’s not just soap, it’s confidence. It’s not just deodorant, it’s dignity. That’s what we are doing and we appreciate the recognition because it gives us an opportunity to tell this story, to get the word out there. And please do share about this problem. We appreciate it. And thank you for the recognition and award,” concluded Carter in her acceptance speech for the award.