FITCHBURG – Staff, partners, and friends of Fitchburg Public Schools (FPS) gathered for the second annual Community Brunch last month, an event that drew more than 80 people from various organizations and entities to meet and collaborate with each other.
FPS Family and Community Engagement Coordinator Luisa Fernandez helped organize the inaugural brunch last year and was behind the effort this year. She said the goal of the meeting that took place on June 20 in the Legislative Building “is to give local programs an opportunity to collaborate and consider other ways we can support our community and families because Fitchburg rocks.”
“I want to start by thanking everyone for supporting FPS over the past year in our mission to not just educate students but support family systems,” Fernandez said afterwards. “Our partners have been providing our families with essential support and services that we simply cannot provide, for example, housing, food, utility assistance, additional mental health support, healthcare, leadership training, employment training, and opportunities.
“We are extremely proud to share that some of our families have created their own businesses through the Fitchburg Public Market and the city of Fitchburg, another group has started daycares by working with Beth Robins, Maritas Mclean, Francisco Ramos, and NewVue, many families avoided eviction by working with NewVue, receive healthcare through Community Health Connections, a lot of families were able to pay utility bills and get shelters with the help and support of Colby O’Brien and Migdalia Velez from Making Opportunity Count and City Hall, and we created and continued great programs with the Fitchburg Art Museum like Fitchburg Families First, just to name a few,” she said. “All of these partnerships help the community of Fitchburg and families access the support they need in order to thrive.”
Fernandez thanked FPS staff including Superintendent Robert Jokela, who announced his resignation in June, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning and future Interim Superintendent Jonathan Thompson, and Director of ESL and Family Engagement Eva Kelly “because none of this would have been possible without their vision, support, and implementation.”
Jokela said the goal of the Community Brunch is to bring people from all over the city together “and have a conversation about our students’ and families’ needs.”
“From the conversations at our first Community Brunch we developed action plans and programming to meet the needs of the community,” he said. “This gathering was very well attended by many new people, and we hope the additional energy and voice will ultimately result in Fitchburg becoming a better place to live, learn, and work.”
Kelly echoed his sentiments, saying that the yearly gathering enables people to “create a networking opportunity” and that FPS looks “forward to working with all of you in the coming year.”
“Fitchburg Public Schools is committed to collaborating with our community partners to provide families with access to support and programs,” she said. “Over the past year, through our connections to the community, we were able to provide families access to housing support, food resources, employment opportunities, entrepreneur training, support with utilities, mental health counseling, and medical care.”
Thompson thanked everyone who attended the Community Brunch and said that he is looking forward to nurturing the connections between people and the organizations in his new upcoming role.
“I enjoyed meeting new community members and learning about how their organization can support the students and families of Fitchburg,” he said. “Fitchburg Public Schools appreciates all the support you provide to our community and looks forward to our continued collaboration.”