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Rep. Muradian, CU give pantries a Homefield advantage

By Rod Lee

Even the sudden, unwelcome and short-lived appearance of heavy, wet snowflakes could not dampen the spirits of those gathered in the food pantry of the Northbridge Senior Center on Highland St. the morning of April 2nd.

If this was someone’s idea of a sadistic April Fool’s Day joke twenty-four hours after the fact, it fell flat.

Kelly Bol, who is director of the Senior Center, and Kathy Kane, who runs the food pantry, were all smiles. This came as no surprise. They were about to receive a check for $6000 from State Rep. David Muradian, R-Grafton, on behalf of the David Muradian Charitable Foundation.

Similar stipends were to be awarded to Grafton and Upton, the other two towns in Mr. Muradian’s district, the legislator pointed out.

“This is a good way to start the week,” Adam Gaudette, Northbridge’s new town manager, who was present, said, in commending Mr. Muradian for his benevolence.

In also applauding Mr. Muradian, Karl J. Moisan, president and CEO of Homefield Credit Union in North Grafton, said being partnered with the Foundation fulfills the CU’s philosophy, which is “People Helping People.”

Homefield CU’s goal, Mr. Moisan said, is “to be a vital part of the communities [we] serve, providing products and services to meet the financial needs of our members. The CU is also dedicated to advancing the welfare of our membership by contributing to organizations that best represent [that] membership. Each year, the CU donates to numerous charitable organizations, service and program providers across a wide variety of fields including education, public health and welfare, the arts and community development.”

Mr. Moisan said supporting the David Muradian Charitable Foundation “falls directly in line with” this commitment. “All funds raised by the Foundation go to local nonprofits which include food pantries in the towns of Grafton, Northbridge and Upton. As the Foundation grows, the goal will be to provide additional services within the community, to include veterans’ organizations as well as a scholarship fund.”

There were laughs all around at word that the ceremony almost didn’t take place. Ms. Kane sheepishly admitted that when she first got word of Mr. Muradian’s intention to stop by with the donation, “I said ʽis this a crank call?’”

“We thought this would be a prime time” for a contribution, Mr. Muradian said. He saluted members of The Muradian Foundation’s Board of Directors including Dave Glispin, Kristina Spillane, Brent Andersen and Lloyd Hamm Jr.—for their efforts.

“We are so grateful,” Ms. Kane said. “We just had to purchase two shopping carts, which came to several hundred dollars apiece; and we’re seeing homeless people here for the first time.”

After the ceremony, Ms. Kane said that the money will be used “for things we don’t get from the Worcester County Food Bank, like condiments and personal-care items. This month we need cheese.

“We’re big sale shoppers,” she said. “We have a wonderful partnership with Shaw’s. Shaw’s just donated boxes of spaghetti from its Helping Hands program. Dollar Tree is a good partner too. It’s hard to budget. I never ran a nonprofit before. I’m big into fundraising. I try to limit my spending to $500 a week.”

The Northbridge Food Pantry also benefits from individual donations, a community garden started at Northbridge High School that is overseen by Sherri Travers (a teacher at NHS) and from assistance offered by Ken and Lisa Foppema of Foppema’s Farm.

Last year, Ms. Kane said, the pantry served about 5700 people including “about 980 families—and the homeless are not factored into that figure.”

Rep. Muradian said the money was raised by way of a tournament at Shining Rock Golf Club in Northbridge last year. “We had 120 golfers and we’ll do it again on June 8th,” he said. “We had some very generous sponsors and golfers.”

The David Muradian Charitable Foundation is in its first year.

Looking around, Mr. Muradian said “I can remember coming in here a few years ago and the shelves were almost empty.”

The pantry is open Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. to noon, Thursdays from 1:00 to 3:00 “and on an emergency basis,” Ms. Kane said.

“We work closely together and I’m grateful to Kathy and her team,” Ms. Bol said.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.