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About the Gardner CAC

In September of 1970, a group of 7 concerned citizens rallied together to create the first Community Action Committee in Gardner.  Through the past 36 years, the Gardner CAC has remained focused on its mission and vision to promote self-sufficiency for low-income individuals and families. In this time the Gardner CAC has grown from a small food pantry offering nutritious groceries once every three months to 12 distinct programs with the food pantry now offering service on a monthly basis.  Services are provided without discrimination in a way that fosters self-reliance and improves the quality of life.

The Gardner CAC serves the needs of the economically disadvantaged in the Greater Gardner community (Ashburnham, Westminster, Templeton, Hubbardston, Otter River and Baldwinville).  A single mother, a two parent household, or an elderly individual living on a fixed income are all susceptible to the effects of poverty. On site, the CAC has a full food pantry, access to donated clothing and children’s literature, dispatching for the Medical Transportation Program, advocacy, Holiday Program sign-ups, On-line MA Health/Food Stamp applications, Bonnie Brae applications, Fuel Assistance satellite office, and information and referral service through a case manager.  Off-site, we host a free weekly congregate meal open to the public. 

The Gardner CAC is funded primarily through the generous contributions of local businesses, organizations, churches and the general public.  Jeffrey Ashworth, former president of the Gardner Rotary Club is quick to say  “We know that by supporting the CAC, people in our community that are in need will get the assistance and support they need.” Along with community donations, the grants through various organizations have assisted the Gardner CAC in achieving its goal of empowering individuals towards self-sufficiency.   
 

Making Positive Changes…

With tears of frustration streaming down her cheeks she said, “I don’t know where to begin.” 

Samantha has been happily married for 13 years.  She has three wonderful girls whom she enjoyed being a stay at home mom to.  Unfortunately, the world she enjoyed so much had been shattered.  Her husband was injured at work and their “white picket fence” life was drastically changed.  With the loss of income their bills just continued to snowball.  “I felt so helpless” was all Samantha could say when remembering the difficulty that laid ahead of them. Never having been faced with any situation like this she had no idea where to turn. With no control, no preparation, no notion of how to handle such circumstances, she started to give up hope. 

While flipping through the television channels one night Samantha saw an advertisement for the Gardner CAC.  The first time she read through the ad and continued on.  It took her about five times of viewing the ad before taking down the CAC’s phone number. Even after taking down the number it was a while before the phone number became more than a coaster on the coffee table.  When the rent bill received in the mail had a tremendous “past due” balance, she realized it was time to see what the CAC was.  Reluctantly, she dialed the number, not quite sure of what to expect.

Once the initial phone call was made she had an appointment to meet with a case manager.  “I almost didn’t go,” Samantha stated “then I realized I have three children who need a roof over their heads. Their needs are more important than my pride.”  During the appointment Samantha felt completely at ease.  “My case manager continued to repeat “a means to an end” when she could see the hesitation I was having in accepting the services.”  The CAC was not only able to help Samantha with the back rent that she owed; Food distribution, information and referral, advocacy and clothing were a few of the other services Samantha received while at the CAC.  Through the NWC Help Connection she was alerted of the Fuel Assistance Program, medical insurance information and low-income rates for telephone and utility bills. 

Shortly after Samantha had started to utilize the programs of the CAC she started a full time job.  While still new at the job, she was unable to make vital phones calls to re-establish their good standing with rent, phone and utility bills.  The CAC was able to advocate on her behalf, relieving the stress of haggling with local companies. 

Currently, Samantha and her family are living the “white picket fence” life again, this life though, is realistic and attainable.  She continues to express her thankfulness to the Gardner CAC, lending a hand whenever the CAC needs a volunteer.  With the assistance the Gardner CAC gave Samantha, she has been able to maintain self-sufficiency, knowing if she does in fact need help she is able to utilize the services of the CAC. 


Mission and Vision Statement

The mission statement of the Gardner Community Action Committee is to promote self-sufficiency for low-income individuals and families.  This is accomplished by identifying needs, providing essential services, eliminating barriers, and advocating for the rights of the under-served.  These services are provided without discrimination, and in a way that fosters self-reliance and improves the quality of life. By this statement, the Agency seeks to alleviate the causes and effects of poverty.

Affiliations

United Way of NCM
City of Gardner
Worcester County Food Bank – Second Harvest
Project Bread
Knowlton Foundation
Montachusett Regional Transit Authority
Salvation Army
Community Social Clubs
Local Churches
General Public
Anonymous Grants

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Gardner CAC • 294 Pleasant St • Gardner, MA 01440
Office Hours: M–TH 8:30–4:30, FRI 8:30–4:00
Food Pantry Hours: M–FRI 9–12

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