Newton mom tells it like it is (and she's scared)

Since early March, we’ve been coordinating a program in Newton and Wellesley that buys meals from struggling restaurants and delivers them to residents facing food insecurity. 
Now, thanks to an anonymous $15,000 donation, there will be a similar program in Needham.
Every dollar will go directly to independent, full-service restaurants located in Needham, many of which have experienced volume declines of 75 percent or more, even while adapting to takeout, outdoor dining and other models while restrictions remain in place.
“Thanks to this generous contribution, these restaurants will be able to do what they do best, serve high quality food to their customers and those in need,” said Jay Spencer, owner of French Press Bakery, a vice chair on the chamber’s board of directors and chair of the chamber’s Newton-Needham Dining Collaborative
The gift will provide 1,000 healthy meals to Needham seniors on a weekly basis through the spring, in partnership with the Needham Council on Aging.
"This is an exciting and amazing program to support our local community restaurants and provide delicious meals for seniors," said LaTanya Steele, Director of Aging Services at the Council on Aging, whose team has been focused on food accessibility throughout the pandemic.
Full-service restaurants in Needham that would like to apply to participate can find more information and an application here. But act fast, the deadline is April 1.
We’ll be raising additional money for this program during the chamber’s Annual Needham Night happening virtually on April 7.
Every $20 donation will support the purchase of one additional restaurant-quality meal for Needham seniors.
Newton mom tells it like it is (and she's scared)
CDC director – and Newton resident -- Dr. Rochelle Walensky pleaded with Americans yesterday “not only as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter,” to “hold on a little while longer” and continue following public health advice, including wearing masks and social distancing.
The nation has “so much reason for hope,” she added. “But right now, I'm scared.”
Her warnings comes as COVID cases are rising again in the United States, up 11 percent from the average two weeks ago.
Need help finding a vaccine?
Boston Magazine has published an Insiders Guide to getting a vaccine.
And here’s the state’s site with all the needed links.
Also, the Globe had a wonderful story this weekend about "vaccine angels" working around the clock to score vaccination slots for people they’ve never met.
Among them is Needham’s Dale McCarthy, the founder of the Massachusetts Covid Vaccine Info and Support Facebook group.
And you absolutely must read what Julie Avi at Needham Florist writes about McCarthy.
Need to knows
  • This morning at 10 a.m. the Boston Foundation will release "Unleashing the Potential of Entrepreneurs of Color in Massachusetts: A Blueprint for Economic Growth and Equitable Recovery," a report looking into the tools, resources, and commitments necessary to achieve racial and ethnic parity in business ownership by the end of the decade. Register.
  • The Metropolitan Area Planning Council hosts a discussion (Thursday, 11 a.m.) on the pandemic's impacts of women in the workforce. Panelists include Senate President Spilka, Saskia Epstein of the Mass. Business Coalition for Early Childhood Education, NAACP Boston President Tanisha Sullivan and Black Economic Council of Mass. member Leslie Forde. Registration.
  • Families Organizing for Racial Justice has compiled this list of resources and events in support of the AAPI community.
T scrambling to restore service
The MBTA is committed to restoring cuts to bus and subway service “as fast as we possibly can” the T’s GM Steve Poftak said yesterday.
In addition the T will resume weekend commuter rail service on lines where it was suspended, and begin running ferries again "as soon as possible" after getting an influx of cash from the federal relief bill.
One obstacle is staffing, writes Chris Lisinski at State House News.
The T did not lay off workers but face significant absences. But as of yesterday, more than 40 staff are actively ill with COVID. Even more employees are unable to work while awaiting test results or quarantining.
House no longer in a hurry to fix transportation
Meanwhile, a little more than a year after voting to raise $500 million for the state’s transportation needs, House Speaker Ron Mariano says he’s not in a rush to push for another vote.
The House's transportation package was approved shortly before the pandemic and never got through the Senate. The bill also increased the gas tax by a nickel, diesel tax by nine cents, hiked the corporate minimum tax and raised fees on Uber and Lyft.
Art spruces up Wellesley and Needham vacant stores
Did you catch the story on Boston 25 about how artists in Needham and Wellesley are helping spruce up shopping areas in both communities by turning vacant store fronts into art exhibits?
Check out some of the art as you watch the video here. 
Program aims to train and redeploy workers
The Baker administration has launched a new job skills grant program. The Rapid Reemployment Program partners occupational training providers partner with MassHire Centers and at least one employer to build specific skills in the labor market and match those skills with good jobs.
Target sectors include in-demand healthcare, IT, financial services and transportation. Read more about this program here.

Help us launch our spring shop local campaign

Welcome Back signFinally, this morning, as we head into the spring, the chamber is gearing up to launch a new shop local campaign next month that aims to welcome customers back into our stores, gyms, restaurants, offices and every other business and to thank everyone for shopping locally.
As a first step, could use your helping placing “Welcome Back: Thanks For Supporting Local!” signs in as many businesses and nonprofits windows as possible.
Our friends at Needham Staples Connect have offered to print hundreds of the window signs for us for free. Now we need volunteers to help us distribute them.
Email if you can help distribute them to our local merchants.
“Welcome Back: Thanks For Supporting Local” signs will also be available for businesses to pick up at the Needham Staples Connect during store hours very soon. And we’ll have copies available for download and custom versions for using on social media.
That's it for today. Watch for an announcement tomorrow about our first in-person event of 2021.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.
Dine outTake out. Shop locally. Mask up. And tip generously.

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