Jun 21

The Marshall Home Fund Focuses on Building an Age Friendly Community

Screen shot of Marshall Home Fund Board meeting on Zoom

Marshall Home, originally known as the Watertown Home for Old Folks, was founded in 1908 as Watertown’s first “rest home”. It provided a caring residential environment with support services for its residents for 94 years until it closed in 2002. Today its spirit lives on in the Marshall Home Fund, a non–profit charitable foundation that provides modest program grants to public agencies, non–profit organizations and town departments that serve older Watertown residents. They also provide limited financial assistance to Watertown residents aged 55 and older who are in urgent need and are referred by a local agency. The Marshall Home Fund has been a strong supporter of Springwell helping us to provide for needs of older adults in Watertown.

Springwell and the Marshall Home Fund have a history going back early into the Fund’s existence. Our shared mission led to a number of program-focused grants through the early 2010’s. In 2014, the Marshall Home Fund started funding Springwell’s Elder Independence & Abuse Prevention Fund, enabling us to make direct, small grants of needed goods or services to older adults living in Watertown. Since then, our partnership has funded nearly 200 small grants totaling more than $45,000. “The Marshall Home Fund has made it possible for us to provide the right help at the right time in both emergency and chronic situations, where a small grant can make a huge difference in someone’s quality of life,” said Beth Schultz, Springwell’s Director of Development.

Seda Aghamianz, Co-President of the Marshall Home Fund and Chris Miara, Administrator shared their insight into the mission of the organization and how it makes a difference in the lives of Watertown’s older adults. “The mission of the fund is to promote an age friendly community, which is one where older residents can be healthy and productive. The fund follows guidelines for age friendly communities established by the World Health Organization and the AARP. Grants we award address many of these goals,” notes Aghamianz.

The goal of creating an age friendly community is to offer the resources that allow older adults to stay healthy and safe in their homes and continue to be valued citizens of Watertown. We strive to make sure basic needs are met and that social and cultural needs are met. “Age is just a number. People can do so much at any age. We need to look past the number and make sure we are supporting a quality of life that allows older adults to get out and keep using their brains and gifts,” adds Aghamianz.

As a nonprofit, the Marshall Fund is required to distribute 5% of their funds annually but typically they give grants totaling about 6% which will be close to $80,000 for the 2021-2022 grant year. “The board has the straightforward goal of helping seniors. Board members like to see and feel what is going on with the funds and accomplish this by holding board meetings at grantees’ locations and observing programs in action,” according to Aghamianz.

“Our Allocations Committee which processes individual grants for emergency situations includes community members from various professions and from different backgrounds to make sure we are aware of needs in all areas of Watertown. This year, a retired police officer joined the committee and shared that in his work he had seen how an individual grant aided someone who required emergency housing. I think of the grants as a bridge to help people get to what they need to be ok,” emphasizes Aghamianz.

“Grants to organizations like Springwell help meet basic needs for older adults in our community while other grantees provide social and cultural benefits by bringing people together and building community. Some of those grantees include Perkins School for the Blind, Project Literacy (an ESL program in Watertown) and the Mosesian Center for Arts. During the pandemic quarantine, our grants continued to provide for basic needs and cultural needs. We were glad to help with increased needs that Springwell uncovered, and we are impressed with the innovative ways grantees provided online workshops and activities to groups of older adults. In some cases, it meant more people could attend than when it was in person and going forward, they will likely continue some of these new options,” shares Miara.

Watertown is fortunate to have the support of the Marshall Home Fund in building an age friendly community. Springwell is grateful for grants from the Fund that help us provide vital services to older adults in Watertown. For more information about the Marshall Home Fund, visit their website at https://www.marshallhomefund.org/