Category: News & Events

Mass Health Connector Kicks Off Tour on SouthCoast

NEW BEDFORD — In SouthCoast and Cape Cod, about 5.5 percent to 6 percent of people are uninsured, compared to the state’s 3 percent, according to Jason Lefferts, spokesman for the Massachusetts Health Connector.

“We want to fix that. It is a priority for us,” he said. People who are uninsured tend to be multicultural young men, he said.

The Massachusetts Health Connector kicked off its three-week statewide tour Tuesday prior to open enrollment which starts Nov. 1. After Brockton and Fall River, stops included the New Bedford Cable Network to record a public service announcement and the Coastal Foodshed mobile farm stand on Brock Avenue to distribute signs in English and Portuguese.

Open enrollment begins Nov. 1 through Jan. 23 for those without health insurance to sign up for coverage and Health Connector members to shop for the best plan. The Health Connector will offer 57 plans from nine carriers.

For help on getting covered or shopping for a new plan, people can visit People Acting in Community Endeavors (PACE) at 166 Williams St. and Fishing Partnership Support Services at 38 Bethel St., both in New Bedford.

Recently, the two organizations received funding for people to serve as navigators. Fishing Partnership Support Services got $100,000 for seven individuals to serve as navigators, providing assistance in English, Portuguese and Italian. PACE received $97,513 for four navigators, providing assistance in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Creole.

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New leadership at PACE in New Bedford

NEW BEDFORD — PACE has hired a familiar face to fill the role of executive director: Pamela Kuechler, who was first hired by PACE in 1995.

Kuechler started her new role Monday. She helped create the Family Center at the Hayden-McFadden School and also served as director of the PACE Child Care Works Program, a position she held until 2011. She is currently ending a five and a half year stint as the executive director of the Massachusetts Head Start Association, according to a news release.

Kuechler is replacing Bruce Morell, who retired after 32 years with PACE, 166 William St.

“This is one of the toughest tasks for a Board of Directors,” said Nancy Feeney, president of the PACE Board of Directors, in a statement, “but the board held interviews and selected an excellent candidate to lead the agency into the future.”

Kuechler, a Fairhaven High School graduate, also serves as vice chairman of the Fairhaven School Committee.

In other changes, Joshua Amaral, assistant director of the fuel assistance program and assistant planner, will become the assistant executive director and assistant planner as of Aug. 6. Amaral has been with PACE for the past three years, according to the release.

Amaral also serves on the New Bedford School Committee.

“The Board of Directors is excited about the partnership with Pam and Josh leading this transition period,” Feeney said. “PACE has become a large agency, and we are looking to the future to do more for the lower income residents of the area.”

PACE is the designated Community Action Agency for the city of New Bedford with annual revenue that exceeds $65 million and operates local and regional programs that offer support and opportunities for individuals and families to better their lives and to become self-sufficient, according to the release.

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PACE Can Help with Applying for Mass Health, Health Connector

NEW BEDFORD — PACE is still accepting applications for Mass Health and Massachusetts Health Connector programs.

Applying for Mass Health can be done any time of the year; however, the Health Connector is available during open enrollment, which is the first week in November unless patients have had any life changing events during the year. Examples would be loss of job and or income, loss of spouse, birth of a child and other events.

People not sure if they can apply can call the PACE Health Access Office, 166 William St., for an appointment at 508-999-9920 and a navigator will assist them through the process.

More at Southcoast Today here.

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‘Like family to us:’ foster grandparents make a difference

NEW BEDFORD — A few children around a table in a PACE Head Start classroom brought out cards with “Sesame Street” characters and numbers on them to practice counting with Louise Ellis, 68.

“Okay grandma, are you going to teach us?” one of them asked Ellis as she talked to a Standard-Times reporter.

Ellis is one of 58 foster grandparents ranging in age from 55 to 89 at 26 sites in Greater New Bedford. The program runs on a national level through Senior Corps and has been offered by Coastline for over 35 years. It offers a tax free stipend for a minimum of 15 hours a week.

Ellis said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and 2017. This is on top of previous knee replacements.

“By me having this to come to, it made it much easier for me,” said Ellis, as she went through chemotherapy and radiation. “They helped a lot. They got me through it.”

August will mark eight years for her in the program. She visits PACE (People Acting in Community Endeavors) Head Start on Madison Street for seven hours a day, five days a week.

“I’m going to be doing this until I can’t do it anymore,” she said.

“She means a lot to me,” said Sandra Lopes, lead teacher in the classroom. “She’s been through a lot.” Lopes said Ellis comforts the kids when they’re sad or upset and assists those who need extra help with number and letter recognition.

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Executive Director Bruce Morell hosts Sarah and Niki from the MA Health Connector

On April 2nd, PACE’s Executive Director Bruce Morell hosted Sarah B. and Niki C. from the Massachusetts Health Connector on a taping of PACE Monthly, the agency’s monthly show on New Bedford’s Cable Access network. The three discussed the Health Connector and PACE’s work to expand access to health insurance across the city and the state. Full video of the show will be available online shortly.

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PACE Head Start at the New Bedford Free Public Library

P.A.C.E. Head Start and the New Bedford Free Public Library are offering a Family Fun Day on Tuesday with a special story hour, craft, and a book giveaway. The story and activity encourages acceptance and kindness. This collaboration is an undertaking of New Bedford’s “Building Inclusive Communities” initiative. The fun is from 10 a.m. to noon at the main branch, 613 Pleasant St. Learn more at

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PACE Seeking Candidates for Election to the Board of Directors

PACE is seeking candidates for the PACE Board of Directors. Candidates will be elected to serve as Low Income Representatives through a new election process during the month of March. Candidates must be residents of the City of New Bedford, be at least 18 years old and submit a candidate profile before February 16, 2018. The election of candidates to the PACE Board will occur during the month of March as PACE clients and other low income City residents will be voting at the Main Office of PACE at 166 William Street during regular business hours. Any low income resident of New Bedford is eligible to vote in this new election process and may request a ballot any time during regular business hours during the month of March.  Proof of low income status is required for low income voters who are not clients of a PACE program. Low Income Board representatives are eligible for a $25 stipend for each Board meeting attended to cover transportation and child care costs.

Candidate Profile forms can be obtained at the Main Office of PACE, at 166 William Street during regular business hours. Proof of residency of New Bedford is required. Completed Candidate Profiles must be received by the PACE Election Committee, located at 166 William Street, New Bedford by 4 PM on Wednesday, February 16, 2018. All qualified candidates for election will be placed on a ballot with their Candidate Profile. Candidates receiving the highest number of votes will be elected to serve on the PACE Board.

People Acting In Community Endeavors Inc., (PACE) The Community Action Agency for the Greater New Bedford Area, is entering its 36th year of service to the community. The agency serves the towns of Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester as well as the city of New Bedford.

PACE, as it is known today, was incorporated on May 2, 1982, as a private not-for-profit organization. The community selected the Board of Directors, with the mission of establishing an organization that would advocate for low-income people and aggressively seek out funding to reduce the problems that the low-income population in New Bedford. The board oversees the work of the agency and charts its course for the future.

PACE offers FREE services to the community through its Programs including:

  • Housing Search for the homeless or tenancy issues.
  • Fuel Assistance for payment assistance associated with home heating bills
  • Emergency Food Bank
  • Head Start for early care educational instruction
  • Child Care Works for educational development and Child Care Services
  • The Family Center for parent and family support services
  • Youth Build for “at risk youth” focusing on educational and community service
  • Health Access Services for the uninsured
  • Tax Assistance Program through VITA
  • The Clemente Course in the Humanities
  • Grassroots support for other community organizations
  • PACE Community Housing Corp., which was created for smaller housing development projects and home ownership opportunities for low-income people

PACE employs a staff of 175 in addition to over 100 volunteers, and serves more than 40,000 clients who seek PACE services yearly with an annual budget in excess of $65 million!

According to Bruce Morell, PACE Executive Director; “The Board of Directors has developed a new process to elect representatives of the low income population to serve on our Board of Directors. Board members with direct contact to the people we serve, or who are recipients of a PACE service themselves, are valuable in providing direction and feedback about the services we provide in the community.  This election process should be very exciting as we expect that there will be many low income individuals voting for their own representatives to the Board.  PACE Board Members serve their community and the Agency with pride and distinction with a real commitment to the clients who put their trust in the Organization to assist them with their needs. We are very proud of our Board of Directors”.

Elections will be held month long in March 2018 at the PACE Main Office at 166 William Street, New Bedford during regular business hours.


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United Way’s Innovation Fund creates ‘opportunity to dream’

NEW BEDFORD — Come Jan. 23, five finalists of United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Innovation Fund will find out if their organization’s dream could become a reality.

In changing its traditional funding model, United Way is encouraging other entities to think outside the box in order to make change in the community.

One or more awards will be presented at the free Innovation Fund Finalist Showcase and Awardee Announcement at the Whaling Museum Jan. 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. The finalists are People Acting in Community Endeavors (PACE), Global Learning Charter Public School, Greater New Bedford Youth Alliance, Greater New Bedford Community Health Center and The Women’s Center.

The Innovation Fund, which Hantman called the brainchild of Yates-Berg when she came on board over two years ago, allowed Executive Director Bruce Morell’s staff at PACE “an opportunity to dream,” he said.

Morell’s goal is to transform PACE’s Head Start Program, which has two locations in New Bedford and serves 295 children, into a trauma-informed preschool. The proposed plan is to partner with Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island which “provides expert, family-focused care to children and adolescents with psychological, developmental, and behavioral problems” according to its website, and train its 85 staff members in the program.

“What we have seen over the past couple of decades is an escalation in extreme behavior,” in children ages 3 and 4 with some coming from homes of domestic violence, substance abuse and opioid abuse, he said.

The idea is to do early intervention with kids and also their families, and eventually provide direct services, before they reach the public school system.

Read the complete article at SouthCoast Today.

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New Bedford program helps children get ready for preschool, learn through play

“NEW BEDFORD — PACE Head Start in New Bedford has added a new parent-child program to help families get ready for preschool and enhance their children’s learning at home through play.

The Playing on Purpose or “POP” program started with a series of four morning sessions in August. Ten children attended from seven families.

They met their teachers and visited the classrooms. Parents got a chance to learn about how simple games, like building with blocks or acting out a book, can be opportunities for learning, said Jill Fox, Head Start director at People Acting in Community Endeavors (PACE).

“It’s just a really good way to kind of embed learning,” she said.

Plus, none of the children who attended the August sessions cried on the first day of school, she said.

The POP program was developed by Kelly Rodriguez, a social worker and early childhood mental health consultant. She works with PACE regularly.

Rodriguez said children learn best through play, and the program helps parents use play to enhance their children’s social and emotional development. Sessions address relationship building, emotional literacy, self regulation and problem solving.

“We see a lot of children that are struggling with challenging behaviors,” she said.

Fox said families were invited to follow-up sessions during the school year, and two more sessions remain.

The work was funded with a $5,000 grant from Southcoast Health. Although PACE is not applying for a grant for the program for next year because it is pursuing funding for other things, the organization plans to continue the POP program within its budget, Fox said.”

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After uncertainty, Massachusetts gets heating assistance funds

“Despite threats that funding would be eliminated in President Donald Trump’s preliminary budget, the state’s home heating program will continue to keep low-income families warm this year, just as temperatures are beginning to drop.

“Now that it’s getting colder, we’re getting busier, and we expect that,” said Garth Patterson, project director for the fuel assistance program at the Fall River-based Citizens for Citizens, a community action agency that serves several cities and towns in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Federal funding for LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, was uncertain for much of the year after Trump’s preliminary budget blueprint called for eliminating the program. The program, which provided states with more than $3.4 billion last year, is the primary source of funding for local fuel assistance programs. The programs provide financial assistance to help low-income families heat their homes in the winter. Last year, fuel assistance programs helped more than 190,000 households.”

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