Category: News & Events

Free college classes for low-income adults in New Bedford: the Clemente Course in the Humanities

If you are interested in applying for the New Bedford Clemente Course for the Fall 2019 semester (which starts in early September), please fill out this form.

Classes will take place on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6pm to 8:00pm.  They will be held at the PACE Head Start School, 32 Madison Street in New Bedford.

Briefly: Clemente provides humanities courses (US History, Art History, Moral Philosophy, Literature) to low-income adults, for up to 6 hours of college credit. The classes are free, as are the books. Transportation and child-care are provided free-of-charge too.  We also run workshops in writing and public speaking.

The fall semester courses are American History and Art History, along with workshops in Writing/Public Speaking.  The spring semester courses are in Literature and Moral Philosophy, and they start in January.  Students can earn 3 credits each semester from UMass-Dartmouth.

In order to become a Clemente Course student, you will need to do a brief reading and write a paragraph on it.  You will find the reading below, from civil rights activist John Lewis.  You can submit your writing through the Application Form.  Once you’ve applied, I will contact you to set up a brief chat.  You can also find the reading here.

If you have any difficulty accessing the application, or the reading, please email Susan Hagan (the Clemente Academic Director) at  Thanks!

Clemente is a wonderful, life-changing program.  Since we began in the fall of 2005, the New Bedford Clemente Course has graduated almost 200 students, most of whom have gone on to Bristol Community College and UMass-Dartmouth!

You can do this.  Apply, and I’ll get in touch with you.

Here is a speech by a New Bedford Clemente graduate from a few years ago, Milagros, on what the experience was like.

And here is another, by Robert.

National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition” did an inspiring report on the Clemente Course in Harlem.  You can listen by clicking here.

Below is a short film about the Clemente Course:

Here is the John Lewis reading, for your application.  It is the preface to Lewis’ autobiography, Walking With the Wind, about his days working with Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

PROLOGUE, Walking With the Wind by John Lewis
I want to begin this book with a little story. lt has nothing to do with a national stage, or historic figures, or monumental events. It’s a simple story a true story about a group of young children, a wood-frame house and a windstorm.

The children were my cousins: Roy Lee and Jinnie Boy, Naomi and Leslie and Willie Muriel-about a dozen of them, all told-along with my older sister Ora and my brothers Edward and Adolph. And me, John Robert.

I was four years old at the time, too young to understand there was a war going on over in Europe and out in the Pacific as well. The grownups called it a world war, but I had no idea what that meant. The only world I knew was the one I stepped out into each morning, a place of thick pine forests and white cotton fields and red day roads winding around my family’s house in our little corner of Pike County, Alabama.

We had just moved that spring onto some land my father had bought, the first land anyone in his family had ever owned-l0 acres of cotton and corn and peanut fields, along with an old but sturdy three-bedroom house, a large house for that part of the county, the biggest place for miles around. It had a well in the front yard, and pecan trees out back, and muscadine grapevines growing wild in the woods all around us-our woods.

My father bought the property from a local white businessman who lived in the nearby town of Troy. The total payment was $300. Cash. That was every penny my father had to his name, money he had earned the was almost everyone we knew made what money they could in those days-by tenant farming. My father was a sharecropper, planting, raising and picking the same crops that had been grown in that soil for hundreds of years by tribes like the Choctaws and the Chickasaws and the Creeks, Native Americans who were working this land long before the place was called Alabama, long before black or white men were anywhere to be seen in those parts.

Almost every neighbor we had in those woods was a sharecropper, and most of them were our relatives. Nearly every adult I knew was an aunt or an uncle, every child my first or second cousin. That included my uncle Rabbit and aunt Seneva and their children, who live about a half-mile or so up the road from us.

On this particular afternoon-it was a Saturday, I’m almost certain-about fifteen of us children were outside my aunt Seneva’s house, playing in her dirt yard. The sky began clouding over, the wind started picking up, lightning flashed far off in the distance, and suddenly I wasn’t thinking about playing anymore; I was terrified. I had already seen what lightning could do. I’d seen fields catch on fire after a hit to a haystack. I’d watched trees actually explode when a bolt of lightning struck them, the sap inside rising to an instant boil, the trunk swelling until it burst its bark. The sight of those strips of pine bark snaking through the air like ribbons was both fascinating and horrifying.

Lightning terrified me, and so did thunder. My mother used to gather us around her whenever we heard thunder and she’d tell us to hush, be still now, because God was doing his work. That was what thunder was, my mother said. It was the sound of God doing his work.

But my mother wasn’t with us on this particular afternoon. Aunt Seneva was the only adult around, and as the sky blackened and the wind grew stronger, she herded us all inside.

Her house was not the biggest place around, and it seemed even smaller with so many children squeezed inside. Small and surprisingly quiet. All of the shouting and laughter that had been going on earlier, outside, had stopped. The wind was howling now, and the house was starting to shake. We were scared. Even Aunt Seneva was scared.

And then it got worse. Now the house was beginning to sway. The wood plank flooring beneath us began to bend. And then a corner of the room started lifting up.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. None of us could. This storm was actually pulling the house toward the sky. With us inside it.

That was when Aunt Seneva told us to clasp hands. Line up and hold hands, she said, and we did as we were told. Then she had us walk as a group toward the corner of the room that was rising. From the kitchen to the front of the house we walked, the wind screaming outside, sheets of rain beating on the tin roof. Then we walked back in the other direction, as another end of the house began to lift.
And so it went, back and forth, fifteen children walking with the wind, holding that trembling house down with the weight of our small bodies.

More than half a century has passed since that day, and it has struck me more than once over those many years that our society is not unlike the children in that house, rocked again and again by the winds of one storm or another, the walls around us seeming at times as if they might fly apart.

It seemed that way in the 1960s, at the height of the civil rights movement, when America itself felt as if it might burst at the seams-so much tension, so many storms. But the people of conscience never left the house. They never ran away. They stayed, they came together and they did the best they could, clasping hands and moving toward the corner of the house that was the weakest.
And then another corner would lift, and we would go there.

And eventually, inevitably, the storm would settle, and the house would still stand. But we knew another storm would come, and we would have to do it all over again. And we did.
And we still do, all of us. You and I.

Children holding hands, walking with the wind. That’s America to me-not just the movement for civil rights but the endless struggle to respond with decency, dignity and a sense of brotherhood to all the challenges that face us as a nation, as a whole.

That is the story, in essence, of my life, of the path to which I’ve been committed since I turned from a boy to a man, and to which I remain committed today. It is a path that extends beyond the issue of race alone, and beyond class as well. And gender. And age. And every other distinction that tends to separate us as human beings rather than bring us together.

That path involves nothing less than the pursuit of the most precious and pure concept I have ever known, an ideal I discovered as a young man and that has guided me like a beacon ever since, a concept called the Beloved Community.

Let me tell you how I came to understand that concept, how it ushered me into the heart of the most meaningful and monumental movement of this American century, and how it might steer us all where we deserve to go in the next.

Let me tell you about my life.

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PACE offers Medicare application help

NEW BEDFORD — Medicare information and assistance is available by appointment at PACE, 166 William St., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays, according to a news release.

A “shine counselor” will be available to assist people who are looking to sign up, choose plans or who just want information.

Call PACE at 508-999-9920 for an appointment.

For more, see SouthCoastToday here.

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Open enrollment ends Jan. 23 for Mass Health Connector

The last day for open enrollment with the Massachusetts Health Connector will be Jan. 23, according to a news release.

Anyone who needs health insurance by Feb. 1 will need to apply and pay before Jan. 2, or wait until next year.

Appointments may be made with a navigator at PACE INC., 166 William St., by calling 508-999-9920.

People who want to apply for the first time or want to change their insurance plans must do this during the open enrollment. Persons applying must bring their last two weeks pay stubs and photo I.D.

Health insurance is mandatory in Massachusetts and anyone who does not have health insurance will face a tax penalty.

For more, see SouthCoastToday here.

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$430k in Grants Awarded to New Bedford Educational Causes

NEW BEDFORD — Two grants have been awarded to causes that further educational opportunities for children in New Bedford.

The New Bedford School District was awarded $4-5,000 in state and federal funding, which will be used to support the development and implementation of turnaround plans for city schools.

The second grant was awarded to PACE in the amount of $25,000 to support the Parent-Child program, which helps parents continue the learning process for their children while they’re at home.

The grants were announced by New Bedford State Senator Mark Montigny.

“Education is incredibly important and these two grants will help make sure that New Bedford students are getting the highest quality education we can give them,” said Montigny. “It will help make sure that all kids showing up on their first day of school are ready to learn and schools have more resources to help those who have additional needs.”

From WBSM here:

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Local Youth Programs – MASSHIRE Mondays

The New Bedford Career Center is now MassHire Greater New Bedford Career Center. But their focus is still the same. They are connecting job seekers with businesses looking to fill various positions.

MassHire Greater New Bedford Career Center recruiting youth for free programs.

Youth who have dropped out of school and are interested in training or finishing their high school credentials should visit the career center to learn more about these local programs. Here are some of the listings for this week:

PACE: The Youth Work Experience Program (YWE) will provide youth a combination of academics to prepare for HiSET testing, financial literacy, job development and career coaching. The youth will all engage in Blueprint to a Healthy Financial Life and follow a two-week rotation program of education and employment success training. Youth after completion of career coaching will engage in a 6-week paid job experience. Recruiting 22 youth.

Youth can contact the career center youth team directly at (508) 990-4000 or stop by to make an appointment at 618 Acushnet Avenue, New Bedford.

Learn more about all their job openings at Mass Hire of Greater New Bedford. Let’s get to work!

More from WBSM here:

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PACE to open YB Youth Development Center

NEW BEDFORD — The PACE YB Youth Development Center will have a grand opening from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at its new location, 127 West Rodney French Blvd.

The PACE YB Youth Development Center will house the YouthBuild Program and grow to include additional programming for out-of-school young people, ages 16 to 24, in the Greater New Bedford community.

“This is an exciting time for us as we change and grow to create increased opportunities and transitioning into a center that combines quality education with practical job skills to prepare our young people for the world of work,” said Director Lisa Mello-Frost in a statement. “Our young people and staff are building and creating this center, that will not only assist them in reaching their goals, but also for the young people who come after them.”

YouthBuild, SSYI and the new program YouthWork, will combine: employment success training, small HiSet prep classes, financial literacy, vocational skill building, case management, life skills and transitional assistance and support. All qualified applicants receive consideration for membership. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

For more information, contact Mello-Frost at 508-984-3558.

More from SouthCoast Today here:

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PACE to help with health insurance, fuel assistance Nov. 1

NEW BEDFORD — The PACE Health Access Program will assist anyone who wants to apply for health insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector or Mass Health on Nov. 1 at the PACE Main Office, 166 William St.

Connector navigators will be on hand to assist clients with their applications. People who want to apply for the first time or want to change their insurance plans must do this during the open enrollment from Nov 1 through Jan. 23, according to a news release. Persons applying should bring their last two pay stubs and photo ID.

Appointments are recommended by calling PACE at 508-999-9920.

On Nov. 1, the Southcoast Health van will provide flu shots as well as blood pressure checks and a wellness checkup from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Nov. 1 is also the first day of fuel assistance, which ends April 30. The program assists income-eligible persons who need assistance paying their heating bills during the winter.

Clients who received a re-certification in the mail should be returning them with any changes noted on the application as well as their current income. Fuel Assistance Case Managers will be on hand to make appointments and answer questions, too.

More from SouthCoast Today here:

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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.

Read more at:

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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.

Read more at:

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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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