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  • The Black Response

Heart's Impact

January-September 2023

Cambridge HEART currently responds to non-emergency requests by providing peer to peer mental health support, grief support, emotional support, support with accessing social services, mutual aid and material support to community members.

Between January 1st and July 31st, Cambridge HEART received an estimate of 64 requests for support. Out of these requests:

  • 44 people received servicesthey received support and have gotten to a resolution that they are satisfied with for the time being. They understand they may reach out for support again.

  • 16 "primary community members" were actively receiving wrap around holistic support

By mid September, 1170 unique individuals have been served through our material aid and outreach events!

Volunteer Celebration

On September 22nd, Cambridge HEART held a celebration for all of our wonderful volunteers. At Foundry Brewing Co, volunteers, responders, staff, and board members gathered together for community building games and recognition of the many ways volunteers support this organization. Responder Betzy Otero catered delicious food for the event– check out Betzy’s Bitchen Kitchen if you want more! It was a wonderful opportunity to bring together people from across the community who hadn’t been able to meet each other yet.

Statewide Convening on Non-Carceral Community Care Network

On September 16th, Cambridge HEART held a Statewide Convening to learn and plan together about building a statewide non-carceral community care network. Andrea Ritchie, a longtime organizer and writer on prison abolition and ending police violence for decades, gave the keynote speech. Participants held breakout conversations on legislation, budget justice, and skill sharing, and organizers who have been building similar projects in New York, North Carolina, and California shared their successes and learnings. Local partners, including The Black Response and Cambridge HEART as well as other organizers in Somerville, Northampton, and Lynn discussed how to move forward with a Massachusetts network of community care.

Cambridge HEART is excited to partner with Karaya LLC!

Karaya is designing and implementing the infrastructure for HEART's warm-line and crisis center call center. Responders are now in training—bringing us one step closer to launching the warm line!

Karaya's current mission is to provide space for advocates and leaders to focus their efforts in supporting communities while we take on the challenges of technology infrastructure and logistics. Learn more about Karaya here.

Learning Corner: Practicing New Worlds with Andrea Ritchie

Andrea Ritchie, the keynote speaker at Cambridge HEART’s convening on a statewide non-carceral community care network, has been writing and organizing on abolition for decades. Her newest book, Practicing New Worlds, is coming out in October. This book draws on ideas of formulated by adrienne maree brown in her book Emergent Strategy, on ways that social justice movements can draw insight from environmental justice and the natural world. Ideas of how people working toward abolition can more deeply and strongly move together are vital to HEART’s work, and RItchie’s insight will be important for anyone looking to be a part of this work.

  • The Black Response

Special giving opportunity for supporters with Donor Advised Funds!

The Eppall Family encourages folks to support Cambridge HEART by sending funds from a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) and filling out the HalfMyDAF form that could potentially double your gift!

There is a movement called HalfMyDAF that encourages donors to spend down funds in their DAF. They offer the chance to double donations up to $5,000. Their campaign ends 9/29 at 5pm.

We are so grateful to the Eppall Family for their support and the encouraging gift.

If you have questions about this opportunity, please feel free to contact Corinne at Cambridge HEART is fiscally sponsored by Community Service Care, Inc.

Youth End-of-Summer Party Outreach Event

On August 31, 2023, Cambridge HEART held an outreach event in Riverside Press Park. Joseph Beiber, our HEART youth collaborator, visioned and planned this event to celebrate the end of summer and engage more young people about different forms of justice and alternatives to policing. There was music, food, free hygiene products, safe sex supplies, literature about Cambridge HEART and abolition, and a raffle to fill out a survey that Joseph designed. There were also water balloons and other water activities to cool off in the hot sun. It was truly an intergenerational event! Many families stopped by and got to learn more about HEART and enjoy some good food and music!

Cambridge HEART’s Backpack Event

On August 15, 2023, we held Cambridge HEART’s first Backpack Event. We are proud to say

that we gave over 500 backpacks, toiletries and school supplies away to Our Community. This is the best feeling for us to be able to help our community. We would love to send a special Thank You to The SPOT Cambridge, The Mayor’s office, Anthony Galluccio, Marc McGovern, and Quinton Zondervan—without your help this wouldn’t have been possible. We also want to thank the volunteers that came out and helped us. We at Cambridge HEART are the community giving back to the community.

Funder Education Event

On August 17th, Borealis Philanthropy's Communities Transforming Policing Fund hosted an educational event for current and potential funding partners, Funder Education Briefing: The Landscape of Alternatives. Speakers from The Black Response Cambridge, Boston University’s Center for Anti-Racist Research, Karaya LLC, and Urban Strategies Council discussed alternative models such as the HUB model, the mobile crisis response model, and the violence interruption model. Several Cambridge HEART responders also shared about their work. Thanks to everyone who attended and especially to Stephanie Guirand from The Black Response Cambridge for her work in organizing the event.

Film screening and panel discussion on 9/14

You are invited to join Cambridge HEART for dinner and a screening of short films about abolition on 9/14 from 7-9 pm in Cambridge's Starlight Square. We'll have a conversation with the audience after the screening.

Please feel free to share the invitation with anyone who you think would be interested in learning more about abolition or about Cambridge HEART. If folks want to sign up for free tickets, they can follow this link.

Director of Wellness - Updated job description

HEART is still looking to hire a Director of Wellness and have expanded our search! We seek to hire a full time (40 hour / week) mental health practitioner who possesses an LICSW, LCSW or LMHC to join our team. This position will work with HEART responders one on one and collectively to address the vicarious trauma they may experience in their work, as well as develop systems to support wellness within the organization as a whole. This position is required to be in-person a great majority of the time, no less than 3 days per week, with some flexibility for remote work, 2 days per week. The salary is up to $75,000. Visit here for the complete job description and application instructions. Rolling application due date, however we are reviewing candidates as they come in and are hoping to hire for this position by the end of September.

Learning Corner: Let This Radicalize You workbook by Kelly Hayes and Mariame Kaba

Mariame Kaba is a longtime abolitionist organizer and educator, has led numerous organizations to battle the prison-industrial complex and empower young activists, including Project NIA, the Chicago Freedom School, and Interrupting Criminalization. Kelly Hayes is an organizer and journalist. Together, they wrote the book Let This Radicalize You, which is available for purchase, along with a free workbook, also called Let This Radicalize You. Download the workbook here. According to an interview with The Nation, the workbook “combines decades of scholarship, countless interviews with activists, and insights from movements across the globe to deliver a utilitarian and practical guide for youth organizers coming into their own.” It is meant for folks at all points on their organizing journeys, whether that is deep in movement work or just beginning in your learning.

  • Cambridge HEART

1st Annual Backpack Giveaway August 15!

On August 15, 2023, Cambridge HEART will be hosting their 1st Annual Backpack giveaway at the Democracy Center. We will have light snacks and refreshments for the children. For parents we are doing a gift card giveaway. Please feel free to share the flier with family and friends. Everyone is welcome. We are looking for volunteers so if you know anyone who would like to dedicate their time in supporting the community they can scan the QR on the flier or reach out to

Outreach Event July 28th

On July 28, 2023, Cambridge HEART hosted an outreach event in Central Square Cambridge, MA. The Responders handed out toiletries, first aid kits, sandwiches, and water. We also asked the community members to help us with a survey and we rewarded 4 community members with gift cards.

Spotlight: Joseph

1. What's the story of how you got involved with HEART and what is important to you about HEART?

I got involved with HEART during a time of change in my life. I had gone through some events that changed my perspectives on myself, my situations, and my life. I was looking for things to do, ways to get out of my own head and take control of my own life. So I signed up for the Mayor’s Program. It was by pure coincidence that I was placed at HEART but I’m glad it happened. I was unsure of what HEART was or what we’d be doing at first, but as I learned more about HEART, carceral systems, and restorative justice, it was like a part of myself clicked into place. It was like I found a piece of me. Something I could truly say I wanted to be a part of my future. To me, it's the idea of helping others and myself. Helping people learn and grow, helping my community, and helping give more options and brighter futures to those who might not have that otherwise.

2. What are you working on this summer as part of the HEART team?

This summer me and my coworker Ady are working on research. We are asking important questions to young people in our communities about restorative justice and Cambridge HEART. This will hopefully help HEART interact with young people who are the future of our communities. As well as help the young people in our communities realize what HEART is and how its message and mission can help them in life.

3. Can you share an impactful memory you have from working on the HEART team?

We were in a meeting and were sharing moments from working at HEART that made us proud. I didn’t have a project or any assignment, project, or work moment that made me proud at the time so I told my story of how I was proud of my time overall. Just being there. Me and my family had gone through a lot, I had done things I wasn’t proud of due to that and the mental state I was in for a long time. During a time when I was the most lost and hurt and was trying to find my way, I came across HEART. Since then just working there, hearing about restorative justice, and being with the people at HEART have helped me move on. I feel proud of myself more than I ever have. I feel l’ve gotten a new start and a new chance to do better. Of course I didn’t word it as well as I did here but when I shared my story, I felt listened to and cared for. Kevin even took me outside to breathe because of how heavy and hard of a topic that was for me.

Queenie’s Zine

Launched in March 2022, Queenie’s Crew has been an experiment to engage children in learning about building communities of care without prisons or policing. The Crew has engaged more than 300 caregivers, educators, and organizers with their monthly newsletter, and kids have taken more than 100 actions to hone their abolitionist imaginations. Recently, Queenie’s Crew worked with many artists and organizers to create a zine. See the zine here and learn more here.

Learning Corner: Transformative Justice

Definition from Mia Mingus (longer version here)

Transformative Justice (TJ) is a political framework and approach for responding to violence, harm and abuse. At its most basic, it seeks to respond to violence without creating more violence and/or engaging in harm reduction to lessen the violence. TJ can be thought of as a way of “making things right,” getting in “right relation,” or creating justice together. Transformative justice responses and interventions 1) do not rely on the state (e.g. police, prisons, the criminal legal system, I.C.E., foster care system (though some TJ responses do rely on or incorporate social services like counseling); 2) do not reinforce or perpetuate violence such as oppressive norms or vigilantism; and most importantly, 3) actively cultivate the things we know prevent violence such as healing, accountability, resilience, and safety for all involved…

TJ interventions can take different forms, but more often than not, they include (1) supporting survivors around their healing and/or safety and working with the person who has harmed to take accountability for the harm they’ve caused, (2) building community members’ capacities so that they can support the intervention, as well as heal and/or take accountability for any harm they were complicit in, and (3) building skills to prevent violence from occurring, and supporting community members’ skills to interrupt violence while it is happening…

We are trying to build alternatives to our current systems and break generational cycles of violence within our communities and families. We do not believe that prisons or cops make us safer. We believe that we can create the things we need.

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