top of page

May 2023 Newsletter

Cambridge HEART is now responding to non-emergency requests

HEART has begun taking non-emergency requests for help from the people of Cambridge. To request support from a HEART responder:

  • Email and/or

  • Complete our intake form:

Responses to non-emergency requests may take up to a week. If you are in need of immediate support, you can find a list of support hotlines on our website. These organizations share similar values to HEART and may be of assistance. We will let you know as soon as Cambridge HEART responders start taking emergency calls.

Fundraiser Update

The 2nd annual Cambridge HEART fundraiser was held on Tuesday April 25, 2023 from 7-8:30pm over zoom.

At last year’s fundraiser, Cambridge HEART (Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team) committed to raise $100,000 to hire and train a cohort of community responders... we did just that and more!

Just a year later, we have:

- Two Co-Directors

- One Office Manager

- Seven HEART Responders

- Seven HEART Board Members

- Hundreds of supporting community members.

The HEART responders have received hundreds of hours of training (circle process, domestic violence, de-escalation and more) and are now Certified Peer Specialists. We did it! After two and half years of community members meeting weekly, we have developed the HEART model, and had the city council pass a policy order to implement and fund it.

The next steps are to officially launch our emergency services with our current team, and continue building the team and move toward 24/7 community care. Thus far, we have raised $118,525 raised by 421 donors to support this mission!

Volunteer Spotlight: Virginia

What's the story of how you got involved with HEART and why you think Cambridge needs HEART?

I started attending HEART coalition meetings in 2021. I realized that it’s very close to my heart because as immigrants, we’re always scared of being in trouble in a different country that is not ours. I came to Cambridge from the Dominican Republic 8 years ago, and started volunteering basically full time at a food pantry at a school as a way to give back to the community. One of the reasons was that there is an immense population of immigrants who are scared of asking for things like going to the food pantry or signing up for clothes, and I’ve been good at reassuring people that they will not be targeted for getting help.

It’s the same with HEART– I always felt like the work that HEART was doing in terms of calling people who are not mandated reporters is super helpful because it takes away that fear. And there are many people, not just immigrants, who do not trust the police or the city (government) with their problems. They have been through systems of harm and mistreated by so many already, that they choose to just not ask for help.

Because I am known in the community, I started doing educational events and went to a lot of trainings, learning about how to hold these values like accountability and transformative justice. The more I learned, the more I understood that our community needs this. We need to talk to each other and when there’s a problem, we need to sit down and be able to solve those problems together.

What is something you've accomplished during your time with HEART that you're particularly proud of?

I set up the HEART offices at the Democracy Center! I’m also really proud of the partnerships I’ve helped develop, like with The SPOT, which does mutual aid for clothing and shoes. HEART responders can help make connections through helping The SPOT get clothing to people. This allows me to work on both of the things that I really love.

What are you excited about for the future?

Now that HEART has so much support— executive directors, full time responders— it’s time for me to focus on other things. At the end of June, I’m going to be stepping back from HEART. I really want to give more time to The SPOT Cambridge, and I also want to learn more about the national level of alternative infrastructures like alternatives to policing. I’m also working on creating my own business!

My last HEART retreat will be on June 2nd, and it’s amazing to be a part of the community— eating together, cooking together. It's going to be a special moment.

Community Partnerships Update

Transformative Justice Workshop facilitated by Dr. Xhercis Mendez On May 3 Dr. Xhercis Mendez, an acclaimed women and gender studies scholar and experienced Transformative Justice practitioner, facilitated a Transformative Justice workshop with HEART and YWCA staff along with members of the broader community. YWCA coordinated many of the logistics and HEART hosted the workshop at the Democracy Center. Dr. Mendez gave participants the opportunity to collectively address a scenario of community harm by thinking collaboratively about all the various needs of those who had been impacted.

Asian American Resource Workshop (AARW ) Intergenerational Cultural Share

On May 6, AARW’s Camberville South Asian* Leadership Training (C-SALT) cohort hosted an intercultural art piece for the local South Asian community at the Democracy Center as a way to facilitate a greater understanding of intergenerational histories of the South Asian community and support Cambridge HEART! The event featured a letter writing activity and map in which participants could speak to their ancestors, descendants, older or younger relatives and incorporate that into a collectively constructed art piece. Cambridge HEART responder Betzy and Gwen also attended the event to build relationships with those who came. Folks who attended donated to HEART as well! Special thanks to Kavya Crasta from AARW for partnering with HEART on this beautiful intercultural event!

Pictured: Kavya featured with an art piece and letters from event

Bangla New Year Celebration

On May 13 the New England Bangladeshi American Foundation (NEBAF) celebrated Bangla New Year with cultural performances, speakers, and vendors. Cambridge HEART was asked to present about our work so that the Bengali community knows that there is a resource for support that does not involve mandated reporting. HEART responder, Bárbara, shared about how HEART was created, what we believe, and the different services we offer. Several people came up after to learn more. We are grateful for NEBAF’s Executive Director Farhana Khorsed’s generous invitation and our looking forward to further partnering with NEBAF in supporting the Bengali community in Cambridge.

Pictured: Bárbara and Farhana at Bangla New Year event

“Gather in the Clearing”: Community care event in honor of Arif Sayed Faisal

In partnership with AARW, the Muslim Justice League, Black History in Action, the Black Cotton Club, and Bangladesh Association of New England (BANE), Cambridge HEART supported an interactive, healing centered event on May 14 called “Gather in the Clearing.” The event was hosted at St. Augustine’s African Orthodox Church and consisted of multiple artistic interventions that encouraged rest, process, and imagining community safety and care. Later in the day there was a jam session oriented around joy and connection facilitated and performed by The Black Cotton Club. This gathering invited impacted community members to care for themselves and each other in the aftermath of the tragic murder of Arif Sayed Faisal. HEART looks forward to continuing to build these partnerships as we work to build an ecosystem of care and connection that prevents crises in the future.

**One creative offering was a voicemail project that invited anyone to call in and share their responses to the following questions:

  1. If we have been "socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition", ask yourself: "What's the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?"* [So, answer this today. And every day ]

  2. What kind of practices of community care do we want to see in our neighborhoods?

  3. What can we create to prevent crises in our communities?

If you are interested in participating, please call this number: (617) 858-1034

Pictured: Interior of event at St. Augustine’s African Orthodox Church

Volunteer with The SPOT Cambridge!

The SPOT Cambridge is a mutual aid community organization that redistributes clothing and shoes. HEART is proud to work with them, and if you would like to get involved, please fill out this form. For more information or to request clothing, visit their website.


bottom of page