June 10, 2020
Father Bill’s & MainSpring (FBMS), a regional provider of emergency shelter and housing, has announced a new fundraising campaign as an alternative to its annual FoodFest event, which has been canceled this year due to the COVID-19 crisis.
FBMS is launching the Campaign for Hope with a goal of raising $500,000 by the end of July. The campaign’s lead supporters are the Arbella Insurance Foundation and Bank of America, both of which made major donations in March that helped FBMS early in the COVID-19 crisis.
This year’s FoodFest had been scheduled for July 28 at The Launch at Hingham Shipyard and Hingham Beer Works, where the event has been held since 2015.
“The cancellation of FoodFest comes at a time when there’s an urgent need for corporate and individual donations,” said John Yazwinski, FBMS President & CEO. “Led by the Arbella Insurance Foundation and Bank of America, our Campaign for Hope provides an opportunity for our community to come together, while apart, to provide hope to our most vulnerable neighbors experiencing homelessness.”
FoodFest, which FBMS hosted for 25 years straight, has been the signature fundraising event for a non-profit that provides emergency shelter to approximately 260 individuals per night and more than 130 families per night. Last year, FoodFest, in partnership with more than 35 local restaurants, raised more than $350,000 to support FBMS’ mission to end homelessness on the South Shore and across Southern Massachusetts.
The loss of FoodFest revenue comes as FBMS grapples with the unprecedented challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis. The agency has invested in additional staff and shelter sites in order to allow for social distancing among guests, and has invested in other items, such as PPE, handwashing stations, and cleaning supplies, to help guests feel safe and comfortable. In addition, as a result of a temporary loss of its volunteer workforce, FBMS is purchasing extra food to make sure all guests have access to three meals per day.
The agency estimates that keeping the shelters open and safe during the pandemic has resulted in an additional $125,000 each month that must be raised in private donations.
“We’re calling our campaign contributors our Heroes of Hope,” said Catie Reilly, FBMS Chief Development Officer. “While we won’t gather together for FoodFest in July, we plan to recognize our Heroes of Hope and incorporate elements of FoodFest in a virtual, interactive capacity. We also look forward to working with our past FoodFest restaurant partners in new and creative ways to highlight and support them during this difficult time.”
To learn more about the Campaign for Hope, visit helpfbms.org/hope.