As an organization that is both faith based and fully committed to raising and supporting the civic and social awareness and decision making that is needed to move our region forward, WAMS offers a singular kind of capability, perspective and will to interweave research with practice in ways that provide opportunities for all of us to think and talk more openly and creatively.
This practice and approach has allowed for the important community partnerships that resulted in the first Habitat for Humanity project in Massachusetts, the first congregate housing for senior citizens in Massachusetts and the first housing program for people living with AIDS, among others. And it continues to be critical to addressing the “supersized challenge” of connecting struggling families to the changing social and economic forces that are bringing new opportunities for those who possess the education and training necessary to obtain and retain jobs that pay self-sufficient wages, but has the potential to leave those who do not, further behind.
The Summer CUBS program, a collaboration between WAMS, Clark University, Worcester Public Schools (including Woodland Academy, University Park Campus School, and Claremont Academy) and the faith and civic community is a model example of creative thinking and practice that has resulted in expanded learning and academic achievements among students who might otherwise experience the “summer slide;” the term for elementary school age summer learning loss that correlates with a reduced likelihood of graduating from high school on time and a reduced chance of succeeding economically later in life.
The WAMS Conference Event Series is the vehicle by which WAMS connects and collaborates with people and organizations throughout the City of Worcester and the State who are committed to fresh thinking about how to help individuals, children and families overcome such other challenges as affordable housing and family stability, mental and physical health care access, job training that allows our current workforce to adjust to future needs and neighborhood health and empowerment. In this capacity WAMS also offers opportunities for people and groups who might not otherwise have the chance, to gather together in one place, lifting up for discussion, integrated and comprehensive strategies that are succeeding across the State and the country to help people achieve the mental and physical health, housing stability and economic independence they desire. Participants say they leave WAMS feeling refreshed and with specific ideas that they can take back to their own organizations and efforts.