The Huntington News

Boston organizations help Merrimack Valley community

Volunteers+for+Violence+in+Boston+collect+donations+for+residents+of+the+Merrimack+Valley+affected+by+unexpected+gas+explosions.+%2F+Photo+courtesy+Violence+in+Boston
Back to Article
Back to Article

Boston organizations help Merrimack Valley community

Volunteers for Violence in Boston collect donations for residents of the Merrimack Valley affected by unexpected gas explosions. / Photo courtesy Violence in Boston

Volunteers for Violence in Boston collect donations for residents of the Merrimack Valley affected by unexpected gas explosions. / Photo courtesy Violence in Boston

Volunteers for Violence in Boston collect donations for residents of the Merrimack Valley affected by unexpected gas explosions. / Photo courtesy Violence in Boston

Volunteers for Violence in Boston collect donations for residents of the Merrimack Valley affected by unexpected gas explosions. / Photo courtesy Violence in Boston

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






By Ali Dusinberre, news correspondent

Following the fires that broke out in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover on Sept. 13 as a result of a series of gas explosions, various Boston organizations assisted families abruptly displaced from their homes throughout Merrimack Valley. 

The tragedy killed one person and left more than 20 injured and an estimated 8,000 people temporarily displaced from their homes. Residents received clearance to return home on Sept. 16, but gas restoration in the area could take months.

“We watched what happened in Lawrence, and I just felt like we had to do something,” said Monica Cannon-Grant, the founder of Violence in Boston, a group that provided assistance to the affected communities. “I wasn’t quite sure what, but I knew we had to do something to help the community down there.”

Violence in Boston helps victims of all types of violence throughout the city. They immediately held a 24-hour emergency drive from 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, to 1 p.m. the following day where they collected food, water bottles, clothes, toiletries, and various other types of items.

Despite only being able to provide short notice of the drive, Violence in Boston was met with overwhelming support by local residents. With the help of Silvas Transport, they were able to fill three trucks about half the size of 18-wheelers with donations. An additional two SUVs were filled Sunday.

The Greg Hill Foundation also responded swiftly to the tragedy in the form of an on-air fundraiser on WAAF Radio’s Hill-Man Morning Show.

“When we got wind of this, immediately everyone was on board to set up one of our fundraising pages and get that going,” said Taylor King, a member of the foundation’s executive director team.

WAAF radio host Greg Hill created the foundation in 2010 to celebrate his 20th anniversary with the station. Its purpose is to respond to the immediate needs of families and individuals touched by tragedy, and beneficiaries can be nominated through the foundation’s website. The foundation covers credit card fees of donations, ensuring that 100 percent of contributions go to the beneficiaries.

During the Sept. 14 airing of the Hill-Man Morning Show, listeners demonstrated their support through financial contributions.

“I believe we had just over $17,000 in donations, and then the foundation was matching donations up to $10,000,” King said. “So we had just over $27,000 in donations to go back to the families.”

The Gas Leaks Allies, which consists of 22 organizations including Mothers Out Front and Home Energy Efficiency Team, took a more targeted approach to helping those in need by providing induction cooktops to homes currently without gas.

Home Energy Efficiency Team, or HEET, hosts events called Taste the Future in which they promote the use of induction over gas. Because of this, they already possessed multiple induction cooktops when the explosions happened. To obtain more cooktops, Nathan Phillips, a professor at Boston University and member of Gas Leaks Allies, started a GoFundMe that found unexpected success.

“He had put up his personal phone number, and his phone started ringing nonstop as it spread word of mouth within the community,” said Zeyneb Magavi, a member of Mothers Out Front and the HEET research director.

The team has delivered a total of 170 cooktops, with a final shipment of 54 cooktops arriving on Wednesday. Columbia Gas and the National Guard have stepped in and are now walking the streets delivering electric burners to homes.

Magavi feels that the most rewarding aspect of the experience was seeing the tangible impact it had on the community. She described an experience in which one mother who received a cooktop had been feeding her children rice from their rice pot for days because they couldn’t afford to eat out.

“She was so excited,” Magavi said. “She was going to surprise them in the morning by cooking for them.”

Another touching moment occurred when Magavi was stopped at a traffic light in Lawrence.

“I turned to look at the car next to me, and there’s a woman rolling down the window and waving,” Magavi said. “She’s shouting out the window, ‘Thank you, thank you! I love the stove!’”

Cannon-Grant and King also noted the gratifying experiences and observations that came with the community interaction through their efforts.

“People from all walks of life reached in for help,” Cannon-Grant said. “There wasn’t a specific population of people that helped more than others. Everybody really just chipped in and gave.”

King mentioned the benefit that came with the broadcast platform through which the Greg Hill Foundation fundraiser was conducted.

“I think not only is it good for us to get these donations and all the money in, but also just spreading the word too so people really know what was going on because we don’t think as many people might have known,” King said. “It just encourages them…  to try and help these families in one way or another.”

Navigate Left
  • Boston organizations help Merrimack Valley community

    City

    City councilors grapple with lack of diversity in burgeoning pot industry

  • Boston organizations help Merrimack Valley community

    City

    In Massachusetts, strict drinking laws are decades in the making

  • Boston organizations help Merrimack Valley community

    City

    Co-op food markets have no home in Boston

  • Boston organizations help Merrimack Valley community

    City

    Boston Calling may be losing local roots as it keeps growing

  • Boston organizations help Merrimack Valley community

    City

    ICE detainees in Suffolk County protest living conditions

  • Boston organizations help Merrimack Valley community

    City

    Opinions still vary on marijuana three years after decriminalization

  • Boston organizations help Merrimack Valley community

    City

    Met by protesters, Kissinger speaks at MIT on AI

  • Boston organizations help Merrimack Valley community

    City

    Chilacates, with new Mission Hill location, is a business based on a love for food

  • Boston organizations help Merrimack Valley community

    City

    MBTA’s Better Bus Project could boost low-income communities

  • Boston organizations help Merrimack Valley community

    City

    Allston in 2019: From ‘Rock City’ to college neighborhood

Navigate Right