Dear WATCH Supporter,
It was wonderful to see WATCH celebrate its 30th Anniversary on May 18.
My wife Lucie, who died six months ago, was one of WATCH’s co-founders. She would have been pleased to participate in the celebration.
When Lucie and I, along with our four children, moved to Waltham in the late 1960s, we were astounded to see the high cost of housing in the area, and in particular, the difficulty of families with low incomes to find adequate and affordable housing. We also noticed the patterns of racial segregation in Waltham. Lucie and I began to work with several organizations to promote racially integrated housing as well as to find ways to expand housing for families with low incomes.
When WATCH was being formed 30 years ago, Lucie was very enthusiastic about its possibilities. She worked with WATCH in many capacities. Lucie reminded and prodded the banking community about the Community Reinvestment Act and explored new ways to welcome immigrants into our community. She participated in tenant advocacy and challenged landlords when necessary. She identified properties that could be rehabilitated into decent affordable housing. Lucie always had a deep passion for social and economic justice and always sought ways to break down the barriers that separate us.
In addition to caring for the household and our four children, Lucie was zealous in her efforts to fulfill the aims and objectives of WATCH. Lucie sensed the urgent need for, and the enormous potential of, WATCH.
It has been fascinating to observe the evolution of WATCH over these thirty years. In our early days at WATCH, Lucie and I were supportive of the newly formed Breaking Barriers Program, which addressed the development of English language skills and technical skills in the immigrant communities. Years later, Breaking Barriers and WATCH joined forces. The combination of both groups became a powerful force in the Waltham community. It is heartening to see ESL programs benefitting not only the students, but also those who teach, by providing them valuable cross-cultural experiences.
The challenge of finding adequate and affordable housing for families with low incomes still exists today. That is why the Housing Voucher Program spearheaded by WATCH is so important.
In addition, we are living during a time period when the mood of many people in the nation has turned negative toward immigrants and people with low incomes. Having a space in our community where people from different backgrounds can come together and support each other is so important. WATCH provides that space.
Thirty years ago it was clear that WATCH was needed. Today it is needed more than ever. During the past 30 years, new situations have arisen and WATCH has expanded its work accordingly. Teaching English as a Second Language, tenant advocacy, and housing support are still vital components of our work, as well as new programs such as GED prep, citizenship classes, and First Time Home Buyer Courses.
WATCH has also been able to build a variety of partnerships with local businesses, religious institutions, and other community agencies. These partnerships allow community members to receive immigration and job search assistance at WATCH, as well as access to homelessness prevention funding. WATCH has a contract with the Waltham Public Schools to provide homelessness prevention services for at-risk families with students in the school system. In conjunction with Boston College Legal Services, WATCH has also been able to provide important legal assistance to tenants.
WATCH continues to work to make Waltham a welcoming community—something we urgently need these days. Your financial support of WATCH is absolutely critical. A group like WATCH depends largely upon contributions from its members and supporters to fund its efforts. I cannot stress enough how important it is for the work of WATCH to continue and expand in order to build community.
Your generous contribution can make that happen. These are difficult times to be sure, but we need a beacon of light, like WATCH, to shine in our dim and cloudy world. We thank you in advance for your generous support.
Norman Faramelli, former WATCH Board member and President
PS you can donate online or mail your check payable to WATCH to 24 Crescent Street, Suite 201, Waltham, MA 02453