“True charity requires courage. Let us overcome the fear of getting our hands dirty to help those in need.”
. . . Pope Francis I
Here is a brief overview of some of Council 81’s charitable activities over the past few years.
Home of the Devine Mercy Vocational Training Institute
The Home for Divine Mercy in Kabale, Uganda is operated by The Sister s of the Consolers of the Sacred Heart. They provide vocational training to orphaned girls who are at grave risk to sexual exploitation. In the past five years, Council #81 has helped build a school classroom building, and during Covid-19 we raised funds urgently to build a dormitory to get the girls safely housed. You can click here to see more of our work in this much needed program. Sadly, the founder and leader of the school, Fr. Evarist died from Covid on December 24, 2021. But his work, and our support for it, live on.
First Concern Pregnancy Resource Center
The First Concern Pregnancy Resource Center in Marlboro provides free confidential pregnancy testing, medical referrals, options counselling, and ongoing support to women facing unplanned pregnancies. In 2022 Council #81 operated a large scale program and successfully raised sufficient funds to purchase an Ultrasound machine, and help renovate their space to accommodate it, and hire and train qualified staff to operate it.
Council #81 supports men and women progressing through formation toward vocations. Locally, we “adopted” a few seminarians whom we regularly reach out to to support their needs. This year, we are raising funds to support their trip to the Holy Land.
Free Throw Championship
Each year, Council #81 runs a Free Throw Championship during school vacation week. It gives kids of all ages an opportunity for some fun, and our Knights too.
Each year, Council #81, with the help of local Religious Education directors and CCD programs, runs an essay contest on a theme chosen by our Supreme headquarters. Locally, the essays are graded and we provide awards and prizes and local recognition.
Keeping Christ in Christmas Poster Contest
This program strives to fill the same purpose as the essay contest, but is geared toward younger children who are invited to produce a poster on the theme. In 2022, our entrant 5- year old Jayden Wheeler from St. Michael Parish in Hudson went on to win the State Championship in her age group.
Veterans Support Alliance
Veteran Support Alliance operates from Marlborough, and serves veterans throughout eastern Massachusetts. Program director Julie Ciolino started the organization (originally called The Imagine Project, Inc.) after working in a nursing home and coming into contact with veterans who found the transition to civilian life difficult. Since 2010, VSA has helped dozens of local veterans find housing, furniture, clothing and all kinds of support. Council #81 is proud to have partnered with VSA in several undertakings by providing volunteer labor, especially moving their milestone 70th homeless veteran — and his family — into a new home. Read what the Community Advocate had to say about Veteran Support Alliance. Council 81 was proud to spotlight Veteran Support Alliance and share one-third of the proceeds of our 125th Anniversary Gala with them.
Fresh Start Furniture Bank
The volunteers at Fresh Start Furniture Bank collect gently used furniture, kitchen utensils and household appliances and scrubs them clean, repairs and refurbishes them at their warehouse-sized facility on Tower Street in neighboring Hudson. They, and other agencies who partner with them, are always in need of volunteers to move furniture and appliances for the people they serve, including victims of fires or floods, women and children escaping abusive domestic situations, people coming out of shelters or halfway houses; veterans, military families, refugees and recent immigrants, and individuals and families in recovery from physical and mental illness. Council #81 has been proud to help out on many occasions with our small armada of pickup trucks and strong volunteers. None of this good work gets done by anyone alone, and it is always gratifying to join with other like-minded volunteers of all faiths fulfilling a common mission.
Roland’s House is a temporary transitional shelter on Mechanic Street in Marlborough that serves people in need of housing during times of strife. It is operated by SMOC (the South Middlesex Opportunity Council) which provides continuing assistance through its “Common Ground Resource Center” including employment and housing search services, mental health and substance abuse services and more. The shelter was named for Roland Simoneau, a long time Marlborough community leader who pioneered human services while serving on the City Council. This year, Council #81 is pleased to have selected Roland’s House as a spotlight target to share in the proceeds of our 125th Gala event.
The Knights of Columbus developed the annual Coats for Kids campaign in 2009, and since then has delivered nearly 400,000 new winter coats to boys and girls in low-income families throughout the U.S. and Canada. Through the buying power of our Supreme Council, we are able to obtain good quality new winter coats for about $20 each, and distribute them in our community to kids who need them. Last year, Council #81 provided about 5 dozen new winter coats to kids in our area. It makes us feel warm to help these kids stay warm. “I was cold, and you clothed me.” Mt. 25:36.
In 2003 the Knights of Columbus joined the Global Wheelchair Mission and delivered 2,000 new wheelchairs which were distributed throughout Afghanistan. Since then, the Knights have distributed more than 57,000 wheelchairs in Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Oman, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, the United States, Canada and Vietnam. In many cases, we have brought mobility to people who lacked it. In Massachusetts last year, the Knights delivered dozens of top-quality wheelchairs to the V.A. hospital in West Roxbury; and Council #81 delivered three of the signature yellow wheelchairs to churches in Marlborough.
Twice each year for more than 25 years Knights from Council #81 have gone to the Adolescent Psychiatric Unit at Westborough State Hospital (now relocated in Worcester) and spent some time with the young adults there. In the summer, we put on an outdoor cookout – although “outdoor” means we are still inside the barbed wire enclosure. In the winter, we return to host a Christmas party with sing-alongs, cake and drinks, and gifts. The staff polls the patients for their needs and wish-lists, and our Knights take to the malls and shop for gifts for 25-40 patients each year. These are kids in the worst of their times. They are often court-committed, most have no health insurance for coverage in private facilities, and many have little or no family or visitors. Just sitting and talking with them and spending a little time is sometimes the greatest gift we can give. The Knights are sometimes their only visitors in weeks or months. This is a big undertaking and we can’t claim full credit for it. We divvy up the work load with brother Knights from Council #85 in Westborough and Council #5724 in Northborough. “I was in prison and you visited me.” Mt. 25:36.
You have probably noticed our Knights outside your church or local stores each year with yellow aprons selling Tootsie Rolls and collecting donations in cardboard cans. It’s a highly visible campaign but the purpose is not widely understood. All across the country we do this to raise funds for organizations that serve intellectually disabled individuals. Last year, in Massachusetts alone, more than $150,000 was raised and distributed to organizations like Special Olympics, headquartered in Marlborough. “I was sick, and you comforted me.” Mt. 25:36.
Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, empowering athletes to shatter stereotypes and exceed their personal bests on the playing field and in life. The Knights of Columbus proudly supports their efforts through the People With Intellectual Disabilities Campaign. Marlborough is home to the Massachusetts state headquarters of Special Olympics, and this year Council #81 is pleased to help them recognize their own special 50th anniversary at our 125th Anniversary Gala Celebration in September where one-third of our proceeds will go to Special Olympics.
And lots of others.
In the past year we have also supported these local organizations with cash or volunteer service:
- Marlborough Youth Baseball
- Marlborough High School – football trophies
- Marlborough High School Booster Club
- Marlborough Girl’s Softball
- Marlborough Youth Basketball
- Triboro Youth Hockey
- Marlborough Food Pantry – Easter Hams
- Edith Nourse Rogers Veteran’s Hospital, Bedford
and in conjunction with our State Council, we raised funds to support:
- State-wide scholarships to Catholic Colleges
- Blood drives
- “Wreaths Across America” program (placing thousands of wreaths on the graves of America’s heroes in Veterans’ Cemeteries in conjunction with the VFW and other veteran’s organizations)
- The Ultrasound Initiative (providing Ultrasound machines to free Obstetric Clinics)
The list goes on.
Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and risk getting your hands dirty once in a while to help us? Then click here to Become a Knight. Or perhaps you would like to help us with a donation by clicking the “Donate” button below. Every little bit helps.