skip to Main Content

The Association for the Relief of Aged Women of New Bedford

The Association for the Relief of Aged Women of New Bedford


May of 2019 was an amazing time to join the ARAW. The Association had just celebrated over 150 years
of furnishing financial assistance, providing friendship and promoting the welfare and relief of elderly
women in our community. As we honored the past, it was time to take stock of the present and the
strong foundation which had been built around this mission. We were keenly poised to look to a bright
and productive future. We were aware that, although our mission has been steadfast, the world around
us is forever changing and how we fulfill this mission must reflect that.

Upon my hire, the board articulated a clear vision for the evolution of the ARAW’s Executive Director
role. To that end, we firmly established a guiding philosophy of “Let the board be the board. Let the staff
be the staff. Let the outreach workers be the outreach workers.” Each with distinct abilities,
responsibilities and functions but who must work symbiotically to fully realize ultimate success.

With a refocus on communication, accountability, support and consistency, we undertook a thorough
analysis of current programs, community partners, outreach methods, processes and reporting. Many of
the committee reports reflect the results of this analysis and the logistical next steps we took. They
include (but are most certainly not limited to): cleaning up the current database and physical files,
establishing new internal operational processes, creating new documents (application, request
summary, consent forms, monthly reporting, grant agreements, etc.), generating relevant data to
accurately track our impact, increasing communication to our community partners through quarterly
meetings and monthly newsletters, tightening up the request process so that more requests could be
considered each month, evaluating the rate of return for our investment in community partners,
overhauling our grant offerings, suspending the community partners’ discretionary funds, establishing
in-house bookkeeping, enabling the Executive Director to sign checks and recentralizing operations
through the ARAW office.

The thoughtful and intensive undertaking of a strategic plan was a highlight of the FY20. As outlined in
the Governance Committee report, this resulted in a document which will be a guiding force and
formidable backbone to all our future actions. One of the bigger endeavors stemming from this plan,
was to find a new database which would meet our current needs and allow us to grow in the future.
After much research and due diligence, we found this in the Blackbaud Grantmaking system. The
contract was signed and the initial payment was made at the close of FY20, allowing us to begin
migration to and implementation of the new system in FY21. This system will not only make data
harvesting easier but will also aid us with our newly envisioned Request for Proposal grant offering
which, in FY20, was conceptualized, designed, documented and is now ready for a FY21 launch.

All of this was, obviously, not a job for one person. First and foremost, we needed a sophisticated and
capable administrator who valued productivity and accountability. This was realized in Jenny Costa who
joined the ARAW in a part time office support capacity in July and was quickly promoted to a full-time
position of Office Administrator in September. Jenny’s can-do attitude, unflappable approach and
calming presence coupled with her abilities, expertise and many talents are invaluable.

Jenny was not the only addition to our staff. As the Inter Church Council was no longer able to continue with outreach activities at the funding level offered, FY20 brought a plan to bring Sharon O’Malley into the office in a newly established role of ARAW Liaison & Beneficiary Advocate. This new position, with a start date of April 1, 2020, affords us the opportunity to explore best practices, will uncover new referral sources and will lead our newly conceived socialization program Friendship Lunches & Outings (FLO). With a growing full-time staff, the need to solidify consistent personnel practices and policies became paramount. Initial steps were made through outreach to legal counsel, exploration of benefits like retirement plans, the understanding of labor laws/employee rights and the creation of a draft Personnel Policy Handbook.

Finally, and most importantly, over the past year I have had the great fortune of working closely with the ARAW board members – individually and as a group. This group of committed and passionate woman have helped to educate, mentor and inspire me. Together, we have made great strides while honoring/celebrating all of the work which has been done in the past. This has been a time of discovery and education for me. I am honored to play a part in the important mission of the ARAW. The generosity and trust that the board has placed in me is deeply appreciated. I look forward to our continued work together as we move forward.

Respectfully submitted,
Clare Healy Foley
ARAW Executive Director

Back To Top