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MIT helps United Way agencies

(The MIT United Way campaign aims to raise $322,000 for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay. Many members of the MIT community donate their time as well as money to one or more of the more than 200 non-profit social-service agencies helped by UWMB. During the campaign, Tech Talk has been periodically profiling some of these people.)

Many members of the MIT community donate time and money to various United Way organizations in the Cambridge/Boston area, but MIT as an institution makes significant contributions as well. Sarah Gallop and Paul Parravano in the President's Office of Government and Community Relations coordinate many of these institutional efforts.

MIT assists a variety of Cambridge social-service agencies by contributing items such as used furniture and equipment, use of MIT's facilities, and a range of technical expertise as well as financial assistance, explained Mr. Parravano, assistant for community relations. He and Ms. Gallop also serve as board and committee members for a number of Cambridge social service agencies

"The partnership between MIT and the City of Cambridge is important. We try to identify opportunities to share MIT's wide variety of resources with the community," said Ms. Gallop, assistant for government relations.

Among the agencies assisted by MIT is Tutoring Plus, where Cambridge school children from the Area IV neighborhood can receive one-on-one academic support. MIT students and staff often volunteer in these homework centers. The Margaret Fuller House, where Tutoring Plus is housed, provides day care, a food pantry and parent counseling.

The Community Art Center, which offers teens the opportunity to explore video, film and other visual arts, also receives assistance from MIT. Director Susan Richards-Scott an MIT alumna, was herself a participant in the center's activities as well as an Area IV resident.

In addition, Mr. Parravano serves on the board of the Cambridge Family YMCA, which provides fitness classes, after-school programs and summer camps for Cambridge children, and Ms. Gallop is a board member and program committee chairman of Shelter, Inc. That agency, which operates facilities in Boston, Cambridge and Medford, provides shelter, food, counseling and life skill programs to homeless families and individuals.

As board members, "we hope that our involvement will result in further linkages between MIT and the non-profit community," Mr. Parravano said.

United Way donors can target their contributions specifically to the Community Art Center, the YMCA and Shelter, Inc. by filling in the corresponding agency numbers on their pledge cards. Tutoring Plus is not a designated United Way agency, but it is eligible to receive United Way donations if donors write in the name on the pledge card.

During its annual Community Service Fund drive, MIT assists a larger group of Cambridge organizations, some of which are also United Way agencies. The Community Art Center, Shelter, Inc., and Tutoring Plus are also funded by the Kendall Community Group, which consists of MIT, Draper Labs, Polaroid, Lotus Development Corp., and other corporate sponsors.

Much of MIT's community service is not offered in an official capacity; many people volunteer their time individually, Ms. Gallop noted. These types of contributions were recently recognized by the Institute in the establishment of the MIT President's Awards for Community Service. This year's recipients were Yvonne L. Gittens, associate director of the Student Financial Aid Office, and MIT alumnus Gordon N. Gottsche, director of the Cambridge-based Just-a-Start Corporation and an MIT alumnus (Tech Talk, November 30).

"I'm very grateful for the positive atmosphere here at MIT which promotes a supportive environment for carrying out community service initiatives," Mr. Parravano said.

The President's Office of Government and Community Relations is involved in a broad range of activities with the City of Cambridge, including the schools, the local government, community groups, and non-profit organizations. The office prepares a periodic newsletter highlighting these projects and programs. To receive a copy or to learn more about the office's activities, call 253-1989. In addition, the Public Service Center in the Office of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs acts as a clearinghouse to match volunteers with agencies that need them.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 11, 1995.

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