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Amherst Survival Center broadens its services

The Amherst Survival Center.


The Amherst Survival Center. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Purchase photo reprints »

The “Fighting Hunger, Building Health” initiative, as it is known, is being rolled out this month at the 138 Sunderland Road site, said Tracey Levy, program director for the center.

Monday mornings, beginning at 11:15, various exercise classes will be scheduled, including yoga, stretching and strength and “Movin’ to the Music.” These 45-minute sessions, which each week will focus on a specific regimen, are being led by community volunteers, Levy said. Each class will be limited to five to 10 participants.

On July 25 from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Marcy Foreman, a Worcester-area woman known as the Traveling Toothfairy, will come to the center to provide dental care.

“We have been waiting for this for a year,” Levy said.

Levy said Foreman obtained a grant through MassHealth’s Preventative Dental Service for her work. Using portable dental equipment, Foreman will do screenings, cleanings and fluoride treatments and make referrals.

She will serve all MassHealth and Commonwealth Care clients at no charge and will see others at a reduced cost. Appointments can be made by calling 549-3968, ext. 109 or 102.

Levy said dental care could become a monthly service, if it is well received. “We’re trying it out to see if it’s a good fit,” Levy said.

The breakfast bar, which opens at 11 a.m., is being launched as part of the hot meal program. This will include pastries, breads and fruits donated by supermarkets like Whole Foods Market and restaurants such as Glazed Doughnut Shop. While lunch is served each weekday except Wednesday, many of those who come to the center when it first opens have empty stomachs, Levy said.

These are all part of efforts to add programming at the new site, which opened in December. The new building doubles the space to 6,000 square feet and is more comfortable, especially on warm summer days.

“In the new space we’re getting record numbers of people,” Levy said. “People are arriving earlier and staying longer.”

Besides these new ongoing programs, the center will have a day when people can obtain free cellphones. On Thursday, between 11 a.m and 4 p.m., representatives from SafeLink Phones will be at the center to sign up eligible individuals for free cellphones.

The eligibility is based on individuals receiving MassHealth, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, fuel assistance or free lunch.

Each cellphone will come with 250 free minutes per month.

Levy said those who sign up should have their phones delivered within a week.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern will be visiting the center Friday at 10 a.m., about an hour before the center opens, for a private tour of the facility, Levy said. McGovern’s legislative interests, Levy said, have included combating hunger and food insecurity.

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