DALTON, Mass. — Local nonprofit Moments House will be closing its doors for good on March 31 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For 10 years, the all-volunteer organization has provided support and information, lent a listening ear, and facilitated friendships between those battling cancer.
Co-founders Danielle Trumbull and her mother, Alice Trumbull, said they were grateful for the support between volunteering, attending fundraisers, and donations. Unfortunately, the pandemic has put a strain on the Moments House's core principle of gathering.
"It's meant to be a physical location, kind of like a community center where people can just drop in," Danielle Trumbull said. "We want people to come in before or after their treatments and stop and have a cup of coffee and connect with other people in similar experiences. If you can't do any of that, it loses the whole premise on, you know, what my mother and I really tried to build for the last 10 years."
Some of the no-cost services they offered were reiki, haircuts, wig services, art classes, and music therapy, special events, and of course home-baked treats.
"We always had fresh coffee and we had a stove and refrigerator, so I would be baking cookies that morning and somebody would stop in and have cookies, or whatever it was at the time," Trumbull said. "And people would just gather and offer support to each other without being in a support group environment. We wanted it to be non-clinical, just like going to a friend's house.
"When you walked into Moments House, there was a couch, there was a dining room table, you felt like you were in somebody's house, not a doctor's office because we were non-clinical, we didn't do anything medical, we just helped take care of the whole person outside of their medical treatment."
The inability to have major fundraisers has also stunted the organization's financials, including its popular Slice of Life pizza tasting competition that had local pizzerias vying for titles such as "best crust," "best sauce," and "best pizza."
Such fundraisers provide support well into the year, Trumbull said, and the Slice of Life event has been canceled for two years now because of statewide restrictions.
"It is with sad and heavy hearts that we announce that Moments House will be officially closed as of March 31st. Like so many other businesses, the pandemic has unfortunately impacted us in a very negative way," Moments House announced in a Facebook and website post on Wednesday.
"Due to COVID, we have had to remain closed and unable to offer our free programs and services to our members due to the safety and concern for everyone's health. This being the whole purpose behind Moments House, it has been hard for us to continue to pay expenses especially when we cannot be open and operating like we are accustom to.
"We also have not been able to have our annual fundraisers, such as Slice of Life, which fund a large portion of our expenses throughout the year. We have still been receiving donations and money from fundraisers over the last year which have helped us stay afloat. For that we are grateful. We did not take this decision lightly and are so sad that it has come to this point."
Trumbull pointed out that Moments House assists people with weakened immune systems, meaning that it would take even more time to get a place where they would not have to worry about virus exposure.
The Dalton CRA has been working with Trumbull and her mother to keep them as tenants and preserve the organization, she said, but they have just reached the point where it's time to be done.
She explained that closing the physical space is to prevent the waste of funds, especially money that has been fundraised. They will likely be donating any excess of funds to other local nonprofits so it can be put back into the community.
Alice Trumbull was previously a nonprofit fundraising consultant in Manhattan, N.Y., and her daughter was accustomed to volunteering at events. At Relay For Life fundraisers, they noticed that it was the one time of the year that cancer survivors and fighters got together and found it powerful to see them relating to one another. The death of a close friend from cancer along with their charitable dispositions was what inspired the idea for a consistent place for communal support.
"Nobody can understand better than somebody that's in that situation, or has been through it," Danielle Trumbull said. "And that's true in all parts of life, like I kind of use this example, sometimes when I talk to people, it's like, 'OK, well, you just went through a breakup, you're not gonna go to your friend that's been married happily for 10 years to talk about it, right? What's she gonna say to you?' She's going to be there for you, but if you haven't been in that situation, then you don't know."
She clarified that she and her mother never want to let anyone down, but are making a responsible decision based on their current situation and the state of the world.
"Most nonprofits don't make it more than three or four years, so to make it a full 10 years is an accomplishment for a nonprofit," she said. "We need to just honor the work that was able to be done in 10 years, and we were able to help. It was an honor and a privilege to be part of it and we want people to know that we're grateful that they welcomed us in."
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