top of page
Helping Hands




Our Story

HEAL Collaborative is more than a project, it is a community movement for long-lasting, “upstream” change to improve the health and quality of life of our residents. We are community residents, youth leaders, schools, businesses, and organizations. We work hand in hand, building on our shared strengths and knowledge to address the daily struggles and needs of Gardner & Winchendon residents. We strive to bring all people to the table to make a change, connecting those who traditionally hold power with those who may have been excluded in the past. We change systems and policies to ensure resources are accessible to all.


At HEAL we know that 20% of our health is determined by traditional health care, and 80% involves where you work, play, the community you live in, the food you have access to, your socioeconomic status, and many more social determinants. That is why we focus on making upstream solutions on the individual, local, and institutional levels through advocacy, programs, and educational opportunities. We utilize the three gears of social inclusion, economic empowerment, and healthy food access to decrease preventable diseases and increase the quality of life. Resident and youth-driven strategies include initiating social inclusion activities that create a sense of belonging, offering free financial coaching services, maintaining three community gardens, and operating a farm stand where people are enrolled in SNAP and HIP and educated on how to incorporate fresh local produce into their diets.

Gears of HEAL Collaborative

We aim to create changes on individual, community, and systems levels through community-based events, training, and programming centered around the three circles of HEAL Collaborative Food Access, Economic Empowerment, and Social Inclusion. 


Food Access

We are reimagining the food system from seed to table to compost! Our goal is to make healthy food available to all members of the community. Some of our current efforts include engaging local youth in growing food at Murdock Learning Garden, distributing food at accessible costs and through SNAP and HIP, and building up our local economy by supporting farmers, producers, and sellers.


Economic Empowerment

In addition to ensuring that residents are taken care of now through our food access programs, we want to help create a path to long-term financial stability. HEAL Collaborative challenges existing inequalities of wealth and power to reduce poverty for families and Gardner & Winchendon as a whole. Through individual financial coaching, we build off strengths to improve individual financial wealth. We will work with the town government to improve policies to support individuals and local small businesses to achieve economic success.


Social Inclusive 

Through HEAL Collaborative all voices will be included in shaping our community and we embrace our unique differences and life experiences. We strive to empower all people of Gardner & Winchendon, especially those who have typically felt excluded from making decisions and solving problems. At the same time, we work with local institutions to reduce barriers and become more welcoming, inclusive, and equitable.


Collective Impact

What Does This Mean for our area? 

Tangible Outcomes by 2023

Human and Social Asset Building

  • 40 residents in priority populations and 20 youth will participate in projects and serve in leadership positions that drive community solutions that promote health and wealth. 

  • The local towns and 8 local organizations that serve our communities will adopt and operationalize municipal policies and systems that promote equity, diversity, and inclusion for historically marginalized populations. 

  • Build a shared, asset-based culture for the towns that welcomes diverse voices, values the ideas and input of all residents, and builds community across generations and diverse identities.


Community Wealth Building

  • Reduce the SNAP and HIP Gap in our towns.

  • Our towns will adopt and operationalize municipal policies and systems that promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in the local food system.

  • Our towns and 8 organizations will increase local procurement and healthy food access for historically marginalized populations.

  • Residents in priority populations will serve in leadership positions and promote a just and sustainable food system, and local economy.


Financial Asset Building

  • Financial empowerment services for individuals and families integrated into locations providing services to targeted populations.

  • Community residents will be empowered to address economic injustices in their lives through financial capability opportunities.

  • Develop safe and affordable financial products and services in our towns that will benefit target populations.

  • Build a shared understanding of the systemic causes that create and perpetuate poverty in our towns.


Coalition Building & Sustainability Planning

  • Build the capacity of the network to implement, assess, and sustain activities.

  • Conduct data collection and evaluation to drive program planning, effective implementation, and sustainability.

  • Raise community awareness and support of HEAL Collaborative to increase the scale, impact, and capacity for regionalization.

  • Acquire additional resources to continue and expand HEAL Collaborative Empowerment Economics.


How We Work

  • PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS: HEAL connects institutions and the residents they serve, breaking down power structures and barriers. Bringing community organizations, government institutions, schools, businesses, residents, & families, together to commit to being a part of HEAL is vital to its success.

  • YOUTH CHANGEMAKERS Youth from local schools lead the change they wish to see in their community through youth-led projects, a teen café, and the development of a town-wide youth council

  • RESIDENT LEADERS The participation and leadership of residents are at the heart of HEAL. We engage residents to discuss, organize and implement community change. They are led by a team of Resident Leaders who are local Gardner & Winchendon residents passionate about making a difference.


Blue Skies

Let’s Work Together

Get in touch so we can start working together.

  • Facebook

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page