By David Rosner
Hopkinton has firmly established itself as an upper middle class town, with home prices soaring into seven figures. However, there are residents who struggle to make ends meet, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated that problem.
Enter the Hopkinton Emergency Fund (HEF).
“A lot of people look at Hopkinton as a very wealthy town, but there are people struggling everywhere,” said Hannah Krueger, HEF co-executive director. “People are very good at hiding their struggle, whether emotionally or financially.”
Added Zack Sisitsky, a junior at Georgetown University as well as the founder and co-executive director of the HEF: “Just because you do not qualify for government assistance doesn’t mean you don’t need help. There are Hopkinton residents who are hovering right over the poverty line. Suburban poverty is real, and it’s a reality in Hopkinton often overlooked.”
The HEF (hopkintonemergencyfund.org) is a private, 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide temporary emergency financial assistance to residents through collaboration with existing human service organizations. The nonprofit seeks to unify the Hopkinton community by recognizing its responsibility to support residents faced with emergencies by providing financial assistance to meet basic needs.
After learning of similar programs in other towns and hearing talk about starting one in Hopkinton, Sisitsky decided to address the need for an emergency fund in his hometown last spring. After discussing it with Krueger, a longtime family friend, the idea began to grow into a reality last June.
After many Zoom calls, and through the deep involvement of a fundraising committee and board in Hopkinton, the fund solidified its network in town. The HEF reached out to prominent members of the community, whether an organization, business or individual, in order to garner support. Last March, the HEF established partnerships with Hopkinton Youth & Family Services, Project Just Because, St. Vincent de Paul and the Hopkinton Senior Center. These four organizations help residents who are in need of assistance. If the organization cannot provide the financial support necessary, that is when the HEF would be called.
Explained Sisitsky: “We are a financial backstop for our partner organizations.”
The HEF is preparing to launch its first public fundraising effort, aiming to raise at least $10,000 so it can immediately begin helping people. All the HEF needs is the financial backing to do so, as its confidential referral process with human resource organizations already is established. The initial fundraising campaign will run from March 15-26, and the entire Hopkinton-based board has been working hard to meet its goals. The HEF also continues to look for volunteers, including additional committee members.
Looking at the long-term future, Krueger said she hopes the HEF “becomes a household name in Hopkinton, and an organization that can point people in the right direction.”
Sisitsky sees “annual fundraisers in the coming years that become a part of the community.”
Both Krueger and Sisitsky say they want to do their part to help the town in which they were raised and have many fond memories.
“I am extremely fortunate to have grown up in Hopkinton,” Krueger said. “[The town] has shaped who I am. I want to continue to develop and sustain the [already] strong sense of community in the town.”
Added Sisitsky: “Hopkinton gave me so much growing up. I think it is a great opportunity to give back. I want to pay it forward.”