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Gift of Giving

Worcester Magazine

December 2018

OPEN SKY COMMUNITY SERVICES

Separately, Alternatives Unlimited and The Bridge of Central Massachusetts have spent years — both since the 1970s — as premier human services organizations in the Worcester area and beyond. Together, newly joined as affiliated organizations, Open Sky will strengthen services and support for people with mental health challenges, developmental disabilities and other complex challenges.

The affiliation occurred in July, with each of the agencies retaining its legal existence but operating jointly with one board of directors and one management team under the DBA Open Sky Community Services. As Open Sky, the organization will continue to provide treatment, services and supports to help people achieve their needs and goals and life for housing, employment, health and wellness, meaningful connections with others, and purpose.

“We do believe we are better together,” said Lorie Martiska, vice president of advancement for Open Sky.

“The landscape is changing for the entire human services and mental health industry,” she added. “As services begin to be paid for in value-based systems, the need to demonstrate value – being large enough to provide the broad service mix, high quality of services and positive outcomes needed and expected – is critical.”

The new name and motto, “see beyond, live beyond,” were chosen because, Martiska said, “It represented the idea that for the people we serve, there are limitless possibilities. The skies are open, and the future is bright. It also is unexpected and suggests that our agency sees the future as limitless as well.”

Open Sky employs 1,300 peopleMartiska described as compassionate, caring and devoted

“This type of work attracts people who want to make a difference, who want to see the people they work with grow and live fulfilling lives,” she said. “Workforce is both our greatest strength and our greatest challenge. Like every other human services agency, we are seeking more direct care staff and clinicians.”

Another challenge is its fundraising and donation needs. Though grant funders such as United Way of Central Mass, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the Department of Public Health assist with Open Sky programs, the organization also depends on the community for support. In addition to general donations, Open Sky needs contributions throughout the year of new home goods for people who are successfully houses through its homeless programs. In May, donations are sought for the Safe Homes program, which provides supports and services for LGBTQ youth ages 14-23. Several fundraising events are held during the year, such as the Valley Friendship Tour walk, run and bike event in Whitinsville in June and the Valley Bag Toss, held in the fall to benefit health and wellness programs.

“The holidays are a time when we especially appreciate support from the community so that each individual we serve can have a gift,” Martiska said.

For more information on how to donate, visit the website at openskycs.org or call 508-755-0333.

OPEN SKY COMMUNITY SERVICES

4 Mann St., Worcester (main office)/The Whitin Mill, 50 Douglas Road, Whitinsville

508-755-0333

info@alternativesnet.org

openskycs.org

Open Sky Community Services provides the foundation for those it serves to see beyond and live beyond their circumstances. The agency provides services for developmental and intellectual disabilities, mental health, adult family care, brain injuries, care management and coordination, counseling, housing and homeless, and trauma response. Open Sky was formed when two human service agencies, Alternatives and The Bridge of Central Massachusetts, came together in July.

What to give: Gift cards (grocery stores, pharmacies, fast food establishments, and department stores), new kitchen supplies (pots, utensils, pans, plates, cups, etc.) and household supplies (twin sheets, pillows, towels, blankets, etc.).

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