Business Interview During COVID-19 Pandemic: Mélida Arredondo of The Arredondo Family Foundation
Written interviews with local business owners have been organized and written by members of the RVMS Marketing Committee. We will continue to share these interviews frequently as part of a series to share how best to support local businesses in Roslindale during this challenging time.
Along with our local businesses, Roslindale’s many non-profit organizations are suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency and the prolonged restrictions it has imposed on public life. One of those organizations is the Arredondo Family Foundation, located on the second floor of 4258 Washington Street in the Parkway Building.
Founded in 2015 by Roslindale residents Carlos and Mélida Arredondo following the Boston Marathon bombings, the Foundation’s mission, as stated on their web site is, “to empower the Veterans’ community including military families and friends in the prevention of military related suicides and to provide support through education and services. The Foundation also provides suicide prevention training to the community at large and has recently started providing suicide prevention and support services to Spanish-speaking communities.”
In addition to organizing community suicide prevention training programs and personalized youth mental health first aid, the Foundation’s work includes funding the Arredondo Brothers Memorial Scholarships for military siblings, procuring and delivering groceries to shut-in veterans and military families, holding an annual 300+ turkey giveaway at Thanksgiving, beautifying Adams Park with flags and posters from local schools every Memorial Day, volunteering with the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Division, and many other philanthropic initiatives.
Co-founder Mélida Arredondo said that the postponement of the Boston Marathon due to the health emergency is having a devastating effect on the Foundation’s ability to maintain their current staffing levels and programs. “About 60% of our annual budget comes from our dedicated team of sponsored runners who collect donations on behalf of the Arredondo Family Foundation,” Mélida noted in our recent interview.
While she hopes to see most of this revenue realized when the Marathon is finally run on September 14th, the delay is causing serious cash flow challenges to scholarships that are provided to military siblings and children right now, an important ongoing project. To help bridge the gap, the Foundation is applying for funding from the SBA’s Economic Injury Loan program. But even if the loan is approved, it will only provide a fraction of the funds that the Foundation was counting on from the Marathon. And, with an economic downturn expected in the coming months, non-profit organizations such as the Arredondo Family Foundation will not be able to rely on the same level of corporate and local sponsorships they would normally receive. This makes contributions from individuals in the community even more critical.
However, the Foundation is doing everything possible to keep their programs going during the COVID-19 shutdown. Mélida is working hard to transition their signature Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) one-hour suicide prevention training program to an on-line model. She affirmed: “We expect to have our QPR program on-line in about a week, at which time we will send a notice to Main Street and the community with instructions as to how to sign up."
Foundation staff and volunteers will also continue their food shopping and deliveries to veterans and military families most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. To help the larger community, the team also plans to head up to the Red Cross to help ease the current severe blood shortage.
They are currently seeking volunteers and drivers to help with their food deliveries.