Help Your Neighbors! Support The Millis Fund!

J.D. O’Gara
Issue Date: 
February, 2020
Article Body: 

Super Bowl Sunday used to be known in Millis houses of worship as “Souper Bowl” Sunday. In the early years of The Millis Fund, members of the community would literally pass a soup bowl around on that Sunday, to raise money to help support other members of the community who were facing hardship. Nowadays, that Sunday, this year on February 2nd, marks the height of the all-volunteer nonprofit’s annual appeal.
If you would like to help your fellow residents in need, tax-deductible donations are welcome at anytime. You can send them to:
The Millis Fund, 142 Exchange Street, Millis, MA 02054.
The fund is a 501 (c3) organization and will provide a letter of thanks, which could serve as a receipt.
The Millis Fund has helped over 400 families out of critical financial crises, due to such issues as illness, accidents, and family issues, since it was begun 26 years ago, says Brooks Corl, who is entering his 20th year as treasurer for the organization.
Established in 1994, the Millis Fund was created by one anonymous merchant and four houses of worship in Millis –St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Ael Chunon Congregation, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (which is now closed) and the Church of Christ, Congregational.
“What’s interesting about St. Paul’s is we still have donations coming to us from St. Michael’s in Holliston, where several of the former members of St. Paul’s have landed,” says Corl.
The fund is supported through private donations to provide emergency financial aid to Millis residents, for such items as rent, utilities, medical costs, fuel, clothing and other emergency needs.
“The Millis Fund helps Millis families with financial emergencies - usually arising from something unexpected and short-term,” says Corl.” It’s everything; it’s rent, it’s medical, it’s utilities – when utilities become futilities.” Corl adds that many events can contribute to a sudden emergency need.
“It’s not hard for an illness, an accident, or some other sort of financial emergency or family problem, things that are generally very much unforeseeable, to tip the scales,” he says. “We tend to think of Millis as a town where everyone is happy, and that’s not necessarily the case, and yes, there is a homeless community in Millis.”
In 2019, says Corl, “We ended the year with a little less money in the bank, but we used it well. The Millis Fund helped quite a lot of families, probably the biggest number we’ve helped in a single fiscal year for the past few years. Economists say the economy is wonderful, the stock market is up – but the people who need help from The Millis Fund don’t have stocks. While employment is up, average wages are not. Times are getting tougher.” Corl says average rents have tripled since he first became treasurer for The Millis Fund.
Some founding principles of the Millis Fund are:
• complete confidentiality for the family needing help
• that the fund pays the creditor owed
• that it does not help any family more than once in a 12-month period, (and rarely would it support any one family more than three times overall,)
• and that The Millis Fund is designed to relieve temporary financial emergencies only, not chronic needs.
The nine members of the Board of Directors meet about four or five times a year to plan the fund drive, create the materials and review the applications. The annual mailing is also donated, so over 99% of funds donated to The Millis Fund directly benefit Millis residents in need. Board members take care to personally interview each applicant.
Millis residents can apply for assistance with a simple, one-page application, up to once in a calendar year. These are available at the Millis Senior Center or the Church of Christ (Congregational) at 142 Exchange St., says Corl, neither of which is affiliated with the organization.
“We are blessed with a very generous community here in Millis that donates to us and other community resources,” says Corl, “The Millis fund has succeeded because Millis residents donate.”
To learn more, or to contact The Millis Fund online, visit .