The Merrimack River Feline Rescue awarded $100,000 Cummings grant

Monday June 07, 2021

SALISBURY —The Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society (MRFRS) is one of 140 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 to $500,000 each through Cummings Foundation’s $25 Million Grant Program. The Salisbury-based organization was chosen from a total of 590 applicants during a competitive review process. It will receive $100,000 over four years.

The Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society strives to improve the lives of all cats and provide support and education for the people who care about them. Since 1992, MRFRS has sheltered and found homes for thousands of cats and helped make spay/neuter surgeries more convenient and affordable for both owned and free-roaming cats. MRFRS also assists with veterinary costs for low-income individuals and community cats.

Over the next four years, MRFRS will use grant funding to provide free microchips to cats in communities located in Central & Eastern Massachusetts, with a focus on Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk counties. Dogs will be microchipped too, at MRFRS’s Rabies & Microchipping Clinics held in Salisbury. MRFRS will be distributing microchip scanners in select cities and towns to ensure that it will be easy to get a stray animal scanned and returned home as soon as possible.

“The ASPCA estimates over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. This incredibly generous grant from Cummings Foundation will enable MRFRS to make a difference for every animal we help, across all of our programs, by providing them with a microchip at no cost,” said MRFRS’s development and communications manager Stephanie Lyon. “Keeping pets in their homes with the people that love them is so important to us at MRFRS. We’re grateful to Cummings Foundation’s commitment to making the world a better place for cats, dogs and their caregivers.”

The Cummings $25 Million Grant Program supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties.

Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the area where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate, Cummings Properties. This Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 10 million square feet of debt-free space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

“We aim to help meet the needs of people in all segments of our local community,” said Cummings Foundation executive director Joel Swets. ”It is the incredible organizations we fund, however, that do the actual daily work to empower our neighbors, educate our children, fight for equity, and so much more.”

With the help of about 80 volunteers, the Foundation first identified 140 organizations to receive grants of at least $100,000 each. Among the winners were first-time recipients as well as nonprofits that had previously received Cummings Foundation grants. Forty of this latter group of repeat recipients were then selected to have their grants elevated to 10-year awards ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 each.

Volunteer shelter rounds veterinarian, Dr. Sam Simonelli, examines a cat upon intake. Checking for a microchip and microchipping the cat if they are not already chipped is a part of MRFRS’s intake process.

“We have adopted a democratic approach to philanthropy, which empowers an impressive roster of dedicated volunteers to decide more than half of all our grant winners each year,” said Swets. We benefit from their diverse backgrounds and perspectives; they benefit from a meaningful and fulfilling experience; and the nonprofits often benefit from increased exposure and new advocates.”

This year’s grant recipients represent a wide variety of causes, including social justice, homelessness prevention, affordable housing, education, violence prevention, and food insecurity. The nonprofits are spread across 43 different cities and towns.

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