Jacqueline Olivo Foundation Turns Efforts toward Bellingham
Lois Olivo at her dining room table with a small portion of a large shipment of hats, sandals, shorts, t-shirts, and soap all headed for local homeless men and women.
By Dave Dunbar
There are some 33,000 non-profit organizations in Massachusetts associated with social causes and purposes. But the story of how the Jacqueline Olivo Foundation in Bellingham came about is unique.
Eight years ago, at age 40, Jacqueline Olivo died unexpectedly. Her mother, Lois, decided to open the foundation is her daughter’s name.
“In loving memory of Jacqueline,” reads the opening message on the Foundation’s website, “we were inspired to create this Foundation. Jacqueline is our guide with helping hands from heaven. Jacqueline believed that every person has a right to basic human and civil rights.”
“I had a small diamond tucked away,” recalls Lois, “so I sold it, purchased hundreds of sneakers and had a sidewalk give-away to people in need in Worcester.” And that was the beginning of the Jacqueline Olivo Foundation. She still works with the city’s Queen Street Shelter regularly delivering a variety of items.
Worcester is where she started, because of the high number of homeless men and women. Now, she’s shifting her emphasis to Bellingham. “Jacqueline loved our house in Bellingham,” she says, “and so I’d like people in town who might be struggling inside their homes to know that they have a resource.”
The Foundation’s website is a good place to start. It’s www.jofoundation.org and offers testimonials, how you can donate or ask for help, and contact information. The Foundation is a Massachusetts based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Major support for the Foundation comes from The Global Thrift Store in Waltham and from private donations.
“Your story touched my heart,” writes Kathy R. on the website. “You are doing such good in your daughter’s name. Your courage and strength amaze me.”
As Lois continues to transition her Foundation’s attention to Bellingham, she still donates to Worcester shelters and to outreach workers. “We’re trying to save the lives of those living outside,” she says. Donations include new clothing, footwear, hygiene products, and help with temporary housing.
During the pandemic, Lois took to the streets in Bellingham. In April 2020, she handed out $5,000 worth of gift cards to shoppers entering Market Basket. In March 2021, she handed out little gift boxes to 12 essential workers at Cumberland Farms. There were three $100 bills in each box.
She would like to see an ice-skating rink installed at the Town Common “in loving memory of Jacqueline.
“Maybe we could figure out how to add a splash pad, too. Someday, I could go there and watch people having fun, in the name of our Foundation,” says Lois.
She’s eager to hear about opportunities to help in Bellingham. She has donated to the St. Blaise Food Pantry. She has written a check to cover plant seeds and supplies for the food garden at the Senior Center. And wants to do more.
“My agenda is to get help to people.”