Middlesex Savings Charitable Foundation has named has named Jodi Rosenbaum, founder and CEO of More Than Words, its 2021 John R. Heerwagen Award recipient. The Foundation awarded a one-time grant of $20,000 to Rosenbaum to be used in a manner that she believes will benefit her organization.
Established in 2016, the John R. Heerwagen Award recognizes a strong, nonprofit leader whose work has significantly benefited the lives and wellbeing of residents within the Foundation's community. It reflects the support that John R. Heerwagen, former CEO of Middlesex Savings Bank, provided to the Foundation and its efforts to help strengthen local nonprofits and his belief in the importance of developing and recognizing strong leaders.
“I am humbled and touched to be selected for this award, and believe deeply that it represents the incredible work of the young people and staff I work with each day,” said Rosenbaum. “They have been relentless in their commitment to innovate, and to knock down walls throughout an incredibly hard stretch. We are very grateful to Middlesex Savings Bank, which has been a tremendous partner of MTW for years, and appreciate Sophie Wadsworth [nominator of the award], who is a social justice warrior who believes not just in me, but also in our mission, model, and young people.”
For nearly two decades, Rosenbaum has led the charge at More Than Words, a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking care of a business. Last year when the COVID-19 pandemic presented extraordinary challenges for nonprofit organizations, under Rosenbaum’s leadership, the youth workforce at More Than Words innovated to build new businesses, including an e-commerce website that features books, vinyl records, gifts and other merchandise for purchase.
Additionally, Rosenbaum catalyzed her organization to expand housing for homeless youth during the pandemic by growing partnerships with Caritas Communities and Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
“Rosenbaum leads with unfailing tenacity, compassion, and an unwavering purpose: to build not only a change-making approach to social enterprise and youth empowerment, but systemic change to address the root causes,” said Sophie Wadsworth, nonprofit consultant and nominator of the award.
In addition to naming Rosenbaum the 2021 John R. Heerwagen Award recipient, the Middlesex Savings Charitable Foundation honored Jacquelin Apsler, executive director of Domestic Violence Services Network; James Cuddy, former CEO of South Middlesex Opportunity Council; and Reverend Doctor J. Anthony Lloyd, pastor of the Greater Framingham Community Church each with $10,000 grants for their remarkable nonprofit leadership.