Skip to main content

Ashland - Local Town Pages

Looking to Make a Difference? Ashland Neighbor Brigade is Seeking Leaders

Jul 31, 2020 03:57PM ● By cynthia Whitty

The Ashland Neighbor Brigade has become a vital community service, recently partnering with the Ashland Food Pantry to pick up and deliver food pantry items for residents who are homebound and this summer with the Ashland Farmers Market (AFM) to deliver fresh food to those in need. (See article “Neighbor Brigade Will Deliver Farmers Market Food to You,” Ashland Local Town Pages, July 2020.)

Ashland Neighbor Brigade Chapter Leader since 2017, Monisha Awasthi is stepping down. (Photo/supplied)

As Ashland Chapter Leader Monisha Awasthi steps down,Neighbor Brigade is now looking for one or two volunteers to take her place.

“You do not need to be a current volunteer, and in fact, both Monisha and co-leader Lizzie Paul from Hopkinton, were brand new volunteers and did a phenomenal job,” Polly Mendoza, Neighbor Brigade Executive Director, said.

The Ashland Neighbor Brigade was started in the fall of 2012 by Suzanne Chaplowski. A few years later Fran Firth joined her as co-leader. One of the first clients they supported was an Ashland school committee member whose house burned down. The volunteers supported them with meals and helped them get their salvaged photos into new photo albums.

“Prior to COVID, we typically helped people who were going through temporary crises, such as cancer, accidents, surgery, recent death in the family, fire, or a complicated pregnancy. We provided them with services, such as home-cooked meals, rides to medical appointments, light housework, dog walking, grocery shopping, pharmacy pickups, or other basic support,” Mendoza said.

“Chapter Leaders are the heart of Neighbor Brigade. The position is extremely rewarding as you get to see firsthand the positive effects that caring neighbors can have on someone experiencing a crisis. Chapter Leaders manage all of the volunteers in their chapter and are often the first point of contact for a client that is in need of receiving our services. A Chapter Leader is someone who can dedicate 2-5 hours a week on average to lead their Chapter.”

While learning the job, a Chapter Leader will want to spend more than five hours a week to learn “the ropes,” including learning the volunteer management software (with support from Neighbor Brigade’s IT director), managing the email account, and establishing community partnerships. 

“Ideally each chapter has two chapter leaders who work together; often one person is more comfortable with the software, and the other is more comfortable with outreach for example,” Mendoza explained.

There are 27 chapters in Mass. and two active chapters outside of Mass., one in Rhode Island and one in New Jersey. 

To be an Ashland Chapter Leader or to volunteer in any capacity, fill out the volunteer enrollment application at

If you are a resident and need services, make a request from thewebsite or call toll free, 855-241-HELP (4357).