A long history of helping older women | Local News
NEWBURYPORT – A 187-year-old charitable foundation for elderly women in need recently extended its reach to Amesbury. The Newburyport Society for the Relief of Aged Women or NSRAW (pronounced NEZRA), was founded in 1835 when a small group of concerned women established a charity fund to provide financial assistance to elderly women in the Newburyport area in need .
Successive generations of like-minded local women have continued the work of their ancestors by overseeing and distributing charitable funds to help needy elderly Newburyport women.
Over the years, as the financial hardship of women living beyond the boundaries of Newburyport became increasingly apparent, the society’s board voted to extend the reach to Newbury, Salisbury and, in 2022, at Amesbury. Today, NSRAW is among the oldest and largest – though perhaps least known – charities serving older women in Newburyport and surrounding towns.
“When an elderly woman living in one of the cities we serve discovers that she cannot afford an essential service she needs – dental care, hearing aids, car repairs or housing costs, for example, NSRAW may be able to help,” says Jocelyne Cosentino, Chair of NSRAW’s Board of Directors.
“The past few years have been particularly difficult for women in Greater Newburyport communities. Extending our reach to Amesbury felt like the right thing to do,” Cosentino said in a statement.
The organization’s charitable fund comes from the 2006 sale of the Wheelwright House at 75 High St. in Newburyport. The Wheelwright House passed to the Society in 1888 upon the death of its longtime benefactress, Martha G. (Bartlet) Wheelwright. Over the next 125 years, he provided housing – room, board and health care – for 13 women at a time. With the carefully invested proceeds from the sale and strong fiduciary oversight, the Society has been able to provide assistance to many more women and should be able to do so for many years to come.
The organization provides assistance in two ways: directly to individual women requesting funds to cover unaffordable expenses; and indirectly through grants to local non-profit organizations such as The Pettingill House, Our Neighbors’ Table and many local councils on aging in support of the welfare services they provide to the population target of NSRAW – low-income women aged 60 and over.
“For more than 25 years, NSRAW has helped Anna Jaques Hospital provide improved service through investments in cutting-edge technology and program improvements that uplift and improve the lives of women in need. By expanding its charitable mission in Amesbury, NSRAW and its many community partners will be able to provide more options for more women facing hardship,” said Mary Williamson, President, Development and Executive Director of the Anna Jaques Community Health Foundation.
Tiffany Nigro, executive director of The Pettengill House Inc., agrees. “For more than a decade, Pettengill House, Inc. has partnered with NSRAW to provide essential support and improve the quality of life for women aged 60 and over in Newbury, Newburyport and Salisbury,” she said. .
“With the support of NSRAW, we are able to extend our support program for the elderly in Amesbury. This expansion will help stabilize older women in need in the Amesbury community by providing needed services, resources and financial assistance,” said Nigro.
For more information about NSRAW and how the organization can help you or someone you know, download a fundraising application, visit NSRAW.org. Requests are kept confidential.