A changing of the guard at Turning Point

Oct 27, 2014

After working within the organization since its inception over a decade ago, Turning Point co-directors Lee MacDonald and Marcine Fernandes are stepping down for their positions.

"It's time we moved on and left it to the younger generation," said MacDonald at the duo's retirement party Sunday.

Both have been involved with the organization in various capacities since it began more than 12 years ago.

Turning Point is a nonprofit organization that helps the homeless, and more so the near homeless, stay off the streets by providing money for rent, heating bills, medical care, car payments and beyond.

"Whatever the need is, we try not to turn anyone down," said Fernandes.

Fernandes said she remembered when the organization started.

"I didn't even feel like we would get off the ground," she said.

MacDonald said it wasn't until the Emmanuel Church of the Nazarene "adopted" the organization and gave it some office space that it really took off. She said she remembers the account for the organization starting out around $2,000 and getting as low as $58, "but we kept on going," she said. MacDonald said today, the account is somewhere around $98,000.

Fernandes said Turning Point helps 120-150 clients a month.

Peggy Hall, who was unable to attend the party, will be stepping in as the new director. Hall has work experience with Father Bill's, a large Quincy-based homeless assistance organization. Fernandes said having this larger connection makes her well-qualified for the job.

"We've been able to establish connections as an agency and as that grows, it allows us to do more," said Fernandes. "It needs to go to the next step."

Both Fernandes and MacDonald credit Turning Point's success with the friends and volunteers who help run the organization.

"They're the glue that holds it together," Fernandes said.

MacDonald also said that Rep. Susan Williams Gifford, who presented the two with citations from the state on Sunday, has been a partner with the organization since its earliest days.

In their time within the organization Fernandes and MacDonald have helped implement a number of Turning Point initiatives, such as a backpack program that buys children backpacks and school supplies at the beginning of the school year; Baby Point, which provides young mothers with diapers once a month as well as other baby items; Health Point Nurse, which sends a nurses to see people by appointment; and beach bucket program that provides kids with sunscreen, a bathing suit and a pail in the summer.

"I'm proud we've been able to help people in so many different ways," said MacDonald.

"It's nice to wish for something and see it grow," Fernandes said of the organization. Both Fernandes and MacDonald will remain on the Board of Directors after stepping down.

"It feels good [to step down], but nobody believes we're retiring," Fernandes said.