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Neighborhood health center distributes more than 400 coats to area residents

Posted by Patrick Rosso  December 13, 2012 01:56 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/

Amber Hathaway, a teacher from Brighton, helps Dorchester resident Marilyn Douglas find a coat.

More than 400 residents in Dorchester and Mattapan will be a little warmer this winter after Healthworks Community Fitness, a Dorchester-based fitness center, held its annual coat drive.

The yearly two-day event distributed lightly-used and new coats to residents in the surrounding neighborhood, making sure moms, dads, and children have a good coat for the often brutal New England winter.

“The coat drive fits right with our mission,” said Lauren Broadhurst, executive director of the non-profit. “We want to be more than a health center.”

With a team of volunteers helping participants select their coats Tuesday and Wednesday, many left the center with big smiles and warm garments.

“It’s really helpful,” Roslidale resident Sophia Michel said as she left the center with new coats for her family.

Many recipients lined up at the Codman Square center hours early for a chance to receive a good coat, according to Broadhurst.

“We have a lot of adult coats but there is definitely a demand for kid’s coats and larger sizes,” said Broadhurst, who has been running the center that opened in 2008 for the past three-years. “You see a lot of people wearing coats that don’t fit or are ill-suited for the weather.”

Coats are contributed by area residents, but a good portion come from the center's parent company, Healthworks Fitness Centers, a woman-specific network of gyms located through out Boston.

Healthworks Community Fitness was established in 2002 to specifically target and aid women and children in undeserved communities in Dorchester and the surrounding neighborhoods. It has served 10,000 women and children at its two Dorchester locations since 2002, according to its website.

“We want to be a gathering spot for the neighborhood,” Broadhurst said. “We want to be a place where people can come for resources.”

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