Picture Greater Newburyport: beautiful places and historic buildings that attract and inspire artists, naturalists and all of us.

We live in a vibrant community, and also one with many neighbors in need. Look deeper and you’ll see a network of nonprofits and volunteers striving to keep us connected, healthy, and safe; to feed bellies as well as spirits and minds. This work is all the more important as the pandemic draws on and another winter closes in on us.

As we enter the season of giving, we’d like to remind residents and visitors about the nonprofit organizations that make Greater Newburyport the special place that it is in so many ways, and the ways citizens and businesses can support groups that give so much to our community.

Recently, several dozen nonprofit leaders gathered in Newburyport to hear from Beth Francis and Stacey Landry of the Essex County Community Foundation. They shared some encouraging news about the state of philanthropy in our region: In 2020, donors were more generous and gave earlier. As COVID continues to impact our communities, local nonprofits need our support and involvement, more than ever.

There are 4,000 nonprofit organizations in Essex County — hundreds in Greater Newburyport alone.These include social services agencies, the arts, environmental conservation, education, public health, faith groups, and more. For a partial list, visit the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s website at NewburyportChamber.org.

Many of our area nonprofits are in fact very small in terms of paid staff and annual revenue. It’s the time, passion and generosity of volunteer board members, supporters and donors that make such a large impact on our community — and they need us to thrive.

Organizations including Our Neighbors’ Table, Link House, Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center and Pettengill House serve individuals and families in need, and Anna Jaques Hospital helps keep us healthy.

For the arts, there’s Theater in the Open, the Newburyport Art Association, and the Firehouse Center for the Performing Arts, to name a few.

We’re fortunate to have Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, the Merrimack River Watershed Council, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards and Friends of Maudslay State Park working to protect the natural places that nurture us.

Like history? We’ve got Amesbury’s new Industrial History Center, the Custom House Maritime Museum, the Historical Society of Old Newbury, Lowell’s Boat Shop, and more.

And of course, we have educational boosters like the Newburyport Education Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, and Friends of Newburyport Youth Services.

Can’t choose? There are cross-cutting groups like the YWCA, that work to keep us healthy and empowered, and C-10, that works for the health and safety of people and the natural environment.

Who have we left out? Friends of the Library, service organizations, Friends of the Council on Aging — as you see, there are too many to list!

Now imagine Greater Newburyport without these groups and you can begin to get a sense of the invaluable role they play: Our community would be a lonelier, dirtier, more dangerous place — less healthy, vibrant and beautiful without them.

So, whether you are trying to gain career experience, build social connections, or looking for a way to give back to the community you love, there’s something for you. It may be as simple as volunteering or becoming a member of one of these groups, or even joining a nonprofit board to lend your time and talents. Financial contributions are of course important, too.

How have you benefited from the work of area nonprofits? Which one might you turn to in your hour of need? Please give back to the organizations that give so much to our community, and you’ll be enriching your own life, in the process.

ART CURRIER, ACES

SUZANNE DUBUS, Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center

GARY GASTMAN, LinkHouse

NATALIE HILDT TREAT, C-10

SIERRA PARTLAN, Pettengill House

MARY WILLIAMSON, Anna Jaques Community Health Foundation

The signers serve on the Greater Newburyport Nonprofit Council, an initiative of the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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