Category: Community News

From The Director’s Desk: Reducing Hunger Among Neighborhood Seniors

February letter from Maria Stella Gulla, Director of ABCD North End / West End Neighborhood Service Center.

This month I would like to focus on senior hunger and the ways in which ABCD North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC) works in the community as well as with its neighborhood partners and elected officials to reduce hunger among North End, West End, and Beacon Hill seniors. The NE/WE NSC envisions a community in which everyone has access to sufficient nutritious food. Through the support that we leverage from cash and in-kind donations, we create new ways to fight hunger and provide food to seniors in a fun and creative way.

For example, our community partner, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, has conducted food demonstrations onsite at our center. Their food rescue coordinator set up a food demonstration station and cooked a mouthwatering meal of crisp vegetables and pasta, all with spices that are easy on the waistline and low in sodium! Meanwhile, Head Cook Franco Palopoli duplicated the meal in our kitchen, and dished it up to NE/WE NSC seniors, volunteers, and staff. Guests at lunch took home bags of fresh produce, also from the Lovin’ Spoonful donation and Greater Boston Food Bank, to make the meal at home, also enabling them to stretch their food and food dollars further until they dine with us again.

We deliver direct services in the form of weekly congregate meals; two food pantries in the North End and West End neighborhoods; and application assistance for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

1. Congregate meals: The NE/WE NSC prepares hot meals on Mondays and Fridays in the North End at 1:00PM, with monthly holiday celebrations, including Thanksgiving, the December holidays, Mother’s and Father’s Day, and so forth. We offer a meal one Wednesday a month in the West End, alternating between the Amy Lowell Apartments and Blackstone Apartments. The center includes the seniors’ elected officials – our friends Senator Joe Boncore, Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Representative Jay Livingstone, City Councilor Lydia Edwards, Senator Sal Di Domenico, and City Councilor Josh Zakim – in these gatherings and the celebration serves as an opportunity for them to see their constituents and speak to and address issues that are of importance to our clients. The meals serve as a welcoming, nurturing environment for seniors to socialize with their peers; speak one another’s native languages; and disclose to staff problems that they are having (lack of heat or medical insurance, for instance).

2. Food pantries: The NE/WE NSC operates two food pantries, one in the North End open Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Thursdays 12:30PM-3:00PM and one in the West End, thanks to our collaboration with the West End Branch of the Boston Public Library and Head Librarian Helen Bender. The West End Pantry has hours Mondays and Wednesdays 11:30AM-1:30PM and Tuesdays 4:00PM-5:45PM. Our North End and West End pantries combined have given out over 32,000 lb. of food. Last year we gave over 130 turkeys during the Thanksgiving season.

3. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): SNAP provides nutrition education and monthly monetary benefits for designated food items. A senior or caregiver can find out if they might be eligible by calling the NE/WE NSC at 617-523-8125. A lot of seniors are missing out on SNAP right now. NE/WE NSC staff is available to help connect and enroll any eligible person in need for this program.

How can all of us make sure that older adults do not go hungry? Advocate, donate, and volunteer! The NE/WE NSC and your local community organizations are always in need of donated time, resources, and new friends! We especially need volunteers to cook for our twice-weekly hot meal program.

Until next month!

Maria Stella Gulla, Director
ABCD North End / West End Neighborhood Service Center

ABCD’s mission is to empower disadvantaged people by providing them with the tools to overcome poverty, live with dignity, and achieve their full potential. The North End / West End NSC offers a wide-range services to our community. To learn more, read the February 2018 Newsletter ABCD North End West End NSC.

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Rep. Fernandes Seeks to Save Threatened Federal Sea Grant Program

BOSTON – A local legislator is defending the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution-based Sea Grant College Program, which could lose funding as part of proposed Trump Administration budget cuts.

Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket State Representative Dylan Fernandes co-sponsored a resolution which passed through the House that urges level funding for the program which began in 1966.

The network of 33 Sea Grant programs throughout the country promotes sustainable economic development and oceanic conservation.

 

“The Sea Grant Program has helped our communities guard against natural disasters, promote our blue economy and develop our oceanic resources in a sustainable way,” said Fernandes.

“The program has been an indispensable asset to our region and eliminating it is unacceptable.”

The resolution was introduced with State Rep. Jay Livingstone, whose district is home to the Sea Grant College Program housed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Woods Hole Sea Grant program’s history traces back to 1971 and has since worked with towns to build sustainable aquaculture programs, promote coastal resiliency and educate the public on environmental issues.

An initial budget proposal from the Trump Administration last month would completely eliminate the program.

Fernandes said the program generates about $142 million in economic activity each year.

A copy of the language used in the resolution will be sent to all the members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation and the White House Office of Budget and Management.

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Charlesgate Alliance Moves Forward with Plan to Reclaim Forgotten City Neighborhood

March 23, 2018

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The Charlesgate Alliance is energized and optimistic as the spring equinox approaches, according to a press release from the group established with the goal of piecing back together a forgotten Boston neighborhood that abuts the Back Bay and Fenway and runs adjacent to Kenmore Square and was lost more than half a century ago to construction of the Bowker Overpass.

And building on this growing momentum, it will hold another public meeting in Room 545 of a BU building at 545 Bay State Road on April 9 at 7 p.m., with representatives from Somerville’s Landing Studios on hand to present their latest designs. Light refreshments will also be served.

“We want as much public participation and feedback at that meeting as possible because both Landing Studio, and [the Alliance] are doing our best to develop these designs in a manner that will serve the public interest,” wrote Parker James, who co-founded the Alliance last in February of 2017 with neighbor Pam Beale. “Please attend and let us know what you think and want.”

The Alliance has also two events scheduled for April 28:  starting at 9 a.m., the group will sponsor the Charlesgate portion of the Muddy River cleanup and, later that day, its fundraising committee will host “Charlesgate in Bloom,” an upscale early evening gathering in the lobby area of the Bradley Mansion at 409 Commonwealth Ave., with themed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Committee members planning this event include Lisa Hazen, Maddy Segal, Tina Sykes, Rachel Bakish and George Lewis.  Tickets, which are limited and cost $75 each, can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/charlesgate-in-bloom-tickets-43795821481.

Meanwhile, James extended the Alliance’s gratitude to Sen. Will Brownsberger; Reps. Jay Livingstone and Byron Rushing, and City Councilor Josh Zakim.

“The ongoing support and practical advice we receive from these individuals is valuable beyond description, and we will never forget their contributions to our effort,” James wrote. “We would also like to thank the following for their invaluable effort, advice, and support: Karen Mauney-Brodek of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, who is our greatest ally; Patrice Kish of [the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation,] who is a national leader in historic parks and an expert on Olmsted’s designs; Fran Gershwin of the MMOC, a tireless advocate for water quality improvements in the Muddy River basin; and others who are too numerous to name at the moment.”

While the Alliance has yet to sign a memorandum of understanding, James said both DCR and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) “have been very forthcoming and seem willing to partner and collaborate with us in [these] efforts.”

James wrote, “We have very high hopes that we can develop a formal partnership with them to ultimately realize a tenable, community-led solution for this long-neglected part of the city. Our gratitude goes out to all of our supporters, especially to our Leadership group, who contribute so much of themselves to this effort. Anyone can join our group at any level of interest, although the Leadership group is the best way to get involved actively.”

Leadership meetings are typically held at 7 p.m. on the first day of each month at the ENC’s Shattuck Visitor Center at 125 Fenway. No R.S.V.P. is necessary.

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Secretary of the Commonwealth candidate Josh Zakim proposes weekend voting, same-day registration

BOSTON — Josh Zakim, a Democrat challenging Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, on Tuesday proposed a series of reforms aimed at boosting voter turnout – including requiring weekend elections.

“As your secretary of state, I guarantee you turnout will increase,” Zakim said at a press conference outside the Statehouse.

Galvin, a Democrat, was first elected Secretary of the Commonwealth in 1994 and has won six successive four-year terms.

Galvin shot back that he has a record of accomplishing the things that Zakim, a Boston city councilor, is advocating. “It’s great to stand outside on the steps,” Galvin said. “Why don’t you come in and talk to the Legislature? He’s never been at a hearing for same-day (voter registration). I have a same-day proposal. … He’s never run an election or administered an election.”

Rep. Jay Livingstone, D-Boston, filed a bill Tuesday to require state primaries and presidential primaries to be held over two days, with voting on both Saturday and Sunday. The two days would be established because both days come with religious conflicts. His bill would also establish mandatory early voting for primaries so people could vote on weekdays.

Livingstone, who endorsed Zakim’s campaign, said he developed the idea together with Zakim, and after working in the Northern Mariana Islands, where election day was on Saturday. Livingstone said the goal is “to allow for more flexible schedules.”

“In Massachusetts, you would get a higher percentage of people voting if you had weekend voting, but then also early voting to go with that,” Livingstone said.

Zakim said he supports weekend elections. “In the last nearly quarter century since Secretary Galvin’s been in office, a lot has changed in our lives,” Zakim said. “People are busier, they have busier lives, they’re working longer hours, commuting further, and it’s not always easy for people to get to the polls on Tuesday. There’s no reason to have this arbitrary date be the only time you can vote.”

Galvin said Massachusetts already has weekend voting through the state’s early voting law, which was implemented for the first time in 2016. Galvin’s office provided grants to cities and towns to open the polls on weekends. But he said weekend voting may not work for every town because of the need to use public buildings, which are generally closed on weekends.

Zakim also supports same-day voter registration. A lawsuit pending before the Supreme Judicial Court challenges the state’s voter registration cutoff. Zakim criticized Galvin for appealing that lawsuit.

SJC to consider voter registration, campaign finance cases

The Supreme Judicial Court will consider a challenge to a Massachusetts law that requires voters to register at least 20 days before an election. It will consider a separate case challenging a law that prohibits businesses from making political contributions.

Zakim said he would withdraw the appeal and work with the Legislature on instituting same-day voter registration. “We should not be fighting these old-time delay tactics to continue to keep these barriers in place,” Zakim said.

Galvin in January offered a proposal for same-day voter registration, which would include electronically connecting each polling place so poll workers can check whether someone is registered or already voted elsewhere.

Voters could register, vote on same day under new bill from elections chief

Massachusetts could register and vote within the same day, under a bill the state’s elections chief is proposing.

Galvin said he has always supported same-day voter registration, as long as money is set aside to pay for it.

Zakim said he believes the state can ensure voting security the same way other states do, by requiring same-day registrants to show photo identification and proof of residency. Zakim estimated that allowing same-day voting registration would cost the state $1.5 million.

Massachusetts held early voting for the first time in 2016, and Zakim wants to expand that. He also wants to allow any voter to cast an absentee ballot. Current law requires someone requesting an absentee ballot to state that they will be out of town on Election Day or they have a disability or religious reason why they cannot vote on Election Day.

1 million Mass. voters cast ballots during early voting

Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said at least 1,030,000 Massachusetts residents voted early, representing around one-third of the projected total voter turnout for Tuesday’s election.

“Who are we to say to someone you have to have a legitimate excuse not to be here?” Zakim said. “If you have a right to vote, we should be doing everything we can to make it easier, not putting up these barriers.”

Galvin said no-excuse absentee voting already exists, since the state’s new early voting law lets people vote early by mail.

Zakim called the proposals “commonsense voting reforms” that have all been implemented in other states.

Although some proposals have been introduced before in the Legislature, Zakim said he thinks having a more activist secretary of state pushing for the reforms could make a difference. “When we have a secretary who is reluctant at best to support many of these issues, that’s an important signal to many of other elected officials,” Zakim said.

Galvin responded that unlike Zakim, he knows how to work with lawmakers. “If you’re serious about these things, you go to hearings, participate in the process,” Galvin said. “I am serious. I have actually achieved such things as early voting, online voter registration because I know how to work the Legislature and make my case, which is why I’m here.”

Zakim also criticized Galvin for setting the date of the 2018 state primary for the Tuesday after Labor Day. Galvin said he chose that date with public input to avoid conflicting with Jewish holidays. Zakim says that will depress turnout.

Massachusetts state primary set for Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018

The primary will be held the day after Labor Day.

Massachusetts lawmakers are currently considering implementing automatic voter registration, in which people are automatically enrolled to vote when they complete a transaction at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Oregon blazes a path for Massachusetts on automatic voter registration

The former Oregon secretary of state says Oregon’s ‘motor voter’ law was a success.

Galvin is expected to come out in favor of that effort at a press conference scheduled for later this week.

Zakim supports the proposal.

http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/03/secretary_of_the_commonwealth_3.html

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Officials React Positively to Sidewalk Settlement

February 21, 2018

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Neighborhood elected officials are responding positively to news of the legal settlement between the city and the Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA), which will allow the Public Works Department (PWD) to continue installing ADA-compliant curb-ramps at sidewalks throughout the Historic Beacon Hill District.

“I want to thank the mayor, Rep. Livingstone, the Beacon Hill Civic Association and all of the engaged residents who worked to reach this settlement,” City Councilor Josh Zakim wrote. “This would not have been possible without the mayor and his team being open and willing to reach this compromise with the neighborhood.”

The settlement and release agreement, dated Feb. 12, includes provisos that the Public Works Department “will present its ramp plan for the Historic Beacon Hill District at least annually, and at the BHCA’s request will investigate specific locations with the BHCA.” Furthermore, the PWD has agreed to use red, cast-iron tactile pads instead of plastic tactile pads if the BHCA contributes the difference in cost, and to “work with the BHCA to fashion and implement non-standard design solutions for ramps at uniquely historical spots, including Acorn Street, Louisburg Square and the cobblestone driveway on Mt. Vernon Street above Louisburg Square,” as well as at “various cobblestone driveways and alleys (not streets).”

Livingstone said, “My goal was always to improve accessibility while preserving the historic look of the neighborhood. I’m pleased we were able to accomplish those goals with this agreement.”

Nicole Caravella, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s press secretary, stated, “The city is pleased to be able to move forward with efforts to construct and reconstruct pedestrian ramps in Beacon Hill that improve accessibility for residents, visitors and the public, and preserve the historic nature of the neighborhood.”

In 2014, the Beacon Hill Civic Association and 10 neighborhood residents filed a lawsuit against the city asserting that it bypassed key review and approval processes by installing 36 ramps in brick sidewalks on Beacon Street that summer.

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