Category: West End

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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Livingstone Seeking Regulations for Local Airbnbs

February 2, 2018

By 

State Rep. Jay Livingstone of Beacon Hill will be focusing his legislative efforts on a number of bills this year, including the regulation of Airbnbs in the city.

Airbnb, which began in 2008, is a company that helps people rent short-term lodging in apartments, homes, and other residences through an online service.

“What’s happening, particularly in Beacon Hill, is some people have started to buy buildings and turn them in to Airbnbs that can be short-term rentals,” said Livingstone. “So basically those buildings can act as a hotel without any of the permits of a business operating in a residential district.”

Livingstone said at the state level, officials hope to enact a regulatory scheme to allow cities to have options on how they’re going to treat Airbnb rentals.

He believes that for densely populated areas like Beacon Hill, “people should need the permits of a hotel operating in a residential district before they can buy a building and basically act as a hotel.”

Livingstone said that he knows there are two properties on Beacon Hill where this type of rental operation has begun.

“I know of at least two, one on Chestnut Street and one on West Cedar Street,” he said.

Livingstone said the goal is to pass a state law that gives municipalities such as the city of Boston options on how to regulate Airbnbs.

“I would like to see Boston have the regulatory authority to require businesses that are going to act as hotels to get the permits that hotels need,” said Livingstone. “There is a full zoning process that they need to go through in order to do that, and it’s not happening with respect to these Airbnb buildings in Beacon Hill.”

He said his colleague in the House of Representatives, State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, has filed a bill on the regulation of Airbnbs. Livingstone expects the bill will be debated in the House of Representatives next month.

“I’ve worked with Aaron on this bill,” said Livingstone. “He’s worked hard to build consensus on this issue and I think a lot of people see issues that have arisen because there is no regulatory scheme in place.”

Livingstone said he will also be focusing on legislation pertaining to Paid Family Leave income.

“The United States is one of three countries in the world not to offer Paid Family Leave to families,” he noted. “Especially as a father of a young child, I know that my wife and I were able to get by and stay home for a time at the start of our son’s life and how crucial that was for his development. So many families don’t have that option because they have to return to work for financial reasons and their children will miss out on that crucial early development with the parents. Many states have adopted Paid Family Leave policy, so I’ve been working the past couple of years to get Paid Family Leave legislation here. My colleague, Rep. Ken Gordon (D-Bedford), has filed a bill on Paid Family Leave.”

 

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DCR Unveils Final Design for Esplanade Riverfront Pavilion

By Beacon Hill Times Staff

By Dan Murphy

The Department of Conservation and Recreation and its development team unveiled the design for the proposed Esplanade Riverfront Pavilion at the third and final public meeting on the matter at the State Transportation Building Wednesday while proposing a unique, public-private partnership for underwriting the project.

Watertown-based architect Maryann Thompson said the first level of the two-story building would accommodate office space for Hill House and other partnering organizations while the second story would feature a “multi-purpose” space that could accommodate various sports, theatre and other programming.

An outdoor space on the building’s second floor, which Thompson described as a “giant New England-style porch,” would provide terraced landscaping that would allow for seating, and could accommodate shuffleboard and other activities, as well as offer unobstructed views of the Charles River.

Sitting atop the second level would be a “green-roof” that would also be occupiable, Thompson said.

DCR Commissioner Leo Roy said since the project presently has no funding, the state would issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking an entity or entities to enter into a 10-agreemnt to finance construction of the building and eventually operate it. The RFP is expected to go out for bidding next month, with responses due in February of next year. Afterwards, Roy anticipates at least a two-year construction process.

Roy expects the annual budget of operating the facility would be between $750,000 and $1 million, and that it would be made available for private, special events to help underwrite this cost.

State Rep. Jay Livingstone said, “The project has evolved tremendously. It’s great to see all the public comments and viewpoints come together, and I think it’s going to be great.”

Duane Lucca, a project stakeholder and representative for the West End Museum, said he hoped that the pavilion wouldn’t be “controlled by a small contingent of groups, but rather open to the wide community.”

Meanwhile, Thompson said the development team had conceived three concepts for repurposing the Upper Gates Lock House on the Esplanade, all of which would “keep the fabric of the building.”

One option involved a year-round “interpretive center”; a café with outdoor seating that would be open in the spring, summer and fall; and a space for Nordic ski-rentals during the winter months, she said.

Public comments on the pavilion are due on Friday, Nov. 17, and can be submitted online to http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/public-outreach/submit-public- comments/ or
in writing to the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Office of Public Outreach, 251 Causeway St., sixth floor, Boston, MA 02114.

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Esplanade Association Names Michael Nichols Executive Director

 –

The Board of Directors for the non-profit Esplanade Association today announced the unanimous selection of Michael J. Nichols, of Boston, as the organization’s Executive Director. Nichols, an experienced public servant, attorney, and non-profit professional will begin at the Esplanade Association on November 29.

Nichols joins the Esplanade Association after three years at the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, serving the last 2.5 years as Chief of Staff. At the Greenway, Nichols was responsible for the Conservancy’s community and government affairs, external communications, and advancing strategic priorities. Under his leadership, the Conservancy negotiated a landmark public-private funding agreement, opened Boston’s first fully open-air beer garden, launched the organization’s signature young professional fundraising event, significantly grew earned revenue with innovative activities, and initiated numerous partnerships with other leading Boston institutions for in-park events.

“Michael has proven strategic leadership experience in communicating the value of a public/private partnership to care for – and activate – an urban public park,” said Alexi Conine, Chair of the Esplanade Association Board. “We were impressed with his passion, broad skillset, and record of success in mission-focused government and non-profit work. He will help fulfill the Association’s goal of making the Esplanade an innovative, sustainably-maintained recreational destination and cultural asset. We’re thrilled to have Michael join us.”

The Esplanade Association is the 100% privately funded friends group dedicated to stewardship and improvement of the Charles River Esplanade in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). Since the organization’s founding in 2001, the Esplanade Association has raised over $14 million which has funded new Park amenities, restored Park assets and infrastructure, improved horticultural offerings, initiated new programs and public art, managed a robust volunteer program, and made key improvements to the three-mile stretch of waterfront park.

“The Charles River Esplanade is a jewel of Boston parks and I couldn’t be more excited about being named Executive Director of the Esplanade Association to continue the organization’s transformative work,” said Michael J. Nichols. “The Park already has a fantastic mix of signature events and regular activities in addition to its status as Boston’s most peaceful respite from city life. I look forward to working with the Association’s Board, the dedicated EA staff, our partners at DCR, and the Park’s many stakeholders to revitalize and enhance this signature public space.”

“The Esplanade Association plays a key role in supporting the ongoing maintenance, care, and improvement of the Charles River Esplanade,” offered State Representative Jay Livingstone. “I look forward to working with Michael Nichols to ensure the continued strength of this important public/private partnership.”

Nichols, who received both his bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Connecticut, began his career in public service as Chief of Staff and Legal Counsel to two state representatives in the Massachusetts Legislature, specializing in public finance and community development. He later served as Research & Policy Director to the full 13-member Boston City Council.

About the Esplanade Association (esplanadeassociation.org)

The Esplanade Association is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, sustain the natural green space, and build community by providing educational, cultural, and recreational programs for everyone. Working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Esplanade Association is dedicated to improving the experiences of the millions of visitors who enjoy Boston’s iconic riverside green space.

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ABCD’s North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center Buona Sera

ABCD’s North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC) fundraising celebration, Buona Sera: An Evening with Friends, raised nearly $50,000 to aid low-income and elderly residents of the North End and West End who turn to the center for assistance.

For the fifth year in a row, Ron Della Chiesa of WGBH and the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed as the event’s master of ceremonies. He played a few lines from “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday:

God bless’ the child,
That’s got his own
Yes the strong seem to get more
While the weak ones fade

Empty pockets don’t

The words are true, and he attested how ABCD takes care of all “children”, its seniors, families, and children – and that its vital human and educational services take care of all who seek assistance from the organization, ensuring that they do not fade away.

ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew continued in that realm with his own rousing deliverance. “There is no cash register at ABCD,” he declared.  “Our customers, our clients, do not pay. Each year ABCD serves over 100,000 low-income individuals from Boston – starting with nearly 3,000 in Head Start and Early Head Start all the way up to nearly 14,000 seniors, and many Adult Basic Education (ABE) services and job training and supportive services in between. All funds raised support these critical programs.”

“This year, not to mention these past few days, has been filled with tragic events of violence, neglect, natural disasters, political dividedness and, even surrounded by all these negative events, there are still people willing to stand up and help their fellow man.

It warms me, my board and staff to see you all here, who are people who support our cause; who give back; who volunteer; and who care about and respect others who are less fortunate. We thank you for being part of our work that we carry out each day in our agency, ” Maria Stella Gulla, NSC Director, enthused.

“Back for the 7th year! My clients and I have never enjoyed an event more. Every year we aim to try a new restaurant with a different celebrity guest. What more could you ask for, all while helping the NE/WE NSC get ready to kick off the holiday season to provide turkeys, toys, and nourishing meals for their clients!” one dinner guest raved.

The Buona Sera evening commenced with a wine reception at WilmerHale on the 26th floor of 60 State Street, followed by dinner at a table for 10 at one of several premiere North End restaurants. Each table was paired with a local celebrity – an elected or public official, sports figure, media celebrity or other well-known local personality. All who participated enjoyed a perfect fall evening (with a final hint of summer breeze) on the town, along with sparkling conversation with their celebrity host!

NSC Director Maria Stella Gulla, who grew up in the North End, noted that “since 2011 this innovative event has raised nearly $250,000 for educational and recreational programs and human services that the center offers. Here in our neighborhoods, we have hundreds of seniors who have lived in the North End since their childhood or in the case of the West End, are thrilled to come back after having neighborhood development forced their eviction in the 1950s. In both communities, we see seniors well into their 80s, 90s, and beyond.”

“Seniors and families come to our two food pantries and our hot meals; we help them access benefits and get needed healthcare. We provide translation services and fuel assistance and many other services. The funds we raise through Buona Sera are critical to keeping these services going and to launching new programs. We are on the brink of launching a van service to address the transportation needs of low-income seniors, who cannot travel between the North End and West End neighborhoods due to their physical health; construction projects; and lack of public transportation. Bay Cove Human Services (Kit Clark) will provide a weekly nine-passenger van, and we will start with transportation from the Amy Lowell and Blackstone Apartments, and gradually add North End housing sites. We have also revived exercise classes and the fall prevention program.”

“Italian Heritage Month remains the perfect time to hold Buona Sera,” said Johannah Malone, Event Coordinator and Fundraising Specialist for the NE/WE NSC. “This event exceeded our expectations, thanks in a significant part to our Fundraising Chair, Becky Mattson, Project Executive of Cottonwood Management, LLC. Over the past year, we have brought a lot of new donors and friends into the important work that we carry out in the agency and I am excited about sending them our center’s monthly newsletter. I encourage anyone who is interested to email me at johannah.malone@bostonabcd.org to join our fundraising committee. It really is a high profile event, and committee members enjoy the time spent in organizing and recruitment! Hosting the event at the same site each year cuts down on a lot of the long-term planning and details, as we are mindful of everyone’s time commitment and availability.”

We at the ABCD NE/WE NSC thank our 2017 donors for the event, some who go back seven years, and others who were “new to the table”, literally and figuratively!

We also thank our Celebrity Hosts:

Honorary Host City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley; Master of Ceremonies WBGH and BSO’s Ron Della Chiesa; Senator Joe Boncore; Senator Sal DiDomenico; Representative Aaron Michlewitz; Representative Jay Livingstone; City Councilor-At-Large Annissa Essaibi-George; Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans; Chief of Staff Heather Campisano, Boston Planning and Development Agency; Director of Development Review Jonathan Greeley, Boston Planning and Development Agency; Journalist/Television Personality Janet Wu; Chef and Owner Dare to Taste Jen Royle; Kahleil Blair “Maverick” JAM’N 94.5; and President and Founder of the Anthem Group, Chris Sinclair.  Guest of honor was City Council Vice President Sal La Mattina, who is leaving the position after 30 years of service!

ABCD’s Buona Sera wouldn’t be possible without our generous Restaurant Hosts:

Antico Forno, Artu Rosticceria and Trattoria, Asaggio, Boston Sail Loft, Cantina Italiana, La Famiglia Giorgio’s, Massimino’s Cucina Italiana, Prezza, Ristorante Euno, Ristorante Fiore, Ristorante Saraceno, and Terramia Ristorante.

Special appreciation also goes out to Wine Reception sponsors WilmerHale for hosting the reception and to Whole Foods Market for supporting expenses with a generous gift card; local North End merchants Cirace Liquors for generously donating the wine.

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