October 26, 2012
I had the pleasure recently of attending an Open House at Project HOPE. This non-profit agency is focused on helping families who are struggling financially. Project HOPE does this by connecting low-income women and their children with a range of services such as education and housing. Staffers offer adult education classes, including GED preparation, college preparation and English classes. Project HOPE also runs a child care center, family shelter and offers job training. I had the chance to spend some time with the wonderful staff at Project HOPE and meet some of their ambassadors, people who have received services from the non-profit. Their stories about how Project HOPE helped them improve their lives really illustrates how important agencies like this are in our communities.
On Monday I visited the Somerville Home, a residential care facility that has been in existence for more than 100 years. The Home offers residential living to the elderly and disabled. I spoke with staffers and with residents about a wide range of issues. They were also kind enough to present me with a giant card, signed by many of the men and women living at the Home. I was touched and really appreciated the sentiment.
Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
I met Tuesday with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. I participated in a roundtable discussion that focused on immigration reform. Chamber members are concerned, as am I, with attracting and retaining the world's most talented workers. Various measures already make it easier for foreign students with US advanced degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to work in the United States. It doesn’t make sense to bring bright young people here, educate them, and then send them home to foreign countries to compete with us. Many men and women who come to the United States for college or advanced degrees value what they have experienced here and have an interest in making this country their home. There is no question that we need comprehensive immigration reform, one that addresses those who are already here and one that establishes an adequate enforcement framework. During the roundtable discussion, Chamber members and I spoke about making immigration reform a priority.
Veronica Smith Senior Center
I had a great visit this week at the Veronica B. Smith Multi-Service Senior Center, which provides programming and services to Allston and Brighton seniors. I talked with staff about the activities currently available at the center and had the chance to chat with seniors as they came in for lunch. The center is a tremendous neighborhood resource and I was glad for the opportunity to spend some time there.
Jackson Mann Community Center
I met with Rosie Hanlon, who is the new Administrator for the Jackson Mann Community Center. We talked at length about the many programs that the Community Center offers, including extended day programming for elementary school students, both before and after the school day. The Center also runs English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes and General Educational Development (GED) programming. I appreciated Rosie’s time, and learning more about the activities going on at the Community Center.
Allston Village Main Streets
This week I participated in a business walk in Allston, with Allston Village Main Streets Executive Director Alana Olsen. I really enjoy these activities because they give me the chance to hear firsthand from small business owners and employees. Their insight on the state of the local economy is really invaluable. I visited a range of businesses including a vegan frozen yogurt shop, a café, a taco shop and a skate board shop. I enjoyed talking with owners, staff and customers, and sampling some of their offerings.
Last night I attended the annual awards celebration and board meeting for Project RIGHT. This organization is focused on neighborhood stabilization and economic development, particularly in the North Dorchester and Roxbury areas. Staffers work with young leaders and community groups to help them serve as voices for their neighborhoods on numerous efforts – from public policy to public safety. Project RIGHT operates many successful initiatives, including the “Safe Haven” program. The organization works with tenant associations and other groups to establish after-school programming for students and their parents. It currently operates in three locations: Jeremiah E. Burke High School, Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School, and the Grove Hall Community Center. Those who attend will have access to programming like academic help, counseling and athletics. Last night, staff and volunteers were honored at the ceremony. I had the chance to address the group and I thanked the volunteers and staff for the dedication they have displayed to their communities.