September 1, 2016
I recently visited the offices of Just-A-Start in Cambridge, an organization with a mission of expanding affordable housing stock for low income families. This is accomplished by both preserving existing affordable housing and identifying additional opportunities. Just-A-Start also oversees the YouthBuild program in Cambridge. YouthBuild is a nationally recognized initiative that helps low income young people develop construction skills. Participants work with trained craftspeople to renovate and build affordable housing. In the process, they can learn carpentry, plumbing, electrical and other crafts. YouthBuild program members also have access to educational assistance so they can obtain high school diplomas. I am a strong advocate of YouthBuild and have enjoyed meeting many participants over the years. I’ve visited many YouthBuild sites and am always impressed by the students’ skills, their enthusiasm and the dedication of the many talented staffers.
I also met with members of AJC Boston, part of a network of organizations supporting the people of Israel and working to combat anti-Semitism all over the world. The visit was part of a national AJC effort to meet with Members of Congress in their districts during the current District Work Period. We had a thoughtful discussion about a range of issues. I appreciated their time and attention to these very important matters.
National Association of Social Workers
Massachusetts members of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) met with me recently to report on some of the challenges they are facing, both in Massachusetts and nationally. Not surprisingly, funding for social services programs has declined, leaving staffers to manage casework with diminishing resources. We talked about the federal budget outlook in Washington, which is challenging. Social workers shared with me in general terms some of the most common cases they encounter. They do important work identifying children in need of intervention and helping keep families together when possible.
It was my pleasure last week to participate in College Bound Dorchester’s Matriculation Celebration, honoring program participants who are enrolling in college courses. College Bound Dorchester focuses on young people who have become disengaged in education. Staff and volunteers work with them on developing the skills necessary to succeed in an academic setting. This involves more than just tutoring for specific subjects. The program focuses on the whole person, helping students with the social and emotional aspects of academics. It was an honor to address the program graduates and wish them well as they look forward to college coursework.
National Park Service
The National Park Service (NPS) reached an important milestone last week, and I enjoyed participating in their Centennial Celebration. I joined National Parks of Boston Superintendent Michael Creasey and others to help launch a year-long celebration of the parks, trails, museums, historic sites and other treasures that the NPS oversees for all of us. Massachusetts is home to many NPS sites, from the Cape Cod National Seashore to the Boston Harbor Islands, Freedom Trail, African Meeting House and the U.S.S. Constitution. Opportunities abound to learn more about the Revolutionary War, our nation’s young navy, the role that Boston played in the Underground Railroad and so much more. I hope you take the time to visit some of our local treasures during this year-long celebration. Spend a few hours in a familiar NPS park or explore one you don’t know much about yet. If you find yourself in another state, visit nps.gov to learn more about the treasures you may find.
Transportation Field Hearing
I participated this week in a Field Hearing for the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials focused on “Continued Oversight of the California High-Speed Rail Project”. You may recall that I am Ranking Member of this Subcommittee. This project is the largest High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) project that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) oversees. Upon completion, the line will run from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The purpose of the subcommittee hearing was to learn more about the status of this effort, particularly in terms of cost overruns and construction schedule.
The Subcommittee also toured the Transportation Technology Center outside of Pueblo, Colorado. Many Center staffers are conducting research on ways to make trains and subways safer. Center staff also train firefighters and other first responders so that they can effectively manage train related catastrophes. One of the many people we met with was Nick Wilson from Massachusetts, who is the Director of the Rail Dynamics Laboratory. I also learned that the MBTA has donated old subway cars no longer in use for research purposes.
Air Force Academy
While in Colorado, I visited the United States Air Force Academy and had the pleasure of meeting with two local Cadets, Alistair Chase and Joseph Pham.
What’s Up Next Week
Next House votes will occur on Tuesday September 6th. At this writing, a legislative schedule is not available.