Police Briefs 11-15-2018

Police Briefs 11-15-2018


On Oct. 30, at 9:45 a.m., a female was feloniously assaulted as she walked her dog in the area of 175 Crescent Ave. The victim reported that she observed a female walking a dog and walking with a young child as she, too, walked along the same street, and at one point saw this female striking the dog. Being a responsible dog owner, she told the female that there were other ways to correct her dog other than abusing the animal, but the female instead began to shout obscenities at her. As the victim stood across the street, she told the suspect that she was going to call the police based on her abusing the dog. At that point the suspect and another female attacked her. Both were arrested for the assault. One of the women was additionally charged with cruelty to animals.

Terez Durbano, 40, of Revere, was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, cruelty to animals, and operating a motor vehicle with a revoked license.


The Chelsea Police arrested a Chelsea man on Nov. 8 for setting fire to a building at 28-30 Hawthorne St. on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The fire was set in an attached shed, which quickly spread to the rear porches causing an estimated $10,000 in damages.

Edward Watson, 59, of Chelsea, has been charged with one count of burning a building, one count of breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony, and one count of trespassing. The two-alarm fire occurred at 1:30 p.m., and the shed was on the property of a four-story apartment building that was undergoing renovations.

No one was injured.

Chelsea Police and Fire jointly investigated the fire, along with State Police assigned to the State Fire Marshal. All determined that the fire was intentionally set, and they also commented that the community was very helpful in solving the case.

The case will be prosecuted by the Suffolk County DA’s Office.


On Oct. 30, at 8 p.m., while on patrol, two CPD officers observed a group of youths on Cross Street turn onto Division Street in an alleyway that is poorly lit. Upon turning onto Division Street, officers saw the three male parties standing and passing what the officers believed to be marijuana. The officers confirmed it was, in fact, marijuana as they approached. As the officers asked for identification, one of the males tensed his arm as if he was concealing something under his pants pocket. Officers asked him to remove his hands from his pocket.

The juvenile refused.

The officers at that point felt that the youth was concealing contraband. The officers removed his hand and removed a firearm from his pocket. The youth was placed into custody.

A 17-year-old juvenile was charged with possession of a firearm without a permit, possession of ammo without a permit and carrying a loaded firearm without a permit.


On Oct. 31, at 2:20 a.m., CPD officers responded to 9 Shurtleff St. for a report of breaking and entering to a motor vehicle in progress. As officers began to arrive on the scene, they were notified by Chelsea Dispatch that a caller had observed the suspect attempting to break into a parked motor vehicle. It was reported to officers that the suspect had then walked away heading towards Marginal Street. Officers detained the suspect and recovered in his possession items taken from the car.

He was placed under arrest.

Anthony Benson, 27, of East Boston, was charged with larceny of a motor vehicle and larceny under $1,200 by scheme.


On Nov. 2, CPD detectives became aware of a social media post on Facebook that contained still images of a person who broke into a Chelsea resident’s home located on Spencer Avenue. This video was posted and made public by the reporting victim. Based on the image of the male subject in question, a BOLO was put out, and Chelsea officers observed the male and placed him under arrest later that evening.

Edwin Castro, 29, of 916 Broadway, was charged with breaking and entering in the day for a felony and a probation warrant.

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Chelsea Pride Football and Cheer Registration Begins

Chelsea Pride Football and Cheer Registration Begins

Registration is open for Chelsea Pride Football and Cheer. Come and join the Chelsea Pride family. Registrations will be on Mondays and Wednesdays 5pm to 8pm down Carter Park and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. down Mary C Burke baseball field. Registration fee is only $80 for the first child ($50 for each additional child). The following items are required when signing up

Certified Birth Certificate (returning players not required)

Up to date physical form

Last report card issued (4th quarter from 2017-18 school year)

Chelsea Pride Football is a grade-based youth football league. We offer the following

1st-2nd grade – flag football

3rd-4th grade – flag football

5th-6th grade – tackle football

7th-8th grade – tackle football


Chelsea Pride Football is open for Revere and Everett Children for football and cheerleading.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at chelseapridefootball@yahoo.com. Or visit us on Facebook at: Chelsea Pride Football & cheer

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‘Welcome to Chelsea’ Photo Contest Winners Announced

‘Welcome to Chelsea’ Photo Contest Winners Announced

Chelsea Record photographer Katy Rogers has won three awards for her photography in the first-ever ‘Welcome to Chelsea’ photo contest, which was announced this week.

Record Photograper Katy Rogers took first in the People of Chelsea category with this photo entitled ‘Maggie and William.’

More than 40 photographs were contributed by amateur and professional photographers in the first “Welcome to Chelsea Photo Contest” over the spring. The contest was presented by Chelsea Prospers, the City of Chelsea’s initiative for vitality in the downtown, and the Facebook group Chelsea MA Photography Club coordinated by photographer and former City Councilor Matt Frank.

The judging panel included Darlene DeVita, an award-winning fine art photographer; Matt Frank, a former City Councilor and photographer who initiated the Chelsea MA Photography Club; State Rep. Roselee Vincent, a champion for the arts and former member of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development;  Suzy Chavez, a local painter whose decorative murals and “Welcome to Chelsea” signs can be seen in key locations throughout the city; Marianne Ramos, a self-taught “outsider artist” and longtime Chelsea resident who serves as Program Coordinator for the Chelsea Senior Center; and Alex Train, artist and Assistant Director of the Department of Planning and Development for the City of Chelsea.

The judging panel selected three winning images in four categories along with a Best in Show award. They also nominated images for the public to select a People’s Choice winner. Voting for People’s Choice is now open through July 31 at  https://tinyurl.com/ChelseaPeoplesChoice.

Rogers is a photographer who lives in Everett, though her backyard is actually in Chelsea. She attended Monserrat College, and is the founder of Katy Rogers Photography. She works for the Record, and its sister publications in Everett, Charlestown and Revere.

All of the winning images will be reproduced in large print format and will be on public display this fall at Gallery 456, the storefront gallery at 456 Broadway. A community reception will be scheduled in September for the public to meet and celebrate with the photographers. At the conclusion of the exhibit, the winners will take home their high-quality, framed images with the Best in Show and People’s Choice winners receiving additional prizes.


Best in Show

  • Sunrise Over the Cemetery by Aaron Kraemer

Local Business

  • From Chelsea to Boston by Isaac Subillaga
  • Happy Your-Day! by Teri Weidner
  • Soldiers Home by Deb Cronin

People of Chelsea

  • Maggie and William by Katy Rogers
  • Hero by Deb Cronin
  • Come Together by Katy Rogers


  • Chelsea Community Gardening by Katy Rogers
  • Morning at the Community Rail by Aaron Kraemer
  • Diversity: Chelsea’s Middle Name by Teri Weidner

Chelsea, Past and Present

  • Sunrise Over the Cemetery by Aaron Kraemer
  • Chelsea Winter Storm by Joe Makarski
  • Abandonment Issues by Isaac Subillaga

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Photography Contest to Capture Richness of Life in Chelsea, and Fame for Local Artists

Photography Contest to Capture Richness of Life in Chelsea, and Fame for Local Artists

Amateur and professional photographers of any age are invited to participate in the Welcome to Chelsea Photo Contest.  The contest is presented by Chelsea Prospers, the City of Chelsea’s initiative for vitality in the downtown, and the Facebook group Chelsea MA Photography Club coordinated by photographer and former City Councillor Matt Frank.

The organizers seek images that capture the richness of life in this dynamic city.

“What people, places and things tell you that you are home?  What image serves as invitation for others to visit Bellingham Square, Chelsea Square, Broadway? What does Chelsea mean to you? Everyone sees the city through a different lens, and we want you to show us your view!” they declare.

Entries will be accepted until May 31, 2018 via the contest website at https://tinyurl.com/PhotoContestforChelsea. An illustrious panel of judges will then select multiple winners in the categories of Local Business; The People of Chelsea; Community; and Chelsea, Past and Present. The panel will nominate a slate of finalists for a People’s Choice award to be determined via popular votes on the Chelsea MA Photography Club Facebook page.

All of the top images will be reproduced in large print format and displayed in the new storefront gallery, Gallery 456, coming soon to the former Salvation Army store on Broadway.  At the conclusion of the summer-time exhibit the winners will take home their high-quality, framed images with the Best in Show and People’s Choice winners receiving additional prizes.

The judging panel includes:

  • Darlene DeVita, an award-winning fine art photographer who specializes in portraits that capture the energy and humanity of her subjects. Her creative eye, patience, humor and unobtrusiveness have made her one the most sought-after photographers in Greater Boston. Between photographing weddings and exploring her fine art world, Darlene shoots portraits at her studio in Chelsea. She was Co-Director of the Gallery@Spencer Lofts for fourteen years, served as a member of the Chelsea Cultural Council and is a co-founder of CHARCOLL (Chelsea Artists Collaborative).
  • Matt Frank is a life-long resident of Chelsea and served on the Chelsea City Council for ten years after four years on the Planning Board.  His government, non-profit and community-based work focuses on policy and project-based initiatives that serve the public interest. His interest in communications and community building combined with a deep appreciation of the beauty of city life led Matt to pursue an interest in photography. Matt captures our beloved city with a painterly eye as he celebrates the colors, textures and moods of Chelsea’s ever-changing landscape.
  • Roselee Vincent holds the16th Suffolk District Seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, comprised of the communities of Revere, Chelsea and Saugus. A champion for the arts, Rep Vincent served on the legislature’s Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, giving her an opportunity to visit with arts advocates across the state and learn how the arts are vital to local economies across the Commonwealth.
  • Sury Chavez, a painter, was born in Los Angeles but spent much of her childhood in her ancestral home of Guatemala. While East Boston is where she now resides, the colors, flora and fauna of Central America continue to inspire her work. Local businesses, The Cuscatlan, Bella Isla Express and Pan y Café, have partnered with Sury for decorative murals and menu boards and she’s working with Chelsea’s Beautification Committee to illustrate “Welcome to Chelsea” signs for key locations throughout the city.
  • Marianne Ramos is a self-taught “outsider artist” who believes everyone can express themselves through art. A resident of Chelsea for the past 35 years, she serves as Program Coordinator for the Chelsea Senior Center. What began out of economic necessity became the foundation of her artistic philosophy as Marianne embraces a Do-it-Yourself approach and environmental stewardship through the use of recycled and non-toxic materials. An extension of her civic involvement, Marianne’s works are typically presented in settings that foster community building.

Beyond the photography exhibit on Broadway, all submitted photographs will contribute to a collection of images for the promotion of the City of Chelsea as a great place to live and to visit. Submitted photos will become part of a collection of images for use by the City in materials like municipal reports, the city website and informational brochures.

For more information about the Welcome to Chelsea Photography Contest visit https://tinyurl.com/PhotoContestforChelsea.

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Experience the Wonders of LUZIA! Cirque du Soleil’s Astounding Production Opens June 27 at Suffolk Downs

Experience the Wonders of LUZIA! Cirque du Soleil’s Astounding Production Opens June 27 at Suffolk Downs

Cirque du Soleil is coming to Boston with its delightfully-imaginative and visually-stunning production LUZIA, a waking dream of Mexico. From June 27 – July 29, 2018, audiences are invited to a redesigned white-and-gold Big Top at Suffolk Downs to escape to an imaginary Mexico – a sumptuous world suspended between dreams and reality.

In a series of grand visual surprises and breathtaking acrobatic performances, LUZIA takes audiences on a surrealistic journey through a vibrant world filled with wonders, playfulness and striking artistry. Smoothly passing from an old movie set to the ocean to a smoky dance hall or an arid desert, LUZIA cleverly brings to the stage multiple places, faces and sounds of Mexico taken from both tradition and modernity. Rich in awe-inspiring moments, LUZIA enchants by incorporating rain into acrobatic and artistic scenes – a first for a Cirque du Soleil touring production.

 “LUZIA(…) is superb. 4 stars!” – The Chicago Tribune

“Dazzle(s) the eye with luminous spectacle and gasp-worthy, derring-do.” – Bay Area News Group

 “Full of wow feats and gorgeous stage pictures” – The Toronto Star

With mesmerizing and refreshing acrobatic performances, LUZIA brings traditional and contemporary circus disciplines to a whole new level. Cyr Wheel artists perform the unprecedented feat of rolling and spinning under the rain, while an aerialist suspended from a Trapeze flies and twirls through pouring showers. Hoop Diving is taken onto gigantic treadmills, expanding exponentially the speed and amount of daring leaps executed. Jaw-dropping highlights include a male contortionist skillfully twisting his body in the world’s most unimaginable positions, a powerful Aerial Straps specialist defying the laws of gravity at the center of a cenote (natural sinkhole), and two football (soccer) freestylers deftly mixing street dance with mind-blowing ball manipulation.

Public tickets for Boston performances of LUZIA are now available at www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia. Tickets start at $36.

For more information, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia.

To watch a preview video of LUZIA, visit www.cirk.me/LUZIA_Preview.

To learn more about the integration of water in LUZIA, watch http://cirk.me/LUZIAWaterVideo.

#LUZIAself – the LUZIA webseries

Discover the unique stories, talent and passions of 14 selected cast members of LUZIA through a series of 10 lighthearted webisodes: http://cirk.me/LuziaSelf.

Follow #LUZIA and #cirquedusoleil on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

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Give Where You Live:Vukovic Launches Buy Nothing Program in City

Give Where You Live:Vukovic Launches Buy Nothing Program in City

By Cary Shuman

Sladja Vukovic.

Sladja Vukovic.

Cottage Street resident Sladja Vukovic is hoping to build community spirit in her neighborhood with a new project called Buy Nothing.

Vujovic is the administrator of the Chelsea Facebook group for the worldwide program in which neighbors give and receive free items from each other such as clothes, household goods, furniture, bicycles – really, anything is on the list.

“Currently we have 32 members in Chelsea,” said Vukovic, who is a realtor in Boston. “There are Facebook groups in many cities and towns in Massachusetts.”

Vukovic is originally from Bosnia and came to the United States in 2008. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice. She has lived in Chelsea since 2010. Her husband is former Chelsea High soccer star Vedran Vukovic, and they have a son, Banja.

The 31-year-old resident started the Buy Nothing group two months ago for residents in the southern half of Chelsea, spanning from Admiral’s Hill to Washington Avenue. She is looking for a resident to step forward and be the administrator for the northern half of Chelsea.

“Basically our goal is to give where you live,” said Vukovic. “If you have something that you want to give to someone or if you have something you want to lend – like a jacket – you post it on a Facebook page, and if anyone else needs it, they’re going to reply and take that item for free.”

The time period for giving and lending can vary from item to item.

“Let’s say I need to borrow something for a weekend, you can ask for it and someone can volunteer to give it you,” said Vukovic.

Buy Nothing can also provide free services such as lawn mowing, house painting, snow plowing, landscaping or even learning a new language. Vukovic speaks English, Serbian, and Spanish.

“You can’t advertise your business in the program, but if you have a service for free that you want to provide, you can do that,” she explained.

Vukovic is trying to increase the number of members in the Facebook group through marketing and personal contacts with her neighbors.

“Somerville has more than 500 members,” she said. “But they’ve been doing it longer than we have.”

The overall mission of the program, according to Vukovic, is to give items to neighbors and strengthen the bonds in the neighborhood.

“I was looking for groups on Facebook and the Buy Nothing project seemed like a great neighborhood-strengthening group,” she said. “I searched it Chelsea and found out that the city didn’t have it. So I became an administrator and here we have it.”

Vukovic is considering an appearance during the a City Council meeting to help publicize the group.

“My goal is for people to get know about this project,” she said. “I think it’s a great way for people who have something to give, to give it to someone else for free.”

(For more information, please go to Facebook and search for: buynothingchelseasouth,ma)

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Chelsea Chamber to Participate in Small Business Saturday Nov 25

Chelsea Chamber to Participate in Small Business Saturday Nov 25

This is the season to Shop Small®! On main streets across America, small businesses are getting ready to welcome customers on Small Business Saturday, celebrated this year on November 25 across the country and on Broadway Chelsea.

Results from the 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released this month by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express, show six in 10 (61%) U.S. consumers are aware of Small Business Saturday going into the day, and of those, 82% plan to shop at a small, independently-owned retailer or dine at a small, independently-owned restaurant on the day.

Created by American Express in 2010 as a way to help small businesses get more customers, Small Business Saturday is held annually on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Now entering its eighth year, the day is embraced by independent merchants of all kinds—from traditional brick and mortar retailers to service providers to e-commerce businesses. And as consumer shopping habits continue to evolve, they are prioritizing small businesses – even those online: the report found that 59% of consumers said they are likely to seek out a small, independently-owned retailer when shopping online on Small Business Saturday.

“Small Business Saturday provides people an opportunity to discover and celebrate the variety of small businesses that make their communities thrive,” said Elizabeth Rutledge, Executive Vice President, Global Advertising & Brand Management at American Express. “Beyond visiting their favorite go-to spots, shoppers say Small Business Saturday inspires them to visit places they have not been to before and would not have otherwise tried.”

Consumers Will Make Small Businesses a Big Part of Holiday Shopping Plans

Among those who are aware and who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday this year, 65% say the main reason they will support local, independently-owned retailers and restaurants is because they value the contributions small businesses make to their community.

The 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey found:

As much as 80% of all consumers surveyed say at least some of their holiday shopping will be done at small, independently-owned retailers or restaurants;

Three-quarters (75%) of all consumers surveyed are planning on going to one or more small businesses as part of their holiday shopping;

90% of all consumers surveyed agree it is important for them to support small, independently-owned restaurants and bars;

Of consumers who are aware of Small Business Saturday, 89% agree that the day encourages them to Shop Small all year long, not just during the holiday season;

For those who are aware and who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday, 44% plan to spend more this year compared to last year.

“Supporting small businesses is critical to the health and livelihood of our national economy and local communities,” said NFIB CEO and President Juanita Duggan. “We are proud to partner with American Express to bring attention to the importance of small business and look forward to another successful Small Business Saturday.”

Grassroots Support Boosted by Neighborhood Champions and the Small Business Saturday Coalition

Local support for Small Business Saturday is largely driven by Neighborhood Champions: small businesses, business associations, local Chambers of Commerce and other community organizers who help energize their neighborhoods on the day. To date, more than 7,200 Neighborhood Champions have signed up to plan activities and events to draw shoppers to small businesses across the U.S., leading up to and on Small Business Saturday. Click  here to find Neighborhood Champions near you. Small business owners can also find event inspiration and create customizable Small Business Saturday marketing materials to rally their communities at   ShopSmall.com.

Another important group that drives participation on the day is the Small Business Saturday Coalition. Led by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), the Small Business Saturday Coalition was created in 2011 to help amplify the Shop Small message. The Coalition is comprised of national, state and local associations that help coordinate Small Business Saturday activities with merchants, consumers, small business owners and public officials in every state across the country.

Show Love for Your Favorite Places on Social Media

Consumers have made it a tradition each year to share their love for Small Business Saturday on social media, and all are encouraged to show off their favorite independently-owned businesses by using #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This year, American Express is also encouraging consumers to RSVP on Facebook   here for reminders about the nationwide celebration to Shop Small this November 25th.

To discover and share the impact shopping small has in your state, visit:  www.shopsmall.com/mystate.

Corporate Supporters Rally Communities to Support Small Business

To help drive excitement for Small Business Saturday, American Express has enlisted the support of many companies that are serving as Corporate Supporters. Together these companies reach millions of small businesses and consumers and are key players in the e-commerce, retail, telecom, media, hospitality, transportation, and professional services industries.   FedEx is among the medium and large-sized companies that will be participating. The company is shipping Shop Small merchandise kits to Neighborhood Champions and small businesses across the country free of charge, and printing select materials in the kit at no cost through FedEx Office.  Grubhub is helping restaurants stand out, deliver memorable experiences and optimize online offerings on Small Business Saturday. Additionally,  Ace Hardware,  FTD,  Square and  Liberty Mutual Insurance are lending their support to the day.

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Councillor Tejada Apologizes for Facebook Post

By Seth Daniel

Councillor Luis Tejada apologized publicly on Monday night, June 20, at the conclusion of the Council meeting regarding a Facebook post he wrote two weeks ago regarding the safety of children and women in light of the passage of the transgender ‘bathroom bill.’

“I want to make an apology,” he said. “About two weeks ago, before Orlando, I made a posting on Facebook that was inappropriate. It was about the LGBT community; it was about the issue with transgender persons and bathrooms. I apologize that my words hurt people. I meant no harm. My intentions were pure.”

The post, which has been deleted and is not available any longer, discusses transgender persons having a ‘gender identity disorder’ and also talks about concerns he had if a ‘transgender guy’ would go into the same bathroom as his 21-year-old daughter.

In an open letter to Councillor Tejada, resident John Valinch challenged the posting – a letter that Valinch read publicly at the Council on Monday before the apology.

“Your statement that transgender individuals have a ‘gender identity disorder’ is ludicrous and not, in fact, borne out by relevant medical literature,” he said. “As for your statement that you have ‘lots of bi and gay friends,’ it may astound you that we, too, were labeled by the same psychiatric manual, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, as mentally ill. This continued up until 1987. Perhaps you are unaware of this, or choose to ignore it to fit your political narrative that transgender people are intrinsically criminal, deviant, or mentally ill. You would be wrong to continue doing so.

“Second, you insinuated that if a ‘transgender guy’ were to go in the same bathroom as your 21 year-old daughter that you would be soon to follow,” he continued. “Two things about your statement are problematic and, in fact, promote both grave misunderstanding and violence towards trans people: an individual who identifies as a trans male would not go into a restroom designated for women and; you are prompting violence against individuals for using the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Remember, we are not talking about individuals that are falsifying an identity for nefarious purposes, but are instead attempting to live out their lives according to their identity.”

Tejada did also say on Monday he still has concerns about what is being done in the wake of the new law to protect girls and women – as well as to protect transgender persons from violence enacted upon them.

“Not all girls are in the same place,” he said. “Some are being bullied and some are being molested. What is being done to protect young girls?…As far as the transgender community, I want to know what in the bill to protect them from bad people.”

Once again, though, he did apologize for his words.

“If I hurt you with my words, then I apologize,” he said. “If you have a problem with my words, just get in touch with me. We can talk and maybe let’s agree to disagree. Sometimes you can’t agree with all my points. It’s America. We can disagree. I want to apologize and meant no harm.”

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‘I Was Her Teacher, Now She’s Mine’:Student and Teacher Share a Common Bond Overcoming Challenges

The old saying ‘What comes around, goes around’ is usually put in negative terms, but for Chelsea High School senior Precious Perez and her former 4th grade teacher, Barbara Tracey, it’s a saying that epitomizes the caring that is extended from one person to another – and how over time as circumstances change, it can be returned.

In their story, both have been there for one another, whether it was a bright 4th grade girl who was born blind and was looking to be treated like everyone else, or whether it was a former teacher suffering through the slow degeneration of PLS – a degenerative disease similar to ALS.

When Perez entered the fourth grade, she had already been in the Chelsea Schools since kindergarten, and the small accommodations made for her as a blind person were pretty well known by most teachers.

Teacher Barbara Tracey, then at the Kelly School, wasn’t sure what to expect from the experience with Perez. It was the first time she had taught a blind student and she wasn’t sure how she should prepare.

In the end, Tracey – who can no longer speak and communicates through e-mail – said teaching Perez helped hone her craft, and it also helped the other kids in the class.

“Precious was a student in my 4th grade class, and she made me a better teacher,” said Tracey. “For example, I had to say ‘northwest’ instead of saying ‘over here’ and tapping the map. It was an excellent experience for her classmates too. She was the smartest student in my class.”

Tracey said it was a new experience for her in helping the other students to understand. She had often worried that the students wouldn’t understand Perez or wouldn’t treat her well, but it just wasn’t the case. There was, in the end, no need to protect her or give her special accommodations, but rather to just encourage her, Tracey said.

“I wasn’t surprised she was so smart because I tracked her when she was in the lower grades,” said Tracey. “I was surprised by the positive effect she had on her classmates. For example, Precious went to a special performance for visually impaired students at the Big Apple Circus. I did everything I could so the rest of the class wouldn’t know she was going. I thought they’d complain that they couldn’t go. I didn’t want Precious to hear that. The next morning she came in with a big, red clown bow tie on. There were a lot of questions. Finally, I had the kids sit on the rug and Precious in my chair. She told them about her experiences at the circus. I looked at their smiling and focused faces and I was surprised. There wasn’t a negative moment.”

Fast forward several years later, and it was time for Perez to be the one to help out Tracey – who suddenly found herself with limited capabilities when it came to walking and talking.

“Several years ago I started to have health problems,” she said. “I was falling a lot. Finally, two years ago, I got a diagnosis. I have PLS, primary lateral sclerosis. It’s just like ALS. I am a resident of the Leonard Florence Center for Living on Admirals Hill here in Chelsea. Precious came to visit me here every month last year when I was going through that. She and I text each other. We’re friends on Facebook. I’ve posted articles about her on Facebook. My friends think she’s amazing and she is my inspiration. I feel blessed to have her in my life. I was her teacher, now she’s mine.”

Perez said she has been inspired by her former teacher and, though she’s been a bit distracted by senior year college and graduation activities, she still thinks a lot about Tracey every day.

“I’m so happy I can have the opportunity to give back to her,” she said. “I think it’s really critical to know that anything can happen to anyone at any time. It’s really important to stay in touch with people who care about you and you can count on no matter what state they’re in.”

Perez, 18, is a busy senior at Chelsea High and recently was featured as an ‘A+ Student’ in the Boston media, has been a member of the CHS Goal Ball team and sang the National Anthem at the Chelsea City Council and School Committee Inauguration ceremony on Jan. 4. She has auditioned at nine colleges so far and is still waiting to hear from many of them. At the moment, though, she is pretty impressed with the music program at Gordon College.

Singing, in fact, is something Perez said she hopes to continue after high school and college.

Currently, while also participating the the CHS Chorale, she fine tunes her singing with Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society, which she has done for the last four years.

“Singing is something I love,” she said. “I can use singing to express the things I can’t find words to express.”

As a student coming through the Chelsea schools, Perez said she and her mother, Jennifer Alvarez, have always been able to team up with teachers. In the end, it has never been as much of a big deal as people assumed.

“Sometimes we’ve had to do things a little different to make things work,” she said. “It’s always been a team effort. We’ve all learned by the end of it…We’ve always worked it out and they’ve always worked with us.”

Supt. Mary Bourque said Perez has been an inspiration to the teachers in the district year after year.

“She refuses to be defined by anyone’s perception of her, but she fiends the world,” said Bourque. “She always keeps us grounded and inspired. She yet another resilient example of Chelsea students and Chelsea families that makes it so rewarding as an educator.”

Meanwhile, Perez said she always likes to remind people that she is not as exceptional as they may believe.

“I feel like there’s this tendency where a lot of people feel I am more exceptional than I really am,” she said. “I think it’s important for people to know I’m not any different than they are except I can’t see and they can. I do all of these things…People with disabilities are capable and we are people. I think that’s important.”

That’s a lesson, perhaps, that Perez was able to teach Tracey as time passed and the former student became the teacher’s teacher.

“Precious now is very inspiring,” said Tracey. “I have a framed photo of us in my room. Every time I look at her smiling face, I smile. I love being able to text her and follow her on Facebook…I have two videos of Precious on my iPhone which I show everyone. I’m very fortunate to have her in life.”

Precious Perez singing the National Anthem at the Chelsea City Inauguration on Jan. 4.

Precious Perez singing the National Anthem at the Chelsea City Inauguration on Jan. 4.

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Influx Has Everything to Do with Remittance Culture

Influx Has Everything to Do with Remittance Culture

The idea that the streets in America are paved with gold has always been a nearly undefeatable idea in the Third World.

The hope that if one can just get to the promised land – the American land of opportunity – that earning money will be easy and relative riches will literally be handed over. I’m sure it’s a belief that brings about the necessary hope that is required to make it through a difficult life of poverty; in fact, I’m certain that’s the case because I have personally heard those laments over the telephone and in e-mails or Facebook postings.

However, the reality is that once one arrives in an American place like Chelsea, the streets are not paved with gold.

The harsh reality for so many that came here illegally (and some legally) from Central America over the last 10 years is that things aren’t easy. Many came here with the belief that they would live comfortably – changing the prospects of a family overnight. In large part, millions of those that came were men, husbands, breadwinners, responsible people looking to nab a few golden streets to send back home via Western Union or Ria or whatever new multi-service center is popular/cheap.

But a hard journey northward led to even more difficult times once here as these men struggled to make very little money and could ill afford to live. Some became estranged from the very families they had come here precisely to support, and inflation back home made their dollars less valuable.

Some of these men eventually re-married once here for awhile; or they fell into a life in the fast lane; or they just become lost in a far away place.

And they didn’t send as much money as they had hoped.

But make no mistake, they did and still do send money.

The Record reported last year that in 2012, nearly $250 million cash left the communities of Chelsea, Revere, East Boston and Everett in the form of remittances (money sent back to one’s home country). Some $2 billion left the state of Massachusetts alone in 2012. That’s a fortune, and most of it went to Central America – specifically El Salvador and Guatemala. The paper is still waiting to get those same numbers for 2013 from the state, but early reports are that even more was remitted.

Consulates from those countries told the Record in that very same report last year that their countries are deeply dependent upon money sent to family members from American relatives. It has become an important part of life in their countries.

And so what about those countries?

If you talk to assimilated natives of those particular countries – and really any country with a large remittance culture – they will tell you (maybe only secretly) that sending so much money home has ruined the society. People who keep residences in their home countries will tell you that they cannot find anyone to hire in order to maintain those properties. So many formerly hard-working people prefer to just wait for the weekly remittance from America. Why work when money just pours in from Western Union regularly?

This isn’t only in Central America, again. It’s the status quo wherever large sums of remittance money make up a significant portion of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Then there’s the problem with what happens to a poor economy when so much money starts rolling in without anything being produced or anybody earning said money. Prices skyrocket for food and housing. Land prices go through the roof. Heavy taxes are imposed. Everything all the sudden costs way more than it did, and the money that rolls in suddenly isn’t enough. The more money that is sent, the shorter it stretches.

Then the frantic phone calls begin to come – the money you sent isn’t enough. We need more.

What once cost $1 is now $10.

Now, there are hundreds of first-person reports of dangerous, blood-thirsty gangs that have emerged and are terrorizing the population – especially the women and young girls, so we’re told.

Is it no wonder?

All the men, husbands and responsible folks left years ago in order to make money in America and send it home. They are not there to protect their wives or ex-wives, their mothers and daughters. As is commonly said on the farm: when no one is guarding the hen house, the fox has a field day.

Those left are criminals who have run afoul of American laws and have been deported home, or young men whose father’s have not raised them and for whom the remittance wagon has lulled them into a stupor. Worse yet, organized drug cartels take over entire cities – operating their illicit organizations and stealing remittance money.

To get away from it all, right now we have hundreds of thousands of young adults and older teens pouring over the border to get to America by whatever means necessary. They are certainly fleeing violence, but there is also an aspect of them fleeing in order to get a job and send more money home.

That was expressly said by two women who spoke last week at the Collaborative – one of which who said she needed to send money home to her mother as soon as possible. Naturally, $1 doesn’t go as far as it used to and people need to eat.

The remittance culture needs to be addressed within this debate, but no one wants to talk about it. Just like Broadway Chelsea seems to be ground zero for the unaccompanied minor debate, it is also ground zero for cash leaving the country. Millions upon millions of dollars leave the community via Broadway Chelsea every year. Just a million of that money would transform the outlook of business on Broadway. That’s why this system cripples the community – puts local business out of business because any and all disposable income is being sent instead of spent.

A few months ago, I asked Gov. Deval Patrick about this very issue when he came to Chelsea. In a one-on-one conversation with him, I told him this is threatening all the Gateway Cities in the state and also the countries where the money is going.

He had no answers, and didn’t seem to like the subject, but he did turn the conversation around on me in order to ask what I would do.

Here’s what should be done. Tax every remittance transaction with a $5 surcharge that goes directly back to a community fund that would pay for the increased services demanded by the arrival of unaccompanied minors and other malleable populations. People keep asking how are we going to pay for this influx; here’s the answer. Where there are lots of remittances, there will be lots of unaccompanied minors. Additionally, the remittance system is by and large used by the folks who need this help. Those paying property taxes to the City that support schools/services are not the folks that typically are going to need these expanded and expensive services. Is it really fair to lay it all on them?

Mr. Governor, that’s one thing I would do – and now.

If we do not address this culture, it will only become more of a vicious circle and even more people will suffer and die. The remittance culture is a phantom; a lie that really only enriches the companies that ship the money and the governments/criminals where it ends up. It might help the people for a time, but not ever as much as they had hoped. Central America is now feeling this pain of what happens when an economy imports billions of dollars a year without producing anything; what happens when families are broken up by thousands of miles via an immigration system that is complicated; and most importantly, what happens when the streets don’t turn out to be paved with gold.


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