One hundred years ago, Lena Goldberg
started Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home by turning a small multi-family building
into a welcoming home for elders. Today that home has grown into Chelsea Jewish
Healthcare, one of New England’s leading healthcare organizations. The
non-profit operates campuses in Chelsea, Peabody and Longmeadow, employing more
than 2,000 individuals and taking care of more than 1,000 individuals every
day. While there has been extensive growth and expansion throughout years, one
thing never changed: the organization’s unwavering commitment to provide
high-quality, compassionate care in a “real” home setting.
“From the very beginning, our goal was to
provide the best possible care,” said Barry Berman, who has been CEO of Chelsea
Jewish Lifecare for more than 40 years. “We encourage our residents to make
their own choices and live their own lives by creating a warm and welcoming
atmosphere with a caring and compassionate staff.”
He further explained, “Living in a
residence that offers all the amenities of a real home greatly enhances the
quality of life for elderly and disabled individuals.”
Berman recalled coming to Chelsea Jewish
when he was only 23 and fresh out of graduate school.
“When they started this organization,
that was before MediCare, MediCaid and public health programs,” he said. “It
was just a bunch of Jewish women who saw elders that needed services and they
decided to buy a home and help them. When I started, I was only 23 and just got
out of graduate school. It was a small, 60-bed home that really needed an
incredible amount of work. I went to the Trustees and I was honest with them. I
said them I didn’t have a lot of experience, but we could all work together and
figure out how to do this so we can improve the home.”
By 1983, they were able to demolish the
home on Lafayette Avenue and build the brand new Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home –
a home that was just completely renovated and modernized this past year.
Over the past 100 years, Chelsea Jewish
Lifecare has achieved many similar and significant milestones.
The opening of the award-winning Leonard
Florence Center for Living in 2010, the first urban Green House skilled nursing
facility in the country, is one example. This revolutionary nursing home in
Chelsea includes 30 rooms devoted to individuals diagnosed with ALS
(amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and MS (multiple sclerosis). Individuals are
able to live as independently as possible through the cutting-edge technology
built into the center. Today the Leonard Florence Center takes care of more
individuals living with ALS under one roof than any place in the world.
The organization greatly expanded in 2016
with the addition of a Peabody campus and again in 2018 with the affiliation of
JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow. All three campuses reflect the organization’s
mission: to be the most respected provider of service-enriched residential care
and post-acute care for seniors and individuals living with debilitating
In 2017, the Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home
underwent a dramatic $16 million renovation. The new building reflects a legacy
Green House skilled nursing model that can be easily duplicated by nursing
homes across the country. This concept sets the stage for new level of care in
“We came back to the home atmosphere that
our founder, Mrs. Goldberg, originally had in mind,” said Adam Berman,
president of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “What’s so unique about our model is that
we’ve combined contemporary design elements with the traditional concept of
making one’s home as warm and inviting as possible.”
On April 28, employees, residents,
families, friends and community members came together to celebrate the 100th
anniversary of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. Governor Charlie Baker recognized this
momentous day by issuing a Citation in honor of
this special anniversary. Amidst dinner, dancing and emotional speeches,
attendees viewed a slide show with over 200 photos spanning the last 100 years.
A highlight of the event was a heartfelt tribute to the 49 staff members who
have worked at the organization for 25 years or more.
Barry Berman summed up the night
perfectly: “Our employees are the real reason behind our longevity. Without
them, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Looking to the future, Berman said they
will look to grow, but not hastily.
“We believe in growth, but we also
believe in very calculated and smart growth,” he said. “Some companies can grow
too fast. Although we are ready to grow, we are cautious about it…We do it with
our eyes wide open because we’re not going to grow just to grow.”
Along the edge of Rumney Marsh in the late
19th Century, Slade’s Mill was bustling. The tidal-powered factory on the
creek, with its rooms fragrant with the wafting aroma of exotic spices –
paprika from Spain and ginger from the Orient – was where the spice grinding
“It was here, in an old Massachusetts mill
that the most interesting step in the distribution of spices began,” said
educator and historian, Jeff Pearlman. “Inside Slade’s Mill the air was golden
brown from grindings of pure spices.”
During the Bellingham-Cary House Association
Annual Meeting on April 27, Pearlman presented a timeline of Slade’s Tidewater
Mill, explaining the connections between Revere and Chelsea. Pearlman is a
member of the Revere Society for Cultural and Historic Preservation, a
non-profit organization that protects and promotes the history of the Revere
The Town of Chelsea originally consisted of
four farms, the first of which was purchased by Henry Slade, who erected the
first church, bank, and City Hall on the waterfront land. In 1734, Slade began
grinding tobacco and corn in the mill.
“The charter states the following,” began
Pearlman. “’This mill must at all times hold itself in the readiness to grind
corn for any citizen of Chelsea, provided that the corn is raised in Chelsea.’”
In 1837, Slade’s sons, David and Levi,
conceived the idea of grinding spices in the mill, and began importing spices
from around the world. By 1850, D and L Slade Company became the largest
producer of spices in New England.
“The boys ground up a half barrel of
cinnamon, slung the barrel between two poles, and trudged across the marsh to
Boston,” Pearlman explained. “The cinnamon was sold to grocers, and a new
industry was born: the business of spice grinding.”
First, the spices passed through magnetized
steel plates to remove foreign objects, such as nails and wire. Spices were
then pulverized into fine powders beneath grinding rolls. Next, the powder was
lifted into continuous buckets, sifted, and loaded into barrels that were
delivered to packing plants in Boston.
“Spices were not only used to stimulate
jaded appetites; but their sweet, pungent odor made them useful as medicine and
deodorants,” mentioned Pearlman. “Up to this time, spice had been sold to the
housewife whole, and each had a hand-grinder.”
The mill was refurbished in 1918 following a
fire and acquired by Bell Seasonings. In 1932, the mill was converted to
electric power, and operated until July 1, 1976.
Slade’s Mill is now on the National Register
of Historic Places.
The building was renovated in 2004, and
today, Slade’s Mill Apartments contains 18 studio and one bedroom units. A
museum on the ground floor exhibits original machinery, photographs, and a
spice cabinet with glass and metal Slade’s and Bell containers.
“Spices are now a
common household necessity. No longer are they counted as the choicest
possession of the wealthy,” said Pearlman. “Men and women live longer in a
spice-laden atmosphere. Perhaps there is something in the theory that spices
have a beneficial effect on health and appetite of the human race. I wonder
where the saying, ‘Spice of life,’ came from.”
Rehabbing historic monuments and buildings
and establishing a community garden are among the first projects the Community
Preservation Committee (CPC) will be recommending to the City Council during
their initial pilot round of Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding.
Monday night, the CPC recommended approval
of funding for five projects, and tabled two other proposals until May so they
can get more information on them.
The projects recommended by the CPC Monday
night included money for the rehabilitation of the city’s Civil War monument,
improvements to the Garden Cemetery, a Marlborough Street Community Garden
proposed by The Neighborhood Developers (TND), and renovation of the Governor
The two proposals that were tabled until
more information could be gathered were for renovations to the Congregation
Agudath Shalom Museum (Walnut Street Synagogue) and for the city to hire an
Affordable Housing Trust Fund housing specialist on a one-year contract basis.
Each of the proposals generated debate to
its merits, with members keeping an eye on the potential that future years will
feature requests with potentially larger impacts on the CPA fund.
Chelsea voters approved the adoption of the
CPA in November 2016. It will provide hundreds of thousands of dollars
each year to be used for the creation and acquisition of affordable housing,
historic preservation, open space and recreation. The CPA trust fund currently
has a balance of just over $2.2 million.
The projects that could be funded during the
initial pilot round are capped at $50,000 each. The total of the seven
proposals that came before the CPC is just under $270,000, according to CPC
Chair Jose Iraheta.
The pilot round of funding is not only a way
to get out the word about CPA funding, but also gives the CPC an opportunity to
work out the best method for recommendation of the projects, Iraheta said. The
CPC can make recommendations for projects, but the funding is ultimately
approved by the City Council.
“There’s so much we have to do to educate
the community and have them understand what this is all about,” said CPC member
Bea Cravatta. “This is a good amount of money that can change the city in a
Key among the factors CPC members weigh in
considering recommendation for a project is its community support, benefit to
the city’s vulnerable populations, matching funds from the project’s
proponents, and how it fits into Chelsea’s overall Master Plan.
“I believe that little pieces like this are
important to the community and to people of all income levels,” CPC member Tuck
Willis said of the Civil War monument rehab. “Seeing a decaying monument is not
good for anyone. A neater, cleaner, spiffier look is better for everyone.”
Improvements to the Garden Cemetery also got
high marks from many of the CPC members.
“This is a fantastic project that strongly
aligns with our leading and supporting principles,” said CPC Vice Chair
Cravatta and CPC member Juan Vega both
supported the project but said they would like to see some more ideas about how
the community at large could make more use of the space.
The two projects with the most questions
about them were tabled to give Karl Allen of the planning department time to
gather more information for the CPC.
Vega and Willis both said they both had
concerns about CPA funds being used to fund a staff position for the city with
the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
CPC members also had questions about funding and
budget specifics for rehab of the Congregation Agudath Shalom Museum.
For the second consecutive year, three
Chelsea Jewish Lifecare (CJL) skilled nursing facilities have received the
prestigious Five-Star Quality Rating from the Centers for Medicare &
Medicaid Services (CMS).
This designation reflects the highest number
of stars allotted to a skilled nursing facility. Currently, there are a select
number of nursing homes that have been awarded this distinction.
“We are pleased that all our skilled nursing
residences have once again been recognized as being among the top nursing homes
not only in Massachusetts, but throughout the country,” states Chelsea Jewish
Lifecare President Adam Berman. “Earning this Five-Star designation is a
testament to our skilled and
compassionate staff, our strong commitment to excellence and our
dedication as an organization to provide the highest caliber of care possible.”
The CJL homes include the Chelsea Jewish
Nursing Home in Chelsea; the Jeffrey and Susan Brudnick Center for Living in
Peabody; the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, which is the
country’s first urban model Green House skilled nursing facility.
These residences offer both short-term
rehabilitation services as well as long-term comprehensive care.
To receive a five-star rating, nursing homes
are judged by three components. Health inspections are one means of evaluating
a residence. The rating is based upon information from the last three years of
onsite inspections, including both standard surveys and complaint surveys.
Secondly, a rating is given based upon staffing, which details information
about the number of hours of care provided on average to each resident each day
by nursing staff and other healthcare providers. The final category involves
quality measures, which includes data on how well nursing homes are caring for
their residents’ physical and clinical needs.
Today the five-star rating system has become
a critical tool for the public to measure the quality and performance of a
skilled nursing facility. Nursing homes with five stars are considered well
above average quality.
Berman, “In reality, we work very hard, day in and day out, to achieve and
maintain these five-star ratings. We are so proud of our staff at each of the three
The announcement last week by House Speaker
Robert A. DeLeo that the state will be investing $1 billion over the next
decade to help communities across Massachusetts adopt technologies to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions and fortify infrastructure is welcome news to everyone
who realizes that time is running out if we are to offset the inevitable
effects of climate change that already are taking place all around us.
The proposal – known as GreenWorks – builds
on a long-standing approach by the House under Speaker DeLeo’s leadership to
provide the means for our cities and towns (especially along the coast) to
build sustainable and resilient communities that hopefully will prepare us for
the impending threats posed by rising sea levels and catastrophic weather
Environmental groups and clean-energy businesses
across the state have praised the plan. The $1 billion investment envisioned by
the GreenWorks proposal not only will provide cities and towns with the ability
to cut greenhouse gases and lower their long-term energy and operating costs,
but it also will adopt Massachusetts-made innovative technologies that will put
people to work on clean-tech infrastructure projects.
These competitive grants, to be administered
by the governor’s Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, will provide
funding for a wide array of projects, including energy-efficient buildings,
solar, microgrids, energy storage, electric vehicle charging stations, and
Inasmuch as the GreenWorks plan presents an
opportunity to pursue innovative approaches to funding clean energy and
climate-change resiliency projects, the economic and environmental benefits of
GreenWorks grants will be felt immediately, while also expanding the state’s
commitment to embracing cost-effective investments in leading-edge clean technologies.
In our view, the GreenWorks program
represents a timely part of the overall solution that is essential if we are to
address the imperatives we face from the looming catastrophe of climate change.
We applaud Speaker DeLeo for taking the lead in advancing a plan that
acknowledges this reality and the need to deal with it immediately.
State Rep. Dan Ryan said this week he is
pleased in what is considered a step up in becoming the vice chair of the Post
Audit Oversight Committee – a powerful committee that runs investigations of
government operations and actually has subpoena powers.
“I want to thank Speaker DeLeo for this
appointment, and my House colleagues for voting to affirm his trust in me,”
said Ryan. “I look forward to working with Chairman Linsky and other committee
members in continuing to bring solid, cost-effective government programs to the
Ryan said Post-Audit Oversight certainly
isn’t a household name for most people in the Town, but said it has a unique
mission and is a sought-after committee on Beacon Hill.
“The Post-Audit Oversight Committee is a select House committee that has a
unique mission,” he said. “Members of the committee are tasked with ensuring
that State agencies are abiding by legislative intent and the program
initiatives put forth, by the legislature, through the budget process. When
necessary, the committee will work with administrative agencies to
propose corrective actions to best serve citizens of the Commonwealth.”
One of the most visible investigations
conducted by the Committee came several years ago in the previous
administration when the Department of Children and Families (DCF) came under
fire for its handling and management of numerous cases involving children.
Ryan has also been assigned as a member of
the Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Recovery Committee, and as a member of
the Transportation Committee.
•Just across the North Washington Street
Bridge, State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz came away with one of the biggest scores
for the Boston delegation in getting assigned as chair of the powerful Ways
& Means Committee.
Rep. Ryan said that having such an important
chair nearby will be very good for Charlestown as well as the North End. That
will particularly be apparent with projects like the North Washington Street
Bridge, which affects the North End as much as Charlestown.
Michlewitz told the Patriot-Bridge that he
is humbled by the appointment, and that while he has to build consensus across
the state, he will keep his district and Boston in the forefront.
“I am honored
that Speaker DeLeo believes I can do the job,” he said. “The first order of
business is creating and debating a $42.7 billion budget. A lot of work has
been done in committee, but we have a short timeframe to get a lot done. The
thing I was to stress is my district is my number one priority.”
Gov. Charlie Baker
brought a short smile to the face of many when he unveiled an increase in
education funding in his State Budget proposal two weeks ago, but this week
Supt. Mary Bourque said the proposal needs to go further for cities like
“Although a step in the
right direction for public education and in particular gateway cities, the
Governor’s FY20 budget does not go nearly far enough,” she wrote in a letter on
Bourque said the Chelsea
Public Schools are facing another year where they will likely – as it stands
now – have to cut another $2 million from their budget. That falls upon
multiple years of cuts that have weighed cumulatively on the schools and taken
away core services from students.
One of the problems is
that salaries, health insurance and special education costs are rising so
quickly. This year, she said, they are looking at increases in those areas of
Gov. Baker’s budget
proposal steers an increase of $3.2 million to Chelsea over last year, but in
the face of rising costs, that still leaves the schools in the red.
It’s yet another year of
advocacy for the schools to fix the Foundation Formula – an exercise that has
seemingly played out without any success for at least five years.
“Once again we are facing
another year of painful budget cuts because the foundation formula used to
calculate aid to our schools is broken,” she wrote. “The formula from 1993 has
not kept up with inflation, changing demographics or increased student
needs. I am however, encouraged this year that all leaders at the State
level have acknowledged that the formula is broken, including for the first
time the Governor.”
Bourque also spelled out
the complex nature of the Chelsea Schools, including numerous factors that are
contributing to the reduction in funding.
One of the most startling
situations is that there are fewer kids, and with education funding based on
numbers of kids, that translates to even less money for the schools.
Bourque said this year
they have begun to identify a downward trend in enrollment for the first time
in years. She said fewer kids are coming in from outside the U.S. and families
are leaving Chelsea for areas with lower rents and costs of living.
“In addition to the
foundation formula undercounting critical costs, a significant portion of this
year’s $2 million dollar gap is due to student demographic shifts taking place
in our schools,” she wrote. “We are seeing a downward trend in student
enrollment…This year we have noted fewer students entering our schools from
outside the United States as well as a number of students and families moving
from Chelsea due to the high cost of living in the Boston area.”
The Chelsea Public Schools
under the City Charter have until April 1 to submit their balanced budget.
Bourque said they plan to lobby members of the House of Representatives and the
Senate in the meantime to fix the funding gaps that now exist.
It’s hard to believe that it has been 10
years since Winthrop/Revere State Rep. Bob DeLeo was elected the Speaker of the
House by his colleagues. (Yes, time flies.)
We wish to make note of the 10th anniversary
of Speaker DeLeo’s ascension to that post because it was marked by two
significant events that occurred in January, 2009.
First, Bob was chosen
by his colleagues after a succession of House Speakers had been forced to
resign because of various scandals, the last having been Sal DiMasi, who was
indicted on corruption charges by federal prosecutors for which DiMasi
eventually was convicted and sentenced to time in federal prison.
The second was that Bob assumed the
Speakership amidst the greatest economic downturn to face not only
Massachusetts, but the entire country (and the world) since the Great
Needless to say, January of 2009 was a
difficult period for anyone to become Speaker of the House, given the history
of the House during the previous decade and the enormity of the challenges that
the state was facing.
However, from the perspective of looking
back over the past 10 years, it is fair to say that Bob DeLeo has been more
responsible both for restoring the people’s faith in our legislature and for
guiding our state through an incredibly-difficult fiscal
period than any other person in state
Governors have come and gone, as have State
Senate presidents, but the one constant has been the steady hand of Bob DeLeo
at the helm of the House of Representatives.
Not only has Bob DeLeo been the principal
architect of a state budget process that has been both prudent and
forward-looking, but he, more than any other person on Beacon Hill, has been
able to bring together disparate groups and has worked with both the Senate and
Republican administrations to create an atmosphere of collegiality that is
unparalleled in our nation today.
The achievements in our state over the past decade under the Speakership
of Bob DeLeo are a testament to the ability of one person to have a profound
effect upon the lives of the people he serves — and Massachusetts
unquestionably is a better place thanks to Bob DeLeo’s tenure as Speaker of the
House for the past 10 years.
When Governor Charlie Baker was elected to
his first term of office four years ago, his first major announcement was the
appointment of Jay Ash to the post of Secretary of Housing and Economic
The announcement by Gov. Baker, a
Republican, came as a surprise to many political insiders because Ash was a
lifelong Democrat and at the time was serving as the City Manager for the City
of Chelsea, a post he had held for almost 15 years. Moreover, the Secretary of
Housing and Economic Development is among the most important members of a
governor’s cabinet, and typically goes to a person who is among those most
trusted by the governor to implement his broad policy objectives.
However, Ash’s appointment by Gov.-elect
Baker signaled two things about the incoming administration: First, that Baker
was going to “reach across the aisle” to Democrats and second, that he was
seeking the most-qualified persons he could find to serve in his
During the past four years, Charlie Baker’s
appointment of Jay Ash, who officially stepped down from his cabinet post in
December to become the new president of a nonprofit business group known as the
Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, has proven to be a win-win for Gov.
Baker — and the people of Massachusetts — on both scores.
Ash, who had served for many years as the
chief of staff to former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Voke,
not only knew the ins-and-outs of the legislative process, but also was on a
first-name basis with many legislators, most notably House Speaker Bob DeLeo,
who played a key role in working with Jay in implementing the many initiatives
put forth by the Baker administration.
In addition, Jay Ash brought to the table
his experience as the City Manager of Chelsea, a small city that is the
prototype for both the potential and pitfalls of economic development of urban
areas throughout the state.
During his tenure, Jay Ash brought to
fruition many projects that will bring economic benefits for future generations
of our state’s residents. Among Ash’s signature accomplishments, he played a
key role in bringing the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester, which included the
redevelopment of the city’s Canal District with $35 million in infrastructure
and affordable housing funds; he brought $12.5 million in state funds to the
Berkshire Innovation Center, which will focus on life sciences in Pittsfield;
he played an integral role in persuading General Electric to locate its world
headquarters in Boston’s Seaport District; and he was instrumental in bringing
about a significant reduction in the number of homeless families living in
All in all, Jay Ash’s tenure as Secretary of
Housing and Economic Development has been among the most successful and
remarkable of any Cabinet member of any administration in the state’s history.
We know we speak not only for the residents
of his native Chelsea, but also for citizens throughout the state, in thanking
Jay Ash for his years of public service and wishing him well in his future
Chelsea’s State Rep. Dan
Ryan has been inaugurated for another term in the legislature this week, and he
said he is ready to tackle issues from transportation to opiate recovery
research in the new term.
On Wednesday, with the
new class of the state legislature, Rep. Ryan took the oath of office along
with Gov. Charlie Baker and the rest of the Commonwealth. It will be his third
full term in office, and he said it will be an interesting term with new faces
and a Republican governor in his second round.
“I think the voters of
Chelsea and Charlestown first and foremost for giving me two more years,” he
said. “It will be my third full term and Gov. Baker’s second term. We’ll have
some big changes in the House and it will be very interesting to see what those
changes look like. It will be interesting to see what happens with Gov. Baker’s
second term. He was easy to work with in the first term with very moderate
Republican stances. Second terms are different so we’ll see what that dynamic
Ryan also praised House
Speaker Bob DeLeo for his leadership in 2018, and his new term in 2019 – having
also been sworn in as the House Speaker again on Wednesday.
“I’ll be supporting the
Speaker in this next term,” he said. “He’s had a strong hand in this
legislative session with everything going on in the Senate, the House needed to
be the grown up in the room and the Speaker was very pragmatic in moving things
Ryan is now the vice
chair of the Substance Abuse/Mental Health Committee, and also serves on the
Transportation, Post Audit and Veterans Affairs Committees. He said he has also
been appointed to Task Forces charged with looking at the Commuter Rail and
looking into issues related to the Opiate Bill passed last year.
“There’s going to be a
lot of movement in the chairmanships, but I think I’m going to be on the same
committees,” he said. “I’ll be spending a lot of time doing transportation
work. That’s not always the issue that gets a lot of attention, but it’s very
Ryan said the last
session was very progressive, including legislation on criminal justice reform,
the opiate bill, pay equity, the transgender accommodation bill and banning
bump stock firing devices for firearms.
“We got a lot of progressive legislation though in the last two years,” he
said. “Even though some didn’t think we were progressive enough, I think it was
one of the most forward looking sessions in a long time.”