Housing Families Annual Legislative Breakfast Set for March 28

Housing Families Annual Legislative Breakfast Set for March 28

Housing Families will host its annual Legislative Breakfast on Wednesday, March 28, from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. to raise awareness of the magnitude of family homelessness in Malden, Medford, Everett, Chelsea and Revere.

Housing Families’ Legislative Breakfast is a free event open to all and hosted at the Irish American Club, 177 West St, Malden, MA.  A complimentary light breakfast will be served starting at 8:30am and the speaker series will run from 9:00 – 10:00 am.

Housing Families’ Director of Homelessness Prevention and Advocacy Laura Rosi said, “This is an opportunity for families who have experienced homelessness to share their stories and educate others about the issue.  Community members will also have an opportunity to hear about State and local efforts to combat housing instability and learn about ways they can get involved.”

Ed Cameron, Housing Families’ CEO, added, “Our families in shelter have average income of less than $12,000 per year.  With most apartments going for over $2,000 a month in our area, they just can’t afford to keep their heads above water.”

State and local elected officials have been invited to the Breakfast.  To date, legislators scheduled to attend include: State Senator Jason Lewis, State Representative Paul Donato, Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, Medford Mayor Stephanie Muccini-Burke, Melrose Mayor Gail Infurna, City Councilor Neal Anderson, and Malden Public Schools Superintendant John Otieri.Other elected officials are expected to attend.

Special thanks to Bill Hart and the Malden Irish American Club for hosting the breakfast.

Service organizations sponsoring the breakfast are Housing Families Inc, Chelsea Collaborative, Homes for Families, and Shelter Music Boston. Housing Families is also grateful to its corporate sponsors for making this event possible: Kelliher & Callaghan, Lucey Insurance Agency, Stratford Capital Group LLC, Cataldo Ambulance, Fresco’s Roast Beef & Seafood, Hugh O’Neill’s Restaurant & Pub, Minuteman Press, New England Security, Shapiro & Hender, Yankee Pest Control, 3MG Boston, and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

To RSVP, contact Patty Kelly at Housing Families 781-322-9119 x115 or pkelly@housingfamilies.org

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Sen DiDomenico Annual DiDomenico Foundation St Patrick’s Day Roast in Charlestown March 9

Sen DiDomenico Annual DiDomenico Foundation St Patrick’s Day Roast in Charlestown March 9

Sen. Sal DiDomenico will once again be hosting the annual DiDomenico Foundation St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on Friday, March 9 beginning at 6:30 p.m., at the Bunker Hill Knights of Columbus in Charlestown.  This event has become the official kick-off to the St. Patrick’s Day season. In addition to a traditional Irish dinner, the night will include Irish music, step dancers, comedy by Tony V, bag pipers, videos by elected officials and the annual presentation of the Golden Shamrock Award to a community leader.   Over 75 federal, state, and local elected officials are also expected to attend and several of them will try their favorite St. Patrick’s Day jokes.  Political figures joining the festivities include Gov. Charlie Baker, Congressman Mike Capuano, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and many more! There will also be a special surprise guest as well.  This has quickly become one of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions in the Greater Boston community.

For more tickets and more information on the event, please call (617) 387-3327.  Proceeds will go to The DiDomenico Foundation, which funds educational scholarships for high school students, as well as a large toy drive during the holiday season for domestic violence and homeless shelters throughout the Greater Boston area.

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No Racial Implications in ‘Dear Friend’ Letters,Gladys Vega States

Political activist and human services leader Gladys Vega said this week that the ‘Dear Friend’ political endorsement letters she sent out during the recent City Election were being misrepresented as an identity politics gesture and did not endorse Latino candidates over white or black candidates simply because of race or ethnicity.

“In certain districts where there were all Latino candidates I endorsed, I did ask Latino voters to vote for Latinos, but that wasn’t the case in every district with every letter,” she said. “In those certain districts I wanted them to vote for Latino candidates. There’s a large population of Latino residents in those areas and there’s nothing wrong with that. In the districts where I endorsed only Latinos, I did ask Latino voters to vote for Latinos. That wasn’t the case in every district. In District 5, if you see all the letters, you’ll see we endorsed Henry Wilson (an African American), and we didn’t endorse in the School Committee race with Bobby Pereira and Kizzie Reyes. I didn’t put that sentence in that letter. We said there are two great candidates and to come out and vote for who you want. Other places, I didn’t feel like the other non-Latino candidates were worth my endorsement. I said in those letters I wanted Latino voters to vote for those Latino candidates in those districts…I have no regret asking Latino voters to vote for Latino candidates in those districts.”

Vega added also that many of the candidates in those districts where the phrases appeared were her friends or family members, such as in District 8 where Yessinia Alfaro-Alvarez – a long-time friend and co-worker – appeared on the ballot. Another example is in District 7 where she endorsed Luis Tejada, who she said she has known for 30 years and wanted to support and endorse.

“Some of them happen to be my friends and my family members and they happened to be the Latino candidates in that district and I would do that again,” she said.

The ‘Dear Friend’ letters sent out by Vega were in Spanish and were mostly non-controversial, simply indicating her endorsement as a community leader and asking people to remember to vote. Such letters are nothing new to politics in Chelsea or elsewhere. However, one key phrase has grabbed the attention of some in the community and especially residents and candidates who are non-Latino.

That phrase stated, “No Se Olvide, Vote! Por los candidatos Latinos este Martes, 3 de Noviembre.”

Loosely translated, it means, “Don’t forget, vote for the Latino candidates this Tuesday, November 3.”

Some have taken issue with that direct phrase, such as District 7 Councillor Clifford Cunningham, who lost to Yamir Rodriguez on Nov. 3 – a first-time candidate who was endorsed by Vega. Cunningham has called for the Secretary of the Commonwealth to review the election activities and to monitor all future Chelsea local elections. Those two Council orders will be discussed next week at the Council meeting.

Vega said the phrase – which again, does not appear on every letter – should not be construed as a discriminatory remark. She clarified once again that it was only called for in the areas where all the candidates she endorsed were Latino.

“It wasn’t meant to sound good or bad,” she said. “I didn’t care for any of the candidates who were not Latino in certain districts. That wasn’t the case in every district…Those were the people I endorsed and I have no regrets.”

The ‘Dear Friend’ letters were paid for by the Roy Avellaneda campaign and Vega’s letter was just one of several strategic letters that Avellaneda put out during the campaign. Another letter, he said, came from former councillor Roseann Bongiovanni – a co-worker of Vega’s – and it endorsed him and another candidate. It was strategically sent to the areas where Bongiovanni had garnered the most support during her tenure, that being in Prattville and Admiral’s Hill – two areas that are known as mostly white or more racially-mixed. Vega’s letter was another piece of that and went out to the areas that were predominately Latino.

“That letter focused on Spanish voters and obviously Gladys Vega is very well known in the Latino community and focused on people who would recognize her as she is in the community, on Spanish-language television and radio,” said Avellaneda. “She is a known commodity there. Her letter went to Latino voters in Latino areas…Nationally you see senators and the president go to fundraisers or to a party to help raise money or support. In this effort, I paid for a letter. There’s nothing nefarious about it. It’s big boy tactics used on a local level.”

Avellaneda stressed it was a tactic he borrowed from the national campaigns in order to help district candidates that he preferred. As a former district councillor, he said he knows it is hard to rally people or fund-raise representing such a small area.

He said he could not speak for the contents of Vega’s letter, including the controversial phrase, but said he doesn’t shy away from it and doesn’t see it as a problem. He said it’s ridiculous to believe that ethnicity or race doesn’t play a part in political campaigns.

“A Latino was asking Latino voters to vote for a Latino in a city where we had no Latino representation and make up 70 percent of the population,” he said. “If they have a problem with that, I’m sorry. Record numbers of black voters came out for President Obama in huge numbers in neighborhoods that don’t typically vote in elections. Come on. Let’s be fair and right here. In the past I’ve worked with candidates of all colors and creeds and I don’t want this to turn into something racist. Let’s call it a rally call and it came in a district where there’s a large population of Latinos. We made that call in 3 of the 4 district races – and did so because the candidate was the best candidate on paper for that seat. Does ethnicity play a role to voters? Absolutely. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we can also say the best candidates in those races were the Latino candidates.

“No one said anything when we said to vote for Paul Nowicki (a white candidate who ran for state senate some years back), but now it’s divisive to say vote for the Latino so you can have one of your own up there?” he asked, in continuing. “It’s not divisive; it’s pride. Aren’t we proud of John Ruiz for being the first Latino heavyweight champion? Yes. We shouldn’t be ashamed of being a certain ethnicity and being proud of and supporting that ethnicity. Shame on those who make it that way.”

In the end, Vega said she felt that the situation was being blown out of proportion and she was being penalized for being politically active on her free time and in that time being a strong Latina voice.

“We did old fashioned politics – knocking on doors, talking to voters and identifying the vote,” she said. “Irish people voted for Irish people back then. It happens…I feel in the end I’m being picked on for my actions in my own free time.”

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