CHS Class of 2019: Deedee Hernandez is 2019 Valedictorian; Salutatorian is Jocelyn Poste

The surf is up for Chelsea’s Deedee Hernandez, who might be the first and only Chelsea High valedictorian that doubles as a surfer, a trumpet player and Ivy League student.

Hernandez has been very active in the school and community over the last four years, but being at the top of her class wasn’t something she thought would happen.

Valedictorian Degree Hernandez with Salutatorian Jocelyn Poste after graduation on June 9

“Honestly, I wasn’t aspiring for the valedictorian of the class,” she said. “My only goal was just to get into a college. That was a goal since I entered middle school. My mother always told us that we had to go to college. That was always a goal we were reaching for.”

And not only did she reach it, but she grabbed onto a great school in the Ivy League Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Hernandez, 18, said she was drawn to the rural landscape – being interested in the outdoors and hiking – but was also impressed with the alumni network.

“I was really drawn to the alumni network they have,” she said. “A lot of them come back to the college and have relationships and share their experiences with students. I thought that was very unique. The college is very small and it felt like a family and people were friendly.”

At Dartmouth, Hernandez hopes to major in environmental science – something she was drawn to by her swim coach, Traverse Robinette, at the Jordan Boys & Girls Club.

In addition to swimming twice at the National Championships in Florida, Hernandez and several other Chelsea kids joined Robinette’s surf club. When surfing in Connecticut and Rhode Island, the students learned about the various animals in the ocean.

“My swim coach was passionate about the environment and pointed out the animals we saw,” she said. “I did research on it and was drawn to the idea of preserving these animals. I love nature and being outside, so it’s something I’m very interested in.”

In addition to those pursuits, Hernandez is well known for playing the trumpet in the band – having been the designated performer of ‘Taps’ for the City and the Soldiers’ Home for four years.

She said she started playing in fifth grade when her former band teacher, Mr. Thomas, picked up a trumpet and played ‘Reveille.’

“I heard him play that and I knew I had to play the trumpet,” she said.

She does plan to pursue the trumpet in college and hopes to play in their orchestra.

Hernandez has gone to Chelsea schools her entire life, starting at the Silber ELC, moving on to the Kelly School, then to the Clark Avenue Middle.

Hernandez credits her mother, Ana Moscoso, for always pushing her to reach higher.

“My mother was always the type of person to asked me what I would do next after I had accomplished something,” she said. “I’ve found that to be useful because you see what else you’re capable of doing and don’t get satisfied with one thing.”

Hernandez has two brothers, Mike, 16, at Chelsea High; and Akanni, 10.

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Summer Youth Job Lottery Takes Place at City Hall

City Manager Tom Ambrosino and members of the Chelsea Collaborative held a lottery on April 4 to pick the names of scores of young residents who will secure a summer youth employment job.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino picks names for the summer jobs lottery.

Director Gladys Vega said that while it was a time to celebrate the employment of more than 100 youth in the community, the need was far greater than the jobs.

“This year we received more than 300 applications, with more that came after the deadline,” she said. “Due to our funding, we are able to offer only 150 spots this year. We are excited to pair youth with more than 40 of our longstanding partners, including City of Chelsea, Chelsea Police, Intergenerational Literacy Program, Jordan Boys & Girls Club, North Suffolk Mental Health and others.”

At the lottery, 185 names in several different age groups were selected.

Some were put on a waiting list, and a vast majority of those applying were of a younger age.

Youth that were picked in the lottery are now going through several interviews this week, during School Spring Break. If they successfully pass those interviews, they will meet their employers in June and receive more training.

The Summer Youth Employment Initiative (SYEI) begins on July 1.

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Walsh Draws Large Crowd at JBGC Breakfast Series, Talks about Several Issues

Walsh Draws Large Crowd at JBGC Breakfast Series, Talks about Several Issues

Mayor Martin Walsh was the guest speaker at the Jordan Boys and Girls Club Breakfast Series Feb. 14 at the club’s facility in Chelsea.

Walsh, who is serving his second term as mayor of Boston, drew one of the largest crowds in the 23-year history of the monthly breakfast that has featured such prominent guest speakers as Gov. Charlie Baker, former Govs. Deval Patrick and Michael Dukakis, former Gov. and current U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, former Congressman Mike Capuano, former Boston Mayors Kevin White and Ray Flynn, former State Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Bob Reynolds, Peter Lynch, and Boston professional sports team owners Bob Kraft, Wyc Grousbeck, and John Henry.

Mr. Kraft’s son, Josh, is the former executive director of the Jordan Boys and Girls Club and the current CEO and president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. Breakfast Chair Mark Robinson joined Josh Kraft in welcoming Walsh to the breakfast during introductory remarks.

“It’s an honor to have for the first time a sitting mayor of the City of Boston as our speaker,” said Robinson. “This kid from Savin Hill grew up in the city with a lot of challenges, took leadership in the unions, served 16 years as state representative, and was elected mayor of the City of Boston in 2013. We all see the success – the schools continue to get better, you see an impressive number of companies moving to Boston and bringing people jobs, and crime continues to go down in Boston. The mayor continues to make Boston the most livable place in America to live, play and work.”

Kraft said, “I want to thank the mayor for being here today. He is a great friend to my family. I talked to my father [Patriots owner Robert Kraft] this morning and he said, ‘There was no more vocal and energetic fan in Atlanta than Marty.’’’

“Mayor Walsh is a great resource for the city of Boston, he’s a community guy and understands the city on every level and he’s a Boys and Girls Club alum,” added Kraft.

Walsh addressed issues such as affordable housing, transportation, education funding, economic development, the environment, and veterans’ homelessness, in a speech that was frequently interrupted by applause in appreciation of his many accomplishments as the city’s chief executive.

Walsh said when he became mayor, his administration put together a housing plan “to create 53,000 units of new housing by 2030.”

Walsh said in an effort to bring new businesses to Boston, his administration created an office of economic development.

“In that office, we brought in all small businesses and all the different departments and we put them under one umbrella, one roof,” said Walsh.

Walsh seemed to take considerable pride in noting that “Boston is the first city on the East Coast to have every single resident within a 10-minute walk to a park.”

Walsh said the funding mechanism for education is “broken, it doesn’t work.”

“We need a complete change [in education funding] in Massachusetts,” said Walsh. “It doesn’t work in Boston. I don’t think it works in Chelsea. It doesn’t work for most cities and towns. Former Senate President Tom Birmingham came in with education reform in 1993 and it was a brilliant move, investing a billion dollars in education and he came up with a whole bunch of requirements. But since 1993 to 2019, we haven’t really changed the formula and we haven’t changed the way education funding goes. And in that same time, education has changed.”

Walsh said there is a bill in the Mass. State Senate, called The Promise Act, “that actually lifts up all 351 cities and towns on how we’re going to better fund education.”

Speaking about veterans’ homelessness, Walsh said he was learned in 2015 from the New England Shelter For Homeless Veterans that there were “575 chronic veterans on the street.”

“We implemented a housing plan and we came up with a system, and by the end of that year [2015], we housed over 500 chronic, homeless veterans in the City of Boston,” said Walsh. “Now, we’ve housed 1,600 chronically homeless people in the city. We created the Boston’s Way Home Fund. We’ve raised $6 million in 14 months. Our goal is $10 million. I want to build 200 more housing units for homeless veterans.”

State Sen. Sal DiDomenico of Everett, State Rep. Dan Ryan of Charlestown, Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino, and Chelsea City Councillors Leo Robinson were among the public officials in attendance at the breakfast that is a fundraiser for the Jordan Boys and Girls Club.

“It was great to see the mayor in Chelsea talking about regional approaches to issues like housing and transportation,” said Walsh. “The mayor understands what it’s like to be a legislator and to live and work in a big city.”

Leo Robinson, a long-time city official, said he was impressed by Walsh’s speech that highlighted the city’s approach to the opioid crisis and his continuing efforts in addressing veterans’ homelessness, and the need for affordable housing.

“When Martin Walsh was a state representative, he was the keynote speaker at an opioid conference in Chelsea, and to see him still working hard on this issue is a good thing to see,” said Robinson. “He is a very popular mayor and the large audience at the breakfast is indicative of the high regard in which he is held throughout this entire region. I have a lot of respect for Marty. He gets it.”

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Robert DeSalvio Speaks at JGBC Breakfast Series

Robert DeSalvio Speaks at JGBC Breakfast Series

Robert DeSalvio, president of Encore Boston Harbor, was the guest speaker at the Jordan Boys and Girls Breakfast

Robert DeSalvio, president of Encore Boston Harbor, speaks at the Jordan Boys and Girls Club Breakfast on Nov. 8 at the clubhouse
on Willow Street.

Series at the clubhouse on Willow Street.

DeSalvio presented an update on the $2.6 billion 5-star-hotel and casino that will open in Everett in June, 2019. The project is the single largest, private single-phase development in Massachusetts history.

“It’s amazing how big this is,” said JBGC Breakfast Chair Mark Robinson.

DeSalvio said construction began in August, 2016. “From the very beginning, we said we were going to do this project in 34 months, start to finish. That’s 3.1 million square feet of construction in that building, and then, of course, the landscaping and the work outside of the building.”

“On an average day out there [at the site], there are about 1,500 workers,” said DeSalvio. “We are currently averaging about seven percent of the workforce is female on the job site.”

He noted that the gaming area at Encore will be situated differently than at a typical Las Vegas casino. “When you walk in to a lot of those places, you’re literally smack in the middle of the casino. What we did is put the casino more towards the back of the building, enabling guests to come in, go to the front desk, circulate within the room tower, go to the ballroom space, go to most of the restaurants – all without actually stepping foot in the gaming area,” said DeSalvio.

The rooms in the hotel will be 650 square feet, double the size of a typical hotel room. There will be 671 rooms, of that number 104 will be suites.

DeSalvio called the ballroom event space “amazing.”

“We built one large ballroom that is 37,000 square feet – the second largest ballroom in Greater Boston – the only bigger one is at the BCEC,” said DeSalvio. “There will be 13 restaurants in the building, there’s everything from steakhouse to fine dining Italian to casual Italian, to Chinese, to Asian fusion, to sports bar – we designed a really interesting and fun craft beer outlet to take advantage of so many of the great local breweries.”

DeSalvio added that Encore is working with two Boston restaurateurs, Frank DiPasquale and Nick Varano, and the Midnight Entertainment Group, “which is Ed Kane and Randy Greenstein, and they are wonderful operators who will do the Asian fusion and the nightlife facility in the building.”

DeSalvio said there are currently 200 employees on the Encore team “and we have to get to about 5,000, so we have a little bit of hiring to do after the first of the year.”

He said they are looking for people to work in IT, finance, public relations, marketing, and engineering. “It’s all kinds of jobs, almost any job you can think of is in that building,” he said.

During the question-and-answer session, DeSalvio was asked about the security measures at the building.

“We are thinking long and hard about every aspect of the safety of that building,” said DeSalvio. “We have 3,500 cameras in and around that facility, both inside and outside the building. We have the most sophisticated surveillance technology and we cover literally everything except bedrooms and bathrooms in that building, up to and including all the guest room hallways. I want people to know that when you step foot on that property, do me one favor: have a good time but behave. And that’s what we want people to do. We want them to come in and have a good time, but if there are bad actors, we are going to be all over that.”

DeSalvio, a highly regarded leader in the hospitality and gaming industry, stayed after his remarks to further interact with the local business professionals and officials in attendance.

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Jordan Boys & Girls Club News

Jordan Boys & Girls Club News

Member All Stars and October Members of the Month:  Congratulations to the following members who were great role models for their peers, who were helpful, kind, and friendly last month and were selected to be the Jordan Boys & Girls Club’s Members of the Month!  1st grade: Cristian Chicas; 2nd grade: Arwa Ait-Chaib; 3rd grade: Jainaba Kamara; 4th grade: Elmer Flores; Pre-Teen: Susana Garcia; Teen: Gino Gillis.  And also a big congrats to all of the Area All Stars who are recognized for being outstanding members in their favorite areas at the Club. Week of Oct. 8-12, 2018:  Game Room: Allison Quinonez (3rd), Computer Club House: Elvis Rodriguez, Gym: LJ Bland (4th), Music: Susana Garcia (4th), Teen Center: Cameron Bourgea (teen), Membership: Sophia Sostre (2nd), Pool: Kevin Martinez (4th), Pre-Teen Lounge: Alison Lopez (5th), Life Skills: David Garcia Meza (3rd), Cadet Room: Aura Hernandez (1st).   Week of Oct. 1-5, 2018:   Education: Jesus Santiago (3rd grade), Game Room: Elmer Flores (4th), Art: Emely (2nd), Computer Club House: Thania Simon (4th), Gym: William Diaz (4th), Music: Laney Vargas (4th), Membership: Cristian Chicas, Pool: Kevin Martinez (4th), Pre-Teen Lounge: Luis Ajtum (“Danny”) (preteen), Life Skills: Valeria Ortiz (4th), Cadet Room: Alexi Rios (1st).  Week of Sept 24-28, 2018:  Education: Miguel Ramirez, grade 3, Game Room: Wilbur Chicas, Art: Sebastian, Computer Club House: Susana Garcia (preteen), Teen Center: Angel Del Valle Cardenas (teen), Membership: Arwa, Pool: Izabella, Wilbur Chicas, Pre-Teen Lounge: Troy Arnold (preteen), Life Skills: Santo Rivera (preteen), Cadet Room: Jyzelle Artica (1st grade)

Schedule Changes:  This Friday, October 26th, the CLUB IS CLOSED!  We will only be open for Haunted House- more info below under Special Events!  (The Boys & Girls Club does not provide transportation on Friday, Oct. 26th either.)

On November 12th, the Club will be open from 9am-4pm (no school day due to Veteran’s Day); on Nov. 13th, the Club will be opening at 12noon, as it is a half day of school for CPS.  On Wednesday, Nov. 21st, the Club is open 9am-4pm (no school day- day before Thanksgiving).  And the Club will be closed on Thanksgiving, Nov. 22nd, as well as Friday, Nov. 23rd.  And for those planning ahead, we want to remind Club members and families that we close during the winter holiday break, closed Dec. 24th- Jan 1st.  The Club will re-open on Wednesday, Jan. 2nd.

Special Events:  This Friday, Oct. 26th is Haunted House!  Tickets are available now until 6pm on Oct. 26th. If you purchase tickets in advance, please be sure to arrive by 6pm that night, as doors close at 6pm with or without tickets.  In order to attend the Haunted House, you have to be a Club member and attend with an adult. Thanks to those who joined us this past week at the annual Breast Cancer Awareness event, Popping in Pink Party!  Lots of pink-filled games and activities, with music, food, and a celebration of survivors and families members who have experienced breast cancer.  And earlier this month, we also celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with the Club’s annual Celebrando Latino, sharing our stories of our families, flags for our countries, and lots of the food, games, and music of so many different cultures.  Thank you Chili’s for once again provided chips and salsa for everyone!

CLUB FUNDRAISERS:  The Club’s Annual Online Auction opens on Black Friday!  If you or someone you know is interested in donating an item, it is greatly appreciated!  We are seeking all kinds of gifts, such as sports memorabilia; unique items, such as dinner with a  politician, ball boy/girl at Celtics; adventures, such as ski packages, timeshare weeks, or airline tickets; services provided- legal, such as a will; accounting, such as taxes; dinner prepared in the home; birthday party/event planning; music lessons; cleaning services; gift cards to stores,  restaurants, online buying, movies, theater tickets.  And once we are ready to launch the Auction, you can help by forwarding a link to anyone and everyone…you never know what someone may be looking for!  Lastly, we will be selling raffle tickets as part of this event, which will be available next month at the Club.  Every dollar and hour given helps the Club.  If you would like to add your email to the mailing list, send to Lisa at LGillis@bgcb.org

 

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Time for a Trim

Time for a Trim

The 3rd annual Chelsea Free Back-to-School Haircut day took place at the Jordan Boys & Girls Club on Monday, Aug. 27. Six area barbers cut the hair of boys and girls in preparation for the first day of school Aug. 29. Here, event founder Luis Rodriguez and Councillor Yamir Rodriguez with William Arvarbo, who has a fresh trim.

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Sports 07-26-2018

Sports 07-26-2018

They’ll Let It Fly on August 11

Role model Umemba steps up for the kids of Chelsea

By Cary Shuman

Kyle Umemba has modeled on runways around the world, but his real work as a [role] model is here in Chelsea.

Umemba is one half of the co-founding team with Cesar Castro of the Let It Fly Basketball Tournament that will be held on Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Jordan Boys and Girls Boys Club on Willow Street. The fourth annual basketball extravaganza brings to Chelsea some of the best talent in the area.

Umemba, 25, was once one of those aspiring players who carved out an impressive basketball career at prestigious Buckingham Browne and Nichols in Cambridge. A product of the Chelsea Youth Basketball League (CYBL) and an AAU standout, the 6-foot-3-inch guard/forward caught the attention of college coaches.

He thought of walking on at Division 1 George Washington but chose to focus on academics. He graduated with a degree in finance and currently works as a consultant for Price Waterhouse Coopers – in addition to his celebrity appearances as a fashion model in New York, London and Milan for major designers.

“It’s a good balance,” said Kyle.

This month, Kyle is busy working with Cesar on the finishing touches for what has become the most anticipated summer youth tournament in the area.

What was the inspiration for Let It Fly?

“We saw that there was a lack of basketball leagues for the kids,” said Umemba. “We wanted to help out the players and also Chelsea graduates.”

And Umemba and Castro have done that in a big way, presenting $500 scholarships to 11 graduates of Chelsea High School and the Phoenix Charter School.

The unsung hero of the Let It Fly Basketball Tournament is none other than Joan Cromwell, Kyle’s mother and the president of the Chelsea Black Community (CBC).

“Without CBC and Joan Cromwell, this tournament would not be possible,” credited Castro.

Joan’s company, Brown Sugar Catering, is the official

caterer for the tournament.

Kyle Umemba was asked whether he considers himself a role model for Chelsea kids.

“I don’t really look for that – if my actions determine that, so be it, but I’d rather just have some type of positive effect on people,” said Umemba.

Former hoop star Castro mentors players as a coach at CHS

By Cary Shuman

Cesar Castro could dribble, drive, shoot, and pass – but what he did best in his four years on the basketball court for Chelsea High School was: score.

Twelve-hundred-and-fifty-two-points worth, which makes him the second-leading scorer for boys in school history behind the legendary Craig Walker. He was the Commonwealth Athletic Conference MVP and led Chelsea to the conference title in his senior year (2010).

The 6-foot-guard is still very much active in the game. He is an assistant coach on Judah Jackson’s staff at Chelsea High School. Interestingly, the Red Devils won the CAC championship this season.

“It feels good to win a championship as a coach and a player,” said Castro, who went on to become an All-Region player at Bunker Hill Community College.

He is a paraprofessional aide at the Wright Middle School in Chelsea and is close to receiving his bachelor’s degree from Salem State University.

Because of daily interaction with Chelsea students in the schools and in the CHS basketball program, Castro, 27, saw the need for a summer tournament that could unite the community and bring some excitement to young players.

And he’s not resting on the past success of the Let It Fly Tournament that filled the gym to capacity last year with a succession of exciting games. There are free refreshments, musical entertainment by DJ Max Max, and Raffles.
“We’re going to start something new this year with a middle school division with four teams,” said Castro. “And we still have an eight-team high school division. It should be another great tournament.”

Teams from Lynn, Boston, Cambridge, and Chelsea will compete in the older division. Some of the top prep school players in New England will be playing in the tournament.

“It’s a one-and-one format so they have to come ready to play,” said Castro. “There’s no time for feeling it out. The players were talking about this tournament on social media back in December so they’ll be ready to compete.”

Castro said he and Umemba were members of the Jordan Boys and Girls Club in Chelsea while growing up in the city.

“We want to thank [Executive Director] Gina Centrella, Jonathan Perez, and John Perez for all their cooperation and allowing us to hold our tournament there,” said Castro. “That’s our home and we thank them a lot.”

Castro also thanked Chelsea Police officers Sammy Mojica, David Batchelor Jr., and Keith Sweeney, and Chelsea firefighter Jonathan Morilli for their assistance at the event, along with City Councillors Damali Vidot and Jamir Rodriguez, who have been big supporters of Let It Fly.

The question of being a role model for Chelsea youths was posed to Castro.

“It’s not my intention to be a role model,” said Castro. “I just try to be genuine. And when I grew up, I truly appreciated someone pointing me in the right direction and that’s what I try to do in the schools and in the basketball program.”

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Chelsea Black Community Will Host Candidates Forum on Weds., June 27

Chelsea Black Community Will Host Candidates Forum on Weds., June 27

The Chelsea Black Community (CBC) has become a highly visible and active organization since its inception four years ago under the direction of President Joan Cromwell.

The CBC has drawn large crowds to its events and it has assumed a major leadership role in the city’s celebration of Black History Month in February.

Now Cromwell and the CBC are entering the election arena as the sponsor of a Candidates Forum to be held Weds., June 27, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Chelsea Senior Center. The five candidates for the Democratic nomination for Suffolk County District Attorney, EvandroCarvalho, Linda Champion, Gregory Henning, Shannon McAuliffe, and Rachael Rollins have all accepted the CBC’s invitation to participate in a panel discussion and  question-and-answer forum with the audience.

Congressman Michael Capuano and Boston City Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley, candidate for the Seventh Congressional Seat, were invited to participate in the Congressional Candidates’ portion of the forum.

Cromwell stated that Pressley will participate, while Capuano informed the CBC that he will be in session in Washington and unable to attend the forum.

Sharon McAuliffe, associate dean at Bunker Hill Community College, will serve as moderator of the forum.

Cromwell said the CBC decided to hold the forum after some of the candidates for the DA position reached out to the organization. Sensing a heightened interest in the contest due to DA Dan Conley’s decision not to run for re-election, the CBC opted to invite all five candidates to the city.

“We wanted to be fair and unbiased, so we said, ‘why don’t we just host a candidates’ forum’ so they can all have equal time with the community to get their points across,” said Cromwell.

The CBC president, a member of a long-time and well-known Chelsea family, said there are many issues in the news including immigration, the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, and substance abuse.

“There are so many things affecting our community that we felt it was important to educate and inform the voter that there are many candidates that are running for district attorney,” said Cromwell. “It’s a perfect opportunity for the people of Chelsea to have a conversation with the candidates, as well as to become knowledgeable about the election before they go in to the voting booth.”

Questions for the forum are being sent to the CBC by local organizations such as Roca, the Youth Commission, the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, and the Jordan Girls and Boys Club, among other groups.

Caulfield will have three questions for each of the candidates. The second half of the forum will be pre-selected questions from the audience.

If past CBC events are an indication, the Candidates Forum will be professionally done and well attended – and yes, Joan Cromwell said there will be great refreshments, something else for which the CBC has also become known.

“We need the public to be a part of the forum and meet the candidates,” said Cromwell. “We encourage the whole community to be there on June 27 at the Chelsea Senior Center.”

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The Movement is Growing:Councillors Vidot, Rodriguez Lead Popular League

The Movement is Growing:Councillors Vidot, Rodriguez Lead Popular League

By Cary Shuman

Damali Vidot.

Damali Vidot.

Damali Vidot, popular councillor-at-large, knows from first hand experience the trouble that Chelsea youths can encounter in their formative years

“As someone who used to get in to trouble and who lost a friend a few days ago that I met when I used to get in to trouble, I know the importance of being there for these young people – just to have someone that they can count on to lead them in the right direction.”

That’s one of the reasons that the 39-year-old Vidot, along with City Councillor Yamir Rodriguez, Danny Mojica, and Isidra Quinones, founded The Movement, a summertime youth basketball league. The league held its playoffs and season-ending pizza party Saturday at Highland Park.

“The Movement was born out of some shootings that were happening in the community and we wanted to provide an outlet for kids 13-20 because I feel that’s an age that really doesn’t have enough supportive services that we wanted to engage them in during the summer,” said Vidot.

The Movement has grown to close to 100 youths who participate in the outdoor basketball league Wednesdays and Saturdays at Highland Park across from the Jordan Boys and Girls Club.

The mood was festive as the basketball players were united in spirit and celebrating the league’s second successful season. Police officers Keith Sweeney and David Batchelor Jr. were on hand to coach a team and affirm the support of Chelsea’s finest.

Vidot understands The Movement is only in touch with its players a few hours a week on the basketball court and that the players must take responsibility for their actions beyond the court.

“Even though we’re with them a limited number of hours during the week, I’m hoping it sets the tone for the rest of the week and they remember that there are grown-ups out there that actually care,” said Vidot.

Betsy Vicente, mother of 14-year-old, 6-foot-2-inch aspiring basketball player Christian Rios, said her son likes the competition and atmosphere of The Movement.

“He loves it. My son absolutely adores coming here. He looks forward to playing here every weekend and hanging out with his friends.”

Vicente said The Movement is like “a second family.”

“This is his neighborhood family,” said Vicente.  The kids feel safe and the league is bringing them together in a good environment.”

As for rising community leaders Damali Vidot, Jamir Rodriguez, Vicente said what many at the Highland Park basketball courts were thinking, “The leaders of The Movement are doing a phenomenal job. I like the new Chelsea.”

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Ambrosino asks Council for $230K More for Highland Park

Ambrosino asks Council for $230K More for Highland Park

By Seth Daniel

The extensive improvements to Highland Park’s basketball courts and playground are now being expanded to include lighting improvements and a rehabilitation of the parking lot – at an extra cost of $230,000.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino broke the news to the City Council on Monday night, June 5, and told the Council that the scope of work needed to be expanded.

While the original work included just refurbishing the basketball courts, playground and sitting areas at Highland, once the City’s Planning Department began designing the improvements, they realized there was a desperate need to make additional improvements.

“As the City began to look more carefully at this park during the design phase, it determined that the parking lot area was likewise in desperate need of repair,” he wrote. “

The lighting fixtures were outdated and the irrigation system was not working.

The added improvements include paving the lot, replacement of the perimeter irrigation system, landscaping, an putting in modern lighting to illuminate the area more effectively. He also suggested installing new lighting on the Willow Street side of the park to help illuminate that busy area as well by the Jordan Boys & Girls Club and the Al Huda Society Mosque.

In the original scope, the City received a state grant for $400,000 and contributed $170,000 to the project through the City Capital Improvement Plan.

He called for the Council to tap into the $34 million Free Cash fund.

The full expenditure will now be $800,000.

The Council filed the request and will take it up for a second reading at Monday’s meeting.

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