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.
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
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
Shaquor Sandiford was once one of Chelsea’s brightest football prospects. The former Chelsea Pop Warner star followed through on that potential by becoming an Independent School League (ISL) All-Star quarterback at the Rivers School and a Division 1 college recruit.
A two-sport standout at Rivers, the 6-foot-3-inch Sandiford was the captain of the school’s football basketball teams – and yes, he can dunk.
Sandiford led Rivers to its first ISL football title since 1915, earning All-New England honors in the process. One of the highlights came when he competed in the Norm Walker Bowl at Gillette Stadium (Rivers lost 36-28 to Pingree on a blocked field goal return for a touchdown).
Sandiford’s spectacular career attracted the attention of many college programs and he eventually chose Springfield College. But he decided to leave college and pursue his entrepreneurial goals within network marketing and building up his personal brand.
“I just felt at that point in my life I could achieve more by gaining some real life experiences,” he said.
Sandiford is back in the city working at Chelsea Restoration Corporation as a full-time rehabilitation specialist. He is also involved in first-time homebuyer courses, foreclosure prevention counseling, and qualifying families for home improvement loans.
“Chelsea Restoration Corporation (CRC) is a great place to learn about the housing industry,” said Sandiford. “I love working with [Executive Director] Helen Zuzzo. She’s brilliant. I’ve learned so much from her during my time at Chelsea Restoration.”
The 21-year-old son of Sheanah McCarthy, Shaquor lost his father, Chris Sandiford, during his junior year at Rivers. Mr. Sandiford, a native of Barbados, succumbed to cancer.
“It was definitely tough losing my dad,” said Sandiford. “But it was also a chance for me to grow up a little bit. I had to make a lot of decisions. I felt that I was like a father of three with my brother (Asante) and my two sisters (Amira and Hadiya). I try to be their role model.”
As a youth, Sandiford was a member of the Jordan Boys and Girls Club where he met Josh Kraft, executive director of the club.
“Josh and others at the club helped me stay on track with their behavioral guidance,” said Sandiford. “The club kept me off the streets and it inspired me to help other teens find a place to go after school. I’ve always wanted to do something similar to a Boys and Girls Club and put kids in a positive environment.”
An aspiring real estate investor, Sandiford is preparing to teach a first-time home buying course for CRC. He is pursuing a real estate broker’s license.
A talented rapper and a manager in the entertainment industry, Sandiford is also busy rolling out his “inspirational organization,” for youth and
teens that is called Unlocking Potential. He has mentored students from Rivers, JAB Step Inc., and Excel Academy and is seeking to do more volunteer work at some of the non-profit agencies in Chelsea.
“My mission right now [with Unlocked Potential] is to inspire youth and teens to reach their full potential,” said Sandiford. “Our main focus is personal development, community engagement, and mentorship. I want to help people move forward and cope with different situations. I want to use my voice to uplift others.”
Shaquor Sandiford was once that Chelsea kid that he now hopes to help find his path in life.
The son of Sheanah McCarthy and the late Chris Sanf
Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash took the city to the Rocky mountaintop in June, helping the community earn the prestigious All-Amerca City Award at the National Civic League Competition in Denver.
Local business and community leaders say Jay Ash has been an excellent leader of the city where he grew up, attended high school, and starred on the basketball court.
The tributes to Ash’s exceptional leadership poured in Wednesday from people who woke up to the front-page news that the 6-foot-7-inch city manager had accepted a position in Governor-elect Charlie Baker’s administration.
Susan Gallant, past president of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce who has a Certified Public Accounting practice in the city, wished Ash well in his new Governor’s Cabinet position as the secretary of housing and economic development.
“It’s a great opportunity for Jay and his family and I wish him the best as he goes on to this new chapter,” said Gallant. “Economic development has been his forte in Chelsea so I think he’s a great choice for this position.”
Josh Kraft, Nicholas president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Boston, praised Ash’s leadership and his commitment to the city.
“Jay Ash was instrumental in helping to transform the city of Chelsea through his leadership and commitment,” said Kraft. “Jay had an unbelievable vision and commitment to making Chelsea the best small city in Massachusetts. Through his work in economic development and his collaboration with community organizations and families, he changed the complexion of a city that was in tough shape for many years.
“There is no doubt in my mind that he will bring that same passion and commitment to the state and all of us across Massachusetts will benefit,” added Kraft.
The former executive director of the Jordan Boys and Girls Club on Willow Street thanked Ash for his assistance in the construction of a new state-of-the-art clubhouse for the benefit of Chelsea youths.
“Jay played a major role in helping to establish the Jordan Boys and Girls Club as a beautiful, award-winning building that is there today,” said Kraft. “Jay was involved in the club from Day One. From June 1, 1993 to today, he has been instrumental in the club and everything that goes on there.”
Chelsea High director of athletics Frank DePatto, one of the city manager’s mentors and close friends, said that his positive imprint on the city will be remembered for years to come.
“I’m filled with mixed emotions because Jay has done such a great job in Chelsea,” said DePatto. “You walk around the city and it spells ‘Jay Ash’ everywhere you go – with all the redevelopment, the hotels, the FBI building. When we pass through Chelsea we will always be thinking of Jay and his efforts in rebuilding the city.”
John Ruiz, who became the first Latino heavyweight champion of the world and has a city park named in honor, said he will always be grateful to Ash’s support of his boxing career.
“The great reception Jay and the city had for me when I returned home with the championship belt is something I will always cherish,” said Ruiz. “Jay did a tremendous job in all areas of our city and the All-America City Award is a testament to his leadership and drive. I wish him well in his new position. He will make our state better for all of its residents just as he has made Chelsea better for all of its people.”
There is one kind of jam that several Chelsea Community Gardeners would prefer not to get out of – that being Chelsea-grown Blackberry-Raspberry Jam.
Several members of the Community Garden came together last week on Tuesday, July 29, to learn the basics of preparing and canning preserves, compotes and jams of all kinds. Under the tutelage of Greg Reppucci, professor of Natural Sciences at North Shore Community College (NSCC), the group of gardeners made Blackberry-Raspberry Jam, Fig-Orange-Pistachio Conserve, Strawberry Rhubarb Compote, and Zucchini Relish. They put up more than 160 jars of fruit preserves.
The event was a planned workshop, along with the Jordan Boys and Girls Club parents, called ‘Canning Summer Fruits.’ It was part of the year-long ‘Year of the Fruit’ workshops that have focused on teaching gardeners to grow their own fruits.
Over the past five years, the Chelsea Community Garden has expanded from 20 to 45 families. Gardeners have experimented with growing all types of fruit in the common areas of the garden. In that time, they’ve planted blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb, gooseberries, strawberries, two apple trees and a plum tree and grape vines (a white and a concord).
The Year of the Fruit workshops are planned to teach gardeners how to grow, tend and harvest these fruits. Check out their blog, facebook and website for more information.