Social Security Matters – When Should I Apply for Social Security?

Social Security Matters – When Should I Apply for Social Security?

By AMAC Certified Social Security Advisor Russell Gloor

Association of Mature American Citizens

Dear Rusty: I will be turning 62 in 2018; birth date 9/24/1955. My husband is 77 and receiving Social Security.  Longevity runs in my family. I have been self-employed all my life. I am still working and my husband collects a pension, Social Security and RMD from a traditional IRA, so there is no need for additional monies under my current circumstances. When should I start taking Social Security?   Signed:  Thinking about Retirement

Dear Thinking: The question of when to take Social Security normally gets an answer of “It depends on your health, your family history of longevity, and your need for the money”.  You’ve already addressed those items so I’ll focus on your main question – when should you start taking Social Security?

Even though you’ll be eligible to collect Social Security when you turn 62, if you do so you will only get 74.17% of the retirement benefit you would be entitled to at your full retirement age (FRA). Whenever you apply, you will be deemed to be filing not only for your own retirement benefit but also any spousal benefit you may be entitled to from your husband’s work record. Similar to your SS retirement benefit, your spousal benefit would also be reduced because you took it early; instead of being 50% of your husband’s benefit at your FRA, you would only get 35% at age 62 (if that is larger than your own retirement benefit). The point I’m making is that by claiming SS early, any benefit you’re entitled to will be reduced from what you would get at your full retirement age.

Just as you are penalized for claiming before your full retirement age, you are rewarded for waiting beyond it to claim Social Security retirement benefits. In fact, for each year you wait beyond your full retirement age, your retirement benefit will be 8% higher than it would be at your FRA. That will continue up until you are 70 years old when your retirement benefit will be 30.67% higher than it would have been at your FRA. You stop earning additional credit at age 70, so there’s no reason to wait beyond that to apply. Let’s use an easy example to illustrate: If your FRA retirement benefit is $1000, by applying at age 62 you would only get $741 per month instead of $1000. But if you wait until you are 70 to claim benefits, you would get $1306 per month, nearly twice what you would get by applying at age 62.

There are two other factors you should incorporate into your thinking:

1) At your FRA, you will be entitled to ½ of your husband’s benefit at his FRA.  If your spousal benefit at your FRA is substantially more than your own retirement benefit, then applying at your FRA may be a good strategy, as opposed to waiting and earning delayed retirement credits.

 2) Once you have reached your FRA you will be entitled to 100% of your husband’s benefit amount if he should predecease you. If your eventual survivor’s benefit would be more than your own FRA benefit amount, you might be better served by claiming your retirement benefit earlier than age 70.

As you can see, most of the answer to your question depends upon whether your benefits as a spouse or a survivor will be more than your benefit based upon your own work record. If not, then waiting beyond your FRA up to age 70 will yield you the maximum retirement benefit. But if your spouse and/or survivor’s benefit will be more than your own retirement benefits, then applying at your full retirement age may be the best strategy. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you go to www.ssa.gov and set up your personal “My Social Security” account which will give you access to your currently estimated retirement benefit. Comparing that to your potential spousal and survivor benefits should give you the answer you’re seeking.

The information presented in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The opinions and interpretations expressed are the viewpoints of the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory staff, trained and accredited under the National Social Security Advisors program of the National Social Security Association, LLC (NSSA). NSSA, the AMAC Foundation, and the Foundation’s Social Security Advisors are not affiliated with or endorsed by the United States Government, the Social Security Administration, or any other state government. Furthermore, the AMAC Foundation and its staff do not provide legal or accounting services. The Foundation welcomes questions from readers regarding Social Security issues. To submit a request, contact the Foundation at info@amacfoundation.org.

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May is Mental Health Month: Start Reaching Out

May is Mental Health Month: Start Reaching Out

By Sheldon Bycoff

One problem of modern life is social isolation.

Described in journals as a person’s “perceived social isolation,” i.e., a subjective belief that they are socially isolated, another way of summarizing this condition is simply “feeling lonely.”

The opposite feeling – that you have a network of supportive relationships – provides numerous psychological benefits, including a sense of belonging, an increased sense of self-worth, and a feeling of security.

Thankfully, there are actions people can take to reduce a sense of isolation (discussed below).

 

  • Causes of Isolation

Many circumstances can lead one to feel isolated, including: a job loss; a divorce; injury or illness; the death of a loved one; having a family member with an illness that requires extensive care; etc.

  • Implications of Feeling Isolated

Besides negatively affecting one’s mood, feeling isolated and lonely is a risk factor for many medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, depression, and impaired executive functioning.

In fact, the influence of social relationships on the risk of death is comparable to well-established mortality risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceeds the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity.

  • Ways to Reduce Isolation

Numerous authorities, including the Mayo Clinic, have suggestions for increasing one’s social network, such as:

Take a weekly class, whether at a gym, a local college, or as part of adult education, so that you will have regular contact with the same people and be more likely to establish friendships.

 

  • Volunteer.  

Join a lecture series.

Consider getting a roommate.

Change your housing situation to one where there are more opportunities to be a part of a community.

Go online (especially helpful for people who are homebound).

Options abound: join a chat room for people who share one of your interests, e.g., writing, cooking.

Keep in touch with out-of-state friends and family thru Skype, Facebook (or FaceTime on an iPhone).

Visit sites designed specifically for people going through stressful times, such as a divorce, or the arrival of a new baby. Expand your social sphere through social networking sites such as Facebook.

  • Primer on Building and Nurturing Friendships

Respond and Reciprocate. Answer phone calls, return emails, and reciprocate invitations in order to let people know you care.

Don’t compete. Be happy (not jealous) when your friends succeed.

Be a good listener. When someone is talking, really listen to what they’re saying (as opposed to formulating in your mind your next response).

Don’t overdo it. Be careful not to overwhelm friends and family with phone calls and emails.  In addition, be wary of “oversharing” with new or casual acquaintances and on social networking sites.

  • Summary

Taking the time to build a social support network is a wise investment in your mental well-being and physical health.  Research also shows that those who enjoy high levels of social support live longer.  Whether you make more friends or improve the quality of relationships you already have, you’ll reap a plethora of rewards.

By Sheldon Bycoff is President, Mental Health Programs, Inc.

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Writers Series at South End Library

The 2016-17 South End Writes series will include debut novelist and baker Louise Miller (The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living); Dina Vargo (Wild Women of Boston) and the culinary luminary Gordon Hamersley.

  • Tuesday, October 25: Louise Miller, a Boston-based writer and pastry chef who won a scholarship to GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program, will read from her debut work of fiction, ‘The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living,’ published this summer by Viking’s Pamela Dorman Books imprint.
  • Tuesday, November 22: Just in time to get advice about Thanksgiving’s feast, the beloved and greatly missed South End culinary luminary, Gordon Hamersley, will talk about his life as a prize-winning chef, current food writer for the Boston Globe and long-time neighborhood fixture.

CANDIDATE KEITH ENDORSED BY B&T

Calling him a “refreshing change” in “the current environment of extreme political polarization”, Banker & Tradesman has endorsed John Keith for Suffolk County Register of Deeds.

“A seasoned Boston real estate agent, Keith has a general familiarity with how the Registry operates and seems genuinely eager to learn what he doesn’t know,” read the endorsement.

“Keith is an active user of social media, tweeting his observations about real estate and the city with light, offbeat humor – under which lies a deep understanding of the market and the various forces that shape it. Throughout his campaign Keith has made clear he has both the ability and the desire to do the job, which comes with an annual salary of $124,000, and comes across as the most earnest and forthcoming of what is clearly a strong field of candidates.”

John Keith is a Massachusetts native, a graduate of Northeastern University, and a long-time Boston resident. He has been a real estate broker for the past 14 years. He has a background in management, and experience in accounting, software implementation, and data and business analysis.

The election for Suffolk County Register of Deeds is on November 8, 2016.

PUMPKIN FLOAT ON FROG POND

Mayor Martin J. Walsh has announced that the annual Fall Pumpkin Float returns to the Boston Common Frog Pond on Sunday, Oct. 23, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Hundreds of illuminated jack-o’-lanterns will be floated on the water accompanied by spooky family activities.

Attendees are asked to bring 8-inch or smaller carved pumpkins that will be lit and then floated on the Frog Pond for a dramatic early evening display.  In addition, attendees are invited to view creatively carved and decorated jack-o’-lanterns from various local sports teams and organizations.  Adults and children are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes and participate in a wide range of fun activities.  Children are invited to decorate luminary bags which will be displayed and illuminated along the edge of the Frog Pond.  Test your courage and problem-solving skills in our haunted zombie maze.

This free family-friendly event will also include a magician, a visit from the L.L. Bean Bootmobile, children’s crafts, an IKEA selfie booth with LATTJO costumes and sweet treats to try, games and giveaways by Magic 106.7, and scarily delicious snacks and refreshments provided by IKEA, Capital One Café, HP Hood LLC, and DAVIDsTEA.

All pumpkins will be donated to The Trustees of Reservations after the event for composting.

For more information, please call the Boston Parks and Recreation Department at (617) 635-4505 or visit www.facebook.com/bostonparksdepartment or www.boston.gov/parks.

FENWAY COMMUNITY CENTER

The Fenway Community Center has booked several special events over the next several weeks. The Center is located at 1282 Boylston St. and the phone number is (857) 246-9053.

  • Social dancing on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:20-3:20 p.m. at the Center, mostly with Chinese music and frequented by Chinese elders, though all are welcome.
  • Student Volunteers – The Fenway Community Center is calling on Northeastern University students who will be living off-campus this fall to volunteer at the Center. Greeters are needed for a one-hour weekly commitment. Volunteers who serving 11 hours or more in a three-month period will be invited to the FCC Ice Cream Social as an appreciation. For more information, contact hello@fenwaycommunitycenter.org.
  • Welcome to the Neighborhood for Northeastern University students who might be interested in the Fenway Community Center. The group will meet every month on the first Thursday, starting Oct. 6.
  • Councilor Josh Zakim District 8 Fall Community Night will take place on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 6 p.m. at the FCC. Pizza and refreshments will be provided.

SOUTH END DATES

  • Hayes Park is having a Silent Auction Fundraiser on Thursday, October 20, from 6-8 p.m. at Woodmeister Master Builders, 1317 Washington Street. Tickets available online.
  • BRA Director Brian Golden is confirmed to return to the South End Forum at its Nov. 1 meeting, according to Steve Fox, moderator of the Forum. Golden spoke at length during the September Forum meeting, and many questions remained when time ran out. He will be back to continue the conversation.
  • Old Dover Fall Social, Join Old Dover Neighborhood Association for a Fall Social at LaMotta’s Restaurant, 1357 Washington St., on Tuesday, Oct. 11 from 6-8 p.m. Complimentary apps and a cash bar.
  • Alley Clean Up, residents from East Springfield and Mass Avenue will join neighbors and the Boston Police to conduct a fall cleanup of Alley 716. The event is billed as a great opportunity to meet neighbors and visit with old friends while addressing a quality of life situation. Gloves and garbage bags will be provided. Any questions can be addressed to Vicki Via at viarun@aol.com
  • Bed Bugs! South End librarian Matt Krug has organized a seminar on Thursday morning, October 6, at 10:30 a.m. on the subject of bed bugs. Yes, bed bugs appear to be a problem in the South End. The speaker is Jonathan Boyar an associate certified entomologist and pest control operator with many years experience. For details, call 617 536-8241.

RETIREMENT PLANNING FROM GOLDEN AGE CENTER

The Golden Age Center and Castle Square Tenants Organization are partnering to bring valuable information to educate residents and the community regarding retirement planning. The SHINE program will present a retirement planning workshop on Monday October 17, 6-8 p.m. in the Castle Square Community Center on the 2nd floor (476 Tremont St.). The workshop will be conducted in English and Chinese. Refreshments provided.

Please contact Xiaoping Wang with any questions at 617-357-8548.

Workshop topics will include:

-Medicare, Medicaid, and other Health Insurance

-Social Security eligibility with Medicare, Medicaid

-Calculating social security retirement benefits

-Deciding between full and early retirement

-Managing 401 K or 403 (b) Retirement income

FENWAY/SOUTH END HOURS FOR CONGRESSMAN CAPUANO

Congressman Michael Capuano will hold office hours for the Fenway and South End neighborhoods on the second Thursday of every month at the Fenway Community Health Center, 1340 Boylston St.

The hours are from noon to 1 p.m. and will have a representative from Capuano’s office in attendance.

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Jazzin’ It Up

jazz

Galen Abdur-Razzaq lit up Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) Chelsea Campus on Monday afternoon with his flute and four piece jazz band, which was spiced up in between with a comprehensive history of jazz and the social history behind the music. The program was part of BHCC’s Black History Month celebration. The program was a hit with everyone who attended.

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Chelsea Fire to Run ‘Toys for Tots’ Campaign

By Seth Daniel

Chelsea Firefighters will be collecting toys for the Toys for Tots and Globe Santa program once again this year, and based on their research, that generosity could land to a needy family in Chelsea.

“We did a little research into the Globe Santa and Toys for Tots and found out that more than 800 children had been helped in Chelsea and 400 families by those organizations,” said Firefighter Phil Rogers, who is leading the campaign with Firefighter Jimmy Ruiz.

The Fire Department will be accepting new, unwrapped toys at the Central Fire Station seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Dec. 18.

Anyone in need of donations is urged to contact City Hall, their social worker, pastor or Globe Santa.

“Anything to help the kids,” said Ruiz. “We have to act fast and quick because it’s only going until Dec. 18 and that’s coming soon.”

Firefighters Jimmy Ruiz, Gabrel Ruiz, Mark Lee, Phil Rogers, Carlos Carrasquillo and Rony Gobin at Central Fire Station last week with the Toys for Tots drop-off box. They are gathering toys as a drop off location until Dec. 18.

Firefighters Jimmy Ruiz, Gabrel Ruiz, Mark Lee, Phil Rogers, Carlos Carrasquillo and Rony Gobin at Central Fire Station last week with the Toys for Tots drop-off box. They are gathering toys as a drop off location until Dec. 18.

So far, donations are trickling in, but firefighters are hoping to get some major donations before the deadline to turn over to the Marines, who conduct the annual toy drive. The Toys for Tots program is conducted by the U.S. Marines and has been in place since 1947.

In 2013, Toys for Tots gathered 16 million toys and donated them to 7 million needy children.

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Chelsea Superintendent Honored at Social Capitalist Luncheon

Chelsea Superintendent Honored at Social Capitalist Luncheon

On April 2, Dr. Mary Bourque, Chelsea native and superintendent of Chelsea Public Schools, will be honored as a Community Social Capitalist at the annual Social Capitalist Luncheon hosted by Social Capital Inc. (SCI) at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. She will be honored alongside Frances Martinez of Lynn and Martin Fantozzi of Newton. Superintendent Bourque was nominated for the award by former City Manager Jay Ash and Stop & Compare Supermarket.

“We are pleased to shine a spotlight on these very worthy individuals who are making a difference in local communities,”commented SCI President David Crowley. “Holding up such stellar examples of active citizenship is one way we encourage others to participate in their communities.”

This year’s luncheon will also feature 2015 SCI Idealist honorees Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and Eric Schwarz, co-founder of Citizen Schools.

Annually, the luncheon draws over 350 attendees – community leaders, local business owners, and philanthropists from around the state.

To learn more about this year’s honorees, tickets, tables, and advertising opportunities, please visit: http://www.socialcapitalinc.org/luncheon

SCI’s mission is to strengthen communities by uniting diverse individuals and groups through civic engagement initiatives. Since 2002, SCI has been developing Social Capitalists who reach across differences to mobilize neighbors and volunteers to strengthen our communities. Reflecting the variety of needs we face, SCI projects in 17 Massachusetts communities include youth-led campaigns to promote healthy eating and exercise; community web-portals and e-newsletters to connect people to civic information; multi-cultural events; neighborhood gatherings and resident-led community problem solving.

Over the last two years, Social Capital Inc. has been in partnership with the Healthy Chelsea Coalition (based at Chelsea MGH), working to connect Chelsea residents with health resources and information. To learn more, visit: http://www.ourchelseama.org

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High School Students Donate Pajamas and Books to Children

High School Students Donate Pajamas and Books to Children

Northeast Metro Tech’s Early Childhood Education program has collected more than 50 bedtime essentials for children in need.

“It is an important cause to all of us and as a school community,” says senior Yesenia Montijo.

Earlier this semester, students and teachers at the Wakefield school gathered books and pairs of pajamas as part of the “1 Million Good Nights Pajama Program,” a national non-profit organization. The Metro Tech—a regional vocational high school drawing students from Chelsea, Malden, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Revere, Saugus, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester, Winthrop, and Woburn—has sent the items to the Counsel of Social Concern for distribution to needy families in Massachusetts.

Students in the Early Education program made this effort a success by hosting a pajama drive at the school to raise awareness of the cause. The students created posters and placed them around the school and set up boxes where donations were collected.

“We learned how advertising can help raise awareness and hope to advertise even more next year,” says senior Kailee Andrews.

This effort, conducted under the supervision and guidance of Metro Tech instructors Barbara Peary and Sarah Scott, will make a difference in many children’s lives.

It is not surprising that these local vocational students would be so attuned to the needs of young people in the community because the Early Childhood Program at the Metro Tech is a fully functioning preschool, which caters to children ages two years and nine months to five years old. The preschool services surrounding communities and has open enrollment all year long. High school students in the program are working towards their preschool teacher license under the supervision of two vocational instructors.

As a force for public service, as well as in its everyday role as a literacy-based pre-school with great teacher-student ratios, Northeast Metro Tech’s Early Childhood program is proving to be a great community resource.

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Winter Open House at The Estates on Admiral’s Hill Assisted Living Residences

Winter Open House at The Estates on Admiral’s Hill Assisted Living Residences

The Estates on Admiral’s Hill, part of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation (CJF), will hold a winter open house for its two assisted living residences on Thursday, Jan. 8 from 3-6 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the executive team at The Estates, tour the spacious apartments and discuss the available services and amenities. Complimentary home-made appetizers and desserts will be served by on our on-site chef. Located on scenic Admiral’s Hill at 201 Captains Row in Chelsea, The Estates is comprised of two separate residences: Cohen Florence Levine Estates, a traditional assisted living and Florence & Chafetz Home for Specialized Care, an assisted living residence for those in need of additional memory support services. Daily amenities include healthy and delicious meals, a 24 hour café with made-from-scratch baked goods, hair and nail salon, library, living room, great room for concerts and shows, and an outdoor courtyard area for seasonal recreational activities. There are also a wide range of social and recreational events at both assisted livings, including excursions, concerts, shows, games, lectures, “Friends & Family” celebrations, among many others. “The holidays bring families together and, as a result, January is a time when many ponder living options for senior family members,” explains Adam Berman, President of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation. “This open house is a way to see, first hand, what assisted living is all about. Meeting our staff and residents really gives one an in-depth look at the assisted living experience.” To RSVP to the open house and reserve a special welcome gift, please call Kristen Donnelly at 617-887-0826 or email kdonnelly@chelseajewish.org.

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Chelsea’s Success Continues in Working Cities Challenge

Chelsea’s Success Continues in Working Cities Challenge

If Chelsea’s participation in the All-America City competition last month was the main event, then the undercard held just days before was the Working Cities Challenge “Pitch Contest.”

Just like in the main event, Chelsea’s team walked away victorious, this time in the Boston Federal Reserve’s contest for a $5,000 cash prize.

“We left the Fed in Boston excited about our success there and optimistic that it would be the start of a great weekend for Chelsea. It turned out that way, and, in both instances, the presentations of the Chelsea delegations were equal to the tasks at hand,” said City Manager Jay Ash, a co-chair of Chelsea’s Working Cities Challenge project, dubbed “Chelsea Works.”

The Boston Fed has determined through its research that resilient cities are those whose leadership works together on a common agenda. Its Working Cities Challenge was open to 20 cities in Massachusetts, with Chelsea capturing one of six Working Cities Challenge grants. The Pitch Contest was an opportunity for those six communities, Somerville, Holyoke, Lawrence, Salem, Fitchburg and Chelsea, to meet and pitch a proposal to five different foundations.

Salem, Fitchburg and Chelsea were successful, with each receiving a $5,000 award.

“The Working Cities Challenge has been an exhausting, yet enlightening process,” said Ann Houston, Executive Director of The Neighborhood Developers (TND), who joins together with Ash, Roca Executive Director Molly Baldwin and Chelsea School Superintendent Mary Bourque to form the leadership of the 27-partner Chelsea Works collaboration. That collaboration is seeking to bring physical, quality of life and resident prosperity improvements to residents in the Shurtleff/Bellingham neighborhood of the city.

Chelsea Works will use the $5,000 award to hire 10 resident leaders to continue the development of social capital in the targeted neighborhood. Social capital is an emerging concept that believes residents and neighborhoods do better when people know each other and can rely on each other for things like looking after kids and developing informal information networks around job opportunities and community engagement.

“We’re excited about where we are, but have a lot more work to do to get the data systems in place so we can share information about partners and measure and further shape the progress of residents and their neighborhoods in meeting their advancement goals,” said Baldwin.

During the Pitch Contest, a Chelsea delegation comprised of representatives of the City, TND, Roca and Healthy Challenge, met for a half-hour each with representatives of Santander Bank, Citizens Bank, the United Way of MA Bay, Bank of America and The Boston Foundation. Presentations focused on social capital, as well as efforts to coordinate programming, engage more residents and develop a more effective tracking system to turn data into the impetus for greater change and success.

“We’re on the leading edge of a data-driven process that both measures success and results in further programmatic refinements,” commented Bourque. “There is some meaningful public policy progress being made in Chelsea, and the recognition both in Boston and around the country tells us that many are interested in seeing us succeed and want to be part of that success.”

Added Ash, “And, as important as the substance of Chelsea Works is, the high level of collaboration and trust we have developed and are now exhibiting has equally captured the attention of observers.”

Chelsea Works has hired a director and is further refining programmatic elements and collaboration strategies for a major strategic launch soon.

“There’s much that has been done and much more to do. We’re focused, working tirelessly and driven to succeed,” concluded Houston.

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ROCA Celebrates 25 Years of Changing Lives of Troubled Youth in a Positive Way

ROCA Celebrates 25 Years of Changing Lives of Troubled Youth in a Positive Way

Attending the breakfast were from left City manager Jay Ash, Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley and Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes.

Attending the breakfast were from left City manager Jay Ash, Suffolk County Sheriff Steven
Tompkins, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley and Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes.

Gov. Deval Patrick joined more than 350 state policymakers and business and civic leaders on Monday to honor Roca’s 25 years of transforming the lives of high-risk youth in Massachusetts and looking ahead to the nonprofit’s key role in the state’s first-in-the-nation pay for success financing initiative.

In his keynote address, Patrick highlighted Roca’s contributions to the state and its developing partnership with the state on his Social Innovation Financing effort to transform how government funds successful social and human service efforts.

“I’m proud of the work you do and the examples you set for people changing their destiny,” Patrick said at the Seaport Hotel breakfast event. “It’s essentially a way to pay for success. We’re going to pay for the work they do in not giving up on people.”

Patrick noted that Secretary of Administration and Finance Glen Shor, who also attended the event, is working with Roca and others to implement the innovative financing and success-based effort.

“We are thrilled and honored to be the first to work with the Patrick administration to create a true pay-for-success model,” said Roca founder and Executive Director Molly Baldwin. “We are committed in our fight to help young people stay out of prison and succeed at work.”

“Molly Baldwin’s impact on youth development and public safety over the last 25 years has been immense,” said Jay Ash after Monday’s breakfast. “She is a recognized leader not only here in Chelsea but throughout the cuntry and world.  We’ve been fortunate to have her working on our behalf all this past time.  She’s an inspiration to me and many others.”

Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley  who attened the breakfast said, “Our partnership with ROCA is built on the idea that every prosecutor would rather see a young person diverted away from criminal behavior than appear before us in court.  ROCA’s work in Boston and Suffolk County has helped turn countless troubled kids and teens into adults who embrace and enhance their communities.  They deserve every word of praise and every ounce of support they’ve gotten through the years.”

The event also featured the compelling stories of two young men – Eric Rodriguez and Sammy Argueta – who have benefited from Roca’s effective data-driven intervention model for the highest-risk young people in Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Springfield. Rodriguez was one of the first participants in the Roca program and is now a successful businessman and mentor to young people.

Argueta, a Chelsea native, was helped by Roca’s transitional employment program after he served time in jail. He is this year’s recipient of the Vichey Phoung Peace Award, which recognizes a Roca youth leader who has demonstrated substantial positive change in his or her life and serves as a role model to other young people.

“My story can help inspire other people. Growing up in a tough neighborhood like Chelsea was hard. I grew up with no one to look up to,” said Argueta. “Transitional employment helps young men like myself get back to work. For the past year and a half, I have been working at 60 State Street setting up for events. I can now provide for my family. I’m proud of where my life is headed.”

Rodriguez credits Baldwin with saving his life and the lives of others that he might have hurt. Rodriguez told the story of how Baldwin’s friendship and guidance stopped him from taking out vengeance on the person who shot his friend and another person who had stabbed Rodriguez.

“There was such frustration in my head,” Rodriguez said. “Molly actually showed up at my house. She talked me off the ledge. After that conversation, she saved my life and perhaps the lives of others. That was a turnaround moment for me. I was a changed person.”

This fiscal year, Roca will help transform the lives and behaviors of 100 young men like Rodriguez and Argueta through its three-phase intervention program. The model includes rigorous outreach and case-management with lessons in life-skills, pre-job training and transitional employment.

For more information on Roca, its efforts and pay-for-success efforts, please visit www.rocainc.org.

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