Chelsea-Based Roca will Launch New Public-Private Partnership with Baltimore

Chelsea-Based Roca will Launch New Public-Private Partnership with Baltimore

Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh announced this month a $17 million public-private partnership with Roca, anchor business institutions and philanthropic organizations to help Baltimore’s highest risk young people disrupt cycles of poverty and incarceration.

Roca is a Massachusetts-based group that has earned national recognition for providing some of the most innovative and effective interventions for young adults most at risk for committing or becoming a victim of violence.

The program currently operates in four sites in Massachusetts (Boston, Chelsea, Lynn, Springfield) and will replicate its model in Baltimore City.

“This is a very special announcement for me because we believe the approach to violence reduction is holistic, and we want to be inclusive in our approach to reducing the violence that exists in our city,” said Mayor Pugh. “Roca is not just a program that focuses in on individuals between the ages of 17-24, it is an intense focus that helps young people move beyond violence and into the types of job training, and personal development that leads them to become more productive members of our community.”

The significant new partnership will join other efforts to proactively engage high-risk youth in the City of Baltimore, and to reduce recidivism for those who have already encountered the criminal justice system. It will be funded by a combination of private and public dollars raised by Roca and the City of Baltimore, with a request for State funding still pending.

“We are humbled by the incredible efforts in the city to bring about change,” said Roca founder and CEO, Molly Baldwin. “At Roca, we are painfully aware that we can neither arrest nor program our way out of the violence devastating this city and that we need a different approach. We are so grateful for the invitation to help and we know we have a lot to learn as we initiate our work in Baltimore.”

Currently, Roca serves over 1,000 high-risk young people in 21 communities in Massachusetts and has been preparing to work in Baltimore for the past five years. Roca plans to serve 75 young people in Baltimore during its first year and gradually increase its services to 300 young people annually over the next three years.

Roca will begin operations in Baltimore during Summer 2018. An intensive planning process already is underway.

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St Rose Piazza Christmas Décor Turns Heads on Broadway

St Rose Piazza Christmas Décor Turns Heads on Broadway

By Seth Daniel

Parishioners at the St. Rose Church on Broadway have returned to put up their spectacular Christmas light display this year on the new piazza. The volunteers spent most of 2016 building out the new structure, and this year is the first year they have been able to fully decorate it for Christmas – a tradition that goes back about six years.

Parishioners at the St. Rose Church on Broadway have returned to put up their spectacular Christmas light display this year on the new piazza. The volunteers spent most of 2016 building out the new structure, and this year is the first year they have been able to fully decorate it for Christmas – a tradition that goes back about six years.

An electrified Nativity scene outfitted with a blazingly bright star is just one of the many spectacular light displays on the new piazza to the north of St. Rose Church – a light display that started humbly a few years ago and now has grown to great proportions.

Father Hilario Sanez said the annual display is back this year courtesy of many dedicated parishioners from the Vietnamese-speaking contingent of the Parish.

The 20 or so men dedicate their time year in and year out to build out the bright display for the community and to honor the Christmas holiday.

The effort is now made all the more special due to the piazza patio that is in place to the north of the church – a patio that supports the colorful light display even more than the previous lights.

Cuong Pham led the Vietnamese parishioners in installing the piazza in the summer and fall of 2016. Working late into the night on weekdays and weekends, parishioners built out on a volunteer basis the new structure so that the church could host better get-togethers outside.

Their dedication to the project was unmatched, as many of those working came to volunteer late into the night after working full-day shifts in the construction industry.

Now, after a year break from the Christmas lights, this month the crew of Vietnamese parishioners were back to work putting up the light spectacular.

Within the community, many have commented on the display, and noted that the City’s new Christmas lights compliment the St. Rose display perfectly – making the downtown area much more festive.

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Enjoy A Safe Labor Day Weekend

Enjoy A Safe Labor Day Weekend

It may be hard to believe, but the summer of 2017 is entering its final week as we approach the traditional Labor Day weekend.

“Time and tide wait for no man,” said the poet. The calendar never lies and soon the summer of ‘17 will be just a memory. The college kids already have returned and many of our public schools already have opened this week.

Although it would be nice if the temperatures were just a bit warmer, none of us really can complain about the gorgeous weather we have been enjoying these past two weeks, with abundant sunshine and temperatures in the 70s and low 80s. And with ocean water temperatures locally in the 65-degree range, conditions have been ideal for a swim or a quick dip after work.

With the summer season winding down to just a few precious days, we fully understand the sentiments of those who might express the refrain, “If this is the last, let’s make it a blast.”

We certainly do not wish to rain on anyone’s parade, so to speak, but we would be remiss if we did not urge our readers that if they intend to have a good time, they should do so safely, both for themselves and their loved ones.

Excessive drinking does not mix with anything — whether it be boating, driving, water sports, hiking, bicycling, or just about any activity that requires some degree of coordination and observance of the rules of safety.

The newspapers and news reports will be full of tragic stories over the weekend of those who died or were seriously injured in accidents that could have been avoided had excessive drinking not been involved. We must do our part to ensure that none of our loved ones — let alone ourselves — are among those inevitable sad statistics.

We wish all of our readers a happy — and safe — Labor Day weekend.

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Summer Youth Employment Going Full Speed Ahead

Summer Youth Employment Going Full Speed Ahead

Chelsea Collaborative is happy to announce that 160 out of 480 youth that have applied to work during the summer are placed in jobs and working.

Karla Garcia is shown here last week weed whipping an area on Fourth Street under the Mystic/Tobin Bridge by the ‘Welcome to Chelsea’ sign. Garcia is a summer employee of the Chelsea DPW under the Summer Youth Employment Initiative.

Karla Garcia is shown here last week weed whipping an area on Fourth Street under the Mystic/Tobin Bridge by the ‘Welcome to Chelsea’ sign. Garcia is a summer employee of the Chelsea DPW under the Summer Youth Employment Initiative.

However, that currently makes a waiting list of 320.

The Collaborative thanks all of the worksites, and funders for making possible the most recent hired of a total of a 160 youth.

“Most of these youth began their training on June 2, every Friday during the month of June; however everyone else began with orientation and training on July 5 and at their worksites,” said Sylvia Ramirez, director of youth and families department at the Collaborative. “There are 39 site in total for 2017 and work started at those as of July 10. Most of these youth will be ending their work on August 18.”

Furthermore, under the Summer Youth Initiative, there is a series of activities coordinated through the City of Chelsea.

“We encourage our community to take full advantage of all of these great activities and to join us in having a healthy 2017 summer,” said Ramirez.

For additional questions please reach out at 617-889-6080.

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Hotel Underway at Broadway Line

Hotel Underway at Broadway Line

By Seth Daniel

The elevator shaft and steel structure can be seen this summer going up on Chelsea’s next new hotel, a 124-room full service hotel at the Chelsea Line.

The elevator shaft and steel structure can be seen this summer going up on Chelsea’s next new hotel, a 124-room full service hotel at the Chelsea Line.

The Chelsea Broadway Hotel – not yet named officially – is making quick work of the vacant site next to the Walgreen’s on Broadway adjacent to the Chelsea/Revere line.

The hotel – another new hotel brought by Colwen and the XSS Group – is likely to be even better than the previous hotels, the last of which (Homewood Suites) just opened across from Chelsea High School. There are rumors that the Broadway hotel will include a restaurant that has water-side seating during the summer months. That, however, could not be confirmed.

The site overlooks the Mill Creek and marsh – an area that has been vastly improved and cleaned up in the last 10 years. The hotel property will also serve as a major connecting piece on the walkway that leads to the Chelsea Commons Park.

Already, the elevator shaft and steel structure are towering above Broadway as the building takes shape. Maureen Foley of Colwen Hotels said that the Broadway Hotel is a 124-room hotel that will open in late 2018.

She said anyone looking for job opportunities at the hotel or any of their other Chelsea hotels can log on to www.colwenhotels.com.

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Enjoy Labor Day Weekend — Safely

It’s hard to believe, but the inevitable has arrived — Labor Day weekend is here.

For those of us in the Greater Boston area, this has been the most incredible summer that anyone can remember (and for some of us, that’s a lot longer than we’d like to admit). This has been the sunniest summer on record without the extreme heat or humidity that make us yearn for a break from the sun.

The downside of course, is that the great weather has meant that we are in the midst of a record-setting drought that soon may bring disaster to some areas of our state — but that’s a subject for another story.

With a forecast (as this is being written) for more superb weather throughout the entire week and through the weekend, we wish all of our readers a fun and entertaining Labor Day weekend, giving all of us one last chance to catch up with friends and family or perhaps just to take a long, easy break somewhere nice and quiet.

Regardless of how we spend this final summer weekend, we urge all of our readers to do so safely and to be sure not to drink & drive or drink & boat, and to ensure that those around us maintain their sobriety, and if not, we take their keys.

Too many tragic, life-changing circumstances occur all too often because somebody just drinks too much (think of the person whose arm got cut off by a boat propeller last summer). Alcohol still is Public Enemy #1 — far exceeding all other drugs, legal and illegal, in terms of the tragedy and havoc it wreaks upon individuals and families.

So let’s enjoy this Last Blast of Summer — but’s let do it safely, so that we and our loved ones always will have fond and happy memories of the amazing Summer of 2016.

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The Olympic Spirit Still Exists

For almost all of us, the Olympics have provided memories that have lasted a lifetime. We can all measure how old we were, or where we were, when we recall Olympic moments both from our youth and through adulthood.

For example, who among us (of a certain age) does not remember, as if it were yesterday (or so it seems), Mike Eruzione’s “shot heard ’round the world” when he scored the game-winning goal that defeated the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid? Or when Bruce Jenner (now Caitlin Jenner) won the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics? We could go on-and-on ad infinitum describing the scenes from the highlight reel of Olympic moments scrolling through our mind.

During the era of the Cold War, the Olympics served as a proxy for the battle between the United States and the former Soviet Union in what was perceived as the contest between democracy vs. communism, freedom vs. repression. But with the Cold War long over, the political overtones of the Olympics have all but disappeared, which has been a good thing. Although it would be nice to see America’s Justin Gatlin win the gold in the 100 meter dash, sports fans of all nationalities have thrilled to watch Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (the fastest man ever) sprint to victory-after-victory-after-victory in the last two Olympics — and no doubt will be rooting for him and his Jamaican teammates to make it a triple-medal three-peat.

The Olympics have something for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest among us. There are enough sports competitions and more than enough heroes for everyone to have their own favorite athlete to root for. Still for others, the elaborate pageantry of the opening ceremonies put on by the host country constitutes a spectacle that draws in all of us and establishes the magnitude and specialness of the games.

This is not to say that the Olympics are all fun and games. As with any event that draws world-wide attention and that involves billions of dollars, the Olympics have been plagued by controversy of all kinds. From Hitler’s 1936 Olympics that fed into Nazi propaganda, to the judging controversies of the Cold War era, to the tragedy of the terrorist attack in Munich in 1972, to doping scandals, to the the more recent accusations of bribery of Olympic officials by host countries, the Olympics have fallen far short of its own creed:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”

But despite all of the controversies, the Olympic spirit has survived and the present games in Rio de Janeiro are no exception. We hope all of our readers find the time to enjoy the 2016 games and to do so with their families and friends. Even in this age of on-demand television and live streaming on personal devices, the Olympics are best-enjoyed as a shared experience.

They are only here for two weeks — so make the most of them.

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Zoning Change Would Allow Expansion of Methadone and Drug Counseling

By Seth Daniel

A new provision being considered over the summer regarding zoning ordinances would allow the Methadone Clinic on Crescent Avenue and MGH-Chelsea to establish substance abuse counseling centers near their current site – though no medications would be allowed to be dispensed.

The Methadone Clinic on Crescent Avenue has recently come under fire, and particularly at a public meeting last month hosted by Councillors Luis Tejada, Roy Avellaneda and Leo Robinson. At that meeting, a huge turnout of residents opposed to the location of the clinic asked its owner if he would move it. The discussion went on for more than an hour.

All of the sudden, the Methadone Clinic seems to be a top concern of the public.

Now, City Manager Tom Ambrosino is proposing that the Council allow the clinic to expand its counseling services to an office building next door on Crescent Avenue through a change in the zoning ordinances. The change would also allow MGH-Chelsea to operate a counseling center near its location on Everett Avenue.

The change in zoning provides a definition of a counseling center, which stipulates that under no circumstances can it dispense medication. It also allows such centers to locate more easily in certain zoning districts of the city, including the Light Industrial and Highway Business Districts.

“There’s been no indication the Methadone Clinic is moving,” said Ambrosino. “The discussions we’ve had is the would like to have more counseling at a location next door. They have said they want to do more counseling to accompany the medication. MGH supports this idea too…There is a need for more counseling and we don’t have a zoning ordinance that allows it. We’re proposing to add it by special permit in these few districts away from residential areas.”

The change is part of a very large zoning package Ambrosino submitted to the Council right before its summer recess. The Council has been considering the many changes and proposals over the summer, and is expected to vote on it at the first meeting in the fall.

Last week, the Planning Board held a hearing on the ordinance for counseling centers, and took it under advisement.

Ambrosino said he knows the history of the Clinic, including the unpopular court order to put it on Crescent Avenue, but stressed that there would be no medication dispensed at the proposed counseling centers. He also said the Methadone Clinic has been responsive in recent years where maybe they weren’t in the past.

“In my tenure here, the Clinic has been pretty good to work to address problems when we’ve asked them to do so,” he said.

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