By Richard Rouse
Nature celebrates its rebirth with the arrival of spring and the flora is dressing up the district with budding trees and blossoms all over. So it is with local acquaintances attending neighborhood celebrations, such as the Community Alliance of Mission Hill event at The Crossing on the Ides of March on March 15. The joint was jumpin’ with music, karaoke and a lavish food array from owner Sharon Driscoll. Local merchants provided free raffle prizes to those holding winning tickets. Gift certificates to Mama’s Place, the Mission, Squealing Pig, Lilly’s Pasta, Penguin Pizza, Stop & Shop, Flames, Green T coffee shop and Mission Hill items from Main Streets made the attendees feel like they were guests on Oprah’s TV show. A fun night was had by all.
Not to be outdone, Mary Todd and David Welch provided a splendid repast at the Mission Hill Crime Committee annual meeting on March 29in Mission Church parish hall. Boston Police Department Community Service Officer Jerry Smart emceed the festivities saying, “We toil and meet monthly to work out our differences, identify problems and find solutions. Every year, we take one night to get together as friends who love this neighborhood and enjoy the company of each other.”
No doubt that this is the formula for the longtime success of the Crime Committee. Handsome award plaques were presented to MBTA Transit Police Lt. Mike Shea for his longstanding dedication to the group; to Mike’s Donuts owner Maria Weinograd for her decades of donating free coffee and donuts for every meeting; to MassArt retiree Kevin Sullivan for preparing and stuffing the monthly newsletter mailings (a task he assumed following the loss of his late wife, the beloved Maureen Sullivan); and to all the officers of District B-2, proudly accepted by its commander, Capt. John Davin. Local City Councilors Felix Arroyo and Tito Jackson and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz joined in presenting Councilor Michael Ross’ City Council proclamatio. Representing Mayor Menino was his new neighborhood coordinator, Shaina Aubourg, who seems to be everywhere lately. Also attending were Boston Police Superintendent Ken Fong and the area’s favorite patrolman, John Ridge, and dozens of other Boston, MBTA, Harvard, Wentworth, Baptist Hospital and Mass Pharmacy officers.
Main Streets provided the musical group Matrix and generous business owners Michel Soltani, Matt Postal, Dermot Doyne, Bruce Weinograd and Tina Savvidis donated the food and refreshments. As always, Northeastern’s Mike Fitz and New England Baptist’s Chris Dwyer quietly do whatever it takes to make any local “time” like this a success. The next big event will be the Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Association Annual Meeting on April 9, where Jim Hoffman and Patricia Flaherty will host a stellar evening as they always do.
A well-deserved thank you goes to group of young men that I admire who have made it their “Mission” to pitch in to help this neighborhood whenever they can. I speak of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity chapter at Northeastern. A squad of these young men came to clean and set up the parish hall and are present at each Crime Committee meeting. In addition, these are the guys who cleaned up many of the overgrown lots of weeds and debris, and painted the K of C hall. They are often the ones supervising other crews on neighborhood, and their positive enthusiasm is infectious throughout the local campuses. I confess to having been misinformed about college fraternities before coming here to Main Streets. At my age, I’m embarrassed that I bought into the stereotypes of “frat boys” before meeting these Kappa Sigs from NU. I’m sure there are plenty of bozos out there, but these young men truly give one hope that our future is in good hands.
Mayor Tom Menino has declared Sat., April 28 as “Boston Shines” day, when thousands of volunteers gather for Mission Hill Spring Cleaning. Flyers will be posted in stores in the coming days with meeting locations and more info. I spoke with two of our dedicated local Public Works Department men, Ivan Johnson and Charley Sweeney, who say that having so many helping hands giving just a few hours of effort generates tons and tons of debris. It is a highlight of their year because of the positive energy it brings to everyone in the neighborhood. Want a great way to get a little fresh air, work off a few calories, meet new friends and do something positive? You can spend scads of money at a resort spa to obtain such a therapeutic experience in order to feel better about yourself. Why don’t you achieve the same thing for free by joining us on April 28? For more information, call 617-635-3485 or see cityofboston.gov/ons/bostonshines.
A reminder that state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez’s “1st annual Children’s Book Drive” is wrapping up, and donation boxes are available at most social service locations. If you can’t find a place to drop off new and gently used kid’s books, we’ll take them here at 1534 Tremont St. The rep. tells me he has collected 600 to date. So, if you are like me, with grown children, clean out those bookcases gathering dust and dig out those bedtime storybooks, “Goosebumps” and Nancy Drews to inspire the joy of reading to another generation of local children. You’ll find yourself, as I did, recapturing some of life’s greatest joys as you thumb through them, recalling those precious moments you shared with your youngsters.
The writer is the executive director of Mission Hill Main Streets.