By Richard Rouse/Special to the Gazette
On the Monday before Thanksgiving, well over 300 Mission Hill neighbors primed their palates at the 2nd annual ‘Savor the Flavor of Mission Hill’ event at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) Griffin Building function room overlooking the Boston skyline. A spectacular evening of fellowship, music, awards and exquisite edibles prepared by the Mission Hill business community was had by all. MCPHS President Charlie Monahan greeted the guests, while MCPHS and Wentworth student volunteers catered to any wish by the attendees. Every neighborhood notable was in attendance, sampling platefuls of the very best victuals from local shops at tables adorned with fabulous floral arrangements donated by Coleen’s Flower Shop in Dorchester. A variety of Irish soups from Flann’s started the food line, followed by Greek delicacies from Mama’s Place and grilled Spanish fare from Montecristo and Chacho’s. Italian edibles from Penguin and Lilly’s Gourmet Pasta, along with Irish foodstuffs from the Squealing Pig and The Crossing bar, lay beside delicacies from Tremont House of Pizza, AK’s Takeout, Subway, Kwik-E Subs and the Mission Bar and Grill. Chinese chow from Wok n’ Talk, Brazilian and Mideast cuisine from Crispy Dough, Flames’ spicy Jamaican comestibles, Halal’s Indian dishes and Ethiopian and Somali cookery from Butterfly Cafe made the meal truly international. Luscious baked deserts and cakes lovingly prepared by Green T Coffeeshop and Mike’s Donuts overflowed on fancy trays to be washed down with an array of beverages donated by Dunkin’ Donuts. (I’m getting hungry just writing this!) These are only some of the foodstuffs presented, because every business owner seemed to be trying to outdo each other by supplying their special homemade favorites, as well.
Master of Ceremonies Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez kept the awards program moving and the speechifying to a minimum. Our annual great neighbor awards were bestowed upon some exceptional folks who go above and beyond in so many ways. Outgoing Community Alliance of Mission Hill President Rich Johnson, Mission Grammar Principal Maura Bradley, Roxbury Tenants of Harvard (RTH) Activities Director Laura Adams and longtime neighborhood Boston Police Patrolman John Ridge were recognized for their years of selfless leadership actions. Energetic elderly activists Anna Adams from RTH, Irene Key from the Alice Taylor development and Joan Shivers each had throngs of fans among the audience when they were honored, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Barry Toomey described the many kindnesses performed by Charlesgate resident Judith Connors.
The much sought-after annual Golden Broom award went to fantastic cook Tina Savvidis, owner of Mama’s Place, for her constant diligence to operating an immaculately clean establishment. The well-deserved Kevin Fitzgerald Friend of Mission Hill Award was given to the Tobin Community Center Administrative Coordinator John Jackson. Main Streets created a new award this year to honor a local institution that demonstrates exceptional neighborliness titled the Cherished Neighborhood Asset Award. Everyone rose to their feet when it was announced that the New England Baptist Hospital earned the prize. There was even a bit of drama during the evening when District City Councilor Michael P. Ross was absent when everyone was anticipating seeing him receive the Outstanding Public Servant Award. Mike still showed up later even though his dad had been admitted to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center after suffering a stroke. I know I speak for everyone when I say we are all praying for a swift recovery to one of the finest men I’ve known for over 35 years, the councilor’s father, the great Steve Ross.
The raffle and silent auction prizes generated lots of buzz. Barry Toomey’s beautiful framed photos of Mission Hill, the two-night stay from Tom Donnelly and the EnVision Hotel, L.B. Gratun’s original jazz series acrylic painting and the Mario Testino Exhibition tickets, Art of the Americas catalog and wooden keepsake box donated by the Museum of Fine Arts’ executive Mark Kerwin helped to give the party a classy tone. A note of appreciation to everyone who helped made the night such a hit. A special thank you goes to the function chairman, Michel Soltani from the Mission Bar. His Energizer Bunny zeal in always helping every business in Mission Hill prompted his colleagues to make this Savor the Flavor the premier social event of the year.
Finally, a word of praise for everyone who helped to make the Mission Hill Youth Collaborative’s Halloween on the Hill so much fun. It was a scene worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting and was so heartily received that the entire neighborhood is clamoring for an even larger event next year. Well done. Thanks as well to everyone who decorated Mission Hill for the holiday season and, as this column concludes, with no more to write, I say “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
The writer is the executive director of Mission Hill Main Streets.