What’s Happening on Main Streets

By Richard Rouse/Special to the Gazette

The long, cold days of winter are upon us, but activity abounds in the Mission Hill business district. After the holidays, it seems that merchants are lowering prices and offering discounts in their shops. This is an excellent time to look for specials when you shop locally.

The Mission Hill Youth Collaborative on Jan. 29 held a community breakfast at Mass. College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, highlighting their achievements and welcoming suggestions to keep our kids busy and positively engaged of the coming year. Collaborative Coordinator Maggie Casey brings enthusiasm and warmth to her tasks with an upbeat attitude that is infectious.

Boston Police Community Service Officer Jerry Smart was sick with a cold and unable to attend the monthly Mission Hill Crime Committee meeting last month. Capt. John Davin sent the newly assigned Sgt. Samil Silta to fill in and he introduced himself to the neighborhood. Silta is an 18-year veteran of the department who was a community service officer for many years in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood. Issues relating to significant student populations are certainly not new to him. In his off time, Silta teaches masters-level criminal justice courses at Curry College. His teaching skills are apparent and neighbors gave the sergeant a hearty welcome to the area.

At the end of the evening, two Northeastern students from their off-campus student services program described a new effort to recognize and encourage area students with a Good Neighbor Award. As we all know, the few bad apples can spoil the whole barrel for the responsible, helpful and positive students in our midst. Local merchants often tell me the overwhelming majority of their student customers are upstanding young people. Well, here’s an opportunity for you to give a pat on the back to that student who helps you with lugging heavy groceries or shoveling the sidewalk or steps forward to stop bad behavior by others. Northeastern University is seeking nominations before noon on Feb. 19. If you are interested, award nomination forms are available to you at [email protected] or by phoning 617-373-8480.

Neighbors down at Roxbury Tenants of Harvard (RTH) are delighted that a new executive director has finally been selected to replace Girma Belay. Karen Gately is a dynamic young woman who is a product of the neighborhood known to dazzle fans back in the day with her basketball skills at the Tobin gym. Running the day-to-day operations of nearly 1,000 affordable housing units is no picnic. However, someone with common sense and homegrown sensitivity to the Mission Hill community has a built-in advantage. Best wishes to Karen for a productive tenure representing the kindly residents of RTH.

Having an office across the street affords me the chance to witness the throngs of visitors to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica. People from all walks of life come by to visit, worship and offer prayers for loved ones undergoing treatment at nearby world-class medical facilities. I often see Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin dropping into the 12:10 Mass at the Mission Church. Galvin is one of the brightest and hardest-working public servants in our state government about whom there has been never a whiff of scandal or criticism. On the subject of prayer, the good intentions of the entire city offered for Mayor Tom Menino seems to have done the trick. Witnessing Hizzoner’s 20th State of the City Address on Jan. 29 affirmed to many that he’ll be off and running for another term this fall if he wishes. After eight weeks of confinement to a hospital bed, it was comforting to watch him sparkle off of the collective energy from his family and supporters at Faneuil Hall.

On Jan. 31, I witnessed something out of the ordinary in Brigham Circle. A phalanx of police motorcycles escorting newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came to a stop at the lights. As pedestrians crossed the street, there were waves to our outgoing senator followed by a spontaneous applause by nearly a dozen of us crossing the thoroughfare.  Kerry smiled and waved back to everyone gawking at the motorcade of black SUVs.

Two years ago at about the same time of day, I observed President Obama’s motorcade heading in the other direction up Huntington Ave. I am fascinated watching these brief moments when our national leaders suddenly appear amongst us and bring a halt to everyone attending to their routine business. Just as suddenly, the entourage passes, and everything is back to normal. I guess it’s true when people say you never know what you’re going to see in Mission Hill.

The writer is the executive director of Mission Hill Main Streets.

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