What’s Happening on Main Streets

March 7, 2014
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The proverb, “March comes in like a lion” certainly applies this year, and let us hope that by the end of the month it lives up to its ending and “goes out like a lamb.”

Thousands of daffodils and tulips planted in Mission Hill over the past few autumns will certainly be a welcome sight this year. Springtime blooms should be widespread throughout the city with the concerted efforts of so many who planted bulbs before the first frost as a response to last year’s Marathon attack.

The Patriots’ Day tragedies bring to mind an event I attended several weeks ago. The 17th Annual Brendan Behan/Ronnie Doyle Charity Golf Tournament brought together many of the great people involved with the pouring establishments in Jamaica Plain’s Hyde Square and Mission Hill for bragging rights and to benefit a worthwhile cause. A check well in excess of $10,000 was presented by the reticent and beloved local publican Harry Walsh to bombing victim Roseann Sdoia of Dracut. Roseann described feelings of desperation on “the worst day of her life” when the blast removed most of her right leg. Amazingly, she shared how her life has been transformed by unsolicited acts of kindness and generosity from complete strangers like those gathered before her at the Brendan Behan Pub. Roseann’s simple and moving remarks brought a tear to every eye in attendance.

I’m happy to announce that this year’s selections for business and volunteer of the year were chosen at the February MHMS board meeting. The 2014 Business of the Year is Sofia’s Alterations and Cleaners at 824 Huntington Ave., which celebrates its 25th year serving our neighborhood. If you’ve ever been a customer, you’ve instantly become a friend of Sofia Marmanidis, whose old-fashioned craftsmanship and personal touch makes the shop a local mainstay.

The Volunteer of the Year is an icon at the Mission Main Development, Gloria Murray. A promoter of all good causes in Mission Hill, Gloria founded the Mission Main Concerned Residents Committee in 1998, publishes her popular newsletter, fights for improvements to Boston’s schools, volunteers with the Mission Hill Health Movement, and serves on the Mission Hill Task Force.

Both of these wonderful women will be honored later this year by Mayor Walsh.

As many of you may have heard, Sean Bender passed away on Feb. 2 in Canton, Ohio, after a long-running battle with cancer. As the former director of the Center for Community and Learning Partnerships, and more recently in charge of strategic initiatives, at Wentworth Institute, Sean was a driving force with Mission Hill Main Streets for many years.

June 1 would have been Sean’s 35th birthday and a coterie of his many friends in the area will gather to celebrate his life at the Mission Bar from 4 to 6 p.m. Maggie Cohn, Wentworth’s Sandy Pascal, and Sean’s roommate Kyle have chosen to mark the occasion in a way that Sean would have truly cherished: An exhibit of Sean’s stunning photo art and sharing in his passion for exotic cocktails at the Mission. Please plan to attend. There is no admission charge. However, if you wish, donations in Sean’s memory can be made to the Boston Main Streets Foundation at the event.

Mayor Marty Walsh showed he has the “right stuff” to lead this great city with one of his first appointments: Police Commissioner William Evans. Those of us who have worked with Bill Evans admire his energy, wisdom and compassion, and it was on display at the monthly Mission Hill Crime Committee meeting on Feb. 27. Mary Todd and Toni Komst brought the gathering to order and Father Phil Dabney set the right tone for the evening with a profound and witty welcoming invocation.

Questions started flying at the commissioner following his heartfelt opinions about what he sees as current public safety challenges. He patiently responded to every inquiry and I believe that everyone in attendance left Mission Parish Hall with a sense that a consummate professional is at the helm at police headquarters.

On a personal note, I have known all the Evans brothers since our days in elementary school. One searing memory I’d like to share is recognizing Bill Evans voice over the live television broadcast ordering the “cease fire” as the on scene commander at the capture of the Tsarnaev brothers in Watertown last April.

The next Crime Committee meeting will be their annual party on March 27, where the group will be celebrating their 30th year as the oldest continuous crime watch in Boston. Don’t miss it.

Finally, the Boston Main Streets Coalition that was formed by a group of my fellow Main Street directors will be hosting a working session/retreat on Sat., March 8 from 8:30 to 1 at the Hyde Park Municipal Building to discuss the potential benefits, pitfalls and opportunities of greater collaboration among the various Main Streets organizations. This is a follow-up to our creation of the policy briefings we established to accompany the highly successful mkayoral candidate forum held last year. Main Street directors and board members are invited and the general public is welcomed to attend. Local businesses are the backbone of Boston’s neighborhoods, so please, shop locally.

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

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