What’s Happening on Main Streets

“Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street.” The late Marvin Gaye wrote and Martha and the Vandellas sang that catchy tune, which perfectly captures the mood of Mission Hill with this wonderful weather. Last winter’s snows are quickly forgotten. Not!

On July 3, neighbors gathered at the Mission Bar for a surprise 96th birthday party for one of the sweetest women in Mission Hill, Melba Thompson. For more than 50 years, “Miss Melba” has seduced smiles from her fellow residents at the 75 St. Alphonsus Street apartment complex with her wit and kindly manner. She quipped that her birthday “always generates fireworks!”

Brigham & Women’s Hospital has lost one of its brightest stars with the departure of Vinnie McDermott, who leaves to quarterback the day-to-day operation of the Lahey Clinic. Mission Hill residents are sad at seeing Vin leave because of his friendly countenance and can-do attitude. Like Terry Francona leaving Fenway and Doc Rivers leaving the Celts, it is always sad to see the good ones go. Main Streets wishes him much success in the future.

Last month’s column featured the hoopla surrounding our major prize recipients at the Mission Hill Main Streets Awards Gala. Sadly, I neglected to list the 2015 Great Neighbor awardees. This omission was intentional though, because, I wanted to give these worthies their due and include a snippet from their event introductions at the Parkman House Gala.

Therefore, in no particular order, the awardees were…

A Main Streets enthusiast, Bruce Bickerstaff of the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals and a Mission Hill resident who diligently keeps his eye focused on all issues impacting the quality of life in every neighborhood, most especially ours.

A lifelong Mission Hiller, John Toner is always first to volunteer for Main Streets neighborhood cleanups and for whatever task, large or small, and sets the right tone for everyone in our community .

The Mission Hill Health Movement’s Angel Pizzaro fights to maintain the well-being of our community. You’ll find him delivering and sorting the $2 bags of produce on Wednesdays, organizing health fairs, or assisting the wheelchair-using soccer players at the Tobin Center.

A generous supporter of Mission Hill charities, Jack Harrington is the driving force behind the 16-bed group residence of the Home for Little Wanderers on Allegheny Street called Harrington House. His highly successful business, Atlantic Associates, has helped Jack to create this wonderful home for youngsters, similar to the happy Harrington family house where he grew up.

The strokes of Tina Pankievich’s paintbrush upon a canvas sets her apart when she transforms ordinary scenes of her beloved Mission Hill into extraordinary works of art. Tina’s creations convey, without ambiguity, her deep affection for the people and places she calls home.

As site manager at the prestigious address of 1575 Tremont St., Patricia Lane keeps residents happy living in Mission Hill. The tastefully spotless property is an asset to the entire neighborhood. Whether it’s the safety of kids in the children’s center, seniors safely traversing the streets, speeders respecting the traffic laws, or the welfare of those most in need, Patty is a stalwart advocate. Mission Hill is a better place with her here.

Five years ago, Tina Savvidis fulfilled her dream of opening a business in Mission Hill, showcasing her savory Greek recipes passed down through her family for generations. Mama’s Place became an instant hit in Brigham Circle. Family circumstances forced her to sell her successful business, but Mama’s continues to thrive. Tina returned to assist her brother at University House of Pizza, but the positive impression she made on this entire neighborhood has been unforgettable, making Tina a beloved neighbor.

Spinney Insurance’s success is no accident. Since 1989, Michael Spinney earned his well-deserved reputation for honest good service by word of mouth. Going above and beyond whenever their help is needed, one satisfied customer at a time, he is first in the hearts of his Mission Hill neighbors.

Eric Rivas grew up in Mission Hill and learned the banking trade from the ground up. Through diligence and devotion, he has risen to become the branch manager of the Santander Bank in Brigham Circle. Eric still finds time to coach local youngsters, to teach neighbors sensible banking practices, to promote small businesses, and to encourage our local farmers markets.

Cynthia and Garry Walling make Worthington Street such an attractive Mission Hill address by festooning evergreen wreaths along the street during the holidays and fostering the child-friendly character of their neighborhood. An outrageous proposal to inflict an enormous skyscraper amidst this quaint little hamlet spurred the Wallings to mobilize civic action, which has brought their rowhouse community closer than ever.

Our local farmers markets are back in operation on Tuesday afternoons in front of the Roxbury Crossing MBTA Station and on Thursday afternoons at the monument in Brigham Circle. Barry Twomey, our site manager extraordinaire, truly puts his heart and soul into making sure that both locations provide that down-home feeling.

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

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