Mass Eye & Ear Infirmary at 800 Huntington Ave. proved to be perfect setting for the Mission Hill Main Streets Awards Night on June 22, where over two hundred guests gathered to recognize local worthies and celebrate this wonderful little corner of Boston. Certainly the capstone of the event was the presentation of the Honorable Kevin W. Fitzgerald Friend of Mission Hill Award, which is presented annually to an individual whose actions personify the boundless love for the Mission Hill people exhibited by the life of the late state representative.
The Fitzgerald family conferred the prize this year to Mayor Martin J. Walsh. When Kevin Fitzgerald’s eldest son John approached, an eerie feeling came over the room. This handsome and hilariously enthusiastic speaker somehow made you feel as if you were observing a professional impersonator or perhaps, the reincarnation of the legend himself. The apple does NOT fall far from the tree! His introduction had the audience howling.
Mayor Walsh then regaled the crowd with Fitz stories from their years of sharing an office in the State House, of assisting constituents, funny Mission Hill incidents, and even deathbed stories about the power of sobriety in their lives. There was not a dry eye in the house and it was Mayor Marty at his best.
Mission Hill Main Streets bestows a photograph of our basilica spires to each of seven worthy individuals chosen by our Board of Directors who enrich our community and are called Great Neighbor Awards. Briefly and alphabetically, they are:
David P. Armstrong, a retired Air Force Master Sergeant who helps his old neighborhood each month, year in, year out, coming from West Roxbury to open and re-arrange the church hall for the Mission Hill Crime Committee then straightens up and is the last to leave. David’s relatives came from as far away as Georgia and Kentucky to attend the event.
Jim Burke is the first person you encounter in his volunteer role with the Community Alliance of Mission Hill. Each year, hundreds of individuals get their first impression of Mission Hill by this Renaissance man’s warm welcome.
With her warm Southern charm, Ida Graves became intimately involved over the years with the Tobin Community Center, ABCD, the Youth Task Force, Mission Possible Camp, and other programs designed to keep youngsters busy and on the straight and narrow. Never a seeker of recognition, this Grand Lady was shocked when a cake appeared and all joined in celebrating that day, her 85th birthday.
From high atop Iroquois Street, neighborhood stalwart and Postal retiree Mitch Hilton uses his enthusiasm to educate young people, as well as assist elderly veterans getting to their medical appointments. Mitch is unable to hide his love of his fellow neighbors on Mission Hill.
The Boston Police Athletic League Director Bill Stoddard is a steadfast supporter of Mission Hill Main Streets, in addition to his years of capable leadership of the largest police athletic league in Massachusetts, which is proudly headquartered on Mission Hill.
If there is any important gathering for the Mission Hill community, you’ll find David Welch there. This tough, shrewd, questioning, resolute, gentleman cares deeply about this community and its people.
Most mornings you’ll find Frank Williams sipping his coffee with the other Mission Hill Philosophers at Mike’s Donuts, then he buttonholes the appropriate politician, cop, coach, minister, or utility worker to resolve whatever problem besets the neighborhood that day. When we hold our various community clean-ups, Frank is always the first to arrive and lend a hand and has performed a thousand acts of kindness. Next month, I will describe the other honorees.
Perhaps you’ve noticed some large grey flower pots along the streets of the commercial district. Twenty of these handsome containers were purchased through a generous grant from the Mission Hill/Fenway Neighborhood Trust and you will watch these petunia vessels bloom throughout the summer. They are great.
I wish to extend the best wishes of the entire community on the upcoming wedding of the aforementioned John Fitzgerald next week. This young man is quite a character. In order to shed a few pounds before his big day, he decided to train for a three-round boxing match last month at the House of Blues as part of the charitable Haymakers for Hope program. The amateur pugilist made it out alive while simultaneously raising donations in excess of $10,000 towards the Dana-Farber Cancer Research Hospital. Thankfully, no black eyes will ruin the wedding photos.