By Ellen Walker
Special to the Gazette
On Thursday, June 20, Mission Hill Main Streets celebrated its 22nd annual awards event in the stunning Richard E. Griffin Academic Center. Located on the 6th floor the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS). This spectacular floor to ceiling glassed hall overlooking Huntington Avenue is a stunning vista for this special evening and Main Streets extends its sincere appreciation to MCPHS President Charles Monahan, Jr., for facilitating our use of the delightful setting, to all his staff who worked on the event and to MCPHS’ continued support of Mission Hill Main Streets.
My opening remarks were followed by MHMS Board President Gar Chiang, who introduced the Board members. Gar labels the Board members as “the heart and soul of the organization.” I cannot agree more! There are so many people and organizations to thank that I cannot list them all here but know that all of you make our neighborhood more vibrant every day.
Councilor Josh Zakim spoke for a few minutes to the audience acknowledging his years of service and support to Mission Hill, which was enthusiastically applauded by all. He was followed by remarks from the City’s newest At-Large-Councilor, Althea Garrison. Several council hopefuls running to succeed Zakim were in attendance, as well Kenzie Bok, Kristen Mobilia and Montes Hayward. The Mayor’s Office was represented by our new Mission Hill community liaison Shanice Pimental and by Stephen Gilman from the Boston Office of Business Development.
The theme for the event this year was “Friends.” Several neighborhood residents, students, institutions, developers and small businesses were recognized as friends of Mission Hill Main Streets program. The Outstanding Public Servant Award was presented to Representative Jeffrey Sanchez for his 16 years of advocacy for the community and his diligent work for his constituents here in Mission Hill. This was followed by the Golden Broom Award, presented for the cleanest and most welcoming shop in the neighborhood. The recipients this year were Solid Ground Café owners Lucia and Keith Patrick – great job!
We then bestowed Great Neighbor Awards to Northeastern University’s Ambassadors program for student volunteer efforts that contribute to bettering the Mission Hill neighborhood. Tony Lee won this year’s “inspiration to youth” for leadership and volunteer service with local young people. Tony was raised in Mission Hill and attended the Thomas Johnson Community Center and BCYF Tobin Community Centers and is a Sergeant with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. The third recipient is Johanna Sena of Wentworth Institute of Technology who worked diligently to ensure that MH youth attend Wentworth through the Jimmie Beverly Scholarship. Our final great neighbor is Patrick O’Connor, a Mission Hill resident whose love for Mission Hill is without question!
Our highest award is the Honorable Kevin W. Fitzgerald “Friend of Mission Hill Award” and it is given to an individual who displays many of the virtues possessed by our late, great legislator Kevin Fitz; a beloved human dynamo who loved the people of Mission Hill. This years’ awardee displayed many of Kevin’s compassionate qualities in care for those in need. Father Philip Dabney of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has left an indelible mark in the hearts of local residents and made Mission Hill a better place for everyone.
Our 2019 Business of the Year Award is awarded to Milkweed Café as a business that personifies those values imbued in small business America, supporting neighborhood causes and assisting fellow small business owners. Ben Johnson and David and Holly Cawley accepted the award.
The Business of the Year Award (and Volunteer of the Year) will officially be awarded by Mayor Walsh with a trolley parade visiting Mission Hill later this summer.
The 2019 Volunteer of the Year Award is one who is generous to those in need and will help anyone who needs a hand. This year’s recipient is Maurice “Mossy” Martin and if you drop by Mike’s Donuts on most given days of the week, you’ll encounter Mossy Martin holding court, drinking coffee and discussing news, politics, and sports with a crew of neighbors. A sports and history savant, he is a fountain of neighborhood knowledge. Whether working at the New England Baptist Hospital, providing assistance to a neighbor in need, or writing his monthly community article for the Gazette, Mossy Martin is a genuine neighborhood gem.
In honor of his efforts for both the Mission Hill neighborhood and for the Mission Hill Main Streets Board of Directors role as its former President, Michel Soltani was surprised with a special recognition award. For over 30 years, he has been an integral part of the Mission Hill neighborhood fabric. Fortunately for us, Michel still maintains his connections with Mission Hill small businesses and we frequently see him helping others throughout the neighborhood.
The evening closed with the crowd’s favorite – raffle prizes and auction items generously donated from an array of generous neighborhood concerns– J.P. Licks, Great Hill Dental, NE Baptist Hospital, Stop & Shop, Museum of Fine Arts and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – just to name a few!
“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” -Charles Bowden