What’s Happening on Main Streets

By Ellen Walker

Special to the Gazette

These days, the political field is going through so many changes, however, it is the local change that has caught our attention.  Mayor Marty Walsh has nurtured the main streets program and helped to grow this brainchild of his predecessor, over the years.  His support and guidance have strengthened each of the districts, and their directors.  Thank you, Mayor Walsh, with helping us to promote our unique neighborhoods, engage in economic development for small businesses, promote the vibrancy of our districts and engage with our communities and for all you have done for the City of Boston!

This past December, Mission Hill Main Streets was the recipient of a grant directed at helping inner city youth learn new skills by pairing them up with local businesses in paying jobs, enabling them to learn different skills while being mentored by both small business owners and community organizations.  Working closely with Joel Wool of the Boston Housing Authority and with the support of Representative Nika Elugardo, MHMS worked with eight different businesses and organizations to provide jobs ranging from property management, marketing, customer service and more.  Over 25 youth were employed in this pilot program including Julissa Garcia who worked in property management for Longwood Properties.   Julissa commented “I really enjoyed working in a private business environment. I learned some things about how the business operates.”  John Jackson, Administrative Coordinator at Tobin Community Center stated, “the program served as a way for young people to take benefit from gainful employment opportunities in their community.”  Karen Gately, Executive Director of Roxbury Tenants of Harvard added “this program has made a difference on many levels and provided the option for young people to be part of the solution.”  MHMS would like to thank all for their participation and support of this project and for working with us on such an important program. 

In addition, we would like to thank Robert Lewis of the Department of Public Works and his team.   The streets of Mission Hill are cleaned regularly and make our neighborhood more inviting!  Thanks to recent requests from residents to 311, a more comprehensive approach to the Mission Hill spring-clean-up effort is being developed. 

Any time there is a group of Mission Hill residents gathered, their camaraderie is evident.  It is amazing the number of times I hear a Mission Hill story such as “I went to Farragut School, attended Mission Church, shopped at Calumet Market, or had a drink at the Puddingstone Pub” when I meet people at social gatherings or City agency meetings.  On that note, here is a Mission Hill story that starts in Kosovo back in the 1990’s …

Valdet Abazi dreamt of emigrating from Kosovo to the U.S. to achieve the American dream.  In 2012, he recognized the first step of his dream.  When he arrived, Valdet began studying English then took several jobs here in Mission Hill.  He worked for Penguin Pizza, University House of Pizza, and Il Mondo’s while getting his college education.   He was very well integrated into the Mission Hill neighborhood while working to bring his family over to America.   Accepted at Northeastern University for the MBA program in 2017, another step in his American dream was recognized. He and his wife are immensely proud parents of 27-month-old twins.  He loves America so much as we helped his country win the war in the late 90’s and he is truly following the American Dream – family, work and home!

Now with East Boston Savings Bank, his heart is still with Mission Hill and he loves his new job stating, “East Boston Savings Bank is the best place to work ever!”  Recently, EBSB showed their ongoing support of MHMS programs through a generous donation.  Valdet also stated “during these difficult times with the pandemic, EBSB is helping small businesses who are applying for PPP loans.  So call or drop in to your local EBSB branch for more details.   Roxana Lemus at the Mission Hill branch at 1614 Tremont Street is available to help you!”  (His full story is on our website:  www.missionhillmainstreet.com)

As Winter continues around us and temperatures drop, many of us consider staying inside where it is warm with a great book, movie or playing games with family and friends but keep in mind, it is a good time to explore outdoors.  The Emerald Necklace Conservancy on the Fenway is promoting winter walks, the view from our neighborhood parks is invigorating and inspiring and the Mission Hill Farmers Market can be found most Saturday’s at Roxbury Crossing after 11:00am.  For those who want to remain indoors, both Mission Hill Yoga and Trillfit offer virtual classes.  So whether you chose to connect through facetime, Zoom and other social media apps or get out to experience our neighborhood, do connect, share, and enjoy your time together – indoors and out.

Until next month, please be safe, practice social distancing and wash your hands.

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.” Yoko Ono

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