What’s Happening on Main Streets

The Mission Hill Crime Committee (MHCC) hosted their annual shindig in the Mission Parish Hall on May 28, with the group awarding plaques to Boston Police District B-2 commander Capt. John Davin and two local business owners for their steadfast support of our city’s oldest continuously operating crime watch.

When Capt. Davin is unable to attend one of MHCC’s monthly neighborhood gatherings, he knows Sgt. Sam Silta or Community Services Officer Jerry Smart will always be there, along with MBTA Transit Police and campus officers from Wentworth, MassArt and Harvard.

Mission Bar owner Michel Soltani and Dermot Doyne, owner of Penguin Pizza, accepted accolades from local activists for their unfailing assistance to our local crimefighters.

Iqbal Khan, owner of Halal Indian Cuisine, joined his pals Michel and Dermot in catering the free affair.  Each year, neighbors pitch in bringing homemade goodies like Eileen Galvin’s exquisite Irish bread and Jeannine Barry’s elaborately decorated cake shaped like a Boston Police cruiser. MHCC’s true unsung hero is that queen of confection, Maria Weinograd, owner of Mike’s Donuts. The annual party is a way for these neighborhood activists to thank everyone involved.

The community turned the tables this year and presented Mission Bar gift cards to Mary Todd and Toni Komst for their years of leadership. David Welch expounded on the history of the group, astonishing many of the newcomers in the audience with his vivid descriptions and dates. Councilor Zakim, Rep. Sánchez and Sen. Chang-Díaz each shared tales about the effectiveness of the group.

A capacity crowd attended this year’s Mission Hill Main Streets (MHMS) Awards Reception on June 2 at the Beacon Hill mansion, the Parkman House. The lavish catering by Lilly’s Gourmet Pasta owner Matt Postal was the talk of the evening, and the following institutions and individuals were honored.

The “Cherished Neighborhood Asset Award” was bestowed upon a wonderfully responsible institutional neighbor, Wentworth Institute of Technology. Generous to all, their students and faculty involve themselves in helping countless Mission Hill charities and nonprofits. This year’s award was graciously accepted by Sandy Pascal from the President’s Office along with their outstanding VP and campus overseer, Mission Hill native Mike Pankievich.

The Museum of Fine Arts is considered one of the premier cultural institutions in the world and its chief financial officer is a humble Boston native who cares deeply the City’s neighborhoods. Need-based nonprofits have a true friend in Mark Kerwin, who encourages the next generation through various art education programs where kids coming from boys and girls clubs, local schools, scouting, community centers and other neighborhood programs are exposed to great art. Mr. Kerwin is a low key, generous man who always asks “How can I help?” and cares deeply for the least among us and has been a stalwart friend to our small business district. MHMS Board of Directors felt it is important to recognize those who attempt to avoid the spotlight at all cost, yet strive to make a difference in the lives of others, and established its first “Salt of the Earth Award,” which it presented to Mark Kerwin.

An earnest and intelligent young man with a famous last name emerged victorious in the district City Council election two years ago and in short order established a reputation as a visible leader. Josh Zakim became a serious lawmaker, respected as an effective voice by his colleagues who appreciates, articulates and promotes the importance of small business to the health and survival of urban neighborhoods. Mission Hill Main Streets wanted to both recognize and encourage Councilor Josh Zakim to continue his quality service by naming him this year’s “Outstanding Public Servant.”

A special prize called the “Golden Broom Award” is given to one local business which keeps its premises spic and span throughout the year. Diarmuid and Sarah O’Neill, longtime active members of Mission Hill Main Streets, are an amazing couple who, in addition to running a first-class establishment in our back yard, own a second Squealing Pig in Provincetown, and are set to open their third restaurant called Eat with Jack O’Neill in West Roxbury. Their focus on all the important basics like quality service, excellent product and cleanliness has earned for the Squealing Pig our Golden Broom Award.

Mission Hill Main Streets’ highest accolade, “The Kevin Fitzgerald Friend of Mission Hill Award,” is presented to that special person who personifies the unique attributes of our late great state representative. Fitz’s infectious positivity and innate kindness to everyone he met made you want to become a better person. Kevin’s widow Tricia, their children and Kevin’s brother Brian were on hand to congratulate this year’s honoree, Christine Dwyer. Chris’ solid support for every worthwhile local endeavor has made hers the public face of New England Baptist Hospital which, in turn, has endeared that institution to the entire neighborhood. When a neighborhood group or individual needs assistance, it doesn’t just receive a check. You get Chris…which is so much better than money. Chris Dwyer’s enthusiastic, decisive confidence earned for her, the Kevin Fitz Award.

The 2015 Business of the Year, Montecristo Mexican Grill, and Volunteer of the Year, Father Phil Dabney, C.Ss.R. were recognized, as well as Vinnie McDermott representing Brigham & Women’s Hospital for two decades as MHMS’s Corporate Buddy. Councilor Zakim publicly thanked Mayor Martin Walsh, Public Works Commissioner Michael Dennehy, Deputy Commissioner Mike Brohel, City Lighting Director Glenn Cooper and the MHMS Design Committee chaired by Nick Guertin for their combined efforts at arranging for new attractive acorn style street lights to be installed this coming fall along Tremont Street from Roxbury Crossing to Brigham Circle.

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

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