By Ellen Walker, Special to the Gazette
As we begin 2022, MHMS continues our work focusing on making our neighborhood more inviting, vibrant, and colorful! There were many good times in the past year – the MH Road Race was run, the Boston Parks Department planted more trees in the neighborhood, Halloween on the Hill was an enormous success with Wally the Green Monster, MHMS honored Boston Building Resources as Business of the Year, both Alice and Cindy Diggs were recognized as Volunteers of the Year and Mama’s Place received the Golden Broom Award. Those are just a few of the highlights. This year will bring challenges and the people of Mission Hill will, as always, rise with strength and perseverance. MHMS is guided by our mission to promote the vibrancy of the neighborhood. We have already begun the planning of our 25th anniversary celebration of events and programs for the Mission Hill community. MHMS’ 2022 will be no doubt be full of delightful and eclectic surprises.
Early last month, John Jackson of BCYF Tobin and Jim Wice of Boston Self Help Center, arranged an “adaptive sports and recreation demonstration” for the Mission Hill community at the BCYF Tobin Center that included the local Boston Brakers, an amateur wheelchair soccer team. The event featured volt hockey, power soccer, bocce, martial arts and more. All the sports are designed for those with physical mobility impairments. Volt hockey made its debut in the US in this past November and allows individuals with both upper and lower body mobility impairments to compete in this sport. For more information on Boston Self Help Center please go to bostonselfhelpcenter.org. The Tobin continues to play an essential role in cultivating community spirit which is so important to a thriving neighborhood like Mission Hill.
Northeastern University (NU), one of our institutional supporters with board representation for over 15 years, has been instrumental in linking their student volunteers to assist our many programs and services to the Mission Hill community. To connect with the youth in the neighborhood, NU’s Athletics Department and the Community and Government Engagement Department have partnered with BPS (Boston Public School) Field Days for more than ten years. This means that thousands of students from the public schools in the City of Boston are hosted by NU for both women’s and men’s hockey games. On December 1st, students from the Timilty School here in the Mission Hill/Roxbury area, attended an exciting hockey match that had the NU Huskies women’s team trialing in the first half then overcame their long-time rivals BU (Boston University) to win 53-45! Adding to the enthusiasm of the game is the fact it is the first time since COVID that the games are being played in two years and it was fantastic for everyone involved – the teachers, players, and the students!
MHMS likes to introduce the personal background of our board members to the Gazette readers. This month, I am especially pleased to tell you about Joe Wong, an advisory board member and the story of another hometown boy that has “made good.” Joe is a first-generation Chinese-American, whose father, Gok Nay Wong arrived in the early 1950’s. Joe’s family had a laundry business at 1443 Tremont Street. Joe, his mother, and brother John arrived in Mission Hill in 1961, lived at the corner of Parker and Tremont Streets and all the siblings attended Mission Grammar.
Around early 1970, Joe’s father ventured into the restaurant business and was the first to serve Chinese food to Mission Hill residents and workers. He introduced some of the earlier chop suey dishes, such as egg foo young, pork with lobster sauce and chow mien. Brigham Circle Chinese Food still exists today and is recognized by the City of Boston as a Legacy business. Ten years later, when the opportunity arose, Gok and his partners – including Joe – purchased the building at the corner of Huntington Avenue bench located in in this block.
Joe is an exemplary Mission Hill business owner that recognizes the importance of a successful neighborhood business, and he generously gives back to the neighborhood. Joe loves Mission Hill, and we are honored by his unsolicited volunteerism and contributions to the community.
In January 2019, when Joe’s father passed away, he and his partners decided to honor the memory of three of the four original partners. Joe and his mother, along with Sandra Boesen and Barbara O’Connell, are dedicating a bench commemorating these hard-working, caring individuals who ran local businesses since the 1950’s and 1960’s. The bench is located at 638 Huntington Avenue with will soon have a plaque that reads: “In Loving Memory of Long Time Business Owners Gok Nay Wong, Don Boesen and Ed O’Connell.”
MHMS wishes a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year to all!
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
Phil Jackson, former player, coach and executive with the NBA holding the NBA record for the most combined championships, winning a total of 13 as a player and a coach.