Hyde Square Task Force to Sell Blessed Sacrament to Developer for Income-Restricted Units, Community Space

The Hyde Square Task Force has chosen developer Pennrose to sell the Blessed Sacrament Church, which will turn it into affordable housing, community space, and more. A letter signed by HSTF Executive Director Celina Miranda and Board leadership was sent to local stakeholders, elected officials, and community leaders that outlined some of the benefits Pennrose is committed to providing. “We recognize that this is the beginning of a partnership with Pennrose,” said Miranda. “The HSTF Board believes that Pennrose has the highest likelihood of a great outcome for the community and for our organization.”

Pennrose proposed income-restricted housing with at a minimum:
● <30% AMI: 8 units (15%)
● <50% AMI: 8 units (15%)
● <60% AMI: 16 units (30%)
● <120% AMI: 20 units (40%)

Pennrose has also committed to providing community space for 200+ people in which the HSTF would remain the operator of this space for the long term. Pennrose has also committed to outdoor community space in front, converting the baptistery to an open-air performance gazebo, and to respecting the existing outdoor green space to the west of the church, said the letter.


JP’s VOAMASS Awarded Nearly $9.2 Million to Address Behavioral Health Needs

Volunteers of America of Massachusetts (VOAMASS), a Jamaica Plain based nonprofit that creates opportunities for individuals through residential and outpatient behavioral health treatment, re-entry for justice-involved individuals, veteran services, and senior living, recently announced that it has been awarded four grants – totaling nearly $9.2 million – to address behavioral health needs in several eastern Massachusetts communities. The four grants, three funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and one funded by The Humana Foundation, will be deployed over five years and are central to VOAMASS’s transition to an integrated service model. Through the new model, VOAMASS plans on breaking down barriers to independence and economic opportunity by providing behavioral health services through a trauma-informed, culturally competent, whole-person care approach. “We will be able to leverage these funds to support those we serve in breaking the cycle of poverty and homelessness and in getting treatment for substance use disorder and mental illness utilizing our new care model that addresses root causes and not symptoms,” said Charles Gagnon, President and CEO of VOAMASS. “We will also be able to extend this model to far more communities and offer a broader range of services that will help clients realize their full potential.”

VOAMASS will prioritize serving high-risk populations, including homeless, chronically unemployed, low-income, and BIPOC communities, veterans, and people re-entering society from incarceration.


Ethos’ Candidates Forums: District 6 on Oct. 13; Mayoral Candidates on Oct. 15

Jamaica Plain based nonprofit Ethos is solely devoted to keeping elders at home, and has always created opportunities to bring issues that are relevant to older adults to the forefront of debate among candidates for office and elected officials. With that in mind, Ethos will be hosting two forums, one for Boston City Council's District 6 race and a mayoral forum. Ethos will be hosting its Boston City Council District 6 candidates forum virtually with Kendra Hicks and Mary Tamer on Oct. 13 from 11 am to 12:30 pm. Ethos will be hosting its mayoral candidates forum virtually with At-Large City Councilors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George on Friday, October 15, from 11:30 am to 1 pm.


First Baptist Continues to Fight Hunger with $100,000 Grant

The First Baptist Church recently received a $100,000 grant from Mass General Brigham to grow its sit down meals and food deliveries service. When COVID hit, First Baptist could no longer provide meals inside its location, said Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird. "We said, let's deliver to them. It was two meals a week, which quickly became three meals," said Wiest-Laird. Soon they were providing three meals a week up to 300 households in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Roslindale, Dorchester, Hyde Park, and more.


Community Servings Prepares 10 Millionth Medically Tailored Meal

When Community Servings was founded in 1990, a small group of volunteers delivered 30 hot dinners to nourish people struggling with wasting syndrome associated with HIV/AIDS. Today, more than three decades later, the Jamaica Plain nonprofit organization has cooked up its 10 millionth scratch-made meal as its mission has expanded to serve individuals with a wide range of illnesses. “This milestone is a matter of pride for the 70-plus employees and dozens of daily volunteers whose collective mission is to prepare medically tailored meals in the kitchen of Community Servings and deliver them to people in need across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said David B. Waters, CEO of Community Servings. “We can count our progress by the millions now, but what we do really comes down to two words: food heals.”

To celebrate the milestone meal, a result of rapid growth over the last two years, Community Servings welcomed elected officials and community leaders, including U.S. Representative James P. McGovern (MA-2nd), a leading voice on hunger policy and longtime “food as medicine” champion, to its 31,000-square-foot “Food Campus” in Jamaica Plain on Sept. 13.