I am writing as a community leader about the recent news that Hyde Square Task Force is planning to sell Blessed Sacrament Church with no restrictions. When I moved in 1972 from Mission Hill to Forbes Street in Jamaica Plain, the Blessed Sacrament Church became my place of worship, until 2002, when the doors were closed by the Archdiocese of Boston. In 1980 I started as a community organizer to create community and engage residents, including the Latino community. We got help from Sister Virginia Mulhern and Father Donahue at Blessed Sacrament, plus Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC.) We worked together to lobby and advocate for justice and affordable housing. Blessed Sacrament Church was a center of our work for social justice.
Every 10 years, the federal government conducts a U.S. Census, counting every person living in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and five U.S. territories. This is more than just a headcount; the Census determines everything from representation in Congress, to federal funds for schools, affordable housing, infrastructure, and healthcare programs.
As Boston continues to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and work towards an equitable recovery, Federal funding will play a key role in providing relief for our small business owners, veterans, renters, our healthcare sector, and more. Much of the recovery aid that Washington will allocate is based on our population’s size determined by the Census. Filling out the 2020 Census is a great way to support healthcare workers, first responders, and other people on the front lines from the safety of your home. It will also help Boston respond to future emergencies by increasing data accuracy and federal dollars for community health centers and hospitals.
With triple Boston’s rate of COVID-19 infection and six times the rate of Massachusetts as a whole, Chelsea’s 40,000 residents have experienced far more than their fair share of the pandemic. Chelsea is a close-knit community, so everyone knows someone who has gotten sick, and many know someone who has died. I'm a Jamaica Plain resident Stefanie Shull, and I run the CONNECT economic mobility partnership based at The Neighborhood Developers. CONNECT serves 3,500 people/year, most of whom live in Chelsea, Revere, Everett, Malden, and East Boston. Before the pandemic hit, I was focused on building more robust training and job placement services in the area, to take advantage of the strong economy. As the U.S. outbreak took hold in early March, it was clear that would need to be set aside. Having worked on post-Katrina recovery in Louisiana for three years, I felt like I had some idea of what was coming.
Starting May 6 all Massachusetts residents are required to wear face coverings when unable to social distance. But we all know a lot of people are not wearing them. Lots of us are wearing face coverings all the time once we leave home. Newly-sewn ones, bandanas, sports-themed ones, MacGyver-ed masks, and more. Some folks are wearing them when they can't socially distance.
During this public health emergency, many of us are feeling stressed and anxious. Days are uncertain and our routines have shifted. Many people are working remotely, or have lost their jobs. Students are learning online. Many of our favorite events have been canceled.