Opinion: Honoring Boston’s Backbone — Our Labor Force

It has been a year of uncertainty but as the days grow longer and warmer, vaccinations continue and the number of COVID-19 cases trend in the right direction, there is a sense of hope on the horizon. As this time of stress and uncertainty tapers off, we should never forget the people who made a difference during these darkest of times. Just as we honor our veterans of the armed forces on specific holidays throughout the year, from now on we need to always remember that not all heroes wear uniforms. On May 1, we began the month by commemorating May Day or International Workers Day. It is a day set aside to commemorate the gains and struggles made by workers and the labor movement in our world. May Day is especially important this year as a commemoration of the immeasurable contribution that front-line workers made here in Boston and across the globe during this past year. 
When Boston and our country faced the greatest public healthcare emergency in over a century, healthcare professionals showed up day-after-day-after-day.


Opinion: Marking Developmental Disability Awareness Month During the COVID Crisis

My connection to Best Buddies and the Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Community started with a bit of a selfish desire. I really wanted to meet Tom Brady. I would gladly pedal in a charity bike ride if I got to meet the G.O.A.T. But what came from that initial interest in meeting Brady, turned into one of the most transformative experiences of my life. It started me on a journey that forged life-long friendships with partners cemented by countless hours of training at Regan’s Motivated Fitness in South Boston and across the streets of Greater Boston. Best Buddies International has a mission of enhancing the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities by creating one-to-one opportunities for friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living situations.


Opinion: Connect the Dots & Continuing to Enrich Boston’s Braille Legacy

In the fifth grade, when most students were thinking of whether they would study Spanish or French heading to middle school, I started a time-consuming, difficult, life-changing project with the incredibly patient Mrs. Rowe. This slow process was one that required me to learn how to place my hands on paper and move them from left-to-right, line-to-line; identifying letters of the alphabet that I had just learned to print a few years earlier. Those letters, that I once traced with a pencil, were now being represented as a series of six raised dots across the page. Combining these movements and the series of dots into words, sentences, and ultimately pages, I learned braille. January marks the annual commemoration of Braille Literacy Month.


Opinion: More Representation of People with Disabilities is Needed in America

When I went blind at age 10, I frequently found that the first thing I heard from others—family, friends, and strangers alike—was something along the lines of how terrible it was, how sorry they were for me, or how that person could not imagine what I was going through. 

These reactions make an impact on you and make you begin to question what your life will be like moving forward and whether the dreams you once had for yourself are now possible. I found these negative thoughts hard to silence because I struggled to find examples of others like me who were blind and who had still accomplished their dreams. There were no blind athletes competing in Olympics, Super Bowls, or World Series; no blind people winning on election night; no blind people accepting Oscars, Emmys or Tony Awards; and it was rare, if ever, that I remember blind people being discussed in the news. For a group of people consisting of roughly one out of every four American adults and who are the largest demographic minority in our country, it is astonishing how infrequently the stories of the disability community are told in society. Storytelling is a powerful way to provide positive role models for people within the disability community and to educate others outside of it about the experience of what it is actually like living with a disability. This December 3 in honor of the International Day of People with Disabilities, let’s strive to share more stories and experiences of people with disabilities and let’s start with these three steps.


Opinion: Boston Needs Stable Housing That is Both Affordable and Accessible

I began my career in housing first working with individuals facing homelessness in California at Sacramento Loaves and Fishes and then as a housing advocate for the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance in Boston. The work showed me that housing is about more than finding a place to live. Stable housing plays a role in creating a solid foundation for improving someone’s health and their ability to receive support for mental health issues, recovery and addiction, and trauma. Reliable housing can also enable connections to transportation, education, and work opportunities. COVID-19 has only made the work of providing housing more difficult and important.