SCI Connector Newsletter Spring 2007
The first project led by new Program Coordinator Trang Le, the theme for the April clean-up was “Lynn - Show the Beauty Within.” Community response was very enthusiastic, with Lynn residents eager to participate and Downtown Lynn businesses also committing to clean their storefronts as part of the cleanup effort.
According to Le, participants in the Downtown Lynn community meetings, facilitated by SCI beginning in 2006 and continuing to the present, selected neighborhood beautification as their top priority for 2007. The meetings were originally convened in response to a survey of Downtown residents in which respondents indicated being both uninvolved and eager to become more involved.
“There are great services in Lynn, but people just don’t know where to go,” said Le, who assumed the role of Program Coordinator in late February. “That’s why a program like SCI Lynn is such a great concept–it’s a platform to merge with all the other agencies and increase awareness both outside and between these agencies about what’s happening in Lynn.”
Following the clean-up, SCI Lynn held 3 brainstorming sessions to get suggestions and ideas from the residents and businesses. City officials, police, representatives from various agencies and residents all came together to discuss their concerns and potential solutions. Ideas for future projects include a community garden in Olympia Square as a memorial for the fallen firefighters and police officers, organizing a neighborhood crime watch, a Civic Welcome Wagon for new Lynn residents, and facilitating more neighborhood clean-ups to bring neighbors out to meet one another.
In addition to the meetings, the SCI Lynn website and weekly eBlast e-mails are also helping Lynn residents get connected to civic life. Sent out every Thursday, the Lynn eBlast already has 300 subscribers, according to Le. The new SCI Lynn community website, modeled after the SCI Dorchester website launched in December 2006, is also being utilized by residents for posting events, bulletin board entries, and blog posts. The site is even being used to compile a database of local summer activities that will be published both online and in the Daily Item, Lynn’s major news daily.
But Le says the overall goal of SCI Lynn is to not only inform people of civic activities, but to connect residents with one another.
“My job is to bring people together,” Le said. “I know it sounds corny, but when people share hope and trust, they bond and live longer. They enjoy a better quality of life. But these things have to first grow from within. That's the concept we are trying to get out. It's building social capital.”
SCI Lynn is coordinated through a partnership between Social Capital Inc. (SCI), the City of Lynn Health Division, and Communities that Care. Major funding is provided by the Boston Foundation and the Herman and Frieda L. Miller Foundation.
“Model Citizens” Honored in Dorchester
Held on a beautiful spring evening at Standish Village, SCI’s 2nd Annual Model Citizens Awards Ceremony honored volunteers for building social capital and increasing civic engagement in the Dorchester community.
This year’s 2007 Model Citizen Award finalists were Kadani Abadi and Lynn Lazar nominated by Louis D. Brown Peace Institute; Rosanne Foley nominated by DotWell; Kim Howard nominated by Jain Ruvidich-Higgins of UMass Boston; Shelia Larson nominated by daughter Sarah Larson; Carla Smith nominated by SCI Dorchester; Gloria-Ann Vieira nominated by José Cruz, SCI Dorchester and the Peace Institute; Patsy Williams and Stan Williams nominated by The Franklin Park Coalition; and Val Woumn nominated by Terri Smith of Bank of America.
Two special Model Citizens Service Awards were also awarded to SCI Dorchester’s AmeriCorps members, Leah Moschella, Massachusetts Promise Fellow and Youth Program Coordinator; and Eliza Wilson, Fund Development & Marketing AmeriCorps*VISTA.
According to Dorchester Site Director Marisa Luse, organizations all over Dorchester are afforded the opportunity to nominate an outstanding volunteer who helps to build community and makes an impact that is felt throughout the community. “At SCI Dorchester we believe in the power and spirit of volunteerism in our community and want to take the time to recognize their contributions,” said Luse.
Gloria Ann Vieira, a 2007 Model Citizen recipient and active Dorchester leader stated, “I felt honored to receive the Model Citizen Award from SCI Dorchester because my peers nominated me and they think it’s important to do good for your community. Volunteering is a good thing and giving back to your neighborhood is even better. When I see something that I have worked on with others come to fruition it makes all the volunteering I do more than worthwhile.”
Woburn Prepares for “WorldFest”
Spurred to action by their community’s growing cultural and ethnic diversity, a coalition of Woburn groups led by SCI has set a date of Saturday, June 23rd for the first ever WorldFest Woburn!, a celebration of differences that will take place in Woburn Center.
“Much of the momentum for this event came out of one of our Youth Adult Connection (YAC) meetings in 2006,” says SCI President David Crowley. “These are meetings where youth and adults come together to discuss ways of improving the community, and one YAC meeting last year inspired a local high school student, Priynk Patel, to take action on the issue of diversity in Woburn.”
Census data shows Woburn growing increasingly diverse, including a significant increase of residents of color between 1990 and 2000, and enrollment of students of color at Woburn schools had doubled since 1994. Even more compelling than the data, however, was the need for an event like WorldFest Woburn! to acknowledge and celebrate Woburn’s changing demographics.
Community response to the festival has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Mike Sances, an AmeriCorps*VISTA serving with SCI. “We have groups representing Sri Lankan, Brazilian, Irish, Greek, Scandinavian, Argentinean, Costa Rican cultures, and that’s just a short list,” said Sances. “We’ve pretty much got the full range of cultures participating in WorldFest.”
Along with table exhibits featuring arts and crafts, ethnic foods, and educational information about different cultures, the event will also feature music and dance performances, including concerts at 3:30 pm and 6:00 pm.
Initial partnering organizations for WorldFest Woburn! include the YMCA of Greater Boston, the Woburn Guild of Artists, the Woburn Redevelopment Authority, the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, the United Methodist Church, Boys & Girls Club of Woburn, and the Woburn Police Department. The lead sponsor is Whole Foods of Woburn. Other sponsors include Central Bank; Skylight Studios, Inc.; and Jodi Crowley, Arbonne International.
Click here to download the Spring 2007 Connector as a PDF