2017 Volunteer Appreciation Event

By Donna Le Bell

On Tuesday May 9th 2017, ABCD held its annual Volunteer Appreciation Event – a celebration commending the dedication, time, and continued efforts of ABCD’s volunteers, interns, and community partners. Hosted by Madeline Eleazar, ABCD’s Volunteer Coordinator, and Angelina Camacho, Program Manager-Financial Futures Initiative, the celebration included remarks from staff and volunteers alike, certificate presentations, and ended with an assortment of pastries and refreshments.

In his opening address, President/CEO John J. Drew emphasized the fundamental work volunteers contribute which allows ABCD to “expand [its] reach.” The reception also highlighted the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), a partnership between ABCD, the city of Boston, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The program’s 115 volunteer tax preparers played a crucial role in returning nearly $10 million to low-income Boston area residents during the 2016 tax year. While congratulating the VITA volunteers, Nerissa Smith, IRS SPEC Territory Manager, stated, “[Volunteers] are the link between the taxpayer and the IRS.”

Special awards were also presented to several community partners for their continued support for ABCD programs. These institutions included: Boston College’s PULSE Program for Service Learning, Boston University’s Alianza Latina, Pegasystems, Simmons College’s Nutrition Department, Capital One, and Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation. Urban College of Boston (UCB), a two-year college offering Associate degrees, certificate programs, and continuing education courses, received special recognition for their role in providing interns and work study students to ABCD programs.  Ardelia Lee-Hinton, a UCB Human Services Administration graduate, and  the event’s Volunteer Speaker, was recognized for her contributions within the ABCD Youth Services Department and at the Roxbury/N. Dorchester Neighborhood Opportunity Center.  She encouraged attendees to “take time to volunteer a couple of hours to help a senior [or] a couple of hours at a daycare to help a little child.”

Through their time and effort, volunteers have helped bring ABCD’s mission to life empowering disadvantaged people by providing them with the tools to overcome poverty, live with dignity, and achieve their full potential.

Thank you again to all our volunteers and interns for your hard work and accomplishments!

Ardelia Lee Hinton
Ardelia shares her ABCD volunteering experience with event attendees.
VITA
Madeline Eleazar, Volunteer Coordinator (left) and Sharon Scott-Chandler, Executive Vice President/COO (right) pose with Janice Mewborn, ABCD volunteer, for a photo as she receives her community service award
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Volunteer Groups Make Head Start Book Fair a Success!

By: Madeline Eleazar

On March 30th and 31st, ABCD’s Gertrude E. Townsend/Dorchester Head Start Program hosted a library dedication ceremony for their newly renovated library which was generously donated by the Mario Batali Foundation. At the same time, a Community Book Fair was open to community educators to attend and select free books for their students. Over 20,000 children’s books were donated by the social enterprise First Book for this event!  Both the Mario Batali Foundation and First Book are dedicated to the continued improvement of education and access to books for low-income children.

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Volunteers from DTCC pose with their book of choice from the book fair.

To help organize the pallets of donated books, ABCD enlisted the help of two volunteer groups, one comprised of employees from the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, based in the Seaport district, and the other a group of students belonging to Alianza Latina, the largest Latino/a

student group at Boston University. These volunteers worked tirelessly over a period of two days to sort and organize all 20,000 books in preparation for the ceremony on Friday. The volunteers were critical to the success of the Fair!

Thank you DTCC and Alianza Latina!

 

Summer Concerts at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion

By: Madeline Eleazar

Every summer, for the last five years, concert-goers attending performances at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, located in the Seaport District, have been greeted by ABCD staff at the ABCD Kiosk.  The Kiosk has become a regular fixture at the Pavilion summer concert series, which holds over 30 shows every summer, featuring artists such as John Legend, Sting, and the Alabama Shakes, just to mention a few.  Teams of dedicated ABCD employees volunteer at the shows where they distribute ABCD promotional items and literature, spread the mission and message of the agency, and enter guests in a Red Sox tickets raffle.

Over the course of the summer, ABCD employees will contribute over 200 hours of volunteer service as they inform guests of upcoming fundraising events, current volunteer opportunities, and the program initiatives that are benefitting Greater Boston’s neighborhoods. We look forward to a continued partnership with the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion and Live Nation Entertainment, as this opportunity allows ABCD employees to connect with the nearly 5,000 concert-goers every show and to raise awareness about the needs of the communities in the Boston, Malden, Medford, Everett and surrounding areas.

Thank you to all our employees for another successful summer!

 

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Victoria McGing

By: Hawah KallonVictoria_McGing

Every Monday and Friday afternoon, Victoria McGing makes her way into ABCD’s North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC) and greets staff and clients alike with her friendly personality and bright smile.  She began volunteering with ABCD two and a half years ago after relocating to Boston from Wayland, MA. Being a newcomer to the city, she yearned to find a place within her community that she could be a part of and to connect with her new neighbors. After receiving a recommendation from a friend and former ABCD volunteer, Victoria began her volunteer service at the North End office and it has proven to be a perfect match.

Not only has Victoria found a place to belong through her volunteering, she has become an integral part of the weekly operations at the North End. Victoria is kept busy by receiving deliveries from Lovin’ Spoonfuls, a Boston-based nonprofit that rescues and distributes perishable food items that would have otherwise been discarded, and distributing meals cooked in-house to clients. She also helps the North End staff distribute hot meals on a monthly basis to the residents of the Amy Lowell and Blackstone Apartment complexes, two low-income residences in the West End. Every time she comes in to the North End office, Victoria strives to create a warm and welcoming environment by greeting clients and assisting other volunteers and staff.

When asked if she had any advice for individuals looking to volunteer in their communities, Victoria stressed the importance of not giving up when searching for the opportunity that fits you the best. “There are so many opportunities all over the place, so if you’re not comfortable in one particular place, don’t give up on volunteering. There’s always going to be someplace that will make you feel comfortable.” She also acknowledged the inherent value of volunteering, “You’re not just doing something that helps – you’re actually helping your own community.”

Volunteers like Victoria, who have dedicated years of their time, service, and talents to the at-risk communities of Greater Boston, are indispensable to ABCD. They are the lifeblood of the organization and strengthen the connection between ABCD and the community.

Thank you Victoria for your service!

 

Board Member Feature: Jean Babcock

By: Madeline Eleazar

Few Board Members have played as big a part in the transformation of ABCD since the Jean Babcock Headshotlate 1970’s and have seen the scope of services offered increase tenfold, as Jean Babcock.  Approaching her 43rd year as a member of the Board, Jean has had a front row seat to it all; helping guide the agency from its humble beginnings as a small anti-poverty agency to its present day role, where it serves as a major player in the nation-wide Community Action Agency network.  She has dedicated a large part of her life to the City of Boston and its surrounding communities, and has championed ABCD’s mission and what it hopes to achieve.

A Charlestown native, Jean began her relationship with ABCD while serving as the President of the John F. Kennedy Family Service Center Board of Directors.  As an affiliate agency of ABCD, the JFK Family Service Center has a seat on the ABCD Board, which is charged with the governance of the agency.  After leaving the JFK Family Service Center Board, Jean took on a more active role on the ABCD Board, serving on many sub-committees, ranging from Neighborhood Planning and Health Services, to eventually becoming chair of the Finance committee.  In her role as Treasurer of ABCD, she works closely with ABCD’s Executive Team, Finance staff and the Finance Committee of the Board to ensure the fiscal success of the agency.

When asked about her dedicated commitment to ABCD and her motivation for staying involved for over 40 years as a volunteer board member, Jean gave credit to her upbringing in Charlestown.  “We were always helping out neighbors—we were brought up that way” she said speaking of her family.  “My father used to say, ‘Is there a social service sign over the door?’, because anyone who had problems would always come to us.”  Jean also stressed the importance of volunteerism in her own life, stating its purpose is not just for the sense of goodwill on part of the volunteer, but also for the positive change it can bring to communities.  “I think there’s only limited funds to do things that need to be done in the community; [and] volunteerism helps augment those funds by giving labor, or advice, whatever you have to offer.”

For over 40 years, the ABCD community has had the privilege of calling Jean a close ally, mentor and advocate, and owes much of its continued success to her.  Her continued support and involvement as an officer of the Board is invaluable to the ABCD family.

Thank you Jean for your unwavering support and service!

 

Intern Spotlight: Xiaoe Ma

By Madeline Eleazar

Many college students, most often rising seniors, experience a sense of dreadIMG_20160303_174023.jpg and uncertainty when asked if they have a job opportunity lined up once their college career comes to a close.  Those who manage to secure permanent employment post graduation attribute their success to participating in internships and volunteer opportunities. Prior experience is highly desirable to many employers in today’s work environment, so it comes as no surprise that internships present themselves as promising opportunities for students to secure a foothold later on in their job search.

ABCD’s own Xiaoe Ma is a shining example of the impact an internship can have on a student’s career path. As a rising senior pursuing her Bachelor’s in Social Work at Salem State University, she was placed at the East Boston Area Planning Action Council (APAC) as a Social Work Intern in 2015 to fulfill credit hours to complete her degree.  While placed at East Boston APAC, she was introduced to a caseload of clients and assisted them in various capacities, such as completing fuel assistance applications, aiding in their job search, and connecting them to other agencies and resources.  During her internship, Xiaoe gained valuable insight to ABCD’s operational model, the services provided, and the clients we serve – all of which aided in her securing a permanent position with ABCD after graduation.

Now a Case Manager at the South End Neighborhood Service Center (NSC), Xiaoe is performing some of the tasks she performed as an intern, and has added new skills to her repertoire related to new services available to South End clients such as the food pantry and preparing taxes. She even became a Tax Site Coordinator during the 2015 tax season through ABCD’s VITA program.  She is a valuable staff member not only because of her prior knowledge and experience with ABCD programs, but also due to her fluency with Mandarin and Cantonese.  Her presence at the site has greatly benefited the large Chinese-speaking community of the South End, who are glad to have someone assist them in their native tongue.  The South End NSC has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Chinese clients since Xiaoe’s arrival – an estimated 60-70% of the approximately 1,000 clients they serve every month are Chinese-speaking.

When asked about the importance of volunteering and interning, Xiaoe stresses that volunteerism can greatly improve an individual’s outlook on life. “[Volunteering] makes you feel like you are contributing something to the community, and you feel great.”  She notes that even some of the clients that receive services at the South End recognize the importance of giving back, and have expressed interest in volunteering: “They want to help, they want to contribute.”  In addition to an increased connection with a given population or community, Xiaoe has proved that interning is a great way for one forge a path to a career opportunity.

If you are interested in volunteer or internship opportunities at ABCD, please contact Madeline Eleazar, Volunteer Coordinator at (617) 348-6591.

 

ABCD Volunteer Legends: Thelma Burns

By Carmen FariasBurns, Thelma AR2006.jpg

Every community has its luminaries: dedicated individuals whose passion and vision influence and inspire others to come together in service and support. By this definition, Thelma Burns is one of ABCD’s brightest luminaries.

Ms. Burns first became involved in volunteering by following the example of her father, who was the President of the Ward 14 Betterment Association in Dorchester. She has been part of the Dorchester community all her life and participates in various volunteer opportunities as a way to give back to the community. Ms. Burns, who says she considers volunteering necessary, has volunteered her time as a member of the ABCD Board of Directors for over 30 years. She’s seen volunteerism change quite a bit in that time, remarking that while she sees more young people getting involved, “It’s important to make opportunities available to young people.” She explains that volunteering is particularly important for high school students as it can lead to new and better opportunities, and hopes to see more high school students involved in volunteer opportunities at ABCD.

Volunteering is important to Ms. Burns because it has helped her overcome challenges, both in the community and in her life. A two-time cancer survivor, Ms. Burns was moved by the kindness of the volunteers that helped her during her treatment and recovery.  She now volunteers once a week at the concierge desk at Dana Farber, where she was treated. “I look forward to it,” she says, “I want to give back while I can.”

Ms. Burns offers great advice for those looking to get involved in their communities: “You must have an open heart.” She cites compassion and commitment as the principal attributes of a good volunteer: “[You have to] immerse yourself, don’t just do it to do it.” She believes that organizations stand to benefit greatly from the contributions of its volunteers, and to this end, she recommends that volunteers be knowledgeable about the organization with which they’d like to become involved.

Ms. Burns’ dedication and commitment to service has inspired many to join ABCD’s mission. She was honored for these efforts this past May with the dedication of a building in ABCD’s new campus on Warren Street in Roxbury. The Thelma D. Burns building houses offices, classrooms, and community programs where current and future volunteers continue to carry out her legacy of community involvement.

We are grateful to Ms. Burns for her continued service to the ABCD community, and for sharing her thoughts on volunteerism with us. To learn more about ways to get involved with ABCD’s volunteer program, please see the Volunteer Listing section of the newsletter, or contact Madeline Eleazar, Volunteer Coordinator, at 617-348-6591 or at volunteer@bostonabcd.org.