I took an incredible journey all-over Boston on Thursday, April 21 visiting nine of our fellows at their site placements. My journey began in Upham's Corner in Dorchester and ended walking down Newbury Street in Downtown Boston. Here's what I learned:
Site Placement: St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Dorchester
Fellow: William Harron
Justice Issue: St. Mary’s ministries address justice issues of Food security, Racial Reconciliation and Community Healing.
Greatest Challenge: Will says that the greatest challenge he faced serving at St. Mary’s was finding his role in the community. He worked hard at being more than the assistant to the priest and uncovering which of the various ministries at roles at St. Mary’s make his “heart come alive.”
What Will Loves Best: “This community’s value is feeding people,” Will says. He feels fed at worship, brunch, the food pantry, and by ministering to and with this community.
Site Placement: Dorchester Bay Youth Force
Fellow: Adiel Pollydore
Justice Issue: Dorchester Bay Youth Force's work primarily addresses Youth Justice with a focus on Racial and Economic Justice.
Greatest Challenge: Adiel says that the greatest challenge at the Youth Force “comes down to capacity.” She says her organization works with folks who are balancing very valid commitments in their lives. The Youth Force strives to remain youth-led while still recognizing the capacity of folks who are in school.
What Adiel Loves Best: Adiel says that the Youth Force continually renews “a great sense of hope” within her that sometimes gets lost. But here in Dorchester, she finds her hope rejuvenated by the mission and great excitement that surrounds her.
Site Placement: Alternatives for Community and Environment
Fellow: Giselle Sabido
Justice Issues: Giselle explained that her job is to support different justice campaigns that ACE runs. One of ACE’s recent campaign was with the T riders union, fighting for equal transit justice and to make public transportation affordable and accessible to all. Campaign volunteers attended MassDotTrans board meetings and interrupted votes on fare hikes. Giselle has also been involved in the Roxbury Right to Remain Campaign, which focuses on issues of gentrification in Roxbury, including unjust evictions. ACE has been partnering with local residents to highlight the ways minority and low income families are being unjustly targeted. With ACE’s success in addressing environmental injustice, the “toxic tour” ACE offers has become a “gentrification tour” bringing attention to the damage gentrification is causing to the Roxbury neighborhood.
Greatest Challenge: Giselle noticed that she feels frustration that she is often unable to do more to help evicted families, other than blockages or supporting Just Cause Ordinances on a legislative level. Giselle sees firsthand how the system is set up so that the minority and low-income families can’t access support and justice.
What Giselle Loves Best: Giselle loves that “the energy and motivation” of her colleagues and partners “is really inspiring.” She’s been struck by how aware people are of the ways people are marginalized. “People really care about Roxbury,” Giselle says. She called the relationships formed between her colleagues and the residents here “beautiful.”
Site Placement: Youth on Board
Fellow: Monica Bouyea
Justice Issues: Youth on Board deals with Education Justice, especially disrupting the school to prison pipeline. Monica works to make sure youth voice is a key part of the decision-making process in Boston Public Schools.
Greatest Challenge: Monica discussed how she continuously realizes how interconnected justice issues are, especially after each victory Youth on Board achieves. “One step forward unlocks many more areas to work on and issues to fight for,” Monica says. She gave the example of the Superintendent coming to give a talk on racism in the schools. “Schools are like mini-worlds,” Monica notes. “They contain all of the issues of society.” Issues like racial justice are “all the more pressing” in schools because the students are required to be there.
What Monica Loves Best: The students! “I’m inspired by their energy and passion,” Monica says. She spoke about how their incredible dedication to fighting for what they want or need helps keep her going.
Site Placement: St. Bartholomew’s, Cambridge
Fellow: Wayne Jones
Justice Issues: Just this past month, St. Bart’s hosted a documentary about food waste and invited Cambridge food ministries, food pantries, and even the major’s office. Wayne reports that the Cambridge major has been investing money to help transport food to the hungry in ways that reduce waste.
Greatest Challenge: Serving at an Episcopal parish was initially challenging for Wayne, who is not Episcopalian, because there were a lot of new customs and traditions for him to learn!
What Wayne Loves Best: Wayne loves “the interactions with the community,” especially the folks who come for the community meal on Wednesday evenings. Wayne enjoys that his job allows him to provide very tangible service to others.
Site Placement: Episcopal City Mission
Fellow: Ashton Murray
Justice Issues: ECM supports efforts in Racial Justice, Immigration, Criminal Justice Reform, Eco-Justice, and Housing Justice.
Greatest Challenge: Ashton’s greatest challenge working at ECM has been “learning the lay of the land” and “finding [his] place even while realizing that [he has] only a short time” with his site placement.
What Ashton Loves Best: “The work we do is really important,” Ashton says. “We impact scores of people and in our own way make Massachusetts a more just place.”
Site Placement: The Crossing
Fellow: Paddy Cavanaugh
Justice Issues: This year Crossing has been focusing on Trans* Justice. Paddy gave an example of a letter-writing campaign The Crossing held concerning the public accommodation bill in Massachusetts. The Crossing also partners with MANNA, a faith community of housed and unhoused folks, to work on building community across class. Paddy describes it as a “relational ministry.”
Greatest Challenge: Paddy observed that his greatest challenge has been being “pushed out of [his] comfort zone liturgically.” He’s been able to experience many new ways to do liturgy during his time at The Crossing.
What Paddy Loves Best: The community! Paddy says that his congregation has become part of his community and personal relationships outside of The Crossing in a meaningful way.
Site Placement: Irish International Immigration Center
Fellow: Gabrielle Crossnoe
Justice Issues: IIIC deals mostly with "complicated immigration law," Gabrielle says.
Greatest Challenge: Gabrielle says that the hardest part of working at IIIC “is having to say no” to people who really need help because of legal restrictions.
What Gabrielle Loves Best: Gabrielle experiences IIIC as a “completely welcoming space.”
Site Placement: City Mission Society
Fellow: Betsy Ericksen
Justice Issues: CMS works on “addressing root causes of homelessness, especially family homelessness” including “educating the housed” and “empowering those who have been homeless to tell their stories,” says Betsy.
Greatest Challenge: Betsy says her job has challenged her notions about “the need for service and justice and how they relate and rely on each other.” She’s also been challenged by “working in a context that is not part of my own experience.”
What Betsy Loves Best: Betsy loves “showing young people that people and organizations are creating change in the world.” She also appreciates “coordinating to make it easier for people who care to do their job better.”