The city will rename the Orient Heights Community Center in East Boston to honor Martin “Marty” Pino, a lifelong East Boston resident who was devoted to providing recreational opportunities to neighborhood youths.
Pino, who died in 2003, helped in 1975 to found a youth basketball league at the center, which is administered by the Boston Centers for Youth & Families, and worked with young East Boston residents in many other capacities.
In a recent interview, City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina, himself a lifelong resident of the neighborhood, remembered Pino as his summer camp counselor, head of a program at Maverick Gardens public housing development where LaMattina was a youth worker, and as an ice-cream truck driver with a questionable business model.
“He probably gave more ice cream away than he took in money,” LaMattina said.
The councilor said Pino touched hundreds of lives and helped guide many children and teens toward successful careers and productive lives.
“Marty was a father figure to me and to many other people came from single-parent families,” LaMattina said. “If it wasn’t for Marty, I probably wouldn’t be a city councilor today, because I just learned so much from him … about giving back to the community.”
“I hope his life and legacy will live on forever in East Boston because people will want to hear why this recreation center was named for him,” LaMattina said.
The effort to rename the center began with a petition drive initiated by Mario Gallotto, whom Pino coached when Gallotto was a boy and who now helps run the basketball league. Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino didn’t hesitate to approve the renaming, according to a statement released by the city.
The ceremony to officially rename the facility the Martin Pino Community Center will be held on Friday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m.