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Rushing, Garcia, Ford feted for service to community

Posted by Your Town  June 26, 2012 09:49 PM

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On June 12, 2012, nearly 300 guests filled United South End Settlements’ (USES) Harriet Tubman House to celebrate the people and culture of Boston’s South End / Lower Roxbury neighborhood. Rep. Byron Rushing and Frieda Garcia were presented with the Harriet Tubman Community Achievement Award. Paulette Ford, longtime South End resident who fought tirelessly during the 1990s for the re-building of Camfield Estates with retention of affordable housing for its residents, was presented with the Harriet Tubman Community Activist Award.

Frieda Garcia spoke eloquently about her 20 years leading USES. "During my first board meeting as Executive Director, Ronald Reagan was being sworn into office, which proved to be the beginning of deep federal funding cuts for social service agencies like USES." Garcia described how she faced these financial challenges head on by raising necessary funds from other sources. USES is facing a similar turn of events given the current political and economic climate. Now a participant in USES’ Senior Services Jazzercise Classes, Garcia asked her fellow participants to stand and be recognized at the event.

During her acceptance remarks, Paulette Ford attributed much of her success as a community activist to her close relationship with Larry Ellis, the first Executive Director of the Camfield Estates Tenants Association. Mr. Ellis passed away on May 20, 2012. Paulette received her award in memory of Mr. Ellis.

Throughout the evening, sounds from the Stan Strickland Group filled the air while ten of the South End’s finest restaurants provided scrumptious tastings from their menus. "The food is spectacular. There is so much variety and I simply do not have the capacity to try every dish offered," said one guest. "I’m torn as I contemplate my final few choices for the evening."

Hector Pina, owner of Merengue Restaurant in Roxbury, is about to open Vejigante Restaurant on West Dedham Street in the South End. "We are pleased to be here at Step on Board for the first time My wife and I are excited as we make final plans to open Vejigante here in the South End. I have known and loved Frieda Garcia for many years. It was easy for me to accept the invitation to be here," said Pina.

United South End Settlements has been helping at-risk people in the community since 1891 through a variety of placed-based programs and services for all ages. "I love this event," said USES’ President & CEO, Kevin Hepner. "Sixty percent of the restaurants here tonight are minority-owned. The diversity at this celebration provides a snapshot of our community. Although the political and economic climate for nonprofits like USES is daunting, we are committed more than ever to sustaining and expanding our work with vulnerable people in this community." During his closing remarks, Hepner encouraged guests to live their best lives by helping others in need.

Although the political and economic climate for nonprofits like USES is daunting, we are committed more than ever to sustaining and expanding our work with vulnerable people in this community." During his closing remarks, Hepner encouraged guests to live their best lives by helping others in need.

The event exceeded its fundraising goal and yielded $154,000 from several sponsors, including George and Ann Macomber, M|C Partners, and Amos and Barbara Hostetter, among many others.

The Boston Landmarks Orchestra brings Fiesta Sinfónica to Blackstone Square

The Boston Landmarks Orchestra will perform Fiesta Sinfónica at Blackstone Square in the South End on July 19 at 6:30 p.m. This performance will showcase Alex Alvear, director of the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, and his friends. The program for the evening will include two new pieces especially commissioned by the orchestra Caribeña by Miguel Del Aguila and Viaje (Afro Latin-Suite) by Gonzalo Grau. Christopher Wilkins will conduct the entire program, which also includes Mambo by Leonard Bernstein and Danzón No. 2 by Arturo Márquez.

"We are so pleased to perform dance music from two worlds with the help of the pocket-sized orchestra from Villa Victoria in the South End. It will be merengue and mambo on an epic scale," said conductor Christopher Wilkins.

The friends of Alex Alvear, known on this occasion as Y Amigos, include: Yaure Muñiz on trumpet, Angel Subero on trombone, Gilenny Guzmán on vocals, Manolo Mairena on vocals and percussion, Rebecca Cline on keyboards, Alex Alvear on bass and vocals, and Ernesto Díaz, Jesús Andújar and Marcos López on percussion.

The rain location for the concert will be the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts at 85 West Newton Street in Boston.

Free kayaking

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department have teamed up with L.L. Bean to offer free kayaking on the Charles River at Millennium Park in West Roxbury. L.L. Bean is providing two instructors and 14 kayaks for the Saturday sessions open to ages 8 and up. All June dates are filled - registration for the July dates will be available shortly at www.cityofboston.gov/parks .

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