(Photo by Isabel Leon/City of Boston)
The South End’s Frieda Garcia Park buzzed with activity Monday as dozens of neighborhood residents, local and state officials, and community leaders gathered to officially open the park and honor Garcia.
Children spun, jumped, and climbed on the new blue and yellow playground equipment at the corner of Clarendon and Stanhope streets before a ribbon cutting ceremony at the 12,000 square-foot park.
“Our hope is that this park will forever honor Frieda’s extraordinary leadership in our community and serve as a constant reminder of the strength, the resilience, and the beauty of our city and this community,” said Craig Bromley, president of John Hancock Financial Services. John Hancock funded the development of the park.
“We wanted to provide them with a safe outdoor play place where they could be active, a place where they could feel safe, a place where they could simply be kids,” Bromley said. “That vision is now a reality.”
The park will now be cared for by The Friends of Frieda Garcia Park, which already has $1.2 million for regular maintenance.
Garcia, originally from the Dominican Republic, moved to Boston from New York in 1965 and has been a longtime community activist and leader in the South End and Roxbury.
She has served as a United Way board member, a founding member of the Alianza Hispana, and as executive director of the United South End Settlements for 20 years.
“When I accepted the job at USES…I had no idea how I would be stretched by the philosophy of settlement houses and its focus on neighborhoods and its residents,” said Garcia, who praised the neighborhood organizations working to improve the community and the lives of its residents.
But the praise remained focused on Garcia.
“I was always impressed and amazed of her graciousness and pleasantness every time we would talk, but then I learned a whole lot more about this lady in terms of her commitment to her community,” Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo told the crowd. “I’ve seen her commitment to her family, and her love of the city of Boston, and that’s why this honor is so greatly deserved.”
And Garcia continued to focus on her commitment to the city even as she celebrated the park’s opening.
“Knowing that building a community doesn’t come naturally and that we all have to work at it--particularly in these difficult times—means that I may come by and sit at this beautiful park with some friends and have a cup of coffee, but there’s more work to do,” she said.
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