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Mattapan United

Mattapan United preparing its 'community contract' for winter unveiling

October 31, 2012 12:42 PM
By Patrick D. Rosso, Town Correspondent


Mattapan United, Mattapan's grassroots community action group, is preparing to unveil its “community contract.”
The contract will lay out Mattapan United’s plan for the coming year, highlighting initiatives in the neighborhood it wants to target and how it will go about doing that. The contract will tackle the group’s “strategy areas,” which include open space, housing, health, business development, community fabric, public safety, and jobs.
“Our goal is to tie everything together,” said Karleen Porcena, lead organizer for Mattapan United, which is funded by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. “We want to put context into our plans.”
The plans will be unveiled sometime between December and January at a community meeting sponsored by the group.
“We’ll be showing the community this [contract] and what we’ve been doing for the past year,” said Porcena. “I think we’ve been doing well, but we’re still always trying to get more people involved.”
A rough draft of the contract was recently distributed by the group to help guide the process. The draft highlighted many aspects of the community including demographics, past planning initiatives, and current issues.
In addition to tackling the broad goals of the group, the contract will also evaluate each “strategy area,” describing their purpose, history, importance, and how it will be implemented in the neighborhood.
Some possible priorities that have emerged from the draft process include creating a more attractive neighborhood, developing infrastructure, expanding affordable housing, strengthening existing businesses, increasing jobs for youth, and promoting and advocating for farmers’ markets.

Mattapan Square Main Streets clears major hurdle, eyes next steps

ByTayla Holman, Reporter Correspondent

Dec. 27, 2012


Mattapan Square Main Streets recently received a $9,533.19 from Mattapan United and a $3,500 grant from Carney Hospital with a three-year commitment, putting them just over their fundraising goal of $30,000. They are now hoping for an additional $25,000 to provide the organization with a “cushion” for the future.
“With the Mattapan Square Main Streets program, we were charged with raising $30,000 so that we could in turn receive a $30,000 match, which has subsequently, since the original contract, changed to just over $50,000,” said board president Nancy Rousseau. “So now we’re going to receive a $50,000 grant, if you will, from the city.”
This is a time of transition and growth for Mattapan Square Main Streets. The organization started looking for a new executive director in May, but put the search on hold temporarily once they got a little more understanding about what the requirements were. They are now going to resume the process and are working on a timeline and hope to make an announcement by January 31.
“We need someone who is a visionary, someone who is politically savvy. Someone who is not afraid to hit the ground and do the work,” Rousseau said. “Equally important, someone who is a team player but can still work independently because of the infrastructure design of Mattapan Square Main Streets.”
“The overarching goal of Mattapan Square Main Streets is to help revitalize Mattapan Square,” Rousseau said.
“There are a lot of vacant businesses,” Rousseau said. “There are about 140 to 155 businesses in the square. The goal is to fill all of those vacant spots and make Mattapan a commercial district that attracts people from Canton, from Milton, from all up Route 138, as well as [Route] 28.”
At a fundraising committee meeting on Mon., Dec. 17, the group discussed how to further their fundraising efforts and find viable revenue sources. This included revisiting outstanding pledges, getting donations and grants from businesses, foundations and residents. The group also went over the case statement that could be used to put together a package for prospective funders.
“We have a really good chance of raising good money,” Rousseau said. “We’re very charged and energized with moving forward and really exploring all of the avenues for fundraising.”
Karleen Porcena, lead organizer for Mattapan United, said beyond providing a grant, the group was hoping to team up with Mattapan Square Main Streets in the future.
“We’re just trying to work out what that means,” she said.
Porcena also said that Mattapan United and Mattapan Square Main Streets have “a lot of natural similarities and goals for Mattapan” that will benefit both organizations.
Rousseau said one of the next steps the organization wanted to make was to begin making design changes to Mattapan Square, following the example of other districts such as Roslindale Village.
“What we’re confident about is when people drive by and see the lights and everything looking so pretty, it’s really going to change the tone and culture of Mattapan Square,” she said.

Mattapan United looks toward group's future

By Patrick D. Rosso, Town Correspondent
 

After two years in the community, Mattapan United is defining a place for itself and in conversations about economic development, community fabric, and the future for the Boston neighborhood.
The grassroots community group, which has been working to generate a “community contract”, part of its Local Initiatives Support Corporation funded plan, has been organizing to release the document and show the community that although its close relationship and funding from LISC will end in a year, the group isn’t going anywhere.
“Everything we are doing is driven by the community,” said Bobby Jenkins, a 52-year-old Mattapan resident and co-chair of the group’s Steering Committee.
Started by a group of residents in the fall of 2010 and launched in February 2011, the group seeks to promote the community and work from within to build strong connections for residents, businesses, and stakeholders.
The group received a financial commitment from LISC, as part of its Resilient Communities Resilient Families program, in December that provides $100,000 every year, over three-years, plus another $100,000 to support activities and initiatives for the community.
That funding, however, runs out.
Jenkins and Karleen Porcena, the lead organizer of the group, both said the group will continue to search for ways to sustain its work.
“We’re following the timeline [set-up by LISC] and now is the time for action,” Jenkins said. “To me the sky is the limit."
“A lot of our strategies go past the three-year limit, but we’ll continue to look for ways to continue funding,” added Porcena.
Through a lengthy community process to engage the neighborhood, the group and its 14-member Steering Committee identified seven areas that the community felt was a priority: Health, community fabric, housing, workforce development, business development, open and clean spaces, and public safety.
The group have since used $25,000 in "early-action grants" to support those areas.
From a foreclosure prevention billboard to a back to school jamboree, organizers said they have worked to engage the community and provide it with the tools to understand itself.
A survey, completed by the group in June 2012, also laid out the demographics of the neighborhood, showing members where services were need and who needed them.
“There have been ups and downs,” acknowledged Porcena. “But we’re consistently meeting and working towards our next steps and our relationships with the community have gotten stronger.”
The group also has been working with other neighborhood organizations. It recently contributed $9,000 to the Mattapan Square Main Streets to help that organization reach its funding target.
With future goals in site, the “community contract,” slated to roll out in March, will present the future of the group and how it and its members, local residents and business owners, will obtain those goals.
“We took all the community input and we looked at what issues rose to the top, such as housing, community fabric, and safety,” said Cassandra Cato-Louis, a 42-year-old Mattapan resident and co-chair of the group’s Steering Committee. “Once people have seen the contract and what we are trying to do, they will become active and engaged.”
Engagement has been the biggest challenge for the group. Although the Steering Committee meetings are always well attended, general meetings tend to bring the same faces, something the group would like to change.
“In 2013 we really need to continue to build on our strong networks in Mattapan and reach out to the other people and areas, we’re not strong in,” said Porcena, who highlighted the launch of the group’s new website as a way to grow membership.
The group will hold monthly community meetings throughout the year to garner feedback about community issues, provide a forum for community discussion, and present resources for residents.
The meetings will be held on the first Thursday of the month from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the ABCD Mattapan Family Service Center at 535 River St. Because of the New Year, however, January’s monthly meeting will be held Thurs., Jan. 10.
 

 

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Mattapan United Hosts Back to School Jamboree

By Isaiah Mulligan

On Saturday September 22, 2012 Mattapan United put together a Back-to-School Jamboree at the Mattahunt Elementary School on 100 Hebron Street. The event was a great success. The Community Fabric Action Group of Mattapan United was able to give away 150 book bags with school supplies to students from the Mattapan Community.
 
The Mattapan Library, along with Friends of the Mattapan Library Group, was generous in donating books for all reading levels and interests. They were also invigorated by the community turn out on this sunny day. Everyone participated in the offerings of the day: food from Mattapan House of Pizza, music provided by Touch 106.1, fun activities for the children such face painting, balloon making, performances by PACE, a live jazz band, and an all boys singing group. We also had a voter registration and resource tables for adults.

Over 300 people attended the event that day.
 
Mattapan United plans to make this an annual event for the community, bringing everyone together, to continue to highlight how important education is to Mattapan residents and would like all of our students to strive for success.
 
Chek out more photos from the event below.

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Wes Williams is looking out for Mattapan

“Those who have been scorned by reports of unfair policing in their community are now embracing the volunteer work that their neighbors (who are also police officers) and co-workers do every day.” – Wes Williams
 

If you’ve spent time in Mattapan recently, then you know residents are “taking back the streets” by preventing crime before it happens in innovative ways, and it is hard to find someone who exemplifies this more than Wes Williams.  As head of the Mattapan Triangle Neighborhood Association, Wes’s work with the community at significant times has made him a model resident and living example of community leadership.  The Boston Area B3 community policing unit and the community have turned public perception about community police in Mattapan on its head and shifted the focus of public safety onto community relationships and youth.  Wes was a key player in reengaging the Mattapan community and the local B-3 police department; two groups troubled by a history of distrust. “Four years ago neighborhood association meetings were held outside of our neighborhood as we feared retaliation.  At that time it was not cool to associate or have anything to do with the police.”

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