Area residents, members of community-based organizations, elected officials, and Harvard representatives gathered at the Charlesview Community Center in Brighton today for the annual Allston-Brighton Legislators’ Breakfast.
Seven area residents were honored by local elected officials and the Allston-Brighton Adult Education Coalition for their ongoing work in the community. The coalition is a group of more than 20 education providers in Allston-Brighton who together offer services such as classes in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), workforce development and literacy programs, and help obtaining citizenship.
“All of us have our own programs, but every one of us knows that we can do more when we work together,” said Sister Pat Andrews, director of The Literacy Connection and a member of the coalition.
Jason Clark, a program coordinator at the Harvard Ed Portal, was honored with the Community Partner Award for his work with community members seeking to take ESOL classes.
“In the past year [Clark] assessed and placed more than 120 students into 12 different education programs across Allston and Brighton. That’s 120 residents who probably would have sat on wait lists for a year or two,” Meghan Bea, assistant director of the Harvard’s Bridge Program, an adult education and training program, some of which are provided at the Ed Portal. “Those who have met with him describe him as welcoming and understanding. The ESOL directors that he refers students to describe him as organized, ambitious, and just plain wonderful.”
Another honoree, Archange Saintus, a Haitian immigrant, has been working with many of the organizations in the coalition, including the Gardner Pilot Academy, the Harvard Allston Workforce Collaborative, the Literacy Connection, and the Ed Portal. It’s been a busy time for Saintus; he became a U.S. citizen just last week.
The awards ceremony attracted more than 40 community members, including State Sens. Will Brownsberger and Sal DiDomenico, and State Rep. Kevin Honan.
“This is the greatest county in the world because of the opportunities we receive. We need to make the road a little easier for those that follow,” said DiDomenico. “Who are we as a society if we don’t help the people who need it the most?”
Honan stressed the extraordinary amount of resources that can be found throughout the community, particularly those offered by the coalition.
“The great anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. It is indeed the only thing that can.’ That applies to all of us here today,” said Andrews. “I think back to 17 years ago when a group of us got together and said, ‘What can we do to help our fellow community members?’ These success stories, and these people here today, this is what it’s all about.”
In addition to Clark, Alinea Paiva of the Brazilian Worker Center, Neildes Doucette of the Brazilian Women’s Group, and Wils Magloire and Yuri Alvarado of the Jackson Mann Community Center all received student awards, and Joyce Gallagher, director of nursing at Good Shepherd Community Care, received the employer award.