Harborlight Community Partners’ annual celebration urged attendees to be the key that unlocks the door for hundreds of North Shore seniors and families.
On November 9th, Harborlight Community Partners gathered to honor those who make our work possible, reflect on the past year, and fortify us for the year at our annual event, A Celebration of Community Partnerships: Unlocking Doors, Opening Communities. Once again, we gathered at Salem’s Kernwood Country Club for an evening which convened business and civic leaders in support of Harborlight Community Partners’ (HCP) work in now nine North Shore communities.
HCP was honored to also have Representatives Jerry Parisella and 5th District Governor’s Councilor, Eileen Duff and Beverly Mayor Mike Cahill in attendance. George Flynn Winn and Katherine Thibideau, Legislative Aides to Congressman Seth Moulton, and Joseph Tafalo, from the office of State Senator Bruce Tarr, also joined to present Congressional citations to this year’s honorees.
HCP honored the efforts and contributions of three North Shore partners who have been exceptional in their support of HCP and its affordable housing mission.
Service Partner Award
In our communities, no group deserves more respect than our seniors – a sentiment that both HCP and Element Care stand by every day. Since 2003, Element Care has been an outstanding Service Partner, assisting HCP in not only placing elderly residents in need in our Harborlight Light House and H.E.A.R.T. Homes, but also for going the extra mile – every day. Based in Lynn and now with offices all around the North Shore, this fellow non-profit’s mission is perfectly aligned with HCP: we each share a deep commitment to ensuring our seniors comfortably remain in place as long as possible.
Element Care offers comprehensive services for our elderly residents so they can do just that, and their work goes well beyond service provision. Element Care staff members are mindful of the whole person: their comfort, apprehension in transitioning to a new home, and health care concerns, and go above and beyond to ensure a peaceful transition with all health needs met. Whether it is to provide medical services, dental care, physical therapy or transportation for resident to doctors’ appointments, it is done with dignity, thoughtfulness and a smile. Residents look forward to daily nurse check-ins and are offered a listening and understanding ear by the Element Care social workers. At the H.E.A.R.T. Homes, a special bond develops with residents and the 24-hour aides who cook, clean, and do laundry, but more importantly, spend time with and engage with residents. For those who need it, Element Care will even provide companions to some residents to take them out once a month. This level of attention and sensitivity is of critical importance to HCP and one which we deeply value in our partnership. We are honored to have worked alongside Element Care for so many years, enriching and easing the lives of our seniors, and are proud to present them this Service Partner Award.
Emily Cooper of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (left in photo) presented award to Element Care CEO, Bob Wakefield.
Resident Partner Award
Tony feels like he is a very lucky man. A resident of Hamilton’s Firehouse Place, Tony is an HCP resident who is grateful to be where he is and makes sure he pays it forward every day. As a volunteer, he helps extensively in the community, being a good neighbor to the Acord Food Pantry and other local shops, and puts in several hours volunteering at Haven from Hunger in Peabody. In the past, Tony volunteered at Beverly’s River House, assisting around the facility and supporting fellow residents. Tony also currently serves on the Resident Advisory Council of HCP.
About a year ago, Tony got a gift that boosted his ability to help as the recipient of a car donation to HCP. Tony has used this good fortune to extend his volunteer efforts; he is able to get to Haven from Hunger more often and has given rides to appointments to those he has connected with at the food pantry. No stranger to knowing the difference a helping hand can make, Tony, an auto mechanic for 50 years, fought his way back from hard times. “River House saved my life,” he has stated. Once on more stable footing, Tony worked to make amends with family and tried to be the best friend, neighbor and volunteer he could be. Tony is especially proud of his children, and is quick to say the best gift of having the car is the ability to visit his first grandchild, one year old Francesca (and proudly shares that another grandchild is on the way). Tony openly tells his story to mentor and give hope to those who are in his shoes and learn from his experience. “I like to be out in the community, and I try to help people every day. It makes my day to talk with my neighbors, bake for them… I’m just a regular guy… helping others. I’m really lucky to have this beautiful place to live.”
Tony (right in photo) is presented award from Stacey Verge of Acord Food Pantry and Tony’s sons, Matt and Joe.
Community Partner Award
Neighbors of 5 Granite Street, Rockport
“Granite Street Crossing” is slated to be a beautiful and well situated mixed-use project, fusing elder housing and family housing. The site at 5 Granite Street, Rockport is one of a former green house, no longer in operation, in this densely settled neighborhood. Where some saw an empty building HCP saw possibilities – of making use of a lot in a community where land is scarcely available and that is in need of affordable housing units. Possibilities that only stand a chance if the community, and indeed its closest neighbors, are willing to listen, participate, and support this vision.
The Granite Street Crossing Neighbors did just that. As plans began to unfold, this closely knit neighborhood and HCP began to see a vision for the property taking shape, quite literally, in their backyards. For more than a year prior to submitting a 40B application to the Zoning Board, the neighbors were willing to work with HCP, and met in groups and with HCP individually. At first, concerns and even dissent were raised – understandably so, with change forthcoming so nearby. But everyone’s patience, open-mindedness, and a willingness to listen and learn about the mission and intent of this housing made way for dialogue and solutions. Over time, concerns around schematic design, architectural features, landscaping, fencing and more were heard by and resulted in changes which will make it a better project overall. This level of feedback was key to ensuring this will be an addition to the neighborhood that all will be proud of.
Throughout these discussions a sense of camaraderie grew; neighbors warmly welcomed HCP into their homes, with one even hosting a meeting with freshly baked cookies. As the process grew closer to becoming a reality, many attended meetings, often going late into the night, raising questions and speaking in support of the project. By this point the neighbors of 5 Granite Street had not only welcomed HCP into their homes, but had, collectively, opened their neighborhood, hearts and minds to not just the “project” or even the HCP mission, but to those who will someday call 5 Granite Street home. How fortunate these future residents will be to have such kind neighbors who embody the spirit of welcome and inclusion.
Granite Street Crossing would not be possible without this neighborhood collaboration and the support of the Town of Rockport. The 5 Granite Street Neighbors are exemplary of what can happen when we are willing to say #YIMBY*!
*Yes In My BackYard!
A Reflection of Thoughtful Action Closes out the Evening
Associate Professor of Philosophical Theology and Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Dr. Patrick T. Smith, delivered the closing reflections on the systemic issues of affordable housing and how we can unlock doors and open their communities.
In addition to serving on Harborlight Community Partner’s board of directors, Patrick Smith is also a lecturer at the Harvard Medical School Department of Global Health and Social Medicine and a principal faculty member for the “Initiative on Health, Religion, and Spirituality,” an interfaculty initiative across Harvard University.
Patrick holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. He has specific interests in the areas of moral philosophy, philosophical and theological bioethics, end-of-life medical ethics, and hospice palliative care.
View Patrick Smith’s full remarks here.