State and local officials joined community health leaders at the Harbor Community Health Alliance’s Annual Legislative Breakfast Friday at the Winthrop Senior Center.
City Manager Jay Ash, State Reps. Eugene O’Flaherty and Kathi-Anne Reinstein, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo participated in a forum with representatives from health and human service organizations, community-based agencies, and local boards of health.
Ash told the gathering that one of best things that Chelsea can do to help legislative leaders is to continue to deliver the health services and programs on the local level.
“The community-based organizations that are represented in this room are doing terrific work with more and more challenges and less and less resources,” said Ash. “I continue to be encouraged by everything I see and it’s a pleasure to be able to contribute to that.”
Ash said he was grateful to the local health and human resource organizations for the outstanding work they do in the city.
“None of you sit around and say, woe is us, we don’t have enough resources to do things, instead you all say we have to be serious, we have to be smarter, we have to do things better in order to reach more people. I’m inspired by all of you every day.”
State Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty also thanked the health and human service organizations that help Chelsea residents. The chairman of the Judiciary Committee pledged his continuing assistance on Beacon Hill to the cause of improving the health status of Chelsea.
“This morning is about connecting with all of you and all of you know that we as elected officials have an ability to help these types of programs and to help individuals,” said O’Flaherty. “I think all of you that we’ll do whatever we can to be helpful because we’re helping organizations that help our neighborhoods as well and people who live in our neighborhoods so it’s a two-way street. We as elected officials want to build strong communities. You as the organizations that you represent are out there helping us build those strong communities. That collaboration is reinforced today.”
Ciara Appleberry, Roca Youth Star member, delivered a heartfelt and personal speech about her life experiences and how executive director Molly Baldwin’s Roca organization has been such a positive influence in her life and helped so many others.
“Through my life I had a lot of ups and downs and I’m only 22 years old,” said Appleberry. “I’ve been placed in a foster home. I’ve been homeless. I was a high school dropout. But nobody could tell this because I always kept a smile on my face and a positive attitude.”
Appleberry said she has completed her GED requirements and will be continuing her education at Bunker Hill Community College. She also holds two jobs and has an apartment.
Appleberry said she has drawn inspiration from her older brother, who died last year.
“What I’m trying to say is no matter how hard the challenges may get, it’s always good to keep a positive attitude,” said Appleberry. “We have to let people know how important the work we do is. Many people need our help and for that reason, we have to come together. We’re here today to show our determination and motivation. Thank for coming to show your support.”
The audience gave Appleberry a warm and prolonged ovation at the conclusion of her remarks, acknowledging with its applause that she said it so very well about the important work that health and human service organizations do on a daily basis in Chelsea.