By Seth Daniel
There’s no better preparation for the future than one’s history.
And there’s no better thing to celebrate than a 50th Anniversary.
The CAPIC human services organization will accomplish both things at it’s 50th anniversary celebration of the corporation on Sept. 26 at the Homewood Suites in Chelsea on Beech Street.
CAPIC provides a range of anti-poverty human services for Revere, Chelsea and Winthrop – from Head Start to Fuel Assistance to Wrap Around Services for the Opiate Epidemic.
“Most people think about CAPIC, and they think of fuel assistance and HEAD Start, but there are other things that go on here,” said Executive Director Bob Repucci. “So many people participated in building up things like CAPIC that exist today and they get forgotten. I consider it part of my job to resurrect them and give them a second life here.
“These are the people that really, really did the work that bore the fruit,” he continued. “My job here has become in the last few years to piece together the history and let it be known to the people doing the work today who it was that came before them…This is a very, very, important part of history. We want to not only honor the hard work, but also see the problems before they happen and be pro-active from knowing our history.”
The keynote speaker will be Speaker Bob DeLeo, and Repucci said they will honor long-time Board President Richelle Cromwell and Chelsea Council President Leo Robinson (a former employee of CAPIC).
“Leo worked here from 1972 to 1988 and Leo goes by the book,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of people know that. Leo knows there’s a process for change to occur and he’s good at that. He does his research and he knows how government works.”
Other guests include Housing Secretary Jay Ash, as possibly Gov. Charlie Baker or Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
CAPIC got its start under late President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. As part of that effort, his Legislation included the Office of Economic Opportunity and that federal office offered grants to municipalities.
Chelsea and Revere banded together and got a $150,000 grant to share in 1965, with the group banding together in 1967 to form CAPIC. Winthrop was always part of partnership, but wasn’t confirmed until 1992 by the state.
Dick Incerto was the first director, and offices were in Chelsea and another was in Revere on Revere Street.
“The emphasis from 1967 was alcohol and drug us, housing, and tenants rights,” he said. “They focused on breaking barriers people had from achieving self-sufficiency.”
The Board was a unique format as well, he said. It was and still is comprised of a business leader, a low-income person and an elected official from each community. There are 21 board members.
“The integration of these three sectors onto one Board ensured that the agency would receive proper information,” he said. “That’s been the glue all these years – that tripartite glue of people on the Board.”
After Incerto, other directors included Walter Brown, Bob Mahoney and Pete Tata. Repucci came on board in 1972 to work on health care access and issues – something CAPIC still focuses on heavily.
Many of the programs in the area have been spin offs from CAPIC, including the model Upward Bound program that became Choice Through Education, or the Alcohol Outreach Program, which became Chelsea ASAP.
“If I were not here, the history of this organization I’m afraid would not be communicated,” he said. “So, I want to bring the people who started here back to meet the new generation. That’s what we’re hoping to do.”
The event is invitation only and guests of an invited person are $25. It is not a fundraiser, but donations are welcome. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the program starts at 6 p.m.