An outpouring of community love, relentlessness and transformation echoed around Park Street Wednesday as the region’s leaders joined hundreds of young people, the adults that love them and community partners in celebrating Roca’s deep impact the last three decades.
Roca’s participants, staff, alumni and partners came together for a night of live music and food to celebrate Roca’s 30th anniversary. Roca leaders thanked the community, its partners and allies in making such a difference in young people’s lives.
“I am in awe of all of you and all the young people we have met, had the honor of working with the last 30 years and all of the Roca team, our partners and this community who made all this relentlessness possible,” said Roca Founder and CEO Molly Baldwin.
At the event, Roca honored its Roca30 Unsung Hero Awardees, including state Sen. Sal DiDomenico, Probation Commissioner Edward Dolan, Youth Services Commissioner Peter Forbes, Boston Police Captain Haseeb Hosein, Chelsea Police Captain David Batchelor, Hampden County First Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Fitzgerald and Kim Hanton, director of diversionary addiction services at North Suffolk Mental Health Association.
“These seven individuals work on issues and for people who are well out of the headlines and far from the limelight because it’s the right thing and because it makes a difference,” said Baldwin. “They are truly unsung heroes.”
Featured speakers at the event were Jay Ash, secretary of housing and economic development under Gov. Charlie Baker, Harry Spence, the former Receiver of Chelsea and Massachusetts Court Administration and Eric Rodriguez, a founding Roca youth member and lead pastor of The Way Church.
The most special part of the evening came when Roca also honored seven youth participants as unsung heroes as well – seven young people whose lives have been upended by Roca’s relentless outreach, its transformative programs and its many partnerships.
Those young people are:
- Joseph Acosta
- Caralis Rosario Hernandez
- Dakwam Johnson
- Ana Mejia
- Amauris Melendez
- Gage Morrow
- Dennis Rodriguez
Each of the speakers paused to honor Roca and its team, in particular the driving force of the last 30 years – Molly Baldwin. Ash, the former Chelsea City Manager, presented Baldwin with a award honoring her service and summed up the accollades of many by noting her personal relentlessness as an indisputable driver of Roca’s success.
“If not for Molly Baldwin, there are so many people who wouldn’t be where they are or even alive today,” said Ash. “Molly’s life of service and her relentlessness is an inspiration to us all.”