Celebrating the Collaborative

Quiroga Praises Agency as a National Model of Community Empowerment

The Chelsea Collaborative celebrated its 31-year history of being a leader for community and social justice at a gala Dec. 18 at Emiliana Festa.

Gladys Vega, who has served as executive director of the organization since 2006 and been a vital part of its leadership team for 30 years, said the success of the Chelsea Collaborative is the result of many people working together – and their efforts helping residents is often unseen and unheralded.

Front row, from left, Past Collaborative Board President Lee Staples, Board Clerk Magaly Valentin, Board President Rosie Medina, Board Member Ellen Rovner, Collaborative Gala Event Planner Ruth Deras. Back row, from left, Collaborative Chief Operating Officer Dinanyili Paulino, Collaborative Executive Director Gladys Vega, and Workforce Development Manager Sylvia Ramirez.

“Tonight is very special because this work is done and at times it doesn’t get seen,” Vega told the large gathering in attendance. “But we have made it and we continue to build that trajectory that allows us to provide the services that are sorely needed in our community.”

Vega praised the leaders in the community such as Police Chief Brian Kyes, Fire Chief Len Albanese, and the Chelsea city councillors and School Committee members who have been supportive of the Collaborative through the years.

In his keynote address, Jorge Quiroga, former news reporter for WCVB-TV Channel 5, praised the Collaborative as a national model and for helping to make Chelsea a better city.

“Thirty-one years of the Chelsea Collaborative – and it’s really a beautiful and important milestone,” said Quiroga. “It’s one that we must recognize but without forgetting where we came from.”

Quiroga recalled Chelsea being a city on the brink of financial collapse in the late 1980s, leading to the city being placed in to receivership.

“It was out of these ashes that the Chelsea Collaborative was born with the mission of empowering residents to take control of their future to improve education, housing and jobs, but also to hold city government accountable,” said Quiroga. “And guess what, with the help of many, many people of goodwill, many of whom are in this room tonight – it worked.”

Quiroga said in 1998 Chelsea was named an “All-America City” – an award that demonstrated how far the city had moved forward under excellent leadership and through the efforts of outstanding community partners such as the Collaborative.

“The Chelsea Collaborative has been a true champion for social and economic justice, establishing itself as a national model of community empowerment,” lauded Quiroga. “From my own experience as a reporter at WCVB Channel 5, I can only say how awed and impressed I had been to see firsthand how the Chelsea Collaborative attacked a broad range of social and economic problems.”

He spoke of the energetic leadership and community spirit exhibited by Vega at the helm of the Collaborative. He praised the efforts of the Collaborative in helping residents of a Broadway high-rise during an emergency, holding the landlord accountable and “making sure the tenants had housing and a Thanksgiving dinner.”

Quiroga’s glowing remarks in tribute to the Chelsea Collaborative and its leaders such as Executive Director Gladys Vega and Board President Rosalba Medina were the exclamation point to an evening of celebration and commendation for the 31-year-old organization.

“The Chelsea Collaborative is always providing guidance, legal counsel, but most of all insurance that somebody has their back – and in this city, the Collaborative will always have their back.” Quiroga received a standing ovation, sharing the spotlight with Gladys Vega, a woman who has become synonymous with the mission and

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