Chelsea – Reaching Our Dream of Unity

On January 16, 2012 Chelsea commemorated Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Day with several special events.  One of those events took place at Chelsea High School where over 200 people gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. King.  This event of Community Unity brought people together from Chelsea Public Schools, Chelsea Veterans, Chelsea police and fire departments, the Soldier’s Home, Chelsea Cable TV, Chelsea Record, state officials, city leadership, churches, family members and friends.  The celebration was sponsored by People’s AME Church in Chelsea where the Reverend Sandra Whitley serves as Pastor with her husband, the Co-Pastor, Reverend Kenneth L. Whitley.

From 9-10:00am attendees enjoyed a continental breakfast organized by Beverly Martin-Ross and Paula Cromwell.  The formal two-hour program started a little after 10:00am.  Rev Sandra Whitley served as Mistress of Ceremony (MC) and welcomed everyone to the event.  The Chelsea Soldier’s Home Honor Guard provided the Presentation of the Colors after which the audience recited the Pledge of Allegiance.  The Chelsea High School (CHS) Vocal Group under the direction of John Nichols then lead the audience in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.  Throughout the program a central theme could be heard, “Reaching Our Dream of Unity.”  The program then acknowledged four Chelsea youth essay contest winners:  Jessica Solis Flores and Christina Dang from Hooks Elementary School, Charlie Rustigian from Wright Science & Technology Academy, and Joseline Rivera from Chelsea High.  Students were asked to write about one of two options.  The first option asked, “What is your vision of how you could impact change in your community and the world at large?”  The second option asked, “Who are you and what can you contribute to society to make the world a better place?”  Each award-winning student read their essay.  The Honorable State Senator Sal DiDomenico, the Honorable State Representative Eugene O’Flaherty, and the, Chelsea Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mary Bourque, presented each of the essay award winners with a citation and gift. The presenters are shown with the award winners in the picture.

Next Mr. Robert Lewis and Councilor Clifford Cunningham received the Young Adult Dreamers and Achievers Awards.  This award is presented to young adults who have emerged in the community as outstanding and proven leaders in serving others for justice, freedom and unity.  Here the award recipients are pictured with the elected state officials and the MC.  Last but not least, the program acknowledged the 2012 Chelsea Spirit Award Winners.  This year’s winners are Ms. Deborah Washington, Councilor Calvin T Brown, and Mr. George Ostler (Father of Eileen Manning and Dr. Mary Bourque).  The photo shows State Senator Sal DiDomenico looking on as State Representative Eugene O’Flaherty says a few words.  The award winners were selected because their lives and activities display the principles and traditions of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a community service project, the CHS Interact Club created a video that honored veterans from Chelsea.  The video will be an on-going project designed to create a legacy of our veterans from World War II and all other conflicts since then, including current day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Councilman at-large Brian Hatleberg then introduced the speaker for the event, Rev Dr. Raymond Hammond.  Rev Dr. Ray Hammond is the Pastor of Bethel AME Church in Jamaica Plain.  He grew up in the inner city of Philadelphia PA where gang violence was escalating out of control.  However, because of God’s grace and the inspiration and encouragement he received from parents, teachers and church members, he was able to pursue excellence.  Not only did Dr. Hammond complete his undergraduate work at Harvard University, he also received a MA in Religion and a MD degree from Harvard.  Dr. Hammond inspired the audience with an entertaining but inspirational message of encouragement.  The picture shows Rev Whitley presenting an appreciation plaque to Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond.  For the closing, the audience joined the CHS Vocal Group Cantare for a closing song, “We shall Overcome”.

Working behind the scenes to plan and execute this event were members of the 2012 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Celebration Steering Committee.  Committee members included:  the Honorable Sandra McCoom (Mass Under Secretary for Criminal Justice – Youth and Young Adult Coalition (YYAC) Advisor Left), Mrs. Illana Ascher (2nd from left), Mrs. Linda Alitol-Robinson (3rd from left), Mrs. Tracy Nowicki (not shown), Mr. Henry David Wilson (center), Mrs. Beverly Martin-Ross (3rd from right), Ms Michelle Sodergren (not shown), Mr Kennel Etienne (not shown) (YYAC), Ms. Jillian Repucci (YYAC – 2nd from right), Ms. Nicole Vilcina (not shown)(YYAC) and Rev Whitley (right).

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