People of Chelsea

Annmarie Noland and husband Louis Gray – October 21, 2021

By Darlene DeVita

The following is one in a series of sneak peeks at the upcoming People of Chelsea additions by Chelsea Photographer Darlene DeVita. The new work will ultimately appear on the fence of the Chelsea Public Library (CPL) Spring of 2022 a collaboration between the People of Chelsea project and the CPL.)

As I walked home on Halloween, I passed by Annmarie and Heathers’ apartments, wonderfully decorated for Halloween.  “The landlord said it was ‘OK’ as long as we don’t go crazy…whatever that means!”  They went all out and just wanted to share some joy for the kids.  COVID hit them hard. This is Annmarie and her husband Louis’ story.

A.N. I lived in Chelsea all my life. My mom raised me in Prattville. I moved away for a bit to Boston and tried to start a life out there, but I didn’t like it, the scenery wasn’t good for me, too much violence, so I came back to my home city, this is where I want to be and where I met my husband. I have his support and my little sisters’.

I’ve seen a lot changed since I’ve been back, like on Broadway and the murals, not a lot of violence anymore. I like seeing the Murals out there.

I’m Louis Gray. I’m originally from Dorchester. I came to Chelsea in 2001. I had problems with my drug addiction. I did a program with the Barbara McGinnis House Boston. They helped me out a lot. I got my section 8, and after 7yrs I’m sober. Living day by day.

I’m 62 yrs old. I don’t have children. With my habit, how could I support them? It was a good thing. I’m so happy now. The Lord gave me a second chance, opened my eyes, and found my beautiful wife. She went through her own struggles, but she showed me it’s not worth it not to stay sober.

A.N. COVID was rough. I didn’t get my vaccination because I don’t believe in it. I get tested every two weeks. Thank God. I think I have Jesus on my side, so I haven’t caught it. Louis got it [vaccination], though. We wear our masks whenever we go to the store. My friends are negative.

Louis: I have to give the Chelsea police department and all of them a lot of respect because they cleaned it [Chelsea] up. They did a marvelous job. When I first moved out here, it was bad.  It’s much better now.

Micro-pantries launch in Chelsea

The Healthy Chelsea Coalition and the Chelsea Hunger Network are partnering with the Chelsea Department of Public Works to launch a network of micro food pantries in the city.  The first of these pantries will be located at Temple Emmanuel in Cary Square.  A “bread breaking” launch celebration will take place at the Temple at 60 Tudor Street on Saturday, November 6, at 10 am. Friends and neighbors are all welcome and encouraged to attend!  

Modeled after the “take a book, leave a book” concept of the Little Free Library, the micro pantries will provide and receive non-perishable food and personal care items, allowing neighbors to help one another in times of need. The micro pantry invites neighbors to “Take what you need, Give what you can.” 

“Part of Temple Emmanuel’s mission is to benefit the Cary Square and Addison Orange neighborhoods. Hosting Chelsea’s first micro pantry in our courtyard is one of the many ways we act on this priority,” said Herb Selesnick, Community Engagement Coordinator, Temple Emmanuel of Chelsea.  The Temple’s “host” duties include maintaining the site.

Ron Fishman, Community Coordinator for Healthy Chelsea and the Chelsea Hunger Network said, “This neighbor-supported, 24/7 addition to the City’s network of food pantries fills a real need.  We are grateful to the Chelsea DPW for constructing and installing the units, Healthy Chelsea’s Food Corps volunteers for their behind-the-scenes contributions and Temple Emmanuel for enthusiastically offering to be the pilot’s host.” 

About Healthy Chelsea:  The Healthy Chelsea Coalition is focused on improving the overall health of Chelsea residents, including addressing issues of food insecurity, mental health and wellness, and youth development. Healthy Chelsea is supported by the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement.  Visit www.healthychelsea.org and www.massgeneral.org/cchi/

Healthy Chelsea oversees the Chelsea Hunger Network whose mission is to create a platform for all food pantries, community-based organizations, the City, and concerned residents to collaborate in the mitigation of food insecurity in Chelsea.  Visit Facebook @ChelseaHungerNetwork.

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