Thursday evening, under the motto “Challenging Times... Strong Community,” the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation celebrated its annual meeting. Located at 31 Germania St. in the Brewery, JPNDC has been active in the community for 34 years, concentrating on economic development, affordable housing, and community organizing.
The annual meeting drew 300 attendees to Our Lady of Lourdes Church.
After a sumptuous dinner donated by D&D Restaurant of Egleston Square, the event continued with Hyde Square Task Force youth dancing troupe Ritmo en Acción (Rhythm in Action) performing popular contemporary Latin dances.
Several members of the audience testified about how JPNDC has helped them open a business, buy a house, learn English, or obtain a job. One of the testifiers, Martha Rodriguez, a beneficiary of JPNDC services, was later inducted at the meeting as a new board member.
Board President Leslie Bos referred to how the organization’s Blessed Sacrament development not only provides homes to people in need of them and affordable opportunities to homebuyers, but also pays special consideration to the future by building with attention to energy efficiency and using green materials. “Despite the challenges presented by the bursting of the real estate bubble... [along with city and state] we are conducting infrastructure improvements in Jackson Square that pave the way, literally, for the new homes and businesses planned there,” said Bos.
She went on to mention that in spite of almost unprecedented unemployment, work in Jackson Square was completed by a workforce of almost 60 percent people of color.
Mid-way through the event, Master of Ceremonies Juan Gonzales asked the audience to take ten minutes and write on forms provided at the tables what suggestions they have for JPNDC: new programs, what can be done better, etc.
This year's recipient of the Mayor's proclamation, longtime board member Michael Mulcahy, said that his response to the query is "Join JPNDC!" Above right there is a video of Mulcahy receiving the honor.
Executive Director Richard Thal said that all the achievements of the organization have been possible thanks to an active and committed community. "Sometimes we get on each other nerves, but at the end we are all working for the same cause," said Thal.
At the same time that two new board members were introduced, outgoing board members Kathie Mainzer and Mike Gondek were recognized and presented with awards.
Awards were also presented to several community activists of all ages.
Some of 2010 JPNDC's accomplishments include:
- 36 families moved into affordable housing
- 170 jobs created with construction at Blessed Sacrament and 270 Centre
- Jackson Square revitalization
- Construction of green, affordable, award-winning buildings
This interactive map gives a tour of the many community improvement projects JPNDC has completed over the years.
The organization also provides a family-based childcare program that enables low-income residents to start and operate family childcare businesses and has trained 150 participants to date, 50 of whom have established their own businesses and have become part of JPNDC’s childcare system consisting of some 20 providers caring for 120 kids.
The Small Business Program provides technical assistance and access to financing for 60 businesses a year. Since 1997, local business have obtained $7.4 million in loans that have allowed them to create or retain 600 jobs.
Jobs for Jamaica Plain connects education and training institutions to local businesses to provide training and employment opportunities to more than 100 low-income mostly immigrant participants.
JPNDC has developed more than 480 homes and created more than 1,000 jobs. The coalition between JPNDC, City Life/Vida Urbana and Hyde Square Task Force to revitalize the Hyde/Jackson neighborhood was recognized in 2002 by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, and In 2007 JPNDC received a Community Builders award from Bank of America's Neighborhood Excellence program.
The organization’s staff and board of directors credit community members who continuously rally to ensure that Jamaica Plain remains a diverse community that provides safety, education, affordable housing and opportunities for economic success.