The Ellis South End Neighborhood Association held its 55th Annual Meeting with a packed house in the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology on Tuesday, May 14.
Chair John Alekna welcomed everyone to the meeting, and bid his farewell as the chair of the Ellis, a spot he has held for three years.
“This is my third and final year as chair,” he said. “The organization has really been an extraordinary journey for me. The mission is to improve the neighborhood and work on making it better. I hope in my three years, I’ve been able to make a difference.”
President of the Ellis did not change this year, with Ellen Sheets remaining in charge for the year to come.
However, the highlight of the night came when State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz presented the Arthur Howe Award to former State Rep. Byron Rushing. Howe was one of the founders of the Ellis 55 years ago, and helped to shepherd it into the strong organization it is today.
Rushing said he was truly honored to have the Ellis decide on him for that important award.
“We get awards all the time as legislators,” he said. “This is the thing about all those awards. They will make you the legislator of the year and give you an award, but ask you to sponsor a bill for them. Hardly ever are those awards for anything we ever did. They are always for something people wanted from us. This is a unique award. This is an award from the people of the South End for doing something. This means a lot to me.”
Rushing said he knew Howe, and recalled him to be a boisterous and opinionated advocate, but one he liked.
“When you got into a conversation with Arthur, you never knew where it might go,” he said with a laugh.
“The Ellis has always been concerned about the neighborhood as a whole, the City as a whole, and not just your few blocks,” he said. “You should always be acknowledged for that.”
His comments were closed out with a standing ovation from the many neighbors and business people in the room.
The Ellis also heard from representative from the Boston Center for the Arts, the Community Music Center of Boston and the Boston Ballet.
Several directors who have given many years to the organization were recognized as they were leaving the Board. They included: Jonathan Shapira, Dawn Chin, Rebecca Roth Gullo, Scott Semel, and Dave Crowley.
The new directors coming in included: Norma Alekna, Julie Arnheiter, John Chambers, Luis Croquer, Betsy Hall, and Cathy Phillips.
The officers include President Ellen Sheets, new Chair Robert Berstein, Vice President John Alekna, Vice President Patty Brennan, Vice President Matthew Rhoades, Treasurer Robin Johnson and Clerk Chris Block.