Fenway CDC Celebrates 45 Years of Success

The Fenway Community Development Corporation (CDC) brought it back to 1973, the year the non-profit organization began, during the 45th annual meeting and celebration. Members dressed in costume as they commemorated the success and accomplishments of the non-profit throughout the years.

A packed crowd filled into Saint Cecilia’s Parish on Thursday, April 12, to get an update on last year’s accomplishments and hear a sneak peek on what is to come.

The event featured a costume contest, survey, raffle and good food and conversations.

A special presentation was given by Dr. Karilyn Crockett, director of economic policy and research and small business development for City of Boston that focused on how advocates stood up and fought unwanted development change.

Examples included the demolition of the West End and New York Streets in the South End, to the proposed Fenway Urban Renewal Plan that slated sections of the neighborhood for demolition and had a major highway running through the heart of it.

“You guys said no,” said Crockett. She tied the advocacy of 1960s and 1970s to what the Fenway CDC is working on now, in creating community and helping to plan the future of the neighborhood that includes residents that live there now.

“In Fenway we do not have empty parking lots and abandoned buildings, every little space is used,” said Leah Camhi, executive director of Fenway CDC. “The question is, how do you build affordable housing and build relationship and trust in communities for us to be able to build?”

Camhi said it is hard to advocate for affordable housing, especially when every time people turn around there is a new development popping up in the Fenway.

“We need to make sure Fenway remains livable, workable and affordable,” said Camhi.

Camhi said the Fenway CDC is working hard to obtain a ninth building in this upcoming year to help keep the neighborhood affordable for those who currently live in there.

“Wow, 45 years, that’s pretty amazing,” said Greg Haig, president of the board of directors. “We had an amazing year this year and it wouldn’t be possible without those who will receive the Community Service Awards. These people continue to go above and beyond in helping Fenway being the best place to call home.”

Special Community Service awards were given to Callie Watkins, Father Robert Arida, Sheneal Parker, Holly Berry, and Rachel Huot.

The Joyce Foster Community Impact Award was given to Eric Tingdahl for his leadership, dedicated service to improve the neighborhood and quality of life for residents. Tingdahl served as president and as treasurer of the Fenway CDC, and he is currently serving in the Development Committee.

The Joyce Foster Community Impact Award remembers the former colleague, friend and board member of Fenway CDC. The award is a way to both remember her hard work and designate future honorees for their impact on the community.

In addition, a new slate of board members was voted in at the annual meeting.

“Our board members are really committed to making Fenway a great place to live,” said Haig. “They help those who need help in the community from affordable housing to having living wage jobs.”

Highlights of Fenway CDC’s impact over the last year include: more than 500 residents provided with safe and affordable homes, 52 homes preserved at Burbank Gardens, 460 people accessed education and job opportunities, 211 community members engaged through planning and organizing and so much more.

Events included Taste of the Fenway, the Fenway Ball, Mother’s Day jazz brunch, summer movie night and Halloween celebrations.

“The Fenway CDC started from a small group of people who banned together because the neighborhood was going under water,” said Colleen Fitzpatrick, community organizer for Fenway CDC. “We need you to make the difference on what is happening now.”

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