(Image courtesy Dorchester House)
As the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center prepares to celebrate its 126th year serving the Dorchester community, the health center will recognize three institutions working to better the neighborhood and the lives of its residents.
Viet-AID, Fair Foods, and Mt. Washington Bank will all be highlighted for their contributions to the community at the organization’s annual gala, set for Saturday at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
“It’s absolutely essential to have community involvement in what we do,” said Walter Ramos, president and CEO of Dorchester House. “It’s a relationship that’s beneficial to the people who live here and I don’t think any of us could exist without the other.”
Viet-AID, a Fields Corner-based community development agency, is being recognized for its work to develop more affordable housing in the area and its efforts to better connect the neighborhood’s Vietnamese population to the greater community.
Fair Foods, a non-profit that combats hunger, is being highlighted for its food distribution sites throughout the area and its work to address food security issues.
Mt. Washington bank, which opened up its first branch in the neighborhood in 2002, is being honored for its philanthropic work. It has donated close to $2.2.-million over the past 10 years to a number of community causes, according to the Dorchester House.
“What’s important is that the Dorchester House has been an anchor in the community and we wanted to honor groups that have helped us do that,” said Ramos. “When you pull all the groups together and what they do for the quality of life here, it’s important to recognize that.”
Although Ramos concentrated on highlighting the groups that have partnered with the Dorchester Avenue center, he was also eager to extol the work the Dorchester House has been doing and the philosophy behind it.
“The Dorchester House doesn’t just focus on health care, it also focuses on the whole being,” Ramos explained. “If you need financial counseling, we offer that; for those in need, we have a food pantry. We’re also a community center and when you come to our facility we can take care of the whole person.”
Jack Hart, the former state senator for the neighborhood, who will be Saturday’s master of ceremonies, had a number of good things to say about the organizations involved.
“I represented 160,000 people and I had nine health centers in my district so I’m very close to all of them and the Dorchester House is a shining example of the value they add,” said Hart, who left his position in 2012 to take a job in the private sector.
“There’s an old saying: The reward for a job well done is the opportunity to do more,” said Hart. “The Dorchester House has done a magnificent job and in the coming years will continue to do so.”
Founded in 1887 with a mission to serve the low-income immigrant populations in the Fields Corner neighborhood of Dorchester, the center opened its current location at 1353 Dorchester Ave. in the early-1970s, according to Ramos. In addition to providing complete primary care, the Dorchester House also hosts youth activities, eye care facilities, dental offices, and social service case management.
Its annual gala will be held November 2 at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s campus center.