The Philanthropic Intiative

Inspiring Words

Read the remarks delivered by Melinda Marble, TPI Board Member and Executive Director of the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation, at the 17th Annual Boston Neighborhood Fellows Award ceremony.

About The Boston Neighborhood Fellows Program

Learn more about the program. TPI designed the Boston Neighborhood Fellows Program for an anonymous donor.


Home : News and Events : Six Bostonians Receive Boston Neighborhood Fellows Award

Six Bostonians Receive Boston Neighborhood Fellows Award

Date Published: March 14, 2007

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Image by Faye photoOn Tuesday, March 13, 2007, Mayor Thomas M. Menino presented six Bostonians with the ‘Boston Neighborhood Fellows Award,’ in recognition of the power of the individual to make a difference. The six individuals were given an unrestricted cash award of $30,000 for their contributions to their communities. These ‘Fellows’ are selected for their vision, creativity, leadership and commitment to their fellow human beings.

The ‘Fellows’ are “unsung” heroes who have received little to no recognition for their services and go way beyond their job descriptions, inspiring others and reminding us all that hope and possibility exist. This year, The Philanthropic Initiative’s selection committee, working with a network of an anonymous group of spotters who represent the diversity found in the City of Boston, have chosen the following people as the 2007 Boston Neighborhood Fellows:

Abdi Ali, Boston Arts Academy, is a dedicated and inspiring teacher, a role model and mentor at the Boston Arts Academy.  His democratic spirit and willingness always to be a learner as well as a teacher are appreciated by all who work with him.

Christopher Byner, Streetworker Initiative/Boston Centers for Youth & Families, over the years, has used his extraordinary skills as a negotiator, mentor and friend to bring peace and hope to the lives of thousands of Boston’s young people.  Chris, manager of the city’s Streetworker Initiative, is on the front lines of violence prevention daily helping young people see the possibilities within themselves and their community.  Chris shows up, he listens, he shares what he knows, and he never gives up on anyone.

Elizabeth Commerford, Mission Hill Health Movement; Boston Self Help Center; VEDA, has dedicated her life to volunteer work that improves the health and brightens the vistas of her community.  Betty brings to this a special ability to motivate others into action and to keep them involved and enthusiastic.  As founder of Mission Hill Health Movement and through myriad other activities, she has played an important part in creating and maintaining the spirit of Mission Hill.

Sister Mary Hart, Saint Katharine Drexel Children’s Programs, has a bountiful generosity of spirit informs and enriches the after-school and summer camp programs she manages at the Saint Katharine Drexel parish.  She has helped generations of children succeed at academics and life, and their parents have gained skills and pride in the process.

Marvin Martin, Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, is a tireless advocate and has made a visible difference in the Four Corners community.  Under Marvin’s leadership, a network of residents and associations has made the neighborhood safer, more accessible and better housed.  He has developed new leadership and formed strong coalitions to fight for equity and quality of life for all residents.

Jim Stevens, Cradles to Crayons, is an impresario of service, overseeing an operation that collects and distributes gently used clothing, toys, books, and furniture to more than 25,000 kids in need annually.  This is all possible due to the work of 9,000 volunteers who, thanks to Jim, spend a few hours folding and sorting at the warehouse and in the process get an education about homelessness and kids in need.

The donor of these cash awards remains anonymous. Over the past 17 years, more than $2 million has been given to 105 outstanding Bostonians.

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