Saturday, January 16, 2010

Community Alliance of Mission Hill Celebrates

By Chris Pestana

Improving quality of life through advocacy and action is not only the Community Alliance of Mission Hill’s mission statement, it is also what the Community Alliance of Mission Hill promoted at its annual Community Day Celebration in September.

On behalf of the Community Alliance of Mission Hill, Mission Hill Main Streets was awarded a $3,000 grant by the Mission Hill Fenway Neighborhood Trust for an annual Community Day Celebration.

The celebration took place Sept. 12. About 400 people attended, for live music, food and a social gathering at the Tobin Community Center in Roxbury.
It was a “huge success, and a lot of work,” said Rich Johnson, president of the Community Alliance.

This past spring Johnson set a list of goals, among them the hosting of an outdoor celebration. He was unsure about how to pay for such a celebration until he came across the Fenway Neighborhood Trust grant opportunity.

After applying to the Fenway Neighborhood Trust, the Community Alliance was notified in June that it would be awarded $3,000 for a Community Day Celebration. Mission Hill Main Streets was the fiscal agent, because it, unlike the Community Alliance, it holds 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit status with the federal government.

“People want tax benefits for donations, “ said Christine Rose, executive director of Mission Hill Main Streets, who helped orchestrate the additional donations to help pay for the celebration.

Organizations with 501(c)(3) status are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions, because the organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests.

After being awarded the grant, additional outreach was done to local businesses and hospitals, where various donations were received in the form of services, food, supplies and cash to help with the celebration.

With the finances for the Community Day in place, the Community Alliance held meetings once a week to organize and pitch ideas for what approach to take toward hosting the celebration.

Johnson, who hatched the idea for the celebration, said: “The idea behind it is to build relationships and strengthen the community.”

Johnson said the greatest value from the celebration came from the things that led up to and followed the event. For the celebration to be successful, volunteers from throughout the community had to make themselves available and coordinate with one another. About 100 community members volunteered for the Community Day Celebration. At its conclusion, a thank-you party was held for those who contributed.

The Community Alliance, founded in 1993, is the only Mission Hill organization to hold monthly meetings open to anyone. Johnson said that because issues are discussed and then voted on as in a democracy, the city takes into consideration issues to help improve the Mission Hill area that are voted on and approved during alliance meetings.
The Community Alliance is strictly a volunteer organization, and is a “reflection of the neighborhood,” Johnson said.

Considering the success of the first Community Day Celebration, the Community Alliance plans to host another one in the future, and would like to organize more social events to bring the Mission Hill community together.

Chris Pestana is an undergraduate student at the Northeastern University School of Journalism.

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