Community Engagement

Community Leadership Institute

This past weekend The Neighborhood Developers was able to send six residents to the NeighborWorks America Community Leadership Institute conference in Houston Texas.  CLI is a “three day training event that aims to strengthen the voices and skills of the community, resident and volunteer leaders.” Participants from all over the USA attended this training, where at the end of the training participants are eligible for a $4,000 grant for an action plan created by the resident leaders.



Left to Right: Yenis Joya, Resident Service Coordinator Monica Elias, Resident Service Manager Gabriel Fonseca, Elizabeth Ramos (Middle), Pamela Ross (Front), Loira Moore (Back), Marcus Queen (Back) Mina Jlil (Front) and Vice President of Resident Services Monica Dean.

Mina Jlil speaking in front of a session at CLI

TND’s team was composed by TND residents housed in our properties and community residents from both cities of Chelsea and Revere. This team was led in efforts with TND Resident Services department.  

For many of our residents this was the first time traveling outside MA.  During the trainings our residents engaged with residents from all over the country where they found inspirations in each other. A big take away for our residents was that there are many communities in the USA fighting for affordability in their communities and trying to strengthen community engagement, not much difference in comparison to our communities. TND is excited to see what community action plan grows from this year’s CLI team.

“Con amor y respeto we stand in solidarity with you”

#HoustonCLI #CLI2018 #TNDResidents #Chelsea&Revere #ResidentLeaders

Food For Thought

As a Community Engagement Manager, I often use food as a simple tool to connect with others. So when we welcomed our new Director of Community Engagement and Collective Impact, Vicente Sanabria to TND last month, I was happy to hear that he is a foodie,  Whenever you meet him, ask him about the mango experience on Shirley Ave. I promise you it’s entertaining.

These are snapshots of Vicente’s visits to Revere so far:

Vanny, Sylvia Chiang(revere cares), Vicente.jpg

Here is Vicente’s first office visit with Director of Revere CARES Sylvia Chiang where he and Sylvia exchanged pleasantries in español. Sylvia shared that her grandfather was Chinese though she herself doesn’t speak the language or cook much Chinese cuisine at home. While at work, her go to Asian restaurant in Shirley Ave neighborhood is Thmor Da.

Here is Vicente at the home of Kristen Janjar, a TND Revere Board member. To make this less business like and more welcoming, the Janjars opened up their home to us and fellow TND Revere Board member, Tech Leng,  for dinner to get to know the new guy. Rachid Janjar made an delicious impression when he served up pressured cooked chicken curry with potatoes. Check out this tasty Moroccan dish pronounced gah-mee-lah,(my best guest, chicken tangine) and this TND selfie. Aren’t we lucky?

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Vicente, Rachid Janjar, Kristen Janjar, Samir Janjar, Tech Leng and Nora Janjar.jpg

Just food for thought...can we use food to increase social connectivity in our communities? If yes? How?


On Wednesday night, at the monthly Community Enhancement Team (CET) meeting, Pamela Bender from the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC) visited the group to learn about what they wanted to see at the upcoming MACDC convention.  There was excellent conversation and tremendous leadership was shown as many CET members spoke up and conveyed the concerns and desires of their community. The group highlighted some topics that interested them most: Green Communities, Race Conversations, Residents Working with the City, Facilitation, Gentrification, Working with the Media and more!   Pam was receptive and attentive to everything that was said and and even stated "after hearing from all of you, I want to move to Chelsea".  Thank you Pam Bender and MACDC valuing community voices.  

In addition to the visit from MACDC and the advocacy of the group, there was another heartening aspect of the CET meeting -- their initiative and dedication.  Chelsea resident Mui Chhua facilitated a large part of the meeting, and it was truly inspirational to see her leading the group through their planning process.  The group has plans for some significant transformation projects in 2018, starting with Jefferson street near Soldiers' Home.  The CET has decided to adopt part of Jefferson St in 2018, along with 3 other adopt-a-spot locations that they already care for: one on Willow St, one at Bellingham Hill and one by the Highland stairs.  The group brainstormed and planned, and several members volunteered to take the lead on various next steps.  The vision, initiative and dedication of this group is like no other!  Be part of their movement -- follow them on facebook (, come to their next meeting on 4/18, or join them on Earth Day on 4/21!

Spring Love

#LoveYourNeighbor Campaign

Happy first day of SPRING friends! For our local members, I’m sure news of our fourth Nor’easter makes us wonder if spring will ever reach our neighborhoods. Spring may not be in our reach, but love is blooming everywhere. I’m talking about the love that springs from neighbors helping out neighbors. This love is about compassion for one another. In my short professional career in community development, I have found that it’s hard to teach compassion but this is the very thing that motivates us to perhaps step out of our comfort zone, expand our network, or elevate our guiding principles into action steps. Many times we only highlight our recognizable heroes but what about the folks who are doing good everyday and making our world a little better for all rather than some?

Take our young member, Henry Lopez, for example. He and his family are active participants in the Shirley Ave neighborhood revitalization efforts. He’s really young and for some, it’s easy to discount his presence in a neighborhood clean up or community meeting but as you will see, he’s absorbing the actions of those around him.  A couple weeks back his mom shared with me a piece of Henry’s school work and inspired me to keep at it; keep including folks at the decision making table, keep empowering those around me, keep on connecting neighbors to neighbors, and keep on doing what you love because the results may surprise you.

Henry loves his neighborhood and it’s having a Henry in my neighborhood that warms my heart.

Henry MLK.jpg

Let’s honor folks like Henry.  In support of TND’s 40th anniversary in building homes, opportunities, and  a sense of community. I’m happy to launch our Love Your Neighbor Campaign. Help me recognize that unsung hero in your neighborhood. Send me a message and we’ll coordinate on giving thanks to our neighborhood heroes. You can reach me at

We Are Family

Hello friends,

Over the last couple of months, the Revere Community Committee members have had to adapt to a few staff transitions over on our end. One thing is clear while I was away though, this resident group is more than a working committee, they have become FAMILY. Like any family gathering, we have our good moments and our growth moments. We argue, we laugh, we love--we are family!

They welcomed me back with open arms at the end of last year but immediately made their demands, like a group of elder siblings will do. They wanted me to expand our family(umm, I mean network). So in January, I promised them that I’ll do my part to expand the network so long as they do the same, together we are going to grow. They added an additional challenge, they asked me to invite Mayor Brian Arrigo and his new staff member, Nick Romano, to come to our meetings. They wanted to get updates on the Walnut Ave Park project (a project that is near and dear to some of members). and other beautification projects they initiated.

With some diligence, I set out to expand the network and we had a few new faces at our last community meeting in February. And guess what?? Nick Romano AND Mayor Arrigo joined us. The Mayor shared updates on funding coming into the Shirley Ave neighborhood via the MassWorks grant to address infrastructure needs and $750K in community benefits from a development project at the former Shaw’s site. He also affirmed the latter funding would go towards the Walnut Ave Park(joyfully squealing on the RCC’s behalf)  and rehab Curtis Lee Park near the neighborhood’s local elementary school.

Just in case the membership didn’t get enough good news, the Mayor gladly pointed out that one of our own members just became the city planner, Tech Leng, and he gave a nod to the talent in the room. We also had another unexpected visitor,  Senator Joe Boncore who when asked, what do you love about Revere, he mentioned, “the paradigm shift” and his excitement to be connecting with a group like the RCC. The Senator’s visit prompted, a shocked “oh” from active member, Jan Dumas, and the Mayor was quick to point out the difference in reception good naturedly. Both said they didn’t plan on staying long but the RCC can be captivating and before either of them knew it, they stayed to end for a family portrait committed one of their staff members to join the RCC at all future meetings. Talk about growing the network!

2018 will bring many opportunities to this network of neighbors but there is not doubt there is room for growth, love lives in Revere. This group continues to demonstrate, there is room for more. If you want to be in the network and get involved join the membership.

Warm regards,

Vanny, Community Engagement Manager



Bank of America Investing in Safety


The  Bank of America is partnering with TND to support community vitality and economic opportunity for all. Alicia Verity, Massachusetts Market Manager for the Bank of America Charitable Foundation shares that the Foundation’s Economic Mobility grant-making is based on a core vision: “We believe that one’s zip code should not define an individual or family’s economic well-being. Economic opportunity begins with the ability to live and work in vibrant communities, with access to safe, decent housing, strong business corridors, and access to arts and culture.”  

The Bank of America provided a $25,000 grant in support of TND’s leadership of the Chelsea Thrives program, a holistic initiative that seeks to improve community safety in Chelsea.  Melissa Walsh, who manages the Chelsea Thrives program, completed a year-long professional development course sponsored by the Bank of America. “The training was a fantastic opportunity to meet emerging leaders from around the country and to build my skills for new program development.”  Melissa and many Chelsea Thrives partners recognize that despite notable reductions in crime, perceptions of safety inhibit pedestrian use of downtown Chelsea, especially in the evenings. The partners – including the City of Chelsea, non-profits, residents and businesses -- are coordinating efforts to further reduce crime and improve community vitality.

Break bread, build community!

Back in March,  we held a resident meeting at one of our properties in Revere. It was a joint effort of The Neighborhood Developers(TND) and our property management team Winn Residential, to share building and community updates to our residents . At the end of the meeting a few of our Muslim residents, Fatima and Nadia in particular, approached me about having an Iftar- a breaking of the Ramadan fast within our building.  Immediately, excitement was in the air and other residents were interested in taking part in this event. Over the last 2 weeks, I reached out to those same residents and ask them to help organize an Iftar for the building. In preparation of the event, I myself tried to fast for the Iftar and that is an experience I will have to  share at another time.

This past Saturday, some of our residents at 525 Beach Street pulled together an amazing spread that included chocolate croissants, dates, hard boiled eggs, small meat pies, and harira, - a traditional soup served during Ramadan made up of tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, onions, rice, herbs, meat and spices,  And to wash it all down, we had milk, coffee and Moroccan sweet spearmint tea. Over 15 kids and 12 residents came together to break the Ramadan fast at a little past 8:15pm. The meal was over in less than 20 minutes but we all lingered a few more hours chatting, slowly savoring what remains on our plate and laughing with one another. Here is what Carol Palermo, one of our newest building resident had to say:

“I had a wonderful experience at the Ramadan iftar, I learned a lot about the history of the Ramadan and how the families fast all day. I could not believe all the different foods that were brought by the Moroccan families in the building that prepared the food for the evening. My other thought was how wonderful the parents interact with their children.

I also enjoyed trying the soup.

Thanks for the experience.

Newly energized by the breaking of our fast, we decided to take advantage of living close to the beach, cleaned up our meals, packed up the kids and took a close to midnight stroll to Revere Beach. And that was our first Iftar at 525 Beach. Stay tuned for guest bloggers from our buildings.

Diversity in action

This afternoon, I went to pick up my books for a guest reading opportunity with The Chelsea Public Library’ Diversity In Action(DIA) program. The program’s main goal is to celebrate all of the wonderful languages spoken and cultures represented in Chelsea. Next week, I’ll be reading the bilingual edition, English-Khmerof “In here, out there!” by Phillipp Winterberg. I also hope to teach the students a few words of Khmer, the primary language of Cambodia. I’m excited to continue to contribute to the celebration of our community’s diversity and to strengthen our social fabric.  For more information about the DIA national program and the resources at Chelsea Public Library, stop by to visit them at 569 Broadway, Chelsea MA, 02150, (617)466-4352  Be sure to join me next week for the community event, Diversity in Action Chelsea Community Night on Wednesday, May 10th at 6pm. 

Speaking up for homes and jobs!

Call your representatives, and tell them that you want more affordable homes in your community!

New Immigrant & Refugee Visions


Free Documentary Filmmaking Training

Get Trained in Documentary Filmmaking:

Apply to be one of ten new immigrants and refugees from the Boston area to learn documentary filmmaking.

Make a Film:

Each participant will produce his or her own short film about the challenges faced or the
contributions made by their community.

Share Your Story:

Your film will be screened across the country to inform public opinion and
influence decision-makers about the experience of new immigrants and refugees.

Participant Benefits:

- Free 15 week training to make a documentary film
- Equipment and production resources provided
- Transportation stipend
- Lunch provided on days of training


15 weeks, June-Sept:
Saturdays, 9-5pm;
Plus one weekday evening
per week, 6-9pm


Greater Boston
Application Details:


April 28, 2017


Come and Make a Difference! Be Part of Making Chelsea Cleaner and Safer!  Please join us, the Community Enhancement Team (CET), every 3rd Wednesday of the month. The CET is a team of resident leaders committed to working together to solve community problems and improve the quality of life, the cleanliness and safety in Chelsea. If you are interested in getting involved and making a difference in Chelsea, please join us!


Wed, March 15, 2017, 6pm -8pm


Highland Terrace community room (59/61gerrish ave)


Name *