ABCD’s North End/West End NSC has nominated West End community activist Marie Cantlon for honors at the Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) 35th Annual Community Awards Dinner on Friday, October 30 at the Marriot Boston Copley Place. The dinner celebrates the voluntary efforts of individuals who have worked tirelessly to address and placate the plight of Boston’s underprivileged communities through voluntary leadership and service.
Marie Cantlon – Marie Cantlon may be small in stature but she is imposing in presence. The North End/West End NSC applauds Marie for her tireless advocacy on behalf of the residents of an often overlooked Boston neighborhood.
Bordered by Beacon Hill, the North End, and the Charles River, the West End neighborhood has not received the same fanfare as its surrounding communities. Marie has been working to change that. Through her support, the neighborhood is experiencing a revival, supporting and encouraging new businesses and residents while maintaining its celebrated culture. She is a founding member of the West End Civic Association, established to honor and protect the historic neighborhood while creating a sense of camaraderie amongst its previously disconnected residents. During her time with the organization, she has served as its President and as a member of its Board of Directors.
Marie is known throughout the community for her remarkable wisdom and leadership in dealing with the complex issues that arise when turning around a neighborhood. She has been particularly concerned with protecting and improving the quality of life for the residents of the West End during its recovery, especially the elderly and the disabled. She has been a tireless advocate for safer pedestrian crossings, calling for the restoration of an aging overhead walkway. And she recently organized and led a committee of people who were concerned about the accessibility of a local public transportation station, prompting the MBTA to make plans for a new elevator.
Says Paul Schratter, a fellow colleague and activist in the West End, “Marie has helped to restore a spirit to the neighborhood that had long been missing. Because of her leadership, energy, and relentless determination, our community is not only back on the map, it is a more vibrant place than it ever was.” 8
Retiring ABCD President/CEO Bob Coard to be honored
At the ABCD dinner, a special tribute will honor retiring ABCD CEO/President Bob Coard, in recognition of his more than 40 years of leadership, service and dedication to Boston’s underprivileged communities. Coard has served as ABCD President/CEO since 1968 and has been with the agency since 1964. He will retire on November 1.
Under his leadership, ABCD has grown into a renowned human services/community action agency with a current budget of $130 million and 1,000-plus employees serving more than 100,000 persons in need annually. He is widely recognized as a legendary leader of the antipoverty movement and a highly respected policymaker at home in the board rooms, government offices and political enclaves of Boston and the nation.
Coard’s recipe for combating poverty includes an unwavering emphasis on education – he started two high schools for at-risk youth at ABCD, in collaboration with the Boston Public Schools. The William J. Ostiguy High School serving youth with substance and alcohol abuse issues has received national recognition.
A major achievement was Coard’s establishment of Urban College of Boston – the widely recognized, fully accredited college for poor people that was chartered as an independent college in 1993. In 1981 he founded the National Community Action Foundation (NCAF) in Washington, D.C. to provide nationwide leadership and impact legislation affecting America’s poor and the 1,000 community action programs that represent them. He also created the Community Action Program Legal Services Inc. or CAPLAW, a national program providing legal support to community action programs and their low-income constituents. Coard and ABCD also established Greater Boston Legal Services and under his leadership, ABCD was t the forefront of the Community Health Center movement.
More on the Dinner:
The 2009 ABCD Community Awards Dinner is being emceed by FOX25 news anchors Maria Stephanos and Keba Arnold. Friends Committee Chair George A. Russell Jr. is executive vice president and director of Community Affairs for State Street Corporation.
ABCD serves more than 100,000 low-income Boston-area residents through its central offices and a decentralized network of Neighborhood Service Centers (NSCs), Head Start centers, Family Planning sites and Foster Grandparent sites. Programs and affiliations include Fuel Assistance; Head Start; Child Care Services; Child Care Choices of Boston; Education; Career Development; Housing and Homelessness Services; Health Services; Family Planning; Urban College of Boston; University High – an Alternative High School; Ostiguy High School for high school students in recovery; Weatherization; Foster Grandparents; Elder Services; Intergenerational Programs; Food Pantries in several Boston neighborhoods; management of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), Commonwealth of Massachusetts Employees Charitable Campaign (COBECC) and City of Boston Employees Charitable Campaign (COBECC); advocacy and consumer services.