Community People

ABCD Center to Honor Volunteer of the Year, Marian O’Neil

Marian O'Neill
Marian O’Neill

Action for Boston Community Development rolls out the festivities on September 16 in a gala celebration of 17 outstanding community volunteers who embody the spirit of the landmark Economic Opportunity Act, celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year.

That historic 1964 EOA legislation launched the War on Poverty in America and gave birth to the nation’s community action programs, including ABCD. It spawned an era of opportunity and empowerment that moved millions out of poverty and created ongoing social institutions such as Legal Services, Head Start, Community Health Centers and more.

ABCD North End/West End NSC honors volunteer of the year Marian O’Neil

Lia Tota, North End/West End NSC Director explains, “Marian is an essential resource to the meal services offered at the center. As the lead cook for our Friday Hot Meals program and holiday feasts, Marian has filled thousands of plates with delicious and nutritious food.”

Sending leftovers home with community members, Marian’s meals are made with fresh herbs and ingredients and she is known to take meal requests from seniors, happy to prepare special dishes they may otherwise not be able to enjoy or afford.

With dishes prepared with such professionalism and kindness, it is no surprise that our Friday meal service attendance has doubled! Marian continues to meet this increased demand with kindness and dedication and we consider Marian a true friend of the center and an integral part of our operations.

ABCD Community Awards Dinner

“ABCD is proud to honor our community volunteers and others who go above and beyond to help those in need,” said ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew. “Their spirit and commitment speak to the essence of the EOA 50th anniversary that we celebrate this year. At ABCD, we are proud to persist in our work to achieve that landmark legislation’s mission ‘to eliminate the paradox that is poverty in the midst of plenty in this Nation…’  We look forward to a grand celebration of community and voluntarism!”

Giving voice to the evening’s enthusiastic retro spirit is Mary Wilson of The Supremes! The flagship Motown girl group helped define the sound of young America in the 1960s with a slew of R&B/soul classics: Stop! In the Name of Love, You Can’t Hurry Love, Where Did our Love Go? and so many more.

Today Mary Wilson performs with the same passion as she did then, and the world-renowned celebrity uses her fame and flair to promote humanitarian efforts to end hunger, raise AIDS awareness and encourage world peace.

Sarah Ann Shaw and Hubie Jones, two community icons who have made a difference for hundreds of thousands in Boston and beyond, will be inducted into the ABCD Hall of Fame.

Sarah Ann Shaw was Boston’s first female African-American television reporter and is a renowned community activist who ran ABCD’s neighborhood programs in the organization’s early days. A longtime Dorchester resident, she helped define minority affairs programming and news content and is the recipient of hundreds of journalistic and community awards.

Hubie Jones will be recognized for his vital role in Boston and America’s social justice movement. He has held numerous positions in academia, served in policy and management roles at several community institutions and played a leadership role in the social development of Boston and its people.

Karen Holmes Ward, Director of Public Affairs and Community Services as well as host/executive producer, CityLine, WCVB-TV/Channel 5, is mistress of ceremonies.

For more information, please contact Amelia at 617-348-6238 or email

About ABCD:

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 Prevention 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.