Letter from Maria Stella Gulla, Director of ABCD North End / West End Neighborhood Service Center.
The ABCD North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC) recently held its Independence Day Party to celebrate America’s birthday.
Special guests included Representative Aaron Michlewitz, who visited with his constituents and passed out flags in honor of the day, as well as City Councilor Lydia Edwards who brought cupcakes. As usual, Victor Brogna, Advisory Board member, serenaded the crowd on trumpet, leading with “God Bless America.” Heartfelt thanks also to the Boston Harborside Home for cooking lunch – Dino, Marsha, Cheryl, and Rachel! We especially needed their assistance as we had two vans from the Amy Lowell Apartments and Blackstone Apartments in the West End.
As the dulcet notes filled the drop-in center, it inspired me to talk to the crowd and our readers about the spirit of those who claim to love America. A few days ago I overheard a conversation among a few locals at the park, where I sometimes sit at lunchtime to catch up on the news in the neighborhood. They were discussing the news about the immigration situation at our borders. “These people come to this country and have everything free. They get free housing, food, anything they want. I had to work all my life,” said one woman and the others chimed in.
I thought to myself, “Why such cruelty? Is it possible that we cannot feel compassion anymore in front of human suffering? How can they not understand the horror of the separation of children from the arms of their parents? These same people that now are complaining, years earlier, were themselves immigrants, and if they weren’t, their parents surely were. Except for the Native Americans, I don’t think anyone can say that this land belongs to them. If you read Native American prayers, you can see that they had a profound global vision of possession of land and goods. The Native Americans welcomed us (Thanksgiving Day) because they believed that the only possessor of the land and everything that came with it was the Big Spirit.
If we look around us, we will see that most of the people that we count on for help are of foreign countries who came here in search of opportunities and a better life. They came, studied, worked hard and now are our doctors, nurses, computer engineers, scientists, and researchers. Many more help in doing the more humble jobs that most Americans by birth do not want to do. Nothing comes to them for free.
As a director of the ABCD North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC), a non-profit and government-funded agency, I can assure you that there is a lot of verification and red tape that one has to go through to receive any kind of help.
What really worries me and horrifies me is the ripple effect of those words spoken innocently without thought of the growing insidious sentiment of hatred. We witness it every day now through the violence around us, with birthday party stabbings, workplace shootings, and school shootings. It has happened in the near past when it was enough for one person in power to target one population for reasons of simply being different in religion, ethnicity, or political beliefs: World War II, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Syrian Civil War, to name a few, resulting in millions of unnecessary deaths. We might not pay attention closely in the news, but we see the effects when we hear of so many people choosing to risk their lives, and the lives of their children, by migrating from their countries to escape violence and persecutions. We have a moral duty as free citizens to welcome those we can.
In concluding, I know that America is considered not only a land of opportunity, but where if one works hard and conducts himself or herself with honesty and integrity, good things happen. The American dream is true only if we make it so. We at the NE/WE NSC wish you all a safe, happy Independence Day as we celebrate the birthday of this wonderful country.
Maria Stella Gulla
ABCD North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center