Community Featured

Neighborhood Service Center Raises $40,000 at Annual Buona Sera

ABCD’s North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center’s (NE/WE NSC) eighth annual fundraising celebration Buona Sera: An Evening with Friends raised nearly $40,000 to aid low-income and elderly residents of the North End and West End who turn to the center for assistance.

For the sixth year in a row, Ron Della Chiesa of WGBH and the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed as the event’s master of ceremonies.

Maria Stella Gulla, Director, ABCD North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center, thanked all those at the WilmerHale reception effusively and addressed the crowd to highlight the need for the center’s educational and human services.

“Although we serve all low income age groups, most of our clients are seniors. The ABCD North End/West End NSC enables elders to remain active and independent through social activities that mitigate isolation; exercise classes, food access, and nutrition education that promote good health; volunteer opportunities that give the seniors a sense of purpose; case management and services that help them access benefits for which they are eligible. Seniors also access many of the other services ABCD offers, such as fuel assistance, food pantries, translation services and foreclosure prevention services, enabling them to continue to live independently in their homes.

Seniors and families come to our two food pantries and our hot meals; we help them access benefits and get needed healthcare. The funds we raise through Buona Sera are critical to keeping these services going and to launching new programs. For the second year in a row, we are offering a van service to address the transportation needs of low-income seniors, who cannot travel between the North End and West End neighborhoods due to their physical health; construction projects; and lack of public transportation. Bay Cove Human Services (Kit Clark) provides the monthly nine-passenger van at the Amy Lowell Apartments and Blackstone Apartments for the center’s events and celebrations. We have also revived evidence-based arts and crafts and exercise classes proven to foster seniors’ emotional and physical wellbeing and rejuvenate their spirits.”

NSC Director Maria Stella Gulla, who grew up in the North End, noted that since 2011 this innovative event has raised nearly $300,000 for educational and recreational programs, and human services. Here in our neighborhoods, we have hundreds of seniors who have lived in the North End since their childhood or in the case of the West End, are thrilled to come back after having neighborhood development forced their eviction in the 1950s. In both communities, we see seniors well into their 80s, 90s, and beyond.

“I have never missed a year! What a formidable line-up of celebs and restaurants! Every year we have tried a new restaurant and it is the source of much debate with my colleagues since they are all so good. The timing is perfect as the NE/WE NSC enters holiday season to provide turkeys, toys, meals, and baskets for their clients! I am already marking my calendar for next year,” one dinner guest enthused.

The Buona Sera evening commenced with a wine reception at WilmerHale on the 26th floor of 60 State Street, followed by dinner at a table for ten at one of several premiere North End restaurants. Each table was paired with a local celebrity – an elected or public official, sports figure, media celebrity or other well-known local personality.  All who participated enjoyed a mild-fall evening (with a final reminder of the string of 80-degree days that week) on the town, along with sparkling conversation with their celebrity host!

All photos by Don West Fotografiks.