Franklin Field rebuilds flooded community center

Franklin Field developement and Home Depot work to create a new multi-setting space for tenants and NAFI culinary students.

By: Salvatrice Hutton

Franklin Field public housing development staff and Quincy’s Home Depot recently collaborated to renovate the site’s old community room, which flooded in 2014, into a family resource center.

Nearly 40 volunteers arrived at 8 am on June 11th at the site to begin working. Jeff Sawyer, store manager of Home Depot in Quincy, donated materials used for gardening and painting walls. Cherry wood floors were installed in the largest area, a potential meeting space of the 4-room basement.

A spacious kitchen accessible to NAFI ( North American Family Institute) culinary students as well as a theatre room, computer lab and security room for on-duty B-3 precinct officers was included in the planned layout:. According to Tom Griffith, one of Franklin Field’s police officers, noted BPD’s first Muslim captain, Haseeb Hosein, was primarily “responsible for the new center’s security arrangement.”

Moreover, Angel Lopez, Franklin Field’s property manager, said the new center will positively impact residents and teens looking for self-sufficiency services and alternatives for staying productive.

“People looking for a job can use computers in the computer lab to fill out online job applications,” Lopez said. “The center is open to everyone.” The Franklin Field Family Resource center, he added, will open in September 2015.

Lopez also mentioned residents from other developments, like Franklin Hill, are welcome to visit the center after its opening. “The more, the merrier,” Lopez said.

Once the center is open, NAFI corps’ culinary students will be able to access a vegetable garden located just behind the building, where they’ll learn gardening tips and healthy dish recipes by Matthew Swartz, director of the culinary program.

The 12-week culinary program graduated 12 students earlier this month, who cooked healthy dishes all year. Swartz joined NAFI in 2007 and is convinced the culinary program has positive effects on the community. In an interview about his experiences teaching the culinary program, Swartz highlighted specifically what he believed those effects are.

“I noticed in the last couple of years that I’ve cooked at community events, they [the students] began bringing their own dishes to help us. It’s like the community is rallying around us, which to me, with respect, is shocking. At an event at Rosie’s Place, parents came up with their own money to make dishes and to me that shows the building of community big time.”

Swartz’ statement came after sharing insight with recruiting kids from Franklin Hill into the culinary program. Swartz explained how he was able to recruit gang members into the program simply by gaining trust, which he declared is a much needed factor between police officers and young adults.
“It’s really important right now that cops and kids talk,” Swartz said. “Not against each other or based upon what’s going on around the country.”

To foster greater communication, The Youth Police Initiative (YPI) was established by NAFI’s Youth Link to offer young adults opportunities to sustain relationships with adults and police officers and reduce violence and gang involvement. It is a 2-week program that has progressed under director Jay Paris. Special assistant to the BHA Administrator, Greg Davis, also works closely in partnership with Swartz.
Discussing results he’d see from YPI, Swartz described it as “magical.”

“Nowadays when I’m walking down Ames Street in Franklin Field with some kids with me and one of the B-3 cops drives by, they’ll jump on the hood of the car and say hi,” said Swartz. “It’s such a magical and shocking situation to see.”


| 6/24/2015 11:07:18 AM | 0 comments


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