The Charlestown Coalition News: 
Issue 48
August 2020

Charlestown in Solidarity:
A Discussion on Race & Equity 
- 3rd Meeting

The third Race & Equity discussion at the Charlestown Peace Park was one for the books! With new faces, more voices and youth leading the conversation, this dialogue series attracted a diverse group of residents. Our hope is to unite, educate and improve the culture and quality of life for the Charlestown community. With open hearts and empathetic ears, we're aiming to be the change we want to see in the world. Thank you to everyone who joined us and was willing to share their story with us.


The next Race & Equity conversation will take place on September 23rd at 5:30pm at the Charlestown Peace Park. In honor of National Recovery Month, the discussion will focus on racial health disparities in the addiction and recovery community. We hope you see you then!

Recovery Month Community Events

Recovery Amidst the Pandemic
Program Manager of Addiction and Recovery Services, Shannon Lundin, has been involved with a provisional recovery group since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. In March of 2020 when the state of Massachusetts issued a shutdown, banning in-person group gatherings, a new kind of meeting emerged. Knowing the increased risks of social isolation on relapse and overdose, Shannon set out to offer essential resources to those most affected by the shutdown.
Social support and active involvement in 12 Step Fellowships such as AA and NA both play a huge role in recovery. In the absence of these, isolation' and emotional distress can be significant triggers to relapse. Feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, uncertainty, loneliness and boredom can easily escalate particularly during this time as discussed in Carolina Abuelo's article, a primary care physician at the Charlestown HealthCare Center of the Massachusetts General Hospital, I'm A Doctor, And I'm Losing Patients To A Deadly Side Effect Of The Pandemic.
Shannon worked in partnership with others in the recovery community to form a safer alternative. An outdoor group now meets at 12PM and 7PM, 7 days a week, outside on the bleachers at the Charlestown High School football field.
When the group first started out, there were just 10 people, but fast forward 6 months and there are at least 60-70 people at each meeting. In these last 6 months, we have had 25 people celebrate a year in recovery, and they have all said the same thing, "If we didn't have these in person meetings, I surely would have relapsed and could be dead."
Members of the recovery community in surrounding areas were reaching out to AA Central Service asking about the "COVID Defiance Group" as they call it and wondering why it wasn't listed in the AA meeting list book. Now you can find this meeting in the AA meeting list book and online through the AA Central Service Committee of Eastern Mass at

Shannon was also able to help capture the hope that fills the stadium with inspirational messages from attendees dedicated to their recovery during COVID.

Click here to watch the "Overcoming Addiction Amidst COVID-19" video in honor of Recovery Month.

Summer Enrichment Program Review

The Charlestown Coalition and Turn It Around just completed the second Youth Summer Enrichment Program, and it was a BIG success.
Mswati Hanks, Program Coordinator, said, "I knew that, due to the pandemic, it would be challenging to really do a complete and well-rounded, fun, and educational program for our young people. But with some great community partnerships, and a little Charlestown luck, the kids had an AMAZING summer. The goal of every summer is always to foster growth in the youth by exposing them to the arts, the outdoors, various career fields, and professional development trainings. We push our young people to step out of their comfort zone and see how much life has to offer them!"
Below are some of THEIR thoughts on the summer.

Elsie Martinez:
"In just a couple weeks, I learned more about how to have a stable life than I think school would ever teach me."

Brandon Myers:
"This summer was a lot of fun. We did a lot of cool things. We went hiking. We climbed a mountain (Mt. Monadnock). I loved the view from the top! I feel like it was a great idea to join the program."

Aboubakar Nimaka:
"This summer was a very cool experience for me because I accomplished things that I never thought I could accomplish. I also made some new friends and got to know them better. Now I know that I have more people that have my back. Last, but not least, I love the teamwork that we had, and how we grew together this summer. It just made it seem like anything was possible. Thank you for the best summer!"

Youth Virtually Connect Others
to Boston Harbor 
Thanks to a generous grant from Hood Park, LLC, five Charlestown students are making the most of this unusual summer, working at local nonprofit Save the Harbor/Save the Bay's Youth Environmental Education Program. Turn It Around members, Ariana, Fatima, and Alex are part of team!

They're fishing, crabbing, and teaching local families about the marine environment like they would during any other summer - but with technology like video and drones, they're connecting with local kids and families virtually.

This is the second year of the partnership between Hood, Save the Harbor, and the Charlestown Coalition/Turn It Around, a community-based organization committed to improving the health of Charlestown residents. Read more

Welcome: Family Support Circle Intern
Celia Geen, a Simmons Master of Social Work  second year student, will be joining the Charlestown Family Support Circle as an intern for the upcoming year. Celia is from Washington DC, and graduated from Goucher College in 2019 with a degree in Psychology. 
Celia s studying social work because she likes to "bring out the best in people." She believes that the positive influences in her life have helped her become who she is today, and she would like to be a positive influence in other people's lives. Celia has worked in a variety of different settings with a focus on youth and adolescents, including her field placement last year at the Boston Youth Sanctuary. Through the coursework at Simmons School of Social Work, she has learned  about the implementation of clinical social work as well as the policies in place that affect many of our clients. In addition to social work, Celia's passions include caring for animals, watching realty television, and women's rights. She is looking forward to continuing to further her learning as the intern for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

 Highlighting Our 
Community Partnerships:
(Charlestown Adult Education Staff John and Lori with Charlestown Coalition Trauma Team)

Our community partners are critical in helping us tackle the most difficult issues that the community faces. By enlisting multiple partners (residents, police, schools, healthcare, faith-based organizations, and the business community), we use a collective impact approach to problem solving. Our ultimate goal is to effect change and improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in Charlestown.
For the month of August, we'd like to highlight the Charlestown Adult Education center, a place where students are provided with the tools to build on pre-existing knowledge, whether it be to gain high school equivalency certification, to embark on a career path or to enroll in post-secondary education. The Center also provides students needing English language proficiency with the skills to not only survive in their chosen country, but to thrive.

Charlestown Adult Education and the Charlestown Coalition have not only built a partnership, but developed a community safety net, encapsulating the tenets of healthy well-being for our clients. Through behavioral therapy, building social capital, and broadening the educational foundation of those who may have fallen through the cracks of public education, we provide the supports necessary to achieve academic success though high school equivalency certification.

For over a decade, Charlestown Adult Education and the Charlestown Coalition have teamed up to provide community wide services to a diverse population of young adults. Dedicated staff members from both agencies work in tandem, guaranteeing that these young adults receive the tools necessary for success through education, empowerment, and equity. Together, Charlestown Adult Education and the Charlestown Coalition are leading Charlestown to a better and brighter tomorrow.

If you've partnered with us, we'd love to hear from you. Please send us an email with details of how we've worked together along with any photos (if you have them), and we will share on our social media platforms. Let's show the community what great collaborations we've had with amazing organizations like yours!

Congratulations, State-Rep. Dan Ryan!

"Thank you to the Charlestown Coalition and Turn It Around for elevating important issues and working together to find solutions. I look forward to our continued work together." -State Rep. Dan Ryan

 Congratulations State Representative Danny Ryan on your recent victory in the primary! We look forward to your leadership and continued collaboration addressing important issues for Charlestown and surrounding communities! 

Where Are They Now?
Turn It Around Alumni

Guess Who? It's Kaltuma in 2016! Find out what she is up to now and how Turn It Around has impacted her life!
Kaltuma is and always will be one of my favorite people. She is a beautiful young woman with so much potential. Her involvement with Turn It Around and the Coalition has opened the eyes and hearts of all those she encountered during her participation in the group. It's young people like her that give me hope for our future generations in making the world a better and brighter place!

-Ginaya Greene Murray 
(Communication and Events Coordinator)

Turn It Around:
Youth of the Month

Elsie Martinez is August's Turn It Around Youth of The Month.
This month's Youth of the Month is Elsie Martinez. She is a great example of what TURN IT AROUND expects from its members! She joined the summer enrichment program after the first two weeks of programming, and flourished during the remainder. She diligently participated in all of our trainings and always offered thoughtful and insightful feedback. Elsie will be entering the 9th grade at the O'Bryant in the coming days. She is mature, well beyond her years, and we're so excited to have her as one of our youth leaders!!!

-Mswati Hanks 
(Youth Prevention Coordinator)

Voices of Recovery
Ryan Evans
Ryan Evans is sharing his journey in recovery this month in an interview with Program Manager of Addiction and Recovery Services, Shannon Lundin.

Click below for the full interview.

Get Connected, Stay Informed
To learn more about our programs, our staff, community partners, resources, upcoming events, Turn It Around, program impact, and more, click the button below:

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