The Charlestown Coalition News: 
Issue 50
October 2020

National Substance Use Disorder Prevention Month

October is National Substance Use Disorder Prevention Month, and for nine years, the Charlestown Coalition has partnered with the Clarence R. Edwards Middle School, the Harvard-Kent School, the Warren Prescott School, and MGH Community Health Associates to deliver the Botvin LifeSkills and Stay-In-Shape curriculum to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.

The curriculum encourages healthy habits around nutrition and exercise; teaches about the risks and potential consequences of substance use; addresses bullying prevention; and, helps students learn relaxation techniques, among other important skills. We work to help students learn ways to self-regulate so they are less likely to rely on substances to regulate their emotions for them.

Due to COVID-19 and the in-person restrictions put in place to keep us healthy, we have republished our digital campaign, "Advice to My Middle School Self," a photo contest produced by the Turn It Around youth group. Prevention Month is the perfect time to feature our young people who can relate to the peer pressures others may face. Their wisdom is beyond their years and we hope that it will enlighten everyone who visits our page

National Substance Use Disorder Prevention Month is a chance to talk about the importance of preventing addiction. Deaths from overdose have skyrocketed in recent years, and now COVID-19 is exacerbating this crisis, making prevention even more essential.

A Plea for Help from the
Recovery Community
Social support and active involvement in 12 Step Fellowships such as AA and NA both play a major role for many in recovery or seeking recovery. When the shutdowns first occurred in March due to COVID-19, fellowship groups were unable to meet in their usual meeting halls previously provided by organizations, churches, schools and hospitals in the Charlestown community.

Feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, uncertainty, loneliness and boredom have escalated for most of us during these unprecedented times. For those in recovery these emotions can be significant triggers for relapse. In the absence of meetings where a sense of belonging, support, social connection and camaraderie was had, we were beginning to see a fast rise in relapse and overdose.

While we worked to get technological devices and assistance to many residents for virtual support, the feedback we received was that zoom meetings were not enough so the Recovery Community decided to take matters into their own hands and organized an outside meeting at the Charlestown High School football field. What started out with just 10 people, grew into a group of 80 people. As summer approached, the group began meeting twice a day, 7 days a week.
In the last 7 months, nearly 40 people celebrated 1 year in recovery at these outside meetings. For so many getting to that 1 year mark can take decades so it is quite an achievement for an impromptu group to experience. Although there was high attendance at every meeting, the numbers have been starting to dwindle due to the change in weather. The Recovery Community is once again in desperate need to find various spaces to be able to hold their meetings and get their daily medicine/recovery.
If you are aware of a space that can be used, or have any ideas that will benefit the Recovery Community, please contact Program Manager of Addiction and Recovery Services, Shannon Lundin-White.

Charlestown Coalition Featured in
Mass General News
The Charlestown Coalition's efforts around COVID are featured in Mass General News.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing challenges for those experiencing substance use disorders (SUDs) in many hard-hit communities, including Charlestown, MA. During a time when recovery and SUDs support services are difficult to provide in person, the Charlestown Coalition has adapted to provide essential services as safely as possible.

"People are appreciating the power of connection now more than they were before," says Sarah Coughlin, director of the Charlestown Coalition. "Genuine connection is instrumental in the recovery of substance use disorders."

Turn It Around Continues the
Housing Conversation 

Throughout the month of October, the Turn It Around youth group and coalition staff met with Kate Bennett - Administrator of the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), Tina Goodnow - Charlestown Resident Alliance (CRA) Vice President, and Erik Miller - Architect Consultant for the CRA. The youth viewed a 360° video presentation of the potential redevelopment and were given the opportunity to ask some difficult questions.

Turn It Around
will continue to be an active voice during this process, having secured a seat on the One Charlestown Impact Advisory Group (IAG), as many of our youth currently reside in the housing development.
Turn It Around Youth Leaders Fatima and Sammy participated in the October 28th's IAG meeting. Fatima expressed her gratitude that the developers were listening to the residents' concerns, including the number and placement of the "all affordable" houses, the need for equity in the development when it comes to access to public transportation, green space, and the various amenities the new development will have.

TIA Youth Leader Sammy, who recently relocated with his family out of BHA due to the redevelopment, asked about the timeline for when his family would be able to return to Charlestown and their new apartment, as well as what that process would look like.

Charlestown in Solidarity:
A Discussion on Race & Equity 
- 5th Meeting

October's Virtual Race & Equity Discussion, though not in person, was still very effective and well-attended. The questions discussed were, "People of color have suffered from systematic racism in this country. Do you agree with this statement? Do you disagree? And why?" and "Have you experienced systematic racism? Or if not, what are some ways you've witnessed systematic racism?"

Both questions gave participants a chance to reflect on the ways they view systemic racism and how they might have experienced or contributed to it.

Special thanks to BPD, Community Service Sargent Moy and Officer Frank for your commitment to these conversations and to the continued safety and well-being of the Charlestown community. And, thank you to City Councilor Lydia Edwards and her team for keeping these conversations going and the healing they bring!

See flyer below for next Race & Equity

Please contact Gabriela Coletta if you wish to attend the next virtual meeting.

CCHI Celebrates 25 Years
of Community Health

A Virtual Celebration of Community Health and the 25th Anniversary of the Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI)

Thursday, November 12, 2020 Noon to 1 pm Please join the Zoom event at 11:45 am Program will begin at 12 noon.

Once you have RSVP'd, you will receive a confirmation email and information on how to join the event.

Peace Park Partnership
The Charlestown Coalition and Turn It Around Youth Program have been working tirelessly with the professional design team at COGdesign to create a plan for the Peace Park Renovation. Having received such varied feedback from community members, it has not been easy creating a cohesive design plan, so we've partnered up with the Charlestown Preservation Society to help guide us and act as our Fiscal Sponsor on this project.
"The Charlestown Preservation Society's (CPS) mission is to preserve Charlestown's historic character by protecting our historic architecture and landscape, advocate for preservation, guide responsible development and educate people about the unique character of our community, says Amanda Zettle, CPS President.

"Our neighborhood is unique, with many layers of history. The Peace Park is an important addition to our community and culture that will represent and honor not only victims of addiction and violence - but the love, inclusiveness and understanding that our community values today. CPS is proud to support the Charlestown Coalition and Turn It Around Youth Program's efforts to revitalize the Peace Park. Thank you for including us in this important work!"

To help us acquire this space, please be sure to visit the Parcel Priority Plan virtual open house and take the survey to let the City of Boston know you'd like to see the Charlestown Peace Park renovated and protected as open space for years to come. 

If you are interested in being more involved with the Peace Park and wish to know more about the "Friends of the Peace Park", please contact Coalition Director, 
Sarah Coughlin.

Please subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the loop of the project's progress and reach out to Ginaya Greene Murray with any questions. For a copy of the PowerPoint presentation, please visit: 

COVID-19 Community Impact Survey 
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health wants to hear from you!

Take the COVID-19 Community Impact Survey to share what your experience has been like through the pandemic.

Additional information about the COVID-19 Community Impact Survey Initiative may be found here. If you have questions, please contact

MBTA Forging Ahead 

Curious to find out how COVID-19 may affect the MBTA services? Attend one of their info. sessions! Visit,

Have questions? Contact,

 Highlighting Our 
Community Partnerships:

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 October, we'd like to highlight the Charlestown Mothers Association (CMA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, woman-led volunteer-run organization of Charlestown mothers established in 2000. Originally started as a way to connect women with relatable experiences, the CMA now serves over 1600 families and continues to expand with Charlestown's increasing popularity and growth. The Charlestown Mothers Association provides programs, resources and support to the community of Charlestown, Massachusetts to cultivate an inclusive, welcoming and vibrant neighborhood in which to raise families. They welcome all children and families of Charlestown. They dedicate themselves to nurturing the potential of all children in our neighborhood by providing programs, resources and support for families and children. 

In the spirit of promoting healthy conversations around diversity, inclusion, and social justice, CMA is donating books for each of the Free Little Libraries (FLL) in Charlestown each month. Last month the books they shared were: Mango, Abuela and Me; Feast for 10; Chocolate Milk, Por Favor; Last Stop on Market Street; Dreamers; We are Water Protectors; Ghost Boys; The New Jim Crow in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month 2020.

The CMA started actively working with the Charlestown Coalition last year by attending Steering Committee meetings and Family Circle Task Force meetings. They also donated to the Peace Park Rebuild Fundraiser and have been promoting Turn It Around events on Social Media.

We hope to cultivate the partnership and work more closely together. in the future!

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!

Upcoming Coalition Meetings
Steering Committee Meeting:
  • December 29th from 12 PM -1:30 PM.
Meetings are held virtually until further notice.
Contact Sarah Coughlin for more information.

Trauma Response Team: 
  • November 17th from 5:30 PM -6:30 PM. 
Charlestown Family Support Task Force: 
  • November 17th from 12 PM -1:00 PM.  
Meetings are held virtually until further notice.
Contact Phenice Zawatsky to learn more.

Where Are They Now?
Turn It Around Alumni

Guess Who? It's Laneigh in 2014! Find out what she is up to now and how Turn It Around has impacted her life!
Laneigh is a beautiful young woman, inside and out. Her heart for Charlestown goes beyond it's borders. She is without a doubt, a townie through in through, in the sense that loyalty, dedication and compassion for her community radiates from her. Her
commitment to Turn It Around is no different. Being an original member of the group, she has set a very high standard of what being a TIA youth leader is all about!

-Ginaya Greene Murray 
(Communication and Events Coordinator)

Turn It Around:
Youth of the Month

Brandol Pena is October's Turn It Around Youth of The Month.
This month's Turn It Around Youth of the Month is actually our newest member, Brandol Pena. Brandol has hit the ground running since joining Turn It Around. He's been to every meeting, and was such an integral part in our Voter Registration Drive. Brandol joins a group of dynamic young leaders, like himself, and we look forward to seeing his growth over the next few years. Congratulations Brandol!!

-Mswati Hanks 
(Youth Prevention Coordinator)

Voices of Recovery

Tom MacDonald
Tom MacDonald 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:

View our videos on YouTube

Charlestown Coalition | MGH Center for Community Health Improvement  
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