By Tara Vocino
Panelists shared their thoughts about improving Revere during the CONNECT Opening Day last Wednesday afternoon.
Expanding out of the Chelsea office, CONNECT offers job search guidance and finance skills through a successful urban grant that helps to guide low-income families along the path of mobility, according to Mayor Brian Arrigo. CONNECT brings together five organizations that coordinate services to help people find jobs, fix their finances, turn their dreams into specific goals and make plans for a better future. The Revere satellite office offers a limited menu of services, and links that Revere doesn’t offer to their larger office in Chelsea.
Community Service Coordinator Fatou Drammeh, one of the panelists, talked about Revere’s strengths. “Diversity,” Drammeh said. “We have a great economic plan with so many projects coming up, so we need to invest in that.”
Client Christine Torres, another panelist, who was unemployed and living in Section 8 at the time, said Revere Public Schools’ systems are good; Revere Beach is popular, creating a sense of community; and there is a strong collaboration between city, schools and community groups. Torres recently became a homeowner as a result of CONNECT’s services.
Resident Sylvia Chiang-Raposo said on the panel that although city issues can become complicated, residents understand the value of figuring problems out together.
The Neighborhood Developers Executive Director Rafael Mares said he thought that geography with access to water and public transit is Revere’s greatest strength. “It’s a great community to live in,” Mares said.
Appropriately, they commented on barriers next. Drammeh thought the lack of language and job skills played a factor. “Our clients can’t navigate through the system to get jobs,” Drammeh said. “They also can’t afford office space, because the rents are so high.”
Chiang-Raposo noted that translators are helpful.
Mares thought that the lack of affordable housing was a barrier.
Torres said the language barrier is a – well – barrier. She noticed on Election Day last Tuesday that there weren’t any people of color or translators working the polls, adding that they need to integrate them.
Moderator and Senior Financial Coach Anne Averbach said that although clients may be professionals in other countries, if they don’t speak English well, employers are skeptical to hire them. “They have to look past that and see their strengths,” Averbach said.
Next, they commented on one pressing need in Revere, which they all agreed was job training.
“Financial literary changes lives,” Torres said, who anticipated that they’ll need a bigger space soon. “They all have that in common, and they’re deserving of a space in Revere.”
Chiang-Raposo said she hopes CONNECT will also be very successful in Revere, adding that community members already know about it.
Averbach said CONNECT in Revere is open on Tuesday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Tara Vocino may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.