2021 Community MVP Awards

Last year, our partners went above and beyond to keep their doors open, shift their services to meet new needs. From working on the ground in our communities to letting us know what solutions are working and why, we truly couldn’t do what we do without them. We wanted to take a moment to recognize some of the unsung heroes who made it all possible so we asked for colleague nominations from our partner agencies in four different award categories: Rising Stars, Life-Long Commitments, Administration & Operations and Direct Service. Here are the winners, a little bit about what they do and why they’re great at it – in their colleageus’ words. We hope you’ll join us in congratulating them for their outstanding service. And be sure to click through to learn more about our partner agencies, too!

Rising Stars

Outstanding service from someone under 25.

Rebecca Mulrean – More Than Words

“Rebecca has shown incredible resilience at MTW. Joining less than a month before her supervisor went on parental leave, then facing COVID, returning to site, filling in for other staff who were out, etc., etc. She has pivoted her role from donation processing to managing events to donor cultivation to marketing to managing government contracts and youth enrollments. She is a selfless team player and has an incredible ability to sit and churn through database entries, invoices, and spreadsheets for hours on end without slowing. She is also able to pivot and support our young people to craft personal speeches and tell their stories. Someone who can handle excel AND handle nuanced, trauma-informed storytelling is hard to come by!”

Aleyda Acevedo – Lawrence CommunityWorks

Aleyda has moved up consistently to more leadership positions. She currently is the Housing Stability Coordinator. She works tirelessly to ensure staff are trained correctly to do their job well, is a champion for staff making sure they get recognized for the work they do. As she grew to new positions she has become more vocal and a leader among the staff. The staff have confidence and trust in her and thrive under her direction.

Life-long Commitment

20+ years of dedicated service at their organization.

Jason Cruz – RAW Art Works

Jason…..thank you for giving me a childhood. This was what Johnny had to say when he took the mic a few years back on a cold January night when alums gathered at RAW’s downtown Lynn studios and gallery. Since 1996, when Jason started as an intern, Jason has been using art to help kids discover “What’s really going on in their lives.” He has empowered hundreds of youth to find their voice, their courage, and their passions.

Sina Sar Kem

(Compilation of all of the nominations) Sina from our Health Information department will be celebrating her 30 yrs work anniversary year. Her warm personality,team spirit and dedication to our patients is admirable. She is an asset to our organization.

Sina Sar-Kem has been at lchc for 30 years and is a great asset for our organization. She always goes above and beyond to make sure our patients get what they need from our office. She is a very special person, loved by all, takes care of our department like a mom.

Sina is one of the most genuinely caring and compassionate people I know. Not only does she take excellent care of us, her colleagues, but she also does all she can for any patients here at Lowell Community that she helps. She is a true treasure to us, the community and honestly anyone who has the pleasure of meeting/associating with her. She has been serving her community for 30 years this October, and we are better for it. Her commitment to the organization and her department is second to none. Sina is always smiling and always willing to help. Wise, patient, loving, kind, polite, understanding, sweet, compassionate, hard-working, never complains, amazing team member.

Administration & Operations

The behind-the-scenes rockstars making it all run smoothly.

Marchelle Jacques-Yarde – Union Capital Boston

Marchelle is a magical problem-solver who keeps our organization running behind the scenes without even knowing it. Whether it is finding extra tables and tents for our Back-to-School BBQ to ironing out the logistics of our retirement plan processes, she works quickly, quietly, and efficiently to keep our programs and systems running smoothly! Thank you Marchelle!

Carlos Cedeño – Lowell Community Health Center

Whenever he cleans an area you can smell it miles away. He takes pride in keeping our health center clean and his smile is infectious- even under a mask. Patient service center appreciates his positive attitude and kind demeanor. So kind, so helpful. Always willing to go above and beyond to keep our area clean & smelling fresh. Even our patients have noticed how clean it’s been lately. Positive attitude every single day, contagious smile!!

Direct service

Exceptional client-facing staff.

Rich Baker – Victory Programs

Rich Baker, age 28, is the Program Director for Victory Programs’ Mobile Prevention Team (MPT). He joined us in 2016 as the MPT Program Manager. The MPT builds relationships with people living on the streets and helps them navigate services. They offer medical testing for HIV, Hepatitis C, and STDs right on their van along with counseling, and overdose education, needle exchange, Narcan, sexual health education and condoms, along with running health education workshops and group-led programs. Through Rich Baker’s words, actions, and leadership, he inspires his team and others to join him in the long, complex, difficult job of offering people hope. Rich understood immediately what Coronavirus meant for the people they serve, and when he brought his team together for its first COVID-19 planning meeting, an MPT member rightly brought up what they all knew: “Our team is going to be at high risk in this new situation.” Then, all together, each in their own words, every one of them said the same thing: “If we don’t do this work, who will?” Rich would never share this story with you – he would not want to paint himself or his team as heroes. He would tell you that they have a job to do. Under his leadership, while seeing significantly increased numbers of homeless individuals accessing their services (a 77% increase just in the first three months of the pandemic), the MPT continued to be out on the streets doing their job. Rich is there too, of course, doing the work and providing the inspiration the team needs to get the work done. He makes it clear that every human life is worth saving Rich is also a well-known in the advocacy arena. Victory Programs is the convener of the EndHepCMA Coalition, a team of providers, consumer, and advocates working to achieve the elimination of Hepatitis C in MA. As the Coalition Coordinator, Rich plays a leading role in educating policy makers and the public about this often overlooked disease (the number one blood borne illness in the U.S.) and advocates for evidence-based policy changes. Before joining Victory Programs, Rich served in the United States Peace Corps in a rural community in the South Pacific Island Nation of Fiji. He is a member of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Gay Men’s Advisory Council and the Viral Hepatitis Advisory Committee. He recently earned his Master’s in Public Health from the Boston University School of Public Health.

Enrique Vargas – Mill City Grows

Enrique is the Gardens Manager at Mill City Grows. He maintains 8 community gardens and garden leadership teams, and has close relationships with all 400+ gardeners, and has maintained them through COVID, calling, texting and mailing everyone individually when quarantine prevented us from hosting community meetings. He is a great carpenter, a meeting facilitator, and he cares deeply about our gardeners, their families, and food justice. he keeps the community in our gardens, even when it was hard for folks to come together physically.