Exactly two years after its groundbreaking, the new Mattapan Community Health Center celebrated its grand opening and ribbon cutting on Monday, September 10. Elected officials, residents, and other supporters gathered at the center’s new home at 1575 Blue Hill Ave. to mark the occasion.
The four-story “green and healthy” facility not only houses the health center, but a Citizens Bank and CVS/Pharmacy as well – the first pharmacy in Mattapan in over 30 years.
A resounding theme of the morning was that the new health center was a dream come true. WCVB’s Pam Cross, who acted as the emcee, had also attended the groundbreaking and said, “On that day, there were easels placed around the tent with pictures on them. Well, we don’t need pictures anymore. All we have to do is look in that direction to see the dream realized.”
Annie Kinkead, whose husband Gareth is on the health center’s board, said, “It’s just simply splendid. We’ve been working with Azzie (Dr. Azzie Young, the center’s CEO and president] for about 15 years, and it’s just been an incredible journey. This is a dream come true. She has performed miracles with the help of others.”
Many of the speakers, including Mayor Tom Menino and Gov. Deval Patrick, testified that it was the relentlessness of the Dr. Young that made the construction of a new building possible.
“I’ve never met anyone more persistent, in my whole career, than Azzie Young,” Menino said. “This is a great day for Mattapan Square. This is a great day for the health center, for all the folks who support the health center.”
He also said this was the best part of government, to be able to help make a difference in people’s lives.
“The mayor did not exaggerate,” Gov. Patrick said. “Azzie is impossible, relentless, and unyielding. She does it for the right reasons. It’s not about her; it’s not even about the building. It’s about a community that deserves the highest quality health care.”
The governor also urged people to think about the role of government every time they passed by the building. “None of us here believe government is about solving every problem in everybody’s life,” he said. “But it is the name we give to the things we choose to do together. And there are some things that we should choose to do together.”
Rep. Michael Capuano said the health center was a great milestone, but that it wasn’t the end of the road.
“It’s one big step to filling a huge hole in this community,” he said.
“This is one of the happiest days of my life,” Dr. Young said. “Our building is about this Mattapan community, and about bringing growth and stability to a vital part of Boston. This building will serve as a site of health and hope for all neighbors from Mattapan and surrounding communities.”
One of those neighbors is Pope John Paul II Academy’s Mattapan campus. Lou Ann Melino, principal of the academy said, “I think it’s just a great day all around. The health center gives the community such a great place to go to enjoy their health and learn how to eat healthy.”
Melino also said having the Citizens Bank in the building was great for the academy, and that she would be bringing students to open savings accounts to teach them how to save money.
Father William Joy, pastor of St. Angela’s in Mattapan and St. Matthew’s in Dorchester, said, “I’ve worked with Azzie ever since she’s been here, so it’s great to see something really happen here… It will bring a lot of vitality to the square.”
Jill Lacey Griffin, senior director of programs at the Boston Foundation, one of the health center’s donors, shared a similar sentiment as Father Joy.
“It’s stunning to see the impact this building and this expansion will have, not only on health, but on economic development,” Griffin said. “I don’t know that there could be another high impact project like this, it’s exciting.”
The Mattapan Community Health Center has been serving the community since 1972. Its new facility allows the center to double the number of patients it serves, as well as offer mammograms on-site and expanded dental and pediatrics services, among others.
BNN-TV's Neighborhood Network News filed this report by reporter Luke Jones:
This video by State House News Service includes excerpts of the speaking program: