Coalition group settles on name: Mattapan United

Representatives from several Mattapan civic organizations and local residents are in the process of creating a new neighborhood coalition and held their third official meeting at Mattapan branch library on Tuesday afternoon. The group, dubbed “Mattapan United” by a vote on Tuesday, includes members of several groups in and around Mattapan such as the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, the Mattapan Community Development Corporation and the Mattapan Family Service Center, and representatives from local political offices, including State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, who attended Tuesday’s meeting.

While the group is still working on a concrete mission statement, the goal is generally described by organizers as an attempt to network and coordinate among several disparate advocacy groups.
“We are trying to identify that all these community agencies and churches can come together and identify their own strengths and weaknesses,” said Lillie Searcy, director of the Family Service Center. “I really believe in making this into a group project.”

“I imagine Mattapan United being an overarching group...and underneath having all these spokes, with everyone trying to find how they fit in,” said Jean Dorcus, the education manager at the Boston Nature Center.

The formation of Mattapan United was prompted by episodes of violence in the neighborhood earlier in the fall. According to Searcy, the idea evolved from a similarly attended group that was organized to apply for funding from the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) in August.

The highly competitive funding option, titled the Resilient Communities/Resilient Families Initiative, is still on the table for Mattapan, United. It would set in motion a three-year contract between LISC and two selected community groups, which would provide $200,000 per year to each of the neighborhood organizations. A decision is expected next week, Searcy said.

Aside from voting on a title, the group discussed plans for reaching out to the community and the media and fleshed out some basic goals for the near future. The next meeting is planned for January 4, with hopes to hold open community meetings in early 2011.