As Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center celebrates its 50th anniversary with a gala event on Friday evening, it will herald a half century of providing care to residents along the Blue Hill Avenue corridor and impacting thousands of lives. Residents of the neighborhood rely on the health center for everything from dental appointments to flu shots. But perhaps no resident has felt the center’s impact as personally as Chef Lee.
“Harvard Street has saved my life— twice,” says Lee, a Dorchester native and longtime owner of Chef Lee Catering. Lee has paid regular visits to Harvard Street since 1973. In 1997, a check-up revealed an unknown health issue.
“They did an EKG and saw that I had suffered a heart attack,” said Lee. “I was shocked. I knew there was stress in my work and life, but I had no idea this had happened. They sent me to the best cardiologist in the country. They saved my life.”
A few years later Lee had another episode of chest pain, and again Harvard Street Health Center helped him to recover and took steps to prevent future complications. To this day, the center remains Lee’s go-to place for anything health-related.
“It’s one-stop shopping,” he said. “They have always been here for me, providing the best possible health care and referrals to the best specialists. I love the doctors here. I love the nurses here. I have never been refused any care here. I get my medications here, I get whatever referrals I need--right here at this health care center...right in my community.”
After fifty years, Harvard Street Health Center is poised to expand the scope of its services in the form of a brand new facility slated for construction in the coming years. Friday’s gala will kick off a capital campaign to fund the larger, modern building, which would provide expanded services for addressing the opioid crisis and youth suffering trauma from violence, in addition to creating community space and several units of affordable housing.
“This is a vision about impact in the community,” said HSNHC President and CEO Stan McLaren. “We are a health care center taking care of people, but this expansion project will also bring economic development and revitalization to a neighborhood where it is desperately needed.”
At the anniversary celebration, which will take place Friday from 6-10 p.m. at The Exchange in the South Boston Seaport, Harvard Street will honor its very first executive director E. Lorraine Baugh with the President’s Award, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross with the Trailblazer Award, and Jonathan Bush, Co-founder of Athena Health will receive the Innovation Award for creating the software that has helped Harvard Street and many community health centers across the country reach a new level of growth.
For more details about the gala and for tickets and sponsorship opportunities, visit harvardstreet.org.