By John Lynds
East Boston Neighborhood Health Center Vice President Steve Snyder was listening to Neil Young’s song ‘Don’t Be Denied’ and had an idea.
“For some reason that song stuck in my head,” said Snyder. “That really is the message right now–‘don’t let anybody tell you you can’t have health care, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t be an artist’–basically don’t be denied.”
Snyder said the Health Center will team up with Zumix for a fun night of music and culture to celebrate the two agencies’ missions in the community. The event will be held on Friday, April 21 at the Zumix Firehouse, 260 Sumner St at 7 p.m. The event will feature performances by Zumix Artist Ambassador Will Dailey and the All Together Now, the Zumix Latin Ensemble, a photo exhibit, ‘Being a Person of Color in America’ by Zumix alumni Bethany Owens as well as Zumix Radio tours and live radio interviews.
“We don’t like to get political but there is some level of fear in the community,” explained Snyder. “What we are facing, particularly in the immigrant community, is fears over housing, fears that is they are undocumented they will be removed from the country so there is a lot of trauma in the neighborhood and we are seeing it in behavior health. We saw a 10-year-old kid come home and tell his parents that he heard his parents were going to get kicked out of the country and he’d be left alone.”
While Snyder said the backdrop of national politics is relevant to the conversation and a catalyst for the event with talk of cutting health care and cutting the arts on the federal level, the event is really about celebrating EBNHC’s mission here as well as Zumix.
“This is an opportunity to bring the community together and celebrate the fact we have two incredible agencies with two incredible missions-missions that don’t deny people access to health care or the arts,” said Snyder. “And although the Health Center is about health care and Zumix is about the arts we are both all about making a healthy community for everyone. So we do share a common bond to see East Boston healthy.”
Snyder said Zumix Radio will also conduct interviews with Mayor Martin Walsh and Rep. Adrian Madaro as well as Zumix staff and participants to ask ‘What does don’t be denied mean to you?’.
“We want to get people on the radio to talk about these issues,” said Snyder. “Issue like that 10 year old boy who should not have to worry about his parents being deported or that East Boston girl that wants to take piano lessons should be able and have access to piano lessons.”
The event will also serve to bring some EBNHC patients back into the fold.
“The immigrant community was hearing rumors that ICE was at the Health Center,” said Snyder. “We’d never let ICE in the Health Center nor discuss our patients with them. We want to make sure people know we are here to serve them no matter what their status is or their financial situation.”
And that, said Snyder, has always been the mission at EBNHC.
“I mean it’s nothing new,” he said. “We have had the same message since the 1970s and that message has been the same–anyone can use our facility no matter what–and that is what I love about our history.”
Snyder said EBNHC is simply reaffirming that pledge that they made 47 years ago.
“That’s why this is not political it just we have been doing all along,” said Snyder. “We’ve offering health care to everyone that comes through our doors.”