The Salesian Boys and Girls Club and Boston Scores held a groundbreaking ceremony Dec. 19 for a newly renovated Salesian Heights Recreation and Education Campus on Byron Street and adjacent areas.
Salesian Club Executive Director Michael Triant welcomed Boston Scores Executive Director John Maconga, legislators, Boston school officials, Salesian board members and supporters to the ceremony.
“All of your support means so much to all of us,” Triant told the gathering at the impressive ceremony.
Triant thanked Boston Scores for becoming the Club’s partner in building “an incredibly bright future for the children and families we serve every day.”
Rep. Adrian Madaro perfectly summarized the sentiments of all in attendance, stating, “What an exciting day for us here in East Boston.”
Madaro praised Triant’s leadership of the club, “Mike, you have been a gift to this community, an incredible breath of fresh air to this institution.”
Madaro, who grew up on Eagle Hill and was a member of the former Boys and Girls Club on Paris Street, called the partnership between Salesian and Boston Scores “transformative.”
“This place [Salesian], particularly as a teenager, became my home away from home,” said Madaro. “I came here every single day for after-school programming and activities. My first job was as a camp counselor here.”
Madaro said the opening of a new Salesian Heights facility will “allow us to maximize the way we serve young people in this community.”
“As I was looking at the renderings, you’re seeing how this space will absolutely transform – the parking lot, the fields, this physical building. This is just going to be remarkable.”
Madaro said he looks forward to the day when his 19-month-old son will be able to benefit from the new facility and athletic fields [formerly used by the Dom Savio High School sports teams].
“We may be just breaking ground today, but what this will yield long-term, when this facility is fully renovated and the fields are open, and we see these renderings become a reality – it’s just game-changing for youth and families in East Boston,” said Madaro.
Sen. Lydia Edwards said she benefited educationally and socially from attending after-school programs during her childhood experience “all over the world.”
“After-school programs are where you feel safe, where you can get your homework done, and where you have a second family of mentors – it’s where you can literally eat a good healthy meal,” said Edwards.
The senator thanked Boston Scores for the community garden that will be part of the overall project.
“To see the community garden, the greenspace, a place where we’re going to breathe easy and also grow beautiful things, that’s speaks to the heart of the neighborhood and to true investment,” said Edwards.
City Councilor Gabriela Coletta called the celebratory event “an historic groundbreaking in our community.”
“A world-class recreational campus is coming to East Boston – that is absolutely incredible,” said Coletta with vigor.
Coletta, who remembered playing kickball as a child at the old fields in East Boston, said, “Now what’s going to happen in these fields is that these kids are going to have an incredible experience with their friends and their community, and it’s going to be a safe space.”
“I’m so grateful to Boston Scores for your investment and a shout-out again to the leadership of the Salesian’s team,” continued Coletta. “Michael, you are a pillar in this community. You serve hundreds of kids every single day, and thank you again to the staff for everything you do.”
“Access to open space is so vital to the health and wellness of communities and our children, and this is exactly what we’re celebrating today,” concluded Coletta.
Dr. Tommy Welch, Region 1 school superintendent, said he is a resident of East Boston and has children in the elementary schools.
“I, too, am looking forward to using these facilities,” said Welch. “What an amazing community resource this will be for our students and our families in East Boston.”
Noting the excitement of the recent World Cup soccer tournament and the camaraderie experienced by families watching the games across the globe, Welch said, “The way I see this resource and partnership is one that will provide space for our students and our families to come together from all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds – seeing this as a place that can truly serve as a community hub for many of our residents, not just in East Boston, but beyond.”
Maconga, the leader of Boston Scores, which provides after-school soccer and enrichment programs, said, “I just want to add my own appreciation for the partnership with Salesian Boys and Girls Club. We’ve really been welcomed into East Boston. The way we’ve been embraced to make this investment, to be a deeper part of the community, just feels so good. It feels right for us. We’re super excited to be partnering with the Club, and making this really historic investment, one that we know will serve youth for generations to come, and this facility will become an important part of their childhood, of their development, and their inspiration to make the world a better place.”