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Catholic Charities unveils new Dorchester Community Center

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DORCHESTER — Continuing with its long tradition of helping the underprivileged and the foreigner, Catholic Charities unveiled a sign marking the future site of the Dorchester Community Service Center Sept. 25. Archbishop Seán O’Malley, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and several other city and state representatives gathered with local residents to witness the unveiling.

The ceremony marked the city of Boston’s tentative designation of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston as the developer of the one-acre site.

"This new community center will be a valuable resource for families in this Dorchester community," said Menino. "I look forward to the center's opening and seeing a beautiful new building and a vibrant addition to our community on this empty, unused land."

The Dorchester Community Service Center, which is slated to open in the spring of 2005, will offer child care, family counseling and support services, youth services, elder care, prenatal and young parent services, AIDS counseling, vocational readiness, adult education and literacy services, and health education.

The new building, modeled after the recently completed South Boston Shaughnessy Family Center at Labouré, will unite the Haitian Multi-Service Center (HMSC) and the Greater Boston Uphams Corner Community Center — both Catholic Charities facilities currently located in the Dorchester area. Dr. Joseph Doolin, president of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Boston, expects the new facility will serve more than 35,000 people on an annual basis.

The Uphams Corner Community Center has a 100-year history as a child welfare organization, working with generations of immigrant and refugee populations that have settled in Greater Boston. Currently, immigrants from countries such as Cape Verde, Vietnam and Haiti are served by the Uphams Corner Community Center. In addition, Catholic Charities frequently collaborates with the city of Boston in creatively responding to the unique needs of the residents of the community.

The Haitian Multi-Service Center is the largest social service agency serving the Haitian community in the Greater Boston area. Originally established in 1978 by local Haitian leaders to respond to the specific needs of this growing immigrant population, it joined Catholic Charities in 1984. Nearly 97 percent of the HMSC budget is funded by Catholic Charities. The center serves clients living primarily in Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. It has satellite service sites in Mattapan and Cambridge.

“The new Dorchester Community Service Center is part of our long-term plan to improve the quality of the facilities through which we deliver services to children, youth, and families – including older adults,” said Dr. Doolin. “The coming together in one place of Catholic Charities’ Haitian Multi-Service Center and our Uphams Corner family service programs will not only enrich both entities, but will result in new, added programming for our new Dorchester neighborhood.”

State Representatives Charlotte Golar Richie, chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development committee and director of the Department of Neighborhood Development, and Marie St. Fleur, chairperson of the Education, Arts and Humanities committee, were on hand for the event.

"This center will be a true complement to the other exciting developments taking place in this part of Dorchester," said Richie. "Soon we will see more senior and family housing taking shape in several nearby developments. A new community center will help meet the needs of this new population."

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