Michael Baker, ABCDBaker

Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) rolls out the festivities Sept. 16 in a gala celebration of 17 outstanding community volunteers who embody the spirit of the landmark Economic Opportunity Act, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Among them is Arlington’s Michael Baker, to be honored by ABCD Jamaica Plain/Boston Hispanic Center as volunteer of the year. Baker serves as the district affairs director for state Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, Democrat of the 15th Middlesex District.

Baker is committed to connecting youth and families to ABCD programs to make sure the residents understand that their well-being is a priority, a news release says. By connecting the dozens of nonprofits in Jamaica Plain, he has helped smaller groups pool resources and strengthen the services they offer.

His help extends all the way into the daily quality of life for our residents, including his leadership to organize and host everything from movie nights to hot dog socials, Halloween parties to turkey drives, book sales to block parties.

The historic 1964 legislation launched the War on Poverty in America and gave birth to the nation’s community-action programs, including ABCD. It spawned an era of opportunity and empowerment that moved millions out of poverty and created ongoing social institutions, such as Legal Services, Head Start and community health centers.

"ABCD is proud to honor our community volunteers and others who go above and beyond to help those in need," said ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew.

"Their spirit and commitment speak to the essence of the EOA 50th anniversary that we celebrate this year. At ABCD, we are proud to persist in our work to achieve that landmark legislation’s mission 'to eliminate the paradox that is poverty in the midst of plenty in this Nation ....'  We look forward to a grand celebration of community and voluntarism!"

Supremes' Mary Wilson to perform

Giving voice to the evening’s enthusiastic retro spirit is Mary Wilson of The Supremes. The flagship Motown girl group helped define the sound of young America in the 1960s with a slew of R&B/soul classics, including "Stop! In the Name of Love," "You Can’t Hurry Love" and "Where Did our Love Go?"

Today Wilson uses her fame and flair to promote humanitarian efforts to end hunger, raise AIDS awareness and encourage world peace.

TV newswoman Sarah Ann Shaw and social activist Hubie Jones, two community icons who have made a difference for hundreds of thousands in Boston and beyond, will be inducted into the ABCD Hall of Fame.

Shaw, Jones to be honored

Shaw was Boston’s first female African-American television reporter and is a renowned community activist who ran ABCD’s neighborhood programs in the organization’s early days. A longtime Dorchester resident, she helped define minority affairs programming and news content and is the recipient of hundreds of journalistic and community awards.

Jones will be recognized for his vital role in Boston and America’s social justice movement. He has held numerous positions in academia, served in policy and management roles at several community institutions and played a leadership role in the social development of Boston and its people.

The Reverend Liz Walker, award-winning television journalist, former anchor, WBZ-TV/Channel 4 and ordained minister, will deliver the invocation.

Karen Holmes Ward, director of public affairs and community services as well as host/executive producer, "CityLine," WCVB-TV/Channel 5, is mistress of ceremonies.

The other 16 community volunteers to be recognized for their tireless efforts to address the plight of Boston’s underprivileged residents and communities are: Griselda Polanco, Allston/Brighton NOC, Elyas Harris, Asian American Civic Association, Stephanie Simmons, Dorchester NSC, Mary Cahalane, East Boston APAC, Fran Johnson, Elder Services, Liz Miranda, Elm Hill FSC, Crystal Jones, Head Start & Children Services, Eugenia Smith, Health Services, Pansy Langley, HP/Project Care & Concern, Jane Reitz, John F. Kennedy FSC, Audrey Downey, Mattapan FSC, Marian O’Neill, North End/West End NSC, Carmen Pola, Parker Hill/Fenway NSC, Anne Brennan, South Boston APAC, Dareline Jackson, South End NSC and Cynthia Penton-Bell, Women’s Service Club of Boston.

ABCD serves more than 100,000 low-income Boston-area residents through its central offices and a decentralized network of Neighborhood Service Centers, Head Start centers, family-planning sites and foster grandparent sites.


This story was published Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014.