Lynn Fire Update

Thank You Greater Lynn Community!!

On Saturday, January 21st, many, many families were helped thanks to the generosity of the Greater Lynn Community, Centerboard Staffers and the amazing volunteers who dedicated their time to make our Clothing Distribution Day a huge success!!

Dateline: January 9th, 2017

On New Year’s Day, a 5-alarm fire on West Baltimore St. in Lynn made 64 people instantly homeless with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The call for donations went out and the Greater Lynn community responded with such robust compassion that all of us here at Centerboard were overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion. 

We all know times are tough out there for everyone. We also all know that when the chips are down, communities come together to support one another. Centerboard led the effort along with Lynn Museum/LynnArts, the Lynn Shelter Association, Lynn Economic Opportunity, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the Salvation Army to gather all manner of things the fire victims would need in the cold of January. Clothing, house wares, coats, mittens, hats, toiletries, diapers etc. filled our entire 4,000 square foot engagement center. Additionally, countless people showed up to volunteer to sort, organize and offer their kind words in the face of such a neighborhood tragedy. 

On behalf of the Board of Directors, staff and volunteers, we send our heartfelt thanks to everyone who selflessly gave of their time, possessions and dollars to help out our neighbors in need. This type of caring and generosity are why we at Centerboard are so thankful and proud to call Lynn home!

Community Engagement Coordinator

We have exciting news here at Centerboard! We have recently brought on a new Community Engagement Coordinator. Ladies and Gentleman, introducing Justin Morley! 

Known by many as Justice Born, Justin is a Lynn resident. He has been on board for about 6 weeks and his resourcefulness along with his experience as a community organizer and event planner has made an immediate impact on our families. Through organizing events, workshops and other community based initiatives at our Visionspace Gallery, Justice focuses on creating atmospheres of diversity which are safe, inclusive and judgment free. Aside from his work with us, he also does outreach for the homeless and leads the Wreck Shop Movement, which is a driving force in the local Hip Hop community, known for having a positive social impact with their "Hoodies For The Homeless" initiative as well as their free events and roster of talent. Justice uses his experience of being homeless 6 years ago as motivation to do more to help people going through similar hardships. 

Centerboard is beyond thrilled to welcome Justice into our family and we look forward to supporting him in his amazing community work!

Another Successful Tax Prep Season!

Here at Centerboard, we’ve had another very successful VITA season. VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. It is an amazing program that engages local volunteers and pairs them with that community’s residents who need quality tax preparation. The volunteers are trained and certified by the IRS and there is no cost to participate for those getting their taxes done. An important element of the program is to inform people on the various tax codes that may apply to them. One of these is the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC is a refundable tax break provided by the state of Massachusetts in order to provide a meaningful boost to the after-tax earnings of low-income working families. It is available only to tax filers with earned income and provides benefits primarily to workers with children.[1]

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a valuable resource to working families as it provides some financial relief for those trying to stay out of poverty. We all know that poverty affects children the most and through this credit, hard working families are able to provide more to ensure that their children are able to live a healthier life.

During this year’s tax season, our VITA program was able to process over $200,000 in returns via the Earned Income Tax Credit. We were able to help numerous families while also providing a boost to Lynn’s local economy. Thanks to BMC HealthNet Plan for sponsoring this important community initiative!

 

[1] www.massbudget.org

Volunteers Needed for VITA Program 2015

Its VITA time again! Not familiar with VITA? It stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. This program is an amazing and impactful community initiative that helps local residents get quality tax preparation without the hefty price tag. Volunteers sign up and receive up to date training from the IRS on the current standards, rules and regulations of tax preparation. Participants in the program receive their tax prep for free. This program provides a valuable service to all the communities it serves and we are very happy to bring it back to Lynn, thanks to our sponsor BMC HealthNet Plan.

Volunteers are truly what make this program go, (aside from Rockstar Centerboard employee Marisol!), and this year will be no different. We need a dedicated staff of volunteers to fulfill several different roles. The hours are flexible, the training is free and the time commitment is up to you!

Over 4 years of Centerboard’s VITA program, our volunteers have helped to generate over $4 million in tax returns, the majority of which goes right back into Lynn’s local economy.

Here is a brief description of how you can help. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please email your contact information to Marisol HERE.

Greeter/Screener – You greet everyone visiting the site to create a pleasant atmosphere. You screen taxpayers to determine the type of assistance they need and confirm they have the necessary documents to complete their tax returns. Tax law certification is not required for this position.
 
Tax Preparer – You complete and successfully certify in tax law training, including the use of electronic filing software, to provide free tax
return preparation for eligible taxpayers.
 
Quality Reviewer – You review tax returns completed by volunteer tax preparers, ensuring that every taxpayer receives top quality service and
that the tax returns are error-free. You must be tax law certified at least at the Intermediate level.

If you are looking to learn a new skill set, brush up on your tax skills or give a helping hand to your community, volunteer for our VITA program today!

 


 

Lynn Continues to Move Forward

Several years ago we posted a series of blogs called “The Drips”. We likened each individual accomplishment of local organizations and individuals to drips in a bucket slowly adding up to contribute to Lynn’s revitalization. So here we are many months down the road and the positivity continues to build and good things continue to happen in Lynn. Here are a few highlights!

The Mass Cultural Council names downtown Lynn as the state’s first (another FIRST for Lynn!) Cultural District. The city recently named the first Director of the District, Emily Ruddock, who is doing an outstanding job of coalition building, spearheading events and overall vision planning for Lynn’s downtown area. To keep up with the happenings, visit the District’s facebook page HERE.

The restaurant scene is jumping all over the city. Four Winds Pub is located on what the locals lovingly call “Lake Lynnipesaukee” (aka Sluice Pond). They recently built an unbelievable patio right on the water. This outside setting is primo for good drinks, excellent food and stellar sunsets. The patio is geared up for the colder months with heaters too! Rossetti’s Restaurant hit the ground running delivering delicious cuisine and creative cocktails. It is located right next to D’Amici’s Downtown that serves up a full breakfast menu everyday until 2pm!! The next great eatery to hit the scene will be R.F. O’Sullivans, who plan on rocking out quality pub food including a legendary burger, on the corners of Sutton and Central Avenues.

Lynn recently added a semi-pro football team, the North Shore Generals, who play their home games at Manning Field.

Various members of the Lynn community recently got together to form Stop the Violence: Lynn. This organization is working hard on youth outreach, positive activities and pro-active energy to stop the cycle of violence in the city. Visit their facebook page and help STOP THE VIOLENCE.

A new round of big photos went up in Central Square over the summer. “Public Art 4.0: Ghosts of Lynn” was a first ever collaboration between Centerboard’s Visionspace Gallery, Raw Art Works and the Lynn Museum. Check out the unbelievable combination of historical and present day photos the next time you are in the area.

These are just a few examples of the exciting progress being made in Lynn. There is great momentum and we have high hopes for the future.  To sum it up, here is a fantastic quote from Richard “Frank” Sullivan, owner of R.F. O’Sullivans:

“I live nearby on the North Shore and Lynn is happening, I see it, just the way I saw it in Somerville 23 years ago,” said Sullivan. “I can feel it.” –as quoted in the Lynn Journal

 

 

Ghosts of Lynn Revealed!

This year, Centerboard and Visionspace Gallery were very happy to partner with Raw Art Works, the Lynn Museum & Historical Society and the Downtown Lynn Cultural District in the creation of Public Art 4.0 “Ghosts of Lynn”. The result of this year’s collaboration proved to be the best public art version yet with an amazing blend of historical photos and current day photos of Lynn’s downtown.

 On July 17th over 100 people attended the Big Reveal Party for the new photos. The event, hosted by The Daily Item’s Phil Ouellette, had a little something for everyone. The Northshoremen, a truly entertaining barbershop quartet provided a nice throwback vibe from a bygone era while DJ Seth spun a nice mix of soul, r&b and rock and roll. Paaastelitos and The Gulu Gulu Café offered refreshments and there were free popsicles for the kids, regardless of age! The artwork was created by Tyla Levesque and Justis McMahon, two students in RAW’s Real to Reel Filmschool. The oversized photos envelope Central Square with eye-catching colors and a fascinating look into Lynn’s past as compared to Lynn’s present.

 Centerboard is very proud of our public art projects. Taking the time to help the artists participate in the project, and raising money to produce the art is our way of saying that we take pride in Lynn and in these projects that are so important to the city’s turnaround.

 We think half the battle towards revitalization is connecting the citizenry with each other so everyone can come together and enjoy something their city has to offer.  We think arts and culture and our public art projects are just a small part of all of the other great stuff that is happening. Now that the “District” is in full swing, stay in tune by visiting www.dtlcd.org.

 A big thank you goes out to everyone who supports us in our public art endeavors and the residents, businesses and non-profits who continue to make downtown Lynn a cultural destination.


Ghosts of Lynn, Q&A, chapter 7!

This week we hear from Emily Ruddock, the newly named Director of the Downtown Lynn Cultural District. We recently received some exciting news about our fundraising campaign as well! Warner Brothers, in exchange for shooting the movie "Black Mass" in Central Square, has offered up a challenge grant. The production company will match up to $1,000 in donations from today up until July 10th! You can visit our crowdrise page [HERE], learn more about the project and who is involved and best of all, donate to the cause! Okay, Emily, let's hear what you got!

 

What brought you to Lynn?
My job as the Director of the Downtown Lynn Cultural District brought me here.

What is your personal favorite public art installation?
The Play Me I'm Yours art installation by Luke Jerram in Boston last year is an example of the power of public art. Working pianos decorated by local artists and community members were placed throughout the city and people were invited to play them whenever and whereever they liked. I love the inclusive nature of this project and the concept that the art wasn't complete until inhabitants played the instruments.

What was your reaction when the big photos first appeared?
"Far out!" I came to the downtown area in advance of interviewing for the director position, to get a sense of the district. I was impressed that public art was already a part of the district and loved the richness the photographs gave to the area. Now I just want to see more public art featuring local artists and community members.

Lynn, Lynn City of Sin, ignore it or embrace it?
Subvert it, then embrace it. I'm especially partial to the section "never come out the way you went in". Transformation can be a really positive thing and is at the heart of any arts or cultural experience. I want visitors to the downtown area to be provoked by the art they see, enriched by the cultures of Lynn and invigorated by events they attend. Sometimes a little sin can be a powerful agent for change...!

Starry Night or The Scream?
Starry Night. I had a super rad art teacher when I was a kid who introduced me to a wide spectrum of artists including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. The thing I love about Starry Night is it captures so much upheaval and turbulence but also depicts the beauty of the night simultaneously. The duality is what I love about it.

 

Play Me, I'm Yours in the Boston Commons!

Play Me, I'm Yours in the Boston Commons!

Ghosts of Lynn, Q&A, chapter 6!

Today brings us chapter 6 of our public art Q&A with various Lynners around the city. If you would like to donate to the "Ghosts of Lynn" project visit our PAGE and check it out! This week we chatted with Maleeka, a lifelong resident who founded Lynn's Knit-a-thon, a group of lovely knitters who make blankets to give out to families in need. Here is what she had to say about public art.

What brought you to Lynn?
Birth.

What is your personal favorite public art installation?
I may be a bit biased, but seeing my hubby's photo huge and on the wall under the bridge was an extremely proud moment for me. I found myself purposefully driving through Central Square just so I could see it again.

What was your reaction when the big photos first appeared?
I thought it was a great addition and transformation to Downtown. It was nice to see something positive, inspiring, nice, big and prominent for everyone to see.

Lynn Lynn City of Sin, ignore it or embrace it?
I embrace it. Although I do get sick of hearing it over and over.

Starry Night or The Scream?
Starry Night.

Artwork of Jason Taglieri (aka Maleeka's hubby) included in last year's Public Art 3.0

Artwork of Jason Taglieri (aka Maleeka's hubby) included in last year's Public Art 3.0

Ghosts of Lynn, Q&A, chapter 5!

This week's chapter of our Q&A is with Mr. Seth Albaum, man about downtown and the author of the amazingly informative website Lynn Happens. If you want to know what's going on in Lynn, this is the place to check, especially the Weekend Rundown every Friday. We are of course still fundraising for the beautiful and Lynn-centric "Ghosts of Lynn" public art installation. You can learn more about the project and donate HERE. Read on to see what Seth had to say!

What brought you to Lynn?
I had been in Jamaica Plain a long time, but when my rent was finally raised, I had to look elsewhere. I was already working on the North Shore and decided to check out downtown Lynn on a Saturday afternoon. I found affordable space near and above storefronts in a city that's diverse, interesting and a little quirky. Perfect.

What is your personal favorite public art installation?
I don't know how to pick a favorite, but I can tell you that I prefer public art that is unexpected, challenging, or that incorporates some humor without having to hand feed you the joke. I'm less interested in accurate representations of things, unless something about the location or how it's placed makes the piece. Then again, I count among my favorites the tile mosaics of Jim Power in the East Village of NYC. Former Mayor Giuliani, no fan of street art, had many of them removed.

What was your reaction when the big photos first appeared?
I loved how it brightened up the neighborhood and surprised everyone else (I knew it was going up) when they saw them for the first time. I love that they rotate on a regular basis so many artists have an opportunity to participate and passers-by will always have new artwork to look forward to.

Lynn, Lynn City of Sin, ignore it or embrace it?
Embrace it. In brainstorming for the Downtown Lynn Cultural District we decided to give it a much more positive spin. Coming to Lynn should be transformative in a good way. We borrowed the line, "You never come out the way you went in."

Starry Night or The Scream?
This is not a fair question! All I can say is this: I wouldn't want hanging in my home representations of paintings, no matter how great they are, that have become so ubiquitous they're in every college dormitory, printed on pillows, keychains, t-shirts and plastic drinking cups. The actual paintings are wonderful, but show me something I can't see everywhere I look, which goes back to how I feel about public art, I suppose.

 

Jim Power works on one of his mosaics in the East Village.

Jim Power works on one of his mosaics in the East Village.

Ghosts of Lynn, Q&A, chapter 4!

This week's installment of our Q&A blog series for The Ghosts of Lynn public art project spotlights someone who usually ASKS the questions. We decided to reverse roles with Chris Stevens, the fearless reporter and food columnist for The Daily Item! We are still fundraising for this cool project and its not too late to contribute. Your $30 donation sponsors 2 square feet of art! Learn more and donate HERE. In the meantime, here is what Chris had to say!

 

What brought you to Lynn?
Love & the Daily Item.

What is your personal favorite public art installation?
Oh so many come to mind! I love the guy on the books in front of the T-garage. In a cemetery in Woodstock, NY there is a tomb with the statue of a cat looking downward. It breaks my heart but I love it. I love the Einstein statue in front of the National Academy of Sciences in DC and the traveling piano always makes me smile (and wish I could play piano!).

What was your reaction when the big photos first appeared?
I loved it! Our office looks out on Central Square, we walk by it on our way to Dunkin Donuts, City Hall, Raw Art Works, Dunkin Donuts...did I say that already?

Lynn Lynn City of Sin, ignore it or embrace it?
Embrace it! You never go out the way you went in doesn't have to be a negative! Maybe you came out better, smarter, more well-enlightened, definitely well-fed.

Starry Night or The Scream?
Depends on the day---I do love my Starry Night though (and now Don McLean's "Vincent" will be stuck in my head for the remainder of the day).