In 1986 the Massachusetts Executive Office of Human Services through the leadership of Mayra Rodriguez Howard convened the Chelsea Human Services Task Force with more forty members from the community and social services agencies. The Task Force’s original purpose initially was to serve as a forum for discussing community needs and exploring potential coordination of effort. Soon the mission became more comprehensive and ambitious: “To plan to meet the human service needs of the community; to foster collaborative service delivery; to build community support for human services; to attract resources for the provision of needed services.” This evolved into the Five Year Human Services Plan for Chelsea.
The Task Force envisioned that the Five Year Plan would be carried out by a small agency to conduct community organizing and program development activities. Thus the Chelsea Collaborative was born, originally as the Chelsea Human Services Collaborative, Inc. in May 1988.
The Vision of the Five Year Human Services Plan became the defining principles of the Collaborative. The vision is of a community which is:
- Knowledgeable about its own needs
- Willing to mobilize its resources to respond to community members in need
- Working to strengthen its capacity to respond to needs
- Able to mobilize its resources by effectively organizing and advocating for services
- Able to successfully attract external resources; and
- Able to successfully integrate external resources into its local problem solving efforts
The Collaborative implemented much of the Five Year Plan and continued on as a successful organization dedicated to community organizing and empower of our community. The Collaborative is the only organization in Chelsea solely dedicated to community organizing.
Since the Collaborative’s inception, we have achieved significant accomplishments including but not limited to:
- developed a regional, multi-organizational effort to create the Chelsea Humanitarian Crisis Plan to respond to an immigration raid, fire or natural disaster which serves as a template for other communities
- secured funding to hire a part-time organizer to work on the Shanbaro Community Association supporting the Somali Bantu refugee population in Chelsea and surrounding communities;
- fundraised $1.5 million dollars, visioned and designed with the community the Creekside Commons Park, the park on the Mill Creek
- empowered youth to advocate for the creation of a citywide Youth Commission
- developed a positive relationship, via our parents organizing initiative, with the School Department resulting in the hiring of four additional guidance counselors, translating the attendance policy into Spanish and collaborating on a drop-out prevention campaign
- established SYEI the largest summer youth employment program in Chelsea
- led an impressive campaign to defeat a proposed 260-megawatt diesel oil-fired power plant on the shoreline of Chelsea and within 250 yards of Chelsea’s only elementary school by engaging thousands of Chelsea, East Boston, and Revere residents, public officials and environmental organizations in the campaign