Linda Doran, Unsung Heroine, and Her Youth Ambassadors

by Rick Winterson


Linda Doran is a South Boston lady, who was born here and still lives here.  She is a family woman, who has raised her family here.  Much of Linda’s time is spent on various community service programs and projects.  For example, there’s her devotion to the SBAN-P (the South Boston Association of Non-Profits).  However, you could be forgiven if you weren’t familiar with all of Linda’s accomplishments in and around South Boston, because she is (very) quiet about them.  Linda Doran is really an unsung heroine.

But this year, Linda became an Unsung Heroine in a formal way.  After State Senator Nick Collins nominated her, Linda was selected as an Unsung Heroine of Massachusetts in the Fifteenth Annual List published by the state’s Commission on the Status of Women.  In a state with a population of 6.5 million in 351 cities and towns, Linda Doran was among just 131 women honored in this way in 2018.  She and her Unsung Heroine colleagues received their Awards at a ceremony in the Great Hall of Flags at the State House last June 20.  A brief, simple quote best describes these Unsung Heroines: “They don’t always make the news, but they always make a difference.”

Among the many achievements that Linda Doran can claim, perhaps her successes with the Youth Ambassadors are her most notable.  In 2005, thirteen years ago, in partnership with Mayra Rodriguez-Howard, Linda began working on the Youth Ambassadors Program.  She has now run Youth Ambassadors on her own for the last several years.

The original idea for this youth program came from Bill Halpin, the CEO of the South Boston Community Health Center on West Broadway.  Quoting Halpin will give you an idea of the Youth Ambassadors’ success.  He said, “We are extremely proud of the South Boston Community Health Center’s Youth Ambassadors.  They are an engaged group of young people, who serve, lead, and make a real difference in the community.  The success of this program has gone beyond our best hopes.  Youth Ambassadors build leadership skills, are involved with their community, and are forging relationships with adult mentors that will be life-changing.  I would encourage any young person to come and see what the program is about.  You won’t be disappointed.”

It’s fair to ask for a few more details about Youth Ambassadors, which is founded upon a highly respected model that focuses on community strengths, not problems.  All South Boston youth between ages 12 and 18 are eligible to join.  The Youth Ambassadors Program uses actual community service, youth-led workshops about substance abuse prevention, and art (writing, poetry, song, video, and photography) to attract young members.  In South Boston, the Youth Ambassadors meet each Tuesday during the school year for one and a half hours.  About 60 young adults join each year.

Here are a few Youth Ambassador specific successes – plantings along West Broadway,  anti-litter campaigns, sending teams to the Gulf Coast to assist with hurricane clean-up, “Lighthouses on Broadway”, service trips to Habitat for Humanity, and (much) more.  And you don’t have to be told about the opioid crisis.  The Youth Ambassadors have their own internal program, which is strongly focused – as it should be – on prevention.

Enough said, except to congratulate Linda once again on her 2018 Unsung Heroine Award.  If you are between 12 and 18 and you are perhaps interested in becoming a Youth Ambassador, their new year is just about to begin.  Get in touch with Linda Doran in the Health Center at 386 West Broadway –; 617-464-7463.

Jeanne Rooney

Jeanne Rooney is the Editor in Chief for South Boston Online.