UMass Boston has held an annual community breakfast as part of its communications mission since 1987. This year was the 30th such community gathering. It was an upbeat, enjoyable event, which took place in the main dining room of the UMass Boston Campus Center. Several hundred attendees from all over Boston – especially Dorchester and South Boston – showed up. The UMass Boston campus, while in Dorchester, looks out onto South Boston from its vantage point on Columbia Point, next to the Kennedy Library and Kennedy Senate Building.
First up in the program was the Paige Academy Drum Troupe, led by well-known local musician Joe Cook. They gave a stirring performance that elicited a standing ovation. Introductory remarks were made by Philip Carver, the interim director of community relations at UMass Boston, followed by Edward Lambert, vice chancellor for Government Relations and Public Affairs.
J. Keith Motley, the chancellor of UMass Boston, spoke of many topics. Motley has enormous optimism about the future of UMass Boston on Columbia Point; he is a commanding speaker, a great favorite with the 2016 breakfast audience. He told of the “transformation” that UMass Boston has undergone. Speaking directly to the crowd, he said, “You gave us life,” referring to the support from Dorchester, South Boston and all of Boston. He mentioned that 75 percent of UMass Boston’s graduates stay in Boston to live and work. Motley drew in his listeners by saying, “thank you for that,” at the end of each of his anecdotes.
Each year, UMass Boston recognizes community activists. Chancellor Motley and Claudina Quinn presented the 2016 Quinn Award for Outstanding Community Leadership to Dorchester’s Pat O’Neill. She has served as the president of the Ashmont/Adams Neighborhood Association for 12 years, and is an active, hands-on volunteer in fundraisers, neighborhood clean-ups, tree lightings, pumpkin carving, and countless other good works.
Motley went on to confer this year’s Chancellor’s Award on James Cassetta, who has spent more than 40 years helping individuals with disabilities to find gainful employment. He’s the CEO and president of WORK, Inc., which is dedicated to just that purpose. In addition, he is a highly active member of numerous boards of non-profits and community supporters.
Chancellor Motley then delivered closing remarks, including a reference to a partnership with South Boston’s Gavin Foundation. The 2016 30th Annual Community Breakfast at UMass Boston was a memorable event.