Thank you for so many Seasons of Love.
Some of you might know the song “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent. As we begin to celebrate Lowell Community Health Center’s 50th anniversary, I find myself humming that tune from time to time. The opening lyrics seem particularly apt when talking, as we will be over the coming year, about time, and legacy, and impact. The song opens by asking:
Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes…How do you measure a year?
And in that case, how do you measure 50 years? That, by the way, is a little more than 26 million minutes! Because of all of you, we are, in the truest sense of the word, a community health center. At the core is a commitment to social justice, rooted in a love for this incredibly diverse, generous, sometimes challenging, and always caring community.
50 Stories for 50 Years
One way we will measure the Health Center’s legacy is by celebrating the people we’ve served, the people who have served, and those in the community who have sustained us for five decades. Over the next year, we’ll be sharing many of their stories with you — one each week.
Cheryl spent most of her life thinking her health conditions would hold her back. Today, this strong young woman sees a future filled with possibility — knowing Lowell CHC has her back.
Legally blind since childhood, Cheryl is used to navigating the world in her own way. Managing her diabetes also became a way of life. Even as her health deteriorated, Cheryl did her best to continue as she always had, despite feeling increasingly alone and overwhelmed.
Soon after arriving here from the Dominican Republic, Cheryl realized it was time for a change. Out of insulin and other supplies, she found her way to the Health Center — where she realized she didn’t need to carry these burdens alone.
READ PAST STORIES
#1 Sheila: A mother, grandmother, and former nurse, Sheila knew what it meant to care for others.
#2: Donna: Donna has been a part of the health center movement from the very beginning.
#3: Peter: Growing up, Peter always knew he would get involved in health care.
#4: Mercy: Growing up in Kenya, Mercy never could have imagined a career at Lowell CHC.
#5: Wendy: As a new mother, Wendy knew she had a lot to learn.
#6: Caroline: A Lowellian through and through, Caroline (Petruzziello) Rider knows there’s no place like home.
#7: Simone: With hard work and an open heart, Simone has achieved much during her 16 years at Lowell CHC.
#8: Ivy: At 17, Ivy knows she has a voice and ideas she wants to share with the world.
A Look Back: A Social Justice Movement Takes Root
Your community health center is rooted in the belief that everyone in Greater Lowell deserves access to quality, affordable health care.
In 1965, the national community health center movement launched as part of President Johnson’s War on Poverty. The first two CHC’s were located in Boston’s Columbia Point neighborhood and in rural Mississippi.
Planting the seed in Lowell
In 1970, the movement came to Lowell. That was when Lowell General Hospital (LGH) established a small, community-based clinic in an apartment at the Shaughnessy Terrace public housing complex. The clinic focused on prenatal and pediatric care, all easily accessible to residents.
Photo caption: Lowell CHC employees during the early years (top) and an artist rendering of the Shaughnessy Terrace public housing complex, site of our first clinic in 1970 (bottom).
Would you or your organization like to join us in celebrating 50 years of cultivating health in our community? To learn about sponsorship opportunities, email us or call 978.746.7891.