Thank you for so many Seasons of Love.
Some of you might know the song “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent. As we 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 have been over the past 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 are measuring 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 past year, we’ve been sharing many of their stories with you — one each week. After a brief hiatus to focus on updates related to COVID-19, we’re back with new stories from the front lines. We’ll continue to be here for our patients — and bring you stories that help keep you connected during this time of social distancing.
A little over a year ago, we began our 50 Stories for 50 Years by recalling the song “Seasons of Love,” from the musical Rent, which asks, “How do you measure a year?” We imagined that song to be the soundtrack of our anniversary year, capped by confetti and a big, bold community celebration that was filled to the brim with laughter, nostalgia, and hope for the future. We could never have imagined the reality of the year that lay ahead.
Still, we managed to celebrate our history. And 50 Stories was a key part of that. At first, we weren’t sure how to continue. How would people respond to these stories in a world suddenly re-defined by isolation and uncertainty? As it turns out, sharing these inspiring, heartwarming, and hopeful personal experiences were just what the doctor ordered.
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.
#9 Cheryl: Cheryl spent most of her life thinking her health conditions would hold her back.
#10 Diana: Nurse Practitioner Diana Mahoney understands that a strong connection with patients is key to good health.
#11 Steve: Meet Steve Joncas, a true friend to Lowell Community Health Center.
#12 Carla: In her 10+ years as a Community Health Worker, Carla Caraballo thought she had seen it all. That was until COVID-19.
#13 Beth: Read this special profile of Lowell CHC’s Chief Clinical Officer from the Lowell Sun.
#14 Xiomara: As part of #NationalNursesWeek, hear from one of the best, in her own words.
#15 Pete: On the frontlines of COVID-19, there are bright spots. We’d like to introduce you to one. Meet Pete*.
#16 Dr. Rajesh: Our Chief of Pediatrics talks to the Lowell Sun about welcoming patients back into the Health Center and the surprise benefits of telehealth.
#17 Hilda: Her kindness, humility, and personal touch have made her a legend in our Pediatrics department for the past 41 years.
#18 & 19 Cindy & Lynne: Our School-Based Health Superstars who have become virtual caregivers, cheerleaders, and even tutors during this crisis.
#20 George: In honor of Pride Month, meet this long-time advocate of our Health Center — and Lowell’s LGBTQ+ community.
#21 Michael: Attorney Michael Gallagher isn’t shy about standing up for causes he believes in.
#22 Dr. Rao: Dr. Rao’s talent, humility, and unwavering optimism have taken him around the world.
#23 Vanessa & Jeyla: Smile! It’s time for your shots. COVID-19 brings new meaning to pediatric well-child visits.
#24 Peter: A legal services professional and one-time actor, Peter Saati’s calm and compassion always put his clients’ minds at ease.
#25 Jessica: Media maven turned non-profit director, Jessica Wilson has the energy and enthusiasm to match her wide smile.
#26 The Greater Lowell Community Foundation: It’s National Health Center Week, and we’re celebrating the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF), a community partner that’s stepped up BIG TIME during the COVID crisis.
#27 & 28 Shamir & Shalmai: Committed, hardworking, quick to laugh and quicker to lend a hand, these sisters have a way of getting things done — with pizzazz.
#29 Tony: Tony’s kind heart and tremendous work ethic have earned him the nickname “The Unicorn” from his Health Center colleagues.
#30 Connor: Connor Griffiths’ interest in public health has taken him from backyard farmer to Cornell University.
#31 Tori: With courage and strength, Tori has rebuilt her life for her and her son.
#32 Dr. Jordan: You may have heard of our resident dentist, turned COVID tester extraordinaire, Dr. Samantha (Sam) Jordan.
#33 Maura: When Maura Smith took on the challenge of raising money to build our $42M home in a renovated former mill on Jackson Street, it seemed like an impossible dream.
#34 Lumaris: Lumaris’ fearlessness and work ethic helped her build a life for herself and her 2 sons, first in Puerto Rico, and now in Lowell.
#35 Pratik: Although still in high school, Pratik has an uncanny way of viewing the world outside of his (now virtual) classroom.
#36 Caroline D: Caroline speaks with an authority and warmth that draws you in and instantly inspires confidence. It’s no surprise she was a news anchor in Kenya.
#37 Sovanna: Sovanna’s story is one of resiliency and determination.
#38 Dr. Korbage: Dr. Aiham Korbage’s path to the Radiology Department at Lowell General Hospital was anything but typical.
#39 & 40 Sonith: Meet Sonith Peou, a visionary leader and champion for refugees from all over the world, through the eyes of long-time friend and colleague (and former Lowell CHC CEO) Dorcas Grigg-Saito.
#41 Ruth: Ruth has a strong belief in standing up for what she believes in — and an equally strong drive to be a force for positive change.
#42 Tiba: A pair of sparkly pink eye glasses made a little girl’s heart sing – and life a bit easier for a family that had already been through so much.
#43 Paul: An outdoor adventurer, gardener, and avid reader, Paul is enjoying his retirement in the City where he grew up.
#44 Nancy: In the City of Lowell, the name Nancy L. Donahue has become synonymous with dedication and generosity.
#45 Mony: Mony’s path to our Metta Health Center was far from conventional.
#46, 47, 48 Kerrie, Amanda, and Hannah: Meet the 3 visionary, determined women at the helm of the Greater Lowell Health Alliance.
#49 Dr. Mazraany: Spend 5 minutes with Dr. Wassim Mazraany and you’ll probably find yourself smiling ear to ear.
#50 Bruce: With seemingly boundless energy, steadfast determination, and the biggest heart in the room, Bruce Robinson has made service to his community more than a full-time job
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.