On the afternoon of March 15, a fire tore apart the home of two close friends of mine living on McBride Street. The residents were unhurt, but the building was left uninhabitable. Happily, their two cats made it out; they were later delighted to be reunited with their owners after a call from the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
Jamaica Plain is known as a vibrant neighborhood, with a remarkable number of locally owned businesses and community spaces. Immediately after the McBride Street fire, drop-off locations for generous residents donating household items had been set up at the First Baptist Church of JP and at Bella Luna Restaurant. This community newspaper ran a notice about how to help.
Within days, three independent businesses had responded to inquiries about whether they might match gift certificate amounts that would be given to my friends. Marlene Genovese of City Feed and Supply wrote back almost instantly to say that owners David Warner and Kristine Cortese would of course offer their support. Harvest Co-op also lent a hand. Felicia Sanchez, chef/owner of Centre Street Café and JP resident for the past 25 years, e-mailed the message: “We would be honored to help out. That’s what we’re here for.” My friends, both avid readers, will reconstruct their library with assistance from Jamaicaway Books & Gifts owner Rosalyn Elder and her great staff.
The gracious actions of these small business owners speak volumes about the importance of community-based entrepreneurs, the people who readily and directly invest back into the neighborhoods around them. I am certain that my friends will recall their generosity again and again as they work to rebuild. I hope that others living in and around the area will show these businesses just how valued they are.