JP should reunite around youths

Jamaica Plain has been weakened and divided against itself by the direction that the Whole Foods controversy has taken. “Haves” rail against “have-nots” online. (“They should learn to eat right!”) Conservative yuppies make public their indifference to the needs of ethnic food shoppers and financially struggling Hyde Square residents, and Whose Foods backers shout down opposing opinions.

So I want to thank the Gazette for helping JP residents to return to what it does best: helping neighbors across class and ethnic lines with programs that truly benefit the whole community. The Gazette gives us the opportunity to help Al Liriano and the volunteers that have kept the Roberto Clemente 21 Sports Program going, helping hundreds of local youth learn fair play, team values and broader horizons (“Sports program still homeless,” June 10).

Jamaica Plain is home to several similar sports and dance/cheerleading programs, which are run by working people, often with much personal sacrifice. Most have little knowledge of how to access big corporate grants but are very deserving of them. These include not only Roberto Clemente 21, but also Estrellas Tropicales, La Piñata and the Bromley Heath Saints All-Stars, which in recent years has won high regional awards. All have greatly benefited under-served youths. Our Wake Up the Earth Festival Parade has enjoyed wonderful donated performances from all of these often financially struggling, volunteer-led youth groups.

How about if the very effective community organizers at Whose Foods and the highly successful grant-getters at Hyde Square Task Force would reach out to work together with these groups to help them write grants and find funding and space, instead of putting so much of their talent and energy into attacking each other? That would be the brotherly and idealistic Jamaica Plain I remember and hope to see again.

Hope Haff

Wake Up the Earth Festival Parade Coordinator

Jamaica Plain

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