To the Editor,
I’m calling on Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF), elected officials, and our community to come together to find a solution to the future of Blessed Sacrament Church. Selling the Church with no restrictions will hurt the future of our neighborhood and the legacy of a great organization that has done so much for our youth.
I was born in the Dominican Republic and have lived in Jamaica Plain since 1975, raising two kids as a single mother. I have owned a business here since 1980 and volunteered for 40 years for business and community organizations. My children attended Blessed Sacrament School and were baptized in the Church.
My proudest volunteer work is with HSTF, whose board I served on for 22 years, because of the difference they make in the lives of youth. When I first heard the phrase, “Fall through the cracks,” I didn’t understand it, but I came to understand that kids don’t “fall through the cracks,” we let them down without the support, health and education they need. It’s our responsibility to create a healthier society and make sure they have equal opportunity. The difference I see in kids when they first come into HSTF and when they finish the program is amazing. I love looking at youth ten years later and seeing how they are productive members of society and community leaders.
While I’m happy to be part of this great program, we have not yet kept all our promises to the youth. In 2014 HSTF promised to create a cultural center in Blessed Sacrament Church. It’s very disappointing to hear their plans to sell the church at market rate with no restrictions. I served on the HSTF Church Committee, and understand the challenges to developing the building, but I believe we can find a solution by working together. While HSTF is not a development corporation, they should not sell to a private developer, but work with us to find a partner who will make the extra effort to build the cultural center in Boston’s Latin Quarter.
It’s time to put our money where our mouth is and build the dream that was promised to our youth. While these are difficult times, I believe there’s money to develop the church to be the Latin Quarter’s cultural icon. Elected officials and youth have already found possible funds for the district. It’s time for us to come together and unlock the money to make the dream a reality.
Our neighborhood is unique. I see it in my personal and professional life, especially in my salon where people speak multiple languages and respect each other’s cultures. It’s important to maintain our diversity and live up to the principles of our Boston Latin Quarter.
I very humbly call for an urgent meeting with HSTF, community leaders, and elected officials to keep the promise we made to our youth to build the cultural center at Blessed Sacrament, and make sure we’re not responsible for more youth “falling through the cracks.”
Boston’s Latin Quarter
Damaris Pimentel is the owner of Ultra Beauty Salon and a leader in the Latin Quarter Business Association.