Snapshots from Roca. Photos: Rachel Marble
By Rachel Marble
If you travel from bustling Boston across the Maurice J. Tobin Memorial Bridge you will find yourself in Chelsea. With its winding streets and simple buildings, Chelsea has been slowly gaining attention as an upcoming area after years of being a “struggling industrial city,” according to the Boston Globe.
With a population of about 45,000, Chelsea is a diverse city, according Chief of Police, Brian Kyes. The city is 80 percent Latino, 15 percent Caucasian and 5 percent African American, Asian and other. Chelsea has the largest number of foreign-born individuals in Massachusetts, however, you can’t judge a city like Chelsea by just its numbers.
Chelsea’s many community groups are all about unity and working together. Kyes singled out three community programs that have had an impact on the city: Roca (Spanish translation of the word “rock”), The Chelsea Collaborative, and the city’s local Boys and Girls Club. City Manager Thomas Ambrosino says his favorite aspect of Chelsea is its “high level of collaboration between residents, government officials, and engaging community organizations.”
Chelsea’s many community groups are all about unity and working together. Kyes says that every day he sees “mixed cultures working together to make the city the best place it can possibly be.”
The city of Chelsea held a rally on May 1 for its residents and the participants from the Everett and East Boston marches. The Chelsea Collaborative, a group that helps workers and immigrants, organized the event which fought for worker’s rights and undocumented immigrants. Ambrosino called the support “heartwarming.”
Programs in Chelsea continue to rally together to improve lives. The Boy’s and Girl’s Club hopes to “ensure all young people in our community have the opportunity to realize their full potential,” according to their website. Roca, meanwhile focuses on struggling young mothers and men, mostly from Central America, who are in danger of getting involved with gangs or drugs.
According to its website, Roca’s mission is to “disrupt the cycle of incarceration and poverty by helping young people transform their lives.”
The website also displays testimonials from people it has helped, including men like Tyler who “didn’t think I could change,” and Zulma who “learned to look for people who could help me.” Roca gives these struggling individuals access to educational programs, life skills, and job opportunities.
Chelsea isn’t that far from Boston, both in distance and culturally diverse groups that constitute a majority of the cities’ populations. With a significant number of undocumented immigrants, Kyes says that “the documentation status of individuals is not part of our purview.”
The goal of the Police department is to “increase safety of our residents.” He said “we want people to trust us to come forward when they are a victim or a witness to a crime, and I think we do a great job at that.”