Health center pioneer returns to Columbia Point

Dr. Geiger honored: Father George Carrigg, Dr. H. Jack Geiger, and Sister Elizabeth CalcagniDr. Geiger honored: Father George Carrigg, Dr. H. Jack Geiger, and Sister Elizabeth Calcagni

A remarkable gathering took place at Florian Hall last month: Dr. H. Jack Geiger, co-founder of the first community health center in the nation, was honored by the Notre Dame Montessori School at its annual fundraising banquet. He received the school’s aptly-named “Seeds Planted: Harvest Begun” award.

Dr. Geiger and his colleague, Count D. Gibson, founded what is now known as the Geiger Gibson Community Health Center in 1965. Their modest clinic began as an attempt to serve the people of what was then known as the Columbia Point Project, long before its reinvention – resurrection might be the better term – as Harbor Point. Geiger later went on to other work in the United States and Africa, but his efforts here in Dorchester have had much wider implications than he could have known in 1965. It started a movement that has since spawned over 1,200 community health centers nationwide.

Father George Carrigg, the pastor of St. Christopher Church where the Montessori School is located, said of the awardee: “He reminds all of us to keep working together. Dr. Geiger was able to pull resources together with the task to help people find the road out of isolation and into full community life.”

Accepting the honor to a standing ovation, Dr. Geiger thanked Father George and Sister Elizabeth Calcagni, director of the school, saying, “In terms of small children, we are in the same business. That’s why I was so happy to come up here today.” Describing his early work both in the US and in Africa, Dr. Geiger said he “realized that schools and health centers build the road out for children that would be living a more limited life, a sicker life.”

Special edition on Menino era

The Reporter will publish a special edition on Jan. 2, 2014 that will be a retrospective on Mayor Menino’s 20 years in office. The edition will focus on his achievements in Dorchester and Mattapan. We invite our readers to join the effort: Please send us your own story of how the mayor made an impact on your family or business. Photos from the mayor’s time in office are most welcome. Please send us your own stories to the Reporter via e-mail to by Dec. 20.

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