Bird Street Community Center is willing and able to help our youth

To the Editor: In the wake of the recent string of violence that has taken place in the Uphams Corner neighborhood of Dorchester, Bird Street Community Center is reaching out to our community to offer our assistance in any way needed.

On Thurs., July 6, at 10:30 in the morning, just as our second day of summer programming was getting underway, what sounded like a pack of firecrackers going off rang out directly in front of our center. When I looked out of my office window to see two of our former members lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk, and one of our staff members running to find cover, I knew that the gruesome reality of yet another senseless act of violence had come to our doors.

Some staff members, now in crisis mode, rushed to the street to assist the injured, while other staff stayed back to ensure that all youth attending our programs were safe and secure inside the center.

We are thankful that our staff member was physically unharmed and that one former member, who was grazed by a bullet while fleeing the gunfire, will recover quickly. Unfortunately, the third victim, who received four gunshot wounds, is still recovering in a local hospital. We pray for his full recovery.

In addition to the physical and emotional wounds suffered by the three victims caught in the spray of bullets, we feared that our young participants might be forever scarred from having witnessed such a heinous act of violence. We immediately brought in resources, including Anthony Meeks from the City’s Street Outreach Team, the Boston Trauma Response Team, Uphams Corner Health Center, Boston Police Officer Kenny Grubbs, and our talented and dedicated staff.

These groups provided an immediate response and assistance in addressing the emotional trauma that our youth experienced and I thank them for their service. Additional services were provided in age appropriate groups and on an as needed one-on-one basis. We ended this long day with an ice cream social to provide a more lighthearted ending to a very difficult day.

Bird Street Community Center has been a fixture in the community providing critical youth services for almost 40 years. Our programs are intentionally focused on youth development with the intent of educational success, youth employment, and athletic ability, and the ultimate intent of violence prevention and youth recognizing their potential of college completion and/or career success. We are a safe haven where mutual respect, civic responsibility, and the safety of our youth is our primary concern. We offer open enrollment and a full menu of youth development programming, and all youth and young adults are welcome here, where community is family.

As a community, we can help prevent this type of senseless violence and provide a pathway to a brighter future for our youth. If you know of a youth in need of these services or have questions about our programs, please reach out to me at 617-825-6110, Ext. 21.