I had the opportunity of spending my last semester interning at United South End Settlements, a nonprofit with over 125 years of experience. The idea behind settlement houses in Boston started around the 1890’s. Newcomers moving into the city were looking for work, freedom, and opportunity. Instead, they found poverty, bad housing, and prejudice. In hopes of addressing these issues, settlement houses were created to give people of means an opportunity to live in underserved neighborhoods and work alongside the residents to solve these issues. As time evolved, so did United South End Settlements. Nonetheless, the same principle exists today. At its core, USES aims to unite its diverse community to strengthen and uplift one another. In practice, if done right, it can be the most sustainable way to create long-lasting social change, especially with an ambitious mission of disrupting the cycle of poverty for children and their families.
During my time at USES, I was tasked with a multimedia project that showcased our tight-knit community. I decided to interview a wide array of stakeholders and community members to get a deeper understanding of the different elements that represent USES. Parents, staff members, directors, board members – all from different walks of life – talked with me about their perspective and experience in the South End and at the organization.
Here are some direct quotes:
“People who move here are seeking that connection and are seeking the diversity. That’s what makes this community so special.” -Joyce Lee, USES Board Member and Parent
“What makes me feel safe is when the teachers and my friends are around me” -Valeria Claudio, club48 Participant
“To not assume that they had all the answers, but they had to come live alongside one another and try to figure out what was the way to address those issues.” -Frieda Garcia, USES Executive Director from 1981 to 2001
If you would like to read their full stories, go to www.uses.org/usescommunity.