-By John Lynds
East Boston Main Streets (EBMS) business owners and volunteers were well represented at last week’s 15th Annual Boston Main Streets Awards dinner at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston.
Honored at last week’s ceremony hosted by local radio personality Ron Della Chiesa were Eastie’s own Beda Sajquim and Tony Portillo.
Sajquim, an Eastie resident and mother of two, has volunteered at Main Streets for the last seven years and took home the 2010 Volunteer of the Year award.
Mayor Thomas Menino presented the award to Sajquim and commented that she was among the hundreds of Main Streets volunteers who gave a total of more than 19,000 hours of time in 2010. Since the start of the program in 1995, over 250,000 hours of volunteer time have been contributed to Main Street efforts.
In his remarks to awardees, Menino referred to Boston’s small businesses, as “the heart and soul of our commercial districts” that provide the products and services that are so important to the people who live and work in the neighborhoods.
EBMS chose Portillo, owner of Star Service Corporation and BYN Graphics on Meridian Street, as the 2010 Business of the Year in Eastie.
Portillo, an active local business owner, has supported EBMS efforts for the past six years said EBMS Director Clark Moulaison.
“The two award winners have really helped make Main Streets in Eastie be all it can be and more,” said Moulaison.
Menino, together with Department of Neighborhood Development Director Evelyn Friedman and WPLM Easy 99.1’s “Strictly Sinatra” host Della Chiesa help presented awards to the dozens of recipients from across Boston in all 19 Main Street’s districts.
“For the past 15 years Boston Main Streets has had tremendous success helping revitalize our neighborhood commercial districts, and there are many people here tonight to thank for all their hard work in helping us make that possible,” said Menino. “This event is special because we get to honor the people in the neighborhoods who are making our local commercial districts vibrant and welcoming places to shop and do business. I’m proud of the work they do.”
Developed out of a partnership between the City of Boston and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Boston Main Streets initiative was created by Menino in 1995 as the first urban, multi-district Main Streets program in the nation, with the goal of establishing thriving commercial districts throughout the city.
“Named by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change as one of 19 “Solutions for America,” Boston Main Streets continues to empower individuals in the small business sector to have a direct role in the economic health, physical appearance, and development of their own community,” said Menino.
Boston Main Streets continues to provide funding and technical assistance to 20 neighborhood-based Main Streets districts throughout the City of Boston and has served as a national model to urban areas seeking to revitalize neighborhood commercial districts including Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, Detroit, and New Orleans.
In 2005, Boston created the Boston Main Streets Foundation, a non-profit organization established to produce significant advances in business development, jobs creation, storefront improvements, and overall quality of life in Boston’s neighborhood commercial districts.