Friendships are made, a ferry ride away, at Camp Harbor View

BOSTON (The Boston Globe) — Nobody says good morning like Chazz Guerra says good morning.

“G-O-O-D M-O-R-N-I-N-G,” Guerra half sang, half shouted into a bullhorn in front of the Great Hall. There are few things Guerra, a 25-year-old camp counselor, likes more than The First Day of Camp.

More than 200 Camp Harbor View middle schoolers were assembled in front of him on the sports fields, wilting in the hot and humid conditions around 9 a.m. on Monday — a tough crowd.

Camp Harbor View is a free summer camp for Boston middle schoolers on the southern end of Long Island in Boston Harbor. The Great Hall is the mess hall in the center of camp, with the ferry dock, sports fields, and high-ropes course to the north and the pool and arts pavilion to the south.

Camp Harbor View provides summer camp experience for local youths free of charge

BOSTON (Boston 25 News) — Camp Harbor View is the brainchild of former Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Boston businessman Jack Connors, who wanted to find a use for the then-untouched land on Long Island. The idea was just to engage middle-schoolers during summer months. But whether it’s learning to sail, fish, climb a rock wall or learn a new sport, the free summer camp has become so much more to the city’s young people over the last 15 years.

When we meet families where they are, we all win

Wearing earrings that said “Young, Black, and Educated” and walking across the stage to  accept my diploma from Salem State University, I felt awash in pride and heard my mom cheering loudly from the crowd.

I knew that this accomplishment wasn’t mine alone — my mother had put in 22 years of hard work to make this moment possible. Every sacrifice she made, every dollar she spent, it was all building toward this moment. 

I see this same relentless determination and willpower in many of the teens and parents I work with at Camp Harbor View. I work as the Community Resource Coordinator here, and just about everyday I see a mom or dad who remind me of my mom — simply doing everything they can so their kids can thrive. It’s so rewarding for me to be able to help families that remind me of my own, and I wanted to share a few of the lessons I keep coming back to as I strive to support folks as completely as possible.

1. Start with an open mind
Families know and feel that our support comes without judgment, and they learn quickly that we’re ready to show up for them through thick and thin. We don’t just offer support in certain ways or during certain hours — we’re here to meet families where they are. Once we establish with a family that we’re 100% committed to meeting them where they are, the work and relationship building becomes almost effortless.

2. Understand cultural differences and varied needs
Although families experience similar struggles, not every family “struggles” the same, and not every family needs support in the same way. When supporting anyone, it is important to make resources equitable, attainable, and fitting for each person.

3. Commit to building long-term relationships
Everyone comes in with their own life experiences. With each family that I work with, I know that it will take time to build trust and relationships. As a mother myself, I know this firsthand. The one thing that I keep in mind is a simple old lesson I got from my mother; always work to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Relatability comes with effort, listening, and practicing that very principle in each interaction. 

It is the mission of Camp Harbor View to open new doors to opportunity, and I am proud to be part of that mission. The families that I work with never cease to amaze and inspire me and I am proud to support them along their journeys. 

With the growth of our family service programs, I know that I will only continue to learn more from our amazing community, and I could not be more excited about the road ahead. 

Can an extra $800 a month lift someone out of poverty? Local nonprofits put cash to the test.

BOSTON (The Boston Globe) – Cities aren’t the only proponents of giving no-strings-attached cash to people in need. Here come the nonprofits.

The national movement, which had its local roots in Chelsea and spread to Cambridge, aims to empower low-income households with monthly stipends and settle an age-old debate about whether we can trust poor people with money instead of having them constantly jump through hoops to receive aid.

Advocates of so-called guaranteed income programs believe that low-income households know best how to lift themselves out of poverty rather than being told what to do. It’s that combination of confidence and cash that can help people move up the economic ladder.

At least three local nonprofits have launched pilots in recent months: Camp Harbor View with 50 families that are receiving $583 a month for two years; United South End Settlements with 16 families that are getting $800 a month for 18 months; and UpTogether — in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, Harvard Business School, and others — has embarked on a research project providing nearly 1,500 families with varying amounts of money and social capital over 18 months.

Making the season bright [video]

From Thanksgiving dinner to gifts at the holidays, this annual tradition seeks to alleviate family stress and bring kids joy. It’s one of our most meaningful programs for families and donors alike, with both experiencing the generosity of spirit in the holiday season.

Take a look at this heartwarming video to see the Camp Harbor View community’s holiday celebrations with over 400 families from start to finish.

Thanks to the generous support of hundreds of donors, partners, and volunteers, we doubled the number of families reached this year, distributing $101,800 in gift cards for parents to use to purchase their children items on their wishlist, bins with household essentials, and festive holiday supplies. Happy Holidays for all of us at Camp Harbor View!

Partnering with Boston families [video]

At Camp Harbor View we believe that it takes real relationships with the entire family to fully support Boston’s next generation. In this video you’ll meet Paula and three of her kids — Lereca, Bryan, and Gyara. They’ve been part of the Camp Harbor View family for over ten years — and their story shows how powerful we can be together when we invest in Boston families.

Camp Harbor Views

On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, Camp Harbor Views – a free online experience for families, supporters, and champions of our mission – celebrated the resiliency of our community and shared our views on the past, present, and future of the organization.

Hosted by Jenny Johnson of NESN’s Dining Playbook and Camp Harbor View’s Advisory Council, it was an evening full of surprises. Over 700 attendees heard from organization leaders, champions, and a few special guests sharing stories of joy, hope, and the community that made it all possible. The celebration was capped off with four impressive Leaders in Training sharing their 2020 experiences and why they’re hopeful for the future.

Watch the evening’s program from start to finish below to hear more young leaders share their perspectives.  We promise it will leave you energized and inspired.

Camp Harbor View is made possible by the generous support of donors. We hope you’re inspired to continue to invest in the future of Boston with us. Please consider donating to support our mission and share the magic of Camp Harbor View with family, friends, and fellow Bostonians by following us on social media. Thank you for being a part of this community.

Celebrate #BostonBlackHistory With Us

We’re excited to continue #BostonBlackHistory this February in celebration of Black History Month, posting stories on the legacy of Black history in our wonderful and culturally rich city across our social media channels and encouraging everyone in Boston to join the conversation by sharing stories of their own.

Leaders in Training in our program helped brainstorm and develop the stories we’re telling. History matters and representation matters – and through this project we seek to highlight the great diversity and character of the city of Boston.

Here are just a few of our favorites from the stories told by teens in our program and by members of this community so far. Do you have one to add? Post it to your social channels with the hashtag #BostonBlackHistory or send it our way via email at info@campharborview.org or Instagram @campharborview. Please join us in raising awareness of these important stories.

#BostonBlackHistory posts

#BostonBlackHistory posts