Empowerment Center celebrates re-dedication

CAMBRIDGE — The board members of the Octavene Saunders Empowerment Center at 615 Pine St. held a celebration and re-dedication of the center on April 29. The Empowerment Center is sending the message that it’s ready for the future, with a new board, a new coat of paint, new equipment and programs for the neighborhood kids.

According to the mission statement of the Pine Street Committee, the directors of the Empowerment Center, “The goal of the Pine Street Committee, Inc., is to work cooperatively and network with government, organizations, businesses and individuals to help our county and the city of Cambridge to make life’s economic and revitalization challenges less of a burden; to provide safe artistic, recreational and cultural activities for the youth of our communities, and also to help enhance productive and positive inroads that will continually build and open doors for a diverse cultural networking throughout our county and the City of Cambridge.”

The re-dedication party drew dozens of local residents to the facility for food and snacks and a tour of the newly refurbished building, which now boasts a computer room, a small library of children’s’ books, a large multi-purpose room for events, and even a basketball court out back.

The event was attended also by the board members of the Empowerment Center, as well as State Senator Addie Eckardt and Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley.

“This is a wonderful day for the grand re-opening of the Empowerment Center here on Pine Street,” said Sen. Eckardt. “As Cambridge moves forward with the revitalization of Pine Street, this is another important historical place, since this was once the Pine Street School. There was a big amphitheater here for many years with lots of activities, and now it’s a safe place where kids and families can come and participate in games and computers, work on tutoring or afterschool programs. It’s a real tribute to everyone who’s gone before — when Commissioner Octavene Saunders moved forward with this it wasn’t always an easy road. So it is so rewarding to see fresh paint, more energy, and a very multi-cultural and diverse board creating opportunities for everyone here.”

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Joining the party at the re-dedication of the Empowerment Center is Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley, Barbara Bishop, Senator Addie Eckardt, Julia Barker, Martha Witte Suss, Joyce Green, and Mary Losty.

Mayor Stanley talked about growing up in Cambridge, and attending the Pine Street School that originally occupied the Pine Street location. She talked about the loss of the Pine Street School in the fire on Pine Street in 1967, and that the current use of the property was evidence of the bright future for city residents.

“It’s not the building, it’s the site, it’s the ground here, that represents something that was lost,” said Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley. “We lost the Pine Street School, but we have a new, shining home for our future.”

“The Pine Street Empowerment Center has a bit of old and new, because it’s on old ground,” the Mayor went on. “This is a site that will go on long after we’re gone. Those of us who are Cambridge natives remember those who went to the Pine Street School, but it’s also a new future for our children. Octavene Saunders has gone on to glory a few years ago, but her name is out there, and that’s the legacy that goes on. These kids here may not understand the historical nature of these grounds, but they’ll know that there is something here that is important to them. It was an elementary school for me, and now it’s an enrichment center, an empowerment center for them. The phrase ‘empowerment center’ has a lot of meaning—we’re empowering them to do more, giving them more than what we had when I went to school here. I’m a pretty okay person, but I expect my children, my girls, my boys, to be better than me. That’s how it’s supposed to be, and that’s what this building represents.”

The board members of the Empowerment Center include Carlton Stanley, James Cornish, Mary Losty, Portia Johnson-Ennals, Barbara Bishop, Joyce Green, Julia Barker, Susan Todd, Larry Nichols, William Epps, John Dabney, Arlinda Cornish, and Armah Dashiell.

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
A group of students enjoy a little lunch during the Empowerment Center party. The center will offer after school programs and an enrichment camp this summer.

The board of the Empowerment Center unveiled plans for future access to the center after school hours, and with summer coming up everyone was excited about the new Pine Street Enrichment Camp, planned for July 10 through Aug. 18. The program will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and include two hours of academics to review what was taught in school during the past year, including math, reading and vocabulary, and a full slate of fun activities including arts and crafts, sports, music, cooking and games, and students will have the opportunity to learn sign language. Once a week trips may also include a day at the pool or day at the beach.

The Enrichment Camp will cost $25 for a registration fee, plus $10 per week, with some scholarships available to those in need. The cost includes breakfast and lunch each day. Interested parties are encouraged to come by the Empowerment Center daily after 2:00 p.m. for more information or to register, or call the center at 410-901-1397. The camp is open to students entering grades K through 7.

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