Carmen Pola was born in Puerto Rico and raised in California, where she worked as a hairdresser before becoming an community organizer. She moved to Boston in the 1970s, settled in Mission Hill, and has been involved in issues of housing, education and civil rights ever since. She was the first Hispanic to run for elected office in Massachusetts and opened the doors for other Hispanics to challenge the system and run for office. At 77, she is a co-founder of the Mission Hill Senior Legacy Project, an effort to create unity among seniors of all races.
Gabriela Follett (Gabbie) was born and raised in Dorchester (Ashmont area). She grew up playing softball at Town Field in Fields Corner and drinking raspberry slush puppies at Ashmont Market with her brother and sisters. She studied Environmental Studies with a focus on food justice and theater at the University of Vermont. She enjoys a good pun and according to her abuelita, she also can cook the best arepas.
George Powell was born in the West Indies and raised in Roxbury, where he bought his first pair of shell toe Adidas with money he earned working with his father. A graduate of Boston High School, he took to writing stories and screenplays in prison, and recently earned his certificate in the screenwriting program at Emerson College, where he earned an A his first semester. This past year, he entered a script, “Conception,” into the Final Draft Contest and the Slamdance Screenplay Competition, and completed a short documentary about Span Inc, the city’s oldest re-entry program, which he considers a major influence in his life. He is currently working on a feature-length documentary about the challenges facing people leaving prison.
Kathy Whitehouse (at left) grew up in Charlestown, in an ‘everyone for dinner at mum’s every Sunday’ kind of big Townie family. Being a younger member of such a large brood brought out her nurturing side and fostered her innate strengths. Finding herself a single mom and aunt, she entered into the community by working at Head Start, which was a good fit for her. She also worked for 15 years at the Charlestown Patriot, doing everything from design and layout to photography to proofreading, with an occasional opportunity to put her writing talents to use, much to her delight. One of the last of the hometown newspapers, The Patriot was a mom and pop shop and the few employees wore as many hats as they did on the 60’s TV sitcom “Petticoat Junction.” Kathy’s work at The Patriot and at Head Start opened the door to many activities and volunteering opportunities which allowed her to be active in her community while remaining hands on with her priority: her kids.
Corina Pinto was born and raised in Boston. Her family came to the United States from Honduras in the 1980s. She grew up on a dead end street near Jeffries Point in East Boston, where she fondly remembers the intermixing of Spanish and Italian cultures, from joint backyard barbecues to receiving Italian lessons from her next door neighbor. She studied History and Global Studies at the University of Vermont. Corina was the first in her family to graduate from a university. She currently works in East Boston at a community health center where she conducts home visits for children who have asthma.
Theresa Okokon is from Wisconsin. She moved to Boston in 2010 because her soul told her that this is where she was meant to live. When she first arrived to the Boston area, she knew nothing about this place, and she ended up renting an attic apartment in a wealthy Metrowest suburb that was easily accessible to her job by Fenway Park. It took her just over a year to figure out that she was meant to live south of Huntington Ave, she moved to Roslindale, and she has never regretted it. Theresa is a social worker, a yoga teacher, and the Founder of a program called LEGIT.yoga, where she teaches trauma informed yoga around Boston to people experiencing homelessness and other at-risk and often overlooked populations. She is also a storyteller, and truly believes that stories can serve as a way to create community. Theresa likes sandwiches, hammocks and the feeling of not being rushed.
Cara Solomon was born in Boston and raised in Wayland. She came up with the idea for this project based on conversations with people who live or grew up in Boston, and based on her own experiences working as a reporter for The Seattle Times and the Hartford Courant. She coaches the story ambassadors on interviewing, works with them on shaping stories for this site, and will occasionally write feature articles at their direction. You can read her earlier articles at The Small Story. Cara currently works as the Communications Manager for the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School.