Letters to the Editor

Joe is great

Dear Editor:

I just wanted to send you a note relating to your story about Joe Bianco and his AirBNB place on Green Street. Joe’s great. My wife and I had been renting in Charlestown on Warren Street in 2013 when our son was born. Of course, my sister (from the Cleveland area) wanted to come visit and meet her new nephew. We didn’t have any space in our cozy, but small, apartment. So she needed to find a hotel or something. Her hotel options here were limited: the very nice, but equally expensive, Marriott down in the Navy Yard and well… nothing else. She was aware of AirBNB at the time and found Joe’s place. It was just a couple blocks from our place, totally affordable and Joe is EXACTLY as you portrayed him; a good guy, a personable guy, someone who represents Charlestown so well. Anyway, if not for Joe, it would have been more expensive, less convenient and generally a lesser experience for my sister to meet her nephew for the first time. So while Joe is making it possible for tourists to get an affordable and more authentic Boston and Charlestown experience, he’s also making it better for us transplanted Charlestown residents to have our families come visit and be close to us while they’re doing it.

People like Joe are what makes Charlestown great. We’ve made it our permanent home in part because of folks like him. We’re happy our family can visit easily for the same reason.

Daanish Ahmad


Veterans Assiting Veterans

Dear Editor:

Veterans Assisting Veterans is an organization that was formed by two Army Viet Nam Veterans in 2010, Bob Fairbain and I – Dennis Moschella. We met at the Mottolo Post VFW in Revere where we decided to form an organization to help veterans and veteran causes.

After both surviving the Viet Nam War, one tour for me and three tours for Bob, we saw how we were treated when we returned and we will not let this generation of veterans be treated as we were. In our mission statement of VAV our goal is to raise money, have volunteer directors and give 100% of our proceeds away. We receive no compensation for our work. We have formed an exceptional committee including, John MacDonald, U.S. Air Force Veteran Gulf War, Joe Marchardo, U.S. Navy Veteran Viet Nam Era, John Sarro, U.S. Navy Veteran Viet Nam Era, John Dyer, U.S. Army Veteran Viet Nam Era, Tony Palmisano and Bill Plante. We also have an extensive Honorary Committee.

Since 2010 we’ve hosted a few successful events. A concert at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, Two black tie events, honoring the Medical Corps, and we are also involved in a program called Music Cures where entertainers donate their time to play music at the Jamaica Plain Veterans Hospital. We work with other veterans groups to raise awareness about the POW/MIA issues and help with chairs that are dedicated in their honor. There are over ninety-two thousand missing service members from all wars.

 Recently we purchased a $17,000 wheel chair (Trac Chair) for James Crosby of Winthrop, a severely injured Marine from the Iraq war. We’ve donated to Iron Stone Farm in North Andover, which offers horseback riding for injured veterans with PTSD and numerous other injuries. We’ve also donated to the American War Widows (AWP) who are a group of young women who have lost their husbands and children who have lost their fathers. And, Operation Thank You, an organization that visits nursing homes to host small parties for older veterans who are alone, AVBI, American veterans with brain injuries, We are currently donating to Veteran Homestead an organization that provides housing and treatment for veterans and NEADS- Canines for Combat Veterans, they provide service dogs for service members and Wounded Vet Motorcycle Run and numerous smaller veteran grassroots organizations. To date we’ve raised close to 175,000 thousand dollars and donated all of it. “Our motto is all in all out”.

We are currently planning for 2015 events. In April at the Mottolo Post VFW we are hosting a fundraiser to raise money to purchase a lift for the Trac Chair to assist James Crosby load the wheel chair into his vehicle. (chair weighs 450 lbs) We are also hosting a concert at a Veterans Hospital in the summer, another black tie event in November and a POW/MIA Chair Dedication to be placed at Revere High School.

Because of our current wars our returning veterans need a lot of help especially our severely injured. Our government doesn’t seem to do enough to help; the VA scandal is an example. Our organization and mission is to raise money and awareness to help Veterans and veteran issues. We appreciate anything you could do to help us promote our cause.

Dennis Moschella

President Veterans Assisting Veterans

We can and should dedicate more resources to treating    substance abuse

Dear Editor: 

With a 46 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths in Massachusetts from 2012 to 2013, it is wise for Governor Charles Baker to focus the public’s attention on this health crisis and dedicate more state resources to combat substance use disorders, and for the Independent Newspaper Group to call attention to the problem.(More Substance Counselors are needed in our region, February 12, 2015).). The Governor recently announced a 16-member Opioid Addiction Working Group tasked with formulating a statewide strategy to combat addiction. MGH physician Sarah Wakeman, MD, the Medical Director for Substance Use Disorders at the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement, is a member of this working group.

The recent spike in overdose deaths has highlighted the need for urgent action to treat the medical disease of addiction. The communities of Chelsea, Revere and Charlestown identified substance use as the number one priority in MGH’s most recent community health needs assessments. Last fall, Mass General Hospital made improving care for MGH patients with substance use disorders a key priority in its overall strategic plan, building on the 18 years of community prevention and early intervention work of the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement.

The plan addresses this chronic disease starting with community-based prevention, and then building strong connections and linkages among inpatient, outpatient and community-based services throughout Greater Boston. The goal is to improve access to evidence-based treatment, smooth transitions between care levels and reduce relapse and readmissions. The approach includes a team of addiction specialists for inpatients, improved care in the community at MGH health centers, and community-based recovery coaches – peers in recovery who remove barriers to treatment and serve as navigators.

 MGH supports three community coalitions that are working to prevent substance use for youth, adults and families through education, prevention and intervention strategies. Revere CARES formed in 1997, the Charlestown Substance Abuse Coalition (CSAC) formed in 2004, and the Chelsea Substance Use Disorder Initiative formed in 2013. The coalitions also work to increase access to and resources for successful treatment and recovery from substance use disorders. Revere CARES worked with the state and the Revere Fire Department to allow Revere firefighters to carry Narcan on their equipment, the first department in the Commonwealth to do so. CSAC helped to establish the Charlestown Drug Court, a specialized court session for individuals on probation with chronic substance abuse who voluntarily participate in court-stipulated drug treatment as an alternative to prison.

The focus of MGH’s new approach  is to find the right combination of treatment and support that will help patients sustain long-term recovery. We look forward to sharing the results of our Strategic Plan for Substance Use Disorders with the Commonwealth and other health care providers as we work together to address this public health emergency.

 Joan Quinlan, MPA

Vice President

Community Health

Mass General Hospital

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