Michael Wong Among Volunteers of the Year at Boston Main Streets’ 16th Annual Awards Ceremony

By David Li, bostonese.com

Boston – Mayor Thomas M. Menino, together with Department of Neighborhood Development Director Evelyn Friedman, WPLM Easy 99.1’s “Strictly Sinatra” host Ron Della Chiesa, and the Boston Latin School Wolftones presented awards at the Boston Main Streets (BMS) 16th Annual Awards Ceremony, which took place at the majestic Strand Theatre in Dorchester on May 17. Awards were presented to the 2011 Boston Main Streets Volunteers of the Year and Businesses of the Year.

According to Gilbert Ho, the Chinatown Main Street Board voted to nominate Michael Wong, the Chinatown Crime Watch Captain, for the prestigious Volunteers of the Year award. Mr. Wong has led a group of volunteers to keep Chinatown safe every evening, 365 days a year rain or snow, hot or cold for 7 years since May 2005.

Hot Pot Buffet restaurant was awarded Businesses of the Year for their continued support to the Chinatown Main Street, including generous donation to Chinatown Main Street annual fund raising to help provide more community service, fund to help maintain the flower pots on the streets of Chinatown, to bring a little more green to the city street. “101 Bakery is the other business nominated, the winner of local Chinatown Christmas Window Decoration finalist. We wish them good luck next time around,” said Gilbert Ho.

In an email to reporter, Rick Wong, president of Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) of New England, mentioned that Michael Wong’s award was well-deserved for his “continued commitment, boundless energy, and compassion for to his community- Chinatown.” “For seven years, Chinatown’s Crime Watch has been the police’s eyes and ears since its inception. This crime watch is an independent program operating under the umbrella of CCBA and being supported by local business donations . There is a core group of 20 volunteer who come out nightly to patrol the streets of Chinatown. Michael Wong is the captain of this team. He devotes his time and dedicates his energy every night to ensure the safety of Chinatown for its residents, retailers and tourists.”

Mr. Wong also congratulated Sonny Wong and Zhi-xing Lin, owners of Hot Pot Buffet. “They are fine examples of how local retailers can be an integral part of the community. Their ongoing support of community events and hands on effort to beautify Chinatown are commendable. Kudos to them for being recognized by the Mayor of Boston as the Business of the Year,” Wong wrote.

“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 and dedication to their neighborhood commercial districts,” said Mayor 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 to say that thanks to you in 2011, we opened 151 new businesses that created 716 new jobs in our Main Street Districts.”

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 Mayor 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.

Today, Boston Main Streets provides 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, New Orleans, Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

In 2005, Boston created the Boston Main Streets Foundation, a 501(c)(3) 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.

From among the hundreds of Main Streets volunteers who gave more than 28,000 hours of time in 2011, each district has chosen one volunteer to honor as “Volunteer of the Year.” Since the start of the program in 1995, over 270,000 hours of volunteer time have been contributed to Main Street efforts. This year’s Outstanding Volunteers are:

Allston Village – Adam Femino
Bowdoin/Geneva – Jemma Cooper
Brighton – Jeanne Levesque
Chinatown – Michael Wong
Dudley Square – Ronette Taylor Lawrence
East Boston – Leigh Hall
Egleston Square –Hannah Thomas
Fields Corner – Lee Adelson
Four Corners – Micah Prescott
Greater Grove Hall-Wilber Brown
Hyde/Jackson Square – Jason LaGorga
Hyde Park – Debbie Leuth
JP Centre/South – Caleb Hannon
Mission Hill – Mary Todd
Roslindale Village – Jaime Pullen
St. Mark’s Area – Len Osborne
Upham’s Corner – Michelle Waldon
Washington Gateway –Scott Gasparello
West Roxbury – Matthew Gruber

Mayor Menino with awardees and staff members of Chinatown Main Street.

In his remarks to awardees, Mayor 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. Each Main Streets district has chosen one business to honor as Business of the Year. The 2011 Outstanding Businesses are:

Allston Village – Orchard Skateshop
Bowdoin/Geneva – America’s Food Basket
Brighton – Abbotts Frozen Custard
Chinatown – Hot Pot Buffet
Dudley Square – Dudley Department Store
East Boston – D’Parma Restaurant
Egleston Square – Latino Beauty Salon
Fields Corner – The Blarney Stone
Four Corners – Da-Mat Laundry Services
Greater Grove Hall – Mattapan’s Finest
Hyde/Jackson Square – Crystal Fruit
Hyde Park – Blue Hills Bank
JP Centre/South –Canary Square
Mission Hill – Mike’s Donuts
Roslindale Village – El Chavo Mexican Products
St. Mark’s Area – Ashmont Cycles
Upham’s Corner – Borinquen Bakery
Washington Gateway –Stella
West Roxbury – West on Centre