Residents, community groups, and nonprofits packed the basement of a Dorchester community center on Saturday morning to impress upon Walsh administration officials how they can improve the city’s current health and human services efforts.
“We’re going to look to make sure that we have as healthy a city as possible,” said Felix G. Arroyo, the city’s recently appointed health and human services commissioner, as he spoke to about 100 people gathered in the basement of the Haitian Multi-Service Center in Dorchester. “It’s about making sure that everybody in this city, no matter who they are or where they come from, gets the basic services they deserve.”
Speakers who took the microphone at the community forum stressed the need for the Walsh administration to prioritize funding for seniors programing, public health centers, and services for veterans, youth, and immigrants.
“My concern is that seniors not be forgotten by the Walsh administration,” said Clara Garcia, director of senior services at United South End Settlements. “Our seniors, sometimes even more than the rest of us, are facing very difficult times right now.”
Mayor Martin J. Walsh did not attended the forum, but made an appearance minutes after it concluded, emerging from his black SUV in Roslindale wearing a hooded sweatshirt and work boots to help work on a Habitat for Humanity building project.
Walsh spent the first Saturday afternoon of his mayoral tenure hammering nails and planning to watch his beloved Patriots as his administration continued its transition into power.
As he has for almost every game day for nearly two decades, Walsh was set to make the trek to Foxborough to watch the Pats take on the Indianapolis Colts.
“This year I haven’t gone to any games,” Walsh said during the afternoon building session, eagerly anticipating attending his first football game of the season. “So I’m looking forward to getting to my seats.”
The day capped a busy first week in office for Walsh, who was inaugurated Monday. In addition to his inaugural swearing-in and gala, last week included a series of high-profile appointments to the administration — including police commissioner and Boston Redevelopment Authority director.
But Saturday afternoon, the mayor was among more than a dozen volunteers— including city councilors Matt O’Malley and Timothy McCarthy —who spent part of the rainy day erecting the side wall of one of the home’s roofs.
As the new mayor got down on his hands and knees to hammer in nails on some of the support beams, the spotlight he was under was pointed out.
“You’re 30 percent more likely to bend a nail if someone is watching,” Gerry Patten, Habitat for Humanity construction coordinator, teased Walsh, as the mayor hammered away. “Probably 70 percent more likely when there are cameras.”Wesley Lowery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @WesleyLowery.