By Kaito Au
Boston University News Service
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s neighborhood liaisons held their first neighborhood Coffee Hour of the year at the Roslindale Community Center on Friday, Feb. 18.
Present there were Roslindale and the African American Community Liaison Uju Onochie, Latinx Liaison Gladys Oliveros and Haitian Liaison Michel Denis. The community members had a chance to communicate and ask them questions.
Wu’s liaisons went an hour over the initially scheduled time frame to ensure they heard from every attendee. Participants raised concerns ranging from state issues to community resource-related concerns.
Friday’s event marked over half a year since the Roslindale neighborhood’s last Coffee Hour, which took place on June 9. The in-person Coffee Hours allow liaisons to bridge their assigned communities with resources in and around Boston.
“[I’m] that person to connect them directly with who they need to be connected with,” said Onochie. “[To] act as their advocate when it comes to certain issues they have.”
Onochie is a Boston Native of Nigerian descent, and former Mayor of Boston Kim Janey appointed her to represent Boston’s underrepresented African community and the Roslindale neighborhood. Under Wu, liaisons such as Onochie, Oliveros and Denis continue to connect community members to the city’s resources, such as Roslindale resident and single mother, Sara Guerrero.
“[Single mothers] need to work, and they don’t have enough money to pay [for an] expensive daycare,” Guerrero said. “$600 a week is so expensive, so I want to help the community.”
Guerrero, who previously struggled to pay for her son’s daycare despite maintaining a full-time job, recently opened her own child-care service, hoping to charge $200 a week. While she hopes to help other single mothers in a similar position, with significantly lower rates comes the likelihood of struggling to pay her son’s daycare’s rent.
Sitting down at her first ever Coffee Hour, Guerrero discussed with the liaisons the possibility of a grant to alleviate the cost of running a more affordable daycare. During the discussion, Onochie connected Guerrero with a contact after searching and finding a potential grant from Boston Public Schools.
While responding positively about her first time at the liaison-hosted Coffee Hour, Guerrero remains vigilant about her need for more concrete results.
“That’s amazing,” she said. “I mean, let’s see if it’s going to work. Are [they] just going to be here but not do anything? So let’s see.”