By Maya Smith
Maya is a graduate of Suffolk University’s Youth and Community Engagement program, with a major in Sociology and minor in Education. Although she is just joining us, she is enthusiastic and eager to make a splash at Save the Harbor!
As a lifelong Massachusetts resident, I have unknowingly been reaping the benefits of Save the Harbor’s hard work and programming for most of my life. From making annual trips to the Revere Beach Sandcastle competition as a kid to enjoying the iconic Boston Harbor at Columbus Waterfront Park during college, Save the Harbor has positively impacted me and my community my whole life.
Although I am new to Save the Harbor, there is a strong common bond between the mission of the organization and my own personal mission: creating positive community impact. With my background working for the City of Boston Department of Youth Engagement & Employment, I am fortunate to be continuing my path of supporting organizations at the forefront of community advancement.
Human services and connecting my community members to resources has always been my passion, and I am ecstatic to be working with an organization that has dedicated decades to advocating for clean water, developing phenomenal programming, and restoring South Boston’s beaches, which are now the cleanest urban beaches in the country. I can’t wait to continue community engagement around our Better Beaches program and bringing free fun events and programming to youth and families statewide!
Since 2008, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay has partnered with the Department of Conservation and Recreation to award small grants to local organizations in Nahant, Lynn, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy, and Hull to activate the region’s public beaches through free public events and programs.
Through these events, residents are given the opportunity to take advantage of their revitalized waterfront and enjoy the benefits clean water can offer their community. Save the Harbor and DCR have funded 870 total free experiences for community members of all backgrounds to participate in, investing a total of $1,097,988 of funds into our community. We are proud to announce that this year marks Save the Harbor and DCR’s one-millionth dollar of community contributions through the Better Beaches program!
In 2019, we provided $211,320 in small grants to 37 organizations, including 8 new grantees. Grantees were able to fund free community programming in beach communities from Nahant to Nantasket. This year, community members enjoyed 233 free events through Better Beaches funding, including stunning waterside festivals, community movie nights, concerts, beach parties, fitness boot camps, sailing and kayaking sessions, speaker series, and summer-long programs!
This year, we were happy to partner with the Boston Circus Guild to bring the circus to all of Boston's youth and families. We also had the pleasure of supporting Ohana New England Dragon Boat in their success of bringing free Dragon Boat lessons to the community at large. My personal favorite, nostalgia-inducing, Better Beaches grantee will always be the Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival. Keeping Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay clean is not the only key to the success of the local ecology but is also pivotal in providing one of the most critical community resources: fun!
To see a list of all the events and programming funded by the Better Beaches program, view our list here.
If you, your family, or your community have enjoyed and benefited from Save the Harbor’s programming, as I have please consider taking part in the 2020 Harpoon Shamrock Splash, annual pledge and plunge fundraising event that takes place at BCYF's Curley Community Center in South Boston, on Sunday, March 8th. If you or your organization have ideas for events that connect the community to Boston Harbor or Massachusetts Bay, be on the lookout for the Better Beaches RFP, which will be released Spring 2020.
Save the Harbor would like to thank our program and policy partners and event sponsors: the Department of Conservation & Recreation, Harpoon Brewery, JetBlue, the Richard Saltonstall Charitable Foundation, P&G Gillette, National Grid, Comcast, Beacon Capital Partners, New England Picture, Mix 104.1, Boston Centers for Youth & Families, The YMCA of Greater Boston, The Daily Catch Seaport, Baja Taco Truck, the Blue Sky Collaborative, Keezer Sportswear, the Harvey Traveler Collection, Unreal Candy, and Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods for their support.