Suffolk’s purchase of the building located at 1 Court Street (formerly the Ames Hotel) presents us with many new opportunities: The opportunity to house more of our students within walking distance of their classes. The opportunity to increase Suffolk’s visibility amongst the thousands of people who walk that stretch of the city visiting the site of the Boston Massacre and other historic locations. The opportunity to expand the number of event spaces on campus. But one of the most important opportunities may be to expand our partnership with our newest next-door neighbors.
The New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV) is right next door to 1 Court Street. We share a partial wall, a small alley, and a sidewalk. I have recently had the opportunity to learn much more about the work that NECHV does, and last week I had the privilege of attending NECHV’s annual fundraising gala. Both occasions gave me the chance to see and hear about the incredibly important work NECHV is doing to support veterans. The Center offers veterans a critical link to economic self-sufficiency and successful reintegration into civilian life. Its programs and services help equip veterans with the tools needed to find meaningful employment and independent living. It also provides transitional housing and support for veterans, including those at risk of homelessness. In the most real and meaningful way, the New England Center and Home for Veterans says thank you to those who have served, and its people are making an enormous difference in the lives of veterans. We are proud to call them neighbors.
I am pleased to know that we already have some students who have volunteered at NECHV through Suffolk’s Center for Community Engagement. But now, as we get to know our newest neighbors even better, we have the opportunity to expand our engagement with them. We have the opportunity to say thank you and to follow that up through increased connections to NECHV. I do not know exactly what form expanding our connections might take, but I know that our engagement will provide powerful learning opportunities for our students and have a positive impact on the veterans served by NECHV. We already are in conversation with NECHV about ways to engage with them further. As Veterans Day approaches, I ask us all to think about what more Suffolk can be doing to support veterans and to support the outstanding work of our newest next-door neighbors.
And to all of the veterans here at Suffolk, not just this month or next Monday but throughout the year, and on behalf of the whole University community, thank you for your service.
Marisa J. Kelly