Social Justice in 2019: A Year in Review

By Ranelle Porter,

By Michael Givens | December 31, 2019 | 4 Minute Read

From Massachusetts becoming the 16th state to ban a harmful mental health practice to the progress that was made on a bill that can help immigrants stay in the United States, social justice in 2019 has seen many impressive strides forward. As we get ready for the first chapter of 2020, the Join Us For Good campaign and Eastern Bank want to acknowledge the progress we’ve made.

An End to Conversion Therapy in the Bay State

On April 8, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed HR 140 (An Act Relative to Abuse Practices to Change Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Minors) into law. The controversial practice of conversion therapy has long been used by a small number of mental health providers to attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ youth through harmful practices that target physical and mental health.

Over the last several years, the practice has become condemned by a number of professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others. Numerous studies have shown that attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ youth can cause depression and increased thoughts of suicide and lead to more instances of illicit drug use. Massachusetts joined California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington in legally condemning the practice. Just a month later, governors for both Colorado and Maine signed similar bills into law, with Maine becoming the last New England state to ban conversion therapy.

Providing a Clear Pathway to Homeownership

In 2019, Eastern Bank continued its commitment to social justice by working to provide Boston’s low-income families and families of color with the opportunity to own their own homes.

The Eastern Bank Community Development Lending (CDL) program has an impressive track record in this area, investing millions of dollars into affordable housing projects and community revitalization initiatives. Earlier this year, Eastern Bank Senior Vice President Yongmei Chen was honored for her work to ensure that Asian American families have greater access to housing opportunities in Boston.

“Gentrification is a major issue, not just in the Asian American community but in a lot of minority communities in [Boston],” she said at the awards ceremony. “In Chinatown, particularly, with all of the development that’s going on, the pressure of affordability, of people staying in the city and working in the city is getting tougher and tougher.”

Neighborhoods in Boston like Roxbury and Chinatown saw dozens of new homes built specifically for working families. Eastern Bank didn’t stop at affordable housing—it also invested heavily in its Business Equity Initiative (BEI), which provides capital to small business owners. It’s a great way to encourage entrepreneurship within communities of color.

Climate Strike

Climate change was one of the dominant conversations for social justice in 2019 and it’s an issue that affects every single one of us. On September 20, youth around the world participated in climate strikes to call attention to their deep concern about climate change and its impacts. From Belgium to South Africa, Afghanistan to Japan, thousands of young people took to the streets to discuss issues like greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide levels, oil and gas exploration, rising seas, soil erosion, and the ever-fading ozone layer. In the United States, cities like Denver, San Francisco, New York, and Boston saw thousands of youth congregate in public spaces with colorful signs to demand a healthy future for our planet. The mobilization of so many young people across the world is powerful evidence that 2020 and beyond will see lots of social justice activism.

Dream and Promise Act

No year in review would be complete without discussing advancements in immigrant rights. The Dream and Promise Act passed the House of Representatives this summer. If approved by the Senate and signed into law, it will provide a clear path to citizenship for thousands of immigrants living across the nation. Specifically, this act will support immigrants who came into the United States as minors and provides them with conditional permanent status for up to 10 years. It was a major development in social justice in 2019.

As 2020 begins, the passage of bills like the Dream and Promise Act will ensure that our nation will continue to welcome immigrants who are seeking a better life.

Join the movement of doing good things to help people and communities prosper.

4 Ways You Can Help Others During This Giving Season

By Ranelle Porter,

By Nicholas Conley | December 18, 2019 | 3 Minute Read

One of the most beautiful and heart-fulfilling times of year has arrived — the giving season. As snow starts to sprinkle down on the streets of Boston, families are reunited, and gifts are exchanged. It’s the perfect opportunity to appreciate the comforts you have and consider giving to those in need.

All too often, Boston’s underserved communities struggle through the holiday season. However, by volunteering just a few hours of your time, giving blood, or donating to a charity of your choice, you can gift others with the joy of a happy holiday.

Here are four easy ways to get involved.

Help Serve a Good Meal

During the holidays, volunteers provide a crucial lifeline to many families. As schedules get cluttered and regular volunteers aren’t as readily available to fill open shifts, marginalized communities often face escalating emotional, physical, and mental needs.

Now’s the time if you’ve been on the fence about volunteering. One of the biggest problems faced by lower-income families in the Boston area, especially during the holiday season, is hunger: to help, you can volunteer at Pine Street Inn, the largest homeless services provider in New England, which opened in 1969 marking this year its 50th anniversary of serving the community. Similar opportunities to feed the hungry can be found at Rosie’s Place, the first women’s shelter in the United States, Haley House in Roxbury, and Women’s Lunch Place located in the Back Bay.

Bring a Happy Holiday to Boston’s Homeless Children

If you want to bring some holiday cheer to children in need, one particularly seasonal opportunity is the annual Christmas in the City event held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on December 22. This one-day holiday party seeks to bring a happy holiday to the homeless children of the greater Boston area with rides, games, gifts, and even a visit from Santa Claus. For many of these children, this event will be the only holiday they have. Christmas in the City is a 100% volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization that relies on help from people like you, so all volunteers are appreciated.

The Gift of Life

One small but crucial way you can help others is through the gift of a blood donation. According to the American Red Cross, a person in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds, and one single donation can save up to three lives.

However, if there’s one time of the year where blood donations are most needed, it’s during the holidays. Between winter weather and seasonal illnesses, blood donations always drop off during these months, leaving desperate patients with less access to what is, quite literally, their lifeline. By donating blood today, you are potentially ensuring that three hospitalized people will get to celebrate the holidays with their families.

Donate to A Good Cause

December is a busy time. For many people, the best way to help their community during this hectic month is by giving to a charity of their choice.

That’s why we created Eastern Give For Good, a one-stop-shop for all your donation needs. Whether you want to donate to a local homeless shelter, give to a national organization, or simply search for new charities that align with your values, Eastern Give For Good provides you with the tools you need to make donations fast, easy, and minimally stressful. Donating takes very little of your time but makes a big impact on the individuals and families that you assist. After all, the giving season is here and there’s no better time to help your neighbors.

Join Eastern Give For Good and celebrate the holiday season by donating to any cause or charity you love.

Celebrating Dr. Ron Ferguson with the 2019 Social Justice Award

By Ranelle Porter,

By Vanessa Lewis | October 29, 2019 | 3 Minute Read

Early childhood education is an undeniably valuable aspect of a child’s life. The first three years are crucial to their development and influence what kind of adult they will become.

October 28, 2019. Boston, MA. 2019 Celebration of Social Justice. Award recipient Ron Ferguson. © 2019 Marilyn Humphries

The Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, which has selected “enriching early childhood development” as the theme this year, works to reduce structural inequality and empower families. We do so in order to contribute to the health and vitality of the neighborhoods we serve. Each year, our Celebration of Social Justice honors people and organizations who are committed to similar work.

We selected our theme because we believe that all our neighbors should have equal access to early learning opportunities for their children. There are people who go above and beyond to help foster a world where every child has access to education during one of the most pivotal times in their lives.

The Work of Dr. Ron Ferguson and The Boston Basics

Dr. Ron Ferguson has spent his career combatting the barriers that restrict children from disadvantaged communities from getting everything they need. As a professor, he’s using education to empower local families to dismantle the systems that keep those barriers up. He’s also creating models for how to engage with and support families who have limited resources. He believes that every child, from any background, can benefit from foundational learning experiences.

Dr. Ferguson created The Boston Basics organization to help our communities with early childhood caregiving. The work done at The Boston Basics has empowered parents and communities to help reshape child development in profound ways.

At Eastern Bank, we’ve come to understand that there are young children who are at risk of not reaching their full potential because of limited access to nutritional meals, a lack of early stimulation or nurturing, and early exposure to stress. Social justice and advocacy programs like The Boston Basics help to find solutions to challenges in early childhood education and care. That’s why, on October 28, 2019, we honored Dr. Ferguson and The Boston Basics at our annual Celebration of Social Justice.

Join Us For Good

Dr. Ferguson and The Boston Basics still need help. Your community involvement can have a tremendous impact on what happens in the homes and preschool classrooms of some of the city’s most underprivileged young children. Our employees have seen firsthand the difference that volunteers can make when it comes to enriching the early learning experience. They’ve donated over 50,000 hours of volunteer time in 2019 alone. Much of that is to organizations that focus on children and their developmental health.

Additionally, through our Charitable Foundation, Eastern Bank provides funding to over 1,600 local organizations that support families in the communities we serve. This year alone, our commitment in annual donations will exceed $10 million because we recognize that no one organization can change our communities without help.

We all need to support and invest in the programs that address the early educational needs of children. When we champion the outstanding work of community leaders like Dr. Ron Ferguson, we hear from some of our youngest voices in the community, voices that may go unheard in other circumstances.

Recognizing the work of programs like The Boston Basics is an opportunity for us all to connect and establish deeper relationships, which will further strengthen our communities.

5 Things I’ve Learned as a Part of the LGBTQ+ Movement

By Ranelle Porter,

Lorelei Erisis. Photo by Sonja Brenna and Lorelei Erisis.

By Lorelei Erisis | August 15, 2019 | 3 Minute Read

My name is Lorelei Erisis. Maybe you’ve seen me marching in Boston Pride, shouting loudly for trans rights while wearing a glittery crown, Miss Trans New England sash, and Doc Marten boots.

In short (which I definitely am not), I’m an Out, Proud, and Loud Queer Trans Woman. I’m also a Second City trained improviser and a longtime activist and I’d love to share with you several things I’ve learned as a part of the LGBTQ+ movement.

1. Say “Yes!”

Saying “Yes!” is how I got where I am today and it’s something I learned from improv.

I say, “Yes!” whenever I reasonably can and sometimes when I reasonably can’t. Saying yes whenever somebody needed a speaker, a volunteer, or a helping hand took me from a passionate but unknown speaker at a rally on the steps of City Hall in Northampton to the halls of the Massachusetts State House to being invited to The White House and a whole lot of places in between.

2. Listen

Next, but equally important, is listening—another thing I got from improv.

In an improv scene, if you’re actively listening, then you’ll be in the moment and ready to react, say yes, and take advantage of whatever your scene partner might offer. If your partner is doing the same, everyone will be at their best and most effective. The scene will grow and move forward organically.

Now substitute “LGBTQ+ movement” for “improv scene” and you have a vital key to my success.

3. Visibility is important

Visibility reminds people that we, the LGBTQ+ community, are here. I made a choice early in my transition that I would be as visible as possible, even if that meant being a little messy about it sometimes.

I like to look good—I like being made-up and I like dressing up. I make TV appearances, model, and have been in the press enough times that I gave up trying to keep track. But I also work as a waitress and I know that as effective as everything else is, my visibility as a diner waitress has its own enormous impact. It lets me meet all kinds of folks and it normalizes the experience of my trans identity.

I think it’s important for people to see me when I’m being a regular person. It helps trans people to know they can just be who they are. And for everyone else, it humanizes me and the identities I represent.

Visibility, both big and small, is one of the most important drivers of change I know.

4. Be kind

Sometimes it can be hard and other times it simply isn’t possible, but it’s still important. I try to be kind to everyone I meet because I’ve seen how it makes a difference and I can honestly say it’s the most effective tool in my kit.

Aside from it just being a decent way to live, I’ve turned adversaries into allies simply by being kind. I’ve made lifelong friends and brief acquaintances remember me positively years, and even decades, later.

5. Self-care is good activism

I generally try to focus on the more positive things about being trans and LGBTQ+ activism and identities. We’ve made a lot of progress and that’s worth celebrating. But trans and queer folks are still under attack.

As relatively lucky as I’ve been, my own life has had a lot of pain and hardships. I’ve faced discrimination and harassment. I know that as bad as it’s been for me, many others have it far worse. That’s why I fight. Why I speak and write and march. Why I’m visible.

It’s also why I try to remember to laugh and enjoy life whenever I can—why I make time to read, cook delicious food, watch a movie, and fall in love. Staying alive, and enjoying life, is the best activism I can do. Our most revolutionary act is simply being here and being ourselves.

Learn a few lessons from trans activist Lorelei Erisis’s experience in the LGBTQ movement and how you can apply them to your own work and life.

Juneteenth Community Advocacy Awards Honor Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond and Rev. Dr. Gloria White-Hammond

By Ranelle Porter,

By Nicholas Conley | July 19, 2019 | 4 Minute Read

In the 1980s, as Boston’s lower-income communities suffered, two Harvard and Tufts-trained doctors wanted to make a difference. When Rev. Gloria E. White-Hammond, M.D. and her husband, Dr. Ray Hammond, started the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in their living room, it began a movement that turned them into community activists, helped the disadvantaged find hope, and has personally impacted the lives of thousands.

In honor of Juneteenth 2019, the holiday celebrating the end of U.S. slavery, Eastern Bank recognized these two inspiring individuals with Community Advocacy Awards in honor of their positive impact on Boston’s underprivileged communities.

Who They Are and What They Stand For

As doctors, both Ray and Gloria have worked to heal the sick. However, the work they’ve done through their church giving hope and guidance to underprivileged youth, as well as initiatives like the Bethel Institute for Social Justice, have made them pillars of the Boston community. Together, they use their resources to provide social services, education, and guidance to thousands of high-risk youth and families within the Boston area. At the Community Advocacy awards, Eastern Bank CEO Bob Rivers described them as a “power duo,” and it’s easy to see why.

Dr. Gloria White-Hammond’s devotion to helping others has not only impacted Boston but the world. From 2001 to 2003, Dr. White-Hammond went to South Sudan, where, following the civil war, she helped free more than 10,000 enslaved people through an underground railroad. Back home in Boston, she realized that “high-risk” adolescents are also “high-potential” and simply need a strong support system. That’s why, in 1994, she founded Do the Write Thing, an initiative that’s served more than 200 economically disadvantaged girls in the Boston area. Since then, she has also co-founded such life-changing initiatives as My Sister’s Keeper, the end-of-life care ministry Planning Ahead, and Shatter the Silence, a faith-based organization of congregations that brings attention to sexual victimization in African-American communities.

As a community activist, Pastor Ray Hammond has also dedicated his life to helping high-risk youth in the Boston area and has been behind decades’ worth of initiatives, memberships, and papers. He is the chairman and co-founder of the Ten Point Coalition, a group of Christian clergy and lay leaders that is dedicated to raising awareness about the issues affecting underprivileged youth and teens. He is also the executive director of Generation Excel, a program which provides educational services, emotional support, and resources to allow youth from economically-disadvantaged communities to thrive, grow, and pursue academic achievements. In addition, he is an Executive Committee Member of the Black Ministerial Alliance and a member of the Strategy Team for the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization.

Community Advocacy at its Best

When Ray and Gloria first began their work, this future “power duo” could never have imagined how far their reach would extend—they simply saw that the youth in their area needed support and they worked to provide it. In 1998, Newsweek referred to their movement as “The Boston Miracle,” and for 30 years, they have shined a light on the difficulties faced by Boston’s disadvantaged communities. Today, they continue to strive to help these children achieve their full potential by fighting the numerous cultural, racial, and economic barriers that society puts before them. They say their mission isn’t to “save” people but to give them a helping hand, which allows these youth to achieve what they’re truly capable of.

Every year, Eastern Bank’s Community Advocacy Awards spotlight local leaders who have positively affected the Boston area. As CEO Bob Rivers explained, “Our advocacy work is also informed and guided by that of our growing network of community partners and friends, including so many of you who have joined us.” In 2019, there could be no better recipient of the award than these two Boston heroes. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders and by investing in the youth, Ray Hammond and Gloria White-Hammond are paving the way for a better future.

Together, Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond and Rev. Dr. Gloria White-Hammond founded the Bethel A.M.E. Church, and their decades of service toward social justice initiatives is why they were recognized with this award. Learn more about their Bethel Institute for Social Justice today.

Celebrating Pride Month in New England

By Ranelle Porter,

By Lorelei Erisis | June 20, 2019 | 4 Minute Read

This year’s Pride Month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which took place on June 28, 1969. The initial commemorations of which evolved into the Pride events that are now held around the world annually. While Stonewall wasn’t the first time the LGBTQ+ community rose up and took to the streets to resist repressive and abusive treatment, the community members who fought back at Stonewall that night lit the spark that exploded into the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

Throughout the month of June, we observe Pride Month with marches, festivities, and events. We remember these protests and celebrate our unique identities and common bonds as community members. By marching, celebrating, and living our lives Out and Proud, we pay homage to those who first fought back at Stonewall, including trans women Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson as well as lesbian Stormé DeLarverie.

We remember the hardworking organizers who picked up the fight and kept up the momentum, laying down the groundwork for the rainbow-filled celebrations we know today. People like Brenda Howard, a bisexual rights activist who is known as the “Mother of Pride” for her work in coordinating that first New York Pride March, are honored.

As part of its long-time commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, Eastern Bank will be marching alongside us at multiple Pride celebrations throughout the month—which started on June 2nd at Quincy Pride and then Boston Pride on June 8th. You’ll also find a proud Eastern Bank presence at North Shore Pride and Cape Cod Pride on June 22nd as well as the Nashua Pride on June 29th.

Though Pride has evolved over the years from a protest march to a celebratory parade, it’s kept that revolutionary spirit at its core. As LGBTQ+ community members, we have made great strides in terms of acceptance and basic protections, but the fight continues as Pride remains vital in that struggle.

Regardless of the Pride celebrations, there are still queer and trans kids across the country who feel alone and outnumbered. For many of them, Pride is their first opportunity to find belonging and community, and to see others like themselves living proud, authentic lives.

Though it’s first and foremost a celebration of LGBTQ+ folks, Pride welcomes everyone. Whether you’re trans, bi, gay, lesbian, queer, or a cisgender and straight ally, you’re invited. Dance, shout, sing, march, celebrate, show the world your support and love for LGBTQ+ lives.

Throughout Pride Month, take the opportunity to wear all of your best rainbow gear! Whether it’s a simple rainbow pin, an elaborate rainbow dress, a trans or bi flag, or a vintage “Silence = Death” button, showing your Pride is easy and it helps more than you might realize. This simple act can make others feel less alone, inspire a trans coworker to come out, start a conversation, and perhaps even change the mind of someone who isn’t so accepting of LGBTQ+ folks. Whether it’s your first time or your 49th, this is the year to get out!

Celebrate Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising by finding a 2019 Pride event near you.

Making Affordable Homeownership Opportunities a Reality in the Greater Boston Area

By Ranelle Porter,

By Michael Givens | April 29, 2019 | 3 Minute Read

Thanks to the leadership and vision of Eastern Bank, Asian American communities across Massachusetts are gaining access to affordable homeownership opportunities through the bank’s Community Development Lending (CDL) program.

The CDL was established to invest much-needed revenue into low-income communities across the Bay state—from affordable housing projects to economic revitalization programs that strengthen local communities. Yongmei Chen, Senior Vice President at Eastern Bank, says that it’s getting difficult to build a life in Boston due to major, high-priced real estate developments.

“Gentrification is a major issue, not just in the Asian American community, but in a lot of minority communities in [Boston],” she said. “In Chinatown, particularly, with all of the development that’s going on, the pressure of affordability, of people staying in the city and working in the city is getting tougher and tougher.”

Though Boston is a prime location for a lot of CDL’s work, Chen said that gateway cities like Quincy and Lawrence also receive CDL funding to build affordable housing. However, Boston is a city where the impacts of gentrification and wage inequality are incredibly dramatic and visible. For example, according to a 2013 report by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), from 2000 to 2009, the average household income for white Chinatown residents leaped from roughly $40,000 to $84,000. During that same period, the average household income for Asian Chinatown residents dropped roughly from $15,000 to $13,000. In 2010, just 46 percent of Chinatown was composed of Asians, a drop from 70 percent in 1990.

With statistics like this, it’s vitally important that resources be invested in minority communities to address income inequality and gentrification.

“Most recently, we finished a project in Roxbury that brought 50 plus units of affordable housing and a social service center that can work with those families,” Chen said. “In Chinatown, we financed 88 Hudson Street, which brought 51 affordable homeownership opportunities, something that is very rare nowadays with all of the development that’s happening. Most of the condos are selling at a very high price, so this will allow working families to live in the city.”

Other successful projects include the Chinatown Community Education Center, the Oxford Ping On Apartments (with 67 units of affordable housing), and the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center.

Rebecca Lee, who sits on the board of the Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC) with Chen, spoke highly of her work to support the Asian American community. “She is passionately committed to community development and social justice, which is evidenced by her professional work and commitments in the community,” she said.

One strength of Chen’s leadership is her ability to see how affordable homeownership opportunities intersect with the economy. “We’ve already put a lot of resources into providing access to capital for small businesses to grow,” she continued, highlighting Eastern Bank’s Business Equity Initiative (BEI), a program designed to provide resources for minority-owned businesses. “It helps with more jobs, prosperity, and, in turn, it will allow families to have a higher income to stay and grow in their communities,” Chen said.

The work that Yongmei Chen and Eastern Bank are doing to improve the lives of everyone in Boston doesn’t end with affordable housing. Tied closely together are early childhood education, youth and workforce development, and even healthcare. Affecting and improving one creates a ripple effect that impacts the others, something Eastern Bank is committed to in order to improve the lives of every Boston resident—no matter who they are.

Learn how Eastern Bank’s Community Development Lending (CDL) program is addressing the issue of gentrification in Boston and beyond.

Celebrating Boston at the Charles River Cleanup

By Ranelle Porter,

By Lorelei Erisis | April 26, 2019 | 3 Minute Read

Few things are more quintessentially Boston than hearing “Dirty Water” played when the Red Sox or Bruins win a home game. But visitors to the Boston area today, or even some younger residents, could be forgiven for not understanding that the song references our own Charles River. Thanks to community efforts like the Charles River Cleanup, today’s Charles River is consistently swimmable and it serves as a scenic centerpiece of the cities and communities that it flows through.

However, it wasn’t always that way. Over 50 years ago, when the song was written, Bostonians easily recognized that “Dirty Water” referred to the murky Charles River. After being damaged by more than a century of sewage, industrial wastewater, and urban runoff, the river was so heavily polluted that it sometimes appeared pink or orange.

The Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup has played a key role in reversing the years of abuse and neglect and helps to distance the river from its previous reputation. Building on a national effort as part of the American Rivers’ National River Cleanup, this community action brings together more than 3,000 local volunteers to pick up litter, remove invasive species, and help to maintain the parks that line the length of the river.

At 80 miles long—and flowing through 23 towns and cities in eastern Massachusetts—the Charles River has the most densely populated watershed in New England. Well known for its boating, as well as parks like Boston’s Esplanade, the Charles River also has a rich ecosystem. The river is home to 20 species of fish and its watershed includes more than 8,000 acres of protected wetlands—which is important in preventing downstream flooding and providing natural habitats to native species.

An important piece of this astonishing transformation has been the community-driven efforts of volunteers each year during the cleanup. You, too, can celebrate Earth Day and play an active role in the care and upkeep of your own communities, while also enjoying the beauty and the wildlife of the Charles River. This year, the 20th Annual Charles River Cleanup will take place on Saturday, April 27, 2019.

Since its inception in 1991, the American Rivers’ National River Cleanup has brought together more than 1.3 million volunteers in thousands of cleanups across the country, helping to remove more than 25 million pounds of litter and debris from America’s rivers. The cleanup’s ongoing success is a testament to the incredible difference that everyday people can make in our own communities if we organize and come together for good.

By engaging with each other, our environments, and our communities, we make vital connections with wide-ranging significance. These efforts are what weave communities together and forge bonds among us that help to bridge common differences and establish real relationships.

Volunteering to help clean areas in our own communities is a great way to get actively involved. It lets neighbors meet each other and work toward a common goal, encourages stewardship of the land we live on, and creates a connection among the politically and socially disparate elements of our local communities.

This connection, stewardship, and neighborly care all contribute to creating and sustaining thriving communities. Community engagement is vital in dissolving boundaries and tearing down walls so we can all work together toward a brighter, happier, and cleaner future.

Whether you’re looking to be more active in your community—or just helping to improve the environment and work towards a cleaner, healthier river—visit the Charles River Cleanup for more information or sign up as a volunteer to start making a difference today.

Volunteer with the Charles River Cleanup team to help keep our river clean.

Chapman Construction: The Woman-Owned, Veteran-Owned Business Lighting Up Boston

By Ranelle Porter,

By Nicholas Conley | March 18, 2019 | 4 Minute Read

At first glance, Chapman Construction Group, Inc. (CCGI) looks like many other businesses in the Boston region. And as a small company built on hard work, dedication, and experience, Chapman Construction understands that the only thing that truly matters in this industry is results. What’s unique about CCGI—other than their proven track record—is that they’re a woman-owned company in one of the most male-dominated industries.

The “Chapmans” are Vicki Chapman, the founder and president, and Sue Chapman, a veteran who joined in as CEO in 2009. Together, they’ve built a tough brand that breaks stereotypes and helps new apprentices get into the field.

The Only Woman on the Job

When talking about her decades of experience in the construction industry, Vicki is quick to point out that while construction isn’t an easy job for anyone, it’s especially challenging for women. “You have to be extra strong as a woman in this business,” she says. “Number one, it’s physical, and number two, it’s mental. . . it’s like working with all your brothers. You have to deal with them, you know.”

When Vicki first started, the union had barely started to admit women into its ranks, and she wasn’t accepted by her male coworkers. “It was very hard. . . [and] there were no bathrooms for us.” Explaining further, she says, “They didn’t want to show you the work because they didn’t want you to get paid the same amount of money as them. . . they didn’t think you could do the same job as them. So, they would hide stuff from you or not teach you anything. Every single job you went on, you had to re-prove yourself.”

Vicki was usually the one woman on the job. “When I got into the apprenticeship, there were five girls in my class. I’m the only one left. And I’ll tell you, out of those girls, some of them quit because they couldn’t take it anymore. They couldn’t get out of bed and go to work at a job that they hated, and where they would always constantly be put down.”

Chapman Construction Group, Inc. is Born

Nonetheless, she stuck through it, and in 2002 she started her own business. Though women being in the industry was rare, and female owners were even rarer, Vicki calculated that the worst case scenario would have been going broke, closing up shop, and returning to work for someone else. Thankfully, that didn’t happen—the company held up even through tough times, and she loved her newfound freedom. In 2009, her original partner departed, paving the way for Sue Chapman to enter the fold as the company’s CEO.

However, Sue’s first career track was in science, after which she joined the military as a way to finish college. From basic training onward, she regularly found herself elevated to leadership positions. She believes this to be a side effect of growing up as the oldest of five kids. If her unit hadn’t disbanded, she might still be in the service today. “I feel like I’m more disciplined because of it.”

Since Sue and Vicki started working together, both women have combined their individual strengths to push the company to new heights. A big moment, as they tell it, was when Eastern Bank approved them for their first loan. Their support in Chapman team has encouraged them to continue using their services today.

Moving Forward

As they march into the future, the Chapmans have kept their love and dedication for their company and loyal workers well in sight. They’re remarkably humble about how groundbreaking their woman- and veteran-owned business is. “[Being a woman-owned business] opens more doors, but you [still] have to go through them.” The industry has continued to evolve since CCGI first started, in ways that Chapman Construction see as positives.

The Chapmans make it a point to break down doors for other women to enter the industry. For example, when they call the union for new workers, they’re quick to hire women because they understand how difficult it can be to find work as a woman within the construction industry.

Learn more about how the Chapman Construction Group, Inc. is providing opportunities for women to enter a more male-dominated industry.