Monthly Archives December 2015

Three Kings Day Parranda

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Holiday Happenings 2 - White
Bilingual Caroling and Parade
Wed, January 6

Meet in front of the Blessed Sacrament Church
361 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA

Three Kings Day, El Día De Los Reyes, is a traditional Latin American and Spanish holiday of gift giving, parades, and fun for all ages. The holiday celebrates the 12th and final day of Christmas when the Three Kings or Wise Men reached the baby Jesus to present their gifts.

In a parranda, a caroling parade, a group of family and friends arrive unannounced to asaltar their friends with singing and guitarras, tamboriles, or maracas. After waking their friends the whole group of merrymakers moves on to parrandear at other houses until dawn.

Hyde Square Task Force
617-524-8303 |
Avenida de las Americas
375 Centre Street
P.O. Box 301871
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Visit Us Online
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Support Brian – Ten More Days to Give in 2015

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Brian Ask No Border

Dear Friend,

Only eight years ago, I was almost held back in seventh grade. When I looked in the bathroom mirror back then, I saw a kid who was lonely, worthless, ugly, and fat. I couldn’t connect with anyone, and bullies made every day at school miserable.

Today, the words I use to describe myself are confident, smart, funny, and capable. I am doing well in my college classes, I was recently promoted at my job, and I have many friends and family who care about me.

For me and so many others, the difference was becoming a youth leader at Hyde Square Task Force. They hired me as a literacy tutor, but it turned out to be so much more. It was a transformative experience that connected me with my community and pushed me to take leadership roles.

I tutored children at the local elementary school; acted in, wrote, and directed plays; and mobilized teens across the city to stand up for their rights. Through teaching younger kids I suddenly had purpose. As I saw the positive effects of my actions on the world around me, my confidence grew. I found courage. I stood up.

Making a difference is a lifelong pursuit-now I’m thinking about law school to follow my sociology degree. I’m one example of a young person whose life has changed because of HSTF. There are hundreds more like me.

Please donate to Hyde Square Task Force today. Every donation you give goes directly to ensuring that youth are challenged, supported, and encouraged.

You can make a difference in our lives.


Brian Nunez Signature



Brian Nuñez
HSTF Alumnus, UMass Boston Class of 2017

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Did you see HSTF in the Boston Globe?

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Must all our churches become luxury condos?
By: Joan Vennochi, the Boston Globe

HSTF Church#1“‘We couldn’t bear the thought that such a beautiful piece of architecture that was built to provide hope, inspiration, and community would be inaccessible to the community,’ said the Hyde Square Task Force’s Ken Tangvik.

I met recently with Tangvik; Kim Comart, interim task force executive director; and Brenda Rodriguez-Andujar, who runs the arts and cultural programs at the youth center, to hear their wish list for a development partner who understands their great love for a space that served as the spiritual backdrop for thousands of families.” Read more here.

To learn more about the
Blessed Sacrament Church Project contact:

Ken Tangvik at or 617-524-8303 x322

Meet Jonathan Vo

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Jonathan Vo, HSTF youth leader, presenting his piece "The Bridge" about identity at our 2015 Annual Making Change Happy Breakfast.

Jonathan Vo, HSTF youth leader, presenting his piece “The Bridge” about identity at our 2015 Annual Making Change Happy Breakfast.

“I’m the bridge between two countries from across the world. I carry my father’s heart; I have my mother’s spirit. . . .I am the proof that there doesn’t have to be an ocean between nations because I am here; I am the bridge.”

 – Jonathan Vo, HSTF youth leader

Hyde Square Task Force is recognized as a leader in the areas of arts, youth development, education, and community organizing. Thanks to the generous support of donors, last year we:

  • Reached more than 1,210 children and community members through our programs.
  • Congratulated 100% of our graduating high school seniors on enrolling in college and 100% of our teen youth leaders on being promoted to the next grade.
  • Offered more than 2,200 hours of arts programs at our Youth Community Development Center.
  • Showcased our youth’s music, dance, and theater abilities at 23 performances throughout the city.
  • Supported our high school students through 1,200 hours of college and career preparation.
  • Welcomes more than 5,000 audience members to youth performances.

HSTF is the bridge to success for Boston teens. Imagine what we can achieve next year with yout support.
Please donate today.
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Drum Dream Girl Story Walk: A Literary Stroll Around My Neighborhood

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My public library has been collaborating with a local non-profit community organization, Hyde Square Task Force, for more than 10 years, and when I started working there as the children’s librarian earlier this year, one of my plans was to continue building our relationship with this non-profit. This organization offers youth development programs meant to engage young people in a variety of activities including community organizing, advocacy, and educational programs. The majority of the programs focus on Afro-Latino dance, music, and community-theatre workshops and classes. I’ve invited participants, mainly Afro-Latino teens, to offer workshops and put on performances at my library. Such activities help them to develop leadership skills and give them a sense of empowerment and visibility in their community.

Drum Dream Girl Story Walk page 1 and map located at the library entrance

Drum Dream Girl Story Walk page 1 and map located at the library entrance











A couple of months ago, I contacted their arts and cultural programs director to discuss a great new picture book, Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music, by Margarita Engle andRafael López. This book seemed like ideal material to adapt into a play. Not long after that conversation, the organization’s special-projects manager stopped by my library and we had an informal chat about future collaborations. We wanted to work together on programming that would connect my library with their youth community center, located just five blocks away. This is when I shared my idea for a story walk, which seemed like a perfect way to integrate the community, cover the physical area between both buildings, and support literacy initiatives. She loved the idea, and it fit our mutual vision, for the following reasons: A. our community has a huge Latin@ population with lots of Latin@-owned businesses; B. a group of Afro-Latina teen drummers is active in the non-profit; C. my obsession and support for Latino children’s literature; and D. the Cuban restaurants in our neighborhood seemed like a natural tie-in for Drum Dream Girl in the context of a story walk.

Now we needed to move to the fun part: the planning.

First, we identified and contacted local businesses and organizations to talk about our story walk idea and our interest in incorporating them into the program. We explained that we were going to take a picture book, create poster boards for each page, and post them in storefront windows. Participants would walk down the street from the library to the youth community center, and following a Drum Dream Girl Story Walk map, they would read the page displays along the route. Community members responded enthusiastically, from “Eso está genial. Todo sea por la biblioteca y los niñ@s,” to “That’s so cool. Of course we are in.” Using their storefront windows was a great way to integrate them into our story walk. In the neighborhood surrounding the library, 90% of the businesses and organizations are locally owned and they include a significant number of non-profit endeavors. What’s more, 11 out of the 15 storefront participants turned out to be Latin@-owned businesses. Once they agreed to take part in the walk, we created a map containing the street addresses of each storefront and the corresponding page number(s) from the book located at each address.

Next came the creation of the story pages which would be posted in the windows. A successful story walk works best when using a picture book with a simple, easy-to-follow narrative, featuring single page illustrations, and minimal text. In this case, we made allowances for Rafael López, who paints some of the most beautiful illustrations in children’s literature, but which are usually double-page spreads. This posed a bit of a challenge. We first purchased three copies of the book, since we needed to use actual pages and not scans or photocopies. Then, using an X-acto knife, a pair of scissors, and a lot of patience, I carefully separated and cut the pages. This was done using two copies of the book, to ensure the display of all pages, front and back. (The third copy was a backup, in case of errors.) To maintain the look of the full spreads,  I carefully rejoined separated pages with hidden adhesive tape. Using glue sticks, I attached the pages to poster boards and added a prepared label containing the book’s title, the author’s and illustrator’s names, the correct page number, and the names of the sponsoring library and community organization. The final step was to trim and laminate each poster board.

From beauty salons to Cuban restaurants and health centers, the Drum Dream Girl Story Walk boards

From beauty salons to Cuban restaurants and health centers, the Drum Dream Girl Story Walk boards


For our story walk inauguration, we selected a Saturday morning. The actual story walk was designed to be read independently, which allowed families and individuals to follow the story at their own pace. They would pick up a map at the library, walk down the main street reading each story poster, and end up at the youth community center where related activities were being offered. To enhance the reading experience, we encouraged kids to jot down certain details of the story, such as the number of people they saw on each poster, which quickly turned into a game for them and increased their attentiveness. Since this book is about an Afro-Latina drummer, several activities were music-related. At a craft table, children created their own drums, maracas, and other instruments, using recycled materials. In a separate room, story-walk readers had the opportunity to participate in a drumming workshop conducted by Latina teen drummers. These activities brought an already wonderful book to life, and provided a way to celebrate the power of music as well as elements of Latino heritage.  The publisher was kind enough to furnish a few copies of the book, which were given out as prizes to the first kids that finished the story walk.

The Drum Dream Girl Story Walk was up for a two-week period. During this time, patrons stopped by the library to pick up maps, children flocked to the crafts area to make musical instruments, and many picked up a copy of the book, while others shared their excitement about how well the story walk integrated their community. A copy of the map was located outside, at the front of the library, so that even during our closed hours, anyone interested could follow the story on their own. A lot of people who knew nothing about the program enjoyed the story as they passed through the neighborhood, leading to greater awareness about the story walk, the library, the community, and of course, the courageous Cuban girl who changed a piece of music history.

Drum dreamers

Drum dreamers


The Drum Dream Story Walk was a great event to plan and implement in an urban setting, and although it took time and patience to create the poster boards, I would definitely do it again. Alternative programs like this contribute to breaking down the physical barriers that often exist between a library and the community it serves, and also tighten relationships with local groups, businesses, and library patrons. I foresee future story walks in my library work, using diverse picture books and bilingual titles. I also intend to invite school classes and local groups to form story-walk read-alouds. And let’s not forget that music and art-making activities enhance the story-walk experience and help bring a book to life in memorable ways.

SujeiLugoSujei Lugo was born in New Jersey and raised in her parents’ rural hometown in Puerto Rico. She earned her Master’s in Library and Information Science degree from the Graduate School of Information Sciences and Technologies at the University of Puerto Rico and is a doctoral candidate in Library and Information Science at Simmons College, focusing her research on Latino librarianship and identity. She has worked as a librarian at the Puerto Rican Collection at the University of Puerto Rico, the Nilita Vientós Gastón House-Library in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the University of Puerto Rico Elementary School Library. Sujei currently works as a children’s librarian at the Boston Public Library. She is a member ofREFORMA (The National Association to Promote Library Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking), American Library Association, and Association of Library Service to Children. She is the editor of Litwin Books/Library Juice Press series on Critical Race Studies and Multiculturalism in LIS. Sujei can also be found on Twitter, Letterboxd and Goodreads.

Our 2015 Annual Making Change Happen Breakfast was a Success!

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December 1, 2015

Dear Friends,

Thank you to those who joined us today at our Annual Making Change Happen Breakfast at WilmerHale and to everyone who couldn’t attend but were there in spirit.

This year’s breakfast theme was Be Courageous, Take a Stand. We shared a timeline of HSTF’s courageous moments at the event today. It highlights how youth learn to act every day through the arts at Hyde Square Task Force. For 24 years, Hyde Square Task Force has put youth at the center of our work.

The past year has been filled with many accomplishments. We provided jobs for 120 at-risk teens and engaged more than 1,200 children and adults in our programs. All our teens were promoted to the next grade, and 100% of our seniors graduated high school and enrolled in college. Our teens are becoming strong, community-oriented citizens, finding their unique voice, and engaging adults and younger children in our cultural and civic activities.

We were pleased to present this year’s Inspiring Leader Award to ArtsEmerson, a Hyde Square Task Force program partner. By making performances available to youth and providing a mechanism for discussing themes raised in plays, ArtsEmerson engages the next generation of artists, business people, philanthropists, and civic leaders in early discovery of how the arts make a positive difference in neighborhoods.

We also honored our 2015 Emerging Leader Brian Nuñez, one of the thousands of young people whose lives have been transformed over the past 24 years at the Hyde Square Task Force. Here is an excerpt from Brian’s remarks that typify the experience of our youth.

At HSTF, I was always encouraged to contribute and voice my thoughts….They provided me with a myriad of opportunities to foster my growth and build my confidence, which, I’ll admit, often wavered….Because of the strong support system I had at Hyde Square Task Force, I began to exhibit what for me were unprecedented acts of courage.

This morning we highlighted some key organization priorities for 2016:

  1. Increase the number of youth we serve in our youth center and through our network of school and community partnerships.
  2. Improve our outcome measurement systems and use the data to inform and strengthen our program design and delivery.
  3. Expand our arts programming and place-making activities, inspiring our youth and neighbors to re-imagine and reinvent public spaces in the Latin Quarter.
  4. Renovate the 100-year-old former grammar school that serves as our Youth Community Development Center. We plan to begin the building renovations in June.

Today is #GivingTuesday and we invite you to Take a Stand and support Hyde Square Task Force with a donation. We’ve got a lot on our plate, but with your friendship and support, we’ll keep working every day to change lives and build a better future for Boston youth and families.

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Nelson Signature  nashira sig




Nelson Arroyo
President, Board of Directors

Nashira Baril
Vice President, Board of Directors