Boston Housing Authority

BHA Blog > August 2015 > Grandmother of four is a friend to a thousand

Grandmother of four is a friend to a thousand

Phyllis Corbitt, President of Old Colony Tenant Task Force discusses her passion to serve Old Colony's community and advocate for the elderly.

Since court-ordered busing in Boston 40 years ago, the Old Colony Public Housing development became one of BHA’s first desegregated developments to become tremendously diverse. Today, Phyllis Corbitt, President of Old Colony Tenant Task Force is proud to serve this diversity.

She included an international cook off, in which BHA’s Administrator, Bill McGonagle participated as a taste judge at the site’s Unity Day earlier this summer.

“I wanted to include different cultures just because we have many different ethnic groups,” said Corbitt. The community leader, who enjoys eating Spanish foods, hoped to see more Hispanic residents attend the family event.

According to BHA’s 2014 records, the residents of the Old Colony development are approximately, 38 percent Hispanic, 34 percent African-American, 29 percent white, and 10 percent Asian. The changing demographics are in part the result of decisions by many Irish white families, who were disinterested in busing their kids to city schools, to move to the suburbs in the early 70’s.

But Corbitt remained living in the Southie development once considered predominately white, with her two young children. Meanwhile, a neighbor, noticing Corbitt’s big heart and leadership skills, asked her to join the Tenant Task Force. She’s been serving for 25 years.

In 2014, Corbitt and her team witnessed with joy the completion of 129 new apartments and beginning construction of 44 additional units as part of Old Colony’s phase 2 redevelopment process. Meetings with BHA officials and residents were productive and she commended BHA when it implemented the non-smoking policy into the newly reformed development.

Now, the community leader spends her time setting up activities for Old Colony’s youth with The Boys and Girls Club and running yard sales behind the community center. Corbitt uses profits made from the yard sale to host barbecues for the elderly on weekends. The proceeds left over, allow for trips with elderly residents to go see Emerson College’s theatrical plays.

“I try to devote time to the elderly here because a lot of them don’t have families to visit them,” said Corbitt. “It’s better to get them out of their apartments so they don’t become depressed; we do have a lot of programs and activities here at the community center.”

Depression rates among elderly residents residing in public housing is an epidemic mostly found in nursing homes and assisted living environments. It’s certainly not new but very much a concern to Ms. Corbitt, who’s also a grandmother to 4 young children.

Though the President of the Task Force continues to advocate for the elderly, she reaffirms her objective is to include everyone in community endeavors, such as she did with Unity Day-providing games and activities for residents from all walks of life. The successful annual family event was covered by The Boston Globe this year.

For her efforts and endless commitment to serving her community, Phyllis Corbitt was bestowed a leadership award on August 4th, 2015.
 
 
 


 

| 8/26/2015 2:39:35 PM | 0 comments
 

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