Leader Profile

Valerie Shelley, Vice President and Secretary, Orchard Gardens Resident Association

Valerie Shelley spent years assisting Boston's youth with the Boston Public Schools. Now, in her retirement, she has found new ways to serve her community as Vice President and Secretary of the Orchard Gardens Resident Association. 

Shelley, who is also on the board of the successful Orchard Gardens K-8 pilot school and resident advisory board at Orchard Gardens, grew up in Orchard Park -- the name for the development before it was revitalized in the mid-1990s with funding from the HOPE VI program. Her sister, Edna, was head of the Task Force that secured the HOPE VI grant in the first place, and fought to have color added to the new Orchard Gardens buildings. 

"In the beginning I was taking over for my sister [when she got sick]," Shelley explained when asked how she got involved in resident affairs at Orchard Gardens. "And when she died, I wanted to continue her tradition." 

Shelley's father was a World War II veteran who entered Orchard Park in the 1940s, when he left the service. He and his wife had fourteen (yes, 14!) children, three boys and eleven girls. While at Orchard Park her father worked as a welder at the Navy Yard, and then taught his craft later in life. 

Shelley's commitment to public service and the overall well-being of her community is relentless. Her main concern is, in her words, "to look out for residents" and obtain information for them. One of her main concerns for the future of Orchard Gardens is the growing popularity of Roxbury and the usual consequences of gentrification, i.e., the potential for lower income families and individuals to be pushed out. She pointed out that the high housing costs in Boston and surrounding areas overall are what makes Public Housing a necessary entity. "The Boston housing market is so out of wack," she noted. "The majority of people in BHA housing communities are there because they really need it." 

Contributed by Jeanne Haffner, guest writer


| 8/5/2014 2:20:28 PM | 7 comments


Angel Padilla
Roxbury has lost light. You've inspired so many of your neighbors and fellow Roxbury folk, young and seasoned. It is now on us to make sure we continue to shine your light and continue the fight to make Roxbury and the rest of Boston the best of Boston. As we continue to move forward in these hard times let us bring the fire that was Val with ever breath and every step. You will be missed but never forgotten, Long Live the Queen of Roxbury.
10/18/2022 1:59:19 PM
writing service
It was really amazing for me to read about her. I bet she is a great person!
8/23/2017 3:14:56 AM
John Kane
Val, so glad you are honoring the work your sister, Edna, began. You are making many contributions to your community. Keep up the great work!
8/12/2014 3:22:21 PM
Andrea Swain
Congratulations and well deserve recognition!!
8/6/2014 3:50:07 PM
Angela Kelly
Congrats to Val, with deep gratitude and admiration for all you do with and for Orchard Gardens, Madison Park Development Corporation, and the broader community! You set an inspiring example of dedicated leadership and service which benefits us all and from which we learn so much. Thank you!
8/6/2014 12:45:46 PM
Carol Leary
What a nice piece about Miss Valerie! She is all that & more, a really dedicated community leader. More power to her!
8/6/2014 11:40:33 AM
Rachel Goodman
Very nice profile. We are lucky to have Val involved with the Orchard community! Thank you, Val.
8/6/2014 6:25:01 AM
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