Getting to know Charlestown's Big Mama

A feature on Betty Carrington, President of Charlestown's Tenant Task Force.

As the president of Charlestown's Tenant Task Force, Betty Carrington could compare to Santa Claus or a fairly godmother, bringing hope and miracles and even Sunday church to underprivileged youth of Charlestown's public housing development.
But according to Carrington and the residents who adore her, she’s dubbed, “Big Mama.”
Why do they call you big mama?
“Well one of the kids I take to church with me started calling me that and I’ve been called Big Mama ever since.” she said. Carrington jokingly told a story about reminding a boy of Tyler Perry’s female impersonated character Madea. "He said, there goes Madea, there goes Madea!” She laughed.
But there’s no comparing Carrington to a fictional TV character. The longtime community figure has lived in Charlestown for nearly twenty years and remembers social tensions between black and white neighbors. 
Describing herself as more of a “lover than a fighter,” Carrington is proud of the diversity Charlestown now encompasses.
“Big Mama loves all her kids,” Carrington said.  She pulled out her cellphone to show a picture of a chubby faced little Asian girl smiling and holding a furby. “This is my baby.”
Apparently it was difficult for the young girl and her parents to find the toy before they went to a Christmas toy drive hosted by the task force.  According to Carrington, that day validated her faith in “Big Mama.”
“She told her parents that I had the toy, which I didn’t know I did,”  said Carrington. “But you should have seen her face when she saw it; She kept saying, "I knew you had it Big Mama. I knew you did.”
As one of the guiding forces in major decisions impacting the Charlestown Bunker Hill development community, Carrington hopes to see improvements in the lives of the residents, starting with Charlestown’s potential and upcoming redevelopment.
The Boston Housing Authority is currently looking for a developer and is accepting proposals for launching the renovation and redevelopment of units, which could result in a plan that includes mixed-income housing. 
Any redevelopment will start over the next 3 years and can take at least 10 years to complete. Residents with ‘good standing’ in public housing  have the option to return to the renovated units once they are complete. 
In light of this, the president of the Tenant Task Force shared her underlying faith and confidence in the BHA Administrator, Bill McGonagle's leadership and BHA’s Chief of Staff, Lydia Agro.
“They both have been good to me and to this community.” Carrington said. “Whatever this community needs, they do their best to give. “
Over the years, Carrington has managed to develop healthy relationships with authority figures like McGonagle and politicians in order to advocate for residents at the site.
Carrington believes that the Administrator’s upbringing in the Mary Ellen McCormack public housing development, BHA’s oldest site, has played a major role in his sincerity and concern for residents. This is evident through his attendance at community meetings and events like Charlestown’s Father’s Day dinner last weekend, and is also why she supports BHA’S plan for Charlestown’s redevelopment.
At meetings hosted by Carrington, nearly 200 residents arrive, overcrowding the community room to the point some stand on stairs and in the hallway.
But the president of Charlestown's Tenant Task Force reaffirms that she is not a celebrity, but merely a human being that loves her community as much as it loves her.
This statement accounted for the hospitality she provides to her guests, such as myself, who showed up to take pictures of residents at the Father’s Day dinner. Just seconds within my arrival, Big Mama greeted me with open arms.
“Thanks for coming baby! Make sure you get yourself a plate,” she said.


| 7/6/2015 1:43:16 PM | 0 comments


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