Moving Forward with Some Great Programs

By: State Rep. Estela Reyes

Before I begin, I want to congratulate Tom Duggan and everyone at The Valley Patriot on your impressive achievement of celebrating your 20th Anniversary publishing news for the Merrimack Valley. I’m so excited to have attended the the 20th Anniversary Charity BASH on March 22nd at The Relief’s In in Lawrence.

Last year Tom and his team raised more than $54,000 in scholarship money for local students. This year Tom and his Valley Patriot Family (which I am honored to be part of) beat that historic total, raising $58,106 for local student scholarships.

February offered a time to reflect on what is especially important to my community and my heritage. March seemed to come and go so quickly.

Over thirty years ago I moved from the City of Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic to Lawrence, Massachusetts.
On February 27, 1844, the Dominican Republic achieved independence through the work of the resistance organization, La Trinitaria.

In the Dominican Republic, many towns send representatives to the town La Vega around Independence Day to march in the parade, dressed in a variety of costumes from around the country. Carnival in the Dominican Republic is a highly anticipated event.

Most Dominican towns commemorate Carnival with slight differences from within their own traditions. Through participating in festivities, honoring the fight for freedom, and spending quality time with loved ones, we are reminded of the significance of Dominican heritage and the diverse cultural identities that make up our vibrant community in Lawrence.

The city of Lawrence boasts one of the highest concentrations of Dominicans in the U.S. and I am so proud to call this community my home!

Here in the U.S., February is dedicated to celebrating the achievements of Black Americans and acknowledging the central role of African American populations throughout U.S. history.

In observance of Black History Month, I was proud to recognize my identifying colleagues in the Massachusetts legislature and our community leaders in Lawrence and Methuen for all of the work that they have done in our community.

It is essential to uplift BIPOC individuals within the Massachusetts State Government and continue our ongoing fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. This year’s theme is “African Americans and the Arts,” which serves to highlight the key contributions of African Americans to visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression.

In our community, the Lawrence-based art and social-justice organization, Elevated Thought, supports youth and artists of color through offering art and social justice-based programming, enabling youth to produce the stories and vision that leads to individual and community change.

By providing a unique collaborative space, Elevated Thought emphasizes community engagement and understanding of creativity’s liberating power.

For more information about Elevated Thought’s mission and programming, please visit:

Elevated Thought is one of many important community programs in the Essex District. I want to express my gratitude for the hard work local community organizers and leaders do. Your tireless hours do not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

Community programs are essential to growth, development, and connection, and it is imperative they are heard and supported by the State. I have been fortunate enough to meet with many incredible organizers who educate me about their work, why it is necessary, and what they need in order to continue operating. Please reach out to my office if you are involved in a group or organization that supports the local or regional community and want to share your expertise.

Larger programs are also central to making a change. I was proud to come together with my colleagues to vote in support of Governor Healey’s bill, An Act to provide for competitiveness and infrastructure investment in Massachusetts.

This piece of legislation will open up federal funding opportunities for Massachusetts to create and expand innovative, resilient infrastructure plans.

It makes Massachusetts more competitive in those funding programs and will align our infrastructure plans with the demands from a changing environment. Our state legislature showed there is a common agreement that it is time Massachusetts invests in our roads, bridges, power supplies, and more.

This problem is very close to home with the Route 110 troubles we have all been experiencing. It is great to see progress as we continue to work through a long-term solution. We look forward to seeing these improvements in the coming years.

I will close this out with the news that I have secured my nomination papers for the 4th Essex District State Representative reelection.

Thank you for your advocacy and support. I look forward to continuing to serve our community. ◊