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Our FIRST Ever Bostonian of The Month: Nneka Hall

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I have to admit, reading the nomination emails for our new monthly feature was heartwarming. So many great Bostonians were nominated this month! What tipped the scales was a beautifully written email about the amazing work that the Quietly United in Loss Together campaign is doing in the Boston area, with founder Nneka Hall at the helm.

“When you lose a child, when you’re planning a funeral, it’s hard. Your mind is in a whirlwind, your heart is shattered, your whole world changes,” the nomination email begins, “Amidst that storm, Nneka Hall personally knitted and delivered a beautiful blanket directly to the funeral home for my son to be buried with. She also left a handwritten letter for the funeral home to give me. It made the world of difference.

Bostonian of the Month: August 2019 - Nneka Hall

With my faith in humanity successfully restored, I had to reach out to her! Within a week, Igot the absolute privilege of speaking with Nneka Hall, a hidden Boston gem.

When I read her the first paragraph of her nomination email, she smiled. “I know exactly who that was. I remember that day! I saw a post on Facebook while I was on the train, a woman wrote to an organization I work with that her friend’s baby had passed and the funeral was approaching…that the baby needed a blanket. I immediately went home and started knitting. I took an Uber to the funeral home when I was done to deliver it.” She describes her good deeds so casually, as if unfazed by her own incredible kindness or the impact she has.

Nneka is a full spectrum doula, Womb Health Specialist, and International Bereavement Specialist. Her passion to help other mothers dealing with loss was sparked after she tragically lost her daughter, Annaya Marie, 39 weeks in to her pregnancy, on August 27, 2010. A day that is also Nneka’s birthday. “No one expects to bury their baby. No one expects to hear there is no heartbeat,” she said, “you get a positive pregnancy test and in an instant you picture and plan your baby’s entire life.”

Through her loss, Ms. Hall set out to help other angel moms. “She gave me a path in life. I’ll always wonder who she would have been, but as an angel she has helped so many people. Everything I do is in her memory. Every life I touch is for her.”

What started off as a one time event in 2014, to make memory quilts for children gone too soon, quickly blossomed in to an invaluable charity providing a tremendous support network for grieving families.

Q.U.I.L.T. now provides in person and virtual support for mothers (and families) who have lost children, from conception to age two. Though Nneka holds steadfast in supporting all angel moms, “It doesn’t matter to me if someone loses a child that’s older than two. I will support them however I can. I won’t turn anyone away. We’re all remembering our children together, we’re all grieving.”

By running Q.U.I.L.T. she hopes to lift the stigma associated with pregnancy and infant loss, educate people about the various causes of pregnancy and infant loss, push doctors and nurses to include kick counting in prenatal care, encourage expectant mothers to be more proactive in their prenatal care, and support grieving families.

Through her work, Nneka Hall has been honored with countless awards. She was a Nominated Change Maker at the first United State of Women Summit, hosted by then First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.  She won the Exceptional Advocate Award from Boston’s Community Action Network earlier this year, along with the Star Legacy Foundation’s 2019 award for Stillbirth Advocate of the Year. She has spoken at Harvard Medical School, The Massachusetts Medical Society, Postpartum Day at the Statehouse, and many other events nationwide to bring awareness to fetal and infant loss, especially in the African American community.

Ms. Hall has more than exceeded the meaning behind her moniker. Nneka, in Igbo, means “mother is supreme.” While helping so many, she has been raising her three amazing children. Her son, a Boston Latin Academy graduate and full time college student, also works as an EMT. He has dreams of becoming a nephrologist, having been diagnosed with a kidney disease at age nine, he shares his mothers drive to help others in similar situations. Her oldest daughter is entering ninth grade, and hopes to also be a doctor someday. Her youngest daughter, a rainbow baby after Annaya’s passing, is constantly keeping her on her toes.

In her massive amount of free time (am I allowed to type out an eye roll?) Nneka is hosting loss events, speaking at events, training others to become PAIL (Pregnancy and Infant Loss) advocates, and working as a doula. She also hosts a monthly group in Boston for anyone seeking support after losing a child. Currently, she is working on an event to memorialize babies gone too soon.

So how can Bostonian’s give back to Q.U.I.L.T.? “We need volunteers. Crocheters. People to help assemble pre-made squares or make whole blankets, but,” she says, “anything helps. Even just spreading the word of what we do.”

As for anything else she would like our readers to know, Nneka adds “please let them know if anyone needs support they can reach me by email [email protected]

Donations can be made directly to Q.U.I.L.T. via this link.

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The real issues behind Boston’s Methadone Mile

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If you speak to anyone familiar with Boston’s “Methadone Mile” they’ll all tell you the same thing, it’s sad and scary at the same time. The stretch of road near Mass Ave and Melnea Cass Boulevard earned its new moniker the hard way, by quickly becoming a known refuge for drug addicts. 

In fact, according to the BRIC (Boston Crime Incident Reports) there have been 229 medical/drug-related calls to Methadone Mile just this year. For 2018, there were 185 reports total. In contrast, the entire year of 2016 there were only 31.
If you speak to police officers about it, they’ll tell you their findings. A majority of the people seeking refuge at Methadone Mile have criminal records. Many are not from Massachusetts; hailing from Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, usually. The population on the mile has continuously increased.
On Methadone Mile, heroin goes for about a third of the normal street price. According to law enforcement sources, people arrested on the Mile (and adjoining back streets) are commonly found with numerous food assistance (EBT cards) on their person. “It happens all the time. Some of them will tell you they came to Massachusetts for just the benefits. Then they trade cards for drugs.”
The Mile and nearby backstreets in the area are littered with tents, trash, syringes, food, people sleeping, and even human waste. One passerby loudly commented “hey, at least they’re not [expletive]ing on the sidewalk again.”
Officers (speaking on condition of anonymity) expressed that they have trouble handling the area. They feel as though they will be met with public outrage if they actively police the people living there, or that if they do arrest criminal offenders they will not even be prosecuted. “What do you do at that point? You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t,” one officer said.
DA Rachel Rollins relayed in a tweet that, “we cannot arrest our way out of a health and resource crisis.” Rollins has been plagued with criticism after refusing to prosecute and/or “CWOFing” (continuing a case without a finding) criminal charges, often levied against repeat offenders.
So what do we do? Certainly the area has become a public safety and health risk, especially following the brutal attack on a corrections officer, who was pulled out of his car and assaulted while driving through the area.
At this point, sadly, the police officers patrolling the area are at a loss. Officer morale, in general, is at a low. They feel unsupported, and often blamed, for issues that are trickling down from the top. “I’m risking my life every day to run in circles, because the same perp I arrested yesterday is going to walk right by me today.”
As far as I see, there seems to be no immediate solution in sight. 
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Ohio shooter identified as 24 year old Connor Betts

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Police have identified the deceased suspect as 24 year old Connor Betts of Bellbrook, Ohio.

Nine people were killed and 27 others were injured when Betts opened fire in Dayton, Ohio. His weapon of choice was an assault-style rifle, a .223 caliber weapon with high capacity magazines. He wore body armor during the shooting.

Betts was killed by law enforcement at the scene. Sources say Betts’ sister, Megan Betts, 21, and an unidentified male “were found shot in a car” near the mass shooting scene. The male, believed to be her boyfriend, remains in the hospital.

Connor and Megan were the only two children of Stephen and Moira Betts of Bellbrook, Ohio.

According to locals, Betts was previous in trouble at 13 years old, when he was found with a “kill list” and a “rape list.” It is unknown at this time how the school handled the incident.

The victims have been by law enforcement identified as:

Lois L. Oglesby, 27

Saeed Saleh, 38

Derrick R. Fudge, 57

Logan Turner, 30

Nicholas P. Cumer, 25

Thomas J. McNichols, 25

Beatrice N. Warren-Curtis, 36

Monica E. Brickhouse, 39

Megan Betts, 21

According to a LinkedIn page in his name, Connor Betts was a crew member at Chipotle Mexican Grill starting in 2017 in Centerville, Ohio.

His motive remains unclear at this time.

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Boston Police investigating Roxbury stabbing

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The stabbing, which resulted in the victim suffering life threatening injuries, happened in Roxbury Saturday night. The Boston police are currently investigating the incident, which ended with the victim being seriously injured near Eustis St and Bethune Way. The knife was found on the ground nearby, and marked for evidence.

No other information was immediately available.

 

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BREAKING: ANOTHER mass shooting in less than 24 hours.

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At least 9 people were killed and 27 others injured in the Dayton, Ohio shooting that took place around 1 am Sunday. This, just hours after another mass shooting in El Paso, became the 22nd mass shooting event in the US this year.

Officers, who happened to be patrolling nearby, were able to stop the situation rather quickly, leaving the suspect dead on the scene.

The shooter has not been identified at this time.

The first 20 mass killings in the U.S. in 2019 claimed 96 lives.

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BREAKING: First Images Of The El Paso Shooter Patrick Crusius

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As this tragic situation is unfolding, I am working diligently to make sure Bostonians are the first to know.

Police have identified Patrick Crusius as the perpetrator of the heinous shooting at an El Paso, Texas Wal-Mart. The incident left 20 dead and 26 others injured. The youngest victim is two years old.

Four things you need to know about suspect, 21 year old Patrick Crusius.

– He is a resident of the Dallas suburb of Allen, Texas.

– According to police, he surrendered willingly.

– The suspect allegedly left behind a manifesto (though, not confirmed.)

– Witnesses say, “he was on a mission.”

His Facebook has been removed from the internet, though the only public postings I saw before it was scrubbed from Facebook were family photos.

Grace Archer

Purely Boston

Please credit Grace Archer of Purely Boston if using our image.

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Man dies after being hit by T at Boston’s State Street station

Man dies after being hit by T at Boston’s State Street station

Authorities are investigating the death of a man who was hit by a northbound Orange Line train at Boston’s State Street station shortly after midnight. A man was in the State Street station when he fell into the pit area and was hit by a northbound Orange Line train, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority police said. They said the man seemed unsteady on his feet and stumbled, falling into the right of way. Transit police received a call around 12:14 a.m. about the incident and responded with Boston Fire and EMS. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. Police […]

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VIDEO: Corrections Officer Attacked By Multiple People As He Arrived To Work In Boston

VIDEO: Corrections Officer Attacked By Multiple People As He Arrived To Work In Boston

BOSTON (CBS) – Alarming video shows the moments a corrections officer was attacked on his drive to work at the Suffolk County House of Corrections. The officer, a four year veteran, is seen slowly making his way down crowded Atkinson Street when a man suddenly punches him through an open window. The officer gets out and he’s jumped, police say hit repeatedly with a metal pipe and even dragged to a dumpster where the blows continue behind a fence. The head of his union, Local 419, says it’s not the first time an officer has been targeted. “Our local […]

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UMass trustees raise undergraduate tuition by 2.5%

UMass trustees raise undergraduate tuition by 2.5%

University of Massachusetts trustees have voted to raise tuition at the system’s four undergraduate campuses by 2.5% for the academic year that starts in the fall. BOSTON (AP) — University of Massachusetts trustees have voted to raise tuition at the system’s four undergraduate campuses by 2.5% for the academic year that starts in the fall. The trustees in a statement Friday said holding the hike to the rate of inflation would boost in-state undergraduate tuition by an average of $359 per student per year. Out-of-state undergraduate tuition will rise by 3% at the Amherst, Boston and Dartmouth campuses, and […]

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