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JAS Elects New Board Members

JAS’s Board of Directors approved four new members at its December 2016 meeting! We are excited to welcome them to the JAS team. Here is a little background on them:

Barbara Aiken

Barbara lived in Cambridge for 46 years, and has been retired from a career with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 2002. Her connection to Just-A-Start began when she found a flyer in her front gate advertising low/no interest loans from the JAS Home Improvement Program. She had been worried about the outdated wiring in her Kelly Road home for years, so the flyer felt like serendipity. She applied for a loan and she says that was the start of a wonderful experience in which she not only received a loan for multiple improvements that brought her house up to code, but she was assigned a project manager who advised and guided her through the decision-making process and worked with her to choose and monitor the contractors. According to Barbara, “a complicated project that could have been overwhelming was instead a pleasure because of the dedication and expertise of the Just-A-Start HIP staff. A bonus – JAS applied on my behalf to the Cambridge Historical Commission for a grant that resulted in the restoration of the exterior of my home to its 1894 elegance.  The Just-A-Start HIP program and its employees are a Cambridge hidden gem!”

Tara Dendy

Ms. Dendy is the Program Director for Community Cooks who is responsible for overseeing 800 volunteers who distribute prepared food to vulnerable neighbors seeking assistance from human service agencies, students working to improve their lives in after school programs and families struggling with food insecurity. Prior to joining Community Cooks, Dendy worked at Elizabeth Stone House as Director of Adult Programming, overseeing three of their programs. Prior to joining Elizabeth Stone House, Dendy worked at the Community Resource for Justice as the Director of the McGrath House, a program that serves female offenders referred by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Massachusetts Parole Board. Throughout these transitions Ms. Dendy has lived in Cambridge raising her children in a Just-a-Start community.  Although there have been other housing opportunities in the last 10+ years Ms. Dendy and her family continue to reside in that community because of the consistency and familiarity of neighbors.

Gustavo Gallego

Gustavo heard about the “First-Time Home Buyers” program at JAS 17 years ago. At that time, he worked as a teller at Bank of America; and did not make enough money to purchase an apartment on his own, so he took advantage of this program at JAS. So far, he is very happy with it and has no complaints at all. Right now he is working for Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) as a Manager of Secure Jobs Partnership, where he oversees all aspects of the department, and the MassLeap program. Working at JVS he has learned that he really loves to enhance the lives of people in need.

Diane Ghartey

Diane Ghartey is a resident of The Port (Area 4) who has benefited from the Home Improvement Program for her three-family house. She also used the first time home buyer’s program to purchase her first home. Diane has financial experience and thinks she will be able to contribute to the Board by serving on the Audit and Finance Committee.