LOWELL – The non-profit subsidiary of the Lowell Housing Authority is awarding nine students annual scholarships in their pursuit of higher education this year.
In its 28th year, the Lowell Youth Activity Program – a charity supporting children in public housing and Section 8 programs – will fund students’ college degrees through its Philip L. Shea Scholarship, from the name of a chairman of the board who grew up in public housing. .
Scholarship recipients reside in one of the Housing Authority’s affordable housing schemes and will each receive $750 or $1,250. This year’s group of students will accept nearly $10,000 in total.
In his two decades as executive director of the Lowell Housing Authority, Gary Wallace said he has seen the impact of the scholarship on young people at Lowell and has had the joy of watching these students grow up to realize their dreams.
“Kids became pharmacists, engineers, businessmen and landlords, and they left their homes and raised families,” Wallace said. “It was a real success and something we are proud of.
As well as honoring some young people, the Housing Authority will also recognize the work of former Labor Commissioner Bob McMahon, who joined the organization in 2001 and remained active in its sub-committees and advocacy work until Last year.
In selecting its annual winner, Wallace said the Housing Authority wanted to do something for McMahon to “honor him for his service”, and it was an easy selection.
McMahon said he was surprised to be honored this year and fondly remembers his time at the Housing Authority, where he always sought to improve the lives of residents. He himself has lived in public housing, raising his family in the Julian D. Steele public housing project decades ago, and when he saw the development ‘deteriorating’ it prompted him to do a difference in their community.
“It’s very nice and I didn’t expect it,” McMahon said after receiving the recognition. “I have always enjoyed being a commissioner and working with the other members of council. … My goal when I came to housing was, if I could ever help the people who live in housing, that was my main mission.
To recognize McMahon and the nine fellows, the Housing Authority will host a gala from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, June 16 at the Allen House at UMass Lowell.
In nearly 30 years, the Lowell Youth Activity Program has distributed more than $400,000 in scholarships, Wallace said.
Kiss Quick, an outreach specialist with the Housing Authority’s JobsPlus program and senior rising at UMass Lowell, was one of this year’s scholarship recipients, winning $1,250. Quick has already received a scholarship under the program.
Quick began working at the Lowell Housing Authority when she was still a teenager, joining the Learning Zone after-school program. Today, she continues to advocate for Lowellians at the Housing Authority by helping residents find employment resources, offering career advice and helping them save money.
As she nears the end of her undergraduate degree in public health, Quick said it was “exciting and nerve-wracking” to complete her studies and make plans for her future. She added that her colleagues encouraged and helped her apply for the scholarship and she is grateful to receive so much support in her graduate journey.
“There were a lot of surprises,” Quick said. “It was so awesome to receive the scholarship.”
Other scholarship recipients include Victoria Berrio, Bonne Panguere, Albert Ferreras, Erin Lee, Emely Ortiz, Mya Palacio-Rivera, Naujiye Neal and Jalious Marques.
McMahon said he is pleased with how the Housing Authority is maintaining its mission to fight for young people in Lowell and bring about meaningful change.
“All the money we raise goes to the stock market. Not a penny goes anywhere else,” McMahon said of Lowell’s youth activity program. students do, and all students who deserve it get it.”
Having spent time in a refugee camp with her family from Thailand, Quick said she hopes to support other immigrants coming to the United States and offer support to those in need. After graduation, she said she wanted to get her master’s degree and continue to make a difference.
“My long-term goal is to help people,” Quick said. “I want to give back to people like me.”
Over the next five years, McMahon said he foresees major industry changes happening in Lowell, and he hopes the students who grow up here will be the city’s champions.
“I hope and pray that they keep the town of Lowell in mind,” McMahon said. “I’m a cheerleader from the town of Lowell, and I love seeing young people succeed.”
For those wishing to attend the Housing Authority Gala, tickets are available at bit.ly/39cxTLT.