50th Anniversary

50th Anniversary

Thank you for so many Seasons of Love.

Some of you might know the song “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent. As we begin to celebrate Lowell Community Health Center’s 50th anniversary, I find myself humming that tune from time to time. The opening lyrics seem particularly apt when talking, as we will be over the coming year, about time, and legacy, and impact. The song opens by asking:

Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes…How do you measure a year?

And in that case, how do you measure 50 years? That, by the way, is a little more than 26 million minutes! Because of all of you, we are, in the truest sense of the word, a community health center. At the core is a commitment to social justice, rooted in a love for this incredibly diverse, generous, sometimes challenging, and always caring community. 

Read more from CEO Susan West Levine

50 Stories for 50 Years

One way we will measure the Health Center’s legacy is by celebrating the people we’ve served, the people who have served, and those in the community who have sustained us for five decades. Over the next year, we’ll be sharing many of their stories with you — one each week. After a brief hiatus to focus on updates related to COVID-19, we’re back with new stories from the front lines. We’ll continue to be here for our patients — and bring you stories that help keep you connected during this time of social distancing. 

This Week’s Featured Story: We’ll miss you, Hilda!

Her kindness, humility, and personal touch have made her a legend in our Pediatrics department for the past 41 years. Now, Hilda Bettencourt is starting her retirement, and the Lowell Sun was there to capture the celebration, COVID-style.

Caravan honors medical assistant for more than 40 years of dedication

By Aaron Curtis (Lowell Sun)

“Hilda Bettencourt remembers being in her early 20s when she was interviewed to fill a position as a Portuguese translator at the Lowell Community Health Center in 1978.

Bettencourt says she was hired the same day. After more than four decades working for the health center, the now 65-year-old Bettencourt worked her last day on Friday and officially retired.

‘I never thought I would be there 41 1/2 years,’ Bettencourt said. ‘It became like a home.’

Read more of Hilda’s story in the Lowell Sun


#1 Sheila: A mother, grandmother, and former nurse, Sheila knew what it meant to care for others.

#2 Donna: Donna has been a part of the health center movement from the very beginning.

#3 Peter: Growing up, Peter always knew he would get involved in health care.

#4 Mercy: Growing up in Kenya, Mercy never could have imagined a career at Lowell CHC.

#5 Wendy: As a new mother, Wendy knew she had a lot to learn.

#6 Caroline: A Lowellian through and through, Caroline (Petruzziello) Rider knows there’s no place like home. 

#7 Simone: With hard work and an open heart, Simone has achieved much during her 16 years at Lowell CHC.

#8 Ivy: At 17, Ivy knows she has a voice and ideas she wants to share with the world. 

#9 Cheryl: Cheryl spent most of her life thinking her health conditions would hold her back.

#10 Diana: Nurse Practitioner Diana Mahoney understands that a strong connection with patients is key to good health.  

#11 Steve: Meet Steve Joncas, a true friend to Lowell Community Health Center.

#12 Carla: In her 10+ years as a Community Health Worker, Carla Caraballo thought she had seen it all. That was until COVID-19.

#13 Beth: Read this special profile of Lowell CHC’s Chief Clinical Officer from the Lowell Sun.

#14 Xiomara: As part of #NationalNursesWeek, hear from one of the best, in her own words. 

#15 Pete: On the frontlines of COVID-19, there are bright spots. We’d like to introduce you to one. Meet Pete*. 

#16 Dr. Rajesh: Our Chief of Pediatrics talks to the Lowell Sun about welcoming patients back into the Health Center and the surprise benefits of telehealth.


A Look Back: A Social Justice Movement Takes Root

It all began with a bold idea. That everyone deserved access to quality health care.

Your community health center is rooted in the belief that everyone in Greater Lowell deserves access to quality, affordable health care. 

In 1965, the national community health center movement launched as part of President Johnson’s War on Poverty. The first two CHC’s were located in Boston’s Columbia Point neighborhood and in rural Mississippi.

Planting the seed in Lowell

In 1970, the movement came to Lowell. That was when Lowell General Hospital (LGH) established a small, community-based clinic in an apartment at the Shaughnessy Terrace public housing complex. The clinic focused on prenatal and pediatric care, all easily accessible to residents.

Read more about the early days of the health center movement

Photo caption: Lowell CHC employees during the early years (top) and an artist rendering of the Shaughnessy Terrace public housing complex, site of our first clinic in 1970 (bottom).


Would you or your organization like to join us in celebrating 50 years of cultivating health in our community? To learn about sponsorship opportunities, email us or call 978.746.7891.