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: Meet Jessica Wilson

Media maven turned non-profit director, Jessica Wilson has the energy and enthusiasm to match her wide smile.
Thanks to our work with her team at Mill City Grows, we’re making Lowell healthier, one neighbor at a time.

When the COVID crisis began, Jessica had only been Executive Director of Mill City Grows for a few short months. While the change in leadership from founders Francey Slater and Lydia Sisson had been in the works for some time, Jessica knew she had big shoes to fill. She also knew that in the midst of a pandemic, her community would need fresh, local food more than ever.

There was a time when her hometown was the last thing on her mind.

Read more of Jessica’s story


#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.

#17 Hilda: Her kindness, humility, and personal touch have made her a legend in our Pediatrics department for the past 41 years.

#18 Cindy & Lynne: Our School-Based Health Superstars who have become virtual caregivers, cheerleaders, and even tutors during this crisis. 

#19 George: In honor of Pride Month, meet this long-time advocate of our Health Center — and Lowell’s LGBTQ+ community.

#20 Michael: Attorney Michael Gallagher isn’t shy about standing up for causes he believes in. 

#21 Dr. Rao: Dr. Rao’s talent, humility, and unwavering optimism have taken him around the world. 

#22 Vanessa & Jeyla: Smile! It’s time for your shots. COVID-19 brings new meaning to pediatric well-child visits. 

#23 Peter: A legal services professional and one-time actor, Peter Saati’s calm and compassion always put his clients’ minds at ease. 


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.