In the 1980s, as Boston’s lower-income communities suffered, two Harvard and Tufts-trained doctors wanted to make a difference. When Rev. Gloria E. White-Hammond, M.D. and her husband, Dr. Ray Hammond, started the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in their living room, it began a movement that turned them into community activists, helped the disadvantaged find hope, and has personally impacted the lives of thousands.
In honor of Juneteenth 2019, the holiday celebrating the end of U.S. slavery, Eastern Bank recognized these two inspiring individuals with Community Advocacy Awards in honor of their positive impact on Boston’s underprivileged communities.
Who They Are and What They Stand For
As doctors, both Ray and Gloria have worked to heal the sick. However, the work they’ve done through their church giving hope and guidance to underprivileged youth, as well as initiatives like the Bethel Institute for Social Justice, have made them pillars of the Boston community. Together, they use their resources to provide social services, education, and guidance to thousands of high-risk youth and families within the Boston area. At the Community Advocacy awards, Eastern Bank CEO Bob Rivers described them as a “power duo,” and it’s easy to see why.
Dr. Gloria White-Hammond’s devotion to helping others has not only impacted Boston but the world. From 2001 to 2003, Dr. White-Hammond went to South Sudan, where, following the civil war, she helped free more than 10,000 enslaved people through an underground railroad. Back home in Boston, she realized that “high-risk” adolescents are also “high-potential” and simply need a strong support system. That’s why, in 1994, she founded Do the Write Thing, an initiative that’s served more than 200 economically disadvantaged girls in the Boston area. Since then, she has also co-founded such life-changing initiatives as My Sister’s Keeper, the end-of-life care ministry Planning Ahead, and Shatter the Silence, a faith-based organization of congregations that brings attention to sexual victimization in African-American communities.
As a community activist, Pastor Ray Hammond has also dedicated his life to helping high-risk youth in the Boston area and has been behind decades’ worth of initiatives, memberships, and papers. He is the chairman and co-founder of the Ten Point Coalition, a group of Christian clergy and lay leaders that is dedicated to raising awareness about the issues affecting underprivileged youth and teens. He is also the executive director of Generation Excel, a program which provides educational services, emotional support, and resources to allow youth from economically-disadvantaged communities to thrive, grow, and pursue academic achievements. In addition, he is an Executive Committee Member of the Black Ministerial Alliance and a member of the Strategy Team for the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization.
Community Advocacy at its Best
When Ray and Gloria first began their work, this future “power duo” could never have imagined how far their reach would extend—they simply saw that the youth in their area needed support and they worked to provide it. In 1998, Newsweek referred to their movement as “The Boston Miracle,” and for 30 years, they have shined a light on the difficulties faced by Boston’s disadvantaged communities. Today, they continue to strive to help these children achieve their full potential by fighting the numerous cultural, racial, and economic barriers that society puts before them. They say their mission isn’t to “save” people but to give them a helping hand, which allows these youth to achieve what they’re truly capable of.
Every year, Eastern Bank’s Community Advocacy Awards spotlight local leaders who have positively affected the Boston area. As CEO Bob Rivers explained, “Our advocacy work is also informed and guided by that of our growing network of community partners and friends, including so many of you who have joined us.” In 2019, there could be no better recipient of the award than these two Boston heroes. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders and by investing in the youth, Ray Hammond and Gloria White-Hammond are paving the way for a better future.
Together, Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond and Rev. Dr. Gloria White-Hammond founded the Bethel A.M.E. Church, and their decades of service toward social justice initiatives is why they were recognized with this award. Learn more about their Bethel Institute for Social Justice today.