I am Shavel’le Olivier. A resident of the Mattapan community and co-chair of Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition. I am the co-founder and co-organizer of Mattapan on Wheels, a major biking event created to address issues of safer infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians in Mattapan. As the Youth Coordinator for the coalition, I work to secure grants, hire young people, and create a curriculum focusing on health and wellness. Lastly, I assist the Mattapan Square Farmers’ Market with the set up/breakdown of the market, help farmers’ with digital payment, and help promote the market through social media networks.
But who am I really? I am a 24-year-old Haitian-American woman. I am sister to three sisters and a brother. I am an aunt. I am the first person on my mother’s side of the family to obtain a college degree (and the second on my dad’s side!). My passion is community organizing, and wanting to bring the community of Mattapan together. I am a networker, trying to pull together the many organizations in Mattapan to work together instead of in silos.
I continue this work because of the real connections I have made with the community leaders and residents of the Mattapan community. The residents and community leaders have become my friends and mentors. I feel I really have the support of the whole community behind me. The MFFC leadership team, comprised of women of colour, have become my role models. The leadership team showed me that you are truly passionate about something when you do it on a volunteer basis and expect nothing in return. They have helped me to develop confidence within myself and the belief that I am capable of being a leader.
My greatest success has been revitalizing the MFFC Vigorous Youth program. The youth wing of the coalition is a major component of MFFC. In the summer of 2016 I worked to bring back the youth energy into the coalition after 3 years. I was able to do this by implementing activities and projects to develop their leadership skills and creating an atmosphere where the youth enjoy themselves and work collaboratively together. The teens accomplished a great deal: leading bikers at the annual Mattapan on Wheels event, volunteering at the Mattapan Square Farmers’ Market, participating in a 5 week intergenerational cooking class, and creating wonderful art reflecting on their experiences with MFFC. I was thrilled that the teens were able to gain skills, experience new things, and feel empowered.
The empowerment, encouragement, and support MFFC gave to me as a youth participant 6 years ago is what I want to give back to other youth. I have come a long way from the shy and quiet teen I once was. Although I am doing all of these wonderful things for the community and the youth, I sometimes doubt myself. But I know that I am making an impact, and I can’t give up now.
What advice would you give to the aspiring leaders and changemakers among Boston's millennial population?
Creating relationships is the best way to accomplish your passion and what you believe in. If you have a passion for a program, organization, idea, etc., there are SO many people that will help you to achieve your goal. You may think that no one cares, but someone will notice what you are striving for. There are plenty of older adults who share your passion and can guide you on your journey as they have been on it. There are teens who will be able to help by giving their unique perspective on how they see the future. We, as millennials, are shaping the future!
SPARK IMPACT AWARDS
SPARK Boston is Mayor Walsh’s millennial engagement initiative. Our mission is to engage the next generation of civic leaders and social entrepreneurs in the work of city government. From dedicated public servants to community builders and connectors, millennials are some of Boston’s most impactful citizens. Each year, the City of Boston celebrates the millennial contribution to our city with the Annual SPARK Impact Awards.