Lucas Malo wins award for work with Prospect Hill Community Center

October 2, 2015

CarMax recognized Brandeis’ Director of Community Service Lucas Malo for his work with the Prospect Hill Community Center with the Bright Side of Game Day award, including a $10,000 prize.

Malo accepted the award at the first New England Patriots game of the season on Thursday, Sept. 10, and then donated the money to the Prospect Hill Community Foundation. The winner of the Bright Side contest is chosen from a group of outstanding New England locals, who are very involved in and passionate about volunteering and helping others.

Prospect Hill is the largest low-income housing development in Waltham, and is home to 140 families. Eighty percent of these families are made up of single mothers, and the average income per year is $19,200. The Prospect Hill Community Center provides these families with a safe environment for their children after school and affords the kids the opportunity to receive help with homework and be a part of a community. Having worked with Prospect Hill for six years, Malo increased his involvement at the complex after working to build a 5,000-square-foot playground at the development in the fall of 2013 with the help of KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization. Since then, he has been helping to build new partnerships and improve the center’s current programs.

However, Malo emphasized that this was truly a group effort. “This award symbolizes the reality that if folks work together on a common passion, change can happen.” The change to which Malo is referring is the opening of the Prospect Hill Community Center last October. Brandeis partnered with Bentley University, the Waltham Police Department, the Waltham Housing Authority and the Tenant’s Association of Prospect Hill to embark on what was to be a year-long project to establish the center, which now serves as a venue to host programs for the community. The center’s opening ceremony was complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and speeches from then university President Frederick Lawrence and Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, among others.

Today, almost a year later, Prospect Hill is home to seven different programs including an after-school program, the Early Literacy Program and the Community and Learning Gardens Program. The after-school program runs for two hours each weekday and consists of structured homework tutoring, snack time and an enrichment activity.

The Early Literacy program takes place once a week. Staff members, including Malo, who were trained with the Massachusetts Raising a Reader Program, lead this program. Each week, the program leaders emphasize dialectic reading to attendees regardless of their literacy levels or native language. Members of the community were involved in the creation of a community learning garden, berry gardens and potted gardens in which the Gardens program operates. Every program offered is free of charge and is often run by Brandeis and Bentley student volunteers.

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