On The Rise program recalls participants

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Ceremony held in Remembrance Garden

Photos: 1) Remembrance Garden memorials

2) Rev. Diana Phillips welcomes guests

3) Garden benefactor Jutta Hicks, OTR Director Martha Sandler

4) OTR neighbor Ellen DeGenova leads singing

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“You couldn’t not know her -- she was like a tornado.”

“She grew up here, went to school here, worked at a local restaurant—how much more Cambridge can you be?”

“Nellie did the best she could.”

On Wednesday the Remembrance Garden in the side yard of On The Rise, Inc., 341 Broadway, was the scene of a service that affectionately recalled and honored six OTR program participants who died during the past year. Their names, as listed on the program, were Samantha, Ginger, Ellen, Evelyn, Carol, and Kathleen (“Buzz”), their privacy protected even now by use of their first names only. A brief eulogy for each was presented by a friend, and a symbolic brick engraved with each woman’s name and an image representing her was placed in the garden.

A neighbor, Ellen DeGenova, opened the service with the singing of a Beatles’ favorite, “Let It Be.”  Guests were welcomed by the Rev. Diana Phillips, and a message followed from Jutta Hicks, whose long connection with On The Rise began with her volunteer work on the garden itself and went on over the years to include support from the Hicks Family Charitable Foundation. The garden offers a comfortable seating spot amid flowering perennials and evergreens outside OTR’s three-decker Victorian building.

On The Rise forms strong bonds with the women in the program, some 400 of them per year; many do not fit into other community assistance services for a variety of reasons. Open 6 days a week, the program begins at a basic level for new participants with a meal and a safe place to spend the day. Once they get acquainted, many move on to take advantage of professional assistance with more complex issues including health, employment, and legal matters. Much of the support for the program comes from individuals, businesses, foundations, and faith communities.

At the close of the ceremony Ms. DeGenova led group singing of “This Little Light of Mine,” a gospel tune composed around 1920 by Harry Dixon Loes with words by Avis Burgeson Christiansen.  Refreshments and a social time followed the service.