Dreams to Reality: Community Assistance

Valerie’s Story

Navigating the housing world today is an undertaking. We’re here to help.

In this series, Dreams to Reality, we will hear from several Urban Edge clients who have experienced successes, whether that be in renting, buying, or affordably maintaining their homes. We’re so proud to have worked with these hardworking people, and we are thrilled to be part of the process of making their housing dreams a reality.

We are in the business not only of helping our community buy homes and rent affordable units, but also of assisting with home maintenance and the everyday expenses that pile up. We know that the bills just keep coming, and we’re here to lighten the load wherever we can. Maintaining a home and meeting all the expenses that come with it is no small feat — it takes resilience, hard work, and sometimes knowing when to reach out for a helping hand.

This story comes from Valerie Martin, who spoke up for herself, advocated for her needs, and received assistance on a utility bill.


Valerie Martin is a longtime Boston resident. She started out living in an Urban Edge building in Roxbury, where she stayed for 22 years. Many years later, Valerie got custody of her grandson and had to move to a more spacious apartment. She and her grandson moved to another Urban Edge building in Jamaica Plain, where they have been now for 13 years.

Valerie’s grandson now goes to school in the area. He gets picked up by the bus everyday, and he loves to take walks around the neighborhood with Valerie. Relocating with her grandson was difficult – her grandson is disabled, and Valerie appreciated Urban Edge’s efforts to accommodate and take care of them. 

Recently, Valerie was able to take advantage of another Urban Edge service.

A few months ago, Valerie was short on an electric bill. “I love how Urban Edge treats their people. I was stuck with this bill, so I went to Urban Edge and talked to Teddy Chery. He helped me from one step to the next.” 

Teddy Chery, one of our Community Engagement Officers, was able to assist Valerie with her electric bill and cover the cost. We were able to cover this bill with some help from United Way, who provided us with the necessary funds to do so. 

“Urban Edge does a lot for their people, a lot that many other companies don’t do. I remember years ago when I lived on Columbus Ave, my daughter used to go to Urban Edge’s teen program. She loved it, and she got a job that way. Urban Edge helps you, whether it be financially, or getting you into a class – they help you grow as a person.”

To people in similar situations, Valerie advises: “You have to speak up! A closed mouth can’t get fed. Speak up, make an appointment, reach out to places like Urban Edge. Come in with a kind heart and a good spirit and let them know what you need. Sometimes people sit back and hope someone else will do the work. Urban Edge won’t give up on you but you have to fight with them.”

Because she spoke up, Valerie was able to get the assistance she needed with her electric bill. “Working with the counselors didn’t go the way I expected – it was excellent! Teddy talked to me like a person. We talked, laughed, and got things done. He did the work behind the work and got things done right away. You think you’re going into a business meeting, but I felt like I was meeting with a friend.”