By Melissa Moore-Randall
Since the pandemic hit many Revere residents and community leaders have been on the front lines providing assistance to the city’s families. This includes Ralph DeCicco, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Coordinator and Chair of Revere’s Commission on Disabilities. DeCicco has been working weekly to provide updates on community actions, and strategize around how to best address the challenges residents are facing due to the Covid 19. DeCicco, a native of Everett, has called Revere home since the late 1980s. A 1989 graduate of Revere High School, DeCicco also attended Wentworth Tech and studied Computer Technology. The dad of an RHS freshman and Paul Revere fifth grader, is also the son of Italian immigrants who later became United States citizens.
As the ADA Coordinator and Chair of the Revere Commission on Disabilities, DiCicco knows first hand what it is like to struggle with a disability. “I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1996 and have been battling it ever since. I have difficulties daily with my mobility, sensory issues and fatigue but try to hide them. I always say there is someone who is worse off than me. That is why I always want to try and help people with disabilities.” His willingness to help others has included countless volunteer positions over the years including President of the Paul Revere Innovation School PTO for the past 7 years, member of the School’s Governing Board 8 out of the last 10 years, Vice President of the St. Mary’s Church Holy Name Society for the past 4 years, and a coach and manager for RYBS at St. Mary’s.
As the ADA Coordinator Ralph is responsible to ensure that the law is being followed and that Title I, Title II and Title II are being met under the act. This act was created by President George Bush to protect the rights of people with disabilities both in the workplace and the public. “I make sure that all the laws and regulations are posted in all of the municipal buildings in Revere which all explain the process on how someone can file a grievance.” In addition, as the Chair of the Commission on Disabilities (COD) he oversees the day to day duties of the office which include answering all requests from residents regarding information that they may need help with finding. This may include giving them information on what agencies to contact depending on their needs. “I also handle all the HP accessible parking sign spot requests. Once an application is received along with the necessary paperwork I then check to see if they meet all qualifications and then submit my findings and determination to the Traffic Commission.”
Since the pandemic hit, DiCicco has been working with the city’s newly established COVID19 Response Network. The Revere COVID19 Response Network is a collaboration between community-based organizations, health care institutions, businesses, residents, and the City of Revere to ensure that the community’s top concerns during the pandemic are being addressed. The City of Revere leads weekly calls that coordinate efforts between several subgroups focused on different community needs. Each week, 20-50 different individuals attend the call to provide updates on community actions, and strategize around how to best address the challenges of the pandemic.
A subgroup of the Revere COVID19 Response Network is The Revere Wellness Group. Every Tuesday afternoon, this group meets to implement different initiatives that foster social cohesion. During the beginning of the pandemic, the wellness team focused on making wellness calls including over 7000 to Revere residents. They started with contacting the most vulnerable population (the elderly, disabled, single-parent head of households, the undocumented, etc.). After making calls, the group started an initiative “Connecting Neighbors to Neighbors”, which has included two virtual social hours aimed to introduce neighbors and enable community members to form neighborhood groups.
DeCicco also works closely with the Food Bank volunteer program. “We have an active volunteer list of over 350 people. A weekly email is sent to our active volunteers at the end of each week which details the opportunities for the upcoming week beginning. They can send an email back and select the dates and events in which they would like to volunteer. At each volunteering event there is an On-site Coordinator that will check the volunteers in. This was created so that we have accountability on who was where and when just in case of any issues with a volunteer of staff becoming ill. A volunteer will not be allowed to assist at an event if they have not already been signed up. This is also necessary so that we do not have too many volunteers at any given event. Since the start of the program our volunteers have assisted in various opportunities that have totaled over 7500 hours.”
As Revere continues to struggle with positive cases 8 months into the pandemic, DeCicco feels that the current programs will be expanded to make them better for all the residents of Revere. “You can never do enough but can always make it better. Revere is doing a great job in this time of need and will continue to do so. Since the beginning in my eyes, Revere has been a leader in the state. This has been mentioned to me by numerous people from other cities in which I have constant communications with because of my role with the COD. Revere has taken a proactive approach and not a reactive approach because of the great leadership of Mayor Arrigo and his administration along with the people he has put in the correct places.”
If you would like to learn more about volunteering at the Food Bank, you can contact Ralph at [email protected]