Special to the Journal
Mayor Brian Arrigo this week announced Christian (Chris) Alba as May 2022’s Public Servant of the Month. Chris works in the City of Revere’s Substance Use Disorder and Homelessness Initiatives Office (SUDHI) doing outwork with our most vulnerable residents. Every day, Chris works with those facing substance use disorders and homelessness. With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, there was no better option for Public Servant of the Month than someone who everyday helps those facing mental health challenges. A lifelong Revere resident, Chris Alba loves giving back to his community and makes him a clear choice for Public Servant of the Month.
Q: What do you do and what is your day like?
A: I do outreach in the City of Revere to some of our most vulnerable residents. Many people I meet with are struggling with mental health, at risk of losing housing and a variety of other difficult situations. I meet them where they are at, not just physically where they are at but in every sense of where they are at. My days are never really the same. I go out and see folks in the street, some people I already know some people I don’t, and I go introduce myself and explain what I do. Yesterday I spent the entire day with four different people bringing them to and sitting with them during their medical appointments. Sometimes I work with first responders to meet someone who is need of mental health or housing services. I also work in the city following up with individuals who have had a substance use related medical call, most often an overdose but it can be a range of issues. Basically, I am the person they meet, connect with and I work to get their basic needs met and to support people who may have no support from anyone else. I reconnect people to care, the opposite of addiction is connection and that is my main role, to connect people.
Q: What does Revere mean to you?
A: This is my hometown, I was born and raised here. I still live here. I want this city to be a place that everyone is welcome to live regardless of what they are going through. People have a right to be here and a right to be part of this community. I am proud of this city for creating this role and other programs that help take responsibility for their residents and attempt to give everyone a better quality of life.
Q: What’s the highlight of your career?
A: I have been doing this work for a long time in Revere and other communities. Now I get to come full circle back to the city I grew up in and to support my people.
Q: What does public service mean to you, why do you choose this work?
A: Public service means to be open minded, to make sure no one is excluded from services and the community. Public service means we serve the public not just the people who make us look good or people who may have a higher station in life. I choose this work because substance use and mental health has been a part of my entire life. My father was homeless in this city throughout my life and I want to make sure others going through that know they are loved and cared for. They aren’t throw aways. I have done outreach I feel for my entire life but it was just called looking for my dad. Now I have the opportunity to make a living, share my experience and love people. Remind people they matter no matter what.
Q: If you can give advice to the future of Revere, what would it be?
A: We all go through things in life, it’s a lot easier to get through things with help and support from others. They say a community can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable folks. I would hope that the city of Revere and all of us that live here, grew up here and are moving here can be kind to our most vulnerable folks, no matter what.