Cody Haynes listens to one of his housemates at the Newness of Life group home Sunday, May 13, 2018, in Huntington, West Virginia. Cody, 25, started doing heroin, cocaine and meth about a year ago and recently wound up in jail for a few months on burglary and property damage charges. When he got out, the Huntington native had nowhere to go. His judge, Paul T. Farrell of West Virginia’s Sixth Judicial Circuit, recommended Newness of Life as a way to get his life back together. Determined to recover, Cody has been living there for about two months. The house members don’t trust him to stay clean by himself at this point, so they restrict him from leaving and constantly test his commitment to the program. For about a month he’s been on what they call “bus stop” — he has to sit next to the front door all day and read recovery literature or write as part of “refocus” assignments, which are designed to help him think about his recovery in a positive way. He also had to search constantly for jobs until one of the leaders in the program helped him find one in construction. He started it a couple days after this picture was taken.
(This story is part of a long-term photo project on recovering addicts that is intended for publication.)
Billy Sloan of the Full Gospel Assembly's outreach ministry holds his hand to passerby Jason Sadler's heart and prays with him while marching in protest of drugs and violence the evening of Thursday, Oct. 26, in the 2000 block of 8th Avenue in Huntington, West Virginia. The Huntington Black Pastors Association has been marching against drugs and violence in communities throughout the Tri-State every Thursday since the beginning of September.
Published Oct. 26, 2017, in The Herald-Dispatch.
Students celebrate the Kentucky Wildcats' 86-75 Sweet Sixteen victory over UCLA on State Street in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Kentucky will play the University of North Carolina in the Elite Eight on Sunday.
Published March 25, 2017, in The Kentucky Kernel.
Sen. Rand Paul smiles during a speech thanking his supporters and reiterating his promise to them at his election party at the Galt House Hotel in Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. The Associated Press called the Kentucky U.S. Senate race at 7:07 p.m.
Protestors display signs at Kentucky Stands with Standing Rock in Lexington, Ky., on Friday, January 27, 2017. Hundreds of protestors gathered in front of the Fayette County Circuit Court to protest in solidarity with Native American tribes affected by construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Published Jan. 28, 2017, in The Kentucky Kernel.
Charlene Kelly, clan mother of a local Chickamauga family, blesses warrior Byron Teater before a Cherokee wedding Saturday, May 20, after the second annual Siege of 1777 reenactment at Logan’s Fort in Stanford, Ky.
Published May 25, 2017, in The Interior Journal.
Mariah Bourne, 17, owner of Shop Seventeen, poses for a portrait Tuesday, May 30, in front of Creative Hair Design in Stanford, Ky.
Published June 1, 2017, in The Interior Journal.
Kentucky forward Bam Adebayo dunks the ball against SEC rival Arkansas at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, January 7, 2017. Kentucky beat Arkansas 97-71.
Published Jan. 7, 2017, in The Kentucky Kernel.
Third-year medical student Perry Hooper poses for a portrait at the entrance of the University of Kentucky’s Albert B. Chandler Hospital on Sunday, October 16, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. Hooper took home four awards at UK College of Medicine’s annual Academic Convocation and Awards Day.
Published Oct. 16, 2016, in The Kentucky Kernel.
Vanderbilt running back Ralph Webb rushes the ball during UK's homecoming game at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, October 8, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky beat Vanderbilt 20 to 13.
Published Oct. 9, 2016, in The Kentucky Kernel.
Nancy Ahmadifar’s happily-ever-after began with a housemate interview in 1975, a couple years after she moved to Mission Hill for grad school at Northeastern University.
Her future husband, Mort, applied for a room, but he ended up with much more than that. They were dating within a year.
Now retired for four years, Ahmadifar, 71, has since spent much of her time actively involved in the community in some capacity or another. She’s been part of countless boards over the years, most recently as president of Friends of the Parker Hill Library, but she considers herself a friend and neighbor above all else.
“I think for me the unpretentiousness of Mission Hill has been really appealing to me,” she says, noting it’s historically a working-class neighborhood. “You can just be yourself, and people are nice to people.”
Ahmadifar and her husband, also 71, have owned their Sachem Street home since 1978 and currently have a house guest. Their 30-year-old son, Thomas, is an attorney in Washington, D.C., and Ahmadifar says he doesn’t visit home often enough.
Since Mission Hill is wedged between several T stops on the orange line and the green line, the location is highly accessible to other parts of the city. Ahmadifar can’t think of a better neighborhood to live in, but people have been moving out and she does miss the loss of families in the area.
“I could look out my window and see the kids playing street hockey on Oswald street,” she says.
When she first came to the neighborhood, kids could easily entertain themselves outside like that. And through the 1990s, while Thomas was growing up, kids were always in the Ahmadifars’ yard or in their house.
Over the past 20 years or so, real-estate developers have bought up property and built new housing units in the area. Rent has increased in some parts, driving some families out of Mission Hill and into more affordable neighborhoods.
Ahmadifar is impressed with the energy of existing community leaders, but she’s concerned about their ability to carry on.
Some things have improved, like the development of Brigham Circle and the addition of a Stop and Shop. But nearby educational institutions, she says, are also constantly expanding into the neighborhood.
“The amount of construction that is going on, almost every empty lot has been built up with something,” Ahmadifar says, adding that she can’t be mad at students for looking for affordable housing near their schools. “Sometimes it isn’t that compatible with the neighborhood.”
“Ask me how many drug programs in Mission Hill,” says Carmen Pola, forming the answer in her left hand. “None.”
Currently coordinating the Mission Hill Senior Legacy Project, Pola, 79, is still zipping all over the place and organizing political initiatives after a long career in local activism and politics.
Drugs and violence remain significant problems in the community after so many years, but nothing substantial has been done. Pola believes no one wants to talk about these problems or do anything about them because they are too complicated.
“It’s very difficult to see abuse and not call it as such,” she says. “I’m trying to teach myself to … hold my tongue.”
Pola is originally from Puerto Rico, but she lived in New York and California for some time before she moved to Mission Hill in 1970. The neighborhood has changed a lot since then -- in some ways for the better, in some ways for the worse.
Besides the drugs and the violence, she says, developers are putting up large buildings and trying to force some people out. For her part, she’s currently locked up in a legal battle with someone over her condo on Calumet Street.
“Oh my god, it’s changed a lot,” she says, adding that the housing situation is worrying her sick. “The black community has been run out of the neighborhood.”
The most beautiful thing about community organizing to Pola is being inclusive -- bringing people from different backgrounds together for a common purpose. She has always been quite demanding of her community, but that’s because it feels like a family to her.
Her favorite parts of Mission Hill are the people and its proximity to so many institutions, even though she wishes those institutions would provide more resources to the neighborhood’s residents.
She likes how more students are moving to the area, but not to Mission Main -- a housing development that she believes is supposed to be for families. Despite that, she says, people in the area could accept the students, involve them in the community and possibly look to them for solutions.
“Sharing is the biggest thing, and honesty, that a human being will have,” she says. “Age gives me this wisdom, and (God) is the one that directs us.”
“Mission Hill is the streets,” said Hector Galarza, a 47-year-old who grew up in the neighborhood. “Everybody there is street, and what I mean by street — everybody there was there to survive.”
While his mother was supportive and treated him well, she struggled to find balance between caring for her family and partying. Galarza said he lacked a male role model while growing up and looked to drug dealers for mentorship.
“The guys that were right there on my block – they were regular men that were just trying to support their families,” he said. “They became my mentors. They’re the ones who put me in check.”
Growing up in Mission Hill, Galarza met people who would either do anything for others or stab them in the back. He had to figure out who those people were for himself.
Still, the neighborhood had a sense of community. Everyone was just trying to get by and often relied on one another when things were rough.
“You had some … good times, tough times, some traumatizing times,” Galarza said. “But eventually everybody always got together, and it was a family.”
As a kid, Galarza, who is of Puerto Rican descent, went to the Tobin Community Center. The Tobin was once part of Sociedad Latina before the Boston Centers for Youth & Family took it over. Galarza returned to the community center as an employee about 22 years ago to shape young minds in the neighborhood. He has worked there as a youth worker ever since.
Galarza believes kids in the area now lack the discipline and hustle that were essential to survival when he was growing up. The spirit of the neighborhood has changed, he said.
“[The kids] are not hungry – they’re not going after it,” Galarza said. “What’s going on now is just more like nobody’s willing to work with each other. The connection’s not there.”
When Maria Sanchez first moved to Boston from New York in 1973, Mission Hill had a lot of problems. Now, she says, the neighborhood has changed from night to day -- she believes it is on the right path.
“Nothing worries me these days,” she says, cautioning that there will always be a need for affordable housing.
After graduating from college, Sanchez, now 83, lived in the former Mission Main development and worked in the welfare department as a social worker.
At the time, her husband used bed frames to block the windows for peace of mind because he feared break-ins. He perceived a lack of safety, but Sanchez felt safe.
“It was very difficult in the projects in those days,” she says. “He tried to protect me and the kids, so I let him do whatever.”
Sanchez moved on to community organizing and activism as she began to see injustices around her, becoming an advocate for affordable housing.
While some people in the community worry now about students coming in and taking up space, she sees economic activity benefiting the locals who work in nearby businesses.
“Sometimes they are a little loud and make some people mad and angry,” she says, but their presence ultimately benefits the neighborhood.
Sanchez retired from the Boston Juvenile Court in 2001, but she is now the president of the Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services’ board of directors. She has a senior home and a city block named after her for her efforts to bring more affordable housing.
She sees herself as just a concerned resident now, and she tries to fill time with her grandkids and children in the community. She has done a toy drive for the community every Christmas since 1978.
“There is nothing better thing to do than to see a child smiling,” she says.
Melissa Payne and David Butler's engagement.
Pictured: Ross Boggess.
Pictured: Bryan Minks of Bryan Minks and the Kentucky Sons.
Atlantic Coast Sunset
Portland Head Light.
Boston Public Library.
These are samples of editorial photography I’ve done, either published or intended for publication.
#MissionHill100 is The Scope’s effort to tell stories of justice, hope and resilience in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts.
These are samples of freelance work I’ve done.