About Us

Our Mission

To provide, connect and assist students/families in the Charlestown Boston Housing Authority (BHA) with established community programs and enrichments to deepen the young people’s learning and growth.

Our Vision

To create an advocacy program that provides: (1) a one stop shop of information for families in the Charlestown BHA on available programs (2) aid with enrollment and (3) assistance for hardships (through donations and fundraising).


Charlestown Community Cares (CCC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in January 2023 by longtime Charlestown resident Martina Nessen to connect low-income youth and their families living in the Charlestown BHA with well-established community programs, enrichment opportunities, and resources.

This newly launched nonprofit will build upon a three-year pilot program (2019-2022) through which Martina and a small group of volunteers have reached a dozen children in the Charlestown BHA with extensive supports and services, including access to literacy tutoring, youth sports, local museums, medical care, summer camps and more. With a proven track record of success and the necessary partnerships built on trust with both families and existing nonprofit groups in Charlestown, CCC is focused on expanding its reach to support more families within the BHA within the calendar year 2023.

Ultimately, our hope is to reach each of the several thousand children living within BHA with the types of opportunities available to the children of wealthier families living within the same one square mile that is Charlestown


In 2017, Martina met a 7-yr-old resident of the Charlestown BHA; she had an old dog whom she walked in the development’s green space and the child had a gregarious personality and a bit of extra time on his hands. Martina started to bring books to share with the first-grader and soon realized that he could not read.

With permission from his mother, the two began a friendship around reading together. They soon moved their reading dates over to YMCA, six more kids joined in, and a reading program was born. Martina recruited her friends as volunteers for the reading enrichment program, and set up a novel arrangement with the Charlestown YMCA: she would bring the kids to the Y’s swim program which was a win-win since the Y was seeking to reach more eligible children with their free programming. The children were thrilled, and Martina made the process workable by bringing the enrollment forms directly to their parents and walking the kids door-to-door from their homes to the Y and back.

From there, it quickly became clear that the kids had additional needs that Martina could partner with their parents and local groups to meet: in order to enroll them in the Boys and Girls Club camp when summer came, funds needed to be raised, doctors’ and dentists’ appointments arranged, and vaccines brought up to date.

Martina came to realize that while tremendous opportunities existed for these kids in Charlestown – from youth sports to Turn It Around Jr. to summer camp – they and their families needed a hand to make it all happen. Over the next 3 years, Martina and a small set of volunteers worked together to provide wrap-around services and links to enrichment programming and academic support for these youth and their siblings. The experience has been game-changing for all involved – the volunteers, the children, and their families.

Supports We Have Provided

  • Education: Weekly reading, 1×1 Reading Tutoring, Workbooks for independent work, IEP support
  • Fitness: Lacrosse, Karate, Soccer, Swim Lessons, Sparring/Boxing
  • Culture: Cirque du Soleil, Van Gogh experience, Museum of Fine Arts, Painting Events
  • Life Skills: Dental hygiene, social media responsibility, nutrition, public speaking, job assistance (applications and interviewing support)
  • Enrichments: Helped enroll children in summer camps, science camp, Turn It Around, Turn It Around Jr., CLLC Babysitting training, CLLC Lego Programs, Summer internships (PLACE, Wentworth, BCYE Junior Program)
  • Non monetary donations coordination: Beds, couches, coats, shoes, AC units, baby clothes, car seats, strollers, diapers

The Opportunity

Charlestown is becoming an increasingly wealthy neighborhood, with the average household income in 2022 hovering around $177K, yet the average household income for a family living in the BHA is only $14K. While we are encouraged by the amount of progress we have been able to make working intensively with a small group of families, there are over 2,000 children in the Charlestown BHA who deserve similar access to Charlestown’s opportunities and resources. As one mother put it to Martina, “If I had known you 4 years ago, maybe my oldest daughter would have graduated high school.”

Fortunately, Charlestown is home to a broad and deep network of first-rate community groups able and willing to serve children from every income bracket. In fact, many of the groups we have partnered with are eager to expand their services to more low-income children, but have found it difficult to reach these families without the type of personal network Martina has been able to build. Many of these families face significant barriers to accessing opportunities for their children, due to language and literacy obstacles and the time constraints inherent for those living in poverty. CCC seeks to bridge this gap, connecting these families with the robust resources that are already available in Charlestown.

Specifically, CCC will provide, at no cost to families served (1) a one-stop-shop where families in the Charlestown BHA can match with available programs and resources (2) practical assistance with enrollment processes and (3) financial assistance for students to participate.

At this time, CCC is focused on building out its donor base, volunteer capacity, community partnerships and board of Directors. Please contact Martina Nessen at charlestowncommunitycares@gmail.com to get involved in this incredibly exciting program for Charlstown’s children and families.

About the Founder

Martina Nessen brings to her work with CCC nearly four decades of experience in marketing, project and change management. She spent 33 years at Verizon, followed by four years at Wayfair. Martina left her role at Wayfair in early 2023 to devote herself full-time to formally launch CCC and reach more children with the services and resources that are available but so often just out of reach. An aunt to 17 nieces and nephews, Martina feels tremendously honored to have the opportunity to work with children in Charlestown who bring so much hope, intelligence, and light to everything they do. Martina was born and raised in Rhode Island by a Japanese mother and attorney father who provided services pro bono for the underpriviledged, holds a B.A. from the University of Illinois, and an MBA from Clark University. She has lived in Charlestown since 1989 and is wholly committed to ensuring that this generation of children in the BHA receives access to all that Charlestown has to offer.

We’re always looking for volunteers!

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