Celebrating Adela Margules

Best of Bowdoin - Feature

Adela has done so much for this community. I know I speak on behalf of many seniors when I say that her diverse wellness programs have changed people’s health, and their lives. We really appreciate her.”- Irvin Paul (pictured second from right), BSHC patient.

In this edition of Best of Bowdoin, we are so proud to celebrate the legacy of Executive Director, Adela Margules, who will be retiring from Bowdoin Street Health Center after a remarkable tenure of 36 years. We honor the incredible impact Adela has had on the patients, staff, community partners, colleagues, and residents of the Bowdoin Geneva neighborhood of Dorchester.

Under Adela’s extraordinary leadership, Bowdoin Street Health Center has become one of the most innovative and impactful community health centers in Massachusetts. From the very beginning, Adela understood the unique and critical needs of the Bowdoin Geneva community and has always encouraged her team to think creatively about how to deliver care most effectively to its patients. As a life-long activist and advocate for social justice, Adela’s leadership has been instrumental in broadening the Health Center’s capacity to provide care to its patients, both through extensive clinical services and through a comprehensive approach to improving the Bowdoin Geneva community as a whole.

Adela’s ability to orchestrate partnerships between local agencies, while simultaneously working hand-in-hand with patients and residents to identify the issues that matter most to them, has helped to create ample opportunities to address prevalent stressors both inside and out of the clinical setting. The prevalence of violence, and safety concerns of residents, has been met with trauma recovery initiatives and family-oriented peace gatherings, as well as activities to unify neighbors. A lack of healthy food access sparked the creation of a farmers’ market and collaborations with corner stores to offer nutritious produce at affordable prices. Concerns about the appearance of, and activity on, neighborhood streets led to the removal of abandoned cars and the transformation of vacant lots into play spaces and gardens, and helped to secure housing for the homeless. And ongoing barriers impacting the treatment of complex chronic diseases brought forth the construction of an on-site Wellness Center, giving patients and residents opportunities to engage in exercise, cooking classes, workforce development, and behavioral health support, in a safe and trusted setting.

Adela’s innovative approaches to health care have not only laid the foundation for environmental, social, and economic stability in the Bowdoin Geneva neighborhood, but they have also transformed the ability of the Health Center and local organizations to more effectively collaborate and to better meet the most basic needs of people in the community. Perhaps most importantly, Adela has created invaluable opportunities for those who live, work, and receive care within the community to feel more engaged in taking charge of their own health and future for themselves and their families.

From its humble beginnings in a one-room exam room at the Log School to the magnificent health and Wellness Center that Bowdoin Street has become, Bowdoin Street Health Center now serves more than 11,000 patients annually with an extensive list of clinical services as well as diverse community engagement programming. Under Adela’s guidance, BSHC has become the economic center for the Bowdoin Geneva neighborhood, its largest employer, and the organization that convenes or leads many community initiatives.

Because of Adela’s vision and leadership, a community health center in Dorchester now continually finds itself on the cutting edge of care, an underserved neighborhood has transformed into one that is vibrant and promising, and a vulnerable population has been given its own powerful voice. As an eternal activist and leader of change, Adela’s retirement as Executive Director merely marks the culmination of one journey, and the start of her next. Her legacy at Bowdoin Street will forever remain one of hope, healing, and empowerment for all.

We are delighted to recognize Adela Margules for her vision, determination, and devotion to Bowdoin Street Health Center. Her courageous work will live on through the lives of our patients and their families and through the magnificent collage of the Bowdoin Geneva community.