By Joshua Qualls

Jinette Cartagena, 20, moved out of Mission Hill and into a Haverhill family shelter about a year ago. Now, at least once a week, she tries to bring her 18-month-old daughter, Nayelis, back to visit family in the neighborhood and to go to doctor’s appointments.

Cartagena lived and went to school in Mission Hill for eight years before moving out last December. Although she’s currently unemployed, Cartagena is enrolling in college classes for the spring because she wants to become a social worker.

“I just want to be that support system for (kids),” she said.

Kids used to run around Mission Hill and people would play music more often, but Cartagena said the neighborhood’s now more quiet and peaceful. She isn’t sure whether that’s a good or bad thing.

But she has a lot of good memories of her own from growing up in Mission Hill. Some of her favorite memories are of time spent with friends around the Mission Main apartments, where she lived, and Tobin Elementary, where she attended school.

“We would just run around this exact field,” she said, motioning toward the outer edge of Tobin Elementary’s field. She pointed across basketball courts and playgrounds, all leading up to the neighborhood’s famous basilica. “Some of us were crazy enough to try to climb the edge of that wall.”

She always loved the community events like salsa dances. She often volunteered by helping organizers invite people.

In her view, the neighborhood is doing just fine.

“I just hope it just stays as it is,” she said. “It just seems OK right now, like it’s balanced.”

About this project 

The Scope’s student journalists spoke with community members in Mission Hill. #MissionHill100 is a collection of their stories.