2018 Lynn Journal Woman of the Year:Wendy Joseph

Highlands resident Wendy Joseph is a history buff and she cares about the reputation of her community, and she is also active in her neighborhood and the city of Lynn.

She and her husband moved to Lynn 14 years, finding a house affordable to them in the up-and-coming neighborhood, The Highland.

“Lynn basically saved me and my husband. We lived in Brighton 10 years before moving here. We looked in Dorchester, Jamaica Plan and Somerville. We were shocked and appalled at what our money could buy.”

They found their home on Rockaway, an 11-room, 1905 Victorian Gambrel, she said.

“Then I started meeting their people in Lynn. I know all my neighbors. In 10 years in Brighton we didn’t know one person,” she said. “The welcome I got from this city, the things available, Lynn Woods, the coastline, and High Rock Tower – a favorite of mine.”

A native of Bellingham, Joseph’s passion for Lynn began over a decade ago when she started discovering her community its socio-economic diversity, immigrants new and old.

“It’s a wonderful melting pot,” she said. “I have a great love for history.”

Joseph became an activist in Lynn in her own neighborhood and her desire to have city trees replaced after they had just been left with a stump. She called City Hall and offered to plant a Home Depot tree in front of her house.

“For years nothing happened,” Joseph said. “Then all of a sudden there was a tree in front of my house and all up and down the street. It helped it so much. It changed my focus of getting something just for me. If you work on a wider basis it helps the whole community.”

From there she got into grant writing and finding other ways to improve the city.

Two other areas Joseph is passionate about are the reading of Frederick Douglass’ speech, mocking Congress for not understanding how the freedom July 4, celebrates did not apply to people of color. The speech is read on the evening of the Fourth of July fireworks, at High Rock Tower Park on Circuit Avenue. The event has drawn more than 600 people.

Douglass was a social reformer, orator, statesman, and author who wrote the book, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” during the winter of 1844-45. He signed the last page with “Lynn, Mass., April 28, 1845.”

Her other passion is the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Hall on Andrew Street the center of Civil War history in Lynn.

Joseph and her husband learned that the house they lived in was built by a Civil War soldier. Earlier this year City Councill President Darren Cyr convened a committee to look into restoring the G.A.R. Hall and its contents. Currently she and others on the committee are working to raise $8-$10 million to restore the building and its contents.

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