Fiorentini Praises Haverhill for Holiday Goodwill in Wake of City Tragedies

Christmas Stroll in 2018. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News.)

“I am proud to be the Mayor of such a great city,” Mayor James J. Fiorentini said in a holiday message this week. (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News)

As 2018 draws to a close, Mayor James J. Fiorentini is praising his city’s residents for their gestures of goodwill in the wake of last week’s tragedies. Taking to Facebook just before Christmas, Fiorentini said he was “proud of this community” for Haverhill’s response to the sudden deaths of 11-year-old Consentino student Precious Wallaces and 41-year-old Haverhill roofer Carlos Ortiz.

Sixth grader Wallaces was in a coma at Boston’s Tufts Medical Center for several days before her death on Dec. 17, while Ortiz tragically lost his life in an Essex Street construction accident the next morning on Dec. 18.

“I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of this community this Christmas. When several tragedies hit our city, so many people stepped up to the plate and helped out in a true Christmas spirit,” Fiorentini praised in his holiday message.

Among those receiving recognition from the mayor were retired Haverhill Police Ozzie Hardy, whose Ozzie’s Kids group collected and distributed toys and gifts for hundreds of city children. Community Action and Megan Joslin also earned Fiorentini’s praise for their rush to support the Wallaces/Rivera and Ortiz families in their time of grief.

“When I went to visit Precious's mother and pay my respects, Megan and Anna from Community Action were already there, after hours, delivering groceries. ‘It is what we do,’ they said. Similarly, when I visited the Ortiz family, they had already been in touch and were helping out. Day and night, they are there to assist,” Fiorentini said.

Haverhill’s Early family also reached out to neighbors in need this holiday, Fiorentini said. When a call came into City Hall on behalf of a family without food for Christmas, Richard Early Jr.—who happened to be at the office when the call was received—immediately went out and purchased two turkeys to deliver.

What impressed Fiorentini most was Haverhill’s willingness to foster a connection with total strangers who were struggling.

“It is impressive when you read the GoFundMe pages for the Ortiz and Wallaces/Rivera family in their recent tragedies, to see how many people reached into their pockets to help out. I am speculating that many people helped out total strangers,” Fiorentini said. “Thank you to all. I am proud to be the Mayor of such a great city.”