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The Baker Center for Children and Families and Morning Star Baptist Church Unite to Increase Access to COVID-19 Vaccines and Education

Boston, MA (September 12, 2022) – The Baker Center for Children and Families (also known as Judge Baker Children’s Center), a nationally recognized mental health organization, and Morning Star Baptist Church, one of the largest Baptist churches in Greater Boston, have announced a formal partnership with the shared goal of increasing awareness and access to the COVID-19 vaccine in vulnerable neighborhoods and communities of Boston.

"Through this partnership, we are working to ensure that children, families, and communities have access to essential, accurate information about COVID-19, and the resources they need to thrive,” said Matt Pecoraro, Director of The Baker Center’s Evidence-Based Policy Institute. “Most importantly is increasing access to vaccines and boosters to mitigate the harm caused by COVID-19.”

Funded by a two-year grant from The Boston Public Health Commission, the collaboration has been formally named “Project STEP (Standing Together to End the Pandemic)”, as both organizations seek to create a blended approach rooted in both science and faith. The project aims to create a significant increase in vaccination rates, thereby mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Boston’s highest-need neighborhoods. The union of scientific information, enriched with a spiritual perspective, conveys the importance of the vaccine in a way that supports the value of maintaining physical and spiritual health.

“Our goal is to address the significant disparities that exist in our Boston community by providing children and families with the help and support they need in order to make informed decisions leading to better health outcomes”, said Dr. Gary Lyon, Vice President of Innovation and External Affairs and Senior Diversity Officer at The Baker Center.

Bishop John M. Borders III, Senior Pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church said, “The Baker Center has a stellar reputation and I have known their work for decades. Morning Star looks forward to working with them to support and educate our community. Physical health and spiritual health go together—and with this partnership, we expect to touch hundreds, if not thousands, for the better.”

“COVID-19 continues to affect every aspect of our lives and the far-reaching and residual outcomes of this pandemic are still being discovered”, said Rev. Gillian Thomas, the head of the mission’s department at Morning Star. “We look forward to our partnership as we stand together to end the pandemic.”

About The Baker Center for Children and Families

An affiliate of Harvard Medical School, The Baker Center for Children and Families is a nationally recognized mental health organization dedicated to improving the quality of mental health care for children (ages 2-22), families, and caregivers. Originally named Judge Baker Children’s Center, in honor of Harvey Humphrey Baker, the first judge appointed to the Boston Juvenile Court, the Center opened in 1917 and serves children and families of Greater Boston and the MetroWest region.

The Baker Center is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families by bridging the gap between science and practice to improve access to the highest quality care in community-based settings. Their life-changing mental health and special education programs include Camp Baker, Center for Effective Therapy (CET), Manville School, and Next Step: College Success & Independent Living.

Learn more about The Baker Center:

@bakercntr |

About Morning Star Baptist Church

Morning Star Baptist Church has become one of the fastest growing churches in greater Boston. Morning Star was officially established in August of 1965. From its humble beginnings, the church has grown to be a well-known, highly regarded, full gospel assembly of over 2000 members. The Church’s history is highlighted by its growth, expansion, and community leadership. Morning Star Baptist Church is committed to improving the quality of spiritual and economic life for its membership and for residents of the surrounding community.

Learn more about Morning Star Baptist Church:

@morningstarboston @msbcbos |

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