Category Archives: InCity Feature

We ran this story on Gordon Hargrove of the Friendly House a few years ago in InCity Times …

… As the community comes together this week – JUNE 26! – to honor the man at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel center (on Shrewsbury Street) FOR HIS 50 YRS OF SERVICE TO THE FRIENDLY HOUSE and Worcester, I wanted to re-post the piece. Go, Gordon, go!!!  - R. T.


By Rosalie Tirella

When my sisters and I were kids, I was known as the smart one (OK, sometimes the “too smart” one as in smarty pants) and my younger sisters, great kids – both of them much kinder than I ever was/will be – were known as … . And that was the trouble. They were identical twins and lumped together by my harried mom (sometimes) and the kids in our neighborhood (always). To many folks, they were an amalgam of (identical) haircuts, school uniforms (they attended St. Mary’s on Richland Street – same class, same nuns, even same grades (B’s). They were quiet. They were, as my mom liked to say, “obedient.” They shared the same bedroom in our three-decker apartment. It was painted pink and pink and white plastic drapes – the kind of drapes you hung in your home if you were poor, the kind my mom bought at White’s Five and Ten on Millbury Street. But we loved Mrs. and Mr. White, the store’s owners because they were always so nice and polite to my mom and her “three girls,” and the drapes were festive – like party decorations! – so I loved the twins’ room. The twins were called “the twins” by everyone – except my Uncle Joe, an elementary school principal, who called them – and me – “Peanuts” – because we were much smaller than my cousins, Uncle Joe’s strapping, Polish off-spring, and Charles Schultz “Peanuts” comic strip was all the rage back then.

The twins began to differentiate when my sister – I’ll call her by her nickname “Trina” – started going to the Friendly House after school. Every day Trina made her way to the Wall Street human service agency, that didn’t seem like a human service agency to her and hundreds of other inner-city kids because they were having so much fun, to play hoop. Besides getting after-school snacks and homework help at the Friendly House, kids could join one of the many sports teams that were always looking to recruit new neighborhood kids. None of the children – most poor, including my sis – ever thought of the teams as society’s clever way of keeping them “off the streets.” It was just cool to go to the Friendly House.
Trina fell in love with basketball in Friendly House’s most excellent gym. The gym was (and still is) great. Court foul lines neatly painted, basketball hoop net white and strong. Balls new and if not new – solid and the kind the pros used (I forget the name). The young men and women who “ran” the gym (because kids were/are always supervised by Friendly House staff) were knowledgeable and encouraging. Trina played learned how to do lay-up shots, hook shots and shoot balls from the black line almost at the middle of the gym. She practiced at the Friendly House, she practiced at school. Whoosh went the Friendly House basketball as it left Trina’s hands and made its way down through the basketball hoop’s net. Whoosh went Trina’s personality. She became happier. She became more self-confident. She became a jock.

Trina could do anything faster and higher than anyone in our family. She could run faster, walk faster; she could play baseball in the sandlot next door with the neighborhood boys – including then-young Richy Gedman, who lived down the street from us and who could always hit the baseball on to or over the roof of the big, gray six-family three decker-six – two big lots away. “Get back!” the kids would scream when Richy (now the Worcester Tornadoes coach) got up to bat! Rich Gedman respected my sister Trina 1. because she was a good kid and 2. she could really play ball!

Trina also ran the Friendly House races during the famous Friendly House Block Parties. The neighborhood race began in front of the Friendly House and was the apex of Friendly House celebration, with ribbons and trophies galore. The winners felt like heroes. Black, brown and white kids competed together and celebrated together. The block parties were big Grafton Hill/East Side hooplas where poor kids and adults felt like big shots and had a blast.

And when Trina went to college she worked a few summers at the Friendly House as a staffer in the Summer Program, where sports, arts and crafts and even day trips to local state parks, made the summer go buy in a snap for hundreds of Worcester kids.

Here it is, three decades later, and I can still remember some of the best times of my sister’s youth. Here it is, three decades later, and the executive director of the Friendly House in the late 1970s – the man behind the miracles – Gordon Hargrove – is still the executive director of the Friendly House. The Friendly House Summer Program continues, the Friendly House sports teams still reign, the Friendly House gym is still home to kids like my sister, kids whose hoop dreams give them a reason to be happier, healthier people. The Friendly House gym is older but still sports a great floor and crisply painted basketball court boundary lines. The youth workers are still cool and jocky.

Many more programs – the Friendly House chorus, St.Patrick’s Day float, computer room to name just a few – have been added to the social service agency, which has also served adults for decades. And Hargrove has expanded the Friendly House’s role in the community to include these Worcetser gems: the Friendly House Shelter, The Frances Perkins Homeless shelter, 28-30 Aetna Street Transitional Program, the Interfaith Hospitality Network, the Quinsigamond Villlage Community Center, Elder Outreach Program Albanian Outreach Program, Food Services/Chidren’s Meals and even this past summer’s Wheels to Water program.

This means even more Worcester families – not just the ones who live close by the Friendly House – are supported by Hargrove and his dedicated staff of case workers, kitchen workers, secretaries, janitors, translators, youth workers and volunteers. Hargrove has always been there to help Worcester. Whenever the city found itself at the brink of a societal ill – our city manager or mayor knew he or she could always call Hargrove, and the human service agency powerhouse that is the Friendly House would step up to the plate and do the right thing. And Worcester would keep feeling like a big small town instead of the second-largest city in New England. The blow of yet another social ill would be softened for Worcester, keeping it from becoming the next Hartford or Springfield.


Yet the Friendly House had the humblest of beginnings – a kind of settlement house for Syrian and Lebanese immigrants. In fact, they named it “ “ in Arabic, meaning “friendly place.” A place that welcomed them and helped them start new lives in America. “It started on 27 Norfolk Street, two-story, barracks building,” Hargrove says. “What happened was people got off [the trains] at Union Station and they walked to Shrewsbury Street. Shrewsbury Street became crowded, so they walked to” Wall Street/Norfolk Street.

And from the get-go, says Hargrove, The Friendly House strived to be of the neighborhood – not for it. “The Friendy House was and is a part of the neighborhood – not something that is superimposed,” Hargrove says. “For example, [the Friendly House] building was designed by the neighborhood people.”

And it provided them with the services they said they needed. “We had the first pre-school dental clinic that opened in the United States,” Hargrove says. It was staffed by volunteers from the Worcester Dental Society. It was, since it began as a settlement house that was primarily run by women, a place where women and their concerns (family) mattered. Besides the dental clinic for the children, a public health nurse stopped by the Friendly House to give booster shots. Arts and crafts classes were offered, as well as cooking, sewing and other “home economic” classes.
“In those days,” Hargrove says, “neighborhoods were defined by ethnicity. Friendly House was another neighborhood asset. … In 1934, there was a neighborhood newsletter, ‘The Blue Triangle.’ ” But since it was part of the “Settlement House” movement of the early 20th century, the Friendly House was, in a way, political – empowering immigrants, combating the ill effects of industrialization/factory life, such as horrible accidents and grinding poverty. The first Friendly House was run by Worcester’s Civic League, the Worcester Department of Public Health, volunteers and later Worcester’s women’s league, then the Community Chest (forerunner to the United Way). The United Way took over and then finally, The Friendly House became a separate non-profit, receiving much funding from the now firmly established United Way and the federal and state governments. Money, grants and support also came from the City of Worcester.


Time marched on and Worcester’s neighborhoods changed. One of the biggest changes Hargrove sees: poor families are much more mobile these days. Back in the 1920s or 1930s, up to the 1950s, people could be poor, but they stayed in the same apartments. Kids got to know their neighborhoods well and a sense of community sprang up. Contrast that to today. Hargrove tells of how he lead classes where he asked little kids to draw their neighborhoods. He said in old days many of the children would draw their homes, school, Friendly House and then corner stores or their friends’ houses or places where their parents or their friends’ parents worked. Today, Hargrove says, its “school, Friendly House and the railroad tracks. … We’ve seen the negative effects of mobility on school children.”

Then Hargrove draws his breath and his eyes widen: “There was on family who moved seven times in one year.”
Hargrove says what most Worcester teachers and principals know: that most of the children in a Worcester Public Elementary School – say Chandler Street near downtown – don’t “graduate” from the school they entered as kindergartners. Often it’s only one or two kids who spend the entire seven years (grades K through 6) at the same elementary school. Contrast that to when I was a kid at Lamartine Street School – one of Worcester’s earliest (labeled) inner-city kids. Yeah, we were all poor but we were a community. I went through Lamartine Street School with pretty much the same group of kids that populated my kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. Lots of us lived in the same three-decker apartments on Lodi, Seigel, Ellsworth, Meade and Scott streets. For years. It was nice.

Now it’s not so nice. Monthly rents can be as high as $850, and it’s downhill as families scramble to pay for utilities, food, clothing, transportation and other necessities. Says Hargrove: “Families move into a place thinking they can afford the rent, but if utilities are separate and [other bills mount], that can be a major problem.” Safety is also a reason why families move. “They feel unsafe in their neighborhoods,” Hargrove says. “Sometimes there are drug dealers living in the apartment complex. Sometimes there’s bullying. Other times it’s the condition of the apartment. Some places are not good.” Hargrove recalls kids telling him that they heard someone knocking late at night at their neighbor’s door and that’s because they are buying drugs from their neighbor. Hargrove recalled an apartment being divided up into multi-minny units – some of the spaces without a toilet or bathroom. He called Worcester’s Code Enforcement Department. He moved the families out of the literal shit-holes.

Hargrove says today, Friendly House is in the shelter biz. He wants to move into the hous8ing biz, with Friendly House buying and rehabbing homes for low-income first-time home buyers or Friendly Housing owning three deckers or apartment complexes and renting them at reasonable rates to low-income families.

Hargrove also sees new immigrants coming to Friendly House for food, clothing and social services. “We have people from Africa, Brazil, Central America, South America,” Hargrove says. “One of the things I felt was extremely important was to spend some time in the countries of origin of our families – Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.”


In the first half of the 20th century, right up to the 1960s, Friendly House didn’t have to make finding Grafton Hill/East Side residents jobs a high priority. Worcester was an industrial powerhouse – world famous because of all its factories. Wyman-Gordan, Norton, H. H. Brown Shoes, Morgan’s, Washburn-Garfield, Crompton and Knowles, American Steele. These factories and mills were hungry for immigrant man – and during World War II – woman-power. And you didn’t need to have special training. Often it was basic on-the-job learning. You got your foot in the door, worked hard and steadily, and maybe someday you could be a factory foreman, with your own little home and car to show for your industriousness.
“Washburn and Garfield had the biggest wire-drawing mill!” Hargrove says. “Not in the country – but in the world!”
Hargrove continues: “The other day I was crossing the street and some kids came up to me and said, ‘We don’t have jobs.’ This is my concern.”

Hargrove not only wants to help train the workers of tomorrow, he wants something more concrete: he wants to be able to plug in specific people into specific jobs. One person = to his or her own job. “We partnered with Jamesbury,” Hargrove says. “ We partnered with a factory that made tools. The idea being that we would sit and work with individuals.”
The nation’s 10 percent unemployment rate is one reason why so many inner-city youths find work in the “underground economy” Hargrove says. Drugs, drug selling – it’s a job. A job that may lead to your (violent) death but also to money – and status, in some groups.

Unemployment or under-employment, paying high rents, and other challenges, lead to, among other things, hunger. Hargrove says: “Twenty years ago, 30 people a month would come in [to the Friendly House] for food. Now it’s 700. This Thanksgiving, 1,200 families received turkeys and food assistance [from the Friendly House].”

This winter, Hargrove had a coat drive. “This winter 927 people were given winter coats,” he says. “This was unheard of in the past. … In some cases, in the past, many families would be there and help their own. But if you’re detached from your family, the agency has become the extended family.”


No matter what’s in store for Worcester’s inner-city families, The Friendly House will always be there for them. Hargrove says the 90′th anniversary of his beloved Friendly House is the perfect time to plan for a Friendly House for the 21′st century. “This building [on Wall Street] was built in 1972. … We’d like to rze this building and build a bigger one on the site. Make it a green [technology] one, too.” One special use for a new Friendly House – a building to be used by Worcetser in any kind of emergency flooding, ice storms, national and local disasters. “People will be able top come here and be fed, sleep … .” Hargrove says. He also wants more room for food for the poor and clothing and baby clothing and items. “We want adequate meeting space for the neighborhood. There have been weddings here. There have been Christening, funeral services, church services … .”

A day care with larger play areas would be wonderful, as well as separate rooms for the teens. A bigger and better kitchen would be great, too. “We served 140,000 meals this summer!”

Look for special monthly Friendly House events. Hargrove wants to do something really special for the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. He has just donated hundreds of historic Friendly House photos and memorabilia to the Worcester Historical Museum and hopes to have a special Friendly House exhibit at the museum so that Worcesterites can see its grow from a teeny house on Norfolk Street to the City of Worcester’s super-human service agency, a neighborhood settlement house that became the city’s settlement house.

This anniversary, there will be much singing by The Friendly House Chorus and much dancing – by all! But most important, in the words of Hargrove: “By the end of 2010, we want to have in place a date when we can say officially we will start our activities for a new building.”

Amen to that, Gordon.

Super cat!! … and the kitties available for adoption at the Worcester Animal Rescue League


This is Leeza. To see more super kitties available for adoption at the Worcester Animal Rescue League, click here!  – R. Tirella


By Lindsay Pollard-Post

Move over, Lassie. There’s a new hero in town—and she’ll take her reward in the form of catnip, followed by a catnap.

Tara the cat catapulted to fame recently after a home security camera captured her boldly charging at—and tackling—a dog who was attacking her family’s 4-year-old boy in the driveway. After chasing off the interloper, Tara circled back to the boy’s side, apparently to make sure that he was OK. Tara has been hailed as a hero, but perhaps she was returning a kindness: Six years earlier, the boy’s family had savedher from the streets.

As Tara demonstrates, cats who are loved and treated as members of the family become deeply attached to their human companions—so much so that some cats have even risked their lives to rescue their families from danger.

Animal shelters are overflowing with big-hearted cats like Tara who would love to be someone’s loyal companion—if only they had the chance. June is “Adopt a Shelter Cat” Month, and for those who have the time, financial means, love and patience to care for a cat, there’s no better time to welcome a feline family member into your life. Adopting an animal saves a life—and it could even save yours one day.

Consider Pippa, a black-and-white cat who was taken to a shelter in the U.K. after being found abandoned outside a store in a box. Pippa was adopted by a family with an 8-year-old daughter, Mia, who suffered from diabetes. One night, Pippa crept into Mia’s room and woke her up, prompting her to test her blood-sugar levels—which were dangerously low. Since then, Pippa—whom Mia calls “my special cat, my little protector”—has alerted the family about 20 times when Mia’s blood-sugar levels start to plummet.

Another cat with a nose for blood sugar saved his guardian’s life just hours after being adopted. Pudding, a 21-pound orange-and-white cat, awoke his guardian from a diabetic seizure by sitting on her chest and then nudging and nipping her face until she gained consciousness. The cat then bolted into the woman’s son’s room and pounced on his bed until he awoke and called for help.

An Australian cat named Garfield, who had been rescued from an abusive home, saved his new family by alerting them to a massive gas leak during the night. And in Tennessee, a cat named Bracie saved her guardian Tracey’s life by tapping her face until she got up and discovered that the fuses in the house’s thermostat were burning. “I never thought that, four years ago, that me saving a cat from the humane society to give her a loving home … would have been paid forward,” Bracie’s grateful guardian told reporters. “I just think she’s my guardian angel.”

Adopted cats often seem to have a special connection to the people who rescued them and a knack for sensing when their families are in danger. Many second-chance cats also have the advantage of already being litterbox-trained and familiar with human etiquette—such as knowing to sharpen their claws on a scratching post instead of on a sofa.

At an animal shelter, you’ll find cats of every stripe—from laid-back “lap cats” to curious kittens. Most shelters can help guide prospective guardians to the perfect animal for their lifestyle and personality—although many people who adopt cats say that their feline family members chose them.

If there’s room in your heart and your home, why not visit your local animal shelter this month? You might just find a guardian angel—and you’ll definitely find a best friend.

Warm weather – at last!

By Edith Morgan

In Worcester we have so many ways to celebrate the coming of spring and summer – and there is something for all ages: the Regional Environmental Council is holding its usual seedling and plant sale on Oread Street; Community gardens are already sprouting early vegetables; the forsythia , tulips, hyacinths and violets are in bloom everywhere . Many of the migrating birds are back, building nests and starting families. And of course the cemeteries are all decked out in flags, wreaths, and other remembrances. Our many parks are getting ”spiffed up,” preparing for their summer activities. Little leaguers are preparing f or their summer schedules, and soon school will be out. Lawnmowers can already be heard in the neighborhoods, and the bi-annual street sweeping is almost complete.

Park Spirit is doing something new this year: there will be several Bird Walks” this year: the first has already taken place, at Elm Park/Newton Hill (on April 19th); the next one is scheduled for Dodge Park, May 17th, followed by a walk in Green Hill Park on June 14th. August 16th will see a walk in Cookson Park, followed on September 20th by a repeat of the elm Park/Newton Hill walk, and winding up this year’s bird walks at Hadwen Park on October 18th. All will bed by Mass Audubon’s Dr. Martha Gach. I hope you all can make at least one of these walks, and become better acquainted with these parks. Then, Park Spirit will again put on the Elm Park Summer Concerts every Thursday evening from July 10 through August 14th (with a rain date of August 21). All these events are free to the public and are usually well publicized and well attended.

There is so much to do here in Worcester, and now that the weather is cooperating, we can get out and use our many city parks – we have over 60 of them now, all sizes, from our greatest (over 450 acres) at Green Hill, to the many “pocket parks”, all over the city.

What I find so appealing about our city is that it has retained its character as a town, without skyscrapers, but with so much to offer its citizens – much of it first class, and often world-renown. If we all get out and use these opportunities, we will come to appreciate what we have here, and raise our children to appreciate and preserve it.

KIND poetry

From poet Gretchen Primack … powerful poem on circus elephants and all show elephants  … R. T.

Maybe someday you will trick

for me.

Maybe I will find value in you

on one foot.


I will take you from family,


so I can watch you



Will you bore me? I bore myself

now, reduced

to your conditions, cut off

from my life


and language.  None of me

is left; still

you found something

to waste.


Lincoln Street’s Genesis Club celebrates its 25th birthday!

By Edith Morgan

It could happen to any of us, at any age. Rich or poor, or white, African-American, Hispanic, or Asian….And as a matter of fact, it DOES happen to more than 44 million Americans, or nearly one in five adults. And when it does, they suffer an 85% unemployment rate, and tend to live twenty-five years less than the average in America.

This vast number of people suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder and need our help. In the past too often mental illness has been shrouded in ignorance, fear, and avoidance. But I am glad to be able to write about a great, unusual, creative effort in our midst, helping persons recovering from mental illness – and providing a model for others to follow as they attempt to help people return to productive, healthy lives.

Twenty-five years ago, on September 15th, 1988, with its present director at the helm, Genesis Club opened in our neighborhood. From small beginnings, in one older building, the club has grown to its present size at 274 Lincoln Street, Worcester, where the facility now houses four floors dedicated to all the activities needed to run the club. I have enjoyed many a good lunch in the club cafeteria, and neighborhood groups have held meetings there, and enjoyed concerts also. The walls display paintings and other art work done by club members, and any time I have visited, there is always a great bustle of activities, in the many rooms and offices on all floors. Computers, meetings, conferences and all sorts of activities take place all day Monday through Friday, with club members and staff busily running programs and participating in all the activity. Continue reading

Insects may bug us, but try to be less trigger-happy!

By Paula Moore

 At this time of year, it’s not unusual to find ants in your pantry or beetles in your basement. While our fear of creepy crawlies can drive us to want to kill, kill, kill, before you reach for the bug spray or rolled-up newspaper, consider that such lethal methods are both cruel and ineffective. (For starters, we’re vastly outnumbered—more on that in a minute.) We can—and should—resolve conflicts with troublesome bugs humanely.

 I’m not saying that you should live with flies in your fruit bowl. But get over the idea that you can ever be completely bug-free. According to Nancy L. Brill, who was part of a team of entomologists that studied the types of bugs that inhabit our houses, “What most of us don’t know is that our homes are filled with a profusion of insects and their relatives, collectively called arthropods, most of which we never see.”

As Brill describes in a recent New York Times commentary, she and her colleagues from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences collected more than 10,000 specimens of insects, both dead and alive, in just 50 houses in the Raleigh, N.C., area. As many as 100 or more different species of arthropods were often found living under a single roof. You read that right. Continue reading

You can be good to animals this BBQ weekend

Memorial Day weekend – summer unfurls like a great big American flag. America hauls out its grills and eats way too many animals, gorges on way too meat/fat and grows fatter by the minute … Doesn’t have to be this way!

Here is a yummy vegan recipe, preceded by a story by Chef Joey!      - R. Tirella


A new appreciation for eating Vegan (and a recipe)

By Chef Joey

It goes without saying as loud as someone can brag “I don’t drink” drinkers cringe, I believe the same goes for when someone says they are vegan, eyes roll, faces get made – and it really isn’t a stigma because everyone has had a vegan meal or snack without realizing it.  Take hummus for example, a perfect meal really; chick peas alone are loaded with fiber and protein and equally as much protein in the tahini sesame paste – add healthy garlic – lemon juice and you’re golden.  Perfectly vegan.

A little “Vegan” history to toss out at a party – Herbivores have been around since the beginning of time, vegans and vegetarians as well, but it wasn’t until Post War 1944 the term vegan was coined by Donald Watson when he co-founded the Vegan Society in England, to mean “non-dairy vegetarian” and later to refer to “the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals.  Some of the original names his followers also suggested allvega, neo-vegetarian, dairyban, vitan, benevore, sanivores and beaumangeur, but Watson stuck with vegan. Veganism increased in the 2000s as a result vegan food became increasingly available in supermarkets and restaurants in many countries. Several athletes in endurance sports, such as the Ironman triathlon and the ultra-marathon, began to practice veganism and raw veganism.

When I started research for this article, being a chef I know enough about what goes into food to keep it Vegan, or Vegetarian, Soy Milks, Tofu all can be transformed into wonderful healthy meals.  When I started researching the subject, my jaw dropped when I read “to produce milk, cows are kept pregnant and their calves are removed soon after birth, while male chicks are killed in the production of eggs.  Ok it won’t stop me from making an omelet, it does want me to stick to organic farm fresh – which can be another article.  Studies have proven that red meat is detrimental and has been linked to many diseases.  S simple swap out of using cooked lentils and following your favorite recipe say for meatloaf, just may surprise you, it won’t be vegan but it is a healthy way to change your diet, and lower your food costs.  Eating healthier is cheaper if you soak your own beans chick peas for 59 cents a bag vs $1 a can, is substantial.  I am not telling anyone to go vegan, but look around at healthy snacks and meals, curries are so delicious, and there is a plethora of recipes on the internet – Here is my favorite Vegan “Meat-less” loaf recipe.


  • 1 1/2 cups lentils
  • 3 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups pre-cooked rice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Preparation: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large soup or stock pot, simmer the lentils in water or vegetable broth until cooked, about 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly then mash the lentils until they are half mashed. Sautee the onions and garlic in olive oil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Combine the onions, garlic and olive oil with the mashed lentils and add the rice, salt, ketchup or barbecue sauce, sage, and Italian seasoning.Gently press the mixture into a lightly greased loaf pan. Drizzle a bit of extra ketchup on top if desired. Bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool slightly before serving, as this will help the lentil loaf to firm up. Makes six servings.  You can form it into patties and pan fry them in for burgers!


Red-Hot Grilling Recipes from PETA!

Grilling season is here! Grilling is one of our favorite cooking methods. In addition to providing the smoky flavor that emanates from the coals, grilling caramelizes the natural sugars in the vegetables and makes them taste extra sweet. Just about anything that sprouts from the ground or grows on a tree can be suspended over coals, including corn on the cob, zucchini, potatoes, onions, pineapples, mangoes, and mushrooms. Meat alternatives, such as veggie burgers, veggie dogs, and soy chicken, as well as seitan and tofu are other delicious grilling options.

We’ve assembled a collection of our favorite recipes that are bursting with flame-grilled goodness for you to try (click on the BLUE!):




Read more:


Community FRUIT orchard in Piedmont neighborhood to be planted! Hooray for the Jaques Ave Community Orchard!

Worcester Receives a TD Green Streets Grant to plant Community Orchard in Piedmont Neighborhood!

Tuesday, May 27, at 2:30 PM, Congressman James P. McGovern, Senator Harriette Chandler, and City Manager Ed Augustus will celebrate the planting of 20 fruit trees at the newly established Community Orchard at 9 Jaques Ave, Worcester. This project is made possible through a generous TD Green Streets grant.

Worcester Tree Initiative staff, volunteers from TD Bank, refugee farmers from Bhutan, and New Lands Farm staff will work together beginning at 10:00 AM to plant several varieties of semi-dwarf fruit trees at the site, including peaches, pears, plums, cherries and apples, thus taking the first step at establishing the newest EAT center in Worcester.

“Every person in this country should have access to locally grown, healthy food,” said U.S. Representative Jim McGovern. “I am thrilled to see fruit trees being planted in the Piedmont neighborhood and peach, pear and apple trees added to the already vibrant community gardening program in Worcester.”

The Jaques Ave Community Orchard project is a partnership of the Worcester Tree Initiative, Worcester Common Ground, Lutheran Social Services/New Lands Farm project, and City of Worcester and builds on a model launched in 2011 on Oread Place known as the Education and Agriculture Training (EAT) Center. The EAT center partnership includes the Regional Environmental Council.

Yvette Dyson, Executive Director of Worcester Common Ground, the property owner notes that “from a partnership perspective we all believe in land preservation and the cultivation of produce for the people we serve in Central MA. Securing these parcels [at 7/9 Jaques Ave] will help to eliminate trash problems, and eventually provide fruit and produce for farmers/neighbors to grow, feed their families and sell”.

The City of Worcester was awarded a TD Green Streets grant in the amount of $19,380 to create the orchard and has contracted with The Worcester Tree Initiative to implement the project. . A large portion of the funds will be used to purchase the trees, fence the lot, and pay for interpreters to work with the Bhutanese farmers who will care for the fruit trees over the long term.

Peggy Middaugh, Executive Director of the Worcester Tree Initiative notes that “we have given away and planted over 5,500 trees in the past 5 years, and lately more and more residents have expressed an interest in growing fruit trees. We’re very excited to expand our urban forestry efforts to include the food producing beneifs of trees”!. The Worcester Tree Initiative will continue to provide support to the refugee farmers for the care of the trees by providing tools, skills building workshops and hiring interpreters.

The Worcester Tree Initiative (WTI) was launched in January 2009 by Congressman Jim McGovern and Lt. Governor Tim Murray as a positive response to the devastation caused by the infestation and eradication of the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB). In the past 5 years, over 5,500 trees have been planted and thousands of residents, school children and community members mobilized to become stewards of the urban forest.

The Jaques Ave Community Orchard is the 2nd EAT center in Worcester and the first to include fruit trees.
The Education and Agriculture Training (EAT) Center was launched in 2011 as a joint partnership of the REC, Lutheran Social Services, Worcester Common Ground and the City of Worcester Mayor’s Office.

A pilot initiative, the EAT Center seeks to utilize undeveloped tax levy parcels in the city of Worcester that are suitable for agriculture by transferring ownership to this partnership for a nominal cost. Community members, including recently arrived refugees with an agricultural background identified by Lutheran Social Services (Worcester’s largest refugee resettlement agency), are provided an opportunity to receive training on urban agriculture and an opportunity to grow produce on a larger scale than is otherwise available via the REC’s community gardens network.

This Memorial Day weekend, let’s not forget America’s courageous military dogs!

Deb wrote this piece for us last year. We re-post it today for all our brave military canines who are working to keep Americans safe and for the beloved “vets” who made the ultimate sacrifice!                -  R. Tirella

US Military’s war dogs must be reclassified! They are not “equipment” to be discarded!

By Deb Young

Dogs have been an important part of the U.S. Military for decades.

In fact, the only member of the team that raided the Osama bin Laden compound we know anything about is a war dog, named Cairo.

Canines have been used in the U.S. Military ever since the Revolutionary war. These dogs saved lives, boosted morale and have contributed greatly to our fighting forces.

War dogs began their military service working as pack animals. During World War 1, their major task was killing rats in the trenches. One of the most famous WW 1 military dogs was Sergeant Stubby . He was the first war dog to be used on the Western Front, and during his 18 months of service, this plucky, unknown stray dog took part in seventeen battles.

Stubby, was a bull terrier mix, as a small stray he was smuggled aboard a troop ship in France. He served in battles at Chateau Thierry,the Marne and the Meuse-Argonne with the men of the 102nd Infantry.

During his career, Sgt. Stubby comforted wounded soldiers, saved a regiment from surprise mustard gas attacks and even captured a German spy; literally by the seat of his pants.

One night in February 1918, he roused a sleeping sergeant to warn of a gas attack, giving the soldiers time to don masks and thus saving them. Gen John “Black Jack” Pershing awarded him a special Gold Medal. He was given a Life Membership in the American Legion and the Red Cross. He met Presidents Wilson, Harding, and Collidge. He died of old age in 1926. Sergeant Stubby was the most decorated war dog in U.S. history.

Throughout World War II, over 10,000 highly trained military dogs were deployed to serve as sentry canines, scouts, mine detectors and messengers. Many of these dogs were family pets who had been “volunteered” by their owners to serve their country. Today, there are an estimated 2,700 military dogs serving alongside U.S. military personnel. About 600 military dogs have been deployed to Afghanistan and Kuwait. One of their most significant imperatives is sniffing out bombs.

25 Marine War Dogs gave their lives liberating Guam in 1944 and many more served as sentries, messengers, and scouts, exploring caves, detecting mines and booby traps, and bringing vital information across the battlefield.

Nearly 4000 dogs served in Vietnam and saved up to 10,000 American servicemen through their scouting and sentry duties. When withdrawing from Vietnam in 1973, the military classified the dogs as surplus equipment to be left behind during evacuation. Many dogs were left with South Vietnamese allies who were afraid of the dogs and didn’t know how to handle them. Many of the dogs were euthanized, and many more perished at the hands of their inexperienced South Vietnamese handlers. Only a handful of Vietnam war dogs made it back to the United States. Many handlers and trainers who worked with these dogs were traumatized by having to leave their faithful companions behind, stating that the dogs saved their lives and often did more work than they did.

Virtually all breeds of dogs have been used at one time or another. But later, with more experience, the list was narrowed to five: German Shepherds, Belgian Sheep Dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Farm Collies (short coat) and Giant Schnauzers. The vast majority of U.S. military working dogs in recent times are German and Dutch shepherds and Belgian Malinois, breeds chosen because they are very aggressive, smart, loyal and athletic. For specialized roles, detector dogs in particular, other breeds are used. Retrievers (Labrador, Golden or Chesapeake Bay) are the preferred breeds for One Odor Detector dogs.

Military canines complete a 120-day program featuring positive rewards, (with a preferred rubber toy or ball rather than food). It is designed to teach obedience and how to “sniff out” dangerous substances. These dogs become trusted partners and companions to the fellow soldiers with whom they are assigned.Not only can these military dogs smell up to two miles away, they are trained to rappel down buildings, jump out of airplanes and swim long

Although Military dogs are living, breathing animals, the defense department classifies them as “equipment. ”distances.

Approximately 300 dogs a year are retired. But what future do these loyal and courageous canines face once their tour of duty has been completed?

According to the Washington times these canines have been classified by the military as “equipment”. Upon their retirement they fall into the “surplus equipment” category – much like any obsolete military appliance, therefore are not returned back to the United States. While these dogs may not be euthanized, (which was one of the options facing these hero dogs after the war in Vietnam was over), the United States is not willing to defray the cost of the dogs’ return home. Instead they are given away, put up for adoption or even abandoned much the in the same way as a broken Hum-Vee or crashed helicopter.

Being classified as equipment means:

  1. Retired Military Working Dogs are stranded at their final duty station.
  2. Military Working Dogs receive no medical benefits after retirement.
  3. Military Working Dogs receive no recognition for their faithful service.

But it’s the wording of this classification that has bothered dog-lovers across the country, not to mention veterans who have served with these marvelous animals.

And, of course, in our budget conscious environment today, there’s always the cost factor.

However, it is estimated that the dogs could be shipped back to the United States on cargo planes at little cost to taxpayers.

If anyone needed evidence of the frontline role played by dogs in war these days, here is the latest: the four-legged, wet-nosed troops used to sniff out mines, track down enemy fighters and clear buildings are struggling with the mental strains of combat nearly as much as their human counterparts.

Somewhere, right now, a military working dog is searching for roadside bombs and protecting our troops. They’re on the front lines, facing explosions and gunfire- a memory that haunts some of these dogs for the rest of their lives.

By some estimates, more than 5 percent of the approximately 650 military dogs deployed by American combat forces are developing canine PTSD.

Many War Dogs help veterans better manage the invisible and lifelong challenges of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury (PTSD/TBI) by being paired back with their human soldier counterparts . The dog becomes the veteran’s partner in the struggle to achieve confidence, reconnect with their loved ones, and resume normal activities in their communities. In a sense becoming each others life line!

Recently S.2134, (The Canine Member of the Armed Forces Act) was passed by the US House and Senate to honor military dogs, declaring them as Military Working dogs, (of all breeds) and will no longer be classified as “Military Equipment.” Instead they would be returned to Lackland Air Force Base with the classification of “Military Veterans” and in recognition of their service; United States heroes. They will be evaluated, retrained or if necessary, re-homed.

The Canine Member of the Armed Forces Act was amended into and passed in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. But due to political snafus, the bill’s title was changed to “”Military Working Dog Matters” and their reclassification was deleted to keep them in the “military equipment” category.

This act if passed would include the following.
Section 1 – Short Title
• Designates this act as the “Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act.”

Section 2 Findings

• Explains that military working dogs have served honorably in the armed forces and other government agencies in ways that go far beyond their current designation as “equipment.”
• Notes that military working dogs have prevented injuries and saved lives.

Section 3 – Retirement and Adoption of Military Working Dogs
• Reclassifies military working dogs as canine members of the armed forces and states that they shall not be classified as equipment.
• Authorizes the Secretary of the appropriate military department to transport retiring military working dogs to the 341st Training Squadron or another suitable location for adoption, if no suitable adoption is available at the military facility where the dog is located.
• Authorizes the Secretary of Defense to accept travel benefits such as frequent traveler miles to facilitate the adoption of a retired military working dog.

Section 4 – Veterinary Care for Retired Military Working Dogs
• Directs the Secretary of Defense to establish and maintain a system to provide for the veterinary care of retired military working dogs beginning on the date on which the dog is adopted.
• Directs the Secretary to operate the system through a contract awarded to a private non-profit entity. The non-profit entity would be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the system; no federal funds would be used to operate the system.
• Directs the Secretary to consult with the board of directors of the non-profit to establish standards of veterinary care, including the types of care to be provided, the entities qualified to provide the care, and the facilities in which the care may be provided.

Section 5 – Recognition of Service of Military Working Dogs
• Directs the Secretary of Defense to create a decoration or other appropriate recognition to recognize military working dogs that are killed in action or perform an exceptionally meritorious or courageous act in service to the United States.

Public input is needed to help get the bill passed and signed by the President. It will restore the bill’s original intent; removing their classification as “equipment”, changing it to “military veterans”.

Our courageous military dogs, who are living and breathing animals deserve so much better than being classified as “equipment.”

Worcester Shot-Spotter update


By Sue Moynagh

On Monday, April 14, ShotSpotter was up and running, hooked up with the Real Time Police Center and also with California reviewing offices that screen the information and help filter out noises that are not gun- related. On the following Wednesday, the Worcester Police Department held a Crime Watch Summit to give information to city officials and residents about ShotSpotter and its prospects for fighting gun violence in Worcester. The technology was explained and demonstrations were given via a power point presentation. ShotSpotter is doing its job!

First up to speak was Mayor Joseph Petty, a member of the nationwide group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, who is adamant about cleaning out gun violence in our city. He noted that ShotSpotter is already paying dividends. Next to speak was City Manager Ed Augustus. He stressed the importance of the partnership between neighborhood crime watches and the police. He also emphasized the importance of incorporating cutting-edge technology in the fight against crime. Worcester Police are constantly innovating their methods and technological tools, and ShotSpotter is a vital tool in the police arsenal to tighten their response to gun fire.

Deputy Chief Mark Roche and Captain Paul Saucier made the main presentation. What is ShotSpotter and why do we need it? Basically, ShotSpotter is a web- based system of sensors that detect loud noises, filter them, and allow police to respond quickly to gun fire. The sensors triangulate the position, allowing police to zero in on the exact location, but also give information about number of shots, time of activity, movement and direction if this is a driveby shooting, and even may identify type of weapon used. .As Deputy Chief Roche said of officers going into harm’s way- they have “better info going in.” They know if this is a single shot, or multiple shots, with the same or different firearms. More shots mean more personnel can be sent to the scene. Most important, they get there quickly, in minutes usually, so they have a better chance of catching the suspects, aiding victims, and collecting vital evidence.

I admit I have never called in when I hear gun shots. Usually it is late at night, and I have no clear idea of where the shots are coming from, especially if they are not close. Why don’t I call? I hesitate to call because at crime watch meetings, I have been taught to be very clear, very precise with descriptions when I call in a complaint. The more information given, the better the response. I feel as if I would be too vague if I say, “I heard three gunshots, but I don’t know where they are coming from.” How could police respond to that? According to Captain Saucier, people can detect gunfire half a mile away. Now with ShotSpotter, they can pinpoint the location within feet. They explained that the calls are important as records of gun shots, so they asked us to “Please call!”

I am not the only one who does not call. Only about 20- 25% of gun shots are called in. This includes the two incidents on Barclay Street in the Union Hill neighborhood. On April 13, at 1:06 a.m. gun shots were detected by ShotSpotter, but nothing was called in. Shell casings were found at the location. On Friday, April 24, gun shots were again detected by ShotSpotter at 2:40 a.m. This time the shots were fired into a window at 43 Barclay Street. At 10:00 a.m., police were contacted when the owner of the house found a suspicious device on his SUV. The State Police Bomb Squad assisted the Worcester Police Department; including a K-9 bomb sniffing dog in dealing with the threat. The bomb was safely detonated, and no one was injured. Again, these shots were not called in to police. Unreported shots have been detected in other neighborhoods as well, even before the sensors were connected to the California review center. This includes an incident on April 12, where shots were confirmed at Hollis and Wyman Streets at 2:15 a.m.

Critics complain about the high cost of ShotSpotter and point out that no one has been caught yet. The cost of installation and use of this technology in the six square mile section of Worcester, along with cameras that will provide visual evidence will be approximately $1million for the three year trial period. As the police pointed out at the Crime Watch Summit, ShotSpotter is guaranteed to be 80% accurate in the contract, but is actually closer to 90% accurate in detecting gun fire. If people don’t call in when they hear gunshots, there is no record of gun activity. ShotSpotter confirms this is a real event.

When decisions are made about police presence in a neighborhood, inaccurate data can mean fewer officers. Now the data coming from ShotSpotter support the need for police presence in higher risk areas. As Deputy Chief Roche explained, “The quality of the investigation is increased. Resources are deployed based on data…data-led policing.”

Police on the scene collect evidence from a 25 meter area around the pinpointed location. Even though the shooter may be gone, gun casings are easier to find and collect. They may provide evidence in future cases. When a suspect is apprehended, evidence will allow police to tie this person to previous shootings.

Most important of all, lives may be saved. Innocent people get caught up in gang shootings, and are seriously injured or even killed. I’m sure we’ve all read tragic stories about children being caught in gunfire between gangs. Stray bullets can hit homes. Calls that do come in to dispatch can take up to 10 minutes for response. Now with ShotSpotter, a call to officers can go out in 30 seconds to a minute, which can mean the difference between life and death. How do you put a price on a life?

This is just the first Phase of the ShotSpotter deployment. In Phase II, cameras will be installed. These will be the “eyes” that detect cars or suspects leaving the scene. Much of the funding will be coming from CSX mitigation funds, but the City of Worcester will also pay a portion. A member of the CSX Subcommittee said that the data coming from ShotSpotter will be examined in the near future, and more funding may be made available from that source.

Both Deputy Chief Mark Roche and Captain Paul Saucier did a commendable job in keeping city officials and residents informed about the technology and how it will benefit high risk areas of the City. I have seen evidence in my neighborhood that ShotSpotter works and I support its use wholeheartedly. I also look forward to the day when we no longer need this type of protection in my community. Residents have to do their part as well. Now when I hear shots, I will call, because I know my report of gunshots is being validated by ShotSpotter. I hope others will become more involved, because we are ultimately responsible for the safety and quality of our neighborhoods.