Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella
THE CITY OF WORCESTER SAYS IT WANTS TO HELP THE HOMELESS.
HERE’S THEIR EVENT:
We would like to invite you to join us for our Longest Night Vigil on December 21st, 2017 at 5PM.
December 21st is the first day of winter and the longest night of the year. It is also known as National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. As we pause to remember those who have died while living without a permanent home, we will bring attention to this issue that impacts all of us in our community.
This event will also be an opportunity to come together and make a commitment to continue to work towards a community where no life is lived or lost in homelessness.
HOSTED BY: City of Worcester Department of Health & Human Services; Community Healthlink’s Consumer Advisory Board
But don’t we need more than feel-good p.r. events like the above? Yes, they raise awareness but, more often than not, they just make the comfortable feel less guilty and selfish during the holiday season, when their stomachs are stuffed, their holiday getaways booked and their Christmas trees wobble from all the presents underneath them.
Don’t we need to literally HELP FOLKS, not symbolically support them? As a civilized community, don’t we need to provide homeless folks SHELTER, food, a clean bed, a place to shower and refresh themselves??? … or they’ll fade away. Some people in our city would like that very much.
As the second-largest city in New England, we tout our “renaissance,” which at this point mostly revolves around high-end restaurants and their chi chi foodies who photograph their meals!! in arrogance – and pointlessness. But doesn’t a first-rate city have … a homeless plan? … A desire to bring more minorities into the work force … a desire to create opportunities for all, not just for the big shots’ families and extended families and pals and their pals? Worcester is still a closed-off place. You see the effects in our city core, in all the poor and minority folks hanging on with three or four shit jobs, an underground catering biz or junk-removal biz or, deadly to our neighborhoods!, a drug biz. A thriving heroin biz, complete with rifles and guns and wasted 15 year olds. And the drug-tragedy infects the neighborhoods, goes ’round and ’round, repeats itself in the next generation. City Manager Ed Augustus, walk around Piedmont, lower Vernon Hill, South Worcester any afternoon and see the broken people! See their drawn and tired faces, their scrawniness or obesity, their kids, hidden in their apartments because their streets are so tough … The despair is heartbreaking!
Our city’s lack of a plan for caring for our homeless people is the most egregious example of our civic heartlessness. We need to do so much more! With the closing of the PIP shelter, and not enough beds for our homeless, and below-freezing temps closing in, the City of Worcester needs to step up! We cannot expect Father Madden, pastor of St. John’s Church on Temple Street, to do it all!
Father Madden is an amazing person! With a smile and a hug, he takes in the homeless on winter nights, feeds the homeless and struggling every day, gives food to the homeless and hungry every day and runs a residential program for folks who would most likely BE homeless. All this on top of his more conventional priestly duties: leading mass, writing sermons, praying at funerals, baptisms, weddings … counseling parishioners, running church groups and even fundraising for the diocese. If city officials worked half as hard to honor the individual as Father John Madden does, Worcester would truly be GREAT! You’d see it in the people’s faces in my neighborhood and throughout our inner city!
We can’t diss the wonderful “Dr. Mattie,” the city’s relatively new health czar! She’s terrific! She’s got brains and heart! She’s recommended the city establish a kind of camp for the homeless, many of whom don’t want to be in buildings/ institutions. The camp would be permanent and have cots, showers, bathrooms, a 24/7 police presence and social workers. Many big American cities have these camps. This would ensure our homeless brothers and sisters are safe, warm, cared for and maybe just maybe primed for job searches!
Of course, the cruel Worcester brigade weighed in. The Turtle Boy bunch, which includes Mike and Coreen Gaffney, local uber bitch and attorney-who-was-formally-reprimanded-by-the-bar-assoc (the City Manager is on the cusp of giving her his blessings and appointing her to a City Board!) Margaret Melican, and dunderhead squawker Paul Collyer threw words around like “hobo” and hobo camp and the cruel jokes began and the public swallowed the stereotypes hook, line and sinker. These savvy assholes stopped an intelligent community conversation around homelessness dead in its tracks. They stopped solutions from being born.
So unlike Boston or Somerville, or other world-class cities where problems like homelessness are confronted in a real and muscular way. These days, besides its millennial scene, Worcester grows its very own ghettos! Remember the late, great Boston Mayor Tom Menino and how on bitterly cold winter nights he’d be out with Boston social workers handing out blankets to the homeless, leading them to the city’s homeless shelters???
That kind of compassion is beyond Augustus and company.
Which is why so much of our urban core is now a wasteland …
… why so many of our homeless people are sick, dying…
… and the city’s homeless event is ultimately a crock of shit.