One of Worcester’s Own
By Parlee Jones
Peace, Worcester People! Five years ago, I wrote an ICT article about Helen Sakovich, a local woman who has served as a school Crossing Guard at the corner of Elm and West streets for the past 30 years.
Well, five years later, the State of Massachusetts has decided to award Helen with the Unsung Heroines of Massachusetts Award.
“Each year the Commission gathers nominations from across the state for women who make outstanding contributions to their organizations and communities. The Honorees are nominated by state legislators as a means of recognizing women for their previously unnoted yet valuable community contributions.
“The Unsung Heroines are women who don’t always make the news, but truly make the difference. They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and towns. They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who do what needs to be done without expectations of recognition or gratitude. These women are the glue that keeps a community together and every community has them.”
~ Massachusetts Coalition on the Status of Women
Helen grew up in Worcester, on Greenwood Street where her dad built a home for her mom as a wedding gift. She remained there until her 20s. Her mom, Eva, was born there and dad Jack was from Belarus, Russia. Her dad passed away when she was 12, and her mom raised four children in the home built from love.
Helen’s sisters are Annie and Sonia.They are the lights of her life. Her brother, Dmitri, passed away in 1984. Her parents were married for 14 years when Jack passed away.
Helen was raised in a home of love and her parents were kind. Helen went to Quinsigamond grammar school and Grafton Street Junior High School. She graduated from North High in the Class of ’69, “the real North,” as she calls it.
Helen started working as the Cross Guard at Elm and West on September 21, 1987.
When asked why she has stayed so long in this job, Helen says that she has loved this job from the beginning. She enjoys watching the school kids growing up from year to year. “It’s nice to watch the kids start off in kindergarten and then to see them on their way to sixth grade graduation. I’ve seen a lot of children in this neighborhood. … My job fulfills me – I love children.”
Helen has also seen her kids, who have grown up now, come back with their own children, some attending the same school as their parents and still living in the same neighborhood. “In the last week I must have seen 10 kids that have grown come back with their kids.” Sometimes the students who have grown up will come back and say hi! Thanking her for kind words in the morning and afternoon.
“When summer comes I miss my job,” Helen says. “I start counting down the days once they start showing the “Back to School” [TV] commercials. I have had all cultures of kids and I love it. If you love what you do it’s easy. I love children.”
She adds: “Another thing I enjoy is watching the moms walking the little ones to school on the first day. Sometimes the moms are crying and sometimes the kids are crying. … to see the kids on the first day of school with their little bow ties and pretty shoes. Some clinging to mom and some running from mom.”
Helen truly enjoys seeing the loving moms cry as they leave their babies for the first time. “I love to see the looks on their faces,” she says.
Helen was nominated by State Rep. Mary Keefe. Helen says that she is undeserving, that she does not like the title “Heroine” because that honor should be reserved for “cops, medical and fire people.” Workers who put their lives on the line for people, workers who save folks’ lives.
Helen said she won’t make the ceremony at the State House because it is the last day of school, and she does not want to miss any of her kids!!!
Elm Park School is lucky to have such a protector!
Congratulations, my friend! No one is more deserving!