By Dorrie Maynard
First, I would like to talk about my vehicle. I call it the bat mobile. Others sometimes refer to it as the Giving Van. It is beginning to be known around Worcester as the vehicle that hands out pet food on some days and necessitates to the less fortunate on other days.
It is a vehicle that is hard not to miss – a 2007 Black Toyota FJ Cruiser. I was the first person in Worcester to own one. I happened to be driving by
HarrToyota and they had one on
display. I went in with a few
friends. We had all decided that I
wasn’t buying, just looking. After I took it for a test drive, I asked: “Where do I sign?” I filled out the paperwork and waited for my “special order” to come in. It was the first new car I had ever purchased! I was so excited and, because it was so unique looking, every time I drove it, people would look and point! I vowed to keep it clean always!
Well, to those who know me, you know that never happened! My “truck” is always filled with things that are either coming or going. Almost every family member of mine has cleaned and/orsorted that vehicle out at least once. My nieces have done it several times. To people who don’t know me: if you ever happen to walk by my truck, you will think that someone is living in there
or living out of there! There are bags of bread, pet food, blankets, hats/gloves, “blessing bags,” chargers, and just general “stuff.”
People call me all the time and tell me that they have things they need to get rid and ask if I could come and
get them, as they know I will always find homes for whatever they are getting rid of. I drive regularly to Shrewsbury and have driven to Auburn a few times in
the past month. I love sorting things and making gift packages of items that are going to various locations. I
bring things to Abby’s House for women, the Mustard Seed soup kitchen, …
… WARL, a private, in-home cat rescue, a dog shelter in Connecticut. I also give to people that I know personally who are in need.
I am very fortunate that people who know me, know that I have this ability to “spread the love” or “share the wealth.” I hate to see things end up in the
trash or at the side of the road when I probably know someone who can use whatever is being re-homed.
I am considering starting a small non-profit that would enable me to pick up items from people and give them tax donation slips for their goods. At home I have a very large basement – I could start to warehouse items. I would run a free service to those in need and free pick up or drop off to people who want to just pass along their good, useable items.
Items would include but not
be limited to: household items, small furniture, linens, pots/pans, clothing, small appliances, etc. Of course, stipulations would have to be made: all items would need to be in clean, workable condition, as I would not
want to have to end up having to hire a dumpster to remove items that I could not pass on. … Just something
that I am thinking about as the 2017 begins.
Some other thoughts that are dancing in my head: all the pets that were adopted over the holidays that hopefully won’t end up back where they came
from or worse!
… and has given Rose’s little Cece so many cute toys! Thanks, Auntie D!
Like Craigslist “free” to a good home. I
am confident that most animal rescues and shelters do their best to make sure these “failures” are few and far between, but I am sure there are some that cats and dogs that slip through
Several years ago,I had been looking for another dog after my first dog passed away, so I put it out there to all my friends that I was on the hunt. I was looking for an older, small female to be a companion to my other dog. A friend emailed me about a craigslist ad, “free to a good home.” The dog seemed perfect other than they described her as “protective.” I remember calling the
woman and begging her to keep the dog until I could get there to meet her. She mentioned that she had had several other calls that said they would just “take the dog.” I wanted to bring my current dog for a meet and greet to see if they would be comptable.
It was a Friday night drive to Dorchester in the middle ofrush hour. It took me 2.5 hours to get there. I got
lost several times and was ready to give up when the very kind woman offered to start walking to meet me. She described what she was wearing and I described
my “bat mobile” to her. We eventually met up and she directed me to her
house. When we arrived, I walked in and Princess attacked me, nipped my pants and practically lunged at my dog. I thought: This isn’t good, but I was patient and kept trying to get Princess to come near me. She was so attached to her owner and her kids, but they were moving and could not take her as their new lease did not allow dogs. I ended up saying, “What the heck, I’ll take
her and make it work!” I did give the woman $100 as she looked
like she could use it to help with moving expenses.
I brought Princess into my house and she has lived up to her name ever since!
Princess is still “protective” and does not like strangers, especially men, but once guests are in my home and she knows the are “safe,” she does come around. I have no idea what her past was like, I know that I am her third and final owner, that she had been
“bred” and had had several litters. I guess that is why she gets along so well with my 3 year old dog that was
another rehoming find. They play like puppies even though Princess is 11 years old! They sleep together, play together, and eat together. I have found my pack!
Last and final rant. The streets of Worcester then and now. Many people know that I owned and operated a very “iconic” store on Highland Street. It was once known as the famous Shakie Jakes. I was there and loved
every minute of my owning my own business for 10 years, directly across the street from the Sole Proprietor.
It was a perfect spot for my business. I had always dreamed of running a resale shop but always found a million reasons why I couldn’t or shouldn’t. However,
when the opportunity came my way of following in the foot steps of such a landmark store, I had no more reasons
why I couldn’t.
However, owning and operating a small business is not all it is cracked up to be. Times change, my life
changed, other responsibilities became more important and, eventually, I decided to close shop. I will never regret following my dream of owning a resale store!
Unfortunately, the neighborhood changed, and the clientele started to become less and less desirable. Living in the
area, I found the same to be true as well. The small local businesses of Highland Street have all turned into a barber shop, a packaging/mail business, a nail and eye brow salon and a money exchange business. I am not saying they aren’t good for the neighborhood, but they are certainly not the Highland Street businesses that most remember, supported and loved to visit.
And with all that said, I will end my rants for early 2017 and look forward to sharing more stories and interests with you in the future!🌸🌻🌷
If anyone would like
to reach me for comment or questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com. All best to all!
For nearly 100 years, Worcester was the center of the commercial Valentine industry in the United States.
Join the WORCESTER HISTORICAL MUSEUM for a Valentine making workshop at 30 Elm St. on Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11 and make your own Worcester-inspired card in the tradition of Esther Howland, Jotham Taft or George C. Whitney.
This program is for Valentine lovers of all ages and is FREE with museum admission.
We will provide everything but the stamp!
This program runs from 11 AM – 3 PM.
Winners of the 39th Annual “Be Our Valentine” Contest Award Ceremony
At the museum …
Friday, February 10 at 4 PM
Students in grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 celebrated Worcester’s historic role by creating 21st century Valentine greetings. The winners of our 2017 Valentine making competition will be awarded in this yearly celebration of creativity, history and fun!
All of the entries, representing 18 of Worcester’s schools, will be on exhibit at the Worcester Historical Museum through February 28!
We Help Make Change in Your Local Food System!
For the past 3 years, we have been working with the City of Worcester on a zoning ordinance that would allow commercial farming in the City of Worcester.
Over the past year, the process has been stalled and community advocates have no longer been included in the development of the policy, or in the process for bringing it to the community.
We asked some of our key partners to start making phone calls to City Hall, and as a result Councilor Rivera asked for the Urban Agriculture Ordinance to be on the agenda at TONIGHT’s City Council meeting – Tuesday, January 31, at 7 p.m.
WE NEED YOU TO COME SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!
How can you do that?
1. Come to Worcester City Hall, 3rd floor for the meeting TONIGHT, Tuesday, January 31 at 7 pm. Bring a sign if you want! Having extra people in the room shows a lot of support!
2. Come and speak at City Council. Are you an aspiring small farmer? Are you a beekeeper? Are you an avid gardener that might like to sell some of what you grow? Come and share your story! You WILL make a difference!
3. If you can’t come but have something to say, send an email … we can read your remarks. Don’t forget to include your zip code as a City resident.
4. If you can’t come, call your City Councilor and let them know your interest in and support of the ordinance and that you won’t be able to attend the meeting in person, but that you’re supportive.
GET INVOLVED TODAY!
By Dorrie Maynard
Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, Merry Christmas, Meilleurs Voeux, Felices Fiestas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza, and any others that I may have missed!
As we all go on about with our busy preparations for the festivities this season with family and friends, please take some time to remember and acknowledge those who don’t have people to spend the holidays with. There are many out there who don’t even have a safe and warm place to sleep at night.
I know there is a fine line between enabling and helping, but just for this season we can all try to not judge others until we have walked in their shoes or know their battles. Some are out there because they are drinking and/or drugging and choose to continue to do so, and others are out there because of circumstances that they may have contributed to or had no assistance to handle.
A place like the Mustard Seed on Piedmont street is a great place to start giving back to your community! You can drop off gently used, clean, warm clothing, groceries, toiletries, sleeping bags, blankets, pairs of socks, or even offer to prepare and serve a meal to the sometimes more than 100 hungry people who visit daily.
The Mustard Seed is open Monday through Friday, 4 pm – 6 pm.
Other local places to consider: Abby’s House, the Veteran’s Shelter, St. John’s Feeding program, your local senior center, the Boy’s & Girls Club of Worcester, the Friendly House, the Salvation Army, just to name a few.
Children at the Friendly House Annual Christmas Party, held this past Sunday at FH, 36 Wall St., met Santa, got a holiday gift, had fun and were treated to entertainment because of the efforts and love of volunteers – and FH Executive Director Gordon Hargrove! Donations of gently used (or new!), warm, clean clothing and blankets are always needed this time of year at the Friendly House!
I don’t like to give money to pan handlers, but I do try to always have some granola bars in my car to hand
out. There was one man on a corner I recognized from working at a local food pantry, and I offered him a bar.
He said, “No thanks. I don’t have any teeth.” And then he smiled at me.
I didn’t have have anything else to give him, but he was gracious when I offered something.
I also try to have on hand: a pair of gloves, mittens, hat, scarf this time of year to give out to folks on street corners. I know it might be their attempt to look cold, thus making people
feel more sorry for them, but at least I feel better knowing they have something warm as I drive off.
If you are more into helping animals, as some are, for various reasons, another suggestion is to give to your local animal rescue league/society. They are always in need of used, clean blankets and towels, rolls of paper towels, bleach, cat litter, pet food, etc. You can always call ahead or look on line at their wish lists to find out what they truly are in need of, as things change daily, depending upon what they have or have run out of.
I always believe it is best to donate to small local rescues, as they help animals in your area. I don’t like to donateto the places that you see ads for on TV as they are paying for those ads, and those “free” t-shirts or bags
that they are willing to send you for your donation aren’t “free” either.
Something else that people can do this holiday season and throughout the year: Volunteer!!! Pick a passion! Get involved in your community! It may take some time to find the perfect place where you feel like you belong, but there are plenty of places out there
that are in need of regular volunteers.
So with all this said, I would like to wish everyone a very warm, safe, happy and healthy holiday season. All the best in the coming New Year! In this very difficult world that we live in, try to have a little compassion in your heart and empathy for others. Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards All!
Story submitted by Elio Daci
It’s Thanksgiving Day! Most families look forward to spending time with their family over a warm, delicious Thanksgiving meal. Unfortunately, this is not a reality for many of our neighbors. Between heating costs, paying bills and other expenses, many people do not have the luxury of providing a holiday meal to their families.
There is a common misconception of what
those who are unable to feed their families look like. The vast majority of the people who seek help feeding their families are not people who you see on the street corner. Many who need help feeding their families are our neighbors who work multiple jobs simply to make ends meet – the men and women who have to make tough decisions every day, such as whether to pay for heating or food.
These are the people who work hard, but cannot provide a full Thanksgiving meal to their families.
Luckily, we live in a community that is dedicated to helping alleviate this pressure for our neighbors. Over the past month, a Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, has worked with the Worcester County Sheriff’s office and the Friendly House of Worcester to make sure families who are struggling have a Thanksgiving meal. Our just completed food drive is part of an ongoing partnership that dates back 21 years! Over the course of this partnership, more than 2.3 million pounds of food have been collected for the Friendly House!
“Although most of us are only in Worcester for four years for college, we definitely become a part of the community,” says Elio Daci, the External Vice President of Lambda Chi Alpha at WPI. “We all want to make sure we leave this city a better place than we found it, and this is just one way we do that.”
A large portion of donations for the food drive actually comes from the fraternity’s major bag drop event. More than 10,000 bags are distributed to homes across Worcester and Shrewsbury, asking for residents to fill them with non-perishable food items. The following week, all of the donations are picked up.
“It is very rewarding to see all the
donations on people’s door steps, especially after you’ve spent so much time distributing the bags,”said Aaron Pepin, a brother of Lambda Chi Alpha. The fraternity prides itself on its ability to give back to Worcester, and this tradition will continue as long as the need exists. The work these young men do in the community is perfectly captured by Elio Daci: “We might not be changing the world, but we are definitely making a difference for a lot of families, and that is what it’s all about. That’s what makes it all worth it.”
Full Text of Congressman Jim McGovern’s Opening Statement on the House floor:
“After 18 hearings, what have we learned?
“We’ve learned that the SNAP program is a powerful tool for improving nutrition, insulating families against hardship, and lifting people out of poverty. It is effective, and it is efficiently run.
“The very modest benefit – which averages about $1.40 per person, per meal – helped to keep over 10 million people out of poverty in 2012, including almost 5 million children.
“So when I reflect on lessons learned from our hearings on SNAP during the 114th Congress, I think about the overwhelmingly supportive testimony we have heard from witnesses about the structure of the SNAP program and its ability to reduce food insecurity among our most vulnerable constituents.
“We’ve learned that charities do great work, but they can’t do it alone.
“We’ve learned that it’s a bad idea to radically change the SNAP program. It is working as intended. Not once have we heard from our witnesses that block granting SNAP will reduce hunger or strengthen this program. In fact, we’ve heard the opposite.
“And if we want to talk about improving access to food, we should be discussing ways to increase SNAP benefits. If anything, the average benefit of $1.40 per person, per meal is too low.
“The Recovery Act temporarily increased SNAP benefits and we saw an increase in food expenditures by low-income households, a reduction in food insecurity, and improvements in diet quality, especially among children.
“We ought to find ways to increase access to food by piloting the use of SNAP benefits online, strengthening employment and training programs, expanding SNAP education, incentivizing the purchase of more nutritious foods, we ought to address the issue of the “cliff,” among many other things.
“All of that would require an increased investment. But I think the return on investment would be enormous.
“I have no idea what a Trump Administration coupled with a Republican Congress means for the future of SNAP and other safety net programs.
“Quite frankly, I am worried. I spend a lot of time on this stuff. I spend a lot of time with people on SNAP. They don’t fit a stereotype. Many are unemployed – and many work. The majority who benefit from SNAP are kids and senior citizens.
“These are good people; they are our neighbors. And yet, too often, they are ridiculed, and their plight is belittled in the halls of this Congress. That is wrong.
“So, after 18 hearings, we have learned, from both majority and minority witnesses, that SNAP is not only a good program, but a very good program. It works.
“And, if next year, the Republican leadership wants to block grant or cut the program or put more hurdles in place to deny people a benefit to put food on their table – be prepared for one hell of a fight. Because this is a fight worth having.
“No one – and I mean no one – should go hungry in the United States of America.”
Each year, Worcester’s Friendly House, along with the Worcester Sheriff’s
Department, Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and other local sponsors, work together to collect food for a Thanksgiving meal program.
Our mission is to give local families a chance to spend their Thanksgiving holiday not worrying about putting food on the table.
Last year, our food drive was able to collect about 183,000 pounds of food!
This year the group is looking to raise the bar to 300,000 pounds. All of the donations will be distributed by
Friendly House to local families
in time for the holiday season.
In addition to serving food to families in need, Worcester’s Friendly House also
hosts a variety of after school programs for local youth at their facility and continues their work year round to support our Worcester community.
This is everyone’s chance to pitch in on the effort. Collection bags will be distributed to homes through most Worcester neighborhoods on Sunday, November 6, with a collection returning on Sunday the 13th.
This is an opportunity to
make monetary or non-perishable food donations.
In addition, donations can be
made from November 16 to Nov. 18 at the Price Chopper at 564 Southwest Cutoff.
Please take full opportunity to help us work to fight hunger in our Worcester community this holiday season!
Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity
Report: 6.8 Million American Teens Struggle with Hunger, Impacting their Health and Academic Achievement
Congressman Jim McGovern spoke on the House Floor recently to address teen hunger as part of his continued push to raise awareness during Hunger Action Month.
Congressman McGovern praised two new reports released by the Urban Institute which highlight the millions of teenagers who face hunger and the challenges that they and their families confront every day.
The research in the Urban Institute reports shows that the food budget is one of the first things pared down when times get tough for a family.
Under such conditions, these households can become food insecure — that is, they struggle to acquire enough affordable, nutritious food to healthily feed the whole family.
Using Current Population Survey data, food insecurity expert Craig Gundersen recently estimated that 6.8 million young people ages 10 to 17 struggle to have enough to eat, including 2.9 million who have very low food security.
The ramifications of food insecurity are innumerable, but looking specifically at teenagers, the report notes that teenagers are at a critical stage of their development and that food insecurity undermines their physical and emotional growth, stamina, academic achievement and job performance.
Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Speech on Teen Hunger:
“ … I rise to speak about the widespread problem of hunger among teenagers.
“While our nation’s recovery is progressing, seven million teens remain food insecure, and we know they often face additional hardships.
“Today, the Urban Institute is briefing Members of Congress and their staff on two new reports that highlight these circumstances and explore how teens cope with hunger.
“Among a number of troubling conclusions, the report finds that teens fear the stigma of being hungry and often refuse to accept food or assistance. They skip meals and sometimes turn to dangerous behaviors just so their parents or siblings can eat. They often feel the need to bear the responsibility for feeding their families.
“Teenagers deserve to have a normal childhood. They should be focused on school and developing their passions – not worrying about where their next meal is coming from.
“I encourage all of my colleagues to read these reports and join me in working to end hunger now.”
REC HELPS FEED YOUR FAMILY! Check out their REC FARMERS MARKETS! In all Worcester neighborhoods!
Today Congressman Jim McGovern spoke on the House Floor about the important role that food banks in Massachusetts, like Worcester County Food Bank and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and food banks across the country play in helping families and communities struggling with hunger. Congressman McGovern spoke about volunteering this past summer at Philabundance, a Philadelphia-area food bank, as well as the importance of supporting local food banks and strengthening federal anti-hunger programs as part of a comprehensive strategy to end hunger.
“Food banks across our country, like Philabundance, and the Worcester County Food Bank and Food Bank of Western Massachusetts – both located in my Congressional district – do incredible work to reduce hunger in surrounding communities. They employ innovative strategies to fight hunger and increase access to nutritious food for our most vulnerable neighbors.
“The truth of the matter is, we know that food banks and other charitable organizations can’t do it alone. Some in Congress have proposed cuts and other restrictions to our federal anti-hunger and nutrition programs, we often hear from them that charities – not the government – should be responsible for eradicating hunger.
“I agree that food banks and food pantries, and other charitable organizations are incredible on-the-ground partners in our efforts to end hunger. They are often the first line of defense in emergency situations.
“Our charities are doing an incredible job on the front lines, but ending hunger will take a strong partnership between these organizations and federal, state, and local governments. We know that strong federal investments in these critical safety net programs reduce hunger, improve the diets of low-income households, and save billions of dollars in health care costs.
“So the next time my colleagues look to score political points by demonizing our federal anti-hunger programs, I ask you to think about these programs and the impact they are having on constituents in each of our districts.”
Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Speech:
“I recently had the opportunity to visit and volunteer at the Philadelphia region’s largest hunger relief center – Philabundance.
“Philabundance, a member of the Feeding America network of food banks, aims to drive hunger out of local communities with an eye toward eradicating hunger altogether.
“Each week, Philabundance serves 90,000 people in the Philadelphia area through partnership with 350 agencies and food distribution programs.
“Incredibly, last year alone, they distributed almost 30 million pounds of food to neighbors suffering from hunger and food insecurity in nine counties.
“I was impressed by the innovative strategies Philabundance employs to feed hungry people in its region. The Philabundance Community Kitchen equips those looking to re-enter the workforce with valuable life and kitchen skills while also providing meals to those in need.
“Philabundance also opened the nation’s first nonprofit grocery store – called Fare & Square – in Chester, a city that faced a serious economic downturn due to the loss of manufacturing jobs. Fare & Square provides affordable and healthy food to the community, as well as discounts to those who qualify.
“Food banks across our country, like Philabundance, and the Worcester County Food Bank and Food Bank of Western Massachusetts – both located in my Congressional district – do incredible work to reduce hunger in surrounding communities.
“They employ innovative strategies to fight hunger and increase access to nutritious food for our most vulnerable neighbors.
“The truth of the matter is, we know that food banks and other charitable organizations can’t do it alone.
“Some in Congress have proposed cuts and other restrictions to our federal anti-hunger and nutrition programs, we often hear from them that charities – not the government – should be responsible for eradicating hunger.
“I agree that food banks and food pantries, and other charitable organizations are incredible on-the-ground partners in our efforts to end hunger. They are often the first line of defense in emergency situations.
“But charities cannot do everything. Such are the facts. Charities do face limitations. Many are small and only open on limited schedules. Most are run with the support of dedicated volunteers, some of whom have other full time jobs.
“Often, these charities operate out of small spaces like basements or closets at houses of worship. And importantly, they rely on donations from members of the community as a primary source of food to distribute.
“Our charities are doing an incredible job on the front lines, but ending hunger will take a strong partnership between these organizations and federal, state, and local governments.
“For our part, the federal government must continue to invest in our preeminent food and nutrition programs like SNAP, WIC, and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), just to name a few, and fight attempts to cut or weaken them. TEFAP is especially important to our food banks, as they rely on this federal funding to serve those in need.
“We know that strong federal investments in these critical safety net programs reduce hunger, improve the diets of low-income households, and save billions of dollars in health care costs.
“So the next time my colleagues look to score political points by demonizing our federal anti-hunger programs, I ask you to think about these programs and the impact they are having on constituents in each of our districts.
“I urge you to visit your local food banks and charities, and see all of the incredible work they are doing to reduce hunger in our communities. Ask these organizations how the federal anti-poverty programs support their efforts to bring food to those most in need.
“And I urge all my colleagues to remember this fact: Today in the United States of America, the richest country in the world, over 42 million of our fellow citizens are hungry. They are kids. They are senior citizens. They are people who can’t find work and they are many, many people who are, in fact, working. They defy stereotypes. All of them are our brothers and sisters and we should care. And we should absolutely do more than we are doing right now to end hunger in America.
“The federal government, working with charities and local partners, has within our grasp the power to end hunger now. What we lack is the political will. Let’s at long last create the political will and guarantee that in our country, no one ever has to struggle with food insecurity or hunger. We can end hunger now.”