Tag Archives: neighborhoods

REC Worcester Earth Day clean-ups … Vegan St. Patty’s Day yum yums … and music 🎵🎶🌹🎵 to our ears!🌸

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From REC:

Saturday, April 8

8 am – 12 pm

We are excited to invite you to join us for this year’s REC Earth Day Neighborhood & Garden Cleanups!

This is truly a community-wide event in which residents come together every year to give Worcester the Spring-cleaning it deserves.

Last year, more than 1,000 volunteers came together to pick up more than 50 tons of trash at over 60 sites in Worcester!!!🌸❤

Let’s do even more this year to make
Worcester cleaner and greener🌻🌺!

WE CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU❤💛💜❤!

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If you would like to help us coordinate the cleanup of a particular site, we encourage you to sign up as a Site Coordinator.

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Otherwise, please sign up as a Volunteer (or group of volunteers) and we will connect you with a site in your area!

This event is only possible because of your volunteerism and commitment to our city. The REC, along with many partners including city government, non-profits, and businesses provide the materials, pick-up services and logistics.

We look forward to working with you!

Please feel free to contact Pat Barnosky with any questions or concerns
– earthday@recworcester.org – 508-799-9139

Thank you for joining with your neighbors and friends to support the 28th Annual REC Earth Day Neighborhood & Garden Cleanups!

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petaaliciasilverstonewoolad72

GO VEGAN THIS ST. PATTY’S DAY!🍻🍏

Irish Cabbage Salsa!

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1 cup shredded green cabbage

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

1 carrot shredded

2–3 green onions chopped

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. whole grain mustard

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

Refrigerate overnight.

Makes about 2 cups

*****

Irish White Bean and Cabbage Stew

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1 large onion chopped

3 ribs celery chopped

2-3 cloves garlic minced

1/2 head cabbage chopped

4 carrots sliced

1-1 1/2 pounds potatoes cut in large dice

1/3 cup pearled barley optional or substitute with gluten-free grain

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1/2 teaspoon rosemary crushed

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6-8 cups vegetable broth

3 cups cooked great northern beans (2 cans, drained)

1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

salt to taste

Place vegetables, seasonings, barley and broth into a large stockpot.

Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, check seasonings, and add more herbs if necessary.

Simmer uncovered for at least 15 minutes before serving.

*****
😄😄😄❤

Worcester news for you! … Dickens and (CDBG) demo!

First the fun stuff!

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pic: R.T.

From Doherty High School

Highland Street

December 7 and 8

Next week the Doherty Performing Arts Department will be presenting “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

The show will be performed by more than 70 Doherty students, 1 Forest Grove student and 3 Midland Street School students!

We will also be performing an elementary school matinee December 7 for students from Midland, Tatnuck and May Street schools.

The bulk of the show will be performed by the Theatre 2-3-4 classes, with help from the Madrigal Singers and the Jazz Band.

The show starts promptly at 6:45 p.m. and tickets are a mere $5.

Hope to see you there.

Jim Fay
Theatre Director

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Now the muckety muck …CDBG DEMOLITION GOALS, the process …

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Cece says: Can’t we all just chase string and cuddle?? pic:R.T.

From the City of Worcester …

FYI

(Rose has made some sentences bold.):

TO THE WORCESTER CITY COUNCIL

FROM THE WORCESTER CITY MANAGER

Re: Council Questions Concerning the Recommended Finance Item for Demolition Purposes

In response to the City Council’s questions regarding the recommendation to transfer 126 190 00 from and to various CDBG accounts to provide sufficient funding for anticipated project costs for the demolition of six buildings, please accept this report.

List of [the CDBG-demo] Properties:

11 Dixfield Road —The Estate of Amelia and Lincoln Crozier

15 Uxbridge Street The Estate of Rose Jordan

147 Belmont Street S. Paquette, Trustee of Belmont 147 Realty Trust

20 Alvarado ROLLO The Estate of Rocco and Lame Mercadante

18 Charlton Street Edilson Souza

89 Austin Street Iglesia Cristiana de la Communidad

The city has a responsibility to maintain safe neighborhoods. The demolition of dilapidated, dangerous or decadent buildings falls under that role.

Demolition of such properties is an eligible expenditure of block grant funds because one of the national objectives of the ONES program is the elimination of spot slum and blighted properties.

The annual block grant allocation includes a sum set aside for demolition of eligible properties.

The City [of Worcester] places a lien in the amount of the demolition expenses on the property by recording a lien in the Registry of Deeds shortly after demolition.

The lien is then included with the annual tax bill, just as any outstanding water, sewer charges and betterment assessments are included in the tax bills).

The city tax lien takes priority over any mortgages on the property.

Therefore, the bank or person taking a mortgage on a property subject to a demolition order, not the city [of Worcester], takes the risk that there will be no surplus value after the city lien is paid.

(In the case of tax exempt property, the demolition lien is committed to the treasurer who treats the property as taxable for purposes of either collection or foreclosure to satisfy the lien).

The city [of Worcester] uses two avenues to assess fines to property owners who fail to maintain their property in compliance with building, health and safety codes:

The first is the ” clean and lien” process whereby the city causes repairs to be made and then records a lien on the property for the amount expended.

This process is used to address emergency situations (no heat, imminent structural failure, etc.), where the property is in foreclosure, or, where the responsible party fails to appear in court.

This process is also used to clean weeds and trash from properties creating a nuisance to the neighborhood.

Secondly, the city fines property owners for code violations through the code enforcement/housing court process. That process involves a sequence of code inspections and enforcement orders, a referral to the law department for housing court action, the imposition of a preliminary injunction commanding that repairs
be made, and, if necessary, a series of court actions where the court imposes
fines on the owner to secure compliance and, failing that, the court will hold the owner in contempt and commit them to jail until repairs are made.

While properties with debilitating code violations can be condemned to demolition, properties without any pre- existing code violations, but which have
suffered substantial, structural damage due to fires are eligible for demolition.

(In fact, four of the six properties listed above are being demolished because of structural fire damage).

It would be fair to say that, in all cases, the property involved is “made safe” per order of the [City of Worcester] Code Commissioner.

This is typically accomplished by boarding windows and keeping people at a safe distance with fencing.

The policy in this program is to make every effort to save properties from
demolition through private rehabilitation.

There is usually a period of several
years between the recording of a demolition order and the actual demolition of a property.

Cases with extreme deterioration or fire damage move to the top of the list and, to the extent that funding sources allow, are demolished more quickly.

Except to determine the owner for purposes of the issuance and service of
orders, the city [of Worcester] does not perform periodic title examinations of properties condemned to demolition.
As noted earlier, the city lien takes first priority over encumbrances recorded both before and after the recording of the demolition
order. The economic risk falls substantially with the private financier.

Respectfully submitted,

Edward M. Augustus, Jr.
City Manager

Congratulations, WCHR!

By Edith Morgan

After nearly 25 years, Worcester Community Housing Resources has a lot to brag about, and too the opportunity to do so at a great gathering : it was the 2016 Annual Appreciation Reception, held at Maxwell Silverman’s Toolhouse starting at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19th.

The object was to get us all acquainted with the great work done by WCHR and to recognize the work done by the staff of eight people who really seem to accomplish miracles.

Worcester Community Housing Resources, Inc. has its offices at 11 Pleasant Street, Suite 300, in Worcester. Under the leadership of its Executive Director, Dominick Marcigliano, and with a dedicated and capable staff of only eight , this organization reaches into many Worcester neighborhoods, in pursuit of its mission “..to create and preserve affordable housing opportunities for low and moderate income households throughout Worcester County.”

At this celebration, Executive Director Marcigliano summarized this non-profit’s accomplishments to date: WCHR, Inc.” has created 38 ownership homes, 112 rental units, 3 commercial storefronts, and 78 assisted living apartments.” These represent investments of over $32 million , and put over $180,000 of increased property tax revenues into our city coffers.

WCHR deals in a variety of housing assistance programs: the organization owns and operates 100 rental units, including a wide variety of housing opportunities: 2, 3, and 4 bedroom apartments, and single-room lodging houses – all for low-income families and individuals. We all know how high rents in the city can be, and how out of reach good, safe, well-managed homes can be for struggling Worcesterites: so I was very pleased to learn that the average tenant pays only $268 per month, but the range goes from a low of $25 per month for a single room occupancy to $687 for a two bedroom apartment. The rate is determined by the tenant’s financial need.

Staying true to its mission, WCHR uses many approaches to providing and maintaining affordable housing, with the help of a great variety of financial resources, seeking to help especially those most difficult house. This includes not only low-income persons, but also those suffering with mental health problems, refugees, people with AIDS, and seniors in need of assisted living.

One such project, ten years in the making, is the Heywood Wakefield Commons in Gardner, which combines federal, state, and local resources to create 78 assisted-living units in a former factory building. This was a unique program open to seniors who are trying to survive on just their Social Security and Medicare. Open since 2011, it has (predictably!) been fully occupied, and provides its occupants with a full array of activities and meals,

More recently, WCHR has bought a building at32 Irving Street, which is being renovated and readied for occupancy this year, with financing from Worcester’s HOME program. This buildingwill house up to 15 individuals and will include secure individual rooms with all utilities and services icludaed.

WCHR also owns and operates various kinds of housing in such varied neighborhoods as Green Island and Main South – where the organizations works with the neighborhood and other providers.

We all know what a “drag” on the area even one building which is neglected, abandoned, or allowed to run down. Represents to the block, the area, and its citizens. So WCHR also works to turn around homes an properties in receivership. In cooperation with the aaattorney general’s office, and the MAssachusettsHousing Partnership Fund, WCHR provides training, consulting and other services to bring these properties back . Forf example, WCHR has facilitated a path toward redevelopment of over 399 housing units in over 199 properties, careataing an25,59% increase in tax revenues for the city.

WCHR alsoprovides home improvement loans fro primary residences for emergency repairs, maintenance or repairs , and correcting cccode violawtions. – all at low rates, so that those unable to afford them can maintain their properties.

Although the main emphasis is on housing development, receivership, community lending, , renting apartments, and property management, there is also an oppoartunity for those not in need of help to invest in WCHR’s Loan Fund. If youwant your money to eaqrn good interest Competitive with commercial loans) csider investing and let your money work for housing in Worcester while at the same time earning yfou some interest.

This organization fulfills so many unique puposes in our city, and fills so many varied needs that supporting its work is a worthy cause. For further information, or if you need help or want to help, WCHR can be reached in a variety of ways: Call 508-799-0322, or visit the website at www.wchr.org
If you are interested in lending options, contact Lora Baldracchi, the Loan Fund Director, at extension 112, 508-799-0322, or at lbaldracchi#wchr.org

Over the years, I have been aware of WCHR’s work, as it progressed under the direction Peter Fellenz,then Matt Walley, and now Dominick . All have been dedicated to upgrading Worcester’s aging housing stock, and enabling residents to find safe, clean, and reasonably priced housing for themselves and their families.

Their model isnot the “one-size fits all “ kind. Their work offers many alternatives, but always of high quality, and with the help of many agencies and funding sources, making a real difference for our city. Looking over the pictures (before and after) of the strucatures that have been improved, and driving down the streets whee they are located, can give a good idea of the impact that WCHR’s work has had,,,,.
In addition to its on-going projects, WCHR is looking for approximately 5000 square feet of space to house a program for teen mothers, who are presently in a location whose lease is expiririg.They will need a yard, some parking, and be near a bus route. Anyone know of a property that meets these requirements should get in touch with WCHR ‘

The “Appreciation Reception” was most enjoyable – the refreshments delicious, and I ran into several people I had not seen for a long time, so it was a chance to renew old friendships. And of course, Maxwell Silverman’s is a great venue for such a celebration.

Grant Park: ribbon cutting at last!

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Late summer bloomers… pic:R.T.

By Edith Morgan

It was touch and go for a little while on Saturday, August 6th: the skies opened up and a sudden shower soaked us as we loaded things into the car at 10 a.m. to take to the picnic at Grant Park. We DID have a rain date set up for Sunday, but a quick phone call to Wini, the moving spirit and co-chair of the Green Hill Neighborhood Association, with Deb Bolz, assured me that the event would go on as planned. And sure enough, the sky cleared, and we proceeded!

This was a long-awaited event, and even though there are still a few pieces missing in the park’s improvements, it was really time to celebrate how far we had come, and how much was already accomplished.

So, at noon, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place – with a large number of Worcester officials and elected officials participating. Our mayor Joe Petty, City Manager Ed Augustus, our District Councilor Candy Mero-Carlson, our previous longtime councilor Phil Palmieri, School Committee member John Monfredo, Councilor Kate Toomey, State Representative Mary
Keefe, State Senator Harriette Chandler, newly appointed Worcester Police Chief Steve Sargent – and Lt. Governor Karen Polito – (did I omit anyone?) all came to help cut the ribbon and say a few words to the assembled neighbors.

Several of them said: When Wini calls, everyone comes!

And therein lies a story: Although Wini has not lived here all her life, in the time she has been here, she has been an unyielding champion for, and advocate, for her neighborhood, its children and its inhabitants. Noting that there was a great concentration of social service agencies, Wini and Deb invited them to participate in our neighborhood and help in its improvement – and help they did!

Grant Park was for many years just a weed-infested block, with a basketball court at one end, often strewn with litter and drug paraphernalia, pretty much neglected and uncared for.

But Wini, owning a home right across the street from this park, was determined that this park should become a jewel in the area: playground equipment, fencing, retaining walls, benches – all sorts of amenities needed to make this park a gathering place for all ages in this community.

The Regional Environmental Council created garden plots there, and money was appropriated while Phil Palmieri was our city councilor. With constant pressure from Wini and her neighbors, finally a state-of-the art park was created. And this summer it was one of the sites for the city’s summer recreation program, RECREATION WORCESTER.

After the ribbon cutting, the picnic began in earnest: hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, soda, water and various hot dishes and salads as well as Table Talk pies for everyone were in plentiful supply – and lots of volunteers from the area, who passed out food and drinks, set up tables and chairs, and kept everything clean and tidy.

Around the periphery, tables set up by Lt. Annie of the police department, as well as Niko from the election commission giving out voter information, the USDA booth about the Asian longhorned beetle, and other displays to inform neighbors were there.

And for the younger children, Annie Parsnips, the clown, made balloon animals and with the able assistance of neighborhood residents, painted faces.

There is still work to be done at Grant Park, and perhaps by next August, we can celebrate the installation of the lights.

Our thanks to all who contributed, who helped, who attended – who supplied food and music (I am remiss in not having gotten the name of our disc jockey!!). And most of all, thanks to Winifred – Wini – Octave and Debra Bolz, without whose persistence and belief in the goodness of our neighborhood all this would not have been accomplished!

Latino papi love!!!!

Story and photos by Rosalie Tirella

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Living, working and loving in Worcester’s inner-city neighborhoods I am impressed EVERY DAY by the DEEP TRUE AND EASY AFFECTION with which many Latino parents raise their kids – especially the Daddy Love! To see papi and chico holding hands as they cross Main Street, dad dapper in his straw hat and pressed chinos, chico cute in his tee shirt and cargo shorts – is to witness hands-on, hand-in-hand love!

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To see a papa and his young son walking down Vernon Hill, chatting, drinking juice, eating chips, carefree during these last few days of summer vacation, Dad putting an arm over his son’s shoulder as they pose for a picture!

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“I’m Isaac!” Dad says! “God bless you!”
To see Isaac and his son is to be blessed. By the love. To see the every day-presence of Latino dads – the simple, easy joys with which they celebrate family daily life. A walk in the ‘hood, a stop at a neighborhood mini store. For soda, chips, little money – big time!

Carless but not loveless! A parenting style practiced by my mom years ago on Lafayette Street, my two kid sisters and me the apples of her eye!

A love that doesn’t involve a lot of dough but is so strong precisely because it doesn’t involve a lot of dough! The tough love of commitment under less than ideal circumstances, the gold strands braided over and under the racism, the jobs not gotten, the slights not forgotten, the stereotyping that leaves so many left out, disenfranchised…on the periphery…

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Just like when I was growing up in Green Island, poverty brings the people together in Worcester’s three deckers and apartment buildings, like this one, today, in Piedmont, a ‘hood where buildings sit cheek and jowl and Papis raise their kids …

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… Siblings, parents, their kids, grandparents, grandkids, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, cousins…nothing beats blood on blood. Whole families hold hands crossing busy Chandler Street, the little ones clapping their ears as the traffic screeches by before them. Several years ago a little boy was mowed down on the SIDEWALK of Chandler Street as he was running to Chandler Elementary School. He was racing to get to his school with homework he had just completed. The driver was speeding and drove her car straight up the sidewalk. I don’t think the little boy was older than 10. An innocent. Poring over addition and subtraction math problems, eating breakfast cereal just minutes before, perhaps … thinking about his neighborhood school, his classroom teacher and his friends.

In Worcester’s inner city, families invite their extended families over for a backyard bbq, play music … the men, at the end of the day, setting up card tables and folding chairs to play dominoes against the orange sunset… Sometimes, during these parties, with the music so loud, with four different boom boxes blaring four unique songs, the songs pulsating with their own rhythms, beats, their singers singing their own songs, I’d try to shake my head into silence! … all the while wanting to go up to the metal fence erected between us to ask: Is that music Salsa? I love it! Once a neighbor on Perry Ave offered to teach me to Salsa, but he was a ladies man and I liked his wife! The inner city swings without the official loud-mouthed concert promoters. Here, in the inner city, music is as ripe, natural as a plantain just before it hits the frying pan!

What did I see a few days ago, right outside my door?

A papi and his little princess girl walking down Endicott Street, the little girl in pink shorts and sporting teeny pink bows in her thick, braided chestnut hair, bouncing along dad, just jubilant …jubilee!!! He and his little princess off for a stroll through their kingdom of upturned shopping carts, pick up basketball games in the park, skateboards on cracked sidewalks, jerry rigged dirt bikes zipping up beat-up streets.

Build me a monument to these Latino dads! In the Peace Park, on the corner of Winslow and Pleasant streets, next to a strong young tree!

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Take Leo and Luiggi! Just a few days ago they were out trying out the go cart Daddy Leo built for his chico!

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What a wonder! Big, too! A haul from the three decker onto the sidewalk, where Leo pulls Luigi!

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Leo built it himself. It has wheels but no pedals inside. A race car, nonetheless! No gang colors or insignia – just a Crayola Crayon color scheme topped off with a doggy bone!

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Look at that smile on Luiggi’s face! So much love! Reminds me of my Polish grandfather who lived with us when we were toddlers and built from scrap wood swings on the door jambs of the two bedrooms in our flat so that his grand babies could swing and swing and reach for the clouds and sunshine with their little hands. Hands so different from his gnarly, wrinkled ones – wrecked, exhausted from years at the Dudley textile mill, the carpentry work for family and friends. And the sun fell into our big kitchen with its ugly green painted kitchen table and chairs! And the radio station was turned to top 40, Ma pushed us back and forth, listening to Wolf Man Jack! She loved early rock ‘n’ roll! The King! The Beatles, too!

The love I see in my Worcester neighborhoods outweighs the shootings that the racists want to use to shut the music down! To silence a people’s song! It’s about refusing to seeing poor people and immigrants! Hundreds of parents doing the right thing…

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… despite the “pretenders and the begin and the enders” who bash them, as well as trashing our city manager and our congressman because they see the new Worcester and work in new ways to embrace her and make her flourish! Worcester! My gateway city, always reimagining herself!

See all the new love? Just look at all the pappis and their chicos!

An inner-city jewel! Green Island’s Crompton Park!

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Lorraine Laurie! Known to all as the “Mayor of Green Island,” Lorraine has worked tirelessly, advocated passionately, for the blue-collar Green Island! FOR DECADES! Thank you, “Sweet Lorraine”! pics:R.T.

By Lorraine Laurie

Crompton Park, the Green Island neighborhood’s jewel, is shining brighter than ever, thanks to major renovations started last year and continuing into this year!

The work on the Canton Street side of the park is made possible by a PARC
(Parkland Acquisitions and Renovation for Communities) state grant for
$400,000 and a City of Worcester match of $750,000. in funds including CDBG
(Community Development Block Grant) monies.

The current renovations complement the 6,500 squarefoot pool that was opened
on July 1, 2011. The ultra- modern complex which cost $2.7 million features a zero depth entry pool,a splash pad for toddlers,a slide, 3 lap lanes, outside showers, security and a family restroom and changing area.

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Crompton Park’s new pool, splash pad, water sprays AND SLIDE! are enjoyed by hundreds of neighborhood folks every week!

The Canton Street side of Crompton Park is now more accessible and safer be-
cause of the ongoing renovations. The entrance driveway and parking area have been moved to the left side of the awimming pool complex. A green space, in turn, has been created between the playground and the swimming pool area. The new improvements enhance the modern playground area on the corner of Harding and Canton streets and tie it in more to the nearby pool complex.

A new tennis court has replaced the old
courts and will feature United States Tennis Association “Quick Start”markings for youth development. The “Tenacity” program is already using the court as part of this summer’s activities in the park. Also, the court is adaptable for use as an ice skating venue in the winter. Two handball courts, new to Crompton, have been built near
the corner of Canton Street and Quinsigamond Ave. (in case you wonder what the large wall is!) and have proven to be very popular in other parks such as South Worcester Playground on Cambridge and Camp Streets.

Renovations have kept in mind maintenanceissues so that the improved areas will be much easier to care for and keep in shape.

All these upgrades and additions were many years in the making. Like the saying goes, “Anything worth having is worth waiting for.” Three very well attended public planning sessions were held at the Green Island Neighborhood Center itself located on the Canton Street side of the park in late 2010 and early 2011. A Master Plan for the park based on input from residents and stakeholders was developed by the firm of Weston & Sampson, environmental/infrastructure consultants whose office is located at Harrington Corner in downtown Worcester.

The plan was presented in March 2011. It was approved publically by the Worcester Parks & Recreation Commission on March 31, 2011 and the Worcester City Council on February 28, 2012.

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Crompton Park’s basketball court – a neighborhood icon – has been around for decades and drawn thousands of kids (and adults) looking to shoot hoop! Safer and more accessible renovations of this very popular and heavily used basketball court – “Cousy Court”! – are in the works!

What makes this planning session so special is that the master plan isavailable on the City Parks Department web site(www.worcesterma.gov – Parks/Rec/ Cemetery City Parks)!

A grant was submitted to the State but not funded. It was resubmitted the next
year. With the help of State Senator Michael Mooreand State Rep. Daniel Donahue, the PARC grant was successfully obtained; the City committed its match and the bidding process was undertaken.

This feature reporter is especially thrilled about having participated in the Master Plan process as Chairperson of the Green Island Residents Group, Inc.and is excited about the renovations that are taking place. She fondly recalls participating in the
previous Crompton Park Planning Group which met from 1981 – 1983. Thomas
“Tom” W.Taylor was the Parks Commissionerthen and James E.“Jef” Fasser was the parks Department Landscape Architect.

The top priority then was having the Green Island Neighborhood Center move from its rented Millbury Street store front to the old shower house on the Canton Street side of the park. With the help of grant and CDBG money,the deteriorated and vacant building was renovated to the needs of the Center. The building became “home” for the Center on September 27, 1984 and its new address became “50 Canton Street – Crompton Park.”

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ICT editor Rosalie and her mom, many years ago … they’re relaxing on what used to be known as the little hill at Crompton Park!

Speaking of the Green Island Neighborhood Center, Rochelle Appiah, Site Manager at the Center, says she is “looking forward to the completion, to the City of Worcester, construction team, pavers and builders we all say a big THANK YOU for improving our park.”

The Center is very busy with 30 eager children participating in the summer program. They play soccer on Tuesday and Thursday mornings with Staff from the Worcester Youth Soccer GOALS program. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday its Tenacity program time on the tennis court.

These two programs are open to all children ages 6 -12.

The pool is quite busy from noon to 7 p.m. daily and according to Rochelle “It’s the highlight of the day.“ Rochelle adds “I don’t want to
forget the beautiful WRTA building, sure does make a difference. Every day I look out of my window and say this neighborhood is on the rise!”

What’s in the future for Crompton Park?

When asked what he would like to see
done next from the Master Plan, Assistant Commissioner “Rob” Antonelli named three areas – not in any particular order:

a rubber surface for the playground so it will be softer

safer and more accessible renovations of the very popular and heavily used
basketball court – “Cousy Court”

and renovations to the softball field which alone “will cost $1 million or $2 million.”

Ronald “Ron” Charette, Executive Director of the South Worcester Neighbor hood Improvement Corporation, which runs both the Green Island and South
Worcester Neighborhood Centers sums it all up nicely. He says: “For nearly four
decades, the Green Island Neighborhood Center has enjoyed a great partnership with the Worcester Parks Department, starting with former Commissioner Tom Taylor and continuing with Rob Antonelli. The transformation of Crompton Park, under the leadership of Rob Antonelli, continues to build on this great partnership, making our park a jewel for the entire community.”

At 128 years old, our Green Island “Jewel” shines brighter than ever!

Meet the wonderful Boa Newgate: leader in Worcester’s Vietnamese community!

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Go, Boa Newgate, go!!!

By Joey Cancelmo

I met Boa Newgate years ago when he first started a Worcester inner-city kids program to give back to the community.  I said to myself, “That’s great but it will wear off.” I was wrong, very wrong. Boa has built an entire community out of selfless volunteering, gaining unsolicited awards for his unbelievable kindness and generosity. Visiting the the South East Asian Coalition in downtown Worcester this past Christmas I saw hundreds of Toys for Tots bags all with family names on them with age appropriate toys all wrapped and ready to go to the families in need, many refugees, many new to Christmas. This is one of Boa’s many ways of sharing across cultures, which is now his life’s mission.  

He has 3 key points to focus on “Awareness, to keep traditions alive for future generations, Education to know your surroundings and excel in life, and health, not just physical but mental and volunteering to give it back.”
Today his programs are what he calls a “wrap around program.” Boa states: “We nurture and take these kids in and point them in the right direction, they go to school, then to college, and when they graduate they come back to the center to volunteer. Keeping it real and alive and constantly keeping it fresh is the key to making it work.”
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Honoring your roots…

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Working towards a brighter future – the kids volunteering at a South Worcester neighborhood clean up.

Boa points out the picture collages he puts together every year to show the progress of the teams and how far they have come.  He has a program of Asian line dances, with the dragon heads traditionally done once a year for New Year’s, he does fourca year with competitions and practice, because doing so makes every kid want to win.  Boa told me that “Every move means something, when the head turns, or bows, or when the eye’s move, and they are very heavy and have many parts to operate, eyes, ears, mouths etc.”

They have several dragons at the organization, each one costing between $800 and $1000 each.  All donated.

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Boa himself is no stranger to needing help. Born of Cambodian and Vietnamese parents his family lived in a refugee camp before Boa, his parents and three siblings moved to America. The United States was new territory and a whole new culture to absorb.

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Boa and his family in the refugee camp – he’s the baby in photo! Final destination, America!

Boa integrated, mixed with with his classmates in school and started to learn boxing. His life as a child was sort of parentless, as his folks worked around the clock, nonstop, to get established in this country.  

Growing up this way he sought out other Vietnamese kids and learned they all had the same predicament. So he started a club!They had a small space on Chandler Street where he took other inner city kids and taught them boxing. They were young, lean and getting stronger and happier, because let’s face it endorphins are the best smile producers out there! These kids had a purpose, and it grew and it grew.
 
Boa used his resources and made an arrangement with the Boys and Girls Club around 2007 to use space to continue his mission. Which now expanded to swimming as well. It was only for Vietnamese kids at first, but then there were other Asian kids that wanted in, Chinese, Cambodian, and Burmese etc. So with more kids came more issues, like transportation.

What did Boa do? He worked and worked and got donations to buy, repair and register and insure a school bus, all on his own, basically using it as his car, and transported kids to and from the center. 

Now this was turning into a curiosity shop of sorts because parents wanted to know what this center was about.

So in 2011 he procured space in the Denholm’s building and started his mission with new classes, including music, art, acrobatics, dancing, anything that involved culture. I had the pleasure of cooking for his first Thanksgiving party, I brought the traditional turkey, stuffing, potatoes and vegetables, others brought Asian treats, and one friend Kris brought a buffalo dip that is now a staple to the event.  There were 30 or so kids at the first party, now there are 100’s.  One turkey does not cut it anymore.

Five years ago Boa started to introduce Asian LGBT issues at the Asian Festival, it didn’t go over well.  He is an advocate for equality, and he says “unfortunately in the Asian Community, gay is a stigma and it is shameful to the family.  They honestly think you catch it from a hand shake or a cough”  The result of this stigma is suicide, he told me “Asians have the highest rate of suicide because they are not accepted by their family, never mind the society and I want to stop that and make people aware”.  I had no idea and was floored. He still is an advocate for them and they are welcome to the center, where they get to mingle with new generations and family’s coming in. All while keeping Asian traditions alive and well to newborn kids that would not get that anymore, and it is working.  

When you go to the center the kids actually want to perform, or show you their project, last year I played a game with salt and a hard-boiled egg, it was fun, frustrating and challenging and it didn’t come with a box.  Basically you make a small mountain of salt, place the egg on top and blow the sand away without tipping the egg over, I never laughed so hard!

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Boa’s group gives back to the community … a part of Worcester, Boston, America …

This year alone Boa and his organization has been honored with four awards, forced to speak by his director at such places as Harvard, this shy quiet behind the scenes guy does not like public speaking and hi will be the first to tell you he can’t. What he says is his story, from his hear, and what the kids are doing as if they were his own, and that’s when the audience tears up.  His most recent Award was in October from the YWCA, the “Great Guy Award” to “end violence against women”.  You can’t get better than that, the Commonwealth honored them with an award of Excellence, a Humanitarian Award, and an award for being a model Non-Profit organization. All these were in a box until he recently had the courage to build shelves and display them with his awesome collages.  

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Boa raises money for his group by participating in various fundraising events …

By the way, Boa only started receiving a pay check a couple years ago when a Board of Directors was formed. Just saying.

So in closing, this is what I feel is the true spirit of America. The organization still needs donations; funds are always needed for the programs – any donation is appreciated, even if it is just your time. Worcester’s college students from WPI, Clark, MPCHS and others all volunteer to tutor the kids – it’s a beautiful thing.  

Check Boa and his group out at www.seacma.org or email Boa at boa@seama.org to learn more. The agency is located in the former Denholm’s building 484 Main St., suite 400.  

Worcester girl

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By Rosalie Tirella

As Worcester, my hometown, the city in which I work, live and love grows dirtier, more violent, more gun-ridden, more drug-addled, more … un-(old)Worcester every day, I still find it surreal to read about the bad changes that we all experience as we make our way through our city: the daily shootings; the daily cache of guns or drugs found in cars, homes, apartments; the daily car crashes with pedestrians – old people, a mother and her two little children!, being hurled into the hinterlands; the plastic bags, garbage bags, ramshackle furniture, the refuse strewn all over our city streets; and the streets themselves, upon which everyone drives like they’ve just snorted a kilo of cocaine.

HEARTBREAKING.

How did we get here ALL OF A SUDDEN, it seems? Who’s to blame? In the words of Marvin Gaye: “Who really cares? Who’s willing to try/to change our world …”

I have my answers. Poverty is reason #1 and its deadly tentacles many. No good paying jobs for our unskilled, of which we have thousands. A minimum wage that is still a joke. Apartments whose rents are too high and developers who exploit the exploited. The families: under the gun, sometimes hungry, sometimes angry. The abandoning, the confusion …

The state of our city and the future of our city …

The kids.

The young ones.

They are growing up here, experiencing the Worcester of 2015.

They will continue to grow and learn here and most likely stay here.

So as Worcester seems to degenerate right before our eyes, we see the direct results and can look into the crystal ball.

This past December I saw a little girl – she may have been 9 or so – getting off a big yellow Worcester school bus and walking home in one of our neighborhoods. She walked apart from the other kids, her long thin hair unwashed and whipping in the wind, her flimsy jacket open and flapping wildly around her. Scrawny skinny. Not an ounce of baby or kid fat on her. She seemed oblivious to the cold as she plodded down the street. I could see she was BEAUTIFUL. To see such a beautiful young face pinched from the cold, sallow from hunger or illness is to cry for Worcester.

So I did!

I made sure to turn my head away, so she or her school mates wouldn’t see me crying. But I need not have worried. She marched on stoically, oblivious to the cars idling as they waited for the bus to pull in its STOP sign. She walked by, her mouth so serious, sad. Her world – THE WORLD! – unnoticed. She looked so unsteady in the wind and cold, I feared she’d collapse on the pavement! I wondered if her teachers sent her to the school nurse that day, gave her more food to eat at lunch, filled out the DCF social work paperwork to support/help a little girl like this. Probably not. There are so many in the Worcester Public Schools these days! She’s like all the rest … only more so! And she seemed so ephemeral, NOT THERE, alone and to herself. So easy to slip through society’s cracks, if you’re a quiet little girl …

And so this beauty walked home alone (I stopped the car and watched), with no friends bopping along side of her to gossip about the day, no waiting parent to take her by the hand and whisk her into a warm automobile, the way it is for some kids when the school bus drops them off at one of its designated stops, no older sibling waiting at the end of the street keeping a watchful eye on kid sis.

Nope. This child – one of the most beautiful children I have ever seen! couldn’t the world see this?! – walked on alone in a flimsy dress, knobby knees to the wind, opened jacket, closed heart … like a condemned prisoner walking to the gallows. Like a pint-sized Christian walking into the Coloseum to meet the starved and lashed lion, Romans leaning forward on their seats, waiting for the show to begin.

But “the show” was for me.

And I wondered: Where is this

Worcester girl’s childhood????