Category Archives: Fashion

💕The Worcester Public Schools – always in style! New column from John Monfredo …


By John Monfredo, retired Lamartine Street School teacher and Belmont Community School principal and former Worcester School Committee member

This September on Highland Street: a dad walking his son to school. photo: R.T.

In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, CECELIA asked students in Worcester County to write about their “Three Wishes for the Holiday.” In staying with that theme, I thought that I would write about my “Three Wishes” for the WPS administration and the Worcester School Committee, for our students, as we enter 2023.

Let’s start with School Safety!

The WPD police officers were removed from the high schools this year because the Worcester City Council, with the approval of some members of the Worcester School Committee, removed the funding. The move was opposed by former WPS Superintendent Maureen Binienda and our secondary school principals because they felt it was not in the best interest of the students. This was considered a preventative measure. As a school committee member at that time, I opposed the move – not only because of the safety concern but because I had witnessed the positive interaction between students and the safety officers in the schools. Having the police in the schools gave students the opportunity to interact with them and build trust. I felt – and still do – that it was a mistake to eliminate the police officers, especially in this climate of gun violence within our society. According to recent police records, there has been more violence taking place in our WPSchools since the SRO’s were taken out of the schools. In addition, the bonding with the students is a missing ingredient to other plans mentioned by some city council members. At one of the meetings some citizen stated the students are fearful of the police. It is all the more reason to build a partnership!

How best to build a partnership than to have police in the schools and ensure the safety of the students? As a former WPS school principal, I had members of the police department serve as mentors, and we had special nights for the police, students and parents to get together. Many of my former students still talk about this positive relationship. As we move forward, let’s get input from our principals and staff, those in the schools, as to what is working and what needs to be changed. That’s wish #1!

Second Wish

As a school district we need to address the achievement gap starting in the early years. We need more prevention programs. Closing “the gap” is widely considered to be one of the major challenges facing public education. The gap refers to the academic achievement between students whose families who are of low-income and students from middle and upper-income families in Worcester. Despite everyone’s interest, the gap has continued to persist, and only modest progress has taken place.

We, as a community and school district, need to address the problem and make it a top priority. Yes, parent involvement and reaching out to parents is essential. Every school needs to have parent involvement as their number one priority. We need to teach parents and encourage them on how to help their child at home. As part of that process, we need to start early and can’t give up on our parents.

First, we need to expand our FULL DAY preschool programs. I made that request dozens of times as a school committee member but was told it was a money issue or we didn’t have room in the existing schools. Both answers are unacceptable. We have the money – we just hired 17 new school administrators! And there is room in many of our schools.

We also need to work with private pre-school organizations and get our students to attend a full-day pre-school program. I can attest that full-day preschool programs work, for as a principal I had a full-day program for several years and my first-grade teachers told me that they could pick out the students who were in the program. These children were ready to read!

Along with that issue is the problem of students enrolling in kindergarten at the age of four. Many of the four year olds entering school are not emotionally or socially ready! In Worcester, unlike ALL districts in the state of Massachusetts, children can start the year off at age four for the age cut off is December 31st. Other districts in Massachusetts have the cut off date August 31st.

Why is Worcester the only district with an early starting date? As I proposed several times in the past, why not change the date to August 31st?

If you are not going to change the date here is another plan: After screening our four-year olds, consider a Kindergarten 1 classroom or a pre-school program for those students not ready. Many of those children can then be in a full-day two-year program in the kindergarten. They will have ample time to acquire readiness skills and mature. Thus, they will be starting off grade one with the necessary skills to be successful and not be frustrated at an early age. There is NO REASON that this can not be done in Worcester!

In summary, my second wish is for the starting time to be pushed back to August 31st – or that we enroll our four-year olds in a full day pre-school program or a K1 program. Adding more full-day pre-school programs is part of this wish. Let’s do it NOW! Early education is important for our children. Investments in quality childhood education more than pay significant returns to children – our future citizens. Again, this is a preventative approach that is long overdue!

My Final Wish

This is a tough one because I did have several wishes … more after school tutoring, additional training on the teaching of reading, raises for our staff, more Instructional Assistance in the elementary schools … but I’ll stay with the theme of three wishes.

Next, let’s change the starting time in our secondary schools!

This has been an on-going discussion across our nation and, as research continues, more conversations persist. Researchers in the field of health see very early a.m. start times as harmful to teenagers. They concluded that poor sleep has been linked to increased reliance on caffeine, tobacco and alcohol, and they also discovered a link between sleep deprivation and poor academic performance.

While it may seem the solution is for teens to simply go to bed earlier, researchers say that isn’t a viable solution. Teens experience hormonal shifts that make falling asleep earlier difficult. Their biological clocks simply won’t allow them to fall asleep at 9 p.m., even when they’re tired.

Schools that have shifted to a later school start time have seen positive results, such as:

… increased attendance rates

… a decrease in disciplinary action

… a decrease in student-involved car accidents

… an increase in students’ GPA

… an increase in state assessment scores

… increase in student attention

… decrease in students sleeping in class

… increase in quality of student-family interaction

One school, according to the research, saw a decrease in tardiness, substance abuse and symptoms of mental health issues.

The evidence is indisputable and, in the past, the administration in Worcester did agree on this – but the problem was how to do it. My recommendation is that we discuss this issue at the next school committee meeting or at a standing committee meeting with a deadline of March 2023 to come up with a plan.

I am asking that we review this issue creatively to see if we can come up with a starting time of 8 a.m. and research what other large school districts that have changed to a later starting time have done to accomplish this goal.

We as a school district need to make healthy policy decisions for all students. So let’s move away from the talking stage and see what can be accomplished. We know the benefits from the research, but we are always stuck in neutral. Let’s be creative and see what can be done!

Those are my three wishes for our Worcester Public Schools students in the new year. If you have any thoughts on the subject, let me know. Email me at

Happy New Year!

Combatting hunger in our community – always in style!

The Worcester Housing Authority (WHA) and Renaissance Medical Group (RMG) are thrilled to announce the kickoff of the Food Matters program on Tuesday,
November 1, 2022, at 1:30 pm at 1050 Main Street (rear).

The Food Matters program is a
new free meal delivery program that will address food insecurity among elderly and disabled WHA residents.

A rustic stew. Meals delivered to Worcester’s neediest will help folks stay healthy as the price of groceries continues to sky rocket! CECELIA/InCity Times file photos.

The kickoff event will feature a number of speakers, including Congressman James McGovern.

Other speakers include:

• Joseph Petty, Mayor, City of Worcester
• Eric Batista, Acting City Manager, City of Worcester
• Alex Corrales, CEO, Worcester Housing Authority
• Jesus Suarez, CEO, Renaissance Medical Group
• Eric Dickson, CEO, UMASS Memorial Health System
• Gina Plata-Nino, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Through the Food Matters program, the WHA will deliver 12 shelf stable meals per month to more than
1,000 residents.

These meals will be culturally diverse and can be heated and eaten by residents as

Fresh vegetables and fruit can be $$ expensive!

The pilot program will initially be offered at 6 WHA properties:

• Webster Square Towers (1050 & 1060 Main Street)
• Elm Park Tower (425 Pleasant Street)
• Pleasant Tower (275 Pleasant Street)
• Murray Apartments (50 Murray Avenue)
• Wellington Apartments (30 Wellington Street)

The pilot program will focus on the WHA’s elderly and disabled community. These populations with limited mobility will especially benefit from non-perishable meals delivered to their door— as groceries are hard to access and nutritious meals may be hard to make.

As the program grows, delivery service will expand to other WHA properties.

The kickoff event will provide guests an opportunity to sample food, listen to live music and learn about other food insecurity resources offered in the community.

Fresh ingredients make all the difference!

Guest speakers will touch upon, not only the need for food access but also the impact food insecurity has on an individual’s mental and
physical health.

The Food Matters program aims to help residents gain access to healthy meals, consistently. As the
price of groceries has steeply risen over the past few years, there is a greater need than ever to ensure those in need are able to access to food that is filling and nutritious. As food is an essential
part of overall health, the WHA has made it a priority to combat food insecurity and to ensure
residents have the food they need throughout the year. The program also intends to reduce the
mental stress that food insecurity can bring on, by providing residents with shelf-stable food they can eat when needed and can safely store when not.

The WHA chose to partner with Renaissance Medical Group (RMG). RMG will provide the premade
meals that will be distributed to WHA residents. RMG is a medical group focusing on holistic
healthcare for diverse populations, with services such as home care, behavioral health care, and
primary care services, in addition to their food program. RMG currently has a health clinic at 1060 Main Street.

The WHA is confident and hopeful that the kickoff event and Food Matters program will bring to light
the needs of the low income residents it serves. Residents will be able to participate in focus groups and take surveys that will measure if the food is assisting them, along with feedback and suggestions to improve the program.

Jim – always in style. Here’s his latest column …🍂🍂🍂

Former WPS superintendent – John E. Durkin – died this fall … and is memorialized

By Jim Coughlin


The late former Worcester School Superintendent John E. Durkin was memorialized at a Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church on Friday, October 7. John E. Durkin was remembered as Worcester’s school superintendent during financially challenging times for the school district and as the person who succeeded long-time superintendent, John F. Connor who served during the 1970s.

John E. Durkin was remembered by the community this fall.

In interviews following the Mass with former members of the Worcester School Committee, they said Durkin was especially known for his strong leadership during a time when there were calls for closing schools and laying off teachers in the wake of Proposition 2 and 1/2, the cost cutting initiative approved by the state’s voters in 1980, the same year Durkin became WPS superintendent.

He retired in 1993.

He died on September 2 at the age of 90.

A wake in his honor was held at the Callahhan, Faye & Caswell Funeral Home, and burial services were private. The Blessed Sacrament Mass was for members of his family and those with whom he served with as school superintendent. His friends and neighbors gathered in the church to say “good bye.”

John Durkin’s church service. Mayor Petty, far right, and John’s family. photo submitted.

Durkin’s career spanned a total of 39 years with the Worcester Public Schools, starting when he was an elementary school teacher at the West Boylston Street School where he taught both the 5th and 6th grades. He later became an assistant principal at Winslow Street School and became the director of staff development in 1977, and then the supervisor of program development and lastly as interim school superintendent after Connor retired in 1980.

When I was in my teens, I was told by Mr. John F. “Jack” Clancy who was the Director of the former Piedmont Nature Center on Piedmont Street what the “three elements of leadership” are. Clancy said they are called “The 3 G’s: Guts, Guidance and God.” He explained that this model of leadership comes from the philosophy of the Boy Scouts of America.

In my estimation, John Durkin exhibited all 3 Gs of leadership throughout his service as Worcester’s School Superintendent – and in ample amounts. Among the past and present city officials with whom John Durkin served during his superintendentcy who attended the memorial Mass were current Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, former WPS School Superintendent Maureen Binienda, former Worcester mayors Tim Murray (and former Massachusetts lieutenant governor), Timothy J. Cooney, Raymond J. Marianno and John B. Anderson, along with former Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. Former Worcester School Committee members Jack Foley and John Monfredo and current school committee member Tracy Novick represented the past and present Worcester school committees at the funeral.

In interviews after the Mass with some former members of the school committee, they all mentioned the word “leadership” in relationship to John Durkin. Former Mayor Cooney said, “John Durkin called them as he saw them.”

But Jack Foley, recently retired from the school committee, got specific about Durkin’s leadership when the school system had to close 11 city schools, two middle schools, and lay off 270 teachers. This was during the time of Proposition 2 & 1/2 or what was commonly referred to as “Prop 2 & 1/2” (which limited the amount of local city and town spending from local real estate taxes). Foley said, “There were four (Prop 2 & 1/2) overrides on the city ballot that year, and the only one that passed was the one for education. … The superintendent was so happy it passed.”

Former Superintendent Bienienda was equally complimentary towards her precedessor, calling him, “my mentor” whom she regularly turned to for counsel and advice during her superintendency. “He was a strong educator and leader of all the people who worked for him,” she said.

I did not have a chance to interview former Mayor Marianno who served in the Worcester mayoralty during the height of the Durkin superintendentcy.

In eulogizing his former parishioner at Blessed Sacrament, Father Charles Monroe said: “John lived his life like a seed for both the big and little decisions.” And scanning out to the gathering of about 100 attending his funeral Mass, the good padre said, “He helped all of you so often during the difficulties of running the school system and he did a wonderful job.”

The priest’s reference to “the seed” is rooted in the Book of Matthew in the New Testament. That was the way Dr. John E. Durkin served during his superintendentcy in helping others in the field of education. As is written in the Bible: “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of Mustard Seed which a man took and sowed in his field; which indeed is smaller than all the seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and lodge on its branches.”

One of the “seeds” which John planted in the Worcester Public Schools just happened to be my fellow writer for CECELIA/InCity Times, John Monfredo, whom he appointed as the principal of Belmont Street Community School in the 1980s.

In saluting his mentor, Mr. Monfredo said, “I was appointed as principal in the ’80s, after an extensive interview with a panel. I then met with him to discuss my new role as a principal. He was dedicated to his profession and expected principals to be dedicated as well. His main goal for us was to provide the best education possible for our students and to do all we could to reach out to our parents.”

John Durkin was, indeed, a gift to the Worcester Public Schools and truly lived his life as the catalyst for quality education in the Worcester Public Schools. Rest in Peace, Mr. Superintendent, and thank you for your many years of unselfish service to our school district and for being that “mustard seed” for students, their parents and the WPS teachers and staff.


Thor: Love and Thunder movie review

By Luis Sanchez

Luis Sanchez

On July 8, 2022, the world was able to witness yet another MCU installment on the big screens. This movie was able to make me laugh, scare and feel all within its 2-hour runtime. This is a spoiler-free review, so feel free to keep reading without fear!

Thor: Love and Thunder was directed by Taika Waititi, produced by Marvel Studios, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Christian Bale as Gorr, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, and Natalie Portman as Jane Foster/Mighty Thor.

This is the first time we see Thor after the events of Avengers: Endgame. In this film, Thor is called back to action after discovering that Gorr the God Butcher is on a quest to kill all gods. What many people did not understand about this film is that it’s comedy-based. This was not meant to be an MCU-lore filled movie with cameos in every frame. This movie was what Eternals tried to be. With expectations set high after Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness, many expected a lot – too much perhaps, and that led to many negative reviews from the public. In my opinion, Thor: Love and Thunder was quite enjoyable. The laughs were great, but the movie remained true to itself and even provided the audience with moments of fear – which made it an all around good movie. It’s a fun way to spend a moment with friends and have a laugh.

Natalie Portman as Jane Foster/Mighty Thor was a surprising character. To not reveal too much, all I can say is that the movie did well on making us care for her, despite not seeing her during Thor: Ragnarok. Her connection with Thor was also surprising, but it remained thoughtful and it kept the audience interested on how it would all end up. Thor was an incredibly funny character, but in the process of making him funny the writers also made him careless. To some degree it remains true to the character, but it takes away from all of the lessons that Odin has taught him about caring for others. Still, this version of Thor works well with the movie’s persona, and I think it was effective in driving the movie forward.

Valkyrie was more or less pushed to the side which is shameful, but Tessa Thompson’s character did not go unnoticed. Gorr was honestly my favorite character. He was amazingly creepy, and it brought a balancing darkness to the light of the movie (Thanos would have been proud). Gorr used darkness as his weapon, and the visual effects were satisfying to see with Gorr. Sometimes he would melt into the darkness, or when he was incoming, the first thing you would see were his extremely creepy eyes. It’s as if they gave the fear of “darkness” a character and filmed how it acted inside a child’s nightmare. If a villain can creep me out or make me afraid of them, then that villain was well written and well performed! Gorr was outstanding. No other way to describe it.

In the end, Thor: Love and Thunder relied a lot on comedy, and it worked out, for me at least. I think that the biggest problem with this film was its audience. When many have high expectations, it leads to harsher reviews because the movie did not reach their expectations. I disagree with many of the “critics.” This movie was a lot of fun and a good break from MCU lore. Its path is its own, and that is something to admire in a movie. To be fair, someone who has not seen a single Marvel movie will enjoy it as much as anyone else.

If you are not willing to spend some money in theaters, then I will recommend waiting for it to come out on DVD or Disney+. I would rate this movie 6/10 and would recommend watching it with people who you know will have a laugh.

🍿Movie reviews by our intern Luis📽️: always in style!🎟️🎬

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness movie review

By Luis Sanchez

Luis just graduated from Worcester’s South High School!🎓

Marvel Studios is once again releasing another highly anticipated movie in 2022. This time we follow the former Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in his quest to save America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez). This is a spoiler-free review, so feel free to keep reading if you are interested in watching this movie.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a film where Dr. Stephen Strange runs across a new character named America Chavez. She is being chased by demons, and Doctor Strange makes it his duty to help her battle these creatures. In their attempt to find the source of the demons they end up traveling across the multiverse – hence the name Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

To begin with, Dr. Strange and America Chavez have a bonding that is enjoyable. Strange attempts to guard her and frequently tries to, but America Chavez does not know whether he is trustworthy or not. It builds tension throughout the movie because as the audience we are able to see it from both perspectives, and it’s hard to decide who has a greater right to be skeptical.

Sam Raimi is the director of this movie, previously known for his direction on the original Spider Man trilogy. He begins the movie with an action scene and then continues to show that although a superhero, Doctor Strange is also a human. He does a great job at depicting someone as powerful as Doctor Strange as someone completely relatable in our lives. Also, Sam Raimi is known for his addition of horror elements into action movies. What he aims to do is sprinkle a little bit of horror elements into the action movie so it is still classified as an action movie, but with dark scenes. In fact, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness contains a lot of dark scenes, more than what was expected. Although this was advertised as a family movie, Sam Raimi gives it a more mature tone which honestly works great.

The audience that grew up watching the original Avengers is now much older, so Marvel has to produce more mature movies in order to appeal to its audience. This darker and mature tone works great for a film regarding the multiverse and its exploration. Definitely be aware of this, if you plan to bring your children to this movie. It’s not a warning but simply advice. You might want to close their eyes during some of the fight scenes due to its imagery.

Elizabeth Olsen plays Wanda Maximoff in this movie and she is great! The emotions are felt and radiated throughout the theater. I’ll be honest: I did cry at some point, and there were several times when I felt that knot in my throat. Wanda Maximoff has gone through a lot of emotional damage and it is shown once again in this film. There were moments when I wished I could just go through the screen and give her a comforting hug!

Overall, this movie brings the audience into an adventure that nobody could see coming. Being fair, I did not know what to expect and the trailers do a good job of keeping it vague. Leaving the theater, I was very happy to have spent my time watching Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Being an action movie with horror tones sprinkled throughout definitely showed a new level of maturity that Marvel’s Cinematic Universe can achieve, and it gives me hope for the future films.

I recommend this movie a lot, especially to the older generation of Marvel fanatics. I am giving it a rating of 7/10 only because I believe this film could have been a tad bit more sophisticated (cannot explain, this is a spoiler-free review), but its mature tone works amazingly well.

So grab your friends and go watch this movie in theaters! This is one of the few films that does not give you the same experience watching it at home than in the cinema.

Rose’s Green Island – in style?

By Rosalie Tirella

Back in the old neighborhood today. Some of my beloved “L” streets, the streets of my Green Island childhood, streets “closer to home” and infused with so many bitter and sweet memories – Lamartine, Lodi, Lunel, a bit of Lafayette – are changing. Bull dozed big time. They call it “gentrification.” We used to call it home! … Memories of a neighborhood teeming with poor kids, the kids society said wouldn’t amount to much, but many of us transcended hardscrabble lives to become more than a crime stat.

Lamartine … L. photos:R.T.

And there was so much to do – together! We Green Island kids and our dogs roamed these L streets, in packs, dogs unleashed, kids untethered, too! We played whiffle ball, dodge ball, marbles, red rover, double dutch jump rope, Chinese jump rope, soft ball. We had best friends we hung out with – had sleepovers at each other’s apartments. Our dogs got into occasional fights, as did the boys – and girls. One girl was raped. Another got pregnant. No judgments. Life flowed on. Tough as nails, this little Worcester neighborhood was.




These L streets were also filled with: walking to Lamartine Street School to play my accordion for Mr. Gilman, my fourth grade teacher. Mr. Gilman played a hot accordion and wanted us students to love the musical instrument as much as he did. The lessons were after school and free to all the kids in Lamartine, grades 4 through 6. … My kid sister played baseball with Rich Gedman! in the sandlot on the corner of Lafayette and Bigelow streets, right outside our third floor kitchen windows. Years before Rich became a pretty famous Red Sox player – and Woo Sox head batting coach. Rich lived a few houses up the street from us, with his parents and kid brother Paulie and little sister Danielle. He was a quiet kid, always polite to the grown-ups but, boy oh boy, could he whack the he*l outa those baseballs when the kids got together to play ball! Over the three decker roofs, two lots down, up into the clouds Gedman’s slugged balls flew. The other team’s outfielders always backed up when it was Rich’s turn to hit. As Rich finessed the sand beneath his feet with serious sneakers, waiting for that ball to come sailing by him, the other team’s outfielders ran almost all the way to Crompton Park, readying for Gedman to whack that ball a block away. If the bases were loaded, Rich’s teammates were already walking to home.




Green Island: to me, the finest, grittiest, saddest Worcester neighborhood of all.

Now our history is being turned into contactors’ dust, lattes abound and $2,500 apartments that few working people – let alone poor people – can afford to rent keep popping up in a neighborhood that I hardly recognize.

“Where do the children play?”

UMass nurse’s compassion – always in style!💕🙏

By Rosalie Tirella

UMass Memorial health care, urgent care. Photos: R.T.

UMass nurse magic … As I’ve searched for a safe place to sleep in my car (certainly not Abby’s House or St. Paul’s Church – the places you’d expect to be safe havens), I came upon the UMass Memorial health care Plantation Street campus. Figured I’d park there at nites and snooze and no one would notice the difference! A safe nook! … Well, they did notice. Over the phone one UMass urgent care nurse said, after I explained our plight, YOU DON’T BELONG HERE! … Another UMass staffer, a security guard inside urgent care, said: NO ZZZZs here – even though I’m COVID-vaccinated, -boosted, flu-shotted and shingles-vaccinated AND GETTING my 2ND COVID BOOSTER VACCINE ON THE EXACT DATE I’M ALLOWED TO. Showering at the YWCA was hurtful after the front desk lady said: GET HERE EARLIER !! …so the old lady dues paying regulars don’t have to mix with a homeless woman, I assumed. I said to her: THANKS FOR TREATING ME LIKE A SECOND CLASS CITIZEN, YWCA SALEM SQUARE! I thought the YW was were supposed to support all women … and combat these feelings and prejudices!

UMass at night – a safe haven!

But I BELIEVE IN WORCESTER’S YOUTH! The kids at McDonald’s are so polite and friendly, giving me that extra big cup of water for my pups. Giving me that extra cup of hot water for tea. I tip them a buck when I can, which is often!

And last night at UMass I spoke to a young nurse in red blue jeans who I wished was my daughter. She looked to be about 25. She was slim, athletic, smart – and compassionate. I told her what I was going through, the voucher, the crumby Connecticut apartment, my pups, and she said: THE RENTS ARE CRAZY IN WORCESTER! THAT’S WHY WE MOVED OUT OF WORCESTER! No, you need your dogs! Then she said: Wait here by the desk. I have things for you.

The minutes dragged on. I wondered did this nice nurse forget about me – move on to triage someone with a greater emergency.

♥️ nurse’s love for all people who need care!



But 10 minutes later this young UMass nurse came out, a bounce in her step, wavy black hair bobbing, her COVID mask secure …she came to me with a huge plastic bag filled not just with the basics like shampoo, hand sanitizer and soap but a true gift! With lots of goodies to make me smile! As if she had thought about me – as if she cared and wanted to keep me healthy, as well as safe. My blessings bag had a big tube of petroleum jelly in it, along with a bottle of body wash, a big tube of body cream, a UMass eye mask for sleeping in relative darkness, eat plugs to make things quieter, four pairs of socks, two tooth brushes, two tubes of toothpaste, gargle rinse containers, a plastic foot pan and four face cloths. And to top it off, this nurse gave me a light hospital blanket WHICH SHE WARMED UP IN THE HOSPITAL WARMER OVEN! Beyond saving me a trip to the dollar store, this young totally in the moment UMass nurse bestowed upon me grace, kindness and human love. …My eyes welled up in the UMass urgent care area.

Back in my car with my goodies taking up the whole front seat, I thought of my late mom and her tears! Ten years ago, as I visited her every day in her studio apartment, to care for her – for four years! – to visit her, to bring her her McDonald’s coffee and cheeseburger and apple pie …to make sure all was well…to listen to her worries…or to confer with her elder care provided homemakers and CNAs or her meals on wheels folks… sometimes Ma would cry so softly, her little round shoulders trembling as I hugged her goodbye for the day.

I’d say: Ma, why are you crying?

My mother was not a cry baby. I saw her cry twice in my Green Island childhood and youth – and never at her seniors complex. She said: My Rosalie, you don’t know what it means to have a daughter!

I felt that way last night at UMass urgent care when that young UMass nurse ran out from her hospital triage room to hand me my gift… helped this old lady. I experienced daughter-hood – from the other side.

Thoughtfulness always wins the day!

Always pay it forward!
In 10 or 20 years, it could be you!

Jim Coughlin – always in style! Jim’s first column of 2022!

Inauguration of the newly elected members of Worcester’s city council and school committee

By Jim Coughlin


The historic Mechanics Hall on Main Street in Worcester on Monday, January 3, was the scene for the Inauguration of the newly elected members of the city council and school committee from the municipal election that was held on November 3.

The overriding theme of the evening that was mentioned by three of the evening’s speakers which included Massachusetts United States Senator Edward J. Markey and Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg (both of whom appeared on video via a remote broadcast) along with our long-time Mayor Joseph Petty was that the new city council and school committee are the “most diverse” elected bodies in the city’s history.”

Mayor Joe Petty is enthused about the diversity of our elected officials. File photo: Ron O’Clair

Elected to the city council in November was Thu Nguyen, a first-time candidate Asian American candidate who identified themself as “non binary” to either gender. Joining them on the council is Etel Haxhiaj who won the District 5 Council seat in the wake of Councillor Matt Wally who held this seat for two terms deciding to seek an at-large council seat this election cycle – and losing to Nguyen.

In the District 5 contest Haxhiaj defeated George Stratman, a retired Massachusetts State Trooper 2,585 to 2,206 capturing 53.96 % of the vote to Stratman’s 46.04%. The election of Haxhiaj is historically significant because she is the first Muslim ever elected to the city council.

My memories of the Worcester City Council go back to the early 1970’s when it seemed like forever that the council would only consist of “9 white men.” Then came the city election in 1973 when three women were elected to the council: Barbara J. Sinnott, Mary Scano and Barbara C. Kohin. At the time, it was considered a radical change because prior to this, no woman had never been elected to the city council! And then came the election two years later in 1975 when the voters summarily defeated all three women councillors.

Now, in 2022, the membership of the city council consists of a majority of six women city councillors. Besides newly elected councillors Nyguen and Haxhiaj they are incumbent city councillors Candice “Candy” Mero-Carlson, Kathleen Toomey, Sarai Riveria and Donna Colorio. In addition, Worcester’s Vice Mayor is Colorio who is currently serving her second term as Vice Mayor.

The collective election of Worcester’s three women city councollors came about 13 years after what was called “second wave feminism” of the women’s (liberation) movement that began in 1960. “Wikipedia” tells me that “Second wave feminism was a period of feminism that began in the early 1960’s and lasted for roughly two decades ”

According to my sources, when I was in my 20s, things were not always easy for Worcester’s first women city councillors. To make my point about this is a story involving the city’s legendary former city manager, Francis J. McGrath, who served from 1953 to 1984. There was a meeting of McGrath and the trio of women councillors that made them feel a little uncomfortable serving in city government during this time. It goes like this: shortly after their election in 1973, the women councillors were invited for an informal meeting with the City Manager. What the women councillors were expecting was a discussion about various public policies for the city. However, what the City Manager engaged with them for discussion at the time was about the “domestic side” of City Hall and, unfortunately, what that was about was the draperies and curtains that had adorned the City Manager’s inner office – and NOT about substantial city issues involving city policy.

This story was once relayed by Councillor Sinnott on the floor of the city council when City Manager McGrath was present during a city council meeting!

Unfortunately, the women councillors had to gently speak up to the Manager and tell him that they were there to discuss city issues and not “the size and nature of City Hall’s interior decorating.”

Go, Thu!

The sum of this story and message particularly for councillors Haxhiaj and Nyguen is to just be aware of what some of your previous women colleagues had to endure back then in order to pave the way for a much easier time that both of you will now have in being taken seriously by your male colleagues.

Another “breakthrough” to validate the point made about Worcester’s “new” city council and school committee being the most diverse in the city’s history was made and underscored by the election at the Inauguration ceremonies for newly elected School Committee member Jermaine Johnson becoming not only the first African American man to ever serve on the Worcester School Committee, but he also made political history when his colleagues on the school committee at the Inauguration ceremonies uniamously chose him to become the first African American Vice Chair of the Worcester School Committee for the next two years. Now that’s progress for the Worcester School Committee to elevate a newly elected member to immediately ascend to the Vice Chairmanship of the school committee immediately after being elected in November.

In a telephone interview after the Inaugural ceremonies, Jackson verified that this was “never done before.”

And perhaps with Mr. Jackson becoming the committee’s Vice Chair it was one way of his colleagues on the school committee sending out the clear and unmistakable message that he will, indeed, be taken seriously as a freshman member of the Worcester School Committee.

Thankfully, Jermaine will be taken seriously by his colleagues on the school committee for the second largest city in Massachusetts when the school committee has its first meeting on January 20.

I can almost guarantee that there will be no insignificant discussions in the future between School Committee Vice Chair Jermaine Jackson and Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. when the time comes, as there was between the newly elected women city councillors and City Manager Francis J. McGrath back in 1973, nearly 50 years ago!

This future scenario when (and not if it happens), will shows that Worcester City Hall has become more diversified in both words and actions for our representatives on the city council and school committee that previously were NOT even elected to either the council or school committee, much less even taken seriously after their election.

Councillor Krystian King, when asked to comment on the new diversity on both the city council and school committee said, “It’s a new beginning on the city council and school committee, and I look forward to an increased diversity of perspective.”

Councilor King and his daughter. Photo: J.C.

In an interview with Jackson’s mother, Mary Ann Jackson, after she saw her son make political history being Inaugurated as the first African American man ever to serve on a previously all-White European North American membership of the Worcester School Committee she said, “My son has always been a go-getter in putting his mind to accomplishing something. … I am very proud of my son.”

School Committee Vice Chair Jackson with his mom, Mary Ann, and family. photo: J.C.

And lastly, I cannot forget two other historical elections of note: First, there was the election of Jermoh Kamara as the first immigrant African American woman to the Worcester School Committee that undoubtedly has made many members of Worcester’s growing African American community very proud of her.

Worcester School Committee member Jermoh Kamara will make her community – and all of Worcester! – proud! photo submitted

Secondly, there was the election of Thu Nguyen as the first Southeast Asian non binary candidate to win a seat on the Worcester City Council.

Everyone in Worcester should be enthusiastically proud of the newest members of both the Worcester City Council and School Committee because they will add their voices and votes to more adequately represent the growing diversity of the body politic at Worcester City Hall.

Edith Morgan – always in style!🎉❄️🎉

The Games We Play

By Edith Morgan


It was all the rage this Christmas – and boxes were snapped up quickly. I had not really expected to get a copy, as I stay away from crowds due to OMICRON and generally wait until prices and availability are in my range.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I received a brand new, sealed copy of the Worcesdter Edition of Monopoly. I had been following the controversy about what and who was included in this pay to play Monopoly game. I was curious about the details. All of us have probably played the regular Monopoly at some time in our younger years, but I never thought about why this game and its form.

What do the choices of games tell about a people or its culture? I got to thinking about that when “Trivial Pursuit” swept out nation. Do the games we play really say anything about us?

Games involve considerable time sitting around a table with others. We can learn much about the strategies our opponents use to win the game – winning, after all, is the main idea of most games.

But does it make a difference whether you play checkers, which involves planning ahead a limited set of moves, versus Chess, which can involve planning many and intricate maneuvers, to trap your opponent’s King? And which can involve international contests with world champions?

I imagine by now some university has studied the relationship between a nation’s values and the games played there. What does it say about us that our games are such as “Trivial Pursuit” and “Monopoly”? Is “Trivial Pursuit” a comment on the way many of us spend our lives? And is “Monopoly” a commentary on our brutally acquisitive economic system? Both are partially games of chance but also of strategies to acquire your opponents’ wealth or property.

As children we played simple card games like “Hearts,” Old Maid, Fish, UNO and, even before that, we did interminable “tic-tac-toe” until we always ended up without a winner. Playing games begins so early in a child’s life; many teach them and us adults so much. But it also says something about us, as we develop preferences.

I fear some of that information and the skills in both strategy and socialization are being lost as so many of our children pursue the constant lure of computer games with all their flash and excitement and their constant pursuit of ever higher levels of achievement. Often that “achievement” is the destruction of others.

So, if your life is a “Trivial Pursuit,” how about making a 2022 New Year’s resolution that this year your life will take on more important meaning? And, if you are involved in cut-throat competition, trying to achieve a “Monopoly” in your field, how about working for cooperation and peace in your pursuits?

What’s YOUR game for 2022?

Holiday Cheer at the Pickle Barrel – always in style!🎄📬 Kids! Mail your letters to Santa at this Piedmont restaurant!


A Santa’s Mailbox awaits all children at the Pickle Barrel, located in Worcester’s Piedmont neighborhood! photos: R.T.

The Pickle Barrel Restaurant and Deli in Worcester’s Piedmont neighborhood has the cutest SANTA’S MAILBOX! Perfect for the Letters to Santa from your kiddos!

Let them drop them into this cool working mail box! We’ll publish the sweetest letter in our January CECELIA – and award the child a $25 prize$. And don’t forget the young at heart, as seen here!

The Pickle, at night …

– Rosalie🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄