Category Archives: Fashion

Jim! Always in style!

A former Woo political activist hoped for more political, racial and gender diversity on the Worcester City Council – and got it!

By Jim Coughlin

Worcester City Hall – our City Council reflecting our city these days. Finally. photo: Rose T.

I was born and raised in Worcester. Our family originally lived in the area of Worcester known as “Crown Hill.” We originaly lived on Chatham Street and later moved to Chandler Street, right next to both Beaver Brook Park and Foley Stadium. My father was a long-time community organizer in Worcester’s sports and athletic community and shortly after his death in 1986, Worcester State University, (WSU) named the athletic field in back of the university “The John F Coughlin Field.”

Jim Coughlin. He’s a Boston boy now but often takes the train into Worcester to visit friends and report on Worcester events and people for CECELIA. Photo submitted.

By introduction, for those readers who don’t know me, let me say that I was a long time political activist in Worcester, going back to the mid 1970s. When I was only 19 and 21 years old, I served as the campaign manager for the late Mrs. Elizabeth L. “Betty” Price in her two successful campaigns for the Worcester School Committee in both 1973 and 1975. For those of you who don’t recall “Betty,” she was the first African American woman ever elected to the Worcester School Committee when the percentage of people of color in the city was only about 5%, much lower than it is today.

Bill and James Vets Homor Roll 4-28-16(2)-1
Bill Coleman, right, and James Bonds spearheaded the drive to build the monument to Worcester’s Black soldiers of World War II, located at Lincoln Square. CECELIA file photo.

I clearly and vividly remember the “old Worcester,” along with the old Worcester City Councils of decades ago. During this time, I regularly attended city council meetings in the 1970s and ’80s when the legendary Francis J. McGrath served as City Manager. I remember 1973 as somewhat of a “revolutionary year” at the time in Worcester politics because this was the year that the voters elected not one, but the first three women EVER elected to the Worcester City Council: Mary Scano, Barbara Sinnott and Barbara Kohin.

But their terms did not last long. In 1975, all three women councillors were defeated by the voters. Of the trio, only former Councillor Kohin is still living.

For those of us who observed these changes, we thought we would never see a woman, any woman, break the sex barrier and join the ranks of the Worcester City Council. But they were all excellent public servants for the people of our city. By comparison, the city and, yes, the City Council over time also has become more diversified.

Thank goodness.

By comparison, to the older Worcester City Councils of the earlier days, the current council is no longer “9 white men” as it was back then, but rather it is far more representative of Worcester’s demographics in 2021. Now, on the current city council there are four women city councillors: Donna M. Colorio, Candy Mero Carlson, Kathleen Toomey and Sarai Riveria. Additionally, there are three councillors of color: Khrystian King, Sean Rose and Sarai Riveria.

It is no longer a big deal or even a surprise that the demographics of the city council has changed in both the racial and gender departments. This is a good step forward for the city council in being more representative of the entire city. And whatever happens in contested race for council in District Five between Etel Haxhiaj and George Stratman, the council will either increase by one more councillor of color or a woman councillor.

Running for Councillor at large is Peter Stefan, a Main South funeral home director and long-time community activist. Stefan has buried Worcester’s homeless for free for years and helped the city’s poor and seniors for decades – helping them pay for food, their prescription medicines and utility bills . He served on the board of directors of the PIP homeless shelter for many years and was an advocate for the work they did. He also supports homeless veterans and promises to donate all his City Council paychecks to local food pantries and food banks throughout Worcester County.

Today: the old PIP, on the corner of Main and Charlton streets, in Main South. For years PIP board member and current city council candidate Peter Stefan would drive to Nissan’s Bakery by Crompton Park, buy a ton of sweets and bread and bring them down to the PIP for the homeless to enjoy at supper time. Photo: R.T.

William S. “Bill” Coleman III is also running for councillor at large. Coleman has run for city councillor at large many times before and has been a very active petitioner before the city council for over 30 years on a wide range of public policy initiatives.

For me, as a former Worcester political activist who only hoped for more political, racial and gender diversity on the city council when we were out in the neighborhoods of Worcester organizing for Betty Price in the mid-1970s, I am grateful that the electorate of Worcester has summoned itself to answer the call of many of us back then who actually wondered aloud and to ourselves if there ever would be these changes in the faces of our public servants at City Hall.

Kudos to Worcester for diversifying the make-up of the Worcester City Council!

9/11. 20 years later.

By Rosalie Tirella

Another American hero! Our troops worked hard these past months to evacuate US canine soldiers, their partners and beloved friends … out of Afghanistan!

I remember, too, President Biden! That day and the days and months ahead when everything changed: War and more war. The surveillance state on steroids. Anti-Muslim sentiment. Gitmo. Water-boarding. “Rummy is Yummy” (and a liar)! Judith Miller reporting LIES in America’s premier newspaper. Beheadings and more beheadings. Filmed for all the world to see! Some great reporters lost in the fog of war – one beheaded on film, another’s Jeep riding over a homemade bomb. Those homemade bombs were hidden everywhere! Our soldiers had their legs and arms blown off. Seeing these young people on the TV news shows with their new, bionic limbs made me cry. Dick Cheney = Darth Vader = Bush’s Brain! Bush, so unyielding, so righteous in his folly. Condy Rice! She was beautiful and played the piano beautifully…as our boys and girls were warped by war. A volunteer military where only 1% of us serves. So we’re clueless about war, personally and as a country. … Sadam Hussain’s human meat grinders, his gold statues toppling … his tons of porn. Finally captured! Hiding in a tiny hole, underground, begging – arms raised as he surrenders – to live another day! Begging for mercy after he killed and tortured the “other” for decades. After he murdered thousands. After he urged his soldiers and followers to die rather than capitulate to America! He surrendered with bells on his toes! We did not blow his brains out. He was arrested and had a fair trial – and his people executed him.

It’s been a terrible 20! All the changes changing us!

Mandatory Credit: Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11827661ae) US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 23 March 2021. Biden Remarks on Boulder Shootings, Washington, USA - 23 Mar 2021
Mandatory Credit: Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11827661ae)
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 23 March 2021.
Biden Remarks on Boulder Shootings, Washington, USA – 23 Mar 2021

I remember, too, President Biden!

Here’s to peace! Tranquility. Trumpless times! Pristine lakes and rivers. Big fat Polar bears with chubby cubs! Blue skies and clean air, here we come! Let’s embrace free community college for our working poor and universal Pre-K. We’re out of Afghanistan – let’s wallow in peace!

Let’s save our planet!

This just in: MARK YOUR CALENDARS! SEPTEMBER 10 – watch for free! Fahrenheit 9/11!

From filmmaker Michael Moore …

A Free Worldwide Screening of “Fahrenheit 9/11”

Great flick!

I have an announcement for you. I would like to invite you to join me for a free worldwide screening on Friday, September 10th, of my 2004 film, Fahrenheit 9/11. We’ll watch it online together …

We’ve decided to hold this free screening because it’s become clear that many of our political, corporate and media leaders wish to rewrite the history of 9/11 and tell a fake-sentimental story that justified two wars of aggression, the removal of some of our basic constitutional rights, and the creation of the domestic surveillance state. This screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 is our attempt to tell the real facts and understand how our country has, since that fateful day, been in a downward spiral that must be and can be reversed.

The online film event will begin at 9pm ET on Friday, September 10th. I’ll say a few words, we’ll show the movie, and then afterward we’ll bring on some special guests for a discussion and take your questions live. As I said, it’s all free and it takes place right here on my Substack site, To guarantee your “seat” from home, you simply need to be a free subscriber to this site. You can do that by clicking this button:

Fahrenheit 9/11 (still the highest grossing documentary of all time) questions the Bush administration’s motives for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It shows our troops speaking to the American people about the lies we’ve been told and shows the madness we’ve created on the ground in those countries. Many of the issues raised in the film – about voter suppression, poor treatment of military veterans, issues of race and class and U.S. militarism, are as timely today as ever.

Michael Moore

The film was the first documentary in 50 years to win the top prize — the Palme d’Or — at the Cannes Film Festival. In the U.S., it won the People’s Choice Award — not for best documentary, but for Best Movie of the Year. It also broke an opening weekend box office record set by “Return of the Jedi”. That’s how weird it all was at the time.

Released just a little over a year into the Iraq War, the public overwhelmingly responded to the film which revealed the massive falsehoods and errors of the political, military and media establishment as they exploited the 9/11 tragedy for financial gain (see: military-industrial complex) and set the United States on a course for never-ending wars.

Fahrenheit 9/11 unfortunately remains even more relevant today as the same politicians and elites lead us down the same wrong roads. 20 years later and it is crushing that we still have not learned the lessons of 9/11. We lost the war in Afghanistan. We lost the war in Iraq. We lost the peace with Iran. We still rattle our sabres with countries like China while the world shakes its head and quietly laughs at us. We still believe we can solve problems by invading countries and killing civilians with drone attacks. We are no longer ‘#1’ except in our own minds. We created a fake War on Terror, we militarized our local police, we ended up trillions of dollars in debt — all to protect the so-called ‘homeland’ (a word straight out of the Fascist Dictionary) — when, in fact, the NSA and FBI now admit that our largest terrorist threat is from American citizens who are white supremacists seeking to overthrow Democracy. And we all know who their enablers are: The 147 Republican Senators and members of Congress who, just hours after the January 6th sacking of the Capitol, joined the insurrection and voted to overturn the presidential election results, claiming that Trump was their true president. They lost that vote, but all 147 of these traitors still remain in Congress.

So we are in dark times. Amongst the top industrialized nations we are still last in life expectancy, last in infant mortality, last in overall heath care, last in education, last in voter turnout, last in women’s rights — but first in gun deaths, first in mothers who die in childbirth, first in child poverty, first in number of people in prisons, first in student loan debt, first in home foreclosures and bankruptcies and first in citizens shot to death by the police. The world may laugh at us, but it’s no joke here in the U.S.

“This special screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 also marks the debut of “Mike’s Movie Night,” a new feature here on my recently announced site on Substack (the free platform on which you are reading this!). Every month or so, I’ll hold an online screening of a movie I love or have discovered and watch them with all my Substack members (occasionally the film’s director or actors will join us afterward). While this first “Mike’s Movie Night” next week will be available for free to all, subsequent movie nights will be my “thank you” gift to the paid members who are able to contribute and support our upcoming film and TV work. So become a member if you can!

New education column from Edith …

Power to the Teacher

By Edith Morgan

A teacher’s tools … pic: E.M.

The Worcester Public Library – a great resource for ALL students. pic: R.T.

I grew up in a home, and a belief system, where the teacher was revered and looked up to, and whose word was something to be taken very seriously. My teachers were in full control of their classrooms, and at least in the first few years, I believed everything my teachers said, and my parents backed what I was learning, sometimes to the dismay of my parents (as an eight year old I came home and declared I would have nothing to do with money, as my teacher had said that ”money was the root of all evil” and I would not have nothing more to do with it. My parents would not directly contradict my teacher, but they made sure that I later found out that the TRUE saying was that “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.”

America has had a different history with teachers, from the itinerant Ichabod Crane to the present day certified, educated and continuously re-freshed with workshops and in-service programs teacher. Today’s teachers are professionals, in many ways specialists in their areas, who continuously seek better ways of serving their students.

A busy year ahead for students and those who help them learn about the world and themselves.

When I first began teaching, I was paid $3,000 a year – but I was totally in charge of my classroom, left to implement the district curriculum as well as possible, given the fiscal constraints of public schools. But my power did not extend beyond the classroom and teachers were usually not consulted about what new buildings should be like or what the curriculum should be, except as an afterthought.

Our profession is the only one where decisions are made by the untrained and often uninformed. Just imagine if your doctor or your lawyer’s work was determined by a committee or a gaggle of politicians – what would their service be like??

It is high time that we give teachers some leeway and back them up, rather than to criticize and undermine their authority. Students very quickly figure out where the power lies, and if they imagine that it is in THEIR hands, you can be sure that they will soon misuse it.



We are going to have to be patient, and we will have to return to teaching our young to face reality, to think clearly, to seek facts before reaching decisions, and to value truth and reason above emotion. We, the adults around them, need to model responsibility and self control because our young do as we do, not as we say.

I have been heartened by the numerous examples of children showing empathy and kindness to others, including newcomers and those who are different from them. Would that our media and some of our politicians live by the same rules.

New column from Edith: the Jewish New Year – 5782

By Edith Morgan

It‘s early this year, beginning on the eve of September 6, which is the first day of Tishrei on the lunar calendar which is used to decide when Jewish holidays will be celebrated. All Jewish Holidays begin at sundown, so the Rosh Hashanah festivities begin then and last for two days. It is a time of joyous get togethers of families, feasting and wishing everyone a full and sweet year, usually symbolized by the sharing of apple slices (signifying a round, full year), and honey (signifying a sweet year).

The past year has been a difficult one for Jews everywhere – with the resurgence of the COVID virus in its newer forms and the increase in anti-semitic attacks in so many places. And, for me, the continual lies about Israel and the Middle East which too often are used to excuse the constant rocket attacks that Israelis suffer. The new year always brings with the hope that at last a real peace will break out and that Israel’s neighbors will at last get along with each other and with Israel.

There are fewer than 20 million Jews in the world and fewer than 8 million of them live in the tiny nation of Israel. And so my fervent wish is that last this coming year we can see a real peace come over that area, and the task of building a safe and prosperous environment for all can be started.

As we celebrate the coming of the year 5782, we should take time to remember our history – as the oldest continuous culture/religion in the known world. As far as I know, only China, which has more than 4,000 continuous years has been around so long.

Nine days after the New Year begins, Jews observe the very important occasion of Yom Kippur, known here as the “Day of Atonement.” It’s a solemn occasion when we Jews reflect upon those things we regret or need to atone for – and determine to do better in the coming year. There is no “confession” in the Jewish religion: each individual contemplates his own transgressions, mistakes and errors and makes her peace with God directly through prayer.

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Apples, sweetened with honey, a treat this holiday season … CECELIA file photo.

Because Israel has taken in Jews from so many different culture and nations, there are many rich traditions there to célèbrate and observe the holidays: Jews from Russia, Ethiopia, Germany and other nations have all brought their traditions, foods and costumes to share, and they enrich the tapestry that makes up the daily life there.

So, here is my own personal wish for all for the coming year 5782: May all enjoy good healath, with the COVID virus at last laid to rest. May all have shelter, food and safety and enjoy the love of family, friends and co-workers.

New from Jim: At Worcester City Hall – a rally against violence

By Jim Coughlin

The front entrance to Worcester City Hall was the scene on August 10 of a rally against violence that was sponsored by the Worcester Inter Faith Council. The date of the rally – which featured many speakers from the community that included local politicians, members of the local clergy, community activists and members of the Worcester City Council – coincided with what would have been the 45th birthday of a recent victim of gun violence in Worcester, Carlos M. Cruz. Cruz was senselessly gunned down on May 18 at the corner of Chandler and Queen streets.

Cruz’s family urged Worcesterites to stop the killing.

In an interview with his brother after the rally, he told this reporter that his brother was trying to be a “peacemaker” in an argument with a mutual acquaintance and was shot dead on the spot. He said the police have apprehended the suspect who was deemed by the court to be “dangerous” and, as a result, still remains in confinement.

Perhaps the most emotionally moving of all the speakers was Carlos’s mother
who addressed the rally completely in Spanish as she was supported by her other son. When she spoke, there was not a dry eye among members of the audience and there was complete silence. This is something that no mother should have to do: bury her son or daughter.

A young singer moves the crowd …

Among those family members who also spoke were Carlos’s brother and his cousin, Beatrice Ayala, who told the crowd, “Carlos’s mother can’t sleep” over the loss of her son. Carlos also left behind two young children. “Carlos was killed and his mother will never see her son, again,” she said. She told attendants of the rally, “… we are tired, but God will prevail.”

It was hot and humid the day of the rally; nevertheless, it was well attended.

Another member of Carlos’s family who also spoke was his sister Sanjay Perez who told the crowd, “He (Carlos) always made sure everyone felt safe. He always had your back. We are in pain because someone took him from us.”

Carlos was also eulogized by a colleague of his, Stephen Lajoie from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester where Carlos worked as a member of the housekeeping staff. Lajoie said just prior to the time that Carlos was gunned down he was on the way to becoming certified as a Personal Care Assistant, PCA, at UMass. In an interview with Lajoie, who serves as the Business Agent for Local 1445 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, (UFCW), AFL – CIO at the hospital, he said the day after Carlos was murdered, “everyone at UMASS was deeply hurt.”

A family, a community, mourns …


New from Chef Joey … FRANCE🇫🇷🇫🇷 COVID SUMMER👨‍🍳🌼

France Covid Summer

Text and photos by Chef Joey


Cannes: It’s the summer of 2021, masks are “off the face” if you are vaccinated and, of course, mandatory if not. While I was in the states no one wore masks. Here in France, you must wear a mask in every store, every restaurant, bar and hotel. Once seated in an establishment, you may remove your facial mask. Next week there will be scanners installed at bars and restaurants. You need to present your “QR” code that you are vaccinated or have proof of a negative covid test that is less than 72 hours old. So, unless you want to pony up each time and have a negative test on your person, there goes your spontaneous dinner plans!

Casual French dining

On the other side of the COVID tests and masks are a plethora of open markets, artists back in the squares selling merchandise, people social distancing while standing in line for ice cream and open markets. Open markets date back centuries: you can go to them every morning and get your fresh (mostly locally grown) veggies, fruits that are in season, cheeses, meats and fresh fish. There are also markets that sell clothing, shoes, tableware, clothing, handbags, wine, watches and you can even find someone cooking up a local specialty, so you don’t have to make lunch. All this at a fraction of the cost of a store, and these people work hard every day – 6 a.m. start to noon and out by 12:30.


What happens is you start to find your vendor, then you follow them if its for clothing, they know your size and style, so when you see them it’s a given! The favorite egg farmer, the one who sells tomatoes all year, the list goes on and on, and pretty much all the food is organic – so it’s a good thing.

Organic – and affordable – in France!

These markets are not limited to France. I had friends from Boston here, and on Monday we went to Val de Croce, Italy,followed by a great seaside meal and wine, of course.

Every time you see a village, know there is an open market, where people are working hard, now wearing facial masks in the Age of COVID. But the good thing is you don’t need a “QR” code to go there and socialize!

Pretty in pink!

Chef Joey! Always in style!


By Chef Joey


A clafoutis is probably the easiest dessert on the planet to make, and often times it is cooked while you are eating dinner.

The joy of this recipe is that you can add any fruit to it – blueberries, blackberries and, most popular, is cherries – with the pits!

Strawberry growing in the Vernon Hill School garden!

It’s all ingredients most people have at home – just get the fruit!

You’ll need:

1 1/4 cup milk

Vegan milk options

3 eggs beaten, first add 1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (if the fruit is sweet, use less sugar!)

Vegan cooking tips …

and a pinch of salt – not much at all!

And a couple cups of berries.

Usually the cake is sprinkled with powdered sugar before serving.

In a bowl use 1/2 the sugar amount – say 1/4 cup – add the beaten eggs (with the vanilla – milk – flour and pinch of salt).

Use butter …

… to cover an oven-proof pie plate.

Coat well … pour in half the mix.

Cover with your fruit, and sprinkle the rest of the sugar directly and evenly on the fruit. Then top with the rest of the batter.

Bake at 350 F for about 50 minutes, and use the toothpick method – it should come out clean – to test if your dessert is done.

Bon appétit!


Vegan bakers …

From Edith: a book review … and a column

Book Review

By Edith Morgan

STOLEN by Richard Bell

Edith, in her garden. CECELIA file photo.

With all the discussion and reaction to the proposal to teach CRITICAL RACE THEORY – CRT – in our public schools, I felt the need to put in my two cents, as I have always been troubled by the lack of serious teaching of civics and history I our schools. For years I was an elementary school teacher, employed by the Town of Shrewsbury. In elementary grades, we teach some hero-worship and glance over the less attractive events of our American past. And in order to hang on to our vision of ourselves as “exceptional” in all areas, we have glossed over much of our history, and we have spent precious little time and thought on realities.

But there are now numerous groups who are insisting that their stories and experiences be told, fully and truthfully. That is behind the push to teach about the Black experience in America. And, I might add, we should also be learning about how the human race has mistreated its members in other places – those of us who have experienced the numerous attempted genocides in our lifetimes (i.e., the Holocaust in Germany and Europe, the Armenian genocide, the mass killings in Cambodia, the on-going attempt at extermination of the Yuighurs in China, etc., etc., etc)

So when my brother-in-law gave me the book STOLEN to read, after he had finished reading it, I got into it. The book seems very timely, as it is the non-fiction description of the kidnapping of five young Black boys, between the ages of 11 and 17, in the early 1800’s in the area where Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania meet.

We here in Massachusetts know about the ”Underground railroad,” but how many of us know about the “Reverse Underground Railroad”?

There was a thriving trade in human beings, kidnapped from their families and enslaved down South. It was a lucrative business before the Civil War and was maintained by terror and brutality. The families of the kidnapped got little or no help from authorities when they attempted to trace their missing loved ones.

I will not give a way the ending, but the odyssey of five boys who escape makes great reading – and gives us an insight of what life was like in early America for so many. … I could have hoped that we here in America would really have been exceptional, but it seems we too have a cruel past that we need to explore and expiate. Our cruelty to one another is nothing new, and even a cursory reading of our history is replete with examples. Knowing and admitting it does not destroy our love of our country, America: It should just act as a guide for doing better now and in the future.


Are we back to normal yet?

By Edith Morgan

Ever so gradually, the gates to some sort of normalcy are creaking open – and we can get a glimpse at the NEW “normal.”

We can eat out, either inside the restaurants or outside – on sidewalks or in parking lots. And we can be mask-less if we are vaccinated or still masked if not. But it seems a number of the previous wait staff of restaurants have not returned, so often service is slower – and “help wanted “ signs are everywhere. The abysmal pay rate – especially for the “back of the house” – has been exposed during the pandemic, along with so many other inequities in America: health care, child care …

But there is optimism, and some of the old familiar restaurants that have folded are being replaced by new, ethnic ventures. The grocery shelves in our supermarkets are slowly being replenished, although there are still pockets of emptiness …

Mother Nature has been on a rampage everywhere in our country due to climate change but again, now that we are getting out more, we can see we have been spared the fires and deadly high temperatures of the West. But, as always before, the weather remains unpredictable and everchanging, as we in New England are so accustomed to note.

But it is not the same world we are opening up to: whether some people want to admit it, irreversible changes have taken place. Those who keep track of these things have been warning us, and at last we have a President and an Administration in Washington D.C. that seems to get it. The polar cap IS melting, our glaciers are disappearing, and the air we breathe to stay alive too is threatened. In many parts of America and of the world, species of familiar animals and plants are disappearing … dying out.

But I have always believed that “to be informed is to be forearmed,” and I am heartened by the many small but significant moves to re-use, recycle, reverse and renew. Worcester has been for sometime planting and replanting public trees – though not very many in Vernon Hill or Green Island and in our other inner-city neighborhoods. Worcesterites who have yards are planting and caring for trees in their yards.

I have looked into environment-friendly surfaces to use instead of the tar and cement on our parking area. And of course now the big car manufacturers are all featuring hybrid or wholly electric cars. And I go shopping with several permanent shopping bags to fill – far fewer of the old transparent and disposable bags.

So, we are gradually getting back to “normal” – but it is a “new normal,” rekindling the old that was good and changing for the better that which needs much improvement.

Worcester Youth – always in style!

Rally against youth violence

By Jim Coughlin

Hope the teens served up some veggie burgers at the event! Teen years: a good time to explore veganism/the American factory farming system/healthy vegetarian cooking.

Worcester’s Youth Center on Chandler Street, at the site that formerly housed Capitol Toy, was the scene on Saturday, June 26, of a rally against youth violence. It was organized by youth at the center. It ran from 11 a to 3 p and began with opening ceremonies that featured brief remarks by the center’s director, Sam Martin, Mayor Joseph Petty, as well as Worcester-area state representatives Mary Keefe and David LeBoeuf. Also present were Nydia Colon, director of Creative Leadership at the youth center, and Etel Haxhijaj, one of four candidates vying for the open City Council district seat in District 5.

In interviews with this InCity Times/CECELIA reporter, both Colon and Haxhiaj spoke passionately oabout the problem of youth violence. However, neither woman made any specific reference to incidents of youth violence within Worcester. Haxhijai said, “I define violence as responding to a lack of opportunity experienced by homelessness. If young people are not having opportunity, these conditions can lead to violence.” She formerly served as the executive director of the Worcester Public Schools Dynamy Program for four years, from 2009 to 2013.

Colon said the Youth Center “uses time to test out the waters to find out what they, (the members of the youth center) are good at for interests in a vocation and to pair that with evidenced-based curriculum to have a conversation with the kids.” She said before the pandemic hit, the youth center was serving an average of 60 young people a day and, once Covid 19 hit, they were serving between 20 and 25 students between the ages of 14 and 24.

After the ceremony, those in attendance were served food outside the center: a choice of either hot dogs and hamburgers or Mexican food. During the event, many of the center’s members performed in the main hall. Among them were Jayliany Rivera, 15, a Junior at Worcester’s South High and Shardai Sam-Clarke, 27, of Worcester, who told me she is a songwriter. The song she sang before about 40 people was about, “healthy examples of what love should look like.”

The center’s Executive Director Director Sam Martin was presented with a Resolution that was jointly co-sponsored by Representatives Keefe and LeBoeuf.