Worcester’s Haiti bash

By Rosalie Tirella

While it’s great to give $$ to earth-quake ravaged Haiti – it’s not so great when the giving is going on in a semi-party at one of Worcester’s grandest ballrooms, Union Station (let’s face it: Union Station’s main floor is about as fancy a ballroom as Worcester gets in the 21’st century) – an event attended by Wormtown’s own “glitterati” schmoozing, knoshing and feeling … well, self-congratulatory.

Yup! The people of Haitii are buried alive, the children there have chunks of concrete cracking their skulls, sending them into emotional and physical shock … . But here in Worcester, we party! Albeit in a subdued manner – but we party. It was all there at Worcester’s Haiti fund-raiser at Union Station last night: a rockin’ band! Lots of yummy “finger foods”! Polticians and Worcetser’s elite schmoozing, exchanging business cards and (admit it) feeling a bit too enlightened (perhaps smug?).

Oh, yeah, and there were also big plastic water cooler jugs on tables so you could throw in a fiver or two for the people of Haiti. Almost like a giant tip jar. At the event there were also tables with reps from the Red Cross – so you could write a check or make a donation with your credit card. That WAS a good thing. Hopefully, Worcester’s fat cats coughed up some serious dough.

Still, seeing our cable TV reporter (no-talent) starlette and local radio bloviators made me feel like Worcester was holding its own Golden Globes …

The Telegram and Gazette’s Bronislaus Kush wrote in his T & G article that there were about 350 people at last night’s event. Which is about the number of movers and shakers Worcester, a city of more than 170,000 folks, seems to have.

Four or so years ago, I went to a jazz concert at Mechanics Hall with the guy pal. He was exhausted and didn’t want to go. But I dragged him up the lovely Mechanics Hall stairway, up the soft, red carpeted stairs of Mechanics Hall, where we almost bumped into the creepy Paul Giorgio. We also saw some other Wormtown elite who were probably at last night’s Haiti event. Just before he fell asleep in his Mechanics Hall balcony seat, my guy said: “You know, if they dropped a bomb on this place tonight, maybe Worcester would have half a chance.”

Out of the mouths of old farts … .

He was right. The same 300 or so people drive the agenda in this town. Maybe if they were – well, not nuked … but you see where my guy was going with this. New people, bring new ideas …

To sum up: It was wonderful that 350 of Worcester’s top cats got together to give money to Haitii. God knows the country needs it. But wouldn’t it have been better if Worcester’s giving came after people were solemn and reflective … praying or thinking about the dead and suffering in Haiti? And then maybe taking a HUGE COLLECTION for the country? There was no big TV screen at Union Station last night showing news footage of the squalor, the agony that is Haiti. Maybe no one wanted to dampen the “festive” atmosphere of Worcester’s event, as T & G reporter Kush described it in his T & G story.

“Festive.” Kush also did a little editorializing when he said last night’s “festive” air was in contrast to the tragedy that is Haiti.

This is why I couldn’t watch the international TV fund raiser for Haiti last night – an event hosted by George Clooney and filled with gorgeous movie stars and singers (looking for another way to market their songs, perhaps?). Most of the networks aired it. I could not help but think that the movie stars manning the telephone pledge lines were there prostituting themsleves for a good cause but also for the chance to repent for their overpaid, garish lifestyles.

Worcester can be frumpy and dumpy. So (obviously) we couldn’t match last night’s TV event. But maybe we had our own George Clooney – the person who coordinated the event: our new mayor – Joe O’Brien. I couldn’t help but think: our yuppie mayor puts together a yuppie event. This is probably the most we can expect from this guy. We are wrestling with affordable housing right now. Joe O’Brien throws yuppie bash.

Which brings me to the Bible story (and I’m paraphrasing here): There was this temple. All the rich folks in the city gave a lot of money to the temple and sat in the front pews and expected Jesus to kiss their butts when he met them. (Or at least be appreciative). Jesus wasn’t – and didn’t do any butt kissing. He did, however, recognize one person: a poor woman who gave a few cents to the temple and always sat in the last row/pew, thinking she wasn’t important enough for Jesus (or the church) to care about.

She was wrong. Christ went up to her. He told here she was in the kingdom of God. Right then. Because she had nothing – and she still gave.


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