Tag Archives: benefits

SNAP to it!

By Rosalie Tirella

Three cheers! Massachusetts may create a new rule for folks on food stamps – the SNAP program, as it’s called today. Soon poorer folks who have a SNAP card to pay for their groceries may not be able to spend their federal/state benefit on soda. You know Mountain Dew, Pepsi, Coke, etc. I say HOORAY to this development!

The SNAP program is a government program that is all about keeping poorer families, struggling families, healthy and strong. Why should tax payer money be used to subsidize soneone’s stupidity? Or ignorance? Or thoughtless parenting? People need to be more mindful of what they are putting into their bodies and do the best they can with the resources they have.

My Polish and Italian immigrant grandparents were poor, but their families ate so well! Gardens supplied fresh veggies. Everything was made from scratch. My mom used to love to tell me stories about how she and her dad, my Grandpa, used to leave their Green Island tenement to go mushroom and berry picking in the wilds of Worcester. My grandpa even kept rabbits on the back porch which he butchered for my granny to make into stew. That is until the Worcester Board of Health shut his little operation down! My relatives were people of the earth, in the Old Country. They knew good food when they saw it. They knew how to grow it, nurture it, prepare it, even, sadly, slaughter it.

If you are a parent or guardian and you want to feed your family food that will keep them alert, capable, etc, you buy milk, low sugar cranberry or orange juice, V-8 (low salt), even. But for Christ’s sake you don’t feed them Dr. Pepper!

We won’t go into the fact that 90% of the stuff you buy at the grocery store is already pumped up with enough sugar for millions of sugar rushes. Why make things worse with a can of soda?

We can hope to educate families on SNAP, but that’s a process we may not have time for, seeing every other person in America seems obese/pre-diabetic/diabetic and/or suffering from the sclorosis of some vital organ. Depressing.

I have seen four year olds with cavities galore because their parents put soda or sweet juice in their milk bottles. By sucking on that thing, all day, the little ones’ teeth were exposed to sugar, the #1 cause of tooth decay, FOR HOURS ON END. My heart broke when a friend, who fed her little son juice in his baby bottle, told me her little sweetie had to go to the dentist to have many of his baby teeth filled with silver. Cavities that were causing pain for her little cutie.

Kids need fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains and eggs and other kinds of protein to grow. Grow their brains, as well as their bodies.

Poor people are born behind the eight ball. By making it easier for them to buy more good food, and less bad food, ie soda pop, the state of MA is improving lives, using public money for the public good.

Veteran Expo pairs veterans with services

Boston – The Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System and Bedford VAMC are partnering with the MA Department of Veteran Services and the community to host a benefit and job Expo for those who have served our nation. The Veterans Expo will have many federal, state, and local agencies on hand to explain benefits and programs available to assist Veterans with their transition back into civilian life.

“This event will bring together many government service agencies under one roof to assist our returning service men and women with navigating the often-times confusing benefits process,” said Michael M. Lawson, Director of VA Boston Healthcare System. “These men and women need jobs, support, and answers to their benefit questions; this is just the venue to provide that and much more.”

The Expo will also feature seminars throughout the day on Accessing VA benefits, Life after Deployment, Women Veterans Healthcare, Financial Planning, Communication for Couples, and more.

“Veterans have earned a wealth of benefits from their government and their communities. Ready access to those benefits is an on-going task and the VA Outreach team is there to help our Vets clear a path right through those obstacles,” said David Hencke, Outreach Coordinator for VA Boston Healthcare System. “This Expo is a high-energy, resource packed afternoon for anyone who has ever worn the uniform as well as their families and friends who support them.”

Veterans should bring their resume and proof of military service as there will be many businesses in attendance looking to employ Veterans. In addition, over 40 support agencies will be attending including the Mass. Department of Veteran and Career Services, Veterans Inc., US Department of Health and Human Services, American Consumer Credit Counsel, Army Wounded Warrior Program, Military Family Life Consultants, MA Spiritual Strength Network, Veterans Upward Bound, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program and many more. For a comprehensive list of businesses and agencies that will be at the Expo visit our web site www.boston.va.gov.

While at the Expo, Veterans will be able to enroll for VA healthcare and meet with representatives from the Veterans Benefits Administration to learn about VA Home Loans, Educational / Post 911 GI Bill Benefits, VA Non-Service Connected Pension Benefits, Service Connected Compensation Benefits from injuries related to military service and Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) Benefits. In addition, Veterans will be able to enroll in eBenefits which is a collaboration between the Department of Defense and VA. Our online eBenefits is a one-stop shop for benefits-related on line tools and information.

The Expo is free and will be held at Bunker Hill Community College, from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. on June 20th, at the Multi-Purpose Center, Building G, 250 New Rutherford Ave., Boston.

Worcester Mayor Joe O’Brien – Part 2

By Rosalie Tirella

After I wrote yesterday’s blog, I remembered this: You would think Mayor Joseph O’Brien has scored a few points with some of his detractors. After all, he is asking the city’s public school teachers to pay 25% of their health insurance premiums. (Good!) While a friend of labor, O’Brien knows that everyone – including our unions – needs to give a little these days, and Worcesterties will balk at paying higher taxes if they feel their money is simply going to the unions’ sky rocketing benefit packages. Going to pay 80% of our teachers’ health insurance! Worcester taxpayers are especially annoyed when folks in the private sector pay as much as 50% of their health insurance premiums – and our teachers are whining about paying only 25%. Worcester biz folks and rersidents balk at paying higher taxes when they have to listen to our teachers – most of whom make at least $70,000/year and many of whom pull down a salary of around $90,000 – think they are taking the moral high ground when they refuse to accept a 5% increase in their health insurance premiums.


So, of course, the Worcester Public School teachers union is giving O’Brien a hard time.

Then there is O’Brien’s support of Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Melinda Boone. Worcester is a provincial place – filled with people who accept no one outside their circles of trust (family, church, political groups, ethnic enclaves). This narrowmindedness is a black mark on Worcester because civic life doesn’t run that way in places like Hartford or Springfield or Lowell. These cities’ civic lives are actually enriched by all the new and varied voices! But here, in Wormtown, newcomers like Boone, will be dragged through the mud by yappers like Gary Rosen, Worcester School Committee member Tracy Novick, etc. The Goddard School MCAS test brouhaha was reason enough for Novick – who wants all of Worcester to know she is such a good Catholic – to lead a racially tinged witch hunt.

Mayor O’Brien has backed Boone with passion and grit. Kudos to him!

And finally, Mayor O’Brien has taken a bit of a shelacking from neighborhood activist and InCity Times pal Gary Vecchio. Gary (usually a very nice guy) is not behaving too sweetly these days. He will not let O’Brien forget that during campaign season O’Brien said he was for the lowest residential tax rate – Gary’s hobby horse. This past year, however, after meeting weith biz folks and carefuly considering the city’s future, O’Brien along with a majority of the Worcester City Council, voted to raise Worcesterites’ property taxes a teeny bit. Old people are exempt, really poor people are exempt. But if you are middle class, it means an increase of about 100 bucks or so for you. Some how this has put Gary Veccio over the edge – he won’t let O’Brien forget that HE WENT BACK ON HIS CAMPAIGN PROMISE. I wish Gary, who is a great guy, would lighten up and see O’Brien’s move for what it was: a desire to keep Worcester running smoothly during a nasty recession.

So, I guess, Gary and all the blue collar home owners in Worcester are now pissed at O’Brien – or that’s what Gary wants us to think.

Why not think this: O’Brien is not, as the Sunday Telegram stated in its headline, “an enigma.” Mayor Joe O’Brien is TRYING TO LEAD our city in very shaky times. He is asking ALL of us – residents, biz folks, municipal unions – to do our part to keep Worcester great.

Let’s rise to the occasion!

Local activists celebrate unemployment extensions – decry huge expenditures that will hurt economy

US Senators give themselves and other very wealthy a double tax break!

“I am personally relieved the unemployment extensions passed but I am disgusted by the Republican driven give-away of the farm! How do we re-build jobs when all our government money is being spent in ways that CBO and recent history has shown destroy our economy?” said Sharron Tetrault whose own unemployment extension and job future rests in the balance. Ms. Tetrault, an unemployed human services worker, led local efforts to reach Congressman Frank.

Local members of the Grace Team, many of them unemployed themselves, spearheaded efforts in Massachusetts over the last few weeks to ensure unemployment extensions while fighting for long-term job and economic growth. That growth will be stunted by tax break for the very wealthy Continue reading Local activists celebrate unemployment extensions – decry huge expenditures that will hurt economy