Tag Archives: Camp Street

Ron Charette and the South Worcester Neighborhood Center

By Ron O’Clair

I had the distinct pleasure of visiting recently with one of Worcester’s unsung heroes – Mr. Ronald “Ron” Charette, executive director of the South Worcester Neighborhood Center at 47 Camp St., here in Worcester.

While I was there the “Ronald McDonald House”/UMass mobile community healthcare support vehicle was there.

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Ron outside the neighborhood center – standing before the Ronald McDonald House/UMass community healthcare vehicle – a doctor’s office on wheels!

I want our readers to know just what kind of concerned and caring individual Ron Charette is and the many ways he helps the less fortunate in our community. As you may or may not know, Ron administers a food pantry out of the neighborhood center, and I went through the process while there to receive a Price Rite Super Market heavy-duty white plastic bag filled to the top with a variety of foodstuffs, along with milk and cheese. Ron is trying to make a difference in the lives of those members of the South Worcester neighborhood who might otherwise have nothing of nutritional value to eat.

I saw many people come to the food pantry, including a mother and her two teenage children who hailed from Thailand. Her son is enrolled as a senior at South High School and acted as interpreter during the time we were speaking.
  
There were a few others that came to the food pantry, including a gentleman, his wife and daughter. They were displaced from their home at 27 Sigel St., which burned on a brutally cold night this past winter. There were three house fires that night, and I am sure that if the displaced families are reading this, Ron will allow you to access the food bank, as well as any stored supplies they may have, including clothing and personal hygiene supplies.
  
Ron makes sure to do whatever he can to help families in need, and he does not limit his clients to the one time a month rule that many pantries enforce. He believes if people are in need, they are hungry, he is going to help them make it through another month if he has any say about it.

Ron Charette has a new plan of action to address what he sees as a crisis affecting the children of the area: the dangerous habit they have of gaining access to the railroad tracks in the area, which has led to calamity after calamity since I was a boy growing up in that area. When I was a kid we were constantly reminded of the dangers by the example of Charlie Pardee who lost a leg due to having been struck by a train when I was still in grade school. We would see him hobbling on crutches until he got his artificial leg years later.
  
There have been many incidents lately, including a person who thought he would race the train on a motorbike and lost the race – and his life this past January. Ron wants to take the message of railroad track safety to our schools with a presentation that will include a safety talk, along with a video disk showing the dangers up close and personal to prevent more children from having to go through life as Charlie Pardee had to. It generally is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. All of us who grew up near the tracks would at one time or another venture onto the railroad property and even create mischief, like breaking into the box cars to steal beer – a favorite pastime of the Princeton and Lewis Street gang back in my day living there, as well as perhaps to spray paint graffiti on the sides of the box cars. Kids do the darnedest things, and I was no exception.
  
Then there is the danger of simply falling off the wall at the end of Lewis, Princeton and Grand streets, like I did when I was just a preschool toddler and my family lived at 30 Lewis St. One of the Wolfe family, who lived on Lewis Street, saved me from being run over by the train by pulling me out of the way of the oncoming train at the last second. I want to say his name was Billy Wolfe, but time has blurred the memory. I do know he was an older brother of the John Wolfe that I went to school with years later as I grew up there at 28 Princeton St., after my parents divorced.

Railroad safety is no laughing matter, and Ron Charette has plans to raise the awareness of the issue by bringing a presentation with graphic video before as many groups of young people as he can to prevent tragedies. He attended the Main South Alliance for Public Safety Crime Watch meeting held on the third Wednesdays of the month a few months ago, along with myself, councilors Konnie Lukes and Moe Bergman, along with the usual mix of representatives from the various agencies in the City of Worcester, like Sgt. Maddox and Officer Salmon of the Worcester Police Department, and a representative of the railroad to discuss what is new in railroad safety.

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Rear entrance to the neighborhood center, which looks out on Maloney Field.
  
Ron also provides some daycare for the South Worcester Neighborhood Center clients so that working mothers know their children are in good hands while they work or attend classes. There are so many things that Ron is responsible for bringing to the South Worcester neighborhood. You should check out the Center and volunteer or donate gently used clothing or housewares to help Ron make the lives of the area residents better. I believe there should be more of a focus on helping people help themselves as a community united, instead of a community divided.

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The South Worcester Neighborhood Center was originally built through the Works Progress Administration, created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression in the 1930s to put the unemployed to work. The building underwent a major renovation and expansion to become the South Worcester Neighborhood Center. 

Come on down to the South Worcester Neighborhood Center for a tour and see what you can do as an individual to make your own community a better place in which to live!

Questions or feedback? Email ronaldoclair@hotmail.com

My afternoon at the South Worcester Neighborhood Center

By Ron O’Clair

I had the distinct pleasure of spending some time the other day with one of Worcester’s unsung heroes – Ronald “Ron” Charette of the South Worcester Neighborhood Center at 47 Camp St., Worcester.

While I was there the “Ronald McDonald House” mobile community healthcare support vehicle was there, and I took the opportunity to learn more about it. As you may or may not know, Ron also administers a food pantry out of the center, and I went through the process while there to receive a Price Rite Super Market heavy duty white plastic bag filled to the top with a variety of foodstuffs along with milk and cheese. Ron is trying to make a difference in the lives of those members of the South Worcester community who might otherwise have nothing of nutritional value to eat.

I saw many people come to the center to take advantage of the food pantry – including a mother and her two teenage children. They hailed from Thailand! Her son is enrolled as a senior at South High School and acted as an interpreter during the time we were speaking.

There were a few others who came by to get staples at the food pantry, including a gentleman, his wife and daughter. They were displaced from their home at 27 Sigel St., which burned on that brutally cold night just a couple of days earlier. There were three house fires that night, and I am sure that if they are reading this, Ron will allow you to access the food bank, as well as the stored supplies they may have, including clothing items and personal care supplies.

Ron makes sure to do whatever he can to help those families in need, and he does not limit his clients to the one time a month rule that many pantries enforce, he says if they are in need, they are hungry, he is going to help them make it through another month if he has any say about it.

Ron Charette has a new plan of action to address what he sees as a crisis affecting the children of the area and the dangerous habit they have of gaining access to the railroad tracks in the area, which has led to calamity after calamity since I was a boy growing up in that area.

We were constantly reminded of the dangers by the example of Charlie Pardee who lost a leg due to having been struck by a train when I was still in grade school and we would see him hobbling on crutches until he got his artificial leg years later.

There have been many incidents lately including a person that thought he would race the train of a motorbike who lost the race, and his life in January. Ron wants to take the message of Railroad track safety to the schools with a presentation which will include a safety talk, along with a video disk showing the dangers up close and personal to prevent more children from having to go through life as Charlie Pardee had to.

It generally is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. All of us that grew up near the tracks would at one time or another venture onto the Railroad property, and even create mischief, like breaking into the box cars to steal beer – a favorite pastime of the Princeton & Lewis Street gang back in my day living there, as well as perhaps to spray paint graffiti on the sides of the box cars. Kids do the darnedest things, and I was no exception.

Then there is the danger of simply falling off the wall at the end of Lewis, Princeton, & Grand Streets, like I did when I was just a preschool toddler and my family lived at 30 Lewis St., one of the Wolfe family, who lived on Lewis Street saved me from being run over by the train by pulling me out of the way of the oncoming train at the last second. I want to say his name was Billy Wolfe, but time has blurred the memory, I do know that he was an older brother of the John Wolfe that I went to school with years later as I grew up there at 28 Princeton Street after my parents divorce.

Railroad safety is no laughing matter, and Ron Charette has plans to raise the awareness of the issue by bringing a presentation with graphic video before as many groups of young people as he can to prevent those type of tragedies that occurred to Charlie Pardee, the boy on the motorbike just recently, and myself when I was just a little boy who knew no better.

Ron attended the Main South Alliance for Public Safety Crime Watch meeting held on the third Wednesdays of the month this month along with myself, Councilor Lukes & Bergman, and the usual mix of representatives from the various agencies in the City of Worcester like Sgt. Maddox and Officer Salmon of the Worcester Police Department, as well as a representative of the Railroad to discuss what is new in Railroad safety concerning the issue that Ron Charette is presently championing.

Ron also provides some daycare for the South Worcester Neighborhood Center clients so that working mothers can have a safe and secure place to know their children are in good hands while they work or attend classes. There are so many things that he is responsible for bringing to the South Worcester Area that you the reader should check out.

I believe that there should be more of a focus on helping people help themselves as a community united, instead of a community divided.

Come down to the South Worcester Neighborhood Center for a tour and see what you can do to make your own community a better place to live for all.

The South Worcester Neighborhood Center is located at 47 Camp St. It was originally built through the Works Project Administration created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression in the 1930s to put the unemployed to work. It underwent a major renovation and expansion to become the South Worcester Neighborhood Center.

Questions or feedback? ronaldoclair@hotmail.com

South Worcester! Baseball at Maloney field – the ol’ boys behind the young boys

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Tom L’Ecuyer and Bill Guenette in the snack shop/announcers booth. Tom was giving a players update of who was at bat and such.

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Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. giving Bill Guenette a check for $500 out of confiscated drug money to fund this program for the children on the teams in the baseball league.

Photos and cutlines by Ron O’Clair 

Hurtin’

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South Worcester Neighborhood Center Executive Director Ron Charette (right) and his brother at SWNIC’s 2014 Holiday celebration. More than 1,000 families went to Camp Street and were given holiday meals, new toys for children, personal care products and/or winter clothing. Ron helps Worcester folks get through tough times! (photo by Ron O’Clair)

By Rosalie Tirella

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to me (cuz this is Worcester politics), but IT DOES (cuz I’m STILL an idealist): Worcester city officials and our local state legislators are gonna pretty much let the South Worcester Neighborhood Center die.

Close its Camp Street doors forever.

Stop caring for and helping hundreds of low-income/working-class South Worcester, Main South and Green Island families.

Within the next couple of months. 

Pathetic! Our Worcester city councilors and state legislators vote themselves raises left and right, give themselves perks galore, own nice homes, vacation homes, buy Worcester rental property at sweetheart deal rates, etc, etc, but they can’t come up with the paltry amount of $$ it takes to help a social service agency put food into the mouths of poor kids.

Or give warm winter clothes to a poor local guy or gal who needs to brave the Woo elements.

Nope! It’s to hell with you! I’ve got mine! And Worcester’s destitute get more destitute. Every day the city feels poorer, more and more like Pottersville in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Before Jimmy Stewart rubs his eyes and realizes it was all a BAD DREAM.

SWNIC IS HURTIN!  

The South Worcester Neighborhood Center goes WITHOUT HEAT THIS WINTER!

It goes without $$ to pay its Crompton Park site manager. 

But who cares?

It’s only poor people! Most of them don’t even vote! And they’re not politically “connected” in any way, shape or form! So there are no consequences for politicians who drop the ball.

Oh, well!

Hungry little kids?

Too bad!They’re only Worcester’s future!

Why should Worcester political LEADERS care if SWNIC’s summer program for kids – the one that has Holy Cross college students volunteering with low income  kids all summer long FOR FREE FOR FAMILIES – why should our city councilors give a hoot if that program ends? And working parents have one less FREE child care option?

One more latch-key kid roaming Hacker Street shouldn’t make a bit of difference!

Why should the Worcester City Council or Worcester officials care if SWNIC’s food pantry closes? Or its referral program ends? Or its bilingual staff becomes unemployed?

Their tushies are warm on their SUV’s heated cushies! In some instances, courtesy of the Worcester taxpayer!

To enter a FREEZING COLD South Worcester Neighborhood Center in the middle of winter because Worcester city councilors or our local state legislators can’t cobble together the grant money or funds from somewhere to keep SWNIC staff and volunteers warm is heart-breaking.  The elderly SWNIC volunteers who come in to the center to knit winter hats and scarves for the poor of Cambridge, Southbridge, Webster or Canterbury streets have to sit in front of little electric space heaters to do their knitting!

Why should Worcester pols care? It’s only Worcester’s old people!  Why honor or even respect our senior citizens?! They just toiled in our factories, built this city! Who gives a fig?!

This brand of thoughtlessness was on full display when then Worcester Mayor Tim Murray, heading out the door to become Massachusetts’ newly minted LG, DOUBLED the salaries of all Worcester city councilors and Worcester school committee members pretty much on the heels of cutting the Worcester School Department’s recently hired minority teacher recruitment officer.  The person was part time and made around $20,000 a year.  Murray did this knowing there would be no political consequences for him because he was leaving city politics – only to self-destruct on the state and national political stages. Money, greed and selfishness brought Timmy down when he was lieutenant governor. Tim had a false sense of security because he graduated from, got his “diploma” from the Worcester School of Good Ol’ White Irish Boys Politics.  He, like the rest of his fellow grads, hit all the right benchmarks: white, Catholic, Irish, St. John’s High School, Holy Cross college, Fordham University or Boston College, trips to Ireland, Christ the King Church, those pointless, beige cable-knit sweaters … . Too bad Tim was a moron and threw all his blessings away! Too bad he wasn’t listening to more Sinead O’Connor and less crooked fundraiser pal. (For Murray to play the naive altar boy and deny knowing anything crooked was going on was a stupid Murray lie on top of more Murray lies!)

But Tim Murray begat City Manager Mike O’Brien, and former City Manager Mike O’Brien changed over the decade he lorded over us Worcesterites. In the end, Mike O’Brien became a Republican leading a Democratic city, and too many organizations and people with clout in Worcester resisted him. He couldn’t realize his vision. So he left. O’Brien, who once said, almost teary eyed!, that Worcester was THE VERY FIBER OF HIS VERY SOUL and who was also on a not-so-secret mission to kill all affordable housing in Worcester is now living in very Republican Southboro and schlepping affordable housing for Winn Development! HA! How’s that for poetic justice?!

But I digress!

It was Mike O’Brien, as Worcester City Manager, who began freezing South Worcester Neighborhood Center’s funding a few years back. But SWNIC Executive Director Ron Charette soldiered on, running the center, helping more people than ever, running a kick ass summer program, etc. He called O’Brien’s City Hall office and asked for meetings with O’Brien every other day. To talk, discuss the center and all the people it serves. O’Brien’s office never once returned Ron’s phone calls.

Then things got tighter. New City Manager Ed Augustus was supposed to meet with Ron, then cancelled, then acquiesced – but only if he could bring his lawyer to the meeting with Ron.

Pathetic.

Does Augustus know a Worcester social service center needs heat? Does Augustus know the center will close without some money earmarked for it? Does Augustus, who makes almost $200,000 as HEAD OF WORCESTER and lives just outside BOSTON IN MILLIS, where I’m certain he supports his town’s social service center, even CARE?

Like I said: SWNIC is hurtin’. Which means more poor families in Worcester will be hurtin’. Soon.

By Ron O’Clair … The South Worcester Neighborhood Center holiday extravaganza!

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The handcrafted-with-love hats, scarves and mittens for distribution. 

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Yari, 22, and her 1-year-old son, Jeyziel, preparing to leave with their gifts. 

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SWNC Executive Director Ronald Charette and one of his volunteers, with just some of the many Christmas  gifts visible in the background.

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Families selecting gifts with help from the volunteers.

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Jessica from Shalom Multi-Cultural on Beacon Street. She’s one of the volunteers wrapping a gift!

Story and photos by Ron O’ Clair

The South Worcester Neighborhood Center located at 47 Camp Street put on its Christmas Gift Giveaway on Tuesday, the 23rd of December, 2014.

As I pulled up on Camp Street, the first thing I noticed was that it was not as I anticipated, after having covered the Friendly House Gift Giveaway this past Sunday. There were not mobs of people, and I did not have to park far away. I thought I had the wrong date and time for the event.

As it turned out, Mr. Ronald Charette, the executive director of the neighborhood center, had prevented that from happening by staggering the times that needy families were to come to get their gifts. Only four families were allowed inside at any one time, and when I got there, there were no lines waiting to get in.

Inside, the volunteers all wore Santa Hats, and helped the families choose what gifts to take.

There were lots and lots of brand new quality gifts for boys and girls of all ages that were generously donated to the neighborhood center by many donors, among them: Toys for Tots, Hadwen Park Church, Saint Matthew’s Church, Family to Family, Welch’s Corporation, DCU Credit Union, Sacred Heart Church, Alden Research Library, and many private citizens from the South Worcester Neighborhood area who gave generously so that others might have a wonderful Christmas.

In fact, there was an entire table loaded up with scarves, hats and gloves that were knitted throughout the year by the residents of 39 Coes Pond, at Coes Pond Village Apartments by a group Ron called “The Knitting Angels.” I would like to thank these people for taking the time to hand knit these items for needy girls and boys to be warm with this winter.

Gifts like these come directly from the heart, and I can well remember getting these items as a boy from my own sister Dorothy who did not have much money for gifts, but always made sure that we kept our heads, necks and hands warm during the freezing cold by knitting us these items just like the wonderful “Knitting Angels” of Coes Pond Village did here.

***********

There were 1,009 children registered for the SWNC holiday gift giveaway at the time I spoke with Ron Charette when I took the photographs for InCity Times. These children were predominantly from the Main South, and Green Island neighborhoods.

Hopefully, there were not many who double dipped at the Christmas  trough by attending both the Friendly House event, as well as this one. There are, of course, always the greedy amongst the needy and those who deprive some  little girl or boy from getting a gift. I sincerely hope there were not many of these folks so that the maximum number of needy children could benefit from the generosity of the many benefactors who make this holiday event possible.

Merry Christmas 2014 to all, and to all a good night!

Ron O’Clair Patriot of the Press.

South Worcester Neighborhood Center to celebrate 45th anniversary!

The South Worcester Neighborhood Improvement Corp. (SWNIC) on Camp Street will hold its first annual Academy of Giving – Walk the Red Carpet fundraiser on Friday, Oct 17, at the Hogan Center at the College of the Holy Cross.

The event will celebrate the organization’s 45th anniversary and support its feeding program.

Academy of Giving promises to be a night supporters won’t soon forget.  A cocktail hour will kick off the gala at 6pm, followed by a buffet dinner and award ceremony. Guests will enjoy raffles, a silent auction, and evening of dancing with live music by the band, “Business Times.”

In addition to providing food, advice and counsel, the SWNIC has formed partnerships with the Worcester Food Bank, the Center for Women and Enterprise (business training) and Dress for Success Worcester (job hunting skills and clothing).  They’ve also recently formed an alliance with the Worcester County Sheriff’s office, to prevent incarceration and to redirect those who are re-entering society. In addition to these initiatives, SWNIC is working on forming an alliance with the Center for Non-Violent Solutions to bring mediation instead of contention to the South Worcester area.

 Be there!

WHEN: Friday, October 17, 6pm Cocktail Hour, 7pm Buffet Dinner

WHERE: Hogan Center, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester.

COST: $50 /ticket

REGISTER: Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/walk-the-red-carpet-at-the-academy-of-giving-tickets-12864027653 OR checks made payable to The South Worcester Neighborhood Improvement Corp. and mailed to: SWNIC-Academy of Giving, 47Camp Street, Worcester, Ma 01603