Tag Archives: Community Health Link

Be there! Monday! Memorial candle-light vigil for Worcester’s homeless …

Remember the Homeless Persons Who Have Died at event, Monday, December 21
An event to remember those homeless and formerly homeless area residents who died over the last year…
Homeless Person’s Memorial Day is an annual event commemorated in more than 150 cities and counties across the United States on the first day of winter.

Building on the theme of “remember, hope, and heal,” the event will feature a ceremony honoring the persons, homeless and formerly homeless, who died in the past year.

The event is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.
WHO: Homeless advocates, service providers, homeless and formerly homeless persons, religious leaders, concerned citizens, city representatives
WHAT: Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day candlelight procession and memorial service
WHERE: Candlelight Procession begins at Community Health Link’s HOAP, 162 Chandler St., and ends at Mt. Sinai Church, 63 Wellington St.
WHEN: Monday, December 21:

Candlelight Procession: 5:45 p.m.

Memorial Service: 6:30 p.m.
Advocates, service providers, homeless and formerly homeless people, religious leaders, and concerned citizens will honor the lives and dreams of homeless men and women who died this year in the Worcester area.

More than 35 homeless and formerly homeless persons who lost their lives this year will be remembered. Since 1990, groups such as HOAP’s Consumer Advisory Board have hosted National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day events across the country on the first day of winter to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember our homeless citizens who have died. 
Amy Grassette, one of the event’s organizers, said: “We use this occasion to call on all our fellow community members and all Americans to recommit ourselves to ending homelessness. While we seek economic solutions for our country, we cannot forget our most vulnerable citizens.”

Congressman Jim McGovern Applauds $335K Award to Community Healthlink

Congressman Jim McGovern applauded today the news that Worcester’s Community Healthlink, the largest and most comprehensive provider of behavioral health and addiction services in central Massachusetts, has been awarded a three-year, $335,000 Project AWARE-Community grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support the training of over 1,000 adults in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA).
This training will help faculty and staff on college and university campuses throughout central Massachusetts detect and respond to mental illness in youth 16-24 years old on campus.
“Helping our college students succeed starts with ensuring that they are healthy and ready for all the demands of school,” said Congressman McGovern. “For many young people, college can be a stressful time. With this grant, faculty and staff on college and university campuses throughout central Massachusetts will get the training they need to quickly identify and respond to any mental health issues our students are facing. Community Healthlink is doing great work for our community and I know this grant will help college students throughout central Massachusetts.”
MHFA is a public education program that trains participants to understand the risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems and builds an understanding of the importance of early intervention. Participants are introduced to local mental health resources, national organizations, support groups, and online tools for mental health and addictions treatment and support.
“People sometimes notice a person whose behavior is unusual or who seems to be in distress, and they don’t always know what they can do to help,” said Deborah Ekstrom, Community Healthlink’s President and CEO. “College-age youth are at a unique and vulnerable time in their lives. This is the time when it is common for a number of serious mental illnesses to first manifest. Nearly three-quarters of mental health disorders start by age 24. This project will increase the mental health literacy of adults in our community who interact with college-age youth, and provide them with the skills necessary to appropriately intervene and refer youth who are exhibiting signs of mental distress for professional help.”
In order to reach the thousands of potential program participants on campuses throughout Worcester County, Community Healthlink is partnering with LUK, Inc. and the SHINE Initiative to conduct the work under this grant and ensure its success.
“LUK, Inc. is excited to participate in this project,” said Richard Hooks Wayman, CEO of LUK, Inc. “College-age youth have newly gained independence in all areas of their life, and as a result many are not monitored by other adults in their life as closely as younger adolescents. As young adults attempt to explore their identities apart from their parents and families, communication can become less frequent. This combination of increased independence, changes in communication and engagement between family members, and the risk of onset of mental illness can create circumstances where youth may not receive the help they need. Now, thanks to this project, we can reduce this risk in a comprehensive way.”
“Building coalitions of people and organizations who care about mental health is at the core of what the SHINE Initiative is all about,” said Edward Manzi, Chairman of the SHINE Initiative and Chairman and CEO at Fidelity Bank. “This project is a natural fit for us, and we are eager to use our awareness-raising experience to make this Mental Health First Aid project an unparalleled success.”
Community Healthlink, a member of UMass Memorial Health Care, is a multiservice, private, nonprofit organization. Through its 80 programs and nearly 1,200 employees, it is committed to promoting, maintaining, and restoring the dignity, well-being, and mental health of over 21,000 adults, children, and families in central Massachusetts every year.
LUK, Inc. is a not-for-profit social service agency located in central Massachusetts dedicated to improving the lives of youth and their families. LUK offers a full spectrum of programs addressing mental and behavioral health, trauma, addiction and substance abuse prevention, and homelessness.
The SHINE Initiative, a nonprofit foundation created by Fidelity Bank, is a leader in the effort to recognize mental illness in children and young adults as a mainstream health issue. In pursuit of this mission, the SHINE Initiative develops funding and strategic alliances to improve public awareness and understanding of mental health issues, research, and treatment.


All the vitriol … (and a song for the boys of Forest Street)

… all the hatred, all the prejudice that the young Forest Street/Community Health Link boys are being subjected to, courtesy of Worcester … . They must know – or at least the folks who work with them must know – that Worcester is behaving badly. They see how small-hearted the people of Worcester are this holiday season.

Where are our clergy folks? Where are the Catholic worker dudes? Where are all the “good” people of Woo? People we expect to stand up to bigotry and hatred. People we expect to LEAD this community, make it a better place for EVERYONE.

Do the kids who live in the Forest Street neighborhood – do they know how heartless their parents sound? … Or are they taking a lesson from Mom and Dad: Outsiders stay out. Kids in need? Tough luck! …  The acorn never falls far from the tree.

Kara, a homeless woman who died in the arms of a friend at the Mustard Seed last month … The adolescent boys in recovery, in pain, often times runaways who have been raped, beaten, etc by the adults in their lives and now wait for a place to live. BUT WHERE IS HOME?

For all the kids and adults who are searching for HOME this holday season … – R. Tirella

T’was the nights before Christmas and all the yahoos on Forest Street are out …

The house on 119 Forest Street (top photo). A stone’s throw away from the house – a busy city neighborhood that is NOT totally residential (bottom photo). – R. Tirella

By Rosalie Tirella

… dumping on the Community Health Link group home that is slated for 119 Forest Street. The Chandlers say: MON DIEU!!! We’re moving!!! We’re leaving our neighborhood!! Young boys who will pillage and plunder and destroy the peace and tranquility of Forest Street! This group home for adolescent boys  must be stopped!

And all the Who-nuts from the Who-hood came out to protest! Let’s picket! they screamed. Let’s call our district councilor, Tony Economou, and scare the begeez outa him! Let Economou over-react with us! Let him demand that Woo cancel the Dover Amendment!! He’s no leader! He’ll do whatever we say to get re-elected!!



Middle-class Worcesterites at their most classist, most heartless. Woo dopes at their NIMBY-est! Where’s Beth Proko?! Call her! She has just put the kibosh on a dog park/play ground/play scape  for the PUBLIC land near her huge Victorian home! She claims drug addicts abound and will destroy the peace of her west side neighborhood if a city park is built on what is basically … nothing.

GET A GRIP, people!

Reality check: Look at the group home at Newton Square, a shining addition to a west side hood! Neighbors there freaked when they heard SMOC was putting women alcoholics (IN RECOVERY) in the big house right by their precious rotary.  Neighbors came out with their pitchforks!!! A total Woo freak out. … A few years has passed … and there has not been an incident. The property looks better now that SMOC is owner and (I drive by the place two or three times a week) the women (unfortunately) seem to be invisible.

Now, here at the Forest Street site, another group of  crazies are hoping to get their way with inflamatory claims, lies, threats, etc.

I say: Let them whine. And move out if they need to. Let’s have the West Side accept and try to understand needy kids, kids that need love and understanding. Not hatred. Not hatred, especially during the holidays. Also, be truthful: The house at 119 Forest St. does not sit in the middle of the neighborhood. It sits next to a major street, and is a five minute drive from Forest Grove Junior High and a seven minute drive from Shaws, CVS and the shopping plaza that folks in the hood shop at.

Community Health Link’s executive director, Deb Ekstrom, is a good lady who (while not super accessible) DOES DO A GOOD JOB running her sites/homes. No monkey business for Deb.

Let’s give these boys a chance. As a longtime resident of District 4 (I now live in D. 3), I have (like all inner-city residents)  had to deal with a fair share of crime and grime and assholes. The assholes usually do not come from group homes … . It’s time the rest of the city’s residents embrace folks who are not cookie cutter copies of themselves!


Shit storm

By Rosalie Tirella

Re: SMOC Triage Center:

Worcester, we have a problem.

My heart goes out to Mayor Joe O’Brien, a decent, caring, person with a moral code who had to deal with a lynch mob last night at Sullivan Middle School. He was right to shut down the meeting after people went postal. All the cops stationed in the audience last night – a good thing. Angry, angry people who – when all is said and done – do NOT live next door to the proposed site for the SMOC Triage Center – the Anna Maria rest home – are on the cusp of doing something crazy. Violence may have exploded last night at Sullivan Middle School (a few days ago one resident told a woman he would set the Triage Center on fire) – errupted from all those lovely middle-income folks who believe their rose bushes and trees and cozy homes will be DESTROYED if the Triage Center is any where near their neighborhood.

These NIMBY-ites forget they are living in New England’s second largest CITY – not Holden, for Gawd’s sake! District 4’s Main South is in RECOVERY from decades of the PIP and all its challenges. I believe sending folks back to 701 Main St. will be a huge step back for a fragile inner-city neighborhood, where biz folks and residents lived/worked at only a FEW FEET from the PIP.

What do the NIMBY folks expect? For homelessness to disappear? For the agencies that help the poor/homeless to leave Worcester for some sunny Worcester suburb – with all their clients following close behind? Never. Most of these folks don’t even have $ for the bus, let alone own a car.

Where was Kevin Ksen, Cha Cha Connor and all the folks who routinely came out to defend the PIP clients? Most likely they feared for their lives … and Barbara Haller (their perceived nemesis) isn’t tied to this situation. So they won’t bitch.

Truth be told, District Councilor Bill Eddy is way out of his element. He has neither the brains, the heart nor the balls to deal with what’s been shoved onto his plate – a true, big city problem.

Mayor O’Brien actually has the chops for all this, but people don’t listen.

They don’t want to listen.

Candidate Franco flubs up! AND: Community Health Link workers fight for fair wages!

Franco Flubs up!

John Mahoney, a small businessman and candidate for state representative in the 13th Worcester District, called on his opponent, personal injury attorney Paul Franco, to reconcile his position on growing businesses in Massachusetts with his decision to send campaign business to Minnesota.

Mr. Franco’s lawn signs, an expenditure of nearly $1,400, have been manufactured by a Minnesota company.

“I am the owner of a small business and I know that every dollar counts,” said Mahoney. “It is inexplicable to send campaign money out of state. I believe in investing in our people. We need to grow businesses right here at home and help them create jobs.  As state representative, that will be my top priority.”

In his platform, Mr. Franco calls on the state to adopt more business-friendly measures so that businesses will expand here – rather than in states with more “business friendly” climates.  Continue reading Candidate Franco flubs up! AND: Community Health Link workers fight for fair wages!