Tag Archives: DCF

Joey parked here … The Holiday Season: a Giving Season!

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Chef Joey

By Chef Joey

For many folks the holidays mean a time of happiness, Santa pictures, gatherings and delicious meals. …

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Chef Joey donates his time and talent every Christmas – he donates and cooks all the turkeys and makes vast amounts of turkey soup and stuffing for his friend Boa’s nonprofit, the Southeast Asian Coalition. photos: Boa Newgate

… I know people who start their gift shopping as early as July! (Maybe a personal attempt to throw the spending numbers off that retailers thrive by!) Many organizations have fundraisers and the Salvation Army hand bells can be heard at just about every market and store and, of course, who says no to Toys for Tots?

I have a foster daughter this season and was invited to “Family Appreciation” day hosted by the Department of Children and Families. It was held at the DCU center (I almost typed Centrum!), and much to my surprise there were hundreds of families there! All of us had a common link: We were all foster parents. Some with one child and I met a family of four! What was amazing is the fact that everyone was there to enjoy themselves. It was a veritable “League of Nations”! There were children and parents of all ethnicities, mixed families, and when I say families, they all were together and smiling.

Santa and Mrs. Claus were there too, and there were so many families they called them up by tables of 10. And there were more than 50 tables! – just to give you an idea.

We were table 38 so we got to watch what was planned. Hats with antlers made by tracing your child’s hand and then cut out and taped to a band that fits across the forehead. Then there were the gingerbread men decorating stations. Face painting is always a hit with kids and the ice cream buffet was a guarantee that everyone would stay awake – never mind the 20 foot table of various candies!

As we got called up to meet Santa, we talked about where the children came from, how long we had them, etc. and that’s when I looked at the stage and saw a young man, say no more than 9 or 10, attempting to climb the two steps to see Santa himself, refusing help, as he had arm crutches in both arms and two very twisted legs. He was so determined to get there without assistance, you could see the effort in his face. When he reached the top he smiled. Made his way to Santa and sat on his knee, face beaming as he recited his list of whishes. Then he smiled for the camera, got up and walked across to the finish line per se where he was handed a wrapped toy, which he handed to his foster mom, who was not the same ethnicity, but had a parental smile that melted me. She gave he foster son a hug and helped him down back to the floor level and he was telling her all about it, as if she had not seen. This was a classic case of “To love and be loved is the greatest gift of all!”

After a few snacks and comradery, we left and were greeted with a table of books, crayons, coloring pencils and other complementary items that were gleefully distributed to the attendees, all passed out by volunteers. Today everyone was making a difference.

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The Southeast Asian Coalition celebrates!

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Mr. Boa D Newgate, now a Culture Broker for the Southeast Asian Coalition recently wrapped up his Thanksgiving party and was busy getting ready for Worcester First Night, where his team of Lion Dancers once again performed.

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Boa’s story is simple: He was a refugee with his parents and sibling. They made it to the United States and fortunately to Worcester. Boa saw inner-city kids who were not amounting to much, so he decided to show them boxing and other activities to exercise. He made arrangements with the YMCA and had regular sessions, starting with just a few kids that grew and grew. As the expansion started so did the activities and the need for transportation.

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He found a way to procure a school bus, and though tenacious work and donations, registered and insured it. He then involved at the Southeast Asian Coalition.

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Go, Boa, go!!

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Everyone loves and is so proud of Boa!

From their website their story is the following: The Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts, Inc. (SEAC) was founded in 1999 and established as a non-profit agency in 2001 to address the lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate support services for Southeast Asian Immigrants in Central Massachusetts, which includes Laotians, Cambodians, and Vietnamese.

SEAC’s mission is to assist Southeast Asians in Central Massachusetts successfully integrate into mainstream society while maintaining their unique cultural identity. SEAC has developed a strong reputation both among members of our cultural community and with our partners in the community at large for being a trusted organization of first resort. Their mission is focused on education and job training.

The first Thanksgiving holiday party I attended was sparse, perhaps 25 to 30 kids. I made a turkey and all the fixings – this is back in 2009. In 2010 there were more kids and I was there as well, but now there was karate, judo, and other things being taught and the space was growing.

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Last year there were very young kids that were learning the Lion Dance; they had a demonstration and explained how every move tells a story.

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Those heads are heavy! Each eye can go left, right, up or down and blink!

So put the movements to a beating drum, and the magic of the dancing dragon comes alive!

Like Hula dancers with their hands and hips, all these Polynesian and Asian rituals are secretly threaded. Of course, Richard and I supplied the turkeys and again this year knowing there was to be a crowd, we made several turkeys, stuffing and a vast amount of turkey soup.

Boa was promoted to his new position, and having volunteered for years donating his own time and money. His new title is Cultural Broker, and he is working with people with mental and other physical disorders by linking and bridging communities. His focus is to transition folks to better life styles and connect to them to resources in the community so that each person feels completely normal and free of any labels due to their condition. He is a mighty man and a kindred spirit! Everyone he has helped has a smile on their face when you mention his name. The best part about Boa: he tries to make sure everyone is appeased and juggles to make it happen. And it does!

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RECIPE: CHEF JOEY’S HOLIDAY TURKEY STUFFING!

Here is a quick easy recipe for stuffing – you are going to love it!

All you need is:

2 large onions

1 bunch of celery

raisins

cranberries

oatmeal

Bell’s seasoning tops it off.

It is a delicious and healthy and gluten free!

First, chop the onions and sautee in olive oil

Add the celery and stir until soft.

Add ½ cup raisins and 1 cup fresh cranberries and stir in 2 tablespoons of Bells seasoning.

In the meantime, cook 3 cups of oatmeal.

Add to the onion mix and stir.

Salt and pepper to taste and there you have it!😄

Vernon Hill: Is part of the old St. V’s complex … delapidated? Picket at noon, today!

TODAY, WEDNESDAY, at 12PM: Building Safety Concerns Prompt Informational Picket by Social Workers at Worcester DCF

Central Mass Dept. of Children & Families workers call for immediate health, safety inspection to declare building safe for children and families they serve 
WORCESTER – Social workers and community allies are poised to stage an informational picket TODAY at noon over health and safety concerns at the Department of Children & Families (DCF) Worcester facility. The delegation will elevate its demand for an immediate health and safety inspection of the DCF East and West Offices  – 121 Providence Street in Worcester. Conditions in the partially abandoned building have continued to deteriorate in recent months, leading front-line staff to worry if the facilities are safe for the children and families they serve.

For months, social workers and support staff have expressed concerns over the structural integrity, safety and security of the Department of Children & Families facilities in Worcester. Major leaks have reportedly led to water seeping into elevator shafts and at least one ceiling collapse, raising questions of mold content and air quality. Demolition of portions of the building has left exterior walls exposed to the elements, and many interior doors and locks appear to be malfunctioning – prompting serious concerns over illegal access to DCF facilities and abandoned areas within. Even routine maintenance has fallen behind, with staircases and hallways visibly cluttered. DCF workers penned a final letter outlining these health and safety concerns, calling for a response by Wednesday, June 26. A full response has yet to be received. [See full letter below.]

The Providence Street facility provides a variety of services to Department of Children & Families clients throughout Worcester County – including domestic violence counseling, supervised visits for families and case management for children in foster care.  Today’s informational picket will call on concerned residents to contact their legislators and urge immediate action to inspect and address health and safety concerns at DCF facilities.

WHAT: Informational picket calling for immediate health and safety inspection of Dept. of Children & Families Worcester offices

WHO: Social workers and community advocates urging prompt action to ensure local facilities are safe for the children and families they serve

 WHEN: TODAY, Wed., June 26 at 12:00PM

WHERE: Outside the Department of Children & Families Worcester office: 121 Providence Street – Worcester, MA 01604

 (letter, continued) 

From: Floriani, Tara (DCF)

Sent: Monday, June 17, 2013

To: Prendergast, Kelly (DCF); Hogan, Lian (DCF); Fitzsimons, Paul (DCF)

Cc: MacKinnon, Peter (DCF); Manna, Joseph (DCF); King, Khrystian (DCF)

Subject: Building Safety Concerns

Greetings,

We have comprised a list regarding the safety and wellness of our work environment.  We request the following issues to be address and responded to by Wednesday 06/26/2013. 

The membership is requesting a copy of both State Elevator Inspection Certificates no later than 06/18/2013.  As you know they are not posted in the elevator.  We would like the most current inspection report.  On Friday 06/14/2013 Mr. George Ramian from the Office of State Elevator Inspection had many concerns regarding the status of both elevators, including water running though the elevator shafts, lack of lights, and the water collecting at the base of the elevator.

We request that our local fire department to conduct a comprehensive inspection the safety of the building.  We would also like a mock fire drill to ensure all workers and people from the community know how to exit the building.  We also are requesting a copy of the complete report.

We request a completed assessment from a certified structural engineer, as you know the building has many leaks and has caused damage to the integrity of the building.

We request to have a copy of the current Occupancy Permit.

We are requesting that an air quality assessment be conducted in and the results forwarded to the Union.  We are also are requesting that the temperature in the office be regulated at the State mandated levels.

We are concerned with the lack of exits in this building. The doors that are intended for use malfunction by way jamming and the locking system failing.  We have concerns that people may be accessing unauthorized areas within the building.  We are requesting that all the doors and locks be repaired immediately.

On 06/14/2013 OLSOP assessed the building.  We request a copy of the report.

We also are requesting a written document which outlines and speaks to the overall heath and safety of the building.

 Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

Tara Floriani, MSW

Department of Children and Families

Intake/Investigation Unit

Change the future of a Worcester child!

By Celia Gnoza

Did you ever want to be a hero? Did you ever wonder if you could ever make a difference in this world? Well you can! Anyone can be a hero by becoming a Foster Parent. Some of the greatest champions in our city are every day people who have chosen to foster children in the care of the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
It’s about caring for a child in need and extending love to a human being
Many of the children come with a history of trauma and the difference you can make is huge.

There are currently many children in the Worcester area alone who are living in foster care. We need your help to provide these children with a safe and loving home.

While it is often the case that children twelve years of age and older wait longer than their younger peers to find an adoptive family, these children never give up hope for a permanent home. Within just the past six months, the Central DCF Region has legalized the adoptions of five children, all placed as teenagers with non-related families. Here are there stories.

Before reaching 15, Tashanna’s birth mother had died and her three younger siblings had been adopted. She always wanted a family but knew that her photo that appeared in the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) manual drew few inquiries. During the spring of 2007, an adoptive couple with no previous children saw her picture in pre-adoptive training and said it was love at first sight.” Tashanna’s adoption worker, her therapist and members from the couple’s church helped to support the placement. The family encouraged Tashanna’s passions and interests while simultaneously introducing her to new opportunities. Tashanna is a well accomplished 16 year old whose parents are so proud that when they talk about her with others, they often well up with tears of joy. Continue reading Change the future of a Worcester child!