Tag Archives: drug addiction

Be there!



And don’t forget! This Sunday!


“… And Justice For All …”

The NAACP Worcester Branch wants you!

Join us at our next Community meeting!

Monday, May 23

6:30 pm

At the YWCA, Salem Sq. 

Since 2013, the Worcester NAACP has focused our work on voter education, voter registration, candidate forums, youth safety workshops, education forums, housing forums, and advocating for those who have been discriminated against. 

It is now time for us to reflect and check in with the community to make sure we are working on issues that matter most to our community.

We want your ideas on what direction you feel the NAACP should go to address the challenges in our community!

We want your commitment and passion to fight for social justice!

We want to work together to make Worcester a place of opportunity and equality for all!

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you all this Monday!

Worcester gun buy-back December 12 – Mayor Joe Petty Calls for Statewide Gun Buyback Day

For the fourteenth annual Goods For Guns Day, 16 cities and towns in Central Massachusetts have scheduled their gun buyback day for December 12th, in honor of the victims who were lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, on December 14th, 2012. 

Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty is calling on his fellow mayors to join him to make the anniversary of the massacre the yearly, statewide gun buyback day.  

“Today I’m asking my fellow mayors to work within their own cities, and with their elected officials and community partners, to join us and honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting by making our cities safer and healthier,” Mayor Petty said. “The date of this gun buyback effort marks three years since the tragic shooting in Newtown. We remember those victims in a special way, and are dedicating this program in their memory, and to all of those that have been lost in these shocking incidents.

“There have been so many mass shootings:  Aurora, Virginia Tech, Charleston, Umpqua, Littleton, Fort Hood and so many more.  The list just keeps growing.  I can think of no better way to remember this and every other tragedy than by honoring it with a day dedicated to gun safety

“This is not just about getting guns off the streets, it’s about making sure that if you have a gun in your home, that it’s secured.  It’s about safer streets and healthier homes and making sure that the violence we saw in Newtown doesn’t happen here,” Petty said.

Dr. Michael Hirsh is the medical director for Worcester’s Division of Public Health, as well as a pediatric trauma surgeon and longtime gun safety advocate.  “This isn’t just about crime; it’s about health,” said Dr. Hirsh.  “An unsecured weapon in the home is a public health danger that leads to more frequent homicides, burglaries, lethal domestic violence, accidental shootings and suicide in the home.”

“Any additional efforts to remove guns from the streets of our community are a positive step forward,” said Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme. “This program is a part of the department’s comprehensive, multipronged approach to reduce gun violence.  Anytime you remove unwanted guns from the community, you have the potential to save lives.”      

“Last week officials from the Mayor’s office, the WPD, and the Worcester Division of Public Health attended Mayor Walsh’s Regional Gun Summit in Boston and had many productive discussions about strategies to reduce gun violence in our community,” said Worcester City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. “One of those discussions surrounded the dangers of real-looking replica guns, which as we’ve seen in other cities can lead to needless violence. As a result, we’ll be including replica guns in this year’s buyback program. We will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of a healthier, safer community.”

The yearly Goods for Guns program in Worcester is sponsored by both UMass Memorial Hospital and Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr.’s office.  “We use funds from civil forfeitures and drug dealer convictions to fund this program,” said DA Early.  “One less unsecured gun in a home benefits us all. It removes the possibility of the theft of that gun and the use of it in a crime or accident in the household.”

“Hospital emergency rooms across this country have seen all too often the damage gun violence can do to individuals, their families, and their communities,” said Eric W. Dickson, MD, president and CEO, UMass Memorial Health Care. “The money and resources spent to support a gun buyback program is much more preferable to the costs of treating theses victims and, most importantly, the cost in human lives lost due to gunshot wounds.  I’m proud UMass Memorial, under the leadership and tireless efforts of Dr. Michael Hirsh, continues to play a major role in this program.”

The Goods for Guns program has been a gun buyback program for the last fourteen years in Worcester, exchanging firearms for gift cards. 

Police departments in Worcester, Millbury, Grafton, Leicester, Southbridge, Oxford, Sturbridge, Northbridge, and Webster will exchange guns for gift cards of varying amounts; ($25 rifle, $50 pistol, $75 semiautomatic weapon of any kind). 

Residents of any city or town may drop off their weapons anonymously, in exchange for gift cards.  Gun owners are further welcomed to pick up a trigger lock free of charge from the police stations listed above. 

The 2014 Good for Guns program produced almost 150 firearms in one day as well as 18 lbs of TNT that was being improperly stored in Leicester.  Since the inception of the Goods for Guns program, over 2500 guns have been returned to law enforcement officials in Central Massachusetts. 

Using FBI data and media reports, Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization dedicated to reducing gun violence in America, developed an analysis of mass shootings that took place between January 2009 and July 2015. The analysis found that there have been at least 133 mass shootings in the nearly seven-year period.

Worcester opiate addiction task force meeting

By Ron O’Clair

I found out about the first of four scheduled Opiate Addiction Task Force meetings by checking out this – Rosalie’s – InCity Times website to see how some of the stories I have been submitting have been coming along, and to see how my pictures looked on the website. I saw that she posted a public notice of the Opiate Addiction Task Force that was held this week at Quinsigamond Community College on West Boylston Street. Seeing as how this is a subject near and dear to my heart, I made sure that I could schedule time to attend.

As many of you InCity Times readers know, I have long been an advocate of giving the down and out a helping hand up, not a hand out, which they invariably use to further their addiction rather than to do their best to get well and return themselves to normal everyday people who are grateful for what they have. Anyone in the City of Worcester can take advantage of the programs that have been designed to help people get off illegal drugs and return to mainstream society.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services was represented at this meeting by Secretary Marylou Sudders who chaired the Task Force.

She introduced the speakers, including Worcester County District Attorney Joseph P. Early Jr. who spoke briefly about the role of the District Attorney’s Office in trying to focus on rehabilitation of chronic drug users that tend to clog up the courts with repeated charges of possession and the crimes they commit to support their drug habits.

The Worcester County High Sheriff, Lew Evangelidis, spoke about the Worcester County Jail and House of Correctionand what they have been doing to curb recidivism, and also help the inmates get into treatment for their drug addictions. His administration has been doing good things there.

The Secretary introduced Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karen Polito who spoke to the audience a bit about how the newly elected Massachusetts governor, Charlie D. Baker Jr., sees this problem for what it is and recognizes the need to focus our attention on treatment and rehabilitation, rather than continually wasting resources on incarceration.

So Governor Baker has initiated these discussions throughout the state and wants to hear the stories of the loved ones of the lost, the victims of spousal and family abuse related to drug addiction, and how often violence and crime are associated with the desire to acquire illegal drugs. At the cost of the family unit.

Governor Baker has set up three additional meetings like the one held in Worcester that was supposed to run from 4 – 6 p.m.  But due to the large turnout, and the number of people wishing to share their experiences, the meeting at the college was carried over an additional hour until 7 p.m., at which point it broke up.

Everyone that had been in line was given three minutes to say what it was they thought about the crisis of addiction and then to offer any suggestions that might make a difference.

William (Billy) Breault from the Main South Alliance for Public Safety was the first to be allowed to speak, and he reminded the panel not to pass any legislation that would politically validate anti-social behavior in the process.

Drugs are playing an ever increasing role in the breakdown of our society. There was an elderly gentleman named Sam (Bloomfield I believe he said his last name was) who has authored 10 books and was there at the ripe old age of 88 to remind us that when he was a youth, we as a society did not have the problems with drugs like we do today. Sam advocates for a return to the old ways.

I must say, I have been an advocate of that myself because the way I see it, we have been chasing rainbows of a utopian existence where everyone wants to be free to do what they want, while not having to be responsible for their actions at the same time.

In my days of growing up in Worcester, I saw what I can only describe as a gradual steady decline in morals, more and more people experimenting with hard-core addictive illegal substances, more and more deaths due to opiates, etc. Of course, there are those who have come to believe that they have the right to disturb the peace all night long while engaged in illegal activities associated with the criminal conspiracy to traffic in narcotics in my neighborhood here in the 700 block of Main Street, Main South.

There were a couple of speakers who wanted to ensure that the panel does not make it harder for the chronic sufferers of pain to be allowed to have the medicine they need to deal with it. One lady complained about how already in the last five years she has been having trouble with pharmacists due to the newer and more stringent laws regarding the dispensing of certain pain medication.

These people have legitimate illnesses or injuries that cause them excruciating agony, and there does need to be some type of provision set aside for those that fall into that category.

Many of the speakers told of loved ones who had been injured and prescribed pain medicine, only to be suddenly taken off their meds, without any weaning off period, and then to have their loved ones seek out street drugs like heroin as a substitute. BECAUSE THEY ARE ADDICTED. BIOLOGICALLY.  They get addicted to that drug and end up dying in their loved ones’ arms.

It was an awesome event – everyone came together and got a chance to share life stories and learn …

I had my turn at the microphone and related the fact that due to my unconventional methods of using social media with my video series, I have been having some success getting drug-addicted people to WANT to get better. I informed the panel that Samantha S. of one of my videos has been reunited with her family after being out on the streets for two years, is back in her three year old daughter’s life, and had publicly thanked me for posting that video. She credits the video for saving her life. I was thanked via email by Sheriff Evangelidis, as he knows the girl and her family. They grew up in the same neighborhood. It felt good to hear these positive statements!

Questions or comments, anyone? Please email them to ronaldoclair@hotmail.com

It’s disconcerting to hear, from people on the streets …

By Rosalie Tirella

… that Worcester has a bit of a crack cocaine epidemic. You would think being one of the heroin capitals of New England would be enough. But no. It seems when you’ve got one, you’ve got the other.

You’re kidding! I said to a Main South pal. I thought crack cocaine went out with the 1980s!

Not so. My friend told me the city streets are full of it. It is highly addictive and it does serious, serious damage to the heart. He knows a person who has kicked heroin and now goes to the methadone clinic.

Horray! I said. Drug-free!

Nope, said my friend. The person just goes out into the Main South streets and scores some crack cocaine to feed the crack addiction. The person does this a few days before going to the methadone clinic, in order to give “clean” urine at the methadone clinic. It seems to work. Not one urine sample has come up cocaine-tainted at the methadone clinic. The person goes to therapy and is working with Mass Rehab.

I really can’t see this person becoming a productive member of Worcester society, yet the drug rehab system and our social services seem to carry that person along.

A bit of a farce, courtesy of the taxpayer.

But what can we do? Drugs are built to be addictive. Recovery is never easy, a one-step process. Users relapse and relapse. And all the drug use has kept them from experiencing the highs of a normal, workaday life.

No one wants to see anyone die. We want to save each other. It’s the way the human heart works.

But something went kerflewey on the road to recovery. Does Worcester have enough detox beds? Why can’t people who are getting government disability checks do something to earn them? Like pick up litter in the streets or make sure our war veteran memorials are clean and honor our heroes or help beautify our city and state parks?

In the 1930s President Roosevelt gave struggling Americans a helping hand. My grandfather was one of them. But he had to do a job, he had to pick up garbage to earn his government check. He was a garbage man. A G Man. A Polish immigrant, he was no stranger to hard work. He did his job well. Then he got a job at a textile mill in Dudley where he worked for the rest of his life and proudly joined the union, thanks again to President Roosevelt.

I don’t think FDR would be too pleased with the way people are ruining their lives, their neighborhoods, their cities. He was a compassionate man, but a smart, tough individual, too. He would be at his bully pulpit demanding a hike in the federal minimum wage. He, being a master politician, would make it happen, too.

But he’d brook no bull shit from drug addicts.

Attention must be paid!

Tweaked: Kara died at Worcester’s Mustard Seed Soup Kitchen …

By Rosalie Tirella

… and I feel the loss.

Kara wasn’t a friend of mine, but I knew of her through folks, folks who saw her make her way through South Worcester, Piedmont and Main South. She was pretty, in her late 30s, a slip of a woman who saw herself as a slinky, sexy dancer, a soulful singer, a soon to be Las Vegas show girl. But really Kara was just a Worcester street girl, braving the elements and exploitative men, eating dinner at the Mustard Seed soup kitchen on Piedmont Street, craddling a bottle of vodka inside her coat – her real “steady,” her true love, the stuff that made her dreams come true. The poison which let her see herself as pretty (which she was), a good singer (which she was), a dancer (which she was), an actress (had to be to survive the streets!!!), a savvy traveler, a STAR.

A petite woman like Kara can’t keep drinking a hefty bottle of vodka a day,without tempting fate. But Kara, who wasn’t hooked on heroin or didn’t do coke – was hooked on her beloved vodka. Straight, mixed in large paper cups filled with Coca Cola. Any way would do and really, it kept her going … going …. going….going…

How do street women survive? On dreams of … a loving boyfriend (in reality an unscrupulous pimp, sometimes a herion addict male pal who sends his girl out to give guys blow jobs and more and then turns around and uses the money she earned to buy heroin for himself – we knew of just such a relatonship. Not only was this asshole using his “girlfriend” – sometimes he would beat her up when she came home in the early afternoon, drunk, a cab driver hauling her out of his cab like a sack of potatoes and dumping her on the back porch … Honey, I’m home!!

These girls have ideas, have opinions but society squelches their intelligence. Heaven forbid they share their thoughts with their johns who hate themselves for visiting a Worcester whore and take out their self-loathing/shame on the girl. I was told of one neighborhood girl who, after giving a blow job to her john on a back porch, commented on all the pigeon shit on the porch railing – greeny white little splotches everywhere. She told her john: pigeons can be so dirty. And that’s a fact! The john took an empty beer bottle and konked her over the head with it.

How do “neighborhood girls” like Kara survive it all?

Vodka of course. Heroin of course. Cocaine of course. Saints who used to staff the PIP wet shelter in Main South – now gone, which spells trouble for girls like Kara who lose access to the old PIP’s loving social workers and the old PIP’s Dr. Garcia, a Latino physician who was GOD’S GIFT TO WOMEN (AND MEN) LIKE KARA.

But I digress. A total numbing of all the senses is what is needed to survive the streets in summer, winter, springtime or fall … And when you come out of your self-induced dream, you walk over to the Mustard Seed for a good home-cooked meal served by the tough/loving/profane/spiritual/jagged/ephemeral/tired as hell Donna Domiziano, the ex-nun who runs the Mustard Seed. We LOVE Donna!

And sometimes, like Kara, you go out with a “friend” who fucks you but who doesn’t hurt you. He gives you a bit of money and feeds you and sends you on your way with ten or twenty bucks in your sweat shirt pocket. He helps fuel your dreams for another day or two. And maybe you take the money to catch a bus to New York City, like Kara did. And you see if you can make it there! Kara used to say she wanted to meet Robert DeNiro, that she would sing and dance for him when she saw him. She said she had gone to Las Vegas one time, after hopping on a Greyhound Bus in Worcester, and won second place in a keroke contest out there. $50! She should have won first prize! But it was enough …. enough dough, enough recognition to make her believe in her gifts… for a little while.

There is something beautiful in a street girl … something in her that makes you want to rescue her because you see yourself in her. She – like you, like all women – wants to star in her very own special movie, a flick in which she/you are loved, feted for your talent, made to feel safe by your husband, showered with love and praise and love and praise and warmth, warmth, warmth.

Kara was always cold.

So you (me, actually) call a pal and say: I am worried about Kara!!! She is going to die! Drinking like that! At St. Vincen’t hospital because she was sick from booze! SHE NEEDS TO BE DETOXED! LET’S TAKE HER TO GET DETOXED! I WILL PUT HER IN THE CAR AND DRIVE HER TO ADCARE OR COMMUNITY HEALTH LINK! LET’S DO IT TODAY!

I said this twice on two different days. Answer was: Kara doesn’t want help. She is not going to change. Let her be the way she has been …

And I did.

Then the news: A few weeks ago my Kara, the singer, the dancer, the actress, the lover of Robert DiNiro and twirling, colored stage lights, died at the Mustard Seed. She was there with a gal pal. She was eating dinner with her. She turned to her friend and said: I’m cold. Her gal pal hugged her and began rubbing her arms up and down Kara’s back to warm her up. Then Kara threw up and died in her friend’s arms. People said she never chewed her food, gulped it down. They said the Mustard Seed clients tried to do the Heimlach Maneuver on Kara but to no avail.

Donna went to Kara’s funeral. In Ware, I think. She was cremated. Now she sleeps in the country … away from Worcester’s streets.