Tag Archives: InCity Times

The Friendly House sports and recreation programs – an 89-year tradition

By Rosalie Tirella

When the Friendly House, Worcester’s premier social service agency, opened its doors in 1920, its beginnings were as humble as those of the Italian and Syrian immigrants who also made the Grafton Hill neighborhood their home. Located at 38 Wall Street, the place looked like a very large home. But, oh, what an abode! Inside: the first community-based dental clinic in the country, First Aid classes for the neighborhood moms, cooking classes for the girls, and “SNAPs” tables for the boys. Every spring in the ’40s, a Friendly House Doll Carriage Parade wended its way through the neighborhood, with little girls’ doll carriages festooned with flowers and little boys’ bikes decorated to the hilt. The “works of art” would be judged and first-place prizes awarded.

“In the beginning,” says Friendly House executive director Gordon Hargrove, “there was a lot of arts and crafts, music, drama. The Friendly House really didn’t have sports – the more athletic activities. In the ’20s and 30’s, the adults in the neighborhoods had their own baseball teams. The Groton AA.” Hargrove laughs. He is delighted to have the chance to take out the photo boxes and show a visitor all the vintage photos and share the history of a Worcester landmark, a landmark that he has been a part of since the 1950s and headed since the 1970s. To know the Friendly House is to know Gordon Hargrove. Continue reading The Friendly House sports and recreation programs – an 89-year tradition

Go, Friendly House! Basketball team is tops!

By Jeffrey Turgeon

The Friendly House gymnasium on Wall Street in Worcester is a well-worn and Spartan facility with few of the amenities a new gym has; the basketball court with multi-purpose floor allows for only one game to be played at a time, the scoreboard is missing a few light bulbs, the concrete walls are kept without any fancy decorations, and the halls outside the gym are packed with donated clothes and food awaiting distribution to those in need. So why then, with all these limitations, do youth come from all throughout Central Massachusetts — including many from the area’s most affluent communities with the big, fancy gyms – to play basketball in this aging gym? The answer lies not in what the facility has or doesn’t have, it lies in the people that volunteer to lead the program. These volunteer coaches (along with the scorekeepers and referees) are extremely dedicated and caring individuals and are a reflection of the program’s director, Jim Williams. Continue reading Go, Friendly House! Basketball team is tops!

The Corporation of America

By Jack Hoffman

When the Founding Fathers sat down to draw up how the new nation – America – would be governed, they settled on a form of government (a republic) that would be guided by a document that would protect all rights of its citizens. When the Constitution and Bill of Rights were finally signed, we became the Republic of the U.S.

Contrast the framer’s vision of a republic with that of a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules, either directly or through its elected representatives, with no oversight. Thomas Jefferson feared that law written by the majority under a democracy in power would lack any regard for the basic rights of all citizens. That, in turn, could lead to what the framers feared most – a monarchy. Continue reading The Corporation of America

“We the People” to “King of the World”: “YOU’RE FIRED!”

By Michael Moore

Nothing like it has ever happened. The President of the United States, the elected representative of the people, has told the head of General Motors — a company that’s spent more years at #1 on the Fortune 500 list than anyone else — “You’re fired!”

I simply can’t believe it. This stunning, unprecedented action has left me speechless. I keep saying, “Did Obama really fire the chairman of General Motors? The wealthiest and most powerful corporation of the 20th century? Can he do that? Really? Well, damn! What else can he do?!”
This bold move has sent the heads of corporate America spinning and spewing pea soup. Obama has issued this edict: The government of, by, and for the people is in charge here, not big business. John McCain got it. On the floor of the Senate he asked, “What does this signal send to other corporations and financial institutions about whether the federal government will fire them as well?” Continue reading “We the People” to “King of the World”: “YOU’RE FIRED!”

“Put a poem in your pocket,” Worcester!

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member

We live in a society of doubters, a society in which so many thrive on the negative. Listen to the news or read the newspaper: the majority of stories are about despair. So when two fourth grade students wrote to me last spring from Mrs. Quitadamo’s class at Nelson Place about supporting their initiative to have “Poem in Your Pocket Day” in Worcester I was thrilled to hear about the class’ idea. More important, it was wonderful to have students articulate their ideas in writing.

Callista Pacheco, one of the students, stated in her letter: “My fourth grade class celebrated “Put a Poem in Your Pocket Day” in a very festive way. We made our own paper pockets and shared them with three other classes. We also gave them their own poems for their pockets.” She went on to say the idea originated in New York City and the “Mayor does it too.” Continue reading “Put a poem in your pocket,” Worcester!

The government’s work

By Richard Schmitt

In a recent guest column in InCity Times, Harvey Fenigsohn wrote wisely that after eight years of George W. Bush we are entitled to have some fun at the expense of the former president but, more importantly, we need to learn from the failures of the previous administration.
They did a pretty terrible job because from President Bush down many bigwigs in the government were incompetent. But they also did a horrible job because they believed a lot of things which are plainly false.
One of those falsehoods is the dogma that government cannot do anything right and that if you want something to be done properly you need to allow private enterprise to do it. For the Bush people this became a self-fulfilling prophecy. They underfunded government agencies; they deregulated whatever they could. On their watch the government was therefore not able to do many of its jobs. Continue reading The government’s work

And don’t forget … Pondering the pools

By Rosalie Tirella

My Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray patronage post (see “Hush! Hush!” post below) is missing the following important factoid: the Republican fundraiser who raised thousands of dollars for Murray – and whom Murray had to dump after grousings from the gov, his boss, and after a critical Boston Globe story – was “rewarded” by Murray, after he gave Murray the big bundle of bucks. Murray appointed the guy – a nursing home developer type  – to a board somewhere (I think) in Brockton. Murray gave the guy the position as (and let’s not be coy) as a reward because it was a position that would have enabled Murray’s fundraiser pal to do good by his biz interests. Talk about quid pro quo! Which, of course, doesn’t get talked about in Worcester, when it comes to Murray or any of our politicians, really. Which is why we get the shenanigans of a Bob Spellane (see post below).

And how coincidental is this? The $100,000 + UMass Medical School job that Murray got for his best pal Leary – after a few phone calls, no doubt – is a NEWLY CREATED JOB at UMass (just for Leary??) and IT PAYS the exact same salary  Leary is now making as Murray’s #1 aide in the State House.

The pools

What a tragedy! After all the neighborhood meetings, after all the heart-wrenching testimonials from neighborhood folks, after all the PROMISES from city officials, City Manager Mike O’Brien, with the blessings of the City Council, has closed our nine city pools for the summer. Most of the pools will most likely never have a kid cannonball into them again. How tragic!

Last year, they were fine – 8 of the 9 were opened to the public. The public being lots of minority, poor inner-city folks with not a lot of money/options for summer fun. This year, according to city officials, the pools are lethal! With killer drains, according to DPW and Parks head Robert Moylan! Killer drains that could reach up and grab a flutter-kicking leg and … Gak! It’s the attack of the Killer Drain!! Call the Ghost Busters! Or the Worcester Police Department!

Stop demonizing the drains! Fix them! And with the $200,000 set aside so far for private, non-progfit pool openings in the city, O’Brien could do just that. We do not warm to O’Brien’s contingency plan for summer 2009. Lots of the nonprofits that have offered help have just (so far) opted to expand pool hours for their members (or kids who want to join their organizations). The Boys Club, Girls Inc, YWCA, Main South YMCA have not – so far – opened their pools up to non-member inner-city kids. They must do this if they want to help …

But even if they do step up to the plate, we fear kids will not: take the city sponsored buses to the sites, have enough time to really have fun before they are pushed out to make room for Syncromaid practice or family “dip” for Y members. Our kids will just be squeezed in and made to feel second best. 

So let’s take the money that O’Brien has set aside for lifeguards, buses, support staff, etc at the nonprofit pools and call on a few fantastic blue collar guys (contractors/plumbers) to fix/spackle three or four of the city pools. The rest of the money can be used to hire lifeguards, etc.

What we think happened was this: O’Brien and Moylan (even while they were hearing the pleas/testimonials from inner-city kids!) were planning to close all the city pools – many in poor neighborhoods. Which is why they didn’t even begin to hire/train life guards, hire support staff, etc this year.  And of course they could cover their butts with: “We’re in a national, state and city recession! We have no money! We are laying city workers off left and right! Pools are an extravagance at this time!”

Bull shit. Their city-leased SUV’s are an extravagance! (and the dozen or so big wig in City Hall who have them, complete with free gas, don’t want to geive them up!) Worcester cops making more than $150,000 a year are an extravagance! (just regular ol’ patrol men/women!) Neither cops nor fire dept will join the real world and pay 25% of their helath insurance premiums. This is where the city budget fat is. This is where we could get the money to fix and open ALL OUR CITY POOLS!

Let’s be real – honest. 

 

Is there an upside to the capsizing economy?

By Chris Holbein

It’s hard to find a silver lining in a recession. Stocks are plummeting, 401(k) plans are shrinking and businesses are either scaling back or folding. But there is one bright spot: Food magazines have stopped force-feeding their readers recipes featuring foie gras.

Gourmet and Bon Appétit have reportedly forsaken foie gras in favor of more budget-friendly options, and the editor in chief of Food & Wine recently announced that the magazine will no longer feature “recipes that involve loads of foie gras.” That’s a good thing. It’s just a shame that it took a tanking economy—rather than an ethical revolution or even a sense of revulsion—to make some foodies give up diseased duck livers. Continue reading Is there an upside to the capsizing economy?

Transforming urban spaces! The Regional Environmental Council’s Earth Day Cleanups!

By Virginia Marchant Schnee

Former City Councilor Steve Patton remembers when young trees and brush had overgrown Dodge Park, obscuring its meadow and making the walkways impassable. The baseball fields that existed fifty years ago, when he was young enough to play Little League, were unrecognizable. In the 100 years since Thomas Dodge donated the 13 acres of land in 1889, many improvements had been added to the park, but over time they had deteriorated.

“There was a lot of dumping going on there, with tepees and the remains of beer parties,” Patton said. “Most of the benches and the bridges in the back were broken but the remnants were still there.”
Patton helped organize the first Regional Environmental Council Earth Day cleanups in 1990, and he said that at the time, tons of heavy trash and debris plagued many sites like Dodge Park. After several years of successful Earth Day cleanups, and once volunteers had removed most of the heavy trash from these other areas, he set his sights on Dodge Park.

“How many times do you have a chance to reclaim a park that’s gone fallow?” asked Patton. “It was a great opportunity to do some good.”
With the support of the REC and the assistance of many cleanup participants, including the Indian Lake Association and Boy Scout Troop 54, Dodge Park underwent a transformation. Year by year, they opened up a little more of Dodge Park, and their work drew the attention of then- Parks Commisioner Beth Prokow.

Continue reading Transforming urban spaces! The Regional Environmental Council’s Earth Day Cleanups!