Tag Archives: incitytimesworcester.org – CECELIA website

Going nuts over vegan school lunches!

By Heather Moore

school supply distribution 2
Back to school, WPS students! This Friendly House student is masked up and ready for school! Cecelia file photos.

The theme of this year’s National School Lunch Week (NSLW), October 11 to 15, is “WILD About School Lunch,” and the campaign’s promotional materials feature big cats and other jungle inhabitants. Ironically, these animals’ environments are being destroyed precisely so that the meat, egg and dairy industries can raise farmed animals for food that may end up in school lunches. Schools should seize this opportunity to impress upon students why eating vegan is the best way to spare cows, chickens, pigs and other farmed animals pain and suffering and to prevent habitat destruction and mass wildlife extinction. They should serve vegan meals.

Black Bean Veggie Burger Credit PETA
Ask your schools for VEGAN SCHOOL CAFETERIA OPTIONS like this black bean burger! Or even a nut burger!!

Earlier this year, Chatham House — an international think tank — released a report showing that animal agriculture is the number one threat to 86% of the 28,000 species at risk of extinction.

The report, backed by the United Nations Environment Programme, explains that creating pastureland and growing crops to feed farmed animals eradicates natural ecosystems, causing habitat loss and reducing biodiversity. It concludes that a shift to vegan eating is necessary to conserve land and other resources and create a more sustainable food system.

The world has lost half its natural ecosystems, and wildlife populations have shrunk by 68%, on average, since 1970.

Scientists project that nearly 90% of species will lose at least part of their habitat by 2050 unless we make big changes, such as ending animal agriculture.

Flaming Firehouse Chili Credit PETA
Vegan chili

Researchers at Florida International University believe that demand for meat will cause more species extinctions worldwide than any other factor, because “livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss, and both livestock and feedstock production are increasing in developing tropical countries where the majority of biological diversity resides.”

Experts at the Yale School of the Environment estimate that cattle ranching is “the largest driver of deforestation” in every Amazon country, accounting for about 80% of deforestation. Studies show that by 2050, the only way we’ll be able to feed the entire world population — without sacrificing more forests and worsening the climate crisis — is if everyone goes vegan.

Eat less meat and save our planet!

Schools play an important part in teaching kids how they can help animals, feed the world, protect the planet and live healthfully, simply by going vegan.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the fourth-largest school district in the nation, is offering more vegan options this year, as are other schools in Florida, California, Washington and New York. Children at Bergen Elementary School in Brooklyn even opted for an all-vegetarian menu.

Every school in America should serve vegan meals. And, considering that a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that many American schoolchildren have gained weight since the pandemic began, schools should be eager to help students get in shape by providing them with low-fat, cholesterol-free vegan food. Scholars think vegan meals will be the “default” choice in British schools by mid-century.

We already know that young people are wild about wild animals. NSLW would be a great time for schools to encourage students to go wild over healthy vegan lunches that don’t harm the planet or any of its inhabitants — wild or domesticated.




Why should animals have rights?


Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. Many of us bought our beloved “pets” at pet shops and kept beautiful birds in cages. We wore wool and silk, ate McDonald’s burgers, and fished. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?

Lilac fetches ball … pics: Rose T.

In his book Animal Liberation, Peter Singer states that the basic principle of equality does not require equal or identical treatment; it requires equal consideration. This is an important distinction when talking about animal rights. People often ask if animals should have rights, and quite simply, the answer is “Yes!” Animals surely deserve to live their lives free from suffering and exploitation. Jeremy Bentham, the founder of the reforming utilitarian school of moral philosophy, stated that when deciding on a being’s rights, “The question is not ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ but ‘Can they suffer?’” In that passage, Bentham points to the capacity for suffering as the vital characteristic that gives a being the right to equal consideration. The capacity for suffering is not just another characteristic like the capacity for language or higher mathematics. All animals have the ability to suffer in the same way and to the same degree that humans do. They feel pain, pleasure, fear, frustration, loneliness, and motherly love. Whenever we consider doing something that would interfere with their needs, we are morally obligated to take them into account.

Jett at the dog park …

Supporters of animal rights believe that animals have an inherent worth — a value completely separate from their usefulness to humans. We believe that every creature with a will to live has a right to live free from pain and suffering. Animal rights is not just a philosophy — it is a social movement that challenges society’s traditional view that all nonhuman animals exist solely for human use. As PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk has said, “When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife.” Watch a video with Ingrid Newkirk from the 2015 Animal Rights National Conference here.

Only prejudice allows us to deny others the rights that we expect to have for ourselves. Whether it’s based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or species, prejudice is morally unacceptable. If you wouldn’t eat a dog, why eat a pig? Dogs and pigs have the same capacity to feel pain, but it is prejudice based on species that allows us to think of one animal as a companion and the other as dinner.
The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights

Take vital steps to cut thoughtless cruelty to animals out of your life and to educate others around you. Check out the most comprehensive book on animal rights available today! In The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights, PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk provides hundreds of tips, stories, and resources. It’s PETA’s must-have guide to animal rights. Also available for the Kindle!

Read Ingrid’s book! photo: PETA


By Rosalie Tirella

I get it: We must ditch Columbus Day. Let’s forgeddabout the Nina, the Santa Maria and the third ship Christopher Columbus sailed over from Italy in his global quest for rare, exotic spices (that’s what we were taught as students at Lamartine Street School while we colored our paper plate Columbus ships for Columbus Day). And no, the guy in colorful tites, with that big plume stuck in his puffy silk hat did NOT accidentally discover America. The Mr. Magoo cartoon we Baby Boomers watched on TV every October, before the Peanuts Great Pumpkin Halloween TV special, got it wrong. It was all a lie. Or confusion. Or fantasy. Or a revisionist retelling of the history we wanted to believe. Myth making at its most desperate.

We Italian-Americans are proud of our artists – some of the greatest in the world!

More damning, once in the New World, Columbus, like all the European explorers of his time, embraced slave labor and genocide. All in the name of acquiring new lands for Queenie Isabella or King this or that – and personal riches. Columbus was the beginning of the end for native peoples in the Americas and pretty much the beginning of All Things Beautiful and Horrific from Europe. So, yes, there was horrible horrible death…but there was life, too: Herman Melville, John Coltrane, Neil Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, the Pilgrims, the US Constitution, Teddy Roosevelt, Jane Austin, Nikki Giovanni, Sylvia Plath, Mark Twain, JFK, Richard Wright, The Band, MLK Jr, Chuck Berry … and Frank Sinatra. And Dean Martin. And Frankie Valle. And Bobby Darren. And Tony Bennet. And Mario Cuomo. And Martin Scorsese. And Al Pacino. And Joe Mantegna. … And my grandmother Maria, from Northern Italy, who settled with her no-account husband Sabino (my grandfather) in Worcester’s “Summit” neighborhood. Maria gave Sabino 10 kids, and he gave his mistress up the street presents. Sabino, a ladies’ man extraordinare, was a traveling Italian grocer. Every day he’d drive his little food delivery truck to Boston’s North End to pick up terrific Italian sausages, cheeses and breads; then he’d drive back to Worcester to sell them fresh to his Italian customers. He beat his kids – especially my father – and during Prohibition he was a bootlegger. He wore spats.

But Maria was a loving person. She put her heart into her big brood, had a garden the size of a city pocket park and cooked and baked Italian food from scratch, most of the ingredients coming from her ginormous garden. She sent two kids out of the 10 to college – and one to Hollywood where he painted movie sets/scenery. One son, Al, had a swinging jazz band in Worcester during the Tommy Dorsey craze. And her youngest, the small Georgey, around 5 feet tall and a City of Worcester mechanic (he worked on the City garbage trucks and called them “honey wagons”), played the banjo and was the sweetest husband in the world, according to my Aunt Rita, who still misses her long passed soul mate.

We Italians can be wild, dramatic…even violent. But we can love like crazy: our kids, our dogs, our cats, our soul mates, our soul food, music, church and art. My grandmother Maria was no Sophia Loren, and I don’t know if she could carry a tune. But she PERSISTED. In America. She raised her children in Worcester, Massachusetts. She was self-sufficient and had a ferocious work ethic. As did Frank Sinatra’s mom, I imagine. And Mario Cuomo’s. And Martin Scorsese’s.

Italian Americans don’t know who the he*l Christopher Columbus is and we really don’t care. But we came to America and put the work in – we deserve a little credit. We, like the Irish, like the Brits, like the Africans, like the French, like every immigrant rag tag band of bounders poured our hearts and souls into this freakin’ place. Contributed. Big time. Our history, our lives, in America shouldn’t be demonized.

We can make November Native American Month and learn, mourn, celebrate, improve … grow as a nation! But let’s keep the real meaning behind Columbus Day, what the day and the parades and the homemade marinara sauce really mean to us Italian-Americans – a day to celebrate US in America! Not Columbus! But my grandmother Maria! And Mario Cuomo!And Frank Sinatra! And millions of proud Italian-AMERICANS. Just rename it: ITALIAN HERITAGE DAY.

Presto. Now, that’s Italian!


By Rosalie Tirella

Perennial Worcester City Councilor and Mayoral candidate Bill Coleman is running for political office again. This November. … Billy wrote this cover story for us years ago:


He was running for Worcester City Councilor and Mayor back then, too. Again. He was all over the city posting his already yellow, faded political signs in pals’ lawns. They’d seen better days even back then. But he was in his 50s years ago … youngish. And we were younger, too. Plus, we really didn’t understand the Coleman modus operandi back then, his insatiable need for attention, his habit of always finding the camera’s view finder, to be leading whatever rag tag political parade that caught his fancy that week. Or hour. Bill blew wherever the political winds blew him. But he was…loveable.

Was Bill a Republican? A progressive African American Civil Rights crusader? Was he pro-business? Anti-anything?

Over the years we saw how Bill would climb aboard – and hijack – any hot popular Worcester issue and get his photo in the papers. Just to be in the thick of the excitement? Just to satiate his bottomless ego that was bigger than the bottomless cups of coffee he swigged at his beloved Pickle Barrel in Piedmont?

Most people at Worcester City Hall believed: Yes.

So they dismissed Bill Coleman, laughed him off. Sometimes while sitting three feet away from him at a candidate forum.

We endorsed Bill. Every election cycle. Every political September or November. We endorsed this friendly, energetic African American guy who loved city politics and so wanted to be a local political mover and shaker. This being Worcester, Bill always lost. Black, not born and raised in Wormtown, Billy was rebuffed by the city’s power brokers/pols … even as they glad handed him and shouted: HEY, BILLY!

But Bill was not entirely rejected by the voters who saw him all over Worcester painting American flags on junkyard fences and more. He had a few good years – especially the one where we essentially gave him the covers of InCity Times …

Here it is 20 years later and Billy is back at it – running for Worcester city councilor and mayor. Again. He is thin. I am fat. He is … cynical for Bill Coleman. I am … hopeful for Rosalie. He is not as helpful as in the old days. I’m burned out, too. He walks with a hitch. Me too.

We talked over the phone this morning. I pulled no punches. I said: BILL, WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE?! THE VOTERS HAVE REJECTED YOU! FOR YEARS!

Bill said: Rose, didn’t you ever learn that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?

So I’m saying nothing.

I will, however, VOTE FOR BILL COLEMAN.


Screenshot_2019-06-10-11-35-06 (0)
Bill Coleman, years back, standing before one of his American flags.🇺🇲🇺🇲🇺🇲

New Worcester column by Jim!

Ol’ Worcester Boy Returns to New Worcester Scene!

By Jim Coughlin

Jim. photos submitted.

Jim’s family puppy!

I was born in Worcester in the mid-1950s, and whenever I travel to the city of my birth, I must say I am unquestionably impressed by how she has progressed in so many ways over the fairly recent past.

Worcester has over the years been the recipient of much unworthy criticism from those who not
only were born and raised here, but also from those who have no history of being here.
If I can go back in time to the much heralded debate on the proposed Worcester Civic Center
from the late 1970’s and early 80’s, this was a time when a casual visitor to our city would say that Worcester was stuck in the past and that she was not going anywhere. And it was during this time that even the New York Times had picked up on the belief held by many and actually opined that Worcester was a dying city in Massachusetts. A newspaper article dubbed Worcester THE UTILITY CLOSET OF NEW ENGLAND.

The best way to describe this view would be to say that “Worcester was stuck energy: politically, socially and spiritually.” They would say that those in power were not open to change or any new ideas or energy. But then, the civic center came to our downtown Worcester area and brought all kinds of political and social energies to bear upon those who live here. Young people who previously would say they couldn’t wait to get out of Worcester were now giving that idea a second thought. In short, they began to see hope for not only themselves, but also for their kids.

In the mid 1980s, just after the time that the civic center was coming into its own energy, I witnessed that people here began to think differently, in that doing things or thinking in different ways would not be such a bad idea.
This was at the same time that there were pioneers and pioneeresses among the citizenry who came forward who were women who tried to join the ranks of both the Worcester Fire and Police Departments. They raised the question about themselves as prospective members of these Departments. Although they were not successful in their quests, they were successful in thinking differently, and more importantly in trying to have those in power think, perhaps if only for a time, that things could be done differently, here in Worcester.

Principal among the leaders on the Worcester City Council who through their legislative efforts successfully sought charter change was the late District 4 City Councillor Janice “Jan” Nadeau. Councillor Nadeau came to the council as a former Main South/South Worcester political activist and community organizer for
many years with Worcester Fair Share. So, when she wanted something done on the floor of the
city council, she knew exactly how to do it.
This change directly resulted in the city council placing before the voters a binding referendum to look at changes in Worcester’s municipal charter, the “Magma Carta” of our city government. Jan held office hours at the Pickle Barrel in the Piedmont neighborhood. She was famous for wearing her petite polyester pants suits!

Well, the voters gave their approval to the idea of looking at changes in how Worcester had operated since the 1940’s when we had a Board of Aldermen, a little different from a city council.

One transformational change that the Charter Commission that was appointed by then City Manager Francis J. McGrath enacted was to provide for the election of five district city councilors in addition to the Councilors at Large. This change by itself was directly responsible for the city council becoming
more diversified in that candidates of color would have an easier time being elected in a district race for city council, rather than running “at large” throughout the entire city.
Separate and distinct from councilors being elected in districts, the voices of women were finally being heard at Worcester City Hall.

For whatever reason or reasons, the policy makers in Worcester did hear these women when they said they wanted to join two departments that previously had been complete male bastions.

Now, Worcester to her everlasting credit, has 11 women on the fire department and, I think,
20 women police officers. To his credit, former City Manager Thomas R. Hoover should be
acknowledged for the crucial role he played in making the appointments of women fire fighters in Worcester in 2000.

These are just two examples of positive political and governmental changes in the city.
And there are more changes to be sure: the Union Station of my youth and until the 1990’s is no longer the dump that it was for far too long. Downtown Worcester has expanded with new
hotels and a pharmacy school and other areas that had previously existed as open barren spaceis now thriving with vitality in areas and neighborhoods, too numerous to mention.
One more than obvious change in this area has been the relocation of St. Vincent’s “St Vs” Hospital to downtown Worcester from Vernon Hill on Providence Street that sadly has had its nurses out on strike, for over six months days demanding better ratios of nurses in providing care to patients.

On the side of public secondary education, the city has just completed the construction of the
newest South High Community School and construction on the “new” Doherty High School on Highland Street is well under way.

Many years ago, before this new building and economic Renaissance came to Worcester, a local
parish priest privately told me that many people in the city looked extraordinary depressed.

However, based upon my many visits to Worcester over the past two years as a reporter for the
Worcester In City Times, I can say with 100 % certainly that those depressed energies are no
longer visible on the faces of Worcester residents as I travel throughout the neighborhoods of our city.

But despite my saying how Worcester has improved in so many ways, there will still be the city’s critics who choose to be either a “Debbie Downer” or a “Tommy Downer.” Quite frankly, some people will even complain if the sun comes out on a bright day in Worcester. So, kudos to Worcester and her citizenry for making all the positive, transformational changes that have happened over the period of the last 30 years!

Eating meat – bad for you, bad for the planet – horrific for animals!



By Rebecca Libauskas

Big Meat is fattening its bloodstained pockets while meat-eaters are left with higher grocery bills. The White House recently called out the largest meat companies for “pandemic profiteering,” alleging that they are driving up prices, resulting in steep totals at checkout lines across the country. This accusation brings the true cost of meat into focus: With regard to environmental impact, human health and animal welfare, meat is always too expensive. Cutting coupons won’t help — but going vegan will.

Of course, animals are the ones who really pay the price when humans buy meat, cheese and other animal-based foods. Every year in the U.S., more than 29 million cows suffer and die in the meat and dairy industries. Approximately 9 billion chickens are raised and killed for their flesh, and another 376 million hens are raised for their eggs. Millions of pigs spend their lives in small metal crates, with so little space that they can’t even turn around or lie down comfortably. Many animals are subjected to debeaking, dehorning, castration and other mutilations without painkillers. All that pain could be prevented if everyone went vegan.

Animals suffer on factory farms! CUT OUT OR EAT WAY LESS MEAT. ONE VEGAN SAVES 200 PIGS, CHICKENS and/or COWS per YEAR! Photos:PETA

Factory farming destroys the land and the Earth’s atmosphere, exacerbating global warming.

Going vegan will also help protect the planet. By some estimates, the meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation systems combined. The United Nations recently warned that widespread reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions are needed to forestall a “code red for humanity.” We can do this simply by not eating meat and other animal-derived foods.

Go, President Biden❤!

Raising animals to satiate our meat addiction requires massive amounts of land and water. Animal agriculture squanders more than half of the water used in the U.S., which is especially wasteful considering that a NASA study predicts that the West is headed for prolonged drought conditions.


And that’s not all. In the U.S, 87% of all farmland is used to raise animals for food and about 260 million acres of forest have been cleared to produce feed for animals.

Rather than growing feed for farmed animals, humans would be better off producing healthy vegan food for ourselves.If we all consumed a vegan diet instead of one based on animal-derived foods, we could save up to 8 million human lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by two-thirds and prevent climate-related damages of $1.5 trillion.

We might also prevent future pandemics.

Experts believe that COVID-19 began in a “wet market,” at which customers can choose live animals to purchase and wait while they are slaughtered. Typically, animals in these markets are stressed and often injured or sick. They’re called “wet markets” because feces, urine and blood seep out of the cages, creating an ideal breeding ground for pathogens.
REMEMBER: ALL animals feel physical pain, experience loneliness, sadness and fear.

An egg “farm”

Three out of every four emerging infectious diseases in humans originate in animals and are caused by our use of animals for food. The World Health Organization predicts that as long as humans rely on animals for food and profit, pandemics are inevitable.

Eating meat can also lead to heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes and even impotence, and research reveals that those who consume animal-based foods have a higher mortality rate than those who eat vegan.

While some families are feeling the strain of increased grocery bills thanks to Big Meat, the real price of meat is much higher. Perhaps the surging meat prices will inspire more people to select vegan options, which are better for animals, the environment and human health.





Protect your pets!


Should you stay or should you go? Plan now to protect your animals in both disaster scenarios

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

It’s three o’clock in the morning and a piercing tone from your phone jolts you awake. Your heart pounds and your hands shake as the urgent message sinks in: A disaster is heading straight for your area, and it will hit within an hour. What should you do? Where should you go? Will your whole family — including your animal companions — make it through the emergency safely?


Lilac and Jett at the dog park. pics: Rose T.

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, now is the time to prepare so that you’re ready when — not if — an emergency strikes. Your animal companions are even more vulnerable in a disaster than you are, so it’s vital to make arrangements now to ensure that they can handle whatever comes their way.

As Hurricane Ida recently reminded us, disasters can strike quickly. Ida formed and intensified very rapidly, giving residents little time to flee. Some had to gather their belongings and get on the road in a matter of hours.

Creating an emergency “go bag” for each of your animal companions can save precious minutes in a crisis and ensure that essentials aren’t left behind. Assemble a kit that includes a carrier (for small animals) and/or a leash and harness. Pack bowls, towels, a favorite toy, a blanket, a litterbox and litter (for cats) and a week’s worth of food, bottled water and medications. Include photographs of yourself with each of your animals to aid in identification in case you become separated.

Some emergencies — tornadoes, blizzards, chemical spills and pandemics, for example —may require you to shelter in place, rather than make a swift exit. Ensure that you’re ready to ride out two weeks at home with your animals — possibly without any water, electricity or heat — by creating a “stay kit.”

Since this kit stays in your home, it can be larger and more elaborate than your go bag. Sealable plastic totes work well for keeping everything contained and dry. In addition to the necessities mentioned above, consider adding an animal first aid kit, grooming supplies (such as brushes and shampoo), sanitation items to clean up after your animal, treats, chew toys and calming aids such as Feliway spray (for cats) and a ThunderShirt (for dogs). Periodically rotate the food and medications so they don’t expire.

Just as vital as packing supplies is knowing where you’ll go with your animals if you must leave your home. Map out possible routes in different directions so you have multiple options for leaving quickly, but always follow recommended evacuation routes, as shortcuts may be blocked or dangerous. Ensure that your animals are microchipped and wear collars with current identification tags.

Since many emergency shelters do not allow animals, find out in advance where you and your animals can stay. Many hotel chains waive “no animals” policies during emergencies. Campgrounds and the homes of friends and family members are other options (be sure to offer to return the favor for your hosts).

Whatever you do, never leave your animals behind in an evacuation. Not only is it terrifying for them, it can be deadly. PETA’s rescue teams have found animals up to their necks in water, trapped in crates inside flooded homes. Dogs who are left chained outdoors have no escape from flying debris, and if the area floods, they may be forced to tread water until they drown.

If you truly have no choice but to evacuate without your animals, never leave them tied up or confined to crates, pens or hutches. Give them a chance at survival by leaving them indoors on upper floors if flooding is expected. Provide at least a 10-day supply of dry food, and fill sinks, bathtubs and large tip-proof containers with drinking water. Put signs on windows and doors indicating the number and species of animals inside, as rescue workers may be able to save them.

No one wants to be confronted with an emergency at 3 a.m. (or any time, for that matter). But planning now will help you sleep better, knowing that you’re ready to help your animal companions weather any storm.



Worcester’s SMOC vs THE PIP and how they help/helped our homeless

By Rosalie Tirella

PIP photos, taken a few days ago:
pics by R.T.

The Charlton rooming house, right, run by CECELIA’s old writer and pal Ron O’Clair who ate at the PIP and liked Buddy and crew but was never too thrilled with the high PIP clients who sometimes hung out on the neighborhood street. Across from Ronny’s bedroom.

SMOC photo, taken last week:

The huge SMOC building in Piedmont, located on the corner of Chandler Street and Park Ave. What untapped potential – it can be a great affordable housing complex! But SMOC, SOUTH MIDDLESEX OPPORTUNITY COUNCIL, based in Framingham, lets it go fallow. Five staffers, led by Chris Orcutt, don’t really serve Worcester’s homeless.

Let’s compare and contrast these two HUMONGOUS BUILDINGS and the nonprofits who run/ran them. First they are two of Worcester’s in-city behemoths. The PIP building is located at the corner of Main and Charlton streets, in Main South. The SMOC building located at the corner of Chandler Srreet and Park Ave. In the city’s Piedmont neighborhood.

The PIP – no longer but once owned by a local nonprofit and run by a board of directors and Executive Director Buddy Brousseau. We ran a cover story on the PIP 17 years ago in InCity Times. I went in and took pics and got a tour courtesy of Buddy; our intern went in and wrote the piece. We learned: THE PIP WAS NOT A DRUGGY FLOP HOUSE. IT WAS A COMPASSIONATE AND COMPREHENSIVE social service agency that cared for the city’s chronically homeless- often drug addicted on many levels: socially, medically, emotionally, as well as offering on the first floor hot meals at night, breakfast, showering facility, male/female sleeping quarters with clean cots with blankets. On the second floor there was the AA and NA meeting room – clean and filled with chairs. On the third floor there was a Cafe and game room where clients could drink coffee and eat fresh fruit and play board games like checkers and Monopoly. On the top floor was the commercial coffee roaster and coffee business – with some profits going to the PIP. I ought know: I went out with the coffee guy, Peter. Let’s just say Peter was …interesting. Brilliant, he had a degree from Columbus University and his MSW from UConn. He was one of the PIP’s social workers- and a terrific writer with several unpublished novels under his belt. Peter blew up the coffees roaster – donated to the PIP by Dan, owner of GOOD AS GOLD COFFEE on Green Street, back when we Baby Boomers supported each other and tried to change the world. Dan gave Peter the free roaster, Buddy gave his pal Peter the free space, I gave Peter the free ads. In a nut shell we were all taken in and screwed by the little charmer…who called me four years ago, YEARS AFTER WE HAD BROKEN UP, to leave me this message: “Hello, Rose. It’s Peter.” I thought: OH NO and deleted the message.

But I digress: the PIP had a terrific Latino doctor who monitored PIP clients’ blood pressure, diabetes, etc. Plus he bandaged them up if they came in bloody from the streets. A Saint. A million stores written about the man. There was another social worker besides Peter who advocated for the clients…there was head cook George Orcutt who cooked and cooked and cooked EVERYTHING for EVERYBODY. Another Saint, now passed, along with his mom, an old lady sweating at the kitchen stoves…George and mom catered City of Worcester events – for free. Giving back to the community. Buddy, a recovering alcoholic, called the PIP clients his “brothers and sisters” and gave everyone- including this writer – the best bear hugs. Lovable. Buddy was Lovable.

But Babs and Billy pushed and pushed and the PIP WAS CLOSED DOWN. BOUGHT BY SMOC. And there was no real game plan for Worcester’s homeless…just a patch work of inadequate places and peeps who left our homeless high and dry. So the City of Worcester became THE PIP. WITH HOMELESS PEOPLE AND FAMILIES ALL OVER WORCESTER. In cars, woods, parks, the Canal District, Street corners…

SMOC bought the old MLK BUSINESS EMPOWERMENT CENTER in Piedmont several years ago, hoping to make the huge edifice a new PIP, but abutters whined. So today SMOC has a portapotty and Director Chris Orcutt and his case manager Sammy Rivera. And a few office people. Chris, George’s son, doesn’t have the vision of Buddy or the heart of his dad. Got the job thru Worcester nepotism. SMOC, based in Framingham, has been cowed into DOING NOTHING WITH THEIR BUILDING by the city…So the building is closed for 2 weeks because Chris Orcutt gets COVID. EVERYBODY HOME ON VACA!!! There is no talk of putting in affordable studios or apartments – forget about a shelter. There are no msw social workers like my Peter, or chefs to provide meals like George Orcutt or Buddy Brousseau’s TO REALLY UTILIZE THE BUILDING AND REALIZE A VISION of caring and love for the homeless.

The closest we’ve come to truly caring for the homeless since the PIP’s demise is Father John Madden, Frank Carroll and Bill Riley of St. John’s Church on Temple Street. They’ve covered food, shelter, advocacy AND SAVED HUNDREDS OF LIVES. Bless you.


Jim! Always in style!

A former Woo political activist hoped for more political, racial and gender diversity on the Worcester City Council – and got it!

By Jim Coughlin

Worcester City Hall – our City Council reflecting our city these days. Finally. photo: Rose T.

I was born and raised in Worcester. Our family originally lived in the area of Worcester known as “Crown Hill.” We originaly lived on Chatham Street and later moved to Chandler Street, right next to both Beaver Brook Park and Foley Stadium. My father was a long-time community organizer in Worcester’s sports and athletic community and shortly after his death in 1986, Worcester State University, (WSU) named the athletic field in back of the university “The John F Coughlin Field.”

Jim Coughlin. He’s a Boston boy now but often takes the train into Worcester to visit friends and report on Worcester events and people for CECELIA. Photo submitted.

By introduction, for those readers who don’t know me, let me say that I was a long time political activist in Worcester, going back to the mid 1970s. When I was only 19 and 21 years old, I served as the campaign manager for the late Mrs. Elizabeth L. “Betty” Price in her two successful campaigns for the Worcester School Committee in both 1973 and 1975. For those of you who don’t recall “Betty,” she was the first African American woman ever elected to the Worcester School Committee when the percentage of people of color in the city was only about 5%, much lower than it is today.

Bill and James Vets Homor Roll 4-28-16(2)-1
Bill Coleman, right, and James Bonds spearheaded the drive to build the monument to Worcester’s Black soldiers of World War II, located at Lincoln Square. CECELIA file photo.

I clearly and vividly remember the “old Worcester,” along with the old Worcester City Councils of decades ago. During this time, I regularly attended city council meetings in the 1970s and ’80s when the legendary Francis J. McGrath served as City Manager. I remember 1973 as somewhat of a “revolutionary year” at the time in Worcester politics because this was the year that the voters elected not one, but the first three women EVER elected to the Worcester City Council: Mary Scano, Barbara Sinnott and Barbara Kohin.

But their terms did not last long. In 1975, all three women councillors were defeated by the voters. Of the trio, only former Councillor Kohin is still living.

For those of us who observed these changes, we thought we would never see a woman, any woman, break the sex barrier and join the ranks of the Worcester City Council. But they were all excellent public servants for the people of our city. By comparison, the city and, yes, the City Council over time also has become more diversified.

Thank goodness.

By comparison, to the older Worcester City Councils of the earlier days, the current council is no longer “9 white men” as it was back then, but rather it is far more representative of Worcester’s demographics in 2021. Now, on the current city council there are four women city councillors: Donna M. Colorio, Candy Mero Carlson, Kathleen Toomey and Sarai Riveria. Additionally, there are three councillors of color: Khrystian King, Sean Rose and Sarai Riveria.

It is no longer a big deal or even a surprise that the demographics of the city council has changed in both the racial and gender departments. This is a good step forward for the city council in being more representative of the entire city. And whatever happens in contested race for council in District Five between Etel Haxhiaj and George Stratman, the council will either increase by one more councillor of color or a woman councillor.

Running for Councillor at large is Peter Stefan, a Main South funeral home director and long-time community activist. Stefan has buried Worcester’s homeless for free for years and helped the city’s poor and seniors for decades – helping them pay for food, their prescription medicines and utility bills . He served on the board of directors of the PIP homeless shelter for many years and was an advocate for the work they did. He also supports homeless veterans and promises to donate all his City Council paychecks to local food pantries and food banks throughout Worcester County.

Today: the old PIP, on the corner of Main and Charlton streets, in Main South. For years PIP board member and current city council candidate Peter Stefan would drive to Nissan’s Bakery by Crompton Park, buy a ton of sweets and bread and bring them down to the PIP for the homeless to enjoy at supper time. Photo: R.T.

William S. “Bill” Coleman III is also running for councillor at large. Coleman has run for city councillor at large many times before and has been a very active petitioner before the city council for over 30 years on a wide range of public policy initiatives.

For me, as a former Worcester political activist who only hoped for more political, racial and gender diversity on the city council when we were out in the neighborhoods of Worcester organizing for Betty Price in the mid-1970s, I am grateful that the electorate of Worcester has summoned itself to answer the call of many of us back then who actually wondered aloud and to ourselves if there ever would be these changes in the faces of our public servants at City Hall.

Kudos to Worcester for diversifying the make-up of the Worcester City Council!

Worcester’s homeless scattered throughout the city because the City has no PIP

By Rosalie Tirella

SMOC HEADQUARTERS- SMOC: Worcester’s premier homeless social service agency – located on the corner of Chandler Street and Park Ave at the end of the Piedmont neighborhood:

SMOC is housed in the old MLK building. It used to be run by Clarence Thomas who could never get his Black business empowerment center off the ground. SMOC and SMOC’s Chris Orcutt have also let this grand old Worcester building lie fallow. Pics: R.T.

The MLK building could use some real revitalization!

The homeless sleep on the Worcester Common BECAUSE WORCESTER HAS NO HOMELESS CARE PLAN.

Run by Chris Orcutt, the son of the late great PIP hero – PIP cook George Orcutt, who even got his mom to volunteer at the wet shelter’s kitchen in Main South. Now, all gone, died, retired, the PIP closed, thanks pretty much to former Main South activist Billy Breault and his old partner in crime former D4 city councilor and fellow Main South resident Barbara Haller.

Worcester City Council and City Manager Ed Augustus have dropped the ball when it comes to compassionate care of our homeless …

Worcester is still coping with the fallout of the PIP’s closure. Twenty years ago the truly chronically homeless- drug-abusing etc – folks of Worcester County had a real HOME. PIP Director Buddy Brousseau brought in social workers, a Saint of a doctor, volunteers, cooks, and more to CARE for everybody. These days Chris Orcutt and SMOC have dropped the ball and Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus has, in his own oblivious way, sanctioned HOMELESS CAMPS/HIDEAWAYS for our suffering, the ones who need love and care most of all. They’re sleeping under the Green Street bridge, in the woods by the railroad tracks before Greenwood Street, the signage pointing them to the trees and bushes that will shelter them.

George Orcutt / the PIP used to cater City of Worcester events and parties. For free – a gift to the City from Buddy – for understanding. Having a heart.

That’s all changed.

For two weeks SMOC was shut down to clients: Chris Orcutt got COVID and shut his entire brick complex down. And the week before that he was on vacation. Chris had no plan B for his staff to fall back on. It was vacation time for all his staffers, as everyone stayed home! Homeless folks had no one – no Buddy Brousseau to advocate and care for them. No George Orcutt to cook them dinner. No PIP building (the first floor) with cots and blankets for shelter from the elements. No doctor to dress their wounds, no social workers to help them fill out referral forms.

Now Worcester’s homeless are in the woods, in their cars, under bridges, in the Canal District …

The beginning of Quinsigamond Village, site of the relatively new visitors center and hiking trail/park …

The old PIP – a scourge to Haller and the folks on Charlton and Sycamore streets – DID SERVE A PURPOSE. Now we realize it HELPED the city more than it hurt …

The PIP WAS ABOUT COMPASSIONATE CARE FOR THE HOMELESS. IT KEPT THE HOMELESS POPULATION PRETTY MUCH IN ONE PLACE – THE PIP. Now that the PIP is gone, there’s no one to really wrap their arms around the homeless. No Buddy or George. No Angel Doctor. Now there are STREET CORNERS for panhandling, under the GREEN STREET BRIDGE for fellowship and sleeping, PARKING LOTS in which to rest or relax, LOCAL PARKS/WOODS to camp out/sleep. Heck, one morning I saw a couple roll up their sleeping bags after a night spent sleeping on the Worcester Common, yards away from Worcester City Hall. No one bothered them. They seemed ready to face the day together. It was a compassionate scene.

But we can do better, Worcester. We can move beyond SMOC!