Tag Archives: inner city neighborhoods

Mayor Joe Petty in our in-city neighborhoods – always in style! … and … a cool recipe Italiano!!!

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From the Mayor’s Office!!!!:

TODAY!

5 p.m. – starting at the Friendly House!

Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty will be leading a Mayor’s Walk around the Wall Street portion of the Grafton Hill neighborhood this evening …

… from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

We will be starting at Friendly House (36 Wall St.), then moving on to the former El Morocco site, and finally stopping at Westerman’s (50 Suffolk St.).

The Mayor will be joined by fellow elected officials, members of the administration, service providers and neighborhood group representatives.

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And…

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Don’t forget! Tomorrow! REC Beaver Brook Farmers Market – across the street from Foley Stadium!

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Veggies at ICT head honcho Rosalie’s shack:

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She’s growing a 5-foot-tall tomato plant but ZERO tomato buds! What the?????

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A friend gave R this corn yesterday – straight from the farmer’s farm! Thank you, friend!

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P.S. Here’s a great Italiano recipe from PETA.ORG!

Put the brakes on animal cruelty/American factory farms!
EAT LESS MEAT!!!!

Giambotta – Southern Italian Vegetable Stew!

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Also spelled Ciambotta, this is a traditional dish hailing from Southern Italy!

It’s comfort food at its finest — and simplest!

1 Tbsp. oil or water…Saute in frying pan:

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

Add to big pot filled with 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth and 1 (28-oz.) can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes:

3 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 medium eggplant, chopped into 1-inch pieces

2 large yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced

2 medium zucchini or summer squash, diced

Spice it up with:

2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (10 to 12 leaves) chopped basil

Cook in pot to taste…enjoy!

Copyright 2015 Compassionate Cooks, LLC. Reprinted and adapted from The 30-Day Vegan Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Healthfully and Living Compassionately by permission of the author, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

WPS students – always in style! … AFTER 15 YEARS THE MISSION IS THE SAME … THE HOME AND SCHOOL WORKING TOGETHER

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WPS inner-city students and families … ASPIRE!! pic:R.T.

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee

Congratulations is sent out to InCity Times‘ editor and publisher Rosalie Tirella on their 15th anniversary. The newspaper continues to be an alternative newspaper, with a goal to support those individuals most in need in our community.

One may not always agree with editor “Rose” (including me), but the idea of supporting, giving advice and advocating to those in need is a good concept. Rosalie grew up in the Green Island area of the city and knows the hardships that individuals experience – she has been a strong supporter of our inner-city parents.

As a matter of fact, at the age of 21, my first teaching assignment was at Lamartine Street School, and that’s where I first met Rosalie and her lovely mother. Rosalie was in my 5th grade class!

Since those early days, I have continued to reach out to our inner city parents with ideas and advice that hopefully make a difference in the lives of their children. I did it as a teacher, as the principal of Belmont Community School, and when I retired I still wanted to make a difference. That’s why I ran for Worcester School Committee.

Believing that a parent is a child’s first and most influential teacher – every school needs to have as its highest priority parent involvement within the schools.

You don’t need to be a researcher to know that family involvement can make a positive difference in school attendance, student behavior and academic achievement. What is needed is for schools to develop and ensure that parent involvement is embraced and not just given lip service. All schools need to welcome family members to their school. If schools don’t, the lack of positive interaction will stifle family-school connections.

Here are just a few suggestions for all schools:

Place positive signs on the schools entrance doors welcoming parents to the school.

Invite family members to eat lunch with their children. I can tell you that it works because I did it at Belmont Community School. We don’t have to feed the parents – they can bring in a lunch and spend time with their child. How about having lunch with parents on the first Friday of every month?!

Invite family members to attend workshops on important concepts that are taught to their children on a regular schedule. Inviting parents into the school for a special workshop does work! It serves as a way for the parents to assist their child at home.

Have staff and the principal make phone calls to invite families to participate in special events, meetings or other activities. Here in Worcester we have the Connect Ed. system where the school can invite parents to special events via the telephone.

Let’s go a step further and call parents with good news! It could be if a child had success on a test or just had a great day in school. Let me tell you it works! I did it for over 20 years at Belmont! Parents loved hearing good news and were more receptive in coming to school because of the call. Let’s start with that one positive telephone call.

Be sure that language translation is available in the office and for conferences and other contacts with parents.

Have workshops on reading and math. All families want to help their children, but many parents may not know how and that’s why the schools must reach out to our inner-city parents.

Have a family center stocked with learning materials that families can take home. Such a center would be a welcome addition for the schools . A Family Center should be part of each school – a special place in school where family members can meet, plan and implement programs.

In essence, schools must create a culture of wanting parents to be involved by modeling their beliefs, in both words and deeds, to the entire school community.

When families of all backgrounds are engaged in their children’s learning, their children tend to do better in school, stay in school and pursue higher education. Clearly, children at risk of failure or poor performance can profit from the extra support that engaged families and communities provide.
Remember, the research is clear: When parents play a positive role in their children’s education, students tend to do better in school. That all important teacher and parent PARTNERSHIP must be part of every school!

Good luck, InCity Times, on your 15th birthday and for the next 15 years! Continue your mission of involving inner-city parents in the learning process!

Worcester’s outlaw-angels!

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

You see them racing the thunder clouds down Worcester’s beat-up inner-city streets …

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No yellow lines, median strips, or threats from our City Manager can hold them back! So why paint their roads full of rules? They’ll only break them!

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Pop that wheely!!

With the sweetest smiles – they are shy when you stop them to talk – they pose for photos, even if their bikes don’t have license plates and they are infact “illegal” on our streets. I promise them: no names in my story, no mention of missing plates. I admire their bikes – the spirit it takes to get from point A to B when you’re young and poor. They know I’m on their side – even the guy with this crazy little motorized number!

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It takes him where he needs to go!

With something bigger you can get around the entire city …

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The Worcester police and the Worcester City Council treat this urban phenom like the bubonic plague. It’s not! It’s the trend…it’s poor kids trying to make it in the city during summer time. I was once who they are: in my Lafayette Street bedroom hot, restless, feeling hemmed in by my mother, our religion, our poverty, the close, opressive violence of my world, smothering me when I wanted to BE FREE, RUN FREE, SEE THE WORLD, CLIMB ALL MOUNTAINS . But I couldn’t do much, even take a summer vacation, like some of my school chums from Burncoat Senior High School. One classmate, the daughter of a lawyer, would be in Nantucket with her family. Another friend in D.C. touring the White House, where the President of the United States lived! She told me about the cherry blossoms in Washington in springtime…

If someone had given me a cute little motor bike on which to tool around the neighborhood, on which to ride for fun! or to zip to places for fun – up to the Girls Club on Providence Street in the neighborhood next to mine – Vernon Hill –  or  down to a gal pal’s house on Siegel Street, I would have turned somersaults in glee!

The attractions are obvious, as stated by this older rider! He has two cool bikes:

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Bike #1

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Bike #2

I like Bike #1 pic better! The Al Pacino tee shirt! The I love my dog decal! The NY Yankees sticker! … all so colorful … and autobiographical! You can learn alot about this guy by looking at his bike!

So, What’s the attraction for you (old man!), I ask him, smiling.

Well, Mama,  he says, smiling back, It doesn’t need a lot of gas. It’s cheap to run. I can get around the city. Plus, a lot of beautiful girls come up to you, wanting to talk about your bike. Like you! Like this!

Playful as a tree house in the backyard in summer time!

And yet Worcester’s kid bikers can cause havoc in our city: zip though Vernon Hill, Green Island, Piedmont and Main South on their gerryrigged motor bikes at night, no headlights attached to alert oncoming vehicles. In the daytime,  big fat wheels, small skinny wheels grind against city traffic and city drivers’ nerves. Some follow the rules of the road …

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Others don’t. They’re kids!. They want to be as free as they can be … on Endicott or Suffield streets.

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They want to look cool, sexy, independent …   The Latina girls with their dark wavy hair whipping around under their helmets are something to see! Their tattoos are about love … and death.

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See the electrical tape wrapped around the seat of this guy’s bike? It’s to mend a tear or gash because a new  bike seat costs too much $$$. I was once a poor city kid  – my 10 dollar bill feeling like $100. My first car (15 years old!) feeling like a yacht, and I didn’t buy my first car until I was 25!

The bikers don’t have cars either, and they need wheels! They improvise, ingeniously creating their own transportation  –  with the frame from this place, the wheels from that shop. They work on their bikes or motorized scooters in church parking lots. …Wire, spray paint, motor, decals, black electrical tape – the pieces of the puzzle float together in some mystical city cloud. Some bikes are beautiful, many are otherworldly, perfect for science fiction dystopias – and Chandler Street!

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But the new city ordinances have been passed! The Worcester City Council has voted to ban the riding of these gerryrigged, outside-the-law bikes. City officials say many are stolen. They label some of them All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) because of their huge wheels – tricycle style. The ATVs chew up and spit out the mowed grass when driven through our city parks! This pisses many people off. The Worcester police are serious and have made arrests. Some city leaders are apoplectic! Some are sympathetic: they’re calling for the setting aside of city parkland for the city bikers – creating a  special space for them to roam free.

But can you roam free in a bike park?

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To take a kid whose world is circumscribed by poverty, a kid who is facing a  city summer, a kid who is just waking up to adulthood and maybe understanding the hard truth for the first time: the game’s been rigged for people with money. So … on his own terms, through his and his friends’ creativity and sweat, he creates his own chariot of fire, his own inner-city Pegasus on which to ride … to his friend’s house, to his sister’s place three neighborhoods away….To be able to travel with friends on their bikes, to suck up serious city space with the group: a calvalcade of city kids on souped up, wild eyed motorized bikes. Today’s mods and rockers, today’s drag racers. American Graffiti … Worcester style.

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… It’s all been done before. In hot rods. On motorcycles. The racing.  The glamour of youth! Kids have always had cool wheels and taken them and themselves to the cusp.

High above Worcester …

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… over its buildings and mewling skyline …

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.. into the sunset …

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… Worcester’s inner-city youth ride! Don’t hate them! Work to understand them!

A peach of a lady watering her tomatoes!

Driving through the Oak Hill neighborhood today, I spied …

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… “Sweet Lorraine” Laurie, “Mayor of Green Island,” friend to Vernon Hill senior citizens, Green Island history buff, proud parishoner of St. John’s church, gal pal to Sister Pat and her after-school program, a long-time advocate for inner-city neighborhoods – especially the blue collar side of Kelley Square!

Here she is in her urban garden, outside her three decker, watering her tomato plant, looking just peachy in her peach sun dress! pic: R.T.

The priest, the parking lot, the stolen mics and my neighborhood


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Our Lady of Czestochowa church – also known as St. Mary’s – is located on Ward Street, in one of Worcester’s poorest inner-city neighborhoods. Rosalie lives right next door!

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Sometimes people who were homeless or struggling with drug addiction hung out by the church’s shrine, located across from the church, at the other end of the church parking lot.

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St. Mary’s was the church of Rosalie’s Polish immigrant grandparents and mom. Rosalie attended CCD classes at the church’s school and walked to mass at St. Mary’s every Saturday night with her mom and two sisters for 17 years! Here she is with her beloved Polish Grandpa on their Lafayette Street back porch. She looks decked out for mass! pics: R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

I say: The cold, proud priest had it coming to him! Jesus said: Be a lamb, be a serpent! The robbery – aka the recent break in, the filching of microphones, the stealing of $, the messing around in the sacristy at St. Mary’s church in lower Vernon Hill – was my inner-city neighborhood being a serpent.

I’ve watched the lead up to this break in at St. Mary’s on Ward Street – the Polish church’s proper name is Our Lady of Czestochowa – from my plant-filled kitchen window (I live in the apartment building next door) …

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… my parking lot, my walks with Jett and Lilac … for almost three years. I’ve heard the stories from my neighbors.

I ain’t no Aesop but here’s the moral of the story:

If you have a church in one of Worcester’s poorest, most drug-infested, gun-choked neighborhoods where the people are often sad, physically or emotionally abused, underemployed/poor, addicted to heroin or alcohol, desperate, hopeless, homeless! – if you are smack dab in the middle of the world that Jesus came to save and loved the most (Jesus said: THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST! THE FIRST SHALL BE LAST!), then you deal with it. Sensitively, if you’re me. Beautifully, compassionately if you’re a priest or a minister. Heck! If you’re a priest like St. Mary’s Rev. Ryszard Polek maybe you should even try ministering to the people! After all, Jesus LIVED IN/WAS A PART OF a community just like lower Vernon Hill during his sojourn on earth – we’re talking the underbelly, the social outcasts of Nazareth, Jerusalem. He was in the desert storm, wind-whipped whispers from the Devil swirling all around him. The Devil whispered into Jesus’ ears: Come! Follow me! And all this – here the Devil stretches out his arms over a rich, opulent and decadent city  – is yours!

Jesus said: Fuck off, Devil! I’m sticking with the poor folks … my lepers, my cripples, my robbers, my whores … the psychically tormented, the insane! Be gone! And Jesus shook the Devil off like the desert dust from his feet!

And the Devil went away…

If only the pastor of St. Mary’s – the un-Christ like Rev Polek – had learned his Bible lessons from the good nuns at his church in Poland where he was born and lived up until fairly recently. But now his rectory – his home – is next door to his church –  a two-minute walk from my apartment. Rev. Polek sees and is surrounded by the exact same men, women, youth and children I am, but he DOESN’T SEE. Jesus would cry! And be pissed! Righteous anger!!!!

The Rev. Polek has:

Not allowed the Worcester Public Library bookmobile Libby to park in his precious, recently repaved church parking lot so that the little kids (and adults) of the neighborhood can check out books, DVDs, CDs and more. He does have Libby parked on the church parking lot during the school year for the children who attend his church’s elementary school – St. Mary’s.

Rev. Polek has run out of his rectory and chased folks off the church parking lot (repaved recently!!!) and the church’s little pocket park – most recently a sweet neighborhood guy and his sweet pit bull. The man ALWAYS had a plastic bag and picked up after his dog! His daily walks with his beloved pooch in this concrete tough world where dogs that need much exercise are sometimes crated for hours,  owned by drug dealers or fought were to be admired! We all smiled at this pair! Not the pastor! He ran out yelling at the man and chased them off. For ever.

There is much illegal trash dumping in my neighborhood. Right inside, in the back of St. Mary’s church parking lot. On the Endicott Street side. It’s a trash hot spot, to tell you the truth! Rev. Polek has refused to work with the City of Worcester and State Rep. Dan Donahue when he was asked if video cameras could be installed and trained on the hot spot so the illegal dumpers could be caught. I’ve posted photos here of the thrown OFFICE FURNITURE, MATRESSES, chairs, contractors bags filled with garbage etc. All on St. Mary’s property. It sits there for days. Sometimes weeks.

The pastor’s kicked me and Jett and Lilac off his precious church parking lot when I used to walk my pups there (plastic poop bag in hand) in the early a.m. No church service. Just me in my Mom’s New York Yankees baseball cap trying to give my two high energy dogs, both on leads, some exercise in the inner city. A city without a dog park.

The pastor confronted me the last time I walked my mutts, and when I scolded him for not understanding the neighborhood he was smack dab in the middle of and told him Father Madden of St. John’s church, up a few streets, is super great with his neighborhood, actually has programs for the people of the ‘hood, welcomes them … feeds them Rev. Polek said to me in broken English wrapped in a heavy Polish accent: THEN GO TO FATHER MADDEN! Go to him!!!

I said FUCK YOU! then whipped around,  leading Jett and Lilac – they wanted to play with the pastor who just frowned at their exuberance – stormed off! Stormed off his fucking precious church parking lot!

A week later Rev. Polek had about 20 NO TRESPASSING. POLICE TAKE NOTICE  signs posted at the entry of his parking lot, the sides of his parking lot, by the shrine on his parking lot, near the church side of his parking lot… . What’s the Polish word for overkill?! (Rev. Polek!)

But then arrogance superseded nastiness:

Three or so weeks ago, I forget which holiday, the Rev. Polek hauled out the church portable microphones, the speakers, the portable PA system, gold leaf encrusted portable awning and lead a mini church procession around his church parking lot, ending up in front of the church’s shrine. It was warm out, but he was wearing heavy, opulent vestments trimmed in bright red. About 150 parishioners followed him, singing, too. He sang a sad Polish hymn that my mother used to sing around the house when I was a little girl growing up on Lafayette Street. Very plaintive, dark… I cried when I heard that song because it reminded me of Ma and my rough childhood in Green Island. I looked out my kitchen window to watch the Rev. Polek and his tiny flock.

The pageantry was intense and beautiful. It was a sea of people and pretty dresses and bowed heads in the middle of the inner city, surrounded by  tired three deckers, Section 8 housing, poor people, many brown- and black-skinned. It was all in Polish – words and music – not Spanish the way most celebrations in my neighborhood sound.

I struggled with its interpretation: I had never seen anything like this. Was Rev. Polek saying,  Hooray! I’ve got a new parking lot! Screw you poor city people! Look how great and holy we are! Look at my flock! Old, young, babies. We rule this brandy new church parking lot! It’s ours! Not yours! Stay off! Look at us! We are better. We are nothing like you!

Then two or three weeks later, his church is busted into and besides taking money, this outdoor portable PA system that he was using in that parking lot procession was stolen! Ripped off! Nothing else taken! No gold chalice, no gold leafed icon. JUST the PA system that he was using  a few weeks ago – not even flaunting it but he may as well have been – a great outdoor PA system before all the eyes and ears of a  poor BUT MUSIC-OBSESSED community. 

His neighbors, his neighborhood, too.

The recent break in at St. Mary’s is no tragedy, no desecration of a holy space! Jesus, the spirit of Jesus, St. Mary and all the saints and angels, was never there to defile.

And somewhere in the ‘hood there’s a great party going on, the lovely mariachi band sending love through music out to the pretty brown ladies in three deckers, the junkies nodding off in the hallway, the dancers at the backyard party, me writing this story, sweet Jesus up in the city sky!!

Hallelujah!!!

Ron Charette and the South Worcester Neighborhood Center

By Ron O’Clair

I had the distinct pleasure of visiting recently with one of Worcester’s unsung heroes – Mr. Ronald “Ron” Charette, executive director of the South Worcester Neighborhood Center at 47 Camp St., here in Worcester.

While I was there the “Ronald McDonald House”/UMass mobile community healthcare support vehicle was there.

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Ron outside the neighborhood center – standing before the Ronald McDonald House/UMass community healthcare vehicle – a doctor’s office on wheels!

I want our readers to know just what kind of concerned and caring individual Ron Charette is and the many ways he helps the less fortunate in our community. As you may or may not know, Ron administers a food pantry out of the neighborhood center, and I went through the process while there to receive a Price Rite Super Market heavy-duty white plastic bag filled to the top with a variety of foodstuffs, along with milk and cheese. Ron is trying to make a difference in the lives of those members of the South Worcester neighborhood who might otherwise have nothing of nutritional value to eat.

I saw many people come to the food pantry, including a mother and her two teenage children who hailed from Thailand. Her son is enrolled as a senior at South High School and acted as interpreter during the time we were speaking.
  
There were a few others that came to the food pantry, including a gentleman, his wife and daughter. They were displaced from their home at 27 Sigel St., which burned on a brutally cold night this past winter. There were three house fires that night, and I am sure that if the displaced families are reading this, Ron will allow you to access the food bank, as well as any stored supplies they may have, including clothing and personal hygiene supplies.
  
Ron makes sure to do whatever he can to help families in need, and he does not limit his clients to the one time a month rule that many pantries enforce. He believes if people are in need, they are hungry, he is going to help them make it through another month if he has any say about it.

Ron Charette has a new plan of action to address what he sees as a crisis affecting the children of the area: the dangerous habit they have of gaining access to the railroad tracks in the area, which has led to calamity after calamity since I was a boy growing up in that area. When I was a kid we were constantly reminded of the dangers by the example of Charlie Pardee who lost a leg due to having been struck by a train when I was still in grade school. We would see him hobbling on crutches until he got his artificial leg years later.
  
There have been many incidents lately, including a person who thought he would race the train on a motorbike and lost the race – and his life this past January. Ron wants to take the message of railroad track safety to our schools with a presentation that will include a safety talk, along with a video disk showing the dangers up close and personal to prevent more children from having to go through life as Charlie Pardee had to. It generally is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. All of us who grew up near the tracks would at one time or another venture onto the railroad property and even create mischief, like breaking into the box cars to steal beer – a favorite pastime of the Princeton and Lewis Street gang back in my day living there, as well as perhaps to spray paint graffiti on the sides of the box cars. Kids do the darnedest things, and I was no exception.
  
Then there is the danger of simply falling off the wall at the end of Lewis, Princeton and Grand streets, like I did when I was just a preschool toddler and my family lived at 30 Lewis St. One of the Wolfe family, who lived on Lewis Street, saved me from being run over by the train by pulling me out of the way of the oncoming train at the last second. I want to say his name was Billy Wolfe, but time has blurred the memory. I do know he was an older brother of the John Wolfe that I went to school with years later as I grew up there at 28 Princeton St., after my parents divorced.

Railroad safety is no laughing matter, and Ron Charette has plans to raise the awareness of the issue by bringing a presentation with graphic video before as many groups of young people as he can to prevent tragedies. He attended the Main South Alliance for Public Safety Crime Watch meeting held on the third Wednesdays of the month a few months ago, along with myself, councilors Konnie Lukes and Moe Bergman, along with the usual mix of representatives from the various agencies in the City of Worcester, like Sgt. Maddox and Officer Salmon of the Worcester Police Department, and a representative of the railroad to discuss what is new in railroad safety.

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Rear entrance to the neighborhood center, which looks out on Maloney Field.
  
Ron also provides some daycare for the South Worcester Neighborhood Center clients so that working mothers know their children are in good hands while they work or attend classes. There are so many things that Ron is responsible for bringing to the South Worcester neighborhood. You should check out the Center and volunteer or donate gently used clothing or housewares to help Ron make the lives of the area residents better. I believe there should be more of a focus on helping people help themselves as a community united, instead of a community divided.

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The South Worcester Neighborhood Center was originally built through the Works Progress Administration, created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression in the 1930s to put the unemployed to work. The building underwent a major renovation and expansion to become the South Worcester Neighborhood Center. 

Come on down to the South Worcester Neighborhood Center for a tour and see what you can do as an individual to make your own community a better place in which to live!

Questions or feedback? Email ronaldoclair@hotmail.com

The pukes and the beautiful boy

By Rosalie Tirella

Yesterday I extolled the prowess, smarts and high-spiritedness of the WPD Vice Squad re: the Worcester Police Department’s two-state, seven house, multi drug dealer bust. Today I write about the “post-pubescent pukes” – the guys the vice squad arrested, here on Ward Street, a few days ago. The mid-20 somethings who dealt the drugs, drove the luxury vehicles and had “associates” who packed a MACHINE GUN. The guys who lived right next door to me!

Funny thing is, when the guys were my next door neighbors, they didn’t act like pukes. They were always sober, polite, quiet. Unobtrusive. They vacumed their cars in our parking lot, kept the parking lot clean, talked with me when I nagged them about my missing recycling bin (“Did you find my bin? See my bin? I need my bin!!!”) They never played loud music at 3 a.m. and kept me or their other neighbors up at night (like some folks here do), they never yelled or fought with each other outdoors like some of our neighborhood lovelies; they never cussed; they never even nursed a beer on their back porch. They dressed well, too. They could have passed as Worcester State University students – if they hadn’t been part of a drug ring that spanned two states, several drug selling houses, netted a bunch of guns, one machine gun and $777,000 in cash…They could have passed as young entrepreneurs running a garage, a restaurant in the neighborhood, if they weren’t the other kind of entrepreneur up to their earlobes in heroin and cocaine. With their brains and biz know how why didn’t they sell cupcakes instead of coke? Hondas instead of heroin? Yeah, the money wouldn’t have come as easily, but they would have been legit members of the Worcester community, with real friends, a real future. What might have they become if they weren’t selling smack to men, women …

… and teens. “My” teen. I remember last summer, the summer of the beautiful junky, this ethereal young white boy, around 17 years old with a face like a cherub and hair that framed his lovely face like a bonnet, like a sonnet! He was a neighborhood kid, living a few houses down it seemed. And he was deathly pale and sooo skinny. One day he was sitting on the curb waiting for his man. I was walking Lilac and Jett who, as always, were completely nuts and out of control. Naturally, when my dogs saw the boy, sitting on the curb, on their level, they made a mad dash for him, yanking my arm out of my rotar cuff as I held tightly to their leashes.

“LILAC! JETT!!!” I yelled. To no effect. They were next to the boy in 2 seconds, and sweet, silly Lilac was in his lap giving him kisses, head butting him for pats, wagging her tail wildly.

“I’m sorry!” I said to the boy, as I tried to pull Lilac off him.

“No!” said the beautiful boy. “She’s precious!” And he brought Lilac close to him and hugged her deeply. He looked at Lilac the way a young kid would – eye to eye, face to face, with dewy wonder. He was so well spoken! He was such a sweet person! I wanted to say: No! You’re precious! You’re so bright and beautuful and so young and full of love! Why aren’t you in school? Why aren’t you with friends your own age? Don’t your parents see how beautiful and special you are?!

But I kept mum. Lilac kept licking his face, giving him the love his family, society denied him.

Then his man came – tough and street hardened. But he was pleasant to me, didn’t seem too annoyed when Lilac jumped all over him wanting to give HIM kisses! He just looked past her, looked at the boy, who got up, and together they walked up the hill.

These are the people – people like the beautiful young boy sitting on the curb – my next door neighbors destroyed.

Yes, they were, in many ways, the ideal neighbors. If they hadn’t been such killers.

Super cool!!!!!!!

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Rosalie wants to join the WPD Vice Squad – for reasons other than crime-busting!

By Rosalie Tirella

I tell ya, this past week’s drug bust in the house next door to mine, in Worcester’s lower Vernon Hill neighborhood, was a blast! Not a bust! But a blast! All we gawkers/rubberneckers who watched the 15, maybe more, super cops converge on 48 1/2 Ward St. early one pretty spring morning quickly got sucked into the cool cool show and realized the Worcester Police Department Vice Squad and the Mass State Police vice crew are da bomb. Creme de la creme. A #1. Top of the pops. The BEST – ever. Super-Fly-Shaft-Popeye-Doyle deelish! The stuff of early Sly Stallone movies!

Cocky, happy warriors cuz they know they’re the good guys who are out to defeat the bad guys – the whore masters, drug pushers, machine-gun-packing post-pubescent pukes who destroy lives, families and (mostly) our Worcester inner-city neighborhooods.

The kind of men and women (EMTs and fire fighters included!) who pulled America through 9/11.

Trust me: They are worth every cent we taxpayers – mostly cowardly, out-of-shape losers who love to grouse about squandered dough tumbling down the fed/municipal government rabbit hole – pay them.

They’re our inner-city heroes! Never forget that!

You always read about the bad seed – the trigger-happy cop suffering from PTSD. You seldom read about the rest of the troops, the mostly good guys, who are in peak physical and mental shape. Agile of mind and body. The guys who enjoy the freedom and excitement of their jobs, the camaraderie of the investigation – and the raid.

The adreneline junkies!

Out to apprehend the junky junkies!

Like the Worcester vice squad cops who were outside my house a few days ago… They looked so freakin’ AMAZING in their basic tee shirts and jeans, their uniform of the streets. Their clothes fell so beautifully on their bodies because their bodies were beautiful – not an ounce of fat anywhere I could see – hard, sculpted muscles that were worked at and on in THE GYM. EVERY DAY.

Six pack abs, bulging pecs and biceps. Spring in their steps. Shaven heads, too. The guns they wore on the waistbands of their jeans were compact, hard-edged, stream-lined – just like they were. Everything about these guys was urban tough. Cuz they know what they’re up against.

Swoon …

I’ve seen these vice squad guys (and gals) and their German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd drug-sniffing dogs do their work before, usually in our inner city, where poverty, despair, anger, depression, ignorance, emotional, sexual and physical abuse and exploitation of every stripe come together in relentless waves of bad luck and bad happenings.

Most people here never catch a break. They hurt and hurt … and kill each other mindlessly, pointlessly …

You drive through places like my Worcester neigborhood and witness the drug houses, dumped garbage, unemployed young men, obscenity-laced shouting matches playing out in the streets, the condemned buildings, abandoned property, undernourished little kids and feel … oppressed.

There’s beautiful stuff here, too – don’t get me wrong. I live on Ward Street for the beautiful stuff … like the poor parents who dress their little kids up so cute and adorable – transcending the badness … the kids who walk the family chihuahua after coming home from elementary school, in the ugly concrete parking lot, yet they look so happy as they trot alongside their feisty wee pet … The retired lady who picks up the trash strewn on the sidewalk, outside her front door. … My awesome 90-year-old apartment with its high ceilings, solid, heavy dining room doors that come together to slide shut, the original 90-year-old woodwork that is stained dark brown and looks so lovely against my creamy walls. I look out my top floor window at night and see the city lights twinkling like millions of little white flowers cast out onto a deep purple sea. I remember my late mom who grew up near by and her goodness enfolds me like the purple night enfolds the white city flowers …

Back to singing the praises of the Woo PD vice squad!

I’ve seen their Belgian shepherd dog go through a car on Canterbury Street sniffing for drugs. Nothing languid about that dog! A model of tough, lean, intrepid, single-minded thoroughness. With just the slightest prompt from his lean, cool cop handler the dog jumps into the car’s trunk to run his nose over every square millimeter of trunk space. Then jumping out of the trunk, always on lead, he leaps into the back seat sniffing wildly, then lithe paws straddle the front seat sniffing madly – then onto the dashboard. Finally, the car hood is popped open and the dog – smaller and more agile than a German Shepherd dog with an edgier temperment – crawls on top of (the now cold) engine! And he is losing himself in the car’s innards. To get at the drugs. This all happened in around five minutes.

Back to the raid next door to my place! Like I said, watching the Worcester PD Vice Squad or any of the cops and state police who pursue drug dealers and other vice is like watching a big budget cop movie in the cineplex. Only it’s happening in real life, real time, yards away from you!

I watched the show on Ward Street a few days ago: the cops opening up a drug dealer’s car and pulling stuff out of it. Paper work. Floor mats. Clip boards. Some of the guys were taking gulps from their bottled water. All were talking loudly, boisterously. The hood was theirs! The arrests had been made earlier, at a different drug house. There were several houses involved located in two states – there were a bunch of young men involved – all, sadly, in their mid-20s. Thousands of dollars in cash were recovered – and a machine gun, too! (thank you, NRA!) But no one had been hurt. The guns, heroin, cocaine, drug dealers are now gone! Poof! Out of my Ward Street neighborhood! Just like in the movies! (Or, some of them are gone, at the very least)

Our urban cavalry road in and saved the Woo day! Women and children are now a little – maybe a lot – safer when we walk down Ward Street.

And I’ll always remember the playfulness in the voice of one vice squad cop who said good bye to the young lady who had been watching him do his job from HER apartment window: “See ya later, Sweetie!”

Swoon …