Tag Archives: inner-city youth

Worcester news you can use … and a song!🎵


Fun in Recovery!

But we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life.

~Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

We at Jeremiah’s Inn realize the importance of finding ways to have fun in recovery.

We encourage our residents to get involved in the local recovery community and participate in as many activities as they can.

This spring, Jeremiah’s would like to enter a team in the Worcester Sober Softball League, but we need your help!

There are many costs associated with this, from league fees to team shirts and equipment.

We are looking for sponsors to help us offset some of these costs.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of our team, and would like to donate, please contact me (Melissa) and I can fill you in on how you can help.

Help us show our residents that it is possible, and essential even, to have some fun in recovery!

Warmest Regards,

Melissa Waddell


photo: Chef Joey

Cooking Up a Career!🍦🍞🍰

Obtain skills to become an entry level prep cook!🍅🍆🌽

For Ages 17 – 24 years

Out of School or in Alternative School

Paid Internship!!🍉🍇


Jan 31st – Mar 7th
Tues, Wed, Thurs
2pm – 5pm

Mar 13th – Mar 17th
Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri
11am – 3pm


Worcester Youth Center
326 Chandler St.

Demario Andrews



Gordon P. Hargrove (1)
Gordon Hargrove, executive director of Friendly House, and man with a heart of gold!

Friendly House
36 Wall St.
Open to ALL!

FRIENDLY HOUSE – at a glance!

By Danielle Delgado

When you think of Friendly House, what images come to mind? A small Social Service Agency in Grafton Hill? A place where people can go to get food, or youth to play basketball? Those
are only a few of the many amazing things that happen at Friendly House, located at 36 Wall St. For over 97 years
Friendly House has been a facet in the Grafton Hill Community. Growing from what was literally a small house to
its current ever changing location
still on Wall Street.

2016 was a year of enhancement, helping, productivity and healthy living for
Friendly House.

During 2016, Friendly House served well over 10,000 children, individuals and
families in some capacity.

These services included:

Youth Programs – Afterschool Program,
Teen Leadership, Summer Gym and Swim and Youth Hoops, Family Events & Programs

Social Services – emergency food, immigration support, translations,
utility assistance,coat and clothing distributions

Food Program – summer feeding sites, afterschool program and community feeding sites

Shelters … and 40 scatter site apartments

2016 at a glance includes:

Gymnasium Renovation

On November 1, 2016, we opened up ours door to a completely renovated gymnasium. Over 75,000 was raised to complete this project which included; a new floor, bleachers, wall padding,a dividerand paint.

Our gymnasium hosted numerous events over the course of the year but may commonly known as the site for our:

Annual Christmas Party, Community Halloween Party, Thanksgiving Food Distribution, Annual Coat Distribution, Grafton Street School community events and Summer Gym & Swim Program.

Over 6,000 people passed through our gymnasium this year to enjoy these
activities and events!

Thanksgiving Food Distribution

This year we distributed 921 turkey baskets (187,295 lbs of food) to over 3,400 people – thanks to the hard
work of many people, including WPI’s Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, the Sheriff’s Office, the City of
Worcester, Fallon Health, Worcester County Church of Christ and so many more who donated food/money to benefit the many families we served.

Summer Gym & Swim

Summer 2016 hosted over 250 children age 5-16 from all over Greater Worcester. The summer was high-lighted by themed activities, guest appearances from
Boston Bruin Alumni, Worcester Railers Mascot and book authors and various other special events. Each day
consisted of a new adventure either in our building or at the state parks.

After School & Teen Program

The Afterschool and Teen Programs provided services to over 250 participants each school year. During this time the youth were actively engaged in recreational, leadership, academic and community service programs.
Highlights included theaddition on the F.U.N (Fitness and Understanding Nutrition) Program which was
sponsored by our partnership with the Herbalife Family Foundation.

Additionally we hosted family celebrations and informational sessions.

Set for Success

Over 75 children were given a brand new backpack filled with all the necessary school supplies to start off
their school year with a SUCCESSFUL state of mind!

These supplies were donated through various school supply drives, headed by community supporters and partners. In addition supplies were purchased with
funds donated to the Set for Success Program

Social Services

Social Services assisted 7,787 people/families with food from our Food Pantries, gave 599 people baby food, assisted 1,763 people with Immigration applications, completed 598 document translations, distributed Farmer’s Market Coupons to 1,200 low income elderly.

… Friendly House has enjoyed 97 years
of helping to build up the Grafton Hill community and our city, Worcester! We look forward to enhancing all aspects of our agency in 2017! Thank you to all who helped make each step possible!



By Terry Reid

Help our kids be great! The Worcester Boys and Girls Club fall wish list!


Boys & Girls Club of Worcester
65 Tainter St.

Our Fall Wish List:

Services/ Capital Improvements

Floors for Kid’s Café, Education Center, Games Room, and Teen Center
Painting our program rooms
HVAC, plumbing, and carpentry (professionals in these fields can donate their time, materials, etc.)
Swimming pool vacuum
Snow Plowing

Bean bag chairs
Colorful throw rugs
Flat screen television for the games room, School Aged Child Care program, and our Plumley Village outreach site
Athletic Equipment

Yoga mats
Rubber balls (to be used for 4 square, dodge ball)
soccer balls
Soccer goal nets
boxing gloves and tape
swim towels and goggles
Whiffle ball set
Jump ropes
Hula Hoops
Outdoor Chalk
Educational Tools

Digital/ disposable cameras
iPads/Surface (to be used for school projects, book reports, college & job applications)
Loose leaf paper
Educational workbooks (k-4th grade)
Flashcards (foreign language, math, English)
SAT prep books
Smart boards
Wii/PlayStation & flat screen TV (for educational and fitness purposes)
Plain t-shirts
Arts & Crafts Supplies

Tempera paint
Colored pencils
Clay/ Play dough
Sketch books
construction paper, copy paper, and origami paper
Glue (large bottles)
Paste and glue sticks
Paint mixing stick


Vernon Hill – you-know-what raffle – Sunday, March 20

Text and photos by Ron O’Clair

1st Photograph:


State Senator Mike Moore and Richard “Dick” Castle who was with the Air National Guard on Skyline Drive. I have known Dick since the days he was a customer of my Father’s Texaco Station of 544 Millbury St. – back when Jimmy Carter was President and there was the Fuel Embargo, with people only able to get gas on odd or even days, according to the last number on your license plate!

2nd Photo:


This photograph shows a lucky winner with three live lobsters from the Lobster Table. It was the only table I missed when I went out to get a smoke.

3rd Picture:


This photo shows the lucky winner (myself!), with a Budderball 13/19 bone in ham that I chose from the last table after missing my chances at the lobsters by going out to see if my friend Gary Osher needed anything. He was waiting in my rented 2016 Nissan Sentra. I rented it from Enterprise Rental because my 1991 antique Volkswagen Golf GL is on the fritz. Then: Someone hit and run the rented Nissan the night before! Parked in front of my house! Good thing I opted for the insurance, or I would be on the hook for $3,000 in damages on the rental.

4th Photograph:


This photo shows the last table that has my Butter Ball Ham on it.

5th Photograph:


This picture shows the Menard family and their five children. The kids benefit from the South Worcester Baseball League run by Tom L’Ecuyer and Bill Guinette out of Maloney’s Field on Cambridge Street. That’s what this meat raffle was for – to help pay for uniforms, equipment, snacks, etc for the teams – comprised of South Worcester kids.

There was a good turnout. The 50/50 raffle paid the winner $224. So that was another $224 that went directly to the South Worcester Baseball League!

The tickets I bought amounted to $20 – out of pocket, for a good cause, at 6 tickets for $5. For each table I was there for including the 50/50 raffle.

I did alright winning the ham, and had I won the 50/50 raffle, I would have donated the proceeds to the baseball league! It is a very worthwhile thing to support our youth sports programs here in the City of Worcester!

March Baseball Registration Announcement 2016

We ran this story on Gordon Hargrove of the Friendly House a few years ago in InCity Times …

… As the community comes together this week – JUNE 26! – to honor the man at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel center (on Shrewsbury Street) FOR HIS 50 YRS OF SERVICE TO THE FRIENDLY HOUSE and Worcester, I wanted to re-post the piece. Go, Gordon, go!!!  – R. T.


By Rosalie Tirella

When my sisters and I were kids, I was known as the smart one (OK, sometimes the “too smart” one as in smarty pants) and my younger sisters, great kids – both of them much kinder than I ever was/will be – were known as … . And that was the trouble. They were identical twins and lumped together by my harried mom (sometimes) and the kids in our neighborhood (always). To many folks, they were an amalgam of (identical) haircuts, school uniforms (they attended St. Mary’s on Richland Street – same class, same nuns, even same grades (B’s). They were quiet. They were, as my mom liked to say, “obedient.” They shared the same bedroom in our three-decker apartment. It was painted pink and pink and white plastic drapes – the kind of drapes you hung in your home if you were poor, the kind my mom bought at White’s Five and Ten on Millbury Street. But we loved Mrs. and Mr. White, the store’s owners because they were always so nice and polite to my mom and her “three girls,” and the drapes were festive – like party decorations! – so I loved the twins’ room. The twins were called “the twins” by everyone – except my Uncle Joe, an elementary school principal, who called them – and me – “Peanuts” – because we were much smaller than my cousins, Uncle Joe’s strapping, Polish off-spring, and Charles Schultz “Peanuts” comic strip was all the rage back then.

The twins began to differentiate when my sister – I’ll call her by her nickname “Trina” – started going to the Friendly House after school. Every day Trina made her way to the Wall Street human service agency, that didn’t seem like a human service agency to her and hundreds of other inner-city kids because they were having so much fun, to play hoop. Besides getting after-school snacks and homework help at the Friendly House, kids could join one of the many sports teams that were always looking to recruit new neighborhood kids. None of the children – most poor, including my sis – ever thought of the teams as society’s clever way of keeping them “off the streets.” It was just cool to go to the Friendly House.
Trina fell in love with basketball in Friendly House’s most excellent gym. The gym was (and still is) great. Court foul lines neatly painted, basketball hoop net white and strong. Balls new and if not new – solid and the kind the pros used (I forget the name). The young men and women who “ran” the gym (because kids were/are always supervised by Friendly House staff) were knowledgeable and encouraging. Trina played learned how to do lay-up shots, hook shots and shoot balls from the black line almost at the middle of the gym. She practiced at the Friendly House, she practiced at school. Whoosh went the Friendly House basketball as it left Trina’s hands and made its way down through the basketball hoop’s net. Whoosh went Trina’s personality. She became happier. She became more self-confident. She became a jock.

Trina could do anything faster and higher than anyone in our family. She could run faster, walk faster; she could play baseball in the sandlot next door with the neighborhood boys – including then-young Richy Gedman, who lived down the street from us and who could always hit the baseball on to or over the roof of the big, gray six-family three decker-six – two big lots away. “Get back!” the kids would scream when Richy (now the Worcester Tornadoes coach) got up to bat! Rich Gedman respected my sister Trina 1. because she was a good kid and 2. she could really play ball!

Trina also ran the Friendly House races during the famous Friendly House Block Parties. The neighborhood race began in front of the Friendly House and was the apex of Friendly House celebration, with ribbons and trophies galore. The winners felt like heroes. Black, brown and white kids competed together and celebrated together. The block parties were big Grafton Hill/East Side hooplas where poor kids and adults felt like big shots and had a blast.

And when Trina went to college she worked a few summers at the Friendly House as a staffer in the Summer Program, where sports, arts and crafts and even day trips to local state parks, made the summer go buy in a snap for hundreds of Worcester kids.

Here it is, three decades later, and I can still remember some of the best times of my sister’s youth. Here it is, three decades later, and the executive director of the Friendly House in the late 1970s – the man behind the miracles – Gordon Hargrove – is still the executive director of the Friendly House. The Friendly House Summer Program continues, the Friendly House sports teams still reign, the Friendly House gym is still home to kids like my sister, kids whose hoop dreams give them a reason to be happier, healthier people. The Friendly House gym is older but still sports a great floor and crisply painted basketball court boundary lines. The youth workers are still cool and jocky.

Many more programs – the Friendly House chorus, St.Patrick’s Day float, computer room to name just a few – have been added to the social service agency, which has also served adults for decades. And Hargrove has expanded the Friendly House’s role in the community to include these Worcetser gems: the Friendly House Shelter, The Frances Perkins Homeless shelter, 28-30 Aetna Street Transitional Program, the Interfaith Hospitality Network, the Quinsigamond Villlage Community Center, Elder Outreach Program Albanian Outreach Program, Food Services/Chidren’s Meals and even this past summer’s Wheels to Water program.

This means even more Worcester families – not just the ones who live close by the Friendly House – are supported by Hargrove and his dedicated staff of case workers, kitchen workers, secretaries, janitors, translators, youth workers and volunteers. Hargrove has always been there to help Worcester. Whenever the city found itself at the brink of a societal ill – our city manager or mayor knew he or she could always call Hargrove, and the human service agency powerhouse that is the Friendly House would step up to the plate and do the right thing. And Worcester would keep feeling like a big small town instead of the second-largest city in New England. The blow of yet another social ill would be softened for Worcester, keeping it from becoming the next Hartford or Springfield.


Yet the Friendly House had the humblest of beginnings – a kind of settlement house for Syrian and Lebanese immigrants. In fact, they named it “ “ in Arabic, meaning “friendly place.” A place that welcomed them and helped them start new lives in America. “It started on 27 Norfolk Street, two-story, barracks building,” Hargrove says. “What happened was people got off [the trains] at Union Station and they walked to Shrewsbury Street. Shrewsbury Street became crowded, so they walked to” Wall Street/Norfolk Street.

And from the get-go, says Hargrove, The Friendly House strived to be of the neighborhood – not for it. “The Friendy House was and is a part of the neighborhood – not something that is superimposed,” Hargrove says. “For example, [the Friendly House] building was designed by the neighborhood people.”

And it provided them with the services they said they needed. “We had the first pre-school dental clinic that opened in the United States,” Hargrove says. It was staffed by volunteers from the Worcester Dental Society. It was, since it began as a settlement house that was primarily run by women, a place where women and their concerns (family) mattered. Besides the dental clinic for the children, a public health nurse stopped by the Friendly House to give booster shots. Arts and crafts classes were offered, as well as cooking, sewing and other “home economic” classes.
“In those days,” Hargrove says, “neighborhoods were defined by ethnicity. Friendly House was another neighborhood asset. … In 1934, there was a neighborhood newsletter, ‘The Blue Triangle.’ ” But since it was part of the “Settlement House” movement of the early 20th century, the Friendly House was, in a way, political – empowering immigrants, combating the ill effects of industrialization/factory life, such as horrible accidents and grinding poverty. The first Friendly House was run by Worcester’s Civic League, the Worcester Department of Public Health, volunteers and later Worcester’s women’s league, then the Community Chest (forerunner to the United Way). The United Way took over and then finally, The Friendly House became a separate non-profit, receiving much funding from the now firmly established United Way and the federal and state governments. Money, grants and support also came from the City of Worcester.


Time marched on and Worcester’s neighborhoods changed. One of the biggest changes Hargrove sees: poor families are much more mobile these days. Back in the 1920s or 1930s, up to the 1950s, people could be poor, but they stayed in the same apartments. Kids got to know their neighborhoods well and a sense of community sprang up. Contrast that to today. Hargrove tells of how he lead classes where he asked little kids to draw their neighborhoods. He said in old days many of the children would draw their homes, school, Friendly House and then corner stores or their friends’ houses or places where their parents or their friends’ parents worked. Today, Hargrove says, its “school, Friendly House and the railroad tracks. … We’ve seen the negative effects of mobility on school children.”

Then Hargrove draws his breath and his eyes widen: “There was on family who moved seven times in one year.”
Hargrove says what most Worcester teachers and principals know: that most of the children in a Worcester Public Elementary School – say Chandler Street near downtown – don’t “graduate” from the school they entered as kindergartners. Often it’s only one or two kids who spend the entire seven years (grades K through 6) at the same elementary school. Contrast that to when I was a kid at Lamartine Street School – one of Worcester’s earliest (labeled) inner-city kids. Yeah, we were all poor but we were a community. I went through Lamartine Street School with pretty much the same group of kids that populated my kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. Lots of us lived in the same three-decker apartments on Lodi, Seigel, Ellsworth, Meade and Scott streets. For years. It was nice.

Now it’s not so nice. Monthly rents can be as high as $850, and it’s downhill as families scramble to pay for utilities, food, clothing, transportation and other necessities. Says Hargrove: “Families move into a place thinking they can afford the rent, but if utilities are separate and [other bills mount], that can be a major problem.” Safety is also a reason why families move. “They feel unsafe in their neighborhoods,” Hargrove says. “Sometimes there are drug dealers living in the apartment complex. Sometimes there’s bullying. Other times it’s the condition of the apartment. Some places are not good.” Hargrove recalls kids telling him that they heard someone knocking late at night at their neighbor’s door and that’s because they are buying drugs from their neighbor. Hargrove recalled an apartment being divided up into multi-minny units – some of the spaces without a toilet or bathroom. He called Worcester’s Code Enforcement Department. He moved the families out of the literal shit-holes.

Hargrove says today, Friendly House is in the shelter biz. He wants to move into the hous8ing biz, with Friendly House buying and rehabbing homes for low-income first-time home buyers or Friendly Housing owning three deckers or apartment complexes and renting them at reasonable rates to low-income families.

Hargrove also sees new immigrants coming to Friendly House for food, clothing and social services. “We have people from Africa, Brazil, Central America, South America,” Hargrove says. “One of the things I felt was extremely important was to spend some time in the countries of origin of our families – Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.”


In the first half of the 20th century, right up to the 1960s, Friendly House didn’t have to make finding Grafton Hill/East Side residents jobs a high priority. Worcester was an industrial powerhouse – world famous because of all its factories. Wyman-Gordan, Norton, H. H. Brown Shoes, Morgan’s, Washburn-Garfield, Crompton and Knowles, American Steele. These factories and mills were hungry for immigrant man – and during World War II – woman-power. And you didn’t need to have special training. Often it was basic on-the-job learning. You got your foot in the door, worked hard and steadily, and maybe someday you could be a factory foreman, with your own little home and car to show for your industriousness.
“Washburn and Garfield had the biggest wire-drawing mill!” Hargrove says. “Not in the country – but in the world!”
Hargrove continues: “The other day I was crossing the street and some kids came up to me and said, ‘We don’t have jobs.’ This is my concern.”

Hargrove not only wants to help train the workers of tomorrow, he wants something more concrete: he wants to be able to plug in specific people into specific jobs. One person = to his or her own job. “We partnered with Jamesbury,” Hargrove says. “ We partnered with a factory that made tools. The idea being that we would sit and work with individuals.”
The nation’s 10 percent unemployment rate is one reason why so many inner-city youths find work in the “underground economy” Hargrove says. Drugs, drug selling – it’s a job. A job that may lead to your (violent) death but also to money – and status, in some groups.

Unemployment or under-employment, paying high rents, and other challenges, lead to, among other things, hunger. Hargrove says: “Twenty years ago, 30 people a month would come in [to the Friendly House] for food. Now it’s 700. This Thanksgiving, 1,200 families received turkeys and food assistance [from the Friendly House].”

This winter, Hargrove had a coat drive. “This winter 927 people were given winter coats,” he says. “This was unheard of in the past. … In some cases, in the past, many families would be there and help their own. But if you’re detached from your family, the agency has become the extended family.”


No matter what’s in store for Worcester’s inner-city families, The Friendly House will always be there for them. Hargrove says the 90’th anniversary of his beloved Friendly House is the perfect time to plan for a Friendly House for the 21’st century. “This building [on Wall Street] was built in 1972. … We’d like to rze this building and build a bigger one on the site. Make it a green [technology] one, too.” One special use for a new Friendly House – a building to be used by Worcetser in any kind of emergency flooding, ice storms, national and local disasters. “People will be able top come here and be fed, sleep … .” Hargrove says. He also wants more room for food for the poor and clothing and baby clothing and items. “We want adequate meeting space for the neighborhood. There have been weddings here. There have been Christening, funeral services, church services … .”

A day care with larger play areas would be wonderful, as well as separate rooms for the teens. A bigger and better kitchen would be great, too. “We served 140,000 meals this summer!”

Look for special monthly Friendly House events. Hargrove wants to do something really special for the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. He has just donated hundreds of historic Friendly House photos and memorabilia to the Worcester Historical Museum and hopes to have a special Friendly House exhibit at the museum so that Worcesterites can see its grow from a teeny house on Norfolk Street to the City of Worcester’s super-human service agency, a neighborhood settlement house that became the city’s settlement house.

This anniversary, there will be much singing by The Friendly House Chorus and much dancing – by all! But most important, in the words of Hargrove: “By the end of 2010, we want to have in place a date when we can say officially we will start our activities for a new building.”

Amen to that, Gordon.