Tag Archives: Lincoln Street

Grant Park: ribbon cutting at last!

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Late summer bloomers… pic:R.T.

By Edith Morgan

It was touch and go for a little while on Saturday, August 6th: the skies opened up and a sudden shower soaked us as we loaded things into the car at 10 a.m. to take to the picnic at Grant Park. We DID have a rain date set up for Sunday, but a quick phone call to Wini, the moving spirit and co-chair of the Green Hill Neighborhood Association, with Deb Bolz, assured me that the event would go on as planned. And sure enough, the sky cleared, and we proceeded!

This was a long-awaited event, and even though there are still a few pieces missing in the park’s improvements, it was really time to celebrate how far we had come, and how much was already accomplished.

So, at noon, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place – with a large number of Worcester officials and elected officials participating. Our mayor Joe Petty, City Manager Ed Augustus, our District Councilor Candy Mero-Carlson, our previous longtime councilor Phil Palmieri, School Committee member John Monfredo, Councilor Kate Toomey, State Representative Mary
Keefe, State Senator Harriette Chandler, newly appointed Worcester Police Chief Steve Sargent – and Lt. Governor Karen Polito – (did I omit anyone?) all came to help cut the ribbon and say a few words to the assembled neighbors.

Several of them said: When Wini calls, everyone comes!

And therein lies a story: Although Wini has not lived here all her life, in the time she has been here, she has been an unyielding champion for, and advocate, for her neighborhood, its children and its inhabitants. Noting that there was a great concentration of social service agencies, Wini and Deb invited them to participate in our neighborhood and help in its improvement – and help they did!

Grant Park was for many years just a weed-infested block, with a basketball court at one end, often strewn with litter and drug paraphernalia, pretty much neglected and uncared for.

But Wini, owning a home right across the street from this park, was determined that this park should become a jewel in the area: playground equipment, fencing, retaining walls, benches – all sorts of amenities needed to make this park a gathering place for all ages in this community.

The Regional Environmental Council created garden plots there, and money was appropriated while Phil Palmieri was our city councilor. With constant pressure from Wini and her neighbors, finally a state-of-the art park was created. And this summer it was one of the sites for the city’s summer recreation program, RECREATION WORCESTER.

After the ribbon cutting, the picnic began in earnest: hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, soda, water and various hot dishes and salads as well as Table Talk pies for everyone were in plentiful supply – and lots of volunteers from the area, who passed out food and drinks, set up tables and chairs, and kept everything clean and tidy.

Around the periphery, tables set up by Lt. Annie of the police department, as well as Niko from the election commission giving out voter information, the USDA booth about the Asian longhorned beetle, and other displays to inform neighbors were there.

And for the younger children, Annie Parsnips, the clown, made balloon animals and with the able assistance of neighborhood residents, painted faces.

There is still work to be done at Grant Park, and perhaps by next August, we can celebrate the installation of the lights.

Our thanks to all who contributed, who helped, who attended – who supplied food and music (I am remiss in not having gotten the name of our disc jockey!!). And most of all, thanks to Winifred – Wini – Octave and Debra Bolz, without whose persistence and belief in the goodness of our neighborhood all this would not have been accomplished!

Green Hill Park Revisited

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pic:R.T.

By Edith Morgan

In 1993, when our neighborhood organizations first got together, one of our big concerns was the condition of Green Hill Park. We really did not know very much about it, but since it was so close, and so big, we set about getting better acquainted with it. There was the golf course, of course, and a buffalo pen, lots of woodland, a “farm “ featuring some farm animals – mostly sheep, chickens, and in the spring, piglets – and of course, the llamas. The Air National Guard base was there, still guarding us 50 years after the end of World War II – and two huge water towers dominating the hill overlooking the landfill, where the quarry had been.
The city operated a mulching operation next to the “farm,” where people from all over the city could bring their brush. Skyline Drive was being used as a cut-through between Lincoln and Belmont streets . The city had pretty much let these 500 acres go to seed, and the golf course was basically an inexpensive old timers’ club, a 120-acre grassy expanse on the northeast side of the park.

But in the nineties, a number of events conspired to bring the park to our attention. One of my neighbors found an old paper that detailed the agreement between he city and the Green Family members who had sold this huge property to Worcester in 1905 – at a ridiculously low price!!- with the stipulation that at least 400 acres of it would always be available to the people of Worcester as a park. We were informed that legally the city was no longer bound by that agreement, as it was a requirement that to keep this agreement in force, a letter would have had to be sent to the city after every 50 years to renew this requirement. Unfortunately, the Green family had not renewed the agreement; but we made the MORAL argument that the city still had an obligation to live up to the responsibility it had to preserve this great property for the use of ALL the people. And this is what happened.

Now, nearly 15 years later, the change in Green Hill Park is truly heartwarming: I drove through the park twice recently, to re-acquaint myself with all its features and to enjoy what it now has to offer.

Most noticeable is the fact that there are now so many people using the park! Driving in from Green Hill Parkway, which is one-way from Lincoln Street, we stopped at Memorial Grove, where a young family was blowing soap bubbles for their young child, and watching the rainbow-colored bubbles float out over the hill. We admired the two well-manicured monuments on the left side of the street, and drove down toward the Vietnam War soldiers memorial, with its beautifully landscaped walkways, the pond, and the enormous granite stones aat one end engraved with letters from young soldiers who did not return, and the plaza at the other end, containing the names of all the fallen ones engraved in stone – a memorial visited by many people from many places. It is a site to be visited often, and wonderfully quieting and serene.

Opposite the memorial, the pond offers a great area for picnics, walks, runs, even fishing. Groups of all kinds gather under the roof of the pavilion, now restored and flanked by a plaza with flowers and benches, overlooking the pond.

Further down the road, we come to the newly fenced-in farm and the community gardens, with new buildings (I did not have a chance to go in and see what they contained – that will be for another trip!). Then we come to a new children’s playground, with its own parking lot, and proceed down through a wooded area, and we come upon a new baseball field.

Going on, we come upon the shared facility where now are the offices of the Parks Department. Traveling down the road, past newly painted handball courts, we see on our right, the finally properly capped landfill area, where there are now playing fields shared by the nationally famous Worcester Technical Vocational School, and the people of the city, as this area as still part of the park.

Going down the street, we come to the light at Belmont Street – and we finish our tour of Green Hill Park. We have been very fortunate to have had the support and eternal vigilance of not only the Green Hill Park Coalition, but also of the Worcester City Council.

I am not always certain that the people of Worcester fully appreciate what a great jewel this park is and how very fortunate we are to have it – and that we have so many people willing to watch over its use and to make sure we preserve and enhance it.

Lincoln Street’s Genesis Club celebrates its 25th birthday!

By Edith Morgan

It could happen to any of us, at any age. Rich or poor, or white, African-American, Hispanic, or Asian….And as a matter of fact, it DOES happen to more than 44 million Americans, or nearly one in five adults. And when it does, they suffer an 85% unemployment rate, and tend to live twenty-five years less than the average in America.

This vast number of people suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder and need our help. In the past too often mental illness has been shrouded in ignorance, fear, and avoidance. But I am glad to be able to write about a great, unusual, creative effort in our midst, helping persons recovering from mental illness – and providing a model for others to follow as they attempt to help people return to productive, healthy lives.

Twenty-five years ago, on September 15th, 1988, with its present director at the helm, Genesis Club opened in our neighborhood. From small beginnings, in one older building, the club has grown to its present size at 274 Lincoln Street, Worcester, where the facility now houses four floors dedicated to all the activities needed to run the club. I have enjoyed many a good lunch in the club cafeteria, and neighborhood groups have held meetings there, and enjoyed concerts also. The walls display paintings and other art work done by club members, and any time I have visited, there is always a great bustle of activities, in the many rooms and offices on all floors. Computers, meetings, conferences and all sorts of activities take place all day Monday through Friday, with club members and staff busily running programs and participating in all the activity.

Genesis has a wide outreach into the larger community: in 2013, 160 members were employed at 84 different places, and earned $1,287,661.00. Depending on the level at which members can work, there are various kinds of employment, from transitional, to supported, to independent – and there are educational opportunities also: in 2013, 92 students were enrolled in degree or vocational programs, , 77 at the college or university level; 15 were in GED or high school programs, and twenty-two received Sidney Baer scholarships.

In 2013, 762 individuals recovering from mental illness took part in the Genesis program. An average of 93 members participated on each work day, Monday through Friday. Of those, 161 were new members. One hundred sixty-four found employment with Genesis’ community partners performing a variety of jobs in area businesses.

All of these initiatives have not gone unnoticed, and Genesis serves s an international training center for teams of professionals who want to implement the club model in their own programs: most recently, trainees came from such varied places as Norway, Cape Breton,( Canada), Miami, (Florida).The training program was so successful that Genesis recently moved to a larger training facility home, “Chandler house” and sold its facility on Shaffner Street. I was sad to see them move, as they had been good neighbors (I live just around the block) and had maintained it well….

In the past year, Kevin Bradley, Genesis director, received two prestigious awards: the Renaissance Award from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, and the Public Service Award from the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

All the recognition has not slowed down the drive to innovate and improve the Genesis programs: there is an active “young adult” support group, with 101 active members; in keeping with trends around the country, Genesis has embarked on a wellness program, focusing on various aspects of good health: nutrition gets regular attention, and the cafeteria serves salads and other good foods. A new smoking cessation program is in effect, one which has been replicated throughout the U.S. And plans are being made to start a community garden, with the goal of raising many of their own vegetables – while learning valuable lessons and skills needed to be successful gardeners.

Needless to say, all this takes funding- and Genesis has an active Board of Directors who help to achieve its mission:…”to improve the lives of those in recovery from mental illness. This is accomplished by providing opportunities to attain education, employment, housing, wellness, and friendship.”

Of the Genesis operating funds, over $800.000 came from the Department of Mental Health, and over #300,000 from Housing funding ( I did not mention that another of the Genesis initiatives is to find proper housing for those club members needing it)) – but donations from sponsors and individuals account for many more funds. Genesis has two main large fund-raising events each year: a Gala event, in the fall, where its “Building Dreams” benefit receives many donations, large and small. And the second fund-raiser, coming up in August, is participation in the 42nd Falmouth Road Race, taking place on August 17, 2014. Last year’s participants raised $40,000. Hopefully, this year’s Team Genesis can top that!!

If our readers want to participate and help Genesis with this program, while raising awareness of the need for this program, here are the details: You can obtain more information, or get a registration form from Genesis Club, at 274 Lincoln Street, Worcester, MA 01605; or visit www.genesisclub.org, or by e-mailing Kevin Bradley, kbradley@genesisclub.org. The phone number is 508-831-0100, ext.30.

Each team member must raise a minimum of $1,000 b September 1, 2014 (that is the required minimum for running with a non-profit) This is a wonderful opportunity to do something healthy and aid a very worthy cause….

I have lived in this neighborhood since 1967, and have watched Genesis grow and develop over the years, have met some of the club members and staff, and seen the good that has been done, year after year. Genesis staff and members have helped us with community projects, helped with past Earth Days, came to Brittan square block parties, and lived in various places in our neighborhood. I have seen numerous ones blossom out and take their places in the community. I have always been very impressed with the air of cooperation and helpfulness that pervades the place when one enters there. How far we have come from the old ways of dealing with mental illness, and how satisfying it must be for all those associated with this program to see it grow and succeed in supporting the efforts of those who come through the doors of Genesis and find a haven there where they can spread their wings, make friends, and go out into the world strengthened and hopefully, joyously.

Worcester’s Brittan Square neighborhood – greatest little neighborhood in the city!

By Edith Morgan

I came to live in the Brittan Square Neighborhood in November 1967 –bought one of the wonderfully gracious old houses (built in 1890) for a song, and settled in .  Of course, it needed some work, but it was well worth it ; with its beautiful woodwork, nine-foot ceilings, and spacious rooms, we soon had it looking nearly palatial.

And as I got to know the area better, I realized that we had here the best of all possible worlds in a small area, with birth-to-death facilities and all things in between.

Once upon a time the Nipmuc Indians roamed here, fishing and hunting. Then settlers came and in 1674-1675 established the first settlement of what eventually became Quinsigamond, later renamed Worcester. Driving down the streets of the neighborhood we still see the names of the early arrivals – Henchman, Green , Chadwick, McKinley – and so many others…and the two-room structures became Greek Revival Cottages and then Queen Anne-style homes, replaced by the three-deckers still to be seen all around, especially on Paine Street. Now of course the trolley cars that went to Lincoln Square are   gone, and the trains are just trying a comeback, while the canal that connected Worcester with Providence still flows above ground here and there.

But change continues, and in the 45 years I have been here much has happened: while the boundaries of our neighborhood still extend from Green Hill Park to the Expressway, and to Green Hill Parkway, stores and homes and roads have changed hand and appearance. Yet this is still a microcosm of the larger world. I have often said that if all the rest of the world disappeared tomorrow, we still would have a whole world here to fulfill our needs from birth to death:

Take a trip with me, and see what we have here: coming up Lincoln Street from Lincoln Square, traveling steeply uphill on one of Worcester’s longest and most varied streets, we cross Greenhill Parkway, which leads straight uphill to the city’s largest park with over 500 original acres, containing our 120-acre municipal golf course, the State’s Vietnam Memorial, and some reminders of the city’s past neglect and misuse of this treasure ( two huge water towers, and an abandoned quarry that the Green family had left for the use of all the public). Then there is the “Farm” with its greenhouse,  community gardens, and petting zoo; and miles of trails, wooded and wild areas, , playgrounds and athletic fields – the Air National Guard base, now shared by the Parks and Recreation Department – and our newest achievement: the best and newest technical high school in the State, right at the entrance to the Park on the other side from our neighborhood.

Many small and large businesses make their home between the Parkway and the Expressway: We have lawyers, doctors, Brazilian and Spanish food, small clothing stores, a dollar store, karate studio, insurance, liquor store, Pub, barber shop, pizza parlor, gas station, Laundromat, and an ever-changing array of store-front enterprises who come and try their luck at running a small business. Storefront religious groups rent a space for a time, and either move on or quietly fade away.

We no longer have a family-owned ”drug store”, but CVS supplies us with our prescriptions; Counihan’s hardware store is gone, but the building houses several other small businesses. And perhaps the only old-time watch repairman ,Norman Robert finally succumbed a few short years ago, not replaced  in this age of digital watches and clocks. But you can still go around the corner at McKinley and Lincoln and get tee shirts stenciled at Cocoon Graphics.

The two “anchors” in the Brittan Square district are Riley’s and the North End Market.  The Rileys are legend in our neighborhood; Paul started out on the other side of Lincoln Street, making hamburgers at Louie’s, and then opened up his own restaurant across the street when Louie left for Florida.  And so many years later, there is always at least one  Riley working there, in a wonderfully homey and friendly place where so many neighbors and friends get together. There were Rileys here when I came, and I imagine they will be here when I am gone -. Still so much part of the fabric of this place.

The North End Market has changed hands several times, but it is a testament to the vitality of our neighborhood that it is still going well, providing the goods and services that we want, right here.

When I moved here, I was surrounded by Irish Catholic families, with six or seven children; St.Bernard’s Catholic Church, rising high above the corner of Harlow and Lincoln, was the center of much activity. On my street, there were also several Armenian families, and a few more on Uxbridge, and in triple deckers on Woodland Street, which is now a parking lot for Hahnemann Hospital – which was then a full-service hospital. I used to say that with the emergency room , pediatric ward, and other medical services, and the Nordgren Funeral Chapel and services right there at the corner of my street, I truly ad biarth-to-death service immediately available.

There have always been three churches here: in addition to St Bernard’s Catholic Church, further down near the beginning of Burncoat Street, stands Adams Square Congregational, and right across Gilman Street from Riley’s, stands one of the oldest Worcester Baptist churches, still active.

Our neighborhood is also home to the second largest concentration of social services (Main South is first). Yet we have coexisted with little friction, few people wandering through would be aware that we serve so many different kinds of needs in this small area. We are home to one of the better known and innovative services, Genesis Club, celebrating their 25th year here, and occupying a large, well-refurbished home right on Lincoln Street, but also offering training to groups from all around the world who want to emulate the successful model used here. All ages and all levels of problems are addressed by the various agencies here in Lincoln, from SMOC to You, Inc., all integrated into the community.

Let’s go down Harlow Street, past what was once our community school, grades 1 to 6, and stop at the factory building a the end, just before the street becomes “Crescent”. Housed there are numerous artist studios, potters on the first floor, a “Stitchers’ Gallery, and a large exhibit and performance hall on the top floor where we can see and hear artistic works by our own artists. Take a right off Harlow into New Street, past all the  new homes there, and you will eventually reach a hidden treasure: the only glass-blowing studio around here – where I once took a workshop and made a lovely glass bowl… And if this kind of art is not what you want, come up back onto Lincoln Street, past Nordgren’s, past the home of the Little
Sisters of the Assumption, and turn into Gorham Street, where the Joy of Music Program makes its home, in what was once a nursing home, then briefly the temporary home of the
ALL Schooi, and now houses a wonderful music school, where we who live here can attend great concerts by faculty, students, and guest performers of top quality.

But by far the greatest thing about this neighborhood is its diversity: side by side, in home and business, are not only the original Irish and Armenians, but Albanians, Azerbaizhanis, Iraqis, Russians, Dominicans, Bhutanese, Egyptians, Moroccans, Vietnamese, Ethiopians – and perhaps others whose origins I have not yet discovered. But we all say hello to each other if we live on the same street, or have seen each other around. We exchange bulbs in the spring, we clean up together, and share the same concern that our homes will be safe, comfortable, and attractive.

for over 20 years we have had a neighborhood association, and recently we also have a business association. Our harlow safe streets crime watch meets once a month, at 292 lincoln, in the offices of one of our newer businesses, currie management, who restored the wonderful building at the corner of Norton and lincoln, and saved it from becoming yet another parking lot.

Right next to nordgen’s is our own fire station with engine #8 always on the ready– and we are only .2 of a mile from the entrance to 290, so we can get anywhere east or west quickly and safely. and now that lincoln plaza has really taken off, we have so many choices for shopping, eating, browsing, doing crafts, etc…What more could we want?

Many years ago, Jan Evers started the yearly block party in their yard. When we established ourseslves as a neighborhood association, we took over the yearly block party. Now I am looking for the next generation to take it over,so that I can pursue my next goals. already we have had much help from Nordgren’s, whose landscaper takes care of the grass and bushes at the World war II monument that adorns Brittan square. for years, Nancy JOhnson hAs seen to it that Lincoln street is properly picked up and it bushes manicured – and on Earth day each year we get together and do our “spring cleaning.”

It’s a great place to live, work, play –  and with everyone’s help, it will continue to be.