Tag Archives: Piedmont

Piedmont: Help out TODAY! Be a part of the ‘flash beautification’ at the Common Ground’s Austin/Newbury Street Playground (the ‘Tot Lot’)!

TODAY! SATURDAY MORNING! (May 30)

10 am to noon!

Volunteer to help Park Spirit and Worcester Common Ground Beautify the Tot Lot!

Park Spirit of Worcester Inc., in collaboration with Worcester Common Ground, Inc. will stage a ‘flash beautification’ at the Common Ground’s Austin/Newbury Street Playground (the ‘Tot Lot’) today, from 10 AM to 12 PM.

Volunteers from Park Spirit, the Common Ground, neighbors of the Austin and Newbury Street area and anyone else who would like to help out will work together to beautify the small playground by planting flowers, installing planter boxes, removing trash, and cleaning up remnants from a recent episode of vandalism.

Park Spirit coordinated the first of its signature ‘flash beautifications’ in the spring of 2014 at the ‘pocket park’ on the corner of Shrewsbury and Mulberry Streets. Volunteers staged a flash clean up of the park: cleaning up trash, trimming shrubs, and planting flowers, with the support of the Shrewsbury Street Neighborhood Association, Senator Harriette Chandler, and residents from the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Apartment Buildings. The group was able transform the small derelict space into a colorful and inviting gateway to Worcester’s dynamic Shrewsbury Street neighborhood. In response to this demonstration of care and concern for the small space, the city now maintains the pocket park as part of its maintenance of Washington Square.

The flash beautification at the Austin/Newbury Street Playground will be Park Spirit’s second of this year. In March, volunteers from Park Spirit, the Friends of Newton Hill, Clark University and Assumption College worked together to clear two feet of snow from the basketball court in Newton Square, making it the city’s the first useable outdoor court this spring.

The Austin/Newbury Street Playground is owned by the Worcester Common Ground, which maintains the playground for public use. The Worcester Common Ground is a Community Development Corporation with a mission to promote and develop permanent and sustainable improvement in the neighborhoods of Central Worcester through affordable housing, community activism and economic development.

The Austin/Newbury Street Playground is centrally located to many of the residents that the Common Ground serves and is the only public space of its kind in the neighborhood.

The playground was vandalized earlier this month when portions of the cinder block retaining wall were knocked down and paint was thrown all over the playground.

Piedmont: The Mustard Seed’s Donna D. receives key to our city from Mayor Petty and D 4 City Councilor Rivera!

Text and photos by Ron O’Clair

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District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera, the Mustard Seed soup kitchen’s Donna Domiziano and Mayor Joseph Petty stand yesterday at the end of the handicapped ramp leading into the Mustard Seed Catholic Worker House at 93 Piedmont St. where Donna has been in charge for the last three decades feeding and even clothing the needy who came through the doors looking for help. They gave Donna a Key to the City for all her selfless work on behalf of Worcester’s downtrodden.

Donna did not want to stop serving the poor, but the people in charge decided that she had served long enough and deserved a well needed rest, so she is being retired.

Donna still plans to help those in need with an operation out of the trunk of her car when she gets settled in her new apartment, which is being provided through the Catholic Diocese here in Worcester.

I can’t say enough about the Catholic faith here in Worcester that has been seeing to the needs of the homeless and hungry people of Worcester for many years. The Mustard Seed is a testament to the ability of concerned and caring individuals to provide sustenance to all regardless of religious affiliation, race, gender, or economic status. Very rarely have they turned anyone away from these programs and, when they did, there was generally a need to do so in order to prevent injury to staff or patrons from an intoxicated or unruly guest.

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Donna holds the “Key to the City of Worcester” made by students at the Worcester Technical High School on Skyline Drive. It was presented to her, with the reading of a proclamation by Mayor Petty in which her service to the community was recognized.

Donna put on a special Lasagna Dinner as a send off for the patrons that she has served all these years.

There were 17 pans of Lasagna made for the occasion served with sausage, peppers, onions, a fresh garden salad, bread, Shasta soda in Grape or Lemon/Lime and an Italian Ice push up for dessert in various tropical flavors like Papaya, Mango, and Pomegranate!

Neither Mayor Petty nor Councilor Rivera could stay to have the dinner with the people, but I sure did! And it was delicious!

Donna will be remembered for years of self-sacrifice. She says she will “Still be scattering the Seed” out of the trunk of her car when she leaves the Mustard Seed June 1, 2015. She told everyone at the dinner that they will all be getting her business card when she gets her new phone number. It will be a way to contact her if someone needs help – help that she can provide with the assistance of many of her contacts that she’s made over the years. Contacts that donate goods and food to help the needy in the Worcester County of our Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

God save the Commonwealth and God bless Donna Domiziano!

Hooray for our Piedmont kids!!!!!!!

This winter we asked for a play scape to be built on the empty, ugly cement lot of a school yard behind Chandler Elementary School, on Chandler Street, in Piedmont. Piedmont is as urban as our Worcester neighborhoods come. The neighborhood kids who attend Chandler are poor, cut off from so many experiences and opportunities our West Side kids take for granted. LIKE TREES, FLOWERS, GREEN SPACE, HUGE BACKYARDS, PLACES TO RUN AND PLAY AND FEEL FREE AND SAFE! Just look at their school yard (below – I took the pic this past winter)!!!

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Well, I wrote about it, and we got results: Brandy new slides, soft mulch, repaved school yard … .

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 Hopefully, this is just the beginning, and we’ll see some additions: A few benches around that play scape for parents so they can chat together while watching their kids play, flower beds for the kids so they can see something beautiful grow day by day (like them!), another slide or two because there are a ton of children in the neighborhood, and a basketball hoop or two for the teens. Maybe a picnic table or two so people can enjoy meals and snacks outdoors – so many Piedmont families live in three deckers with crappy/no yards and don’t have the $$ to buy a cool, old fashioned, stained, wooden picnic table of their own. I love a cool, old fashioned, stained, wooden picnic table! Don’t you?

It’s a really big school yard! All of the above can fit into that space!!

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BUT FOR TODAY: I say, THANK YOU, Worcester Mayor Joe Petty and Worcester School Committee member Brian O’Connell for caring about our littlest citizens! Making it happen for Piedmont kids this spring was the cool and COMPASSIONATE thing to do! 

– Rosalie Tirella

I just got a text from Mayor Petty! A playground was just built in Piedmont’s Chandler Elementary School!

I texted him back: I LOVE YOU!

(Pics to come!!)

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Called a pal.

Told him I wanted my rescued kitchen table and my two old kitchen chairs spray painted green, like my tool box.

He said: I LOVE GREEN!!!

I said: I LOVE YOU!

What a great morning!!!!!     – R. Tirella

Here’s the before pic of my kitchen set. Just snapped it! Ick!!!:

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Worcester Common Ground CDC fundraiser!

You’re invited!

Worcester Common Ground’s Video Release Party & Fundraiser!

Please join us in celebrating the release of Worcester Common Ground’s community-building video “Common Ground” during our first official Fundraiser!

This event with FREE ADMISSION will also include impact stories from our residents, a silent auction, raffle, and a mix of delicious hors d’oeuvres catered by Struck.

Help us to keep building our vibrant community!

When: SATURDAY, February 21

4 pm – 6 pm

Where: Central Branch YMCA
766 Main St.

We ask that attendees bring one roll of yellow city trash bags if they are able. Further instructions will be provided at the event!

Piedmont: For Christmas, Chandler Elementary School wishes for …

… a play-scape! (its students do!)

Drive around Worcester and you will see a fantastic play area at Flagg Street School on Flagg Street! Take a look at the jungle gym at the Quinsig school! Super! So many of our public elementary schools have great play areas for our kids.

But deep in inner-city Worcester we have Chandler Community School’s playground – empty, stark … depressing! Unlike almost every other Worcester public elementary school, Chandler has NO JUNGLE GYM, NO basketball court, no NOTHING in its school yard. And look at that back door! (I had to take pics to show you how bad things were in back!)

Let’s go, City Manager Ed Augustus, Mayor Petty and WPS super Boone! Build a real play area for some of the city’s neediest kids!   – R. Tirella

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Piedmont: The people hanging out at the corner of Chandler and Queen streets … From my point of view

By Barbara Haller

There have been multiple conversations going on – in various print media, social media, crime watches, business association meetings, and around the coffee table – about what to do about a few places where a group of people have laid claim to hang out all day (sometimes night too).

One site presently getting a lot of play is the corner of Chandler/Queen streets where the gathering is pretty non-stop.   The green space there is controlled by Community Healthlink (part of UMass) and has become an enclave for sitting, sleeping, socializing.  Grocery carts of belongings are often there.  The group spills over to the public sidewalk where there is a bench and a tree – both part of the Chandler business corridor revitalization effort.  The bench is used exclusively by the group and the tree pit is their trash receptacle.  Public drinking is frequent, fights occasional.  Public use of the sidewalk there is pretty difficult.  Sometimes one of the group will enter a nearby business seeking a handout, a bathroom, or a place to sleep.

A group of business owners are determined to stop it.  They see this behavior as anti-business and bad for Worcester.  They also see this situation as a violation of the partnership agreement with the City over closing the PIP shelter and siting of the homelessness Triage Center just up the street at 25 Queen Street.  Conversations among elected and administrative city officials, business owners, residents, Community Healthlink officials so far have led to “more of the same.”

And that is a shame.

As a long time Main South activist (1990 – 2002), 10-year District 4 City Councilor (2002 – 2011) and a 20-year neighbor to the area around Chandler and Queen (I live at the top Castle Street, near the top of Queen) I have deep knowledge and experience with these types of challenges.  Tempers can get hot, words can be twisted, and people can look the other way.  But, something needs to change at the corner of Chandler and Queen before these behaviors become more deeply entrenched.  Inch by inch is how it happens.

There are many attractive corners in our urban core for people to drink, drug, deal, fight, sleep, litter, vomit, and do personal hygiene.   I spent many hours working on such hot spots, starting with the front of my own business, Gilreins.  Here is what works:

1.       Engaged property owner(s).  This means a property owner or her/his hire that will be at the property nearly always, at least at the start of reclaiming the spot.

This person must tell people that the property is privately owned and ask the people to move on – kindly and respectfully.   By being physically present and clear in what is expected, much of the behavior will in fact move on.   This may take a while, especially when the site is long-standing.

2.       Partnering with the Worcester Police Department.  This means explaining the problem and the strategy to end it to the appropriate police officer.  A great place to start this is with the Community Impact officer assigned to the area.  This officer will see that the rest of the WPD is on board.  The officer will also serve a vital feedback role as to what is working, etc.

This may require posting the property – No Trespassing.    The police will take notice and stop to move people along for the times when the property owner(s) are not present.

Again, the message needs to be consistent and repeated.

3.       Public gathering on public property is legal.  However, public consumption of alcohol is not legal.  Nor is littering.  Nor is blocking the sidewalk.

Police are key for enforcement against these behaviors.   Police may not feel arrests are appropriate in many of these violations but they can confiscate alcohol, make people pick up their litter, tell people to keep the sidewalk open.

When citizens see these behaviors and have a developed partnership with the police, these behaviors must be reported consistently.  If someone appears unconscious call 911 and request medical attention.

4.       Recognizing and respecting people’s rights to gather on public property.  This means that we can’t just tell people to move off the sidewalk or a bench just because we don’t like the way they look.   This is important to understand.  Disrespecting people will escalate most situations and only makes solution more difficult.

If (when) we step over the line into disrespect, apologies need to be given while returning to the consistent message.

Many times over the years we have used these best practices to clear up problem sites.  It takes time and sincere commitment.  The longer we wait the more difficult it is.

In the case of Chandler and Queen – the enclave is established and occupies both private and public properties.  Worcester Police Department is doing some focused work for the short haul but a longer term strategy is needed and that should come from Community Healthlink – they control the green space that is the center of the activities.  Community Healthlink must be frequently present at the site, explaining that people cannot loiter there and that WPD will be called on any illegal behaviors.  They must closely partner with WPD for consistent messaging and enforcement.

Especially because of the elevated status of UMass in our city, elected and administrative officials should insist that UMass develop a long term strategy to correct the behaviors at this corner.  As the parent organization to Community Healthlink and because Community Healthlink has not been successful in this area, the burden of solution falls to UMass directly.

This is not rocket science.

I love the city in the fall! Worcester in autumn-time! Someone write the song, pleeze!!

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Today in Greendale I saw this cute pit in a car – wearing an adorable hat, waiting patiently for his owner, while listening to Johnny Cash on the radio!! (I kid you not!) Beautiful!

Then off to Piedmont to the Chandler Street Elementary School. This inner-city school looks lovely and inviting! All the color and pretty-ness! Flowers galore, colored benches, a big beautiful blue welcome sign for parents and community! Lovely!  Wish I had taken more photos!

Go out and SEE  – really SEE! – your city!

– Rosalie Tirella

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In Piedmont: Family Health Center neighborhood health fair – 26 Queen St.!!!!!

 

Family Health Center of Worcester, Inc. welcomes you to join us for our annual Neighborhood Health Fair on Friday, August 15, at 26 Queen Street, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Our health fair theme, “One Big Happy Family,” celebrates the global family located right here in our community.

We hope you can join us as a partner for this exciting, fun, family-oriented event that will rejoice in the vibrancy and diversity of the Worcester community.

The Neighborhood Health Fair is an outdoor event held at 26 Queen Street which promotes health, fitness, and fun while educating the public about Family Health Center of Worcester and local agencies and services.

Family Health Center staff will offer health screenings and insurance enrollment assistance to interested community members and there will be food, music, games, balloons, face painting, and much more. The event also includes many exciting raffles at no cost to attendees. Last year, through the generosity of our donors, we were able to raffle adult and youth bicycles and tricycles all with safety helmets and several back-to-school backpacks full of school supplies.

The Neighborhood Health Fair is held annually during National Community Health Center Week, which takes place this year August 10-16, 2014.

Community Health Center Week celebrates the unique and important role that community health centers play by ensuring everyone has access to high quality health care, regardless of ability to pay. In 2013 alone, Family Health Center provided health care services to more than 33,000 people in the Worcester community in 37 languages.