Tag Archives: poor families

Thank you, Mayor Petty!

By Rosalie Tirella

Three or so weeks ago I was driving by the Chandler Elementary School playground in Piedmont – watching the little kids scramble all over the colorful little slide and play-scape Worcester Mayor Joe Petty had installed after I called him last winter and told him the kids in Piedmont, an inner-city neighborhood that doesn’t have a lot of green, open space, could use a little something fun in their ‘hood. The playground was all concrete and kinda bleak.

Well, as soon as spring had sprung, not only was a playground installed by the city, but a mini-community garden had sprouted up as well! Such a joy to see the tall sunflowers in their raised flower beds swaying in the summer breeze! In June and July you could see Dads sitting on the new benches installed around the colorful slides and ladders watching their little kids play.

As I drove by the school a few weeks ago and watched the little kids and their parents enjoying the playscape in early, but mild, wintertime, I saw this: A boy, about 12, a few yards away from everyone on the playscape, bouncing a basketball. He was too big for the playscape but HE WANTED TO PLAY! The little kids had no interest in hoop, he had no interest in little twirly slides. He was a solitary little man, nursing big dreams! We all know 12-, 13-, 14- and 15-year- old boys (and girls!) love to play basketball! My kid sister adored the sport and played girls varsity basketball for St. Mary’s High School on Richland Street, grades 9 to 12! My mom never missed her games – home or away! GO, TRINA, GO, TRINA! she’d yell from the bleachers during the games, standing up with the crowd, cheering!

But here, in Piedmont, there was no basketball hoop for this tween to WOOSH his basketball through! No backboard to use as a backdrop for a wanna-be hook shot. No crowd or even a few pals to watch the action, CHEER HIM ON. Where could he dribble his basketball to???!

So there the boy stood, bouncing his basketball on grey concrete in the winter sun during one of our unseasonably mild winter days.

My God!!! I thought to myself, this kid would love a pick up game of hoop with the neighborhood kids! He’s just itching to practice his foul shots! I can tell!

And what boy couldn’t use a good, brisk, get-your-cheeks-ruddy run around his neighborhood school yard!?

So I called Mayor Petty! I have him on mental speed dial cuz he’s so good when it comes to caring about inner-city kids!

Joe! I said, totally in the moment … . We need you!!!!!


Petty is Worcester’s QUIET MAN – our John Wayne: understated, modest honorable and honest. He gets things done. THE RIGHT THINGS, with ZERO gabbing, backslapping or phony politician-speak. Refreshing!

Yes, is what he said to me. We’ll work on it.

That’s all!

I knew he’d come through! And drove by the Chandler Street School playground smiling!

Then I drove by once a week to check on the progress. Yesterday I saw this:


Brandy new!

Shining bright!

A beacon of fun in a tough urban environment! For our city kids!

I’m amazed that Worcester doesn’t throw a parade in honor of Petty. He’s our Tom Menino: he’s got THE VISION FOR A GREAT CITY and SWEATS THE SMALL STUFF, the basketball hoops, the playscapes, the little improvements that make a big difference in neighborhoods – especially the poor and working class.

A thousand tweaks, scores of playgrounds, dozens of murals, one more neighborhood celebration, PLEASE! – this is what gives a city its complex beauty!

Yes, it’s only a basketball hoop.


But not to the 12-year-old boy bouncing his basketball.


(Now, maybe some wonderful volunteers can paint in a foul line and/or make all that concrete a mini basketball court?)

District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller supports Spay Worcester

By Karen Powers, chairperson, Spay Worcester

The Spay Worcester Task Force is a coalition of Worcester citizens, Tufts Veterinary School and the Massachusetts Animal Coalition. The purpose of Spay Worcester is to humanly reduce the population of free roaming cats in a specific area of area of Worcester through a Spay/Neuter program and through public education. Due to a grant from Petsmart Charities and the tireless work of many volunteers this program is done at no cost to the people of Worcester.

When we first approached Barbara Haller about the possibility of starting a program in the Main South area she listened carefully, asked questions and then said “What can I do to help?” She pointed out that this type of program is beneficial not only to the cats but to their human families and caregivers.

She saw the value of the program in helping people with limited resources having their cats spayed, neutered and given rabies vaccines. This prevents the arrival of unwanted kittens and male cat fighting and marking, all behaviors that can result in people abandoning their pets. By assisting families with Spays & Neuters children learn that vetting is part of responsible pet ownership and breaking the cycle of disposable pets.

Main South is one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city with a large population of economically challenged residents. It also has significant areas of vacant land and abandoned buildings that can become a shelter for these abandoned cats.

Once Barbara saw our commitment and the value of this program she became a staunch advocate for Spay Worcester. She introduced us to Mayor O’Brien (who became another great supporter). She introduced us to the people at the Main South CDC as well as Clark University, University Park Campus School, Worcester Public schools and several neighborhood groups.

Barbara introduced us to a great number of neighborhood residents and to people who were already feeding abandoned neighborhood cats. It is these people who are our major allies in helping these homeless cats. They identify the colonies and assist in trapping the cats and in watching the cats after they are returned. They also let us know when new cats arrive in the colony.

We are well on our way to our 2 year goal of Spaying and Neutering 1000 cats and a large amount of our success we owe to Councilor Baarbra Haller and her commitment to all that make up a community (including the fury four legged ones).