Tag Archives: sports

How the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester and After School Programs Across the Country are Helping Kids, 10 Million at a Time

Dear Friend,

Did you know 10.2 million children in the US participate in after-school activities?

And that for every youth enrolled, two more are waiting to join? The Boys & Girls Club of Worcester serves 6,000 youth a year, but more need our help.

We advocate to secure the support necessary to accept every child who walks through our doors. It’s challenging to raise the funds necessary to provide our programs, but our kids are worth it.

Our programs, and that of Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation, have proven results:

93% of Club members abstained from alcohol use

83% of Club members are on track to graduate high school

100% of our 2016 graduating high school seniors were accepted to college

90% of youth who participate in homework help improve their grades by at least one letter grade

54% of alumni say the Club saved their life

* 2016 Boys & Girls Club of America and Boys & Girls Club of Worcester Statistics

Our academic, athletic, recreational, and therapeutic programs are curriculum-based and implemented by qualified, youth development professionals who strive to change the lives of our kids.

Our after-school offerings are crucial to the youth of our community. The Club saves lives. The statistics speak for themselves, but our parents and members have something to say as well. Please join us and be an ambassador for our youth by donating, volunteering, or advocating on their behalf today.

In partnership,

Liz Hamilton, executive director
Boys & Girls Club of Worcester


Don’t take our word for it, listen to a Club parent…

I am a proud parent of a 13-year-old Club kid. My daughter, Rowan, has been going to the Club more than half her life. I remember bringing her to the Harrington Clubhouse for the first time, when she was 6. She went to look around, and I started to call after her, “Stay where I can see you!” but then I realized that it was a safe space, where she could be free to explore. What a relief (for both of us)! Rowan started out in the School Age Child Care soon after. She blossomed – getting attention from the Club teens who worked there was especially helpful in beginning to overcome her shyness. She learned to swim in the weekly pool session, and the dance program’s once-a-week hip hop class kindled her (so far, lifelong) interest in all forms of dance. The staff nurtured Rowan’s love for storytelling, and had her read her “books” to the class. Even so, she was counting the days until her 8th birthday, so she could be a “real” member, and have the run of the Club.


As soon as Rowan was a full member, she joined Girls Voice, a family of girls-only programs that lets girls cultivate their leadership abilities, discuss issues that are important to them, and learn what it means to be a friend. Rowan came into her own in the program. She rose to the staff’s trust in her, and began to coordinate the activities, even working with other programs to organize Club clean-ups and other volunteer projects.

She also found a talent as a peacemaker, helping squabbling Club-mates to find common ground and start acting like friends again. The timid little girl who started at the Club would never have thought she could take charge like that. Rowan tried out, and was one of the few 8-year-olds chosen for In DA Zone, the Club’s award-winning dance team. She kept her spot for the next five years.
Rowan is a very articulate kid, with the vocabulary of someone twice her age.

She is a gifted student, and usually knows the answers in the classroom. This, combined with her “artiness” and her Club-nurtured confidence, made her an oddball in elementary school. She thought nothing of practicing a dance routine on the playground at recess, debating the finer points of Harry Potter with a teacher, or spending a free period writing a play. The kids in her class thought she was weird, and she was bullied fairly severely in 5th and 6th grades. Even though she suffered, she refused to “give up herself,” as she put it, by conforming. “I don’t want to act like them,” she said,” If I do it’s admitting that being like them is better, and my real self is bad.” Even so, I’m not sure she could have kept to her principles if she hadn’t been a Club kid. Having the Club as an outlet, a place where she knew she would be accepted and encouraged and have friends, made all the difference for Rowan.

She is now at Burncoat Middle School, in the dance program – where she has found her “tribe” among all the other arty kids. Rowan came out the other side: Because of the Club’s afterschool programs, she now knows that she is strong as well as capable. Due to afterschool commitments, Rowan doesn’t come to the Club every day anymore, but I know that those lessons will last a lifetime. – Malory

… and from our new Youth of the Year


Anthony Soares began his Club experience when he was seven years old at our Ionic Ave Clubhouse with a swim class taught by Aquatic Director, Ian Witt.

Thirteen years later, Anthony is in his second year as captain of the Worcester Public High School Swim Team, a nationally-ranked athlete, and a certified lifeguard employed at the Club. When he’s not training or working, Anthony is a dedicated volunteer who teaches younger members how to swim.

“Over the past ten years, I’ve had a very enjoyable Club experience. I love being able to go to the Club every day with my friends and have a great time. The Club has given me a safe environment to enjoy the sport I love and help other kids learn how to pursue it. With the help of the Club, I was able to strengthen my swimming skills which led me to the National Swim Meet in Florida 10 years in a row. I wouldn’t have been able to experience these opportunities without the Club,” says Anthony.

When he was in the eighth grade, Anthony took the Boys Scouts’ oath and began working towards his Eagle Scout badge, a goal he hopes to accomplish this spring with the help of the Club.

How Can You Help?

There are several ways to help our organization reach more youth:

Make a financial contribution

Donate items such as clothing, athletic equipment, school and art supplies, etc.

Purchase an annual membership for a child for $25

Attend one of our upcoming events

Volunteer at our Club

Our goal is to serve any child who wants to join our Club.

In order to do so, we need your help.

Assisting our Club in any of the ways listed above makes a big impact. Without the varied support of our friends, we wouldn’t be able to offer our life-saving programs.


Boys & Girls Club of Worcester
65 Tainter St.

Surviving the August heat wave

Rosalie and her air conditioner – this a.m. … pic:R.T.

By Edith Morgan

The grass is turning brown ahead of time, and my tomato plants, few as they are, have pretty much given up, drying up and drooping. We are trying to obey the City of Worcester’s water restrictions, watering after the sun has set and using a watering can where possible. Luckily, it rained steadily Wednesday night, so things are looking a bit more alive.

But now we face another several days of heat and humidity. But we are lucky: this old house stays cool even in the most extreme heat – the nine-foot ceilings trap the hot air above our heads, and the big old ceiling fan moves the air around enough to give us the illusion of wind!

This is a good time to relax and enjoy watching the Olympics, which will be going on into next week. Perhaps it is our imagination, but does it feel a little cooler to watch swimmers in that cool, clear water?!

At any rate, we are quite comfortably ensconced on our living room couch, watching the contests. And they are inspirational: There is a wonderful sense of the struggles and dedication displayed by the athletes, and we have been happy to see how many young people are watching and are inspired to put forth the supreme effort that our athletes are displaying.

What has impressed me especially are the behind-the-scenes stories – especially of the struggles that the champions undertook to reach the Olympics. Watching swimming and gymnastics and listening to the tremendous effort and persistence displayed by the winners can’t help but be inspiring to many of the young people watching. Hopefully, they feel that they too can achieve the kind of perfection the champions display!

Of course, it is not just determination that gets them there. So often there is the good fortune of being noticed by someone who not only recognizes special talent but nurtures it and puts a young person in touch with a coach, teacher or other form of help and inspiration.

Those of us who are teachers know how often we have spotted a special spark in one of our students and gone out of our way to encourage it, point it out to parents or others who can nurture it and pass the word. With the start of another school year just ahead, those who are still teaching have the opportunity once again to spot the hidden gifts in many of our students. But just finding it is not enough. There has to be that determination to learn, practice and, above all, persevere.

And so we sit here and enjoy the achievements of these young people, cheer them on, and marvel at what the human body can do with training and exercise.

One thing has struck me in particular: so many years ago, Olympics seemed to be pretty much dominated by men. But as I watched the gymnasts, the beach volleyball teams, the swimmers, the wrestlers and who knows what sports are still to come – amazing girls and women are winning gold medals, where several years ago they were not even in the running.

And, of course, the obvious ethnic mixes of the champions are evidence that real champions come in all colors and sizes!

Always in style: THIS WEEKEND! Worcester World Cup! (Cultural exchange through soccer!!)


This weekend!

AUGUST 12, 13 and 14

Foley Stadium
305 Chandler St.

We’re celebrating the 11th Worcester World Cup this year!

Let’s say that again, we’re celebrating the 11th anniversary of the best darn celebration of soccer this City has seen!

Kid Zone – Games, Moonbounce, Skill Building, Facepainting

Affordable authentic food from:

Somalia, Mexico, Iraq, Liberia, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Vietnam, China and Nigeria


Admission: FREE! – for kids! (under 18 yrs old)
Adults: $6 for Weekend Pass!

Friday, August 12:


5:30pm Honduras v Ecuador

6:45pm Jamaica v Somalia

8pm El Salvador v Albania

Saturday, August 13:

9:30am Iraq v Guatemala

10:45am Myanmar v Togo

12:00pm Youth Exhibition Game

1:15pm Nigeria v Brazil

2:30pm Liberia v Ghana

3:45pm USA v Kenya

5:00pm Men’s Quarterfinals

6:15pm Men’s Quarterfinals

Sunday, August 14:

9:00am Men’s Quarterfinals

10:15am Women’s Ecuador v Italy

11:15am Men’s Quarterfinals

12:30pm Women’s Ecuador v USA

1:30pm Men’s Semifinals

2:45pm Women’s Italy v USA

3:45pm Men’s Semifinals

5:00pm Women’s Final

6:15pm Men’s Final


The Worcester World Cup was literally started 10 years ago in the dirt behind Elm Park Community School by Cultural Exchange Through Soccer(CETS).

It was started in response to the hostile climate against immigrants in our country and the way soccer was treated in our City.

The Worcester World Cup is our challenge to Worcester and our gift to Worcester’s many amazing immigrant communities!

CETS is a youth/adult volunteer community soccer effort. We play soccer. We get involved in community projects. We promote youth development and youth leadership. We are a mixture of nationalities, ages and backgrounds.

We ask our City leaders why they’re not fixing and building soccer fields.

We started as a 6-week youth soccer clinic in 2003 and have grown into so much more!

THANK YOU for being a part of this journey and for making the WWC an amazing festival every year.

Muhammad Ali: he did it his way

Ali in America – defiant, in a White man’s world …

By Gordon Davis

What a Black man needed to do in Racist America. This is a question that we all face in one way or another. What does a woman need to do in a man’s world? What does an immigrant need to do in the land of majority natives?

Muhammad Ali is being buried today, June 10, 2016.

The death of Muhammad Ali compelled me to think of his experiences and the experiences of other Black men. Ali is a hard person to write about, as he was to say the least multi-faceted. It is a condition that our alienation from the society in which we live forces onto us.

I liked Sonny Liston in 1964. He was a Philly fighter, and I thought he would beat the crap out of the loud-mouthed self-promoter known as Cassius Clay. Clay, to a certain extent, reminded me of the buffoons that Black men had played in the movies in order to survive in a racist society.

It was quite a shock when Clay beat Liston.

Buffoons were not supposed to beat Philly fighters.

When Clay changed his name to Ali, he seemed to have intentionally alienated himself forever from what is now called mainstream society.

Ali joined a group that was calling for separate societies for Black and White folks. Almost everyone else, in the mainstream, called for an integrated society. He had this continuous contradiction in his life, as he had White friends and worked with White people in the boxing industry. He was able to maintain this contradiction better than other Black men, especially with his talent for boxing.

It was this ability that made him important to Black people: How to be defiant in a racist America without being beaten down to levels of great indignity.

We Black people admired him for this reason. In the bosses’ America all working people – who are the majority of Black people – live under the fear and threat of impoverishment for speaking out of turn or speaking truth to power. We only have to look at the fate of Worcester’s MOSAIC to see this. Every Black person in the City of Worcester knows this and has to some extent made compromises or sacrificed his/her dignity. Some of us have gone silent. Some of us pretend to love the boss. Others continue to fight against racism and economic injustice.

When Ali lost his ability to speak as a result of his illness, he could no longer defy the system of racial and economic injustices that all working class people face. It was during his last years of relative silence that bosses in American began to express their love for Ali.

I know that Ali was a charitable man and did good for humankind. Most of all, he gave us hope and was an example of defiance – without being beaten into shame and poverty.

He did it his way.

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?)

Go, Gordon Davis, go! … The road most taken

By Gordon Davis

The Boston Red Sox has agreed to sign right-handed pitcher David Price to a $217 million contract. I would like to wish both Mr. Price and the Red Sox well.

There is a price for this deal that is not only in terms of dollar and cents. Although Mr. Price is very talented and probably worth the money in our society that skews wealth and human value, he is also an unintentional symbol of success for many in the Black community. If asked, Mr. Price might say the same thing as did Sir Charles Barkley, “I am not a role model for your kids.”

For many in the Black community basket ball, football and baseball are seen as a way out of the adverse conditions that our children find themselves in. To some extent this gives them hope and encouragement to go to school and perform. For others making a lot of money through some business scheme is their hope. These hopes are not bad things by themselves. However, all of these things are misleading.

Historically, the way out of poverty and into the middle class for Black people have been unionized jobs and education. The migration of many Black people from the southern United States to the North during the Twentieth Century was facilitated by union jobs in the auto industry, steel industry and education. It was also facilitated by government jobs such as the military and the U.S. post office. My relatives and those of my wife were career soldiers or postal workers or city employees. This has been the experience of most Black people in the United States, not sports nor businesses.

Recognizing this, many in our communities have fought for Affirmative Action. It is the program that ensures companies consider us when making hiring decisions.

Unfortunately, one of the people I knew as an undergraduate at Holy Cross college, Clarence Thomas, used affirmative action to get to the Supreme Court and then started to burn the bridges behind him. I suppose he wanted to make sure no one else from our community could follow in his footsteps.

I remember growing up reading Jet and Ebony magazines which were widely read in the Black communities. The owners of the magazine became deservedly relatively wealthy. The same can be said for the cosmetics industry intended for Black women.

The Black businesses succeeded because many in the Black community had entered the middle class through unionized service and industrial jobs. The reality for us is that as a community Black, White, Hispanic and all people will make a living in the workplaces owned by the so called one percent. We as a community will not succeed on the playing fields or in small business. As many of us know, the time of the Mom and Pop stores is long over.

I see that there are unionization drives going on in the Worcester in the areas of domestic care workers, food workers and hospital workers. All areas with a relatively high people of color workforce.  I know that this is the way out of the adverse conditions of poverty for most of them.

So I might go to a Red Sox game to see David Price pitch a no hitter and carry the Red Sox to a World Championship. I know, however, that the road he has taken is not possible for everyone.

Youth lacrosse offers opportunities for city youth

By Jeffrey Turgeon

Summer is here, and many young boys in Worcester are lacing up their cleats and dusting off their baseball gloves and bat. That’s not the case for Rob Vigeant and his players from the Worcester Stars Lacrosse. They are headed onto another field to start their fifth lacrosse season.

Vigeant was raised in Worcester and still resides there with his wife Alison and three young boys, Tim age 9, Trevor 7and Tyler 6. He attended Worcester Public Schools for grammar and middle school and St. John’s for high school. He then went to Providence College where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in History and Education. Upon graduation, he returned to Worcester. He was hired to teach social studies at Forest Grove and coach basketball at South High under the legendary Jack “the Shot” Foley. Continue reading Youth lacrosse offers opportunities for city youth

The Friendly House sports and recreation programs – an 89-year tradition

By Rosalie Tirella

When the Friendly House, Worcester’s premier social service agency, opened its doors in 1920, its beginnings were as humble as those of the Italian and Syrian immigrants who also made the Grafton Hill neighborhood their home. Located at 38 Wall Street, the place looked like a very large home. But, oh, what an abode! Inside: the first community-based dental clinic in the country, First Aid classes for the neighborhood moms, cooking classes for the girls, and “SNAPs” tables for the boys. Every spring in the ’40s, a Friendly House Doll Carriage Parade wended its way through the neighborhood, with little girls’ doll carriages festooned with flowers and little boys’ bikes decorated to the hilt. The “works of art” would be judged and first-place prizes awarded.

“In the beginning,” says Friendly House executive director Gordon Hargrove, “there was a lot of arts and crafts, music, drama. The Friendly House really didn’t have sports – the more athletic activities. In the ’20s and 30’s, the adults in the neighborhoods had their own baseball teams. The Groton AA.” Hargrove laughs. He is delighted to have the chance to take out the photo boxes and show a visitor all the vintage photos and share the history of a Worcester landmark, a landmark that he has been a part of since the 1950s and headed since the 1970s. To know the Friendly House is to know Gordon Hargrove. Continue reading The Friendly House sports and recreation programs – an 89-year tradition