Tag Archives: Worcester

Calling all CECELIA interns🙂!

By Rosalie Tirella

Christmas CECELIAs delivered!

CECELIA in the city! photo: R.T.


Hoping to bring in some young writers – interns – in the spring. CECELIA needs youthful spirit! Yes, you can be “young at heart” – but up to a point! 60 is … well, 60! 90 is miraculous … but not 20.

A year ago we had a Doherty High School student write for us. She was born and raised (her early years) in Iraq. Sweet person, solid writer, who wanted to major in the sciences in college. I loved her story on her grandmother’s garden in Iraq, the growing and the eating of dates, what they signified back in her homeland. … Four years ago we were chatted up by the METRO counter girl while paying our cell phone bill on Cambridge Street and decided to make her our intern. She gushed: I WANT TO BE CARRIE IN SEX AND THE CITY!!! That sealed the deal for me!

“Mary” turned out to be the opposite of Carrie: poor, husband incarcerated, lived in a shelter with her kids for two years before ending up in an apartment in Main South. She had a fraught relationship with her mother … and yet she was Carrie! … young, pretty, romantic, deeply in love with her man, a deeply personal and open writer. Gifted! We jumped in to make it all better: Dorrie gave her bags of cute clothes. I gave her my new twin bed and mattress set (with new comforter and sheets) because Mary said her little boy needed his own bed.

The big-hearted Bill Riley, head of the St. John’s Food for the Poor program, drove up to my Vernon Hill three decker in his van and picked up my bed set and drove it to Mary’s apartment. We even pushed – former District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller and I – for Mary to get hired by a local social service agency. Mary got the job and left her Mcjob behind for a CAREER, a position that paid more money and that she loved.

She never thanked me for her “good luck.” Not once. Ahh, youth!

So, if you’re young and want to write for me, send me two essays. I don’t care if you have a high school degree or plan to go to college. We can tell if you’re any good by your second paragraph. Don’t inundate me with your brilliance, please! – just email me two essays:


The first holiday season with a new dog doesn’t have to be ruff!🐕🐶🐕

By Michelle Kretzer

This autumn: Lilac at the dog park. Dogs love to have fun and roll in dessicated stuff! pics: R.T.

Last Christmas was our first with our rescued pup, Capone. He looked dashing in a candy cane–striped collar as we took videos of him tearing into wrapping paper, sticking his head into gift bags, fervently attacking his new plush sheep toy and testing the limits on the number of cookies he could persuade us to give him in one sitting.

The celebration was even more special because it was his first Christmas indoors — a far cry from the filthy porch he’d been tied up on for two years before he was rescued by PETA fieldworkers. But there was another reason our holiday was so relaxed, worry-free and joyful: Capone had already been with us for almost a year. He had settled in and felt comfortable with us. He was housetrained, and he was familiar enough with life at our house to take the added excitement of the holidays in stride.

Pet stores pull out all the stops to sell animals as “presents” during the holidays, and they bank on families falling for the picture-perfect appeal of a puppy or kitten under the tree. Unfortunately, even well-intentioned people get suckered in, forgetting their misgivings about supporting greedy breeders that supply pet stores with animals. They often find themselves underprepared and overwhelmed when holiday pandemonium and the new-animal adjustment period collide.

Jett enjoying the great outdoors!

When Capone first joined our family, he couldn’t resist gleefully destroying slippers, shoes, washcloths and T-shirts. He loved marking the furniture legs in our guest room. And we were exhausted from the midnight walkies he required so he could relieve himself. I can’t imagine also having to prepare a giant holiday meal and host guests in the midst of handling all these new-dog challenges.

Travel, visitors, parties, shopping, cooking and the other hectic hallmarks of the season make it tough to provide the time, attention, patience and money that an animal — especially a puppy or kitten — requires. Without a calm atmosphere and a consistent routine to help

Without a calm atmosphere and a consistent routine to help them figure out the “do’s” and “don’ts,” animals are bound to make mistakes and may even be unfairly punished for it. Many are surrendered to a shelter, imprisoned for hours on end in a crate or banished from the house altogether and sentenced to a lonely life at the end of a chain — like Capone had been.

When I worked in an animal shelter, I also saw countless animals given up because caring for them cost more than had been anticipated. Giving a dog or cat as a gift is akin to handing your loved one a bill for tens of thousands of dollars, due in mandatory monthly installments for the next 10 to 20 years. As reported by CNBC, the lifetime cost of caring for a cat ranges from $21,917 to $30,942. A dog will run you between $27,074 and $42,545. When Capone was trying to get the hang of playing on our slick floors, he crashed into the baseboard and broke off a nail. Thankfully, we didn’t have a crowd of holiday guests to apologize to as we grabbed Capone and ran out of our blood-spattered living room. But our mad dash to the emergency vet came with a hefty bill.

If you are certain that your loved one is ready to give a dog or cat a lifetime of care, saving a life is the best present. Buy a soft bed and fill it with toys, treats and a stuffed animal — complete with a big red bow. Include a gift certificate to the local shelter to cover the cost of adoption so that your recipient can find the perfect new family member after the holiday whirlwind dies down.

Today, we’re excitedly gearing up for another fun Christmas full of shareable Capone videos. And his grandma has already bought him a festive new holiday collar.

Jett, like all dogs, is so … life-affirming!

Holiday Cheer at the Pickle Barrel – always in style!🎄📬 Kids! Mail your letters to Santa at this Piedmont restaurant!


A Santa’s Mailbox awaits all children at the Pickle Barrel, located in Worcester’s Piedmont neighborhood! photos: R.T.

The Pickle Barrel Restaurant and Deli in Worcester’s Piedmont neighborhood has the cutest SANTA’S MAILBOX! Perfect for the Letters to Santa from your kiddos!

Let them drop them into this cool working mail box! We’ll publish the sweetest letter in our January CECELIA – and award the child a $25 prize$. And don’t forget the young at heart, as seen here!

The Pickle, at night …

– Rosalie🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄


By Rosalie Tirella

Jett loves to have fun! photos: R.T.

Jett!!! 15 years old and loving this never ending journey. Jett!!! The tumor was aspirated. Benign. Just adipose tissue. Jett!! He runs as fast and far as Lilac and play-fights her with the zest of a pup! Jett!!! 15 years means you’re geriatric in dog years! And yet when boarded you make pals and run your little heart out! You’re a celebrity at the Worcester Animal Rescue League. I adopted you from WARL almost 15 years ago…you were about eight months old and badly abused by men. You were trucked in from Appalachia. When I called your old Kentucky shelter, they read me your record: “He’s incorrigible.” Wow! Jett! The dog of my heart. My best dog ever – and I’ve had four or five.

Jett at the dog park.

JETT!! Old but still my protector – still willing to get between me and the creepy guy coming at me. And didn’t the creep back down as you BARKED YELPED GROWLED…MADE UNGODLY NOISE. JOYFUL NOISE TO ME!

Rose’s best boy!

Jett!!! Lilac, only 6, and me, 60, are tired, world weary. I have diarrhea…But you, Prince, eat heartily, drink plenty of water, have your normal daily bowel movements just like at home. I watch you poop and I cry! Jett!! My bonnie companion for almost 15 years! My lil’ man hater! My lil’ wild child…so close to the coydogs of the Faulkner novels! They called you a Mountain Feist in Kentucky. I call you my “Baby” and give you kisses on your small forehead, between your brown eye and your blue eye, leaving red lipstick traces on your rough husky fur. Your mom was a mill breeder full-blooded Siberian husky in Appalachia. You’ve got the husky way of vocalizing over every little thing and you’re a drama queen. But you’re fearless, smart, intuitive, high spirited, loyal, fun and loving! Plus you’re still gorgeous: people still ask me, WHAT KIND OF DOG IS THAT? IS IT A HUSKY? A SHIBA?

I say: It’s my Jett!!

To travel this far with a stalwart spirit…to watch Jett greet each sunrise with gusto inspires me. To keep on this road. To find truth in the situation…to look to Jett for unconditional love.

My Jett! My best boy!

Jett enjoying his chewy.

Welcome 2022???

By Edith Morgan

A new day in Worcester? In the Canal District: Millbury Street is lined with homeless people … sleeping in doorways from Kelley Square to Endicott Street. photo: Rose T.

Remember when we welcomed 2021 with such optimism, thinking that at last we might return to something like ”Normal”? We had a new President, Joe Biden … we were finally getting ahead of the novel corona virus … we had a chance to rebuild the wreckage done in the past four years by former president, Donald J. Trump. We thought it would be easy, and that virtue, goodness and honesty would at last triumph, and we would all together put our best efforts into fixing our crumbling infrastructure, clean up our waters, make sure that all our children had proper care right from the start. We even hoped, some of us at least, that the long nightmare of discrimination and hatred would now stop and we could really get along and respect each other’s points of view and become once again the living example to all nations of what a real live democracy looks like. What its people are willing to do to maintain it for future generations.

And so, here comes 2022. How close to that vision, those hopes, are we now? I am an eternal optimist, and so I will look at the brighter side first:

There is a lot of good in the pipeline that, when passed, will go a long way towards fixing our roads and bridges, maintaining our parks and public spaces. We also extended a helping hand to those most in need and temporarily supported those most impacted by the COVID 19 virus.

There is much still on the table, waiting to be voted on and funds distributed where it is most needed. And we have begun to become aware of the great problems facing us, in climate change, the need for better education, better treatment of workers, and better care for our children when mothers must work.

Unfortunately. most of those improvements are still just in the talking stage – held hostage by an unholy alliance between self-serving elected officials – all Congressional Republicans and “dinos” like U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and Sinema, who have sold their souls for the riches to be had from corporate donors who regularly fill their pockets and their heads.

And while we have become aware of the ever-increasing gap between the very rich and the rest of us, slowly there seems at last to be an awareaness on the part of many workers that this gap is unfair and unjust. People are either refusing to return to their old poor paying jobs and organizing to get a more fair piece of the pie.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11827661ae) US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 23 March 2021. Biden Remarks on Boulder Shootings, Washington, USA - 23 Mar 2021 Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11827661ae)
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 23 March 2021.

So, if knowledge and information are the needed ingredients for any movement forward, I am hopeful that the age of misinformation is coming to an end. We will return to a time of facts, truthfulness and honesty. Those of us who are my age – I am 91 – do remember a time when such things were possible, when our elected officials were not necessarily perfect, but at least they did not use their power to enrich themselves and undermine the supports that we had built for ourselves.

As I said, there is hope …

A big “THANK YOU!” to our retiring Worcester School Committee members!

By Edith Morgan

A Worcester Public Schools student and her mom. Worcester’s school system is a majority-minority school system. Photo by Rosalie Tirella.

One thing is certain: things will continue to change. But change for the better is not always assured, so this is a good time to take stock of the changes in the Worcester School Committee and thank those who have served. And to take note of the changes we should be watching for. (Remember, no one can help or harm you until you have empowered him/her to do so.)

On January 3, 2022, in the Great Hall at Mechanics Hall, beginning at 5:30 p.m. inaugural exercises will take place and the orderly transfer of civic power will take place in our School Committee and our City Council.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to two long-term School Committee members: John Monfredo and Jack Foley. They chose not to run for their seats again. Each brought something unique and valuable to their terms in office.

Jack Foley, through his connection in administration at Clark University, was able to help the Worcester Public School System to establish and maintain our unique and nationally recognized University Park School, a remarkable cooperative venture between Clark University and the neighborhood school, which has benefited so much over the years. Jack has always maintained his interest In special needs children and actively participated in efforts to raise funds for the system.

John Monfredo came up through the ranks, becoming a teacher decades ago at the old Lamartine Street School in Green Island and years later becoming very well known for being for many years the principal at Belmont Elementary School. He was well known for his ability to bring parents, students and the community together. He had a parents room, worked tirelessly to connect with the families of his students, many of them poor. But perhaps the best known of his endeavors, the one which touched and continues to touch the lives of so many children, is the project which he and his wife Anne Marie, a retired WPS teacher of Nelson Place Elementary School, have spearheaded for these many years. Worcester Reads…it is the getting into the hands of our city children more 970,000 books.

Mayor Joseph Petty will still be chairman of the Worcester School Committee. Photo by Ron O’Clair.

You have probably heard that “Worcester is the city that reads.” I would not hesitate to credit that fact to the untiring efforts of the Monfredos. I am also certain that with the support of the community and the addition of at least one more bookstore, that legacy is safe!

Both of these members have taken an active part always to ensure that we provide the very best education possible for all our children, a task which has not always been easy. But both these men have exemplified the kind of unselfish community involvement that the public should expect and deserve. Both have always reached out to those with whom they did not perhaps fully agree but have maintained an attitude of respect for other viewpoints.

I have always made a point of differentiating between statesmen, who put country, their duty, those whom they serve before themselves – and these two men are examples of that. We have been very fortunate thus far that we have elected persons who aspire to be ‘statesmen and women’. That is especially fortunate, since local elections involve such a small percentage of the voters, so that so few voters can exert great power.

On January 3rd we will welcome several new faces to our Worcester School Committee: we welcome Jermaine L. Johnson, Jermoh v. Kamara and Susan N. Mailman who will join re-elected incumbents Laura Clancey, Molly McCullough and Tracy O’Connell Novick. The chairmanship will of course continue to be our mayor, Joseph Petty.

This new committee is the most diverse we have ever had, in many areas. So I will expect that there will be a great many new ideas presented and discussed. Several of the new members bring backgrounds in areas not before fully represented on the committee, and all are younger than the previous members.

Time will tell whether they will all be able to share and advance the vital concerns of our school system. I know they will get all the help they need from the outgoing members, as well as Dr, Helen Friel, who knows everything about it all.

The new members face some really challenging changes: the discussion about changing representation, and establishing 6 districts with one elected member from each, with two elected city-wide at large, would bring the committee to eight members, patterned on the city council. The idea is to get representation from all parts of the city. I recall that when I ran in the 90’s most committee members were from the West side: I was’ the only one from the north-east of the city.

The other major challenge facing the new group is the selection of a new Worcester public schools superintendent. It is no secret that I was a supporter of the present superintendent, Maureen Binienda, whom I have known for 40 years, and who had worked her way up in the system and whom I had always respected and admired for her total dedication to all her students.

While it is the job of the Worcester School Committee to provide the ideas, the direction and the basic goals of the system, it is the job of the school superintendent to carry out these goals and to act as the liaison between the public and the school system.

I wish them all well: these are very trying times for public servants. It is hard to keep your eye on the huge tasks entrusted to our public schools; to turn out, after 12+ years, a human being able to reason, know fact from falsehood, understand the history of this nation, and to be able take his/her place in our democratic society that was once the envy of the world.

Good luck to our new members!

Forget COVID — Fear the Reindeer!

By Jennifer O’Connor

While the pandemic may have triggered the inexorable shift of most shoppers to online purchasing, many see Christmas as an excuse to head back to the mall. All the old standbys are waiting, and regrettably, that includes promotions involving live animals, such as reindeer displays and horse-drawn carriages.

The Worcester Common all dressed up for the holidays! pics:Rose T.

Dasher and Dancer are beloved movie characters, but real reindeer want nothing to do with humans!

In nature, these social animals are constantly on the move, migrating over vast distances of tundra and even using their hooves as paddles to traverse rivers and lakes. Their noses may not turn red, but depending on the season, their eyes change color to account for the differing levels of light.

Reindeer don’t want to be petted or harnessed to sleighs. When held in captivity, these large, strong animals retain their instincts to roam free, and being loaded on and off trucks, subjected to exhausting journeys and corralled at noisy events is frightening and confusing to them. Being in close contact with shoppers, bright lights and excited children is an entirely inappropriate environment for a reindeer or any other animal. A few years ago, a reindeer being used as a Christmas prop at a Colorado mall made a break for it and went on the run, and in the U.K., a reindeer used at a holiday event took off at full gallop down the street after being startled by a car horn. Grandma really might get run over by a reindeer.

St. John’s Church on Temple Street, Worcester, has Christmas Masses that draw thousands of people! Please, don’t make animals that belong in the wild – like reindeers – a part of your Christmas! Be kind and humane this Christmas season!

Reindeer pose other risks that might necessitate a trip to the ER: They can harbor tetanus, leptospirosis, Lyme disease and salmonellosis — all of which are transmissible to humans.

Crowded mall parking lots are no place for other animals, either, yet horses pulling carriages are dodging impatient drivers all over the country. The season for carriage operators to make a buck lasts only a matter of weeks, so horses are given few breaks to rest or catch their breath. Hauling load after heavy load through ice and slush is exhausting. And when tack rubs against their skin for hours on end, it can cause sores and abrasions that may not be visible when covered by a harness.

Horses are extremely sensitive to loud noises and unexpected sounds — like the blaring horn of someone trying to commandeer a parking space. Horses (along with humans) can be seriously hurt — some have even died — when they’ve spooked and run amok or when reckless drivers have run into them.

City and towns often have holiday light celebrations at this time of year. Tell your hometown: NO ANIMALS FOR ENTERTAINMENT, HAULING OR PETTING, PLEASE!

No one in authority ensures that these animals are being provided with food, water and proper care.

Understaffed and overburdened animal control departments don’t have the resources to monitor holiday displays and enforce compliance with anti-cruelty laws.

The exhibitors who display the animals consider this their high season, so profits typically trump animal welfare.

This holiday season, extend peace and goodwill to all by refusing to support these exploitative displays – and spreading the word!

What do dogs and cats really want for the holidays?

Keep reading to discover what they would ask Santa for if they could …

A Holiday Wish List From Cats and Dogs


Dogs want a harness to replace any shock, prong or choke collars on their necks.

Cats want to see declawing banned and to receive a scratching post — an appropriate place to scratch so that they can keep their claws in good shape, as nature intended.

Lilac, like all dogs, loves to chew … photos: Rose T.

Dogs want to be allowed to sniff the bushes during their walks, as well as setting the pace and choosing the route once in a while.

Cats dream of a room with view or having a “catio” to lounge in.

Both want states to pass spay/neuter laws to help end animal homelessness and shelters to “fix” all adopted animals before they go home so that they won’t add to the companion animal overpopulation crisis.

Jett is almost 15 years old!

They also want people to be brave enough not to subject their animal companions to prolonged suffering in their final days because it’s so hard to say goodbye.

Most of all, animals want your love and attention.
Cece has plenty of cozy puffy beds …

On their behalf, PETA wants the words “owner” and “pet” replaced with “guardian” and “companion” and all animals to be treated as cherished and respected members of the family.

Fun at the dog park.


By Rosalie Tirella

Please give a listen to this terrific Michael Moore RUMBLE podcast episode (below) on what happened in Michigan (4 dead, many wounded at a school by a mentally ill student – and his parents who were with him every step of the way) and gun violence in America. Extreme gun violence – a uniquely American scourge that Congress won’t do a da* n thing about! Connecticut’s US Senator Murphy is trying to change all that: he’s doing outstanding work for mandatory universal background checks and banning assault rifles from these American shores.

He’s on Moore’s podcast, and remembers the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, in his home state. Murphy tells Moore he saw the horrific crime photos of all those innocent six year old students, first graders, who were hiding in the classroom closet from the gunman, their little bodies, each weighing around 50 pounds. Their bodies, Murphy tells Moore, were liquidized!! Liquidized after rounds and rounds of bullets fired at them at such close range from a military style assault weapon!! Most of the children had to be identified through dental records.

This American madness must end.

I agree with Moore: the parents of the Sandy Hook babies who were brutally murdered at their school on that heartbreaking day in America should share those horrific crime scene photos of their massacred babies with the world! Just like Emmett Louis Till’s mom – who demanded an open casket wake and showed America how her 14-year-old African American son was brutally murdered/ lynched in Mississippi in 1955. The photos ran in newspapers all over the globe. Till was beaten, dragged through a river, testicles cut off, hanged after being accused of offending a white woman. THAT PHOTO OF HIM IN HIS CASKET, HIS FACE SO DISFIGURED AND GORY, CHANGED AMERICA! Brought reality home to millions of white Americans. That photo was a major catalyst for the Civil Rights movement in America. It forced our country, our presidents, our Congress to WAKE UP.


Push US Senator Murphy, all our US senators and congressmen and -women, to beg the Sandy Hook parents to show those photos of their murdered babies to the world! Then we’ll see the gun laws, the universal background checks, the banning of AR’s … and the changes in our mental health care system …


🎄🎄Lorraine Laurie 🦌🎅and her Kelley Square Christmas Tree – always in style!🎄🎄🎄

Santa Comes Early to Green Island

By Lorraine Laurie

Lorraine and Mr. and Mrs. Claus! photo submitted.

Santa Claus came early to Green Island. The occasion was the 34th Kelley Square Tree Lighting and the 2nd Extravaganza! held on Saturday, December 4. Santa arrived shortly after 2 p.m, accompanied by Mrs. Santa Claus and, of course, by some of his elves.

The festivities were centered right near Kelley Square and included tables with snacks, non- alcoholic beverages, raffles, giveaways and music. Favorites were the Table Talk Pies and the Kelley Square Pizzas. Sports and business mascots circulated amongst the crowd of more than 200 people and were happy to pose for a picture or two.

The busiest activity was the photo-ops with Mr. and Mrs. Santa in a beautiful sleigh sent down from the North Pole for the occasion. Both young and not-so- young smiled brightly as they had their picture taken with the famous couple and received a candy cane from Santa.

Music was in the air and, as the clock’s hands gradually approached 5 p.m, the crowd headed for the traffic PEANUT where the Kelley Square Christmas Tree resides. People were safely crossed by members of the Worcester Police Department. Holiday greetings were given by Lorraine Laurie, Chairperson of the Green Island Residents Group, Inc., City Manager Edward Augustus, State Rep. Dan Donahue, State Senator Michael Moore and Worcester City Councilors Candy Mero-Carlson and Kate Toomey. Dr. Charles Steinberg, owner of the WooSox, was introduced.

Longtime Worcester community activist and booster Ernie Floyd led the count down, and just like that the lights were turned on at the “new Christmas tree” in the Kelley Square Peanut!!

Thanks to the Green Island Residents Group, the WPD and local businesses for making the eve merry and bright!

And, as Santa says, “Merry Christmas to all, and I’ll see you next year at Kelley Square!”


And this Christmas we remember the late Tony Hmura, born and bred in Green Island, and Worcester’s “Polish Santa.” Here he is, years back, loading up his “sleigh” with toys to give out to the kids of South Worcester. Miss you, Tony!💚🦌🎅 photo: Rose T.