Spotlights from the 2017 Community Celebration


Spotlights from the 2017 Community Celebration

We had a GREAT Community Celebration last night at historic Mechanics Hall. Thank you to all the attendees and honorees for joining us and for all you do for our community. We have included the links below for the six programs we highlighted at the Celebration. Please take a few minutes to watch these inspiring videos of the United Way funded programs at each organization.

Regional Environmental Council: YouthGrow Program & Farmer’s Markets

Ascentria Care Alliance: Services for new Americans Video

Safe Homes: LGBTQ youth center


Ramp Builders

Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central MA/MetroWest

Spotlight from Annual Celebration



We had a GREAT Community Celebration last night at historic Mechanics Hall. Thank you to all the attendees and honorees for joining us and for all you do for our community. We have included the links below for the six programs we highlighted at the Celebration. Please take a few minutes to watch these inspiring videos of the United Way funded programs at each organization.

Regional Environmental Council: YouthGrow Program & Farmer’s Markets

Ascentria Care Alliance: Services for new Americans Video

Safe Homes: LGBTQ youth center


Ramp Builders

Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central MA/MetroWest

Women’s Initiative Announces 2016 Awards

The Women’s Initiative is excited to announce the 2016 recipients of the Lois B. Green Leadership Award and the Meridith D. Wesby Young Leader Award.  Each year the Women’s Initiative honors two local women that embody leadership and values of our co-founders Lois Green and Meridith Wesby and whose deep commitment and dedication make a meaningful difference in our community.

This year’s recipients of the Lois B. Green Leadership and Meridith D. Wesby Young Leader awards are recognized for their personal achievements as well as their contributions as role models for women and girls.

Lois B. Green Leadership Award – Maureen Gray


Maureen Gray holds a life-long dedication to motivating young people to learn and achieve, to community service, and to financial empowerment for women and girls.

After earning her BA from Mercyhurst University and Master’s from Assumption College in French and Education, she launched a 21-year career as a teacher and administrator at Bancroft School, teaching foreign languages and English.  During her time there, she co-authored the textbook, The Phenomenon of Language, an exploratory language skills program for Middle School students.   At her retirement from Bancroft, she was awarded the school’s Carpe Diem Award for excellence in teaching.

In 1990, Maureen prepared to pursue a second career in financial planning.  For the last 26 years, she has advised clients on investments, retirement savings, insurance and budgeting in her profession as Senior Wealth Strategist for the Gray Group at UBS Financial Services, downtown Worcester.

Maureen has served on the Boards of several non-profit organizations, including Seven Hills Foundation, Junior League, Worcester Historical Museum and Girls Inc. She is a Trustee of Seven Hills, a Corporator of the Worcester Art Museum and a member of the Financial Literacy Committee for the Women’s Initiative.  She has enjoyed speaking at conferences and events designed to teach young women about finance, careers in finance, fund-raising and governance.

For these and other efforts, in 2015 she was awarded the Robert W. Stoddard Award for Outstanding Community Service by Bancroft School.

Maureen is known as someone who works behind the scenes connecting people to organizations to help make our community thrive.  In her mind so many have latent leadership talent and are ripe for mentoring in order to be effective on boards and committees.  She has a personal and professional mission to help others make well-informed financial and philanthropic decisions.

Maureen lives in Worcester with her husband, Bob Gray, and is the mother of three sons and the grandmother of seven, six girls and a boy.

Meridith D. Wesby Young Leader Award – Katherine Esparza

KatherineEsparza Photo

Katherine Esparza is the Community Organizer and Main South Youth Corps Coordinator for the BYRNE Grant – youth violence prevention initiatives at the Main South Community Development Corporation. Katherine is originally from Quito, Ecuador; living in Worcester since the age of 16.   During that time Katherine was involved in the fields of youth development work, public health, social and racial justice, community development, community organizing, and journalism. Katherine also worked in Honduras and Ecuador with a focus in human rights, gender equity, and environmental justice.

Katherine graduated from Clark University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Development & Social Change and Women’s and Gender Studies.  Katherine remained at Clark for an additional year receiving a post-graduate certificate on Youth Development Work. While pursuing her education at Clark, Katherine worked at the Latino Education Institute as a co-facilitator and mentor for Latina Achievers in Search of Success (LASOS), ELL focused programming, and service-learning. During this time, Katherine also was as a work-study student at the Main South CDC in partnership with Clark University. Through that partnership, Katherine was part of the MSCDC’s teams that served Worcester families through the First-Time Homebuyers Program, VITA, Bilingual Computer Classes, and Neighborhood Community Meetings.

In recognition of her accomplishments serving girls, Katherine was hired by the YWCA as a Program Coordinator for their Young Women Leadership Program where she developed and implemented curriculum focused on leadership and community engagement through the lenses of social and racial justice.

Katherine continues to grow in new directions including social and racial justice activism through filmmaking.  She believes in using media as a venue for social change and to amplify voices that are often unrecognized.  Katherine is also a lead organizer for the Worcester Youth.

Please join us in congratulating Maureen Gray and Katherine Esparza at the 14th Annual Stepping Up for Girls Event, which will take place Thursday, September 22, 2016 at Mechanics Hall.



Meet Susan Papalia: UMass Heart Nurse and Marathon Volunteer

Susan Papalia grew up on Long Island, NY and went on to study nursing at SUNY at Plattsburgh, graduating with a BS in Nursing and now has an extensive background in cardiac research and care with decades of experience.Susan Papalia

In addition to her interest in cardiovascular research, Susan has become involved in sports medicine as well. About a decade ago, she began volunteering at the Boston Marathon and quickly began to assume leadership positions within the Boston Athletic Association medical team. This year she served as Co-Captain for the finish line medical operations responsible for overseeing 300 medical volunteers. In addition to the Boston Marathon, Susan volunteers her time in leadership roles both inside and out of the medical tent at 10 other races throughout the year from Maine to Maryland. Susan is also a Red Cross Disaster volunteer and a member of the Massachusetts Medical Reserve Corp.

She is an avid animal advocate and a lifelong vegetarian.  She and her husband Tom spend time on their free weekends transporting animals from high risk kill shelters to rescue organizations, fosters, and adoptive families within in New England. She is an active member of PETA, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, The Humane Society and Defenders of Wildlife. She enjoys hiking, scuba diving and any time she can spend outdoors or with her four legged daughters.

Join us on Thursday, September 22, 2016; 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., Mechanics Hall.  Susan will share her life experiences from the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, where she and other volunteers stationed near the “Marathon” finish line, helped runners strive to reach the finish line but were now experiencing medical trouble.

“It basically went from this relaxed felling, to a mass casualty event in seconds, Papalia said.  “You train for it and you hope it never happens.”

Today you can find Susan as a cardiovascular research nurse manager at UMass Medical School.  She is also a committed volunteer with multiple organizations for humans and animals in Massachusetts and around New England.

Become a Sponsor!

2016 Summer Youth Volunteer Program


The 2016 Summer Youth Volunteer Program is in full swing and dozens of teenagers are making out community a better place this month!  The program offers numerous opportunities to participate in community service projects throughout central Massachusetts. Youth are invited to work with the United Way on fun and interesting community service projects. Projects focus on issues such as youth mentoring, fitness, environment, culture, art, literacy, and more!  The program is free for all students residing in the United Way of Central Massachusetts’s service area, which includes Worcester and its surrounding towns.

Located at a site in the greater Worcester area, each project will be completed in one day. Depending on the time of the project, United Way will provide either lunch or a snack for all volunteers in addition to a FREE T-shirt. The program’s calendar currently includes service opportunities at the AIDS project, the Big Dipper Ice Cream Festival, Community Harvest Project, and more. For the past five years, youth in the Worcester area have been volunteering their time, making new friends, and making a difference within the community.

United Way of Central Massachusetts’ Volunteer Center coordinates many volunteer opportunities throughout the year to encourage community involvement. Volunteerism is experiencing a surge across our country and United Way of Central Massachusetts is poised to help residents find volunteer opportunities to match their time and interest. United Way of Central Massachusetts connects people and resources to improve the community by focusing on the building blocks for a good life: education, family stability, and health.

The Summer Youth Volunteer Program is now full and won’t be accepting additional youth for the 2016 year.

Women’s Initiative grants $260,000 for girl’s programs


The Women’s Initiative of United Way of Central Massachusetts recently awarded $260,000 to fund 11 programs in central Massachusetts that directly impact the lives of middle school girls in the area.

The following Women’s Initiative funded programs are focused on reducing the incidence of violence affecting girls through the strategy of building, strengthening and supporting the development of healthy, safe, and confident girls;

African Community Education Program Express Yourself Program $17,250

Boys and Girls Club of Worcester Girls Voice Program $26,500

Clark University All Kinds of Girls $12,000

Family Health Center Girls on the Run at Sullivan Middle $15,800

Girl Scouts of Central and Western MA Be a Friend First (BFF) $17,200

Girls Inc. Dear World: Voices of Worcester Girls $28,250

Latino Education Institute (LEI) Latina Achievers in Search of Success (LASOS) $36,000

LUK Crisis Center, Inc. Project Shine $13,500

Seven Hills Family Services Just Us Girls $15,750

Youth Opportunities Upheld, Inc. (YOU, Inc.) ASCEND Program $24,750

YWCA of Central Massachusetts Girls Promoting Safety $53,000

In addition to funding programs and events, Women’s Initiative continues to offer free community-wide financial literacy conferences, called “Dollar $cholar,” for eighth-grade girls in Worcester and surrounding towns. Since 2006, nearly 3,000 girls from central Massachusetts were introduced to the basics of finance and budgeting, setting the stage for future independence and confidence around personal finance. The most recent Dollar $cholar Conferences took place May 25-27, 2016, and served 250 girls from Dr. Arthur F. Sullivan Middle School in Worcester.

For more information on the Women’s Initiative, visit their page.


Worcester Public Library branch to open at Tatnuck Magnet School


Some of the 4,500 new books that line the shelves in the new Tatnuck Magnet School branch library. (Megan Bard I

By Megan Bard,
The books have been shelved and last-minute projects are being completed just in time for the unveiling of the new Worcester Public Library branch at the Tatnuck Magnet School.

This afternoon at 3:30, the One City, One Library campaign will host a ribbon cutting and open house at the new Pleasant Street branch. Soon after, residents, students and teachers will be able to get their hands on the more than 4,500 new books that line the stacks and start using the new computers, early literacy stations, iPads, e-readers, and other digital media that have been purchased through monetary and in-kind donations for the project.

The Tatnuck branch is the second of four city public library branches that are scheduled to open over the next few months as part an effort by the Worcester Public Library Foundation and the Worcester Public Schools to improve child literacy rates by providing access to grade-level materials. According to information provided by the One City, One Library group, 59 percent of Worcester public school students cannot read proficiently by third grade.

This “means they are at significant risk of dropping out of school or not completing high school,” according to One City, One Library.

“We hope to see a measurable outcome. We want to see proficiency levels increase, students’ performance improve, and in five years to look back and see that this made a difference,” Christina Andreoli, executive director of the Worcester Public Library Foundation, said on Friday.

The pilot program calls for opening branches in the Goddard Science and Technology and Burncoat Preparatory schools, in addition to the branch in the Roosevelt Elementary School, which opened in October, and Tatnuck.

The four schools selected for the five-year pilot program were identified based on several factors, including reading proficiency levels, location in the city, socioeconomics, and how feasible it is to renovate a portion of the school to accommodate the branch, according to Andreoli. A library bookmobile will make routine trips to the remaining 30 city elementary schools.

Library foundation members credit the community at large for making the pilot program possible. Although the foundation led the construction and the $2 million fund-raising effort, it took hours of dedication by volunteers to set the plan in motion. Thus far, roughly $1.2 million has been raised for the four pilot branches and the library bookmobile.

Last week, the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation pledged $35,000 to the Tatnuck branch in the first year, with the potential for two additional years of funding, according to a news release.

“We are honored to lead the One City, One Library effort and to help in the movement to bring back library services to our neighborhoods,” Worcester Public Library Foundation Chairman Robert W. Sorrenti said in a news release.

In addition to the Harvard Pilgrim donation, the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the city of Worcester have also offered funding for the project.

Cardinal Construction, Inc. provided pro bono services and acted as the project manager, and in-kind services were provided by the following organizations: Coghlin Electrical Contractors, Inc., Knight Security, Inc., Nal’s Paint Center, Fine Painting, Sunshine Signs, Rotmans, College of the Holy Cross, Hanover Insurance Group, and United Way.

Link to article

Commerce Bank participates in Day of Caring


Commerce Bank employees recently participated in the United Way of Central Massachusetts’ annual Day of Caring, spending the day at Lutheran Social Services in Worcester calling recent donors to thank them for their support of the organization. From left, Michael Roy, Cathy Esposito, Lisa Lyons and Jamie How. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

WORCESTER — Commerce Bank employees recently participated in the United Way of Central Massachusetts’ annual Day of Caring, spending the day at Lutheran Social Services calling recent donors to thank them for their support of the organization.

Link to webpage

Central Mass. Nonprofits Suffering from Government Shutdown

Paige Pihl Buckley, GoLocalWorcester Contributor

Food pantries have been hit especially hard by the government shutdown.
As the government shutdown enters its third week, Central Massachusetts nonprofits are beginning to feel the pinch. Those that aren’t are fearful that a continued shutdown could be a major hit to their resources and, in turn, to their ability to serve families and individuals in need.

“This shutdown and debt ceiling brinkmanship are politically manufactured crises. Tragically, those who are going to be most impacted as it drags on are our most vulnerable citizens, who depend on government assistance programs – VA benefits, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, fuel assistance, reduced price school meals, WIC, SNAP, etc. – to make ends meet,” said Congressman Jim McGovern.

“Virtually every nonprofit in Central Massachusetts is feeling or will soon feel the squeeze. On one hand, they are experiencing a higher demand and drain on existing resources from low-income populations. On the other, resources that come directly or indirectly from the federal government will be drastically reduced or slowed,” he said. “It’s a vicious cycle, and one we don’t have to be caught in if the GOP will let us take a vote that reopens the government, and raises the debt ceiling.”
Local Nonprofits Hit Hard

Politics aside, the very real consequences of the shutdown are hitting some local nonprofits particularly hard.

“I think in our case one of the first programs to go with the shutdown has been the WIC program,” said Gordon Hargrove, Executive Director of Friendly House in Worcester. “This program buys food for babies, formula and other food for infants.”

WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is a federal assistance program for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children under 5 years old.

“People have been coming to us for formula and we don’t have very much unfortunately,” said Hargrove. “In turn people will use their money and, because formula is fairly expensive, they’ve been buying that first and then they’ve been having problems paying rent and utilities.”

This has led to increased demand for financial assistance said Hargrove, and lengthening lines at food pantries.

“We’re trying to stock up for Thanksgiving and the holidays but we’ve had to use most of our set aside applies to help folks in the immediate times,” said Hargrove.
End Of The Month Could Bring More Problems

Other organizations have not been hit by the shutdown yet, but worry that if the shutdown is not over before month’s end there will be serious repercussions.

“As of today, none of the funds that support our facility or health benefits have stopped,” said Frances Anthes, President and CEO of the Family Health Center of Worcester, Inc.

“But everybody’s really worried that if it goes on to the end of the month, there’s a problem for lots of different programs,” she said. “Many of the patients that come to the Health Center rely on government programs for something, and many of the patients seem very anxious because people are very afraid that they’re going to lose benefits they need to survive.”

David McMahon, Co-Executive Director of the Dismas House of Massachusetts, Inc. expressed a similar sentiment.

“Currently there has not been enough time for the full federal shutdown to impact our small nonprofit,” he said, “but if it drags on longer we anticipate it will hurt state programs that fund such organizations as ours, so we are hopeful for a resolution soon.”
Hope For Compromise

Tim Garvin, President and CEO of the United Way of Central Massachusetts, said that while his organization has not yet been affects they have been working to help other partner organizations that have.

“We at the United Way are concerned about the continued shutdown,” he said. “We have reached out to those who serve the most basic needs of food to make sure they don’t run out of food. We don’t want anyone to be hungry. Should we hear from our partner agencies, if they are struggling, we will provide assistance where we can.”

Garvin also noted several developments, which he said we reasons to be optimistic. He said that late Friday night his office received word from United Way Worldwide that their federal emergency food and shelter funding would grow in the coming fiscal year. He also said he had received assurances from the USDA that current funding would last through the end of the fiscal year.

“We do remain aware and fearful,” Garvin said, “but we are also hopeful. There are good people in Congress that are going to work to resolve this. I’m optimistic that they’ll always do the American thing and help our neighbors in need.”

Link to article

Saint-Gobain to hold surplus sale

WORCESTER — Saint-Gobain will host its fourth annual Abrasives Discounted Products Sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 19.

The sale, which is open to the public, will take place rain or shine at the Saint-Gobain Executive Garage at One New Bond Street, Worcester.

The sale will include discontinued and overstocked abrasives items, such as sandpaper, cut-off wheels, floor sanding products, automotive refinishing products, microfiber cleaning cloths, grinding wheels and sharpening stones, with proceeds donated to the United Way of Central Massachusetts.

For more information, call Trish Dawson at (508) 795-5762.

Last year, Saint-Gobain’s combined corporate, employee and retiree donation to the United Way of Central Massachusetts was $396,000.

Link to article

Worcester Telegram & Gazette