Holy Cross, City Collaborate on Summer Programs Benefiting Worcester’s Youth

During a press conference at Sullivan Middle School on June 8, College of the Holy Cross President Michael C. McFarland, S.J., Worcester City Manager Michael V. O’Brien and Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Melinda Boone together announced three new summer partnerships that will benefit local elementary, middle and high school students.

Adding to its long-standing tradition of partnering with the City during the summer months to support critical projects and programs, this year Holy Cross will: establish a parks stewardship program with students at Sullivan Middle School; support Worcester’s Wheels to Water initiative, financially and as a host site; and hire local high school students for summer employment on campus.

In announcing the new partnerships, Fr. McFarland acknowledged the impact that recent budget cuts and staff reductions have had on Worcester’s youth and lauded the efforts of elected representatives, city officials, business leaders, educators, and many volunteers for finding ways to help “even as they struggle with their own budgets and ever-multiplying responsibilities.”

“At the College of the Holy Cross, we join in this citywide commitment,” he said.  “Our Jesuit mission, which emphasizes social justice and community engagement by calling us to be ‘men and women for others,’ is something that Holy Cross students, faculty, staff and administration all take very seriously and engage in year round.”

“From hosting the Worcester Tornadoes to recruiting students to staff camps, the people at Holy Cross know the value of giving students an opportunity to make a difference, to feel connected to a community, a neighborhood, a park, a business, and to take pride in the work being accomplished,” said O’Brien. “That is what makes our community so great, and I am thrilled today to be part of this exciting announcement by Holy Cross.”

Through a grant from the Commonwealth Corps and a commitment from the College, six Holy Cross students will work with a group of 28 Sullivan Middle School students in a multifaceted parks stewardship program that will also include summer reading, college prep, and recreation components.  The program will run four days a week from July 5 – August 12.  Parks include Cookson Park, Maloney Field, and Crompton Park.

Patrick Teebagy, a 2011 Holy Cross graduate and part of the team working to design and staff the Sullivan Middle School program, also spoke at the event.  “We are very excited to be working on this important initiative, and appreciate the continued support, cooperation, and input of community leaders as we move forward. We hope that the product we develop will be a long-lasting initiative that continues to strengthen the relationship Holy Cross has with Worcester, while making a positive impact on the lives of the middle school students.”

In addition to serving as a host site for Wheels to Water, a program that provides access for local children to area pools and beaches, Holy Cross has donated $10,000 to support operational costs for the program.  Beginning July 5, youth from Autumn Woods Apartments, located at 15 Upland Gardens, will swim at the Hart Swimming Pool on campus on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3-5 p.m.

Finally, recognizing funding limitations for Worcester’s YouthWorks Summer Jobs Program, which provides summer employment for low-income city youth between the ages of 14 and 21, Holy Cross will hire two high school students to work for its physical plant department on landscaping and grounds keeping.  While official YouthWorks jobs are funded partly by a grant and private foundations, Holy Cross will pay the employees’ full salary.

In addition to these new programs, Holy Cross is continuing its previous summer partnerships with the city, including hosting the Worcester Tornadoes on campus and placing work-study students, interns and volunteers in local organizations, agencies and business.  This summer, more than 30 students will work at places ranging from Abby’s House to the Boys & Girls Club to the Mayor’s office—all at no cost to the organizations.

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Photos by: Catherine Burgess '11