UPDATED: 10/16/2014 06:53:07 AM EDT
By Michael Hartwell, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Nov 25, 2014
Sheriff’s 9th Annual Food Drive
Brings in 200,000 Pounds of Food
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Patrick Sargent, GoLocal Worcester Contributor
From left to right: Michael Gross, General Manager of Harr Toyota, Lew Evangelidis, Worcester County Sheriff, Finz from Worcester Sharks, Gordon Hargrove of the Friendly House, Michael Myers of the Worcester Sharks
On Monday morning at the Friendly House in Worcester, local needy families received their Thanksgiving meals and winter coats for their children. At the 9th Annual Worcester County Sheriff Food Drive, 200,000 tons of food were donated by several local businesses and organizations, and by the residents of Worcester. 325 winter coats were donated by Harr Toyota.
“It means the world to me,” said Worcester resident Melissa Dellomo. “I’m struggling to get by. I’m barely working and I’m having trouble paying child support. This will save me $50 to $75 and that doesn’t include what I’ll save on the coats I will receive.”
2,000 Residents to Receive Food
“The Sheriff’s Annual Food Drive has a great tradition of giving back and this year over 200,000 pounds of donated food items were collected which will provide a wonderful Thanksgiving meal to over 2,000 local families in need during the holiday season,” said Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis.
The food will be distributed by the Friendly House, a local non-profit neighborhood and outreach center. “This is the most food we’ve ever seen in all the years I’ve been here. Over the holidays, we will be able to help at least 2,000 families. This year, rather than just only giving a turkey, we have provided whole meals,” said Gordon Hargrove, Executive Director of Friendly House. Hargrove has been at the Friendly House since 1957.
Josephine Velez, the Director of Social Services at Friendly House, has been at the Friendly House for over 30 years. Velez said, “This is excellent. It’s wonderful. There are 325 brand new jackets and this is the second year in a row we’ve been able to give the kids brand new jackets. Its the winter. There are so many families not able to pay rent or bills. Now they will at least have their children warm for the winter.”
Partners in Charity
The sponsors of this year’s food drive include Price Chopper, Worcester County Food Bank, WPI Fraternity Lambda Chi Alpha, Fallon Community Healthcare, Worcester Academy, DiMitria Delights, 2 Ovens Restaurant, David Gibbs and Family, Charter TV3, WCRN, Harr Toyota, and other private donors.
Senior Whole Health donated bags to hold the Thanksgiving meals being handed out. Price Chopper did a week-long collection, collecting 1,100 pounds of food.
Harr Toyota provided the hundreds of winter jackets. “Harr has been in the community since the 1940’s,” said Michael Gross, General Manager. “We are proud to be part of such a well-run event.”
WPI’s Lambda Chi Alpha collected over 10,000 pounds of food from Worcester residents. “The kids from WPI are unbelievable,” said Michael Myers, Senior Director of Business and Community Development for the Worcester Sharks. “They literally hung bags on every door in Worcester. They asked the people to fill it and all the kids had to do was come by and pick it up.”
“We are all partners in this food drive,” said Evangelidis. “The sheriff’s office is just blessed to be the coordinator.”
Oct 16, 2014
Oct 16, 2014
10/16/2014 7:40:00 AM
News Staff Writer
The Sheriff’s Annual Coat Drive kicked off Wednesday morning with members of the Crowley family and representatives from Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, Warmer Winters of Leominster, Rutland Knitting Group, The Gardner Museum, the Spanish American Center of Leominster, and Hope Center of Fitchburg.
PRINCETON – Set against the stunning fall foliage, Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis kicked off the Sheriff’s Annual Coat Drive at the Wachusett Mountain Ski Area Wednesday morning, decked out in a hand-knit scarf and joined by some of the drive’s many partners.
“This is really one of the most special days of the year,” Sheriff Evangelidis told the crowd gathered at the base of the mountain.
Last year, the drive distributed more than 2,000 coats to families across Worcester County and this year the Sheriff said the event already has a substantial head start thanks to the ski area and the Crowley family, who donated 1,500 coats to the cause.
“These guys have been so generous in what they’ve done to not only get this program started, but get us halfway there,” Sheriff Evangelidis said.
David Crowley, Wachusett Mountain general manager, said the coats were given as part of the ski shop’s “Shop and Swap” program, where customers can drop off winter coats and hats in exchange for credit toward lift tickets in the fall and winter skiing season. Mr. Crowley said the program helps make skiing affordable, particularly for large families, and any items that do not sell later are donated to Wachusett Mountain.
Several of the drive’s top contributors were also present, including Warmer Winters, a group out of Leominster that harnesses about 100 volunteers throughout the year to produce over 4,000 hand-knit jackets, mittens, scarves, and hats for donation. According to CEO Judy Gentry, in addition to contributing to the coat drive, the group has recently begun reaching out to the homeless people in Fitchburg and Leominster who spend the majority of their winter outside.
“We give people brand new, beautifully made things,” Ms. Gentry said of the group’s work.
The Coat Drive will run through November, with distribution taking place in December. Sheriff Evangelidis said collection boxes will be placed in locations throughout the county, including The Gardner Museum during normal business hours and Hannaford Supermarket in the city. All coats must be new or slightly used and will be dry-cleaned before they are handed off to various charities and community centers throughout the region.
“When the coats get to the center, it’s pretty much a party,” said Nicolas Formaggia with the Spanish American Center in Leominster — which will receive items collected from the drive.
The city’s Hope Center and Cleghorn Neighborhood Center in Fitchburg will also distribute coats to families, along with many others.
While participation and donations toward the drive have grown, the sheriff noted that there has also been an uptick in the number of families in need in the area and that for many, a winter coat can be the first step toward stability.
“The need in the community is greater than ever,” the Sheriff said. “This is so much more than a coat.”
Oct 15, 2014
WCSO Military Peer Support Group
By Sandy Meindersma CORRESPONDENT
Sunday, October 12, 2014
WEST BOYLSTON — Recognizing the need for assistance during deployment and upon return to civilian life, the Worcester County House of Correction has launched a new Military Peer Support Program to assist those employees and their families with matters associated with the employees’ military service.
Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis said the program was launched earlier this year as part of his commitment to officer and employee wellness.
“We are the first sheriff’s department to do it,” Mr. Evangelidis said. “We are proud of the help we offer out servicemen during every phase of the transition. This is the least that we can do for people who serve their country.”
As part of the program, Sheriff Evangelidis and the Peer Support Team recently held private ceremonies to welcome back Correction Officer Nicholas Curci and GED Instructor Kevin Conway. ‘
Mr. Curci, an E-4 Boatswain’s Mate in the Coast Guard Reserves, returned home from a nine-month deployment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in April. He has been at the House of Correction for three years, and part of his reserve unit for four years.
“Our unit is a deployable unit, so I signed up, knowing I was going to go,” he said.
Mr. Curci said he has found the Military Peer Support Program very helpful.
“It was great,” Mr. Curci said. “Someone sees you off and welcomes you home, and supports your family while you’re gone.”
Mr. Conway, an E-7 Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps, served six months in Afghanistan in 2012, and was mobilized three times during his four years of active duty, from 1994 to 1998.
Mr. Conway said the welcome home ceremony was very special to him and his family.
“My wife, children and mother all liked it,” he said. “They gave us a plaque and a coin, and some flowers for my wife.”
To ease the transition from military life back to civilian life and work at the House of Correction, the Military Peer Support Program includes 40 house of in-service training and a two-week peer shadowing arrangement to allow veterans to ease back into their roles.
Sgt. Richard Brooks, a member of the support team, said that when he returned to work back in the 1990s, it was very difficult.
“There were a lot of guys who had had a tough time, and there was nothing,” Sgt. Brooks said. “Today is so different.”
In addition to Mr. Curci and Mr. Conway, there are two other employees at the jail who are currently deployed.
Through the Military Peer Support Program, one of the employees, Justin Donahue, was able to take the promotional exam while he is deployed, something that had not previously been possible. Other support for the families has included assistance with health insurance forms and with the home buying process.