Over 500 volunteers complete community service projects across Worcester on April 20.
By Kelsey Horton
Special to GoHolyCross.com
“It was just an idea in the dorm-room,” said junior hockey player Jeffery Reppucci (Newburyport, Mass.). Last summer Reppucci travelled to Suzdal, Russia to implement a new sports and wellness program for the community’s school and orphanage. He additionally founded his own non-profit, Students Helping Children Across Borders, Inc. (SHCAB) and appointed his roommate/teammate Derek Kump (Falmouth, Maine) the Director of Operations. With one successful project under their belts, Reppucci and Kump brainstormed what was next for their budding organization. The answer, they realized was right under their nose. They decided that they should bring SCHAB’s mission to their local community, Worcester. Eight months, 500+ volunteers and $52,000 later this idea was made into a reality.
On Saturday, April 20, 2013, Reppucci, Kump and the rest of their leadership team led their inaugural city-wide project called Working for Worcester. Among this leadership team were fellow ice hockey player Mark Williamson (Centennial, Colo.), field hockey captain Kelly Burke (Walpole Mass.) and football player Philip Gough (Hinsdale, Ill.). Football player Andrew Zitnik (Warren, Ohio) was also in charge of one of the site’s projects.
The day kicked off with a pep rally in the ice hockey arena where Father Boroughs and United Way CEO Tim Garvin gave words of inspiration before everyone separated into their site groups. There were 12 different sites, each with unique project ideas that were designed to improve schools and recreational areas in Worcester.
“Our goal for Saturday was to make tangible infrastructural improvements to the city's recreation sites,” said Reppucci. “By working together, we hoped to cultivate a stronger sense of community ownership between the student and resident populations of Worcester. Of course, we also wanted to create as many recreation spaces as we could to bring as much wellness and recreation opportunities as we could to some of Worcester's more underdeveloped neighborhoods. I am proud to say that we succeeded in these goals!” Some examples of this year’s projects included putting in a new dance studio, building a playground and painting a mural.
Burke, who was approached by Reppucci at the beginning of the year, said that the 12 projects had evolved over the course of the year. “We started off as a group of six,” said Burke who is now one of 21 on the leadership team. “We met once a week and basically started off from scratch, figuring out what projects we wanted to do. Then as the year went on we started focusing on what sites we wanted to renovate. Halfway through the year we had completed our list of projects and sites.”
Burke played a central role in making this large event happen as the group’s Special Events Coordinator. She also organized smaller events throughout the year including the Working for Worcester Kick-Off Extravaganza that was held in December. This event helped raise money for the projects and to recruit volunteers.
Gough had another crucial role in Working for Worcester’s success as he was the Co-Director of Volunteer Logistics. “I was asked to get involved by a friend who thought I could help with the on campus recruiting,” said Gough. “I didn't know much about the project going in but watching the progress from the start was incredible. I helped with recruiting volunteers at Working for Worcester events and specifically tried to focus on getting as many varsity sports teams involved as possible.” The sports teams that Gough successfully recruited were men and women’s ice hockey, men and women’s basketball, football, field hockey and women’s soccer.
Besides the abundance of Holy Cross volunteers, one of the most important parts of Working for Worcester’s success was the help from everyone in the community. Two Clark University students and three Worcester natives are on the Working for Worcester leadership team. In addition, there were volunteers from seven of the different Worcester colleges. Many employees from the local business and corporations that sponsored the event also volunteered. United Way, Unum, The Hanover Group Insurance, Polar Beverages, UMass Medical, Marshall Memorial Fund, Consigli, EasCare Ambulance, Concentric Energy Advisors, Home Market Foods and Iberdrola USA all were project sponsors. Aubuchon Hardware also generously donated all the supplies needed for the projects. Experts in construction from around the community came to supervise and complete numerous projects.
“This was the launch year of the program, so we are thrilled to have had so much success. Of course we learned a lot along the way also,” said Reppucci. “We will be taking the experience of this year and using it to make next year's program even better and hopefully help more neighborhoods across the city!”
Reppucci noted that the turn-out on Saturday was very inspiring. “To have seven Worcester Colleges come together and put in a 7+ hour work day all over the city is just an incredible statement of community pride and community caring. I am humbled to have been able to lead this project, and I could not be more proud of the incredible team of HC students that put their hearts into this project for the last seven months."
Working for Worcester is positive proof that the Jesuit motto “men and women for others” does not only embody the Holy Cross population, but the Worcester community. No wonder Worcester is the heart of the commonwealth.
To learn more about Working for Worcester visit the website: