(Winnie pictured above, on right, accompanied by members of the neighborhood group.)
On Saturday, August 6, 2015 Clemente Worcester grad Winifred Octave proudly presided over the grand opening of Grant Street Park, which she had worked so hard to make a reality.
Four years earlier, concerned about the rising number of murders in her neighborhood, Winnie had helped forge a coalition of area residents and agencies interested in finding a solution to community problems. In a 2015 article in the Telegram.com entitled “Green Hill Neighbors Face Uphill Battles,” reporter Clive McFarland described both the challenges the group faced and the power of Winnie’s leadership.
However, the the ribbon-cutting and community picnic at Grant Park on August provided visible evidence of the group’s success. Young men played basketball, social service organizations handed out information at booths, family members sat in chairs enjoying burgers and melon, and everyone enjoyed mingling.
Interested in the story of how all these people came together to solve a problem? Read Winnie’s story as she told it in the invitation to the park opening:
GREENHILL NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION & HARLOW
SAFE STREETS NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH
A Neighborhood of Culture, Diversity and Charm
Four years ago a group of neighbors convened in my living room to share concerns we had about our neighborhood due to an uptick in crime including murders. I, along with a few neighbors, began to work with the Worcester Police Department, our City Councilor, and State Representative to find some solution to the neighborhood problems. While reaching out to our neighbors to gather input, we realized that Social Service organizations, including a number of halfway houses, homeless shelters, houses for behavioral adolescents, and Methadone Clinics, made up a large part of our neighborhood. At first this raised our concerns, but after speaking with a few of the groups, we realized they were our neighbors too and that they wanted to be part of our community. Together we created the Greenhill Neighborhood Association. In our short existence, we have received a liaison officer who is our point of contact with the Police Department, an Inspector from the Code Department for rubbish and nuisance in the neighborhood, and have also worked with the City to renovate Grant Square Park a dilapidated park located on Northampton Street. Last year, we had our third community picnic at Grant Square Park and it was a great success. We had representative from the City, Police Department, Fire Department, City Councilors, State Representatives, our Mayor, and a number of candidates running for public office in attendance. A number of other organizations and business’s showcased their work to make their resources and offerings available to the picnic attendees. From the picnic we gained so many new voices and our monthly meetings went from my neighbors and my living room to a space donated by Father Ryan at the St. Bernard’s church basement on Lincoln Street. Approximately 400 people from the community attended the picnic last year and this year we estimate that 500 plus people will be in attendance. Today, we are pleased to inform you that our hard work is paying off because Grant Square Park was recently renovated to include a playground for the kids, a very large Basket Ball court and a Community Garden. Most of the Halfway Home residents are working with us, helping to keep the neighborhood clean and safe. This summer, for the first time, Recreation Worcester funded by the City of Worcester will provide free all day recreational programs for kid’s age ranging from 7 years to 13 years. The park will be staffed by trained Youth Workers who will facilitate sports, literacy and arts. Also, we have more of a police presence in the neighborhood. This is what happens when neighbors work together for the betterment of their community.