On Saturday, April 12, more than 1,000 volunteers will work to renovate 20 community recreation sites in the second annual Working for Worcester. A project, which started with six college students in a residence hall room, now has a leadership team of 84 students on local campuses. Led by College of the Holy Cross senior Jeffrey Reppucci, the group has raised more than $90, 000 and is on track to reach its goal of $100,000.
The city wide project is designed to promote city pride and provide necessary improvements to Worcester’s recreational spaces. Sites include Worcester East Middle School, where the volunteers will be renovating an former girls locker room into a multi-purpose dance studio, and Banis Park, where the volunteers will be building a jungle gym, planting shrubs and adding picnic benches. At other locations volunteers will be putting up basketball hoops, building an interactive learning garden, renovating a clubhouse for a local children’s baseball team, and creating a multimedia recreation lounge.
The Working for Worcester kickoff rally will be held at Holy Cross on the Hart Lawn (rain location: Hart Center basketball court), from 8:30-9:30 a.m. on April 12. The first hour will consist of registration, T-shirt pick up, breakfast and entertainment. There will be exciting entertainment and activities, including a chance to take pictures with the Red Sox World Series trophies and free Worcester Sharks and Worcester Bravehearts tickets available for every volunteer. At 9:30 a.m. Reppucci will open up the program and speak about the project with U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus, Mayor Joseph Petty, and United Way CEO Tim Garvin. It is free and open to the public.
“The rally is a really exciting moment for volunteers, organizers, and the greater community to come together and celebrate the wonderful spirit of volunteerism and Worcester pride among the city’s residents and college students,” says Reppucci. “It serves as a powerful symbol of this project’s collective effort and gives the volunteers a chance see the power of community action and prepare for a day that will transform neighborhood spaces across our city.”
After the kickoff, volunteers will break off into their site groups and make their way to Working for Worcester’s 20 local schools, community centers, and parks. For media access on specific sites contact Cristal Steuer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-793-2419.
Last year the Working for Worcester event renovated 12 community recreation sites with 540 volunteers and raised $60,000. “As we build this project into an annual staple of student social responsibility, our goal has been to double Working for Worcester in size; raise more resources, extend its reach across the city’s neighborhoods, and mobilize more people to bring stronger recreation and wellness to kids across Worcester,” explains Reppucci. “Building this project with all of our wonderful student leaders and community partners has been the most incredible experience of my life. We began this project as students in Worcester, but through getting to know the wonderful neighborhoods, people, and city leaders here, we now will stand on April 12 as passionate citizens of Worcester, ready to show how proud we are to be a part of this community!”
Reppucci, from Newburyport, Mass., and a Russian major at the College, developed Working for Worcester after founding a nonprofit organization, Students Helping Children Across Borders Inc. (SHCAB), which raised thousands to build sports and wellness facilities in the Russian village of Suzdal, where Reppucci had traveled.
In 2013, he was named a Harry S. Truman Scholar. The scholarship, which provides $30,000 for graduate study, was awarded to 62 college juniors from across the country with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to a public service career. There were 629 candidates nominated by 293 colleges and universities. He spent last summer working with Harry Thomas, ambassador to the Philippines, and also visited the isolated town of Jeremie in the south of Haiti, where he constructed a commercial soccer field that will be used for the school and community’s first-ever youth soccer league. SHCAB also provided the students and school with soccer equipment, jerseys, and construction resources to prepare collaboratively and launch a comprehensive soccer program for all of the 50 students at the school.
A member of the men’s hockey team, he has also been named one of five finalists for the BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award. This is the second straight year that Reppucci has been named a finalist. This year’s recipient will be introduced and honored in a ceremony in Philadelphia, Pa., as part of the 2014 Men’s Division I Frozen Four weekend in April.
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