Working for Worcester, a project that started with six college students in a residence hall room at the College of the Holy Cross in 2012, had the goal of increasing access to recreational spaces and promoting wellness resources for Worcester families and children. Now entering its fourth year, the citywide project has helped to reinvest hundreds of thousands of dollars into renovating 50 project sites across the city, including the first playground at the Elm Park Community School. The group, now led by Brendan Healey ’16 and Molly Hourigan ’16, hopes to keep the momentum going. Working for Worcester was recently awarded a grant of $29,000 from the Activation Fund of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. The grant will help Working for Worcester begin building an internal technological infrastructure and establish other campus chapters at Worcester area colleges.
Jan Yost, president and CEO of the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, says, “The goal [of the Activation Fund] is to enable an organization to move to a higher level of capacity and have them continue to function at that level after the grant ends.”
“The keyword since the start of this year, year four, has been sustainability,” expresses Brendan Healey ’16 and Molly Hourigan ’16, co-executive directors of Working for Worcester for 2015-16. “This grant represents just that – an investment in the long term growth of Working for Worcester as a Worcester college student-led and implemented project. We are humbled and honored to have been awarded the grant, and are inspired to continue working together with this city to improve access to recreation spaces and wellness resources for all.”
Over the last four years, Working for Worcester has reinvested more than $300,000 into the City of Worcester, and since its inception has had more than 2,000 college students from across the city and 3,000 volunteers participate at the group’s spring service day each year; in which student volunteers join resident groups, corporations, nonprofits, civic leaders, religious organizations, and schools to renovate and build recreation spaces across the city. This year’s service day will be held on April 16, 2016, and will include creating and renovating numerous recreation and wellness spaces across the city and mobilizing more than 1,000 volunteers on project day.
Annually, Working for Worcester hosts a fundraising event titled the “Mr. Worcester Pageant.” The event brings together college students and residents from the community to help raise money for the spring build day. The pageant not only raises money for projects within the Worcester community but attracts college students from area schools to the downtown area and aims to promote the City.
The organization was co-founded by Holy Cross alumni Jeffrey Reppucci ’14 and Derek Kump ’14. Reppucci, a member of the hockey team, received his B.A. in Russian Studies from the College and was valedictorian of his class. A national Harry S. Truman Scholar, the recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Argentina, and the recipient of the BNY Mellon Wealth Management National Hockey Humanitarian Award in 2014, he is committed to a career in community development and human services. Kump, also a member of the hockey team, received his B.A. in economics and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He received the College’s Presidential Medal of Service award in 2014 for his work with both Working for Worcester and Students Helping Children Across Borders, Inc. (SHCAB). The organization’s mission is to empower youth and communities at home and abroad through educational, recreational and self-esteem building opportunities and was founded by both Kump and Reppucci. They continue to serve as mentors to the current Working for Worcester leaders.
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