By Seth Daniel
With virtually nothing left in Puerto Rico after two devastating hurricanes this fall, many from the island are flocking to family in the mainland United States to try to put their lives together – and with a huge Puerto Rican population in Chelsea, many are arriving here with questions and needs.
Chelsea Collaborative Director Gladys Vega and a team of stakeholders from the City have been meeting to try to solve the many issues that are coming up or likely will come up as more and more arrive in the City.
Vega said the situation has now turned from sending aid to the island, to focusing resources in the City.
“There are no schools and no electricity and there are a lot of problems there, so many are coming here,” said Vega at a recent meeting in Chelsea High School with about a dozen stakeholders. “We are extremely certain that folks will continue to come because Chelsea has a Puerto Rican community that is very established. Already, some of them are coming to the Collaborative, the Housing Authority, CAPIC and the School Department…We are really at this moment turning our efforts. Before, we were all about collecting donations and sending them to Puerto Rico. Now we are realizing that we need to use some of those same resources and donations right here in Chelsea because people are starting to come here and they have tremendous needs.”
Some of the situations that have been brought up at the state level surround housing in public housing.
Juan Vega, a Chelsea resident who is the Undersecretary of Housing for the state, said there is a team trying to work out situations that will certainly arise.
Those include family members who show up at a public housing complex with nowhere else to go.
Juan said they cannot stay for more than a week as a visitor, but at the same time, they have nowhere else to go. He said the state is aware of it and is working with the federal government to secure some sort of emergency waiver program.
Gladys Vega said one family has already experienced this, with relatives coming to an elderly housing apartment.
“Now they are here in an elderly housing apartment,” she said. “They are told they can stay 10 days and then they have to leave. They’re here now. If they stay past the 10 days, the tenant could be kicked out. We don’t want our established members of the community to lose their housing or their jobs trying to deal with these situations.”
Meanwhile, some that are coming are elderly and in need of medical accommodations, such as handicap ramps built onto homes. Rich Pedi of the Carpenter’s Union has volunteered workers to build such ramps on an emergency basis.
In the schools, Supt. Mary Bourque said they are working to be creative in registering new arrivals for school. In many cases, they don’t have a birth certificate or any documents. All of them were lost in the hurricane for the most part.
Bourque said everyone should come to the Parent Information Center (PIC) to enroll children, even without any documents.
“That’s the first message to get out there,” she said. “If you’re coming to Chelsea and need to enroll students, come to the PIC. We will work with you. The second thing we’re worried about is the trauma once they are enrolled. They have been through a traumatic situation and they will need to see social workers.”
Meanwhile, with November now here, the other thing that will soon be necessary is winter clothing. Many are from an island where a coat is rarely necessary. Now, in Chelsea, they’ll need far more than what they have.
“We’re coming into winter and they don’t have the supplies one needs for a New England winter,” said Bourque. “We need volunteers to donate coats, pants, shoes and warm clothes in all sizes.”
The Collaborative is setting up a welcome center and brochure to help people who are arriving.
Carmen Cruz prays for friends and family in Puerto Rico during the vigil and donation drive on Thursday, Sept. 28, to aid in the relief effort for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Chelsea Collaborative and Teamsters Local 25 organized the event, with many community partners. Teamsters Local 25 is donating trucks and drivers to transport the relief items Hurricane Maria has devastated the island, with an overwhelming majority of the 3.4 million residents still without power as of last week, and officials struggling to get food, water, fuel and needed supplies to everyone in need.
By Seth Daniel
In the wake of the horrific storms in the Caribbean, particularly in Puerto Rico, many members of the Puerto Rican community in Chelsea have banded together to collect donations for the hurting island territory.
The collection will be highlighted by a candlelight vigil on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 6 p.m. on the City Hall Lawn.
The Collaborative began accepting donations to be sent to Puerto Rico this past Monday, and they will continue taking donations until Friday, Sept. 29, at 8 p.m. Donations can be dropped at their office in Chelsea at 318 Broadway.
The drive is in collaboration with the City of Chelsea, the Chelsea Firefighters Local 937, Chelsea Police, the Chelsea Schools, the City Council and the School Committee.
The following items are things that are need for donation:
- School Supplies
- Dry and Canned Foods
- baby formula
- baby food
- First Aid kits
- Hygiene items
- feminine products
- face towels
- bath towels
- dryer sheets
- insect repellant
- toilet paper
- paper products (no foam items)
- paper towels
- plastic utensils
Francis ‘Frank’ Turczyn
Polka fan – died unexpectedly on Christmas Day – his favorite holiday
Francis H. ‘Frank’ Turczyn of Chelsea passed away unexpectedly in his Chelsea home on Christmas morning. He was 81 years old.
Born and raised in Chelsea, the beloved son of the late Wladyslaw and Mary Turczyn, Frank attended St. Stanislaus Parochial School and graduated from Everett Vocational High School. He enlisted in the US Army in the late 50’s and served and was discharged between conflicts. He worked as a cemetery laborer with Fuller Services in Everett providing duties at the Fuller Street, Jewish Cemeteries.
Frank enjoyed Polish Music and Polkas, frequently attending Saturday night polka dances at the PAV in Chelsea. He was a devoted fan of the Litwin Polka variety radio program and was a former member of the Polish Political Club in Chelsea. Christmas was his favorite holiday and annually he would richly decorate his home to the enjoyment of all who would pass by. His holiday decorations garnered him several awards as the Best Decorated Chelsea Home.
In addition to his parents, Frank was also preceded in death by his three brothers; Walter, Albert and Eugene Turczyn. He was the devoted father to Doreen Turczyn of Michigan, Francis Turczyn and his wife, Antonia of Tewksbury, Gene Turczyn, Glen Turczyn and his wife, Kristen, all of Chelsea; cherished grandfather to Evan Turczyn and dear brother to Stella Niedzielski of Michigan.
Visiting Hours were held at the Frank A. Welsh & Sons Funeral Home Chelsea on Wednesday and interment will be private.To send expressions of sympathy, please visit
Julio Torres, Jr.
Julio Torres, Jr. of Chelsea passed away unexpectedly in his home on December 26. He was 46 years old.
He was the devoted husband of Tina (McKoy) Torres; beloved son of Julio Torres Sr. of Chelsea and Gloria Camacho of Puerto Rico; loving step father to Quentin Mina and Terrance McKoy; dear brother to Marysol and her husband, Enrique Garcia, both of Chelsea and Janet Torres of Kissimmee, Florida; loving uncle to Sabrina Williams, Jordenn White, Brianna Toro, Jarred Frizzell, Sariana Toro and Deanalee Romero and is also survived by many loving aunts, uncles and cousins.
Family and friends will honor Julio by gathering on Friday, January 1 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Ruggiero Family Memorial Home, 971 Saratoga Street, (Orient Heights) East Boston with a memorial service in our Serenity Chapel at 7 p.m. For more information, please visit: www.ruggieromh.com
While enrollment has slowed down some this year, and the numbers coming to Chelsea from Central America aren’t at a breakneck pace, the schools are seeing some upticks from new places such as Puerto Rico – where a plunging economy has seen folks head to the mainland.
“We are a mirror of the world economy; we really are,” said Supt. Mary Bourque. “That makes it a fascinating place to work and serve. We serve the people in the country and the world that are the most underserved and disenfranchised …We find a great deal of fulfillment in that. That’s not a bad place to hand your hat as a professional.”
Enrollment in the Chelsea schools and in area schools has been a key number to watch for the last several years. In Chelsea, an influx of immigrants – also called unaccompanied minors – starting trickling into the district from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador three years ago. The numbers hit a zenith in January 2014 and into the summer when things got to a crisis level in Chelsea and nationwide.
Bourque said that has seemed to slow down.
“In some grade levels that has slowed down,” she said. “Our kindergarten numbers are down. It has slowed down from Central America – from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras too. We think there are some changes with the requirements at the border and that has resulted in this slow down.”
However, there has been an uptick in those coming from Puerto Rico – which is an American territory and make the students American Citizens and not immigrants.
“We are seeing an increase of families coming in from Puerto Rico,” she said. “Naturally, those are not immigrant families. There certainly is a connection to the economy in that. Their economy has changed in Puerto Rico. Families coming from there have told us at the Parent Information Center that there is an increase there in violent crime too.”
Many, she said, have fled to the mainland to get away from such things – and with Chelsea having a long-standing Puerto Rican community – the city was a natural landing spot.
Overall, enrollments are increasing mostly in the upper grades, she said.
“Definitely, that is still happening in the upper grades,” she said. “A couple of years ago we had that very large kindergarten and those kids are in second grade now, so we have a bubble there.”
Full enrollment numbers will be clearer after the 15th day of school passes, which is the legal day for enrollment numbers to be solidified.
In other district news:
- Bourque said they are excited to implement a standard ‘Six District Instructional Practices’ that will standardize classrooms across the district.
“That will allow us to have more consistency from classroom to classroom across the district,” she said.
- Also, the district is preparing to start meeting this year to form a new five-year vision.
In 2011, the district rallied around the ‘Bridge to Success’ model, and that will expire at the end of this school year. Bourque said they will begin this year in having meetings to form what the new model will be.
“We are entering the fifth year of a five-year plan and we are excited about the changes we’ve made – both to the culture and the structure,” she said. “The community really believes in us. However, we really need to start discussing our next five-year vision and we’re excited to start that.”
She said they would likely begin focus groups consisting of all types of stakeholders in January or February.
- Bourque also said a major accreditation process has started at Chelsea High School, where the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASAC) evaluation and accreditation process has started.
This year will be the self-study year at Chelsea High and next fall, in 2016, NEASAC evaluators will be on site to review the school and its practices. A school must pass that evaluation to keep its accreditation with the organization.
“That is a really huge thing that is coming up for us,” she said.
- The MCAS test will remain in place at Chelsea High School this year and next year until the state indicates exactly what direction they are going. However, the new national PARCC test has been implemented at the lower grades, grades 3-8.
- The district received a review by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in June, and some of the comments were challenging. Six of the nine schools are at a Level 3 status and the state review suggested that some students are succeeding, but not all. It has caused Bourque to issue a challenge to all teachers to “accelerate learning,” something that will likely be heard a lot this year. Bourque has issued a One-Year plan that contains six identified instructional practices. She said she would like to have at least two of those six deeply implemented at every school by the end of this year.
What would the 4th of July be without fireworks? A little less busy in hospital emergency rooms. The nation’s emergency physicians urge you to celebrate the country’s birthday by using common sense when it comes to the potential dangers of fireworks.
We see many injuries in the ER due to fireworks around the 4th of July,” said Dr. Michael Gerardi, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Many of those ER visits are initiated with the line ‘hey watch this!’”
In 2013, eight people died and more than 11,000 people were injured in the United States because of fireworks, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC). It’s a significant increase from the year before. Additionally, 65 percent of those injuries occurred in the days surrounding July 4th.
Last year, sparklers and rockets accounted for nearly half of all estimated injuries. Almost half (46 percent) of fireworks injuries are to a person’s hands or fingers. One-third (34 percent) of them are to a person’s eyes, head, face and ears (CPSC).
If fireworks are legal in your community, ACEP strongly suggests that you do not use fireworks at your home. If you do use them, however, these do’s and don’ts will help make it a safer experience.
DO — Have knowledgeable supervision by an experienced adult if you choose to use fireworks.
DO — Buy fireworks from reputable dealers
DO — Read warning labels and follow all instructions
DO — Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher on hand
DO — Light fireworks one at a time
DO — Dispose of all fireworks properly
DON’T — Give any fireworks, including sparklers, to small children; older children should be supervised by a responsible adult
DON’T — Light fireworks indoors or near other objects
DON’T — Place your body over a fireworks device when trying to light the fuse and immediately back up to a safe distance after you light it.
DON’T — Point or throw fireworks at another person, ever
DON’T — Try to re-light or pick up fireworks have not ignited fully
DON’T — Wear loose clothing while using any fireworks
DON’T — Set off fireworks in glass or metal containers — the fragments can cause severe injury.
DON’T — Carry fireworks in a pocket.
DON’T — Try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks
You should only watch a professional fireworks display managed by experts who have proper training and experience handling these explosives,” said Dr. Gerardi. “Have fun and enjoy this great American holiday. As always, we’ll be ready to treat you, but we don’t want to have to see you in the ER.”
ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.