On Jan. 22, 2018, City Council unanimously adopted an order introduced by Councilor Leo Robinson requesting a Sub-Committee meeting. The meeting was to discuss a proposal by John Ruiz requesting a grant of $475,000 from the city to establish a youth center at the CCC (Old YMCA building). The three-year pilot proposal suggested project activities included boxing, basketball, volleyball, dance/aerobics, STEM-Focused Lewis Latimer Society Exhibitions, and drop-in programs as necessary.
The process of selecting non-profit recipients for grants is a function of the City Manager’s office. When a need in the community arises that the City is unable to meet, the City Manager’s office solicits proposals from non-profits and makes a final decision. Once a grantee is chosen, the City Manager requests funds from the City Council to cover the cost. This is otherwise known as the RFP process (Request for Proposal).
During the Sub-Committee meeting last week, I referenced the process of soliciting proposals, as the involvement of City Council so early was uncommon. If there was a pool of money available to grant for a potential teen center, then all non-profits should be allowed the opportunity to apply. Procedurally, the only time the Council has a say is when it is time to appropriate the funds for the chosen non-profit, after the City Manager has concluded his decision. With the understanding that the burden of decision-making rested with the City Manager, I saw no point as to why this was before us.
However, for the sake of open and honest debate around investments in our youth, I welcomed the dialogue.
Mr. John Ruiz gave an impassioned speech about wanting to give back to the community and councilors did their due diligence in asking questions to gain clarity around this proposed project. Balancing the needs of our youth and where to invest taxpayer dollars is a delicate situation. Yet, as representatives of the community, it is our duty to ask the proper questions to settle concerns.
My personal comments commended the former heavyweight-boxing champ in wanting to give back to the city. I made clear that all proposals were subject to a formal RFP process and encouraged Mr. Ruiz to have conversations with stakeholders (youth, youth organizations) to familiarize himself with the community again and better assess the popularity of boxing. I also suggested that if the champ wanted to give back to the community, he should consider investing in the Explorer Post 109 (which is currently housed in the CCC building). Ruiz’s contribution as a former member of the Post 109 could go a long way for the struggling, 62-year-old youth organization.
Let’s be clear that the City Council does not decide whether we grant Mr. Ruiz funds for his proposal.
That decision-making process rests solely with the City Manager.
The City Council as a body then votes on the appropriation of requested funds in which I am one out of 11 votes. Unfortunately, following the meeting, Mr. Ruiz allegedly chose to turn to social media and misrepresent my comments. At that moment it became clear to me that residents deserved more clarity around the facts as to how things transpired.
As a longtime boxing fan of Puerto Rican roots, I was ecstatic to meet the first Latino heavyweight boxer of the world. However, my fandom doesn’t equate to disregarding my role as a public servant. It is imperative that we continue to secure a fair and transparent process in the allocation of taxpayer dollars. As a longtime youth worker, I am appalled that someone who is proposing to manage a youth center would not look for better ways to demonstrate leadership. I cannot take responsibility for the advice given to Mr. Ruiz prior to the meeting; I did however encourage dialogue and identified ways in which Mr. Ruiz could seek out community input.
Moving forward, I have made it clear to the City Manager that future efforts must remain in his office as it is outside of the scope of Council’s responsibilities. As representatives of our community, we are always available to provide input. However, before anything comes before the City Council a system of checks and balances must be well outlined (budget, zoning, permitting and/or compliancy).
As I look back at where we are, I am proud to see the amazing work we’ve accomplished in the past couple of years. Reestablishing the Youth Commission, reviving our Recreational Dept., increase in youth programming across the city, and creating mentorship for our youth is a testament of our commitment to our future leaders.
This is what’s right about Chelsea.
The mere fact that we are discussing the empowerment of our youth and their need for services speaks volumes as to how far we’ve come. There will be minor setbacks as we strive toward a government that is transparent and inclusive of all. The true test is in how we learn from these experiences and rise above it all. I have the utmost faith in this community and feel confident that we will stand stronger as a result of these conversations.
Explore the world of watercolors inside the Guild of Boston Artists gallery on Newbury Street, where the New England Watercolor Society (NEWS) is holding its annual Signature Members Show through March 4.
Paul McMahan from Chelsea with his painting of Preston’s Bridge
On display are a variety of styles ranging from hyperrealist to abstract, from soulful portraits to detailed images of machinery to sweeping light-struck landscapes.
The exhibit offers an exceptional opportunity for anybody to come in and appreciate the high degree of artistry and technical mastery attainable in this challenging medium.
“Watercolor is an amazingly diverse medium,” said Wendy Hale, president of NEWS and a Back Bay resident. “The palette extends from richly saturated colors to muted tones. Our members’ styles are equally varied, from the traditional Andrew Wyeth to today’s modern-edgy.”
NEWS was founded in 1885 as the Boston Watercolor Society and became the New England Watercolor Society in 1980. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious watercolor societies in America.
Some early members included American art as Thomas Allen, F. Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent and more.
The Society has grown to over 400 members from all six New England states, of which nearly 200 are signature members.
The mission of the Society is to promote the advancement of aqua media arts throughout New England and to bring exceptional paintings using both traditional and innovative techniques to a wider public.
NEWS sponsors two juried shows each year. This show features the work of the Society’s signature members. The other show is open to all water-media artists in New England (in odd-numbered years) and throughout North America (in even-numbered years).
To become a signature member, a New England-based artist must be juried into four NEWS shows within a 10-year period, including at least one North American show.
“The one thing that is unique about the Signature Members Show is that it is always held in Boston every year and is always in February,” said Hale. “People can count on it.”
This year’s exhibition judge is Frederick C. Graff, a distinguished member of the American Watercolor Society. Graff had the hard job of determining the top 10 winners out of 79 pieces. He said he determined the winners based on their impact, composition and originality.
“With watercolor you’re not going to have a perfect painting,” said Graff. “So you take the best and see what they did with the composition and with their artistic ability.”
But what it really comes down to, Graff said, “Is what is the first thing that sticks out to you when you first walk into the room? For me, I usually know right away if I think something is on the top of the awards list.”
In connection with the exhibitions, the Society sponsors receptions and award presentations, gallery talks, demonstrations, and workshops led by nationally recognized water media experts.
Community artists and other interested supporters of NEWS can join as associate members. Signature and associate members are eligible for reduced fees for workshops for the regional and North American shows.
The Signature Members Show reception will be held on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 2 – 4 p.m. It is free and open to the public. All of the artwork on display is for sale.
New England Watercolor Society Signature Members Show, Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury Street, Boston, through March 4, Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sundays 12-4 p.m. Painting demonstrations Sundays 1-3 p.m. Feb. 11, 18, and 25, and gallery talks Saturdays 1p.m. February 17 and 24 and March 3.
Several Chelsea organizations are pulling together this year to sponsor an entire month’s-worth of events around Black History Month, and the events will kick off tonight, Feb. 1, at City Hall with a presentation on the Latimer Society.
“It’s a very, very well put together program and it’s put together by a collaborative effort of many folks and organizations,” said Joan Cromwell of the Chelsea Black Community (CBC). “A lot of us came together and we’ve scheduled a great program for February. It went well last year, but this year we wanted it to be even more exciting.”
Those involved include Salma Taylor and Bea Cravatta of the City, the Latimer Society, Bunker Hill Community College, CAPIC, Chelsea Cable, the People’s AME Church, City Manager Tom Ambrosino, the CBC, and many local residents.
Kicking things off will be Ron and Leo Robinson of the Latimer Society.
Other highlights include a Taste of Culture Cook-Off on Feb. 19 at La Luz de Cristo at 738 Broadway.
There will also be an intergenerational open mic night, an art exhibit, and an evening of performing arts.
Cromwell said at the end of the month, they will have a celebration at the Williams School.
Within that, they will present eight Trailblazer Awards. Those receiving awards will be:
Wild Turkeys have shown up in the craziest places over the last few years, including on city streets, and that’s due in part to a 35-year effort to restore them to the state. The native species was pushed out by European settlement and industrialization in the mid-1850s. Now, they have come back in a big way and frequently come to city streets or parks.
There aren’t too many comeback stories that begin with the phrase, ‘Gobble, Gobble,’ but the story of the once-prolific wild turkey in Massachusetts certainly begins and ends with just such an utterance.
Though the wild turkey disappeared from Massachusetts for nearly 180 years, the Thanksgiving bird was once everywhere in the state, including throughout Chelsea and neighboring locales.
It was so common in the wild that it is likely the precise reason turkey is served for the Thanksgiving meal. With so many wandering around, it’s likely that the first Thanksgiving took advantage of cooking up the bird because it was so common.
It was also such a common sight that Ben Franklin argued for it to be the national bird instead of the American Bald Eagle – saying it symbolized the early Americas more than anything else.
But by 1850, it was gone from Massachusetts.
“Really, by the early 1850s, it was extricated from the state,” said Wayne Petersen of the Mass Audubon Society. “Because of all the changes brought by coming Europeans with land uses, as well as hunting and targeted removal of them, they just didn’t make it. They were gone for a good long time.”
That said, the wild turkey in the last three or four years has re-established itself and made a complete comeback to Massachusetts – becoming so prevalent that they’ve adapted to not only living in the wild and the suburbs, but can often be found wandering around city streets in very urban environments as well.
It’s a story that Petersen said is fun, amusing and a great example of re-introducing a native bird that had been long-lost.
“It’s great to have them back,” he said. “In most cases, they are entertaining and the worst they can do is cause problems with traffic if they get into trouble on the roads. By and large, most people are mildly amused by them when they see them in the neighborhoods for the first time. I think it’s just a great story. They are indigenous and we have a whole holiday built around the wild turkey…Wild turkeys are to Thanksgiving what Santa Claus is to Christmas. I think it’s great.”
Turkeys didn’t just pop back into Massachusetts out of thin air though.
The effort to restore them began as early as the 1950s. Serious efforts were made to reintroduce them back then, but the varieties brought to the state were usually from the Southern states where they are still prevalent. Unfortunately, those birds could not acclimate to the harsh winters of Massachusetts and didn’t survive. In the 1970s, though, another group of turkeys from the Adirondack region of New York – where they are also very easily found in the wild – were introduced into the western Massachusetts region.
Later, after that group found some success, preservationists introduced them into the Quabbin Reservoir area. That was also successful, and the birds just kept moving further east in greater numbers until now you can find them almost anywhere – sometimes in the craziest places.
“Now you find them all over,” said Petersen. “Over the years, that group took hold in a huge way. It is no longer a surprise to anyone to see them in the suburbs or even in the cities. They have learned to live in close contact with people here and are very safe. Many people enjoy them. Other than being huge, they are quiet and passive. They are not known as being vicious birds.”
Petersen said they get reports all the time of turkeys in the middle of the city, in car lots, sleeping on doorsteps or holding up traffic in a congested business district.
“There are lots of reports of turkeys being turkeys,” he said. “They can hold up traffic and can be a pain if they get hit on Rt. 128 or Rt. 3, but that is spot on about where people are finding them. There is no question we get reports of them being in very odd places.”
Beyond the fun of the new and surprising sights of turkeys back in the communities where they haven’t been for 180 years or more, there is also the serious subject of brining a native species back to where it belongs – somewhat like the Bald Eagle’s success story.
“The wild turkey in Massachusetts is just another great argument for restoration efforts,” he said. “They were a native species here that was lost in time. They were here before we were here and it was our introduction that pushed them out. Now we have helped to bring them back. That’s certainly worth noting.”
Robert J. Haas, Jr. of Revere died most unexpectedly while vacationing at Block Island, R.I. on Sunday July 2.
Former Mayor Haas was born in Melrose and raised, educated and lived his entire life in Revere. An alumnus of Revere High School, Class of 1963, he was also an alumnus of Northeastern University, Class of 1974, securing his Bachelor in Business Administration in 1974 and continuing on for a Bachelor’s in Finance in 1978.
Over the years, “Bob” has immersed himself into the life and heart of Revere, affiliating himself with many fraternal and social organizations andendeavors. Early in his career, he was a member of the Revere Jaycees. He was Charter President of the Revere Jaycees and was awarded “One of the Outstanding Young Men of America.”A long-time member of the Revere Rotary Club, he was awarded their Paul Harris Fellow Award, the highest commendation given by Rotary International. He was also a co-founder and organizer of the Revere Chamber of Commerce. For over 30 years, he has been a devotee of the Holy Name Society at St. Anthony’s Parish and an ardent supporter of the 100 Club of Massachusetts, Revere Chapter.
Also and most recently, Bob was among a group reorganizing and reinventing the Revere Council 179 of the Knights of Columbus. He was also given honorary membership in the Revere Lodge of Elks #1171, the Revere Loyal Order of the Moose #1272, the American Legion Post #61 of Revere and the Revere Boys Club.
He began his working career at First National Shawmut Bank of Boston from 1964 to 1972, then onto Union Petroleum Corp. from 1972-1973 and then and still the proprietor and operator of Haas Business Forms from 1974 to 2017.
His political career began in 1979 as Councilor-at-large, serving for 12 consecutive years. After a hiatus, he returned in 2003 as councilor at-large and served until his untimely death on July 2, 2017. Bob’s remarkable term as Mayor began in 1992 and ended with his fourth term in 2000.
The beloved husband of 50 years of Juanita M. (Brandariz) Haas, he was the devoted father of Jennifer M. Haas and John R. Coyne of Revere, Rachel M. Shanley of Revere and Robert J. Haas, III and his wife, Jennifer of Winthrop. He was the cherished Papa to Brayden, Luca and Noah; the dear brother to Sheila A. Arsenault and her husband, Arthur T. of Chelsea, Judy A. Cotter and her husband, William of Gilford, NH and the late Edward J. Haas. He is also lovingly survived by his brother-in-law, Ramon M. Brandariz& his wife, Anna of Billerica. Bobby is also survived by an aunt and many nephews, nieces and cousins.
Funeral arrangements were entrusted to the Vertuccio& Smith Home for Funerals, Revere. Interment was in Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Revere Society for Cultural & Historic Preservation, 108 Beach St., Revere, MA 02151.
Retired music teacher, longtime organist and choir director at St. Stanislaus Church
Edmund J.Jagielski of Chelsea passed awayat home on July 7 after a time of declining health.
Born in Hartford, CT over 93 years ago, he received his early schooling in Hartford and attained a B.A in music from Boston University after serving in the United States Army during World War II in the Asiatic Pacific Theater.
A talented musician, affectionately known also as Mr. J, was a longtime private piano and voice instructor, the organist and choir director for St. Stanislaus Church and 7th grade teacher at St. Stanislaus School for numerous years. After his tenure at St. Stan’s, he taught music at the Williams Public School in Chelsea.
The devoted husband for over 66 years of Ella M. (Horvath), he was the beloved father of Jacqueline Clark of California, Susan Kennedy and her husband, George of Illinois and California, Mary Hescock and her husband, Paul of Chelsea, John Jagielski and his wife, Dana of Duxbury, David Jagielski of Chelsea and Laurie Solis of Plymouth; brother of the late Frances Piekos; cherished grandfather of Jennifer, Lauren, Michael, Matthew and Olivia and is also lovingly survived by his great grandchildren, Hannah, Natalie and Brendan.
At his request, all services are private. Funeral Arrangements were entrusted to the Smith Funeral Home, 125 Washington Avenue, Chelsea.In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy in Ed’s name may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN, 38501 or online at www.stjude.org/donateTo send a message of condolence to Ed’s family, please visit www.smithfuneralhomes.com
Will be remembered for her kind and gentle spirit, laughter and generous heart
Kim TheadoraTuttavillaof Chelsea, previously of Revere, passed away July 2at the age of 63.
The beloved daughter of the late Joseph and Patricia Tuttavilla, she was the loving sister of Michael and his wife, Michelle, Mark and his wife, Maureen, and Mia and her husband, Andrew. She was a loving sister, a fun aunt, a dear cousin and niece and will be greatly missed.
Kim will be remembered for her kind and gentle spirit, for her laughter and her generous heart. Even while Kim may have endured many difficulties in life, she still retained her love of creating art which she did on a daily basis, whether in poetry or paints or pastels, and loved cooking for others and attending to her garden. Along with music, these were her greatest joys.
Services will be held at the Paul Buonfiglio& Sons-Bruno Funeral Home, 128 Revere St, Revere today, Thursday, July 13beginning at 10 a.m. with a prayer service at 11a.m. Relatives and friends are kindly invited. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the North Suffolk Mental Health Association, 37 Hawthorne St. Chelsea 02150 c/o Vernon Street Program.
Hair Cuttery at 1086 Revere Beach Parkway in Chelsea will host a cut-a-thon on Sunday, March 6th from 6:00 – 9:00pm to benefit the Jordan Boys and Girls Club. All haircuts will be $10.00 with 100% of the proceeds going to the club.
The Jordan Boys and Girls Club helps young people, especially those in need, build strong characters and realize their full potential as responsible citizens and leaders. The cut-a-thon will benefit the Boys and Girls Club’s many programs which support the youth in the Chelsea community.
“We are thrilled to be working with the Jordan Boys and Girls Club to help raise funds for their clubhouse,” said Lydia Son, Hair Cuttery Salon Leader. “It’s so wonderful when we can come together as a community and support such a worthy organization.”
Hair Cuttery has an established history of charitable giving, supporting a range of local and national causes, including St. Baldrick’s Foundation, American Red Cross, The National Network to End Domestic Violence, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Girls on the Run.
About Hair Cuttery:
Hair Cuttery is the largest family-owned and operated chain of hair salons in the country, with nearly 900 company-owned locations on the East Coast, New England and the Midwest. A full-service, value-priced salon, Hair Cuttery offers a full complement of cuts and styling, coloring, waxing and texturizing services with no appointment necessary, as well as a full line of professional hair care products. Hair Cuttery is committed to delivering a delightful client experience through WOW Service including a Smile Back Guarantee. Hair Cuttery is a division of Ratner Companies, based in Vienna, VA. www.haircuttery.com
Diana (Cardone) Russo of Revere, formerly of Chelsea, died on December 20.
Born and raised in Chelsea and a long time member of St. Anthony’s Ladies Sodality, she was the daughter of the late Vito and Vilma (Rizzo) Cardone, the beloved wife of the late Thomas A.; devoted mother of Nancy Ramey and Kathy Ramey, both of Revere, dear sister of Betty Addivinolo of East Boston, Margie Mamur of Revere and Lawrence Cardone of Chelsea. . She is also survived by one loving granddaughter, Nicole McCloy and her husband, Josh; two great grandchildren, Charlotte and Cooper and by many nieces and nephews.
Her Funeral will be held from the Paul Buonfiglio & Sons-Bruno Funeral Home, 128 Revere St., Revere, today, Wednesday, December 23 at 9 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass in St Anthony’s Church at 10 a.m. Relatives and friends are kindly invited. Interment will be in Woodlawn Cemetery. For guest book, please visit www.Buonfiglio.com
Michael Lush, Jr.
Video game pro; worked in property maintenance
Michael L. Lush, Jr. of Chelsea passed away suddenly at home on December 13.
Born in Melrose 33 years ago, he was a graduate of the Northeast Vocational High School, worked in property maintanance and was a pro with video games.
He was the devoted son of Michael L. Lush, Sr. and Lillian T. Madigan; beloved brother of Amanda Lanceleve and her husband, Steven of Haverhill; cherished grandson of Margaret C. “Connie” Madigan of Revere, Albert Lush of Chelsea and the late John Madigan and Juanita Lush. He is also lovingly survived by his nephew, Aaron and niece, Mila as well as by many aunts, uncles and cousins. Funeral arrangements were by the Smith Funeral Home, Chelsea. Committal was private. Expressions of sympathy in his name may be made to the MSPCA, 350 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02130.
Charlie Smith of New Hampshire, formerly of Chelsea and Lynn, passed away unexpectedly at home in West Ossipee, NH on December 11. He was 61 years old.
He was born to the late James and Muriel (Christie) Smith and grew up in Lynn as well as Chelsea – those were the days. He graduated from Lynn Classical High in 1972 where he was on the track team for long distance running and shot put.
Charlie learned to turn a wrench at a young age. He worked at many car dealerships over the years and ran his own shop. Charlie would take his sons to numerous swap meets and car shows. He was a bartender where he won many games of cribbage on the bar board. He was on a bowling team for many years. Charlie was a 30 year member of the Mount Carmel Masonic Lodge of Lynn.
He leaves his wife, Cheryl (Curtis) Smith of West Ossipee, NH and his sons, Charles C. and his wife, Ashleigh of New York City, NY and Nicholas R. and his wife, Jen of Billerica; three grandchildren, Kaylee Fone, Emma and baby, Nick; his stepsons, Derek MacIver and his girlfriend, Tanya Matthewson and Logan Flynn of Madison, NH and his stepdaughter, Kelly MacIver and her boyfriend, John Elliot and his grandson, Jack Ducker of Madison, NH. He also leaves his sister, Eleanor and her husband, John (Jackie) Josefowitch of Chelsea; brothers: James (Jimmy) and his wife, Linda of Chelsea and George and his wife, Linda of Lynn; his mother-in-law, Virginia Curtis of Marblehead, sister-in-law, Rene and her husband, Merle McCartney of Newark, DE and his long time friends, Stevie and Marie St. John from Deltona, Florida; great friend, Fran Thomas and his family of Madison, NH and many loving nieces and nephews and great nieces and great nephews. He is also survived by his pets, Stanley, Malcom and Benny – the boys.
Special thanks are extended for years of care by Dr. Beverly Bowker, Dr. Lillian MoyYee and Dr. Kenneth Miller.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Neely House @ Tufts Hospital, Boston, MA or the Conway Area Humane Society, Conway, NH. Funeral arrangements were by the Lord Funeral Home at 50 Moultonville Rd, Center Ossipee, NH.
Alice Rose Dean
Of Florida, formerly of Chelsea
Alice Rose Dean passed away on December 13 at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center in Fort Pierce, Florida. She was 94 years old.
Alice was born in Somerville and had been a resident of Fort Pierce for six months coming from Chelsea.
Alice volunteered at Sancta Maria Hospital in Cambridge and was of the Catholic faith.
Survivors include her daughter, Judy Dean of Fort Pierce, Fl; her sister, Marilyn Seward of Arlington; nieces, Kati Bell and Jessica Bell and nephew, Joshua Bell. Alice was predeceased by her husband, Anthony Dean and her sister, Barbara Fisher of Arlington.
There will be no services. In lieu of flowers contributions should be made to the American Cancer Society www.cancer.org. Friends may visit the online guest book at www.aycock-hillcrest.com. Arrangements are under the care of Aycock Funeral Home, Fort Pierce, FL.
Veteran’s Day originally came into existence shortly after World War I when it was known as Armistice Day, marking the end of what was known then as the Great War on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month.
In the years since that time, Veteran’s Day has come to encompass all of our wars and to honor the sacrifices and service of all of our veterans who have answered the call of duty to preserve our freedoms.
However, as with so many other things in our society, both the politicians and citizens pay a lot of lip service to the concept of honoring our veterans, but that’s about the extent of their effort — everybody talks about ensuring that we recognize appropriately the debt we owe our veterans, but nobody does anything about it.
The scandal involving the Veteran’s Administration, with the stories of veterans literally dying while waiting to get an appointment to see a VA doctor, was outrageous, but it was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the neglect of our veterans by our society and by the powers-that-be in Washington.
The recent story in the Boston Globe regarding the homeless veterans who have been dying from drug overdoses in this area was one of the saddest pieces of reporting we have seen in a long time. The story highlighted the total disregard for those who have left military service with severe emotional and physical issues, but who have been let to fend for themselves.
So we urge all of our readers this Veteran’s Day not merely to thank our veterans for their service, but also to send an email to our politicians in Washington to demand that they provide adequate funding for the programs and services that our veterans desperately need.
It is absolutely shameful that some politicians can be opposed to small increases in taxes that could pay for these programs to benefit our veterans, without whose sacrifices, after all, we would not have the sort of free country in which some people can make billions of dollars without paying back the debt they owe to those who put themselves on the line to preserve our way of life.
Chelsea reality show fans and viewers across the country got their first look at Velvet Smith and her daughter, Ashley Alexiss (Smith) Tuesday night and were left wondering, “Can Ashley fix Velvet?”
Velvet, the well-known and gregarious 51-year-old Chelsea native who graduated from Chelsea High School in 1981, and her stunning 24-year-old daughter, Ashley, are featured with four other mother-daughter pairs on the Oxygen television show, “Fix My Mom.”
Laura Baron appears as the life coach trying to repair the rocky mother-daughter relationships.
Velvet, who works at Floramo’s Restaurant in Chelsea, and Ashley, a model who has appeared non-nude in Playboy and Maxim magazines and other publications, were the guests of honor at a premiere party Tuesday at Rosaria’s in Saugus. The duo received a standing ovation at the conclusion of the show and each graciously posed for numerous photos with friends and guests in attendance.
“I can’t believe that it happened, that it’s really real,” said Ashley moments after the show. “It’s nice because I was finally able to let my voice be heard to my mom about my concerns for so long. We’ve really been avoiding that conversation.”
The TV show focuses on the Smith mother-daughter relationship, one in which Ashley “constantly finds herself lecturing her mom on how to behave.”
According to press materials, “since the passing of Velvet’s mother [Lillian Laffey] three years ago, Velvet has turned to a partying lifestyle to help fill a void in her heart, which has resulted in major cracks in this mother-daughter relationship.”
Velvet said she was “very nervous” waiting for the airing of the show that was filmed in Los Angeles.
“The emotions came back and I appreciate them showing my mother on national TV,” said Velvet. “She’d be so proud of us. I have this eye-opening experience now because of Ashley’s concerns about me going out and partying.”
Both women had high praise for the Oxygen staff, producers, directors, and crew. They commented on their professionalism and their assistance and genuine concern during the show’s production. The show is truly a “must watch” for all mothers and daughters.
Velvet and Ashley received a lot of airtime on the first show that included some emotional exchanges between the two. Ashley is regarded as a natural in front of the camera with her vivacious personality, self-confidence and majestic appearance, and the show should lead to other opportunities in her modeling and spokesperson career.
But Ashley said her main focus is on helping her mother, who has been such a tremendous supporter – from Ashley’s days growing up in Chelsea, to Northeast Regional where she was president of the National Honor Society, to today in California where she is living and continuing her dreams.
“This is a hard hurdle to get over and I love my mother to death,” said Ashley. “I want to keep her around as long as I can and this show can help me do that. My mom is my everything and I don’t want to lose her before I have to.”
Ashley said she was overwhelmed by th
Velvet Smith and her daughter, Ashley Alexiss, pictured with friends at the “Fix My Mom” premiere party Tuesday night at Rosaria’s in Saugus.
e large turnout at Tuesday’s premiere party.
“I cannot believe how many people showed up. I’ve never felt so blessed in my life. I’ve been talking about this for so long. It’s just humbling. It’s amazing. My friends are so incredible.”
“The turnout was amazing,” said Velvet. “My friends support me. They have been there forever through thick and thin. The people at both jobs – Floramo’s where the meat falls off the bone and PlanetTran by Avalon – gave me two months off and they supported me. Hey, I’m Velvet. I love attention but this is a bit overwhelming.”
Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins has developed a program for inmates that is in its third year and is showing positive results.
We are referring to his farming program that has inmates growing vegetables and fruits in the prison yard.
This program helps inmates develop skills that will make them more marketable to employers upon release and thereby help reduce recidivism.
Nothing can be more important than bringing former prisoners back into the mainstream of society with a good job. Studies have shown that self-esteem returns to inmates who can hold a job and support themselves and their families. This program has shown positive results for those inmates who have completed this program, not to mention that last year it produced more than 1,000 pounds of fresh produce that went directly to feed inmates in the Suffolk County Jail facilities.
Innovative programs such as this are what are needed to rehabilitate inmates and prevent them from entering what all-too-often is a revolving door of incarceration.
We commend Sheriff Tompkins for thinking outside the box. Not only is he helping the taxpayers by turning inmates into productive members of society, eventually saving tens of thousands of dollars in jail costs by reducing recidivism, but he also — and more importantly — is helping inmates to develop a sense of self-worth that benefits themselves and their families.