WORCESTER – The Dance Place Inc. of Worcester will be putting on a special performance Friday, March 23, at Northbridge Middle School. The performance will begin at 7 PM.

This performance will be one to remember.

The parents of senior Amy Brennan, Jody and Michael Brennan, are running the Boston Marathon for their daughter, Jax Brennan, who 20 years ago, at age 3, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. But, thanks to Dana Farber, is a vivacious 23 year old today,” Alexis Roche, the stage manager and assistant director of Dance Place Inc. said.

The  proceeds from the event will be given to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Dance Place Inc., located at 1393 Grafton St., is owned by Carolyn Pluff and has been around for 31 years. Each performance is non-competitive. Dance Place Incorporated teaches and performs many different styles.

“We do all types of different dance: Jazz, Ballet Modern, Hip-Hop, Lyrical, and Theatrical,” Roche said.

Tomorrow’s performance will also include a performance by Cady Sugrue, a graduating senior and a talented vocalist.

The list of graduating seniors include Kitty Oevermann, Hannah Swanick, Kristin Brawn, Michelle Fraser, Erica Pellegrino, Amy Brennan, Merry Mongeau, Cady Sugrue, and Katie Cournoyer.

To learn more about the performance and Dance Place, Inc. Visit http://thedanceplaceinc.net/.

WORCESTER – School field trips are a way for students to actively learn through first-hand experience. They’re also incredibly fun and memorable. Mrs. Smith, a second grade teacher at Belmont Street Community School, would like to bring her students on a field trip to Davis Farmland and needs your help to get there!

Davis Farmland is a farm located in Sterling, Massachusetts and gives visitors the chance to not only learn about endangered animals, but interact with a few furry friends as well. Visiting Davis Farmland would give Mrs. Smith’s students the chance to view, touch, and learn about animals that many of them have never seen in person.

At this point, Mrs. Smith’s class has no way of getting there. The cost of admission is being covered by the parents/guardians of the class ($1300), but transportation isn’t. Mrs. Smith would like to rent two buses so that her students can safely get to the farm and back again.

Mrs. Smith decided to create a post titled “The Wheels on the Bus go to the Farm” on Donorschoose.org. She has set a goal of $767 and only needs $406 more to reach it. Time is running out to contribute! Donate today and help Mrs. Smith and her class reach her goal before April 29, 2018 and make this potential field trip into a trip to remember.

WORCESTER – The “Worcester: The City that Reads” Committee begins their annual book drive on Wednesday, March 21 with the theme of “Spring into Books” and will run the drive until May 15.

The committee was formed 13 years ago by Worcester School Committee member John Monfredo and his wife Anne-Marie.

Monfredo, a retired school principal, wants to spread the joy of reading to children that may have difficulty obtaining books. Monfredo has already put in over a hundred hours of work preparing for the book drive, and every second is worth it to him.

“It’s all worthwhile,” Monfredo said. “I enjoy it. Being a former educator and still having the chance to make a difference.”

Even as a principal, Monfredo emphasized the long-term benefits that reading can have on children.

Monfredo said, “In my 20 years as a principal, one of the things I did was make reading a top priority. Some of those kids are grown up now and still remember those programs.”  

This year, the annual book drive has adopted the theme: Spring into Books. The great news is that many businesses, organizations, and people are coming together in the Worcester community to support this cause.

“It’s nice to have so many groups that could make a difference. We’re actually making Worcester the city that reads.” said Monfredo.

A list of places/businesses where you can drop of your books and support the cause are listed here:

  • Worcester Public Library and all of their branches
  • People’s United People’s Bank  – all six city branches, including the town of Shrewsbury
  • Commerce Bank – all four city branches, including Holden
  • Bay State Savings Bank = all branches
  • TD Bank on West Boylston Street
  •  Stop and Shop –  Lincoln Street, Grafton Street and West Boylston Street
  • Shaws Market on West Boylston Street
  • Worcester Credit Union on West Boylston Street
  • Worcester Public Schools on Irving Street
  • Worcester City Hall – first floor on Main Street
  • Starbucks Coffee at  1 West Boylston Street
  • Panera’s on West Boylston Street
  • Bagel Inn on Main Street in Holden
  • Jewish Community Center on Salisbury Street
  • Austin Liquor at Gold Star Blvd
  • Leader’s Way – Kung Fu Academy on Burncoat Street
  • Greendale YMCA
  • Main Street YMCA
  • RSVP and the Senior Center on Vernon Street
  • St. Vincent’s Hospital – at the entrance door on Summer Street 
  • Annie’s Book Stop on James Street in Worcester
  • Headshop Hair Factory in Millbury
  • Summit Elder Care on Grafton Street

A list of organizations/businesses that are offering their own book drives to support the committee’s cause are listed here:

  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Worcester Railers Hockey
  • UMass Medical and UMass Memorial
  • Fallon Health on Chestnut Street 
  • Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Hanover Insurance
  • Harvard Pilgrim
  • UNUM Insurance
  • Wilson Language Training Center
  • Northboro Women’s Club
  • Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts
  • Little leagues of Worcester
  • Webster Five Bank
  • Worcester Bravehearts Baseball
  • Worcester Public School High Schools – Burncoat High, Doherty High, North High, South High,  Claremont Academy, University Park Campus and Worcester Technical High.
  • Private Schools: Bancroft School, Holy Name High School, St. John’s High School, Notre Dame Academy, Worcester Academy and Venerini Academy
  • The following colleges and universities: WPI, Clark University, Holy Cross College, Becker College, Worcester State University, Anna Maria College, Assumption College, and Mass. College of Pharmacy, Salter College, and Quinsigamond Community College.


WORCESTER – It is becoming increasingly rare to meet someone who is unaffected by opioid addiction. Opiates, like heroin, are substances where one wrong measurement could lead to death. Many fight, trying to overcome this dangerous dependence through rehabilitation programs and a strong exterior support system.

Others aren’t so lucky.

Worcester. A city of success and failure- recovery and loss.

A string of words that could define any city in the United States. Yet Worcester is not just any city- there’s an invisible bond amongst many of its locals and visitors affected by addiction. A sense to do something. A sense to change things. A sense of unity.


Eric Taylor has become the voice of many — an epitome of revival and hope in Worcester.

Taylor lost his brother Jeffrey to heroin addiction.

“We were so close growing up. He was not as much of an addict- not as deep into it,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s oldest brother, Richard Kenny, was also addicted to heroin.

“My oldest brother was an addict for ten years,” Taylor said. “People would blame Worcester. But the Worcester recovery community has given me the chance to meet one of the closest knit group of people. You don’t have to turn your back on the city. Instead of blaming Worcester, we’re going to help.”

With the help of Worcester’s recovery community, Taylor’s oldest brother has been sober for almost four years. He is a homeowner and has a job centered in recovery and treatment.

“My brother that died from an overdose was super into comedy,” Taylor said.

In 2014, Taylor founded “Addicted to Laughter,” a recovery organization that puts on comedy shows.

Comedy was something that brought Taylor and his family closer together, and now Taylor has found a way to “boost morale” for the recovery community.

So far, “Addicted to Laughter” has already raised over $25,000 for recovery related charities.

And guess what? Taylor has something big planned for this month as well.

Taylor and local comedian Shaun Connolly will be hosting a comedy show called “Worcester Recovers” at the White Eagle on March 31  from 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM.

Like Taylor, Connolly believes this event is going to be incredibly important to boosting the morale of the recovery community.

“Recovery is a big thing,” said Connolly “It’s important to almost everyone.”

Comedians Tim Dillon and Kelly MacFarland will be performing and the money earned from this show will be put towards three treatment/recovery organizations centered around the Worcester area. These include: the Channing House, Net of Compassion, and Alyssa’s Place. Taylor believes these organizations are “worthy beneficiaries.”

The WooHaHa!, a comedy club opening soon in Worcester, is sponsoring the event.

Interested in attending and helping out those affected by addiction in the Worcester area? Visit https://atl.ticketleap.com/worcesterrecovers/ and purchase tickets online. Or buy tickets at the door if the event doesn’t sell out.

Mrs. Heeps, a teacher at Rice Square School, has already experienced how impactful reading can be in an elementary school classroom.

“A spark was ignited when they read the book ‘Shiloh,’ Mrs. Heeps said. “They didn’t want to stop reading and were sad when the book ended.”

Now, it’s time to move on to a different genre – historical fiction.

Mrs. Heeps uses read-aloud units to give students a foundation to move onto more complex works. Once again, she would like to incorporate this useful tool to help make reading a fun experience for her students.

Help out Mrs. Heeps get copies of “Aurore of the Yukon: A Girl’s Adventure in the Klondike Gold Rush” for all of her students by visiting https://www.donorschoose.org/project/traveling-through-historical-fiction/3024075/.

Mrs. Heeps needs to reach $1,106 by May 16, 2018. The great news is that there have already been quite a few donors who have contributed to the post. Mrs. Heeps only needs $530 until the class meets their goal. Donate today and help students cultivate a love for reading and learning.

Some great news! Since the Donorschoose.org project started at ThisWeekinWorcester.com, each one of the previous posts have met their goal. It’s fantastic to see how the community is coming together and contributing to education. This couldn’t have been done without your help.  Let’s keep it going!

This is no joke! A comedy club is coming to Worcester.

John Tobin, the owner of  John Tobin Presents and a big name in the Boston comedy scene, is going to be bringing the laughs and comedy talent to a 150 seat theater — The WooHaha! — located on the first floor of 50 Franklin Street beneath Bancroft on the Grid in downtown Worcester.

“I love Worcester. There’s a lot of great memories,” Tobin said. “Back in the ’90s, maybe ’95 to ’97, I worked the door at the Aku-Aku [Comedy Hut] I met some great people in Worcester, and I love Worcester people. There’s a ton of pride among people from Worcester, and Worcester’s on the rise right now. There’s a sort of renaissance happening.” 

The new comedy club will give local comedic talent the chance to make people laugh from all over the East coast.Tobin, who’s comedy company owns successful clubs in the Boston area, is excited that the location of the WooHaHa! —  closer to New York then Boston is — will attract a different demographic of people to fill the seats of the club, and different talent on stage.

“We want this to be Worcester’s club. Worcester’s Mt. Rushmore of comedy,” Tobin said. “Worcester’s got tons of rate talent.”

Tobin believes that setting up a good relationship between the talent and management is essential in the success of a comedy club.

“We want the comedians to feel comfortable,” Tobin said. “If we treat the talent well, the comedians spread the word and more talent will come.”

The WooHaHa! is opening late April 2018 with an actual date TBD. As of Feb. 19, no acts had been booked yet to open the club.

Check out ThisWeekinWorcester.com’s full feature on The WooHaha! next month!

Mrs. J, an elementary school teacher at Woodland Academy, is hoping to welcome some small new friends to her third grade classroom. They’ve already learned about the lifecycle of the butterfly in past grades, and now it’s time for something even bigger.  

That’s right… frogs!

Mrs. J believes that watching these frogs grow will help her students’ grow as scientists as well. They will be working in groups and have a hands-on approach to learning that will only bring the class closer together in a fun and exciting way.

Interested in helping out?

Head to Donorschoose.org before June 11, 2018 and check out Mrs. J’s post titled “3rd Grade Froglets!” So far, she’s raised $50 out of her $215 goal to get the frog kits needed to get her plan started. But she needs your help! Donate now and help turn her science class into the science class.

Remember that one feeling? Yes, that feeling. The one after you had been staring off into space when the teacher was showing the class how to solve a math problem.

“Now it’s your turn,” the teacher would say.  

Remember the mounting fear as you stared at your blank notebook expecting an answer to appear.

“Well, everyone else must be in the same boat,” you thought to yourself as you looked over at the student seated next to you, their hands folded together on top of a marked-up notebook.

You give up. Scribble down a few random numbers on the page. The teacher moves on. You’ve been left in the dust… some boat to be stranded on.

Ms. Coyne, an elementary school teacher at Tatnuck Magnet School, wants to leave that feeling of isolation in the dust. Ms. Coyne realizes that technology like the Elmo could greatly benefit her students. The Elmo will not only give her the ability to project books, but also give students the chance to visually observe their peers solve difficult math problems.

Ms. Coyne has already gained some traction on her post titled “Envision an Elmo for Math” on donorschoose.org. She has raised $250 and has until March 26, 2018 to reach her $1,114 goal.  

Now it’s your turn!

Visit https://www.donorschoose.org/project/envision-an-elmo-for-math/2905985/ today and help Ms. Coyne and her students solve this problem.  

WORCESTER – Learning to play an instrument can be an enriching experience and Mr. Hubbard, a teacher at Worcester East Middle School, wants to bring the joy of music to all of his students.

In hopes of reaching all of the students in the school, Worcester East Middle School will be adding a band program to their schedule. Mr. Hubbard wants to create a loan system that “allows for students to be able to make music without worrying about the financial burden renting an instrument may put on their families.

But there’s a catch. Although the principle has provided Mr. Hubbard with music stands and other equipment, there is no way to pay for the instruments needed for an all-inclusive band.

Mr. Hubbard decided to create a post titled “Trombones for the Tigers” on Donorschoose.org. He is looking for your help in reaching his goal of $466 in order to purchase two trombones for his students. He still needs to earn $317 and has until May 23 to make his all-inclusive music program a reality.

Visit https://www.donorschoose.org/project/trombones-for-the-tigers/3040072/ to find out more.

Note: In our latest attempt to help Worcester teachers raise funds for much-needed classroom equipment, we’ve decided to highlight one teacher’s campaign per week. Previously, we had attempted to publish 20 campaigns each week, but have come to the conclusion that a focus on one specific campaign each week will be more beneficial to the teacher and their students.

WORCESTER – New Englanders will tread through ankle-high snow banks and walk head-on into a blast of frigid air to get to where they need to go.

Same could be said about where they want to go.

There’s a belief that frozen treats should be reserved for anytime, except when the lakes are frozen — yet Brendan Melican, the owner of WooBerry, is proving just the opposite.

“It’s funny, people oftentimes laugh when I tell them this is what I’m doing now,” Melican said. “But New Englanders are hardy. We eat ice cream year round.”

Brendan Melican/Photo: Alex Flaminio

Whether you’re a traditionalist or feeling adventurous, there is a flavor of frozen yogurt and ice cream for everyone at WooBerry.

Melican said, “I’m lucky enough to have friends that are professional chefs in the area that are always making recommendations. It’s the ability to always keep everything we’re serving a work in progress and refine our processes and recipes.”

Melican is a self-proclaimed traditionalist when it comes to ice cream. His favorite flavor? Pistachio.

Everyone knows you can’t go wrong with the classics. Melican always keeps flavors on the menu like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry — the classics became classics for a reason, he said.

Melican’s true passion comes from his creativity. He is aware that “some of the flavors are a little bit outside the norm,” but it is this break from the norm that keeps customers coming back for more. A customer walking in today could try out WooBerry’s Cinnamon Brown Sugar  that reminds customers of Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal, or Irish Cream & Fudge Swirl  that resembles Irish Cream liqueur.

Photo: Alex Flaminio

WooBerry, located at 141 Highland St., opened for the 2018 season on Wednesday, Jan. 24 to a packed house and constant flow of customers lining up to get their frozen yogurt fix.

There’s a reason why WooBerry has been voted Worcester’s best frozen yogurt stop for six years running. Melican says he cares about his customers and wants the best possible experience for them and his drive to bring joy to his customers pushes him to always look for new and exciting ways to draw in a crowd.  

Initially a store centrally focused in quality frozen yogurt, Melican has expanded WooBerry’s menu to include: in-house made ice cream, milkshakes, and smoothies.

Melican continues to expand his market by including vegan-friendly options on WooBerry’s menu. The vegan community continues to expand throughout the world, and Worcester is no exception. The process of making vegan ice cream may be a bit more expensive, but Melican wants to include as many people as possible in sharing his dream of enjoying a premier frozen dessert.

“The vegan-vegetarian community in Worcester is incredible,” Melican said. “It’s huge and it’s growing rapidly. And we have seen a lot of interest from both vegans and vegetarians specifically for those offerings. It’s been a great experience for me and hearing back from the community.”

Photo: Alex Flaminio

It’s not just the quality of the menu choices that draws foot-traffic to WooBerry, but the overall experience. Melican is proud of what he has accomplished since he purchased WooBerry three years ago. He believes that the model he follows is why WooBerry continues to thrive.

“I think one of the things that differentiates us from the competition from other venues is the model that we use,” Melican said. “It’s not self-service. We do a more quick-serve model. I get to make sure as an owner that every bit of food that we will be serving is up to my standards. If there are any food allergies or sensitivities, my staff will be able to answer in real-time.”  

Melican, a Worcester native, understands that something as simple as a parking lot could mean the difference between a happy customer and no customer at all.

“That’s probably the most Worcester requirement,” Melican said as he pointed to the back of the store where the parking lot was located. Customers will be greeted by beautiful hand painted murals on their way from the convenient parking lot to the door.

Still, Melican knows that a majority of his customer base are within walking distance and explains that college students are one of the main reasons behind their success.

“WPI is right behind us, the fact that half the student population is underage, we oftentimes become the place for late nights on the weekends,” Melican said.

Thinking about making an event a little sweeter? Melican thought of a way to bring WooBerry to you.

Initially thinking about investing in a traditional food truck model, Melican was inspired by tricycles designed by Worksman Cycles in New York City.

Melican said, “[Worksman Cycles]still make these freezer units that they used to make for the Good Humor Man. My personal aesthetic fit perfectly and I can bring it to a festival, wedding, event, or whatnot.”

Not only is Melican a fan, but the WooBerry Ice Cream Bike is big hit with his customers as well.

“Everyone falls in love with it,” Melican said. “I think there’s a lot of nostalgia for adults to when ice cream was oftentimes delivered by the Good Humor Man biking around on a bicycle. And the folks who haven’t seen anything like it before think it’s a great conversation starter.”

Want to keep up to date on everything WooBerry? Visit wooberryyougurt.com. The website is updated consistently and the best place to find out more about flavors. You can also check out WooBerry’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Melican said, “We’re changing things up pretty frequently here. Ultimately, the best way to find out what’s happening is coming in and saying hi.”

Cover Photo by Alex Flaminio/Mural designed by Eamon Gillen and Ghost Beard