As we do every January, we’re again starting the new year off on a very positive note, introducing you to 12 local individuals who are making a name for themselves and for Worcester County itself ~ they are athletes, students, social workers, entrepreneurs, artists, writers, and more, all working towards making our community a stronger, more united, more vibrant one. Join us now in congratulating them for their contributions thus far and in looking forward to what this extraordinary group is sure to accomplish in the future.
By Tine Roycroft
In 1999, the Worcester community was changed forever by a fire in the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. The blaze began with a single candle knocked over mistakenly by homeless individuals looking to escape the bitter cold. Sadly, six heroic Worcester firefighters lost their lives in that horrific fire that night. As the brave men battled through black smoke and falling ash, they never once thought of their own safety ~ they had taken a vow to help the helpless and they were staying true to that promise.
One of those firefighters was Lt. Thomas E. Spencer and today his son, Patrick Spencer, is continuing the family tradition of grace and honor. Spencer sits on the Advisory Board of Lt. Tommy Spencer House, which is a site in Worcester chosen by the Home Again Initiative to end chronic homelessness. In this house, located on Elm Street, those without a place to call home are finding relief and rest. And Spencer couldn’t be more proud of what he does.
“Before anything else,” Spencer, 25, said. “Before supplying the homeless with any services, give them a home. Give them an environment that is stable, where they can have opportunities and then you can give the services to them.”
The Home Again Initiative and Spencer House seek to do just that. The Initiative is a partnership of Community Healthlink, the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance, Dismas House, Henry Lee Willis Community Center, Jeremiah’s Inn, and SMOC/People In Peril Shelter. Through locations like the Spencer House, homeless individuals are given safe and secure living situations. Residents have access to healthcare services, education programs and ongoing case management.
Spencer not only sits on the Advisory Board for this amazing home, he also led the committee of volunteer contractors who renovated the entirety of Spencer House. With an impressive background in engineering and contracting, he was easily best-suited for the position.
“Was it hard? No,” Spencer laughed. “Was it time-consuming? Yes! Everything about renovation takes a great deal of patience. The bathroom is the hardest thing to renovate. But believe me, it was worth it.”
In his spare time, when he is not directly combating homelessness, this charming Worcester boy-next-door loves hitting the ocean whenever he can. He is determined to reach Master Diver status within this upcoming year and also wants to become certified as a math teacher for middle school children. At this time, he is substitute teaching and believes he has found his passion.
“I love that look in their eyes when they come up with something and realize they just reached further than they thought they could,” he said.
When asked if he thought his father were proud of him and his numerous accomplishments, Spencer grew quiet. Bypassing whether his actions were worthy of praise, he chose to speak of his hero, his dad.
“My father was my best friend,” he answered. “He was my superman…he cared more about me, my brother and sister than anyone could ever care for their kids…he had such a great heart and wanted people to want to help themselves, to reach further.”
By Rachel Shuster
The eye of the storm remains calm amidst all the mayhem, but it also possesses power and strength. For the Worcester Tornadoes, Chris Colabello is that all-important, stable eye. Twenty five year old Colabello is quickly climbing his way up the baseball ladder with his passion for the game, natural talent, and local pride.
Colabello spent much of his childhood flying from the US to Italy, where his father played professional baseball for many years and his mother was born and raised. “Both my parents have been my biggest support.” [My father’s] been through the same things I’m going through. He kind of feels my pain,” Colabello says. “A love for baseball is in my blood.”
During his younger days, Colabello played in little league in Italy, the Italian National League to be exact, where he won many European championships. During his middle/high school days, he played in the US, eventually making his way to Assumption College, where he got much of his baseball experience as member of the team from 2002 ~ as a freshman ~ to 2005 ~ as a senior and as team captain.
In 2006, after graduation, Colabello joined the Tornadoes. Being on the team has taught him that “Baseball is so much deeper than what it looks like at its basic level. You don’t have to be the best athlete to play this game, you just have to compete to the best of your ability. The game is a metaphor for life.”
Tornadoes manager Rich Gedman is a major influence on Colabello’s life. “It’s going to sound a little corny, but he’s my hero,” Colabello says, going on to say how he and Gedman will talk for hours and exchange stories of life and baseball. “I’ll just sit there in awe of the stories he tells. He’s taught me so many things, not to let emotion get involved [in the game], how to approach things in life and baseball….he epitomizes all that,” he says.
An asset to the Tornadoes from day 1, Colabello made 2008 a truly outstanding year. He set a new Can-Am League record with 34 doubles and tied another league mark with 51 extra-base hits. The numbers he hit in RBIs, doubles and extra-base hits set new records in Tornadoes single-season history. As the Tornadoes’ all-time franchise leader in Career Batting Average, Colabello is definitely staking his claim in the baseball circuit.
Breaking a 2-2 tie and sending Worcester to a 3-2 victory in the top of the 9th inning in Game One of the Can-Am League Semifinals against Sussex, Colabello also gave the Tornadoes their playoff victory this year when he scored a two-out solo home run.
Some of Colabello’s other highlights from this past season include a three homerun game in June in Atlantic City, two double-digit hitting streaks, and being named the league’s first base representative on the Post Season All-Star Team.
Being in Worcester has truly been a blessing for Colabello. “I’ve had the pleasure of playing for a great manager and learned, along with my teammates, how to be a unit, not just separate people.” A little “spoiled” in his first year with the team, Colabello explains how that was the most fun he has ever had playing baseball. “We try to create that feeling every year,” he says.
Despite the endless “home runs,” playing the game also has its “strikes.” “Failure is a part of the game. You have to cope with it,” Colabello explains.
What would his ultimate dream team be? Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., and Willie Mays in the outfield, Mike Schmidt on third, Nolan Ryan on the mound, “And me on first!”
“Baseball has taught me so much about myself. It has helped me be a better person. If I can play until I’m 100, I would. It was my dream when I was little, and it is still my number one aspiration. I’m going to continue to play and grow and prove to be successful. I’ll see where that takes me,” Colabello says. There’s no doubt that Colabello will follow through on his word and rise to the top.
By Tine Roycroft
Amanda Pearlstein is a young girl with a lot on her plate. With her sharp business mind, a sweet and honest manner, and a status of full time student at Worcester’s Clark University, one might say that Pearlstein, 21, is just focused on completing her senior year and heading out to face a tough economy and an even tougher job market.
But Pearlstein has made it her mission, while counting down the days to graduation, to leave a legacy. Pearlstein’s energy and drive led her to help spearhead the popular Clark Food Fest: Cook for Hunger ~ a spectacular event, supported by Clark University’s own branch of Initial Advantage, first held in April 2008. Chefs from Worcester area restaurants competed against each other to prepare dishes that excelled in taste and presentation. As chefs from Zipango Sushi Bar and Grille, BABA Restaurant and Sushi Bar, and Tribeca worked their respective butts off in the kitchen, the event collected monetary donations and canned goods for the Worcester Food Bank. As students sampled delicious food, over 233 lbs of food were donated and $176 was raised in monetary contributions.
This year, Pearlstein wishes to create a sort of “Iron Chef” feel to the event, in which all participating chefs are frying furiously, dicing delicately and sautéing saucily at the same time, all with the mission of getting more for the Worcester Food Bank. But organizing and executing this gala affair is not without its challenges.
“It is difficult,” Pearlstein confessed during a recent break in studying for an upcoming exam. “But the restaurants I recruited last year are doing it again this year. Now I’m just trying to get another one on board.”
Pearlstein is currently earning her degree in Operations Management and is minoring in Innovation and Entrepreneurialship. With a strong future in business ahead of her, it might be easy for Pearlstein to concentrate on paying off college loans and building up that IRA. Instead, she is dedicated to giving back to her community. She originally joined Clark University’s Initial Advantage program to get constructive feedback about business plans and to gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to succeed in the field. But Pearlstein’s philanthropic heart took her farther.
The young business tycoon hopes to exceed the achievements of last year’s Cook for Hunger and bring even more food to those Massachusetts residents who are going to bed hungry. Pearlstein herself recognizes how lucky she is ~ she is very much looking forward to going to her hometown of Stoneham and enjoying some roast chicken or roast turkey with her family. But her thoughts are never far away from those who have so little.
“In Worcester alone, there are kids who are starving,” Pearlstein reminds us. “This should never happen. Especially with the kids. No kids should go to bed hungry.”
By Linnea Sheldon
Matt Shwachman came to Worcester at the tender age of eight years old. He attended Bancroft High School, where he began studying music during senior year. As part of his senior project, he picked up the guitar and also wrote his first song, “Side of the Road.” According to Shwachman, it is a song about finding your dreams and not letting what other people think get in the way of that. “Ironically enough, that is the first song I started getting national attention for,” he said. “It was recently featured on the hit TV show “One Tree Hill,” and is also featured on my new album, “Uncharted Territory,” which is a personal account touching on love, relationships, transformation, existentialism, and spirituality.”
Shwachman graduated from UMass Amherst with a degree in Business Administration, and is currently the Vice President of American Realty, Inc. He continues to focus on his career as a singer-songwriter as well.
After performing as a solo artist for several years, Shwachman decided to expand his musical horizons, creating the Matt Shwachman Band (MSB). The band features Hugh Allen on bass, Dana Bonardi on drums, and Mike Fiore on lead guitar.
“They are all extremely talented musicians as well as awesome guys,” Shwachman said. “We have been touring New England for the last 6-8 months with a focus on Worcester, Boston, and New York, and have already played many of New England’s top club venues, including The Hard Rock Café Boston.”
MSB also had a headlining slot at the Boston Music Festival and performed on the TV show “Backstage.” They also performed in First Night Worcester and are next playing Tammany Hall on Friday, January 2.
Shwachman said that he has always loved the songwriting aspect of what he does. “It’s like putting a puzzle together that is stuck inside your head,” he explained. “Every songwriter knows and loves that moment when you finish a new song and you can’t wait to play it for someone. What inspires me to keep doing it is that I hope I touch people’s lives the way other people’s music has touched mine.”
Shwachman felt differently about performing. “I did not always love to play live,” he confessed. “At the beginning I was encouraged by friends and family to play out. My parents and brother have been extremely supportive and encouraging. My guitar teacher, Rich Falco, head of Jazz Studies at WPI and an instructor at Clemente Music, was also instrumental in getting me to perform for the masses. Rich is an amazing guitarist and teacher as well as a good friend.”
He currently credits his band with giving him the drive and inspiration to perform. “The friendship and band chemistry that I have formed with Hugh, Dana, and Mike has been invaluable in my growth as a musician,” he said. “It is so much fun that I honestly can’t play enough right now, hence our busy schedule.”
Shwachman uses his talents to help out in his community. MSB has performed to help raise money and awareness for some great causes, recently performing and contributing to the Karaoke for a Cause event put on by City Councilor Joff Smith and Channel 3’s Jen Roy.
Shwachman’s plans for the future include touring and performing live with MSB as much as possible. For upcoming dates, visit www.myspace.com/mattshwachman and www.mattshwachman.com. MSB are also in the studio working on their first group CD, tentatively titled “Are You Prepared,” which is due out in the fall of ’09.
By Tine Roycroft
In 2005, Larry Summers, then President of Harvard University, suggested that perhaps innate differences between men and women were one of the reasons why fewer members of the “gentler sex” succeeded in math and science.
In 2008, financial expert Shana Orczyk, 30, proved that “suggestion” to be incorrect.
Pulse Magazine ripped this money maven away from a study session for her Chartered Financial Analyst exam to talk about the just-former Worcester resident’s rise to economic excellence.
“I’m a research analyst for a private wealth management firm, so I research anything and everything our clients can invest in,” said Orczyk. “But my specialty is in alternative investments like hedge funds and private equity.”
Orcyk can run circles around any individual in conversations about investments today, but she admits that she originally had no interest in the field of finance. She started out with a degree in Sports Management but when a tough job market forced her to expand her post-college employment search, the Worcester girl found herself in the offices of the global financial firm of Morgan Stanley.
Day after day, Orcyk was forced to monitor the stock markets in order to properly advise potential clients. But she caught the stock market bug and knew that she had found her calling.
Today, she can be found on CNBC, ENCN, and in various financial publications, speaking about the general status of the market. With her youth and intelligence on her side, Orcyk brings the financial thunder to all platforms of media. This is no small achievement for any one being ~ but Orcyk is especially proud to be a young female in the field and hopes she can serve as a role model to many females of all ages who dream of venturing into the world of investment. She knows how challenging it can be.
About four years ago, Orzcyk, then an employee of Fidelity Investments, was asked to serve as a judge for a student contest. Young people from the Ohio school system competed against each other to create the most attractive and efficient stock portfolio and the top students came to Massachusetts to present their ideas. Out of the top contenders was a team of two girls who subsequently won. But Orcyk noted how intimidated the girls might have felt ~ besides Orcyk, they were the only two females in the entire room. She encouraged the girls, as she encourages many women, to pursue careers in finance and to make a difference on so many levels.
And despite these amazing opportunities, Orcyk is still a Worcester gal at heart. Despite just having moved to Waltham, she makes it back to the city often.
“My dad was a Worcester cop, my mom a Worcester teacher. I never, ever forget where I came from,” she said. “And my New Year’s resolution ~ well, you don’t achieve anything in this life if you don’t expect a lot from yourself. So within the next year or two, I’d like to put together a media tape and submit it to CNBC or Fox Business News. So, my new year’s resolution is to continue setting high goals for myself.”
By Matt Shaw
If you’re planning on making fun of the Worcester music scene anytime in the near future, you might want to take a minute and look around to make sure Colonel Boothe isn’t within earshot. The young upshot entrepreneur is dedicated not just to making money or making music, but to putting Worcester on the map as an important market in the music industry.
Founder of Colonel Boothe Productions, Boothe was responsible for running the successful Indiepalooza held in East Park this past September. The event drew so much attention that Boothe is planning on throwing another one this year. Indiepalooza also saw the launch of SoundPalooza.com, a music networking site that, he says, “…will allow us to expand Indiepalooza nationwide and bring this free event to other areas in the US. It will also bring much needed attention to local musicians and the city of Worcester.”
As for the future, Boothe is still looking for his diamond in the rough. Constantly on the prowl for new talent, the young urbanite attends shows frequently, skimming the cream from the top of Worcester’s talent pool and creating a respectable list of potential clients. If Indiepalooza is any indication, Boothe has the ability to put together a set list to rival any larger cities’ indie shows. And that’s precisely the goal: to turn Worcester into a musical powerhouse.
But to be fair, it’s not all about the music. In generating hype for local concerts, Boothe is also creating advertising opportunities for local businesses to market directly to younger audiences. Being a business owner himself ~ in addition to the production company, Boothe owns two pizzerias in Worcester and Shrewsbury – he understands the importance of direct marketing and brand exposure.
Boothe is making friends and connections left, right and center. The number of links, clips and references to Boothe’s company on MySpace and Facebook is near overwhelming ~ and if it’s any indication of success (which it seems to be), then Boothe is already a superstar. Local artists J. Black, Mass Elite, The Birthday Suicide, Daniel Laurent, Vonda McAfee, Smoke Bulga and Dre Robinson have all worked with Boothe’s production company, helping him amass an impressive resume that will no doubt continue to grow in 2009.
Keep an eye peeled for upcoming shows. In the mean time, if you think you or someone you know could be Boothe’s diamond in the rough, drop him a line at ColonelBoothe@gmail.com.
By Rachel Shuster
If you haven’t heard of her already, you will soon. Only in her twenties, Eve has already accomplished enough for several lifetimes.
Eve, who trained in classical ballet at the Kirov (Universal) Ballet and Boston Ballet and then performed professionally as a soloist with the Inland Pacific Ballet Company in Los Angeles, has always had a love for the stage. In regards to her first time on stage, “I just remember how fun it was. It was like, you know, a kiddie ballet, but it was incredibly fun,” Eve says.
Talent definitely runs in the family, as Eve’s father is composer and founder of The Foundation for Modern Opera’s annual The Shakespeare Concerts, for which she serves as Production Coordinator. “My father has always been my biggest cheerleader,” Eve says. “Both my parents, my entire family always supported me. They came to every show and performance.”
As Eve’s love for theatre grew, she eventually found herself at Assumption College in Worcester years later. “Assumption allowed me to explore directing for 2 years. It was an incredible experience,” Eve says. She not only completed her undergrad in three years at Assumption, but found her true calling as a director through her theatre experiences ~ and mentor Professor Brian Tivnan, who gave Eve her first big directing break by asking her to direct her first show at Assumption.
While at school, Eve also obtained a degree in foreign languages ~ specifically French, German, and Italian ~ and applied it to her career in theatre. “Knowing these languages is definitely a foot in the door,” she says. Since many operas are written in these three languages, as a director, Eve can spend less time translating and more time developing the characters, as she did for Boston Opera Collaborative’s 2008 double bill of Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica.
Now out of school, Eve is busier than ever, living her dream. She is currently directing “Little Red Riding Hood” at Opera Boston and New Works Winter Festival at Acme Theater Company and is also Assistant Director of “The Bartered Bride” and “The Nose” at Opera Boston.
Although directing has become Eve’s main focus, she does continue to share her gift of dance by choreographing many professional shows, primarily for theatre and opera. Some past choreography credits include “Romeo & Juliet” for Assumption College and The Hovey Players, “The Tempest” for Redfeather Theater Company, and “Don Giovanni” for Boston Opera Collaborative, for which she wrote the translation.
Does this theatrical tour de force have a directing idol? “I don’t really have someone I want to emulate. Directing is not about recreating, but creating your own perspective. I do admire people, but I don’t want to emulate.”
When asked where she sees herself in 10 years, Eve says, “I would love to be directing a lot of opera and theatre. In 5 years…10 years…50 years! This is what I want to do.” With a dream as big as her talent, Eve will surely continue to do nothing but grow and shine.
By Cristal Perriello
Born and raised in Worcester, North High graduate Joseph McGee is being called by many the next Dean Koontz. This 23 year old horror writer is making a name for himself across the U.S. and abroad, with bestselling novels including In the Wake of the Night and Snow Hill.
Kicked out of middle school because they didn’t agree with his short stories or artwork, high school is where his talent really began to flourish.
“I began writing seriously at 16 years old,” explains McGee. “Previous to that I was drawing monsters and creating flash-fiction that later became novels or short stories sold to some pretty cool magazines and publishers.” Indeed, in addition to his novels that are available on Amazon.com and in book retailers everywhere, his shorter works have appeared in Shroud Magazine and the Morpheus Tales and The Sound of Horror anthologies.
A typical day for him starts with what else but writing: “I’m a night owl so I stay up late typing on my laptop in my recliner and may fall asleep close to 5 a.m.,” says McGee. “I wake up at noon and continue.”
But he does have a few distractions along the way: “I’m addicted to some of the best games on XBOX 360 and PS3; I have a killer library of over 7,000 DVDs and close to 1,000 books,” he exclaims. “I keep busy.” McGee is also a self proclaimed Celtics fanatic. “I am a sucker for Boston Celtics memorabilia. I have autographed photos, basketballs, and jerseys; from Bird to Pierce; DJ to Walton; Parish to Garnett.”
When he is not writing, McGee volunteers in the community as well as with Catholic Charities, USA, to which he donated Thanksgiving Day dinners for families this year. “It’s an awesome feeling that I can do something to help out others,” he says. “That in itself is one of my biggest accomplishments.”
This past October, McGee, a member of the Horror Writers Association and New England Horror Writers, took part in Rock and Shock, a horror and heavy music festival at the DCU Center, where he spoke on a panel comprised of horror heavyweights about where the horror market is going. “It’s spiraling down some as it does every so often. It dwindles down, and picks back up like no one’s business,” he says. “I believe in a short time, once this economy crisis is over, that it’ll pick up again for us.”
McGee’s novels, which have garnered praise from well-respected fellow authors horror websites alike, do include other elements as well. “I’m just a writer telling a story, and nine times out of 10 you’ll find just about every element in one of my novels — romance suspense, perhaps a little sci-fi. It’s like baking. You must have the right combination to make it mold well together.”
What keeps him going? “The desire to succeed,” he says. “And I love my readers. I have the most supportive readers I could ever hope for. They’re loyal and dedicated and truly are my lifeline in this crazy business.”
Keep your eye on this guy; he plans on releasing four books this year.
By Rachel Bryson-Brockmann
For Scott Zoback, Worcester Magazine’s News Editor, no two days are the same.
But whether he’s reporting from the back seat of a Worcester Police squad car, participating in Clark University’s Alumni Association, or enjoying ethnic food in Worcester’s Canal District, one fact stays the same ~ he thoroughly enjoys every aspect of living in the city of Worcester.
It seems that Zoback, 26, fell into the journalism industry by accident.
Growing up in Tolland, CT, he was first introduced to Worcester when he came to Clark University in 2000. Majoring in History with a concentration in Education, he graduated in 2004, and then took advantage of Clark’s “Fifth-Year Free” Accelerated B.A./Master’s Degree Program, getting his Master’s in Public Administration and graduating in 2005.
While obtaining his M.P.A., he was a student teacher at South High School in Worcester. It seemed that he would go the route of full-time teacher, until Mike Warshaw, then the Editor-in-chief of Worcester Magazine, approached Zoback to write a freelance piece under a short deadline.
Zoback had previous journalism experience as the Editor-in-chief of Clark’s weekly student newspaper, The Scarlet, but had yet to get his feet wet in the industry. Warshaw was impressed with Zoback’s reporting, and asked him to come on the magazine as a Staff Reporter. The rest is history ~ with Zoback continuing to move up in the ranks in the three subsequent years ~ from Staff Reporter to Senior Reporter to News Editor.
As the News Editor, he writes and assigns articles, making sure the magazine offers a great variety of topics. “We are a small staff, so we all work together to get the magazine out,” he says. “I am really proud of the people I work with. We had a big staff shrink, and we still manage to put out a quality magazine.”
Zoback has kept close ties with Clark University as an active member of the Alumni Association ~ next year, he will serve as the Association’s President-Elect. He is also the advisor of The Scarlet, and last spring he taught a class titled “Writing for Magazines.”
As a reporter, Zoback is subject to a fair share of front-line reporting.
In October 2008, he went on a ride-along in a squad car with the Worcester Police. Little did he know that the night would become the worst single night of violence that Worcester had seen in almost twenty years, with seven stabbings. “I was literally right in the middle of the incident,” he says. “There were victims running past me, and I watched as multiple cops arrested the perpetrator. It was the most intense reporting I have ever done.”
Zoback enjoys reporting on the brighter sides of Worcester, too ~ it’s clear through his stories that he wants to shine a positive light on the city, and that he really takes pride in the city. “I like living in Worcester because of the short commute, but also because everything that I could want to do is right at my fingertips,” he says. “The ethnic food here is amazing, especially in the Canal District. I love the Vietnamese restaurants, and I really enjoy the Bay State Bakery. Worcester has some of the ethnic food that bigger cities are lacking. Sometimes we don’t realize how lucky we are to live here.”
By Cristal Perriello
At 25 years old, Joseph Corazzini is more dedicated to the Worcester community than most people twice his age.
The Worcester native is currently an Advisor at the Dynamy Program, which helps young people prepare for college and career exploration. There are two programs he is in charge of, the Youth Academy and the Internship Year. “A core component of both programs is internships,” explains Corazzini. “As a result I’m constantly running around the city meeting with my students and their internship supervisors making sure everything is running smooth.”
Another key component to the program is its wilderness trips; depending on the time of year, you can find Joseph canoeing, hiking, or camping with 15 inner city youths. “Think Survivor, just a little less intense and it only lasts a week,” laughs Joseph. “The kids really enjoy the experience and I love the fact that I am out of the office, enjoying nature, and building meaningful relationships with my students.”
A Worcester State College graduate, Corazzini started off as a volunteer at Citizen Schools, but it wasn’t long before he became the Assistant to the Campus Director. In that role, he did everything from program planning to curriculum development to organizing field trips. “We would teach students anything from songwriting and Latin dance to youth council where they would learn about and discuss the role that youth play in government.”
Corazzini says this experience made him realize that money was no longer his top priority. He replaces it with the pursuit of impacting his community as positively as possible. “There was no Citizen Schools when I was a kid and I never had an older male figure that looked liked me come into my school, sit me down and talk about the importance of education,” explains Joseph. “The best part is seeing these young kids years later in high school.”
As if all that is not enough, he serves on the board of directors at Oak Hill and the Regional Environmental Council. “I grew up in the Oak Hill community so of course I want to be part of making a difference there and the issues that the R.E.C. addresses are issues close to my heart,” says Corazzini. “I want to leave this world better than when I came.”
To top it off, he just finished a 16-week program at Suffolk University Law School called Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership. “The most important thing I took away from the experience is that government is only as good as the citizens who govern over it,” says Corazzini. “There are so many important decisions being made that affect so many lives that simply voting for a candidate is not enough. We have to be active in our government.”
Joseph married his high school sweetheart Raquel and they spend their free time chasing after their 8-year-old twin daughters. “When we had Alyssa and Isabella we were so young and had to work so hard to overcome everything,” explains Joseph. “I started working full time in high school and it was tough, but we made a commitment to each other that this was not going to keep us from achieving our dreams.”
Keep your eye on this self proclaimed political junkie, he’s planning on a future run in politics.
By Jillian Locke
Massachusetts has always had a thriving metal and hardcore scene with its heart beating loudly from within the Worcester city limits. It’s from this fertile stomping (literally!) ground that I Rise arose, proudly calling Worcester home though their career has already propelled them around the globe.
Currently on tour in Europe with hardcore compatriots Verse and Anchor, the Kantarelis brothers of I Rise, guitarist Alex and vocalist Nicky, are keeping alive the original musical spirit and enthusiasm they experienced growing up in Worcester. “Me and Nicky grew up in Worcester all our lives. I always tried finding a place to ride my bike or skateboard around the city when I was younger, but going to shows was always my favorite thing to do,” Alex says. “My parents never let me go to the old Espresso Bar shows because they didn’t approve, but when I was a little older they’d drop me off outside The Palladium almost every week. I’ll never forget waiting outside for them to come pick me up after a show. Eventually when I was driving, I’d bring my brothers with me. Nicky was 12 when I first brought him to see Bane at The Palladium. Years later we toured with them. Crazy how things work out.”
Crazy, maybe, but not surprising for a band that’s the embodiment of what a successful band should be ~ dedicated, passionate, talented, and willing to do whatever it takes to bring their music to the fans. And these guys haven’t forgotten where they came from: “When I was younger, I remember seeing some great shows all over Worcester,” Alex reminisces. “For me personally, going to shows at The Palladium upstairs, and at the Trance Buddha, will always stick out in my mind. Bane was the band that always stood apart from everyone, and without them I Rise would never exist…The best moment for us came in January ’07 when we played The Palladium with Bane. Growing up, I saw them play there more times than I can remember, and sharing the stage with them there was an amazing experience.”
If bringing a taste of Worcester overseas weren’t enough, Alex and Nicky also helped found Eightfold Path Records, a Worcester-based label which served as their home before they signed with 1917 Records. “While I Rise has moved on to a bigger label, we plan on eventually releasing another EP on Eightfold Path. The next planned release is a DVD about our old band Youth Attack, which should be out very soon.”
When they’re not on tour, you can catch I Rise at local venues like the Crescent Cafe on Canturbury Street (where they just had their record release show in July), the QVCC, and the Worcester Youth Center. “Pretty much anywhere that lets us do all ages shows is a place that we love playing,” says Alex. What’s 2009 going to bring? It looks like the guys will be doing a few US tours and returning to Europe, not to mention starting on a new album. “One thing that’s for sure,” Alex states, “is we’re not ready to stop any time soon.”
By Stephanie Williams
Rio & Co owner Cristina Deoliviera (who runs the Shrewsbury Street boutique with her husband Victor) has done exactly what she set out to do a year ago when she opened the store with the help of family and friends: “I didn’t just want to start a store, I wanted to make a brand.” And sure enough, stylish shoppers from all over Worcester County now recognize Rio as just that, a “brand” that means sexy, affordable (“It’s hard to feel good about spending $200-$300 on a pair of jeans, or a nice dress, but knowing you’re only going to wear it once, and from a business side, that gets rid of your daily customer. Here, you spend that much and walk out with bags of stuff,” says Deoliviera proudly), clothing and accessories that style-savvy locals might not otherwise have access to: hot-hot-hot French and Brazilian styles in addition to those from other south-of-the-border destinations, plus many other high-end labels like Diesel, Fossil, and XOXO.
And in the more literal sense of the word, Deoliviera already has an actual Rio Clothing Lines brand well underway ~ just as fun, urban, and youthful as you’d assume it would be after spending just a few minutes with its high-energy creator.
The boutique also stocks swimsuits, shoes, men’s lines, and purses galore, and there are new items weekly (including one-of-a-kind pieces!). Deoliviera has a keen sense of fashion and is always talking to customers about what they might like to see in the store, what they would like to get out of their shopping experience at Rio & Co. Plus, she has a tremendous amount of respect for that ever-increasing and varied clientele; she stocks clothing in all sizes, not just for “size 2 girls.”
So this sexy, vibrant Brazilian, who came to Worcester “with a plan,” has done exactly what she set out to do, elevate Worcester’s style while developing a rapport with her customers that is as warm as the South Beach vibe in the store: “I like to think that Worcester is now ahead of the trends.”
With 2009 dawning, how does Deoliviera, who cites Ms. Kimora Lee Simmons herself as a major inspiration, see the future? “We’re still getting plenty of new customers and new business; we’re doing well and just watching ourselves grow and getting ready for [the new] year.” In fact, Worcester has been so welcoming and responsive to Rio and Co. that Deoliviera has begun scouting for more locations for her growing business ~ so stay tuned, we’re betting that with her determination and knack for knowing just what her customers want, Rio & Co. 2…and maybe even 3!…aren’t too far off!