New center named for Rita O’Brien Dee

Tewksbury resident Rita O’Brien Dee, surrounded by friends, family, and colleagues, was honored by Community Teamwork in Lowell for her half century of service to the organization. The Rita O’Brien Dee Center for Behavioral Health & Development will be a resource for Community Teamwork and providers across the community who are working with children with behavioral, emotional, and developmental challenges.                                                                                                              (Paige Impink photo)

By PAIGE IMPINK News Correspondent

TOWN CRIER – Oct 16, 2021

TEWKSBURY — She thought she was attending a board meeting to accept a donation from a supporter of Community Teamwork, a vital services organization she works with in Lowell. But, when Rita O’Brien Dee saw her face on colorful t-shirts and friends and family under a festive tent, she realized something else was go­ing on.

Community Teamwork CEO Karen Frederick wel­comed O’Brien Dee and explained the surprise.

“We’d like to welcome Rita and acknowledge more than a half century of service to the community, and to the Commu­nity Teamwork family by dedicating The Rita O’Bri­en Dee Center for Behavioral Health & De­velopment,” said Freder­ick.

Through a generous anonymous donation and a subsequent grant from the Greater Lowell Com­munity Foundation, Com­munity Teamwork was able to establish the program, located at the James Houlares Center on Phoenix Avenue in Lowell. The center will be the headquarters for programs and services that promote healthy social-emotional development for children, in­crease children’s success in school, strengthen children and families, and mitigate adversity through trauma-inform­ed care.

According to Child and Family Services Division Director Meghan Siem­bor, “This opportunity could not have come at a better time… This opportunity enables us to meet a critical need and ad­dress a significant public health issue — children’s mental and behavioral health.”

Siembor praised O’Brien Dee.

“Her love for children is unparalleled as is her passion for giving back to the community,” said Siembor. “It truly is an honor for me and the staff across the Division of Child and Family ser­vices to be able to develop this Center in her hon­or.”

O’Brien Dee was visibly moved.

O’Brien Dee has been involved with Commu­nity Teamwork for 56 years. As a single parent raising five children on her own, she faced difficult struggles trying to work, put food on the table, and keep a roof over the heads of her family.

O’Brien Dee started her career as a teacher aide at Head Start, and earned her Associate’s Degree and quickly be­came an early childhood teacher at the center. O’Brien Dee was in the classroom for 27 years.

Upon retirement, O’Bri­en Dee joined the Head Start Policy Council and Community Teamwork’s Board of Directors. O’Bri­en Dee is also a member of many CTI committees and supports numerous initiatives.

According to data collected by CTI, mental health has emerged as a prominent community need, jumping from the fourth-most cited community need to the second-most cited need from the prior survey cycles. The impact of the pandemic is notable.

Key information also points to mental health as the most pressing is­sue in the community behind the need for better housing, according to CTI’s data for the great­er Lowell community.

O’Brien Dee is known in Tewksbury for her participation in the Friends of the Library, the Tewksbury Historical Society, and is an active member of the Tewks­bury Senior Center, Gar­den Club, the Democra­tic Town Committee, and is a former election wor­ker.

O’Brien Dee has been an inspiration and example of giving back to the community, not just in Tewksbury, but in the greater Merrimack Val­ley.

If you would like to donate to help support the new Rita O’Brien Dee Center for Behavior­al Health & Develop­ment, please contribute to the Greater Lowell COMMUNITY Foundation c/o The Rita O’Brien Dee Center for Behavioral Health and Development

three women standing together
three women standing together


New behavioral health program named for longtime educator Rita O’Brien Dee Community Teamwork Inc.

By Aaron Curtis 

acurtis@lowellsun. com

Lowell » Rita O’Brien Dee spent the last 56 years committed to her community through Community Teamwork Inc. — a career that started in 1965 when she worked as a teacher’s aide in the Head Start program.

Dee, who was a single mother of five children in her early 30s at that time, transitioned from an aide to a teacher in 1971.

“I always looked forward to coming back every September and seeing my new kids,” Dee said. “They came in like buds and went out like flowers.”

She spent 27 years at Head Start before moving on to serve children, families and the rest of her community through Community Teamwork Inc. in another capacity. Dee was a member of the Head Start Policy Council and to this day serves on the CTI board of directors.

Dee turned 90 this year, but the energetic and eternally positive Tewksbury resident has not slowed down.

“Rita O’Brien Dee,” said CTI CEO Karen Frederick outside the James Houlares Center in Lowell on Wednesday. “A 56year legacy of community action and still going strong.”

‘They came in like buds and went out like flowers.’ – Rita O’Brien Dee, retired Community Teamwork Inc. educator, of the students in the Head Start and other school programs

The program — still in the planning stages — is called the Rita O’Brien Dee Center for Behavioral Health and Development.

Dee » 7A


Community Teamwork’s new Center for Behavioral Health and Development is dedicated to longtime parent, employee and board member Rita o’Brien Dee, much to her surprise. From left, are CTI CEO Karen Frederick,  Marie Sweeney and Rita O’Brien Dee. Julia Malakie / lowell Sun

Frederick, Dee, several of her family members, and CTI employees and representatives were outside the center on Phoenix Avenue for a ceremony to honor Dee and announce the launch of a program that will carry with it her name.



“I had no idea,” Dee said. “I am just so honored. It’s such a big thing and such a good thing. I love it.”

Meghan Siembor, deputy director of CTI’s Early Childhood and School Age Programs, said the program will be a resource for CTIand providers throughout the area who are working with children with behavioral, emotional and developmental challenges or who have experienced trauma.

The Rita O’Brien Dee Center for Behavioral Health and Development — which will be based at the James Houlares Center — will be the headquarters for programs and services “that will promote healthy social- emotional development, increase children’s success in school, strengthen children and families and mitigate adversity through trauma- informed care,” according to a program flier.

The program was kickstarted by an “generous anonymous donation” and a $ 20,000 grant through the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, according to Frederick.

“We will begin working to do a needs assessment and analyzing the behavioral health needs of the children and staff in our programs and our community, identifying resources that are out there to support them, and identify the gaps in critical services,” Siembor said.

During Wednesday’s ceremony, Siembor listed statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show 7.4% of children ages 3 to17 have a diagnosed behavior problem. Of that age range, 7.1% have diagnosed anxiety and 3.2% have diagnosed depression, according to the CDC website.

Siembor added those numbers “are constantly increasing.”

The behavioral health of youth in the U. S. was dealt a blow by the coronavirus pandemic, which led to social isolation, financial hardships among caregivers and school closures. Siembor said the Kaiser Family Foundation released a survey in October 2020 that showed 31% of parents said their children’s mental or emotional health was worse than before the pandemic.

“This opportunity really could not have come at a better time,” Siembor said about the launch of the new program. “It enables us to meet a critical need in our community and address a significant public health issue, which is child mental and behavioral health.”

The announcement of the Rita O’Brien Dee Center for Behavioral Health and Development’s launch came as a surprise to Dee. She was led to the James Houlares Center under the guise that there was a grant that CTI

Those interested in making a contribution to help support the Rita O’Brien Dee Center for Behavioral Health and Development, can do so online at glcfoundation. org/donate.

Donations can also be sent by mail, to the Greater Lowell Community Foundation c/o The Rita O’Brien Dee Center for Behavioral Health and Development Fund, 100 Merrimack St., No. 202 Lowell, MA 01852. Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis.

Community Teamwork’s new Center for Behavioral Health and Development is dedicated to Rita O’Brien Dee, left, who gives a hug to CTI chief Financial Officer Penny Judd of Kennebunk, Maine.

Dee pointed out she was driven to the center by a fellow board member, Marie Sweeney and that she was needed to appear for a photo shoot. When she arrived, her family members were on hand, and people were wearing T- shirts with her smiling face on the front, along with the name of the new program.

Community Teamwork’s new center for behavioral Health and development was recently dedicated to longtime parent, employee and board member Rita O’Brien Dee, right, and she shared a hug with CTI CEO Karen Frederick at a ceremony announcing the new program.


‘We will begin working to do a needs assessment and analyzing the behavioral health needs of the children and staff.’ – Meghan Siembor, deputy director of CTI’s Early Childhood and School Age Programs

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ed with luke on a bike
ed with luke on a bike

Mill City Mentors Goes Virtual

9/23/21 > LOWELL » The goal of Mill City Mentors is to provide support to area youth facing adversity by connecting them with a volunteer mentor to confide in and spend time with.

Mill City Mentors endured a major obstacle last year when the coronavirus pandemic struck, eliminating the program’s ability to have mentors meet face- to- face with mentees.

The program — part of Greater Lowell nonprofit Community Teamwork Inc. — was able to adapt.

With the nation in lockdown, Mill City Mentors switched to virtual mentoring, or eMentoring, in April 2020, according to Program Director Ed Banks. The new method of mentoring turned out to be a success and has introduced a new dynamic to the realm of mentoring.

Tewksbury residents Bruce Gorman and his wife, MJ Gorman, said life was already difficult for 9- year- old Luke Gorman

before the pandemic took hold. Luke is Bruce’s son from a previous marriage. Bruce had previously shared joint custody of Luke with his ex-wife. Now, Luke was living fulltime with him and his wife.

“A (Department of Children and Families) caseworker suggested after talking to Luke that it would be nice for him to have a mentor, a big brother, or someone who he could talk to who wasn’t a parent,” Bruce Gorman said.

“A neutral ground person,” MJ Gorman added.

The mentorship was set up at the beginning of the pandemic, with Banks serving as Luke’s “eMentor.” It worked out well, as Banks and Luke quickly developed a strong relationship, built mostly around a joint love for video games.

“Early on in the pandemic, no one really knew what was happening, so it was good for him to get some sort of socialization with someone outside of our family,” MJ Gorman said.

Charles Calenda is one of the Mill City Mentors volunteers, serving as a mentor to a 10- year- old for the past year.

“(The program) looked like a great way to get involved and kinda help build a brighter and more prosperous future for the kids,” said Calenda, a 25year- old medical student who grew up in Chelmsford.

“It was a very exciting and inspiring moment for me to be able to meet someone I’d be able to have an impact on,” he said.

Calenda acknowledges he was hesitant about meeting his mentee for the first time over Zoom, but the two quickly clicked.

“A lot of the mentorships would have diminished without this option,” Calenda said about the eMentorship program.

For anyone interested in mentoring an area youth or for those looking for a mentor for their family, apply at

Mill City Mentors Program Director Ed Banks delivers a bike donated by Kevin Kuhs to a mentee. -courtesy of Community TeamWork Inc.

Luke Gorman, 9, of Tewksbury, is seen on a screen during one of his ementoring sessions through the Mill City Mentors program, which is part of Community Teamwork Inc.

By Aaron Curtis acurtis@lowellsun. com Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis

Mill City Mentors Goes Virtual

© 2021 lowell sun. Please review new arbitration language here. 9/23/2021


Tonya’s Story

Tonya’s Story

The Family Self- Sufficiency Program (FSS) is designed to help families receiving rental assistance to become self-supporting. This is a voluntary program and is open to all families receiving a housing subsidy such as Section 8. Community Teamwork’s Family Self-Sufficiency program has empowered many graduates to achieve their goals and Tonya is one such successful graduate.

Tonya graduated FSS on December 31, 2018 with $3109 in escrow. Over the years she took an additional $5482 in interim disbursements to pay for her college tuition, thereby totaling $8591 in FSS escrow disbursements. Tonya earned her associate’s degree in Nursing from Laboure College on December 17, 2018, and was hired as a full time Registered Nurse on December 2, 2018. Upon graduating FSS, Tonya immediately set herself on the path to asset development by choosing her new goals: Starting a savings account for a down payment on a home, starting a 401K at her new job, taking a first time home owner’s class, and improving her credit.

Tonya credits here success with the help and guidance she received from the Family Self-Sufficiency Program.

mom and child
mom and child

Jasmine’s Story


Jasmine’s Story

Jasmine Delgado, 20, first became homeless at age 9 when she spent five months at a shelter in Connecticut with her mother. In 2013, Jasmine moved in with her father when her mother left for Lowell. When her father told her he needed to find somewhere else to stay because he could no longer pay rent, Jasmine called her mother. Jasmine and her three year-old daughter, Jenadie, moved to Lowell last February to stay with her mother in a single room. This single mother had just returned to Massachusetts from Connecticut, determined to create a better life for herself and her daughter.

Jasmine managed to get her GED on August 3, 2017 and earned the Student of the Year Award upon graduation. She discovered Community Teamwork’s YouthBuild Program and soon became part of a new emerging Culinary Training program. Through this program, Jasmine has helped to grow Community Teamwork’s Farmers’ Market and has become a tremendous resource to the culinary instructor. Jasmine’s leadership and professional skills have grown tremendously. She has become an invaluable part of the culinary program. Jasmine helps to bridge the gap between the instructor and the students in the program. As our culinary intern, she has supported other students through tutoring, encouraging their participation, and as a role model for professional growth. She received her OSHA 10, NCCER, SERVSAFE and allergen training and
is now a part of the ACF (Accredited Culinary Federation) curriculum and will be receiving an accredited certificate for culinary. She is currently working as an intern with Two Chefs Catering and will be starting another internship with Cobblestones Restaurant in the near future. In addition, Jasmine was chosen the 2018 YouthBuild AmeriCorps Spirit of Service Member of the Year.

Though she has overcome many obstacles from a young age, Jasmine was afraid that she could once again find herself in a shelter. “I’m scared because they tell me I can be placed anywhere in Massachusetts,” she said. “That’s the thing that worries me because my daughter has been going to the same school for a year and I want her to stay at the same school and I don’t want to change things. I want her to have that stability.”

With the help of Community Teamwork, Jasmine was able to get her first apartment this past July and was thrilled to celebrate her daughter’s 4th birthday in their very own home! With first-hand knowledge of being homeless and living in a shelter, she took part in panels with other homeless youth during a Youth Homelessness Summit hosted by Community Teamwork this past June. The day-long event was part of CTI’s new concerted effort to tackle this issue.

Jasmine has had her daughter enrolled at the Parker Avenue site since June of 2017. While attending the program, Jasmine has
been able to receive transportation services through the school. Jasmine’s daughter was enrolled at the Parker Avenue site because of their transportation needs and where they were living at the time. When the family moved in to their own apartment in June, Jasmine was able to transfer her daughter to a new center while also keeping her transportation. This was very important to Jasmine as she has no other means of transportation. Now at the Houlares Center, Jasmine’s daughter is transported to and from school. With her daughter being at school every day, Jasmine is able to continue her work in both of her internships.

Jasmine exemplifies the ideals of hard work, perseverance, commitment and follow through. She has learned the personal benefit of these qualities and has adopted them into the very fabric of her life. Jasmine stands out as a leader and role model among her peers but it is her strength and her positive spirit that shine through.

school bus
school bus

Community Teamwork is Now Accepting Bids for the Acquisition of School Buses – Bids Due 3/28/18, 4:30pm

Community Teamwork, Inc., is now accepting bids for the acquisition of School Buses. All bids must be submitted by WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28, 2018 at 4:30pm. Please contact Linda Ardis at 978.654.5659 for exact specifications. ALL BIDS ARE WELCOME.

Community Teamwork, Inc. – 155 Merrimack Street, Lowell MA  01852

Download RFP Here




play, learn, grow together
play, learn, grow together

Lowell Collaborative Preschool Academy

Community Teamwork, Lowell Public Schools, and Little Sprouts will be hosting a NEW Preschool program called the Lowell Collaborative Preschool Academy located at 554 Pawtucket Street in Lowell. This preschool program has limited seats available and is open to children living in Lowell that are at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and have not had an opportunity to attend any preschool program in the past.

The program began in the Fall of 2015.


Who is eligible for this FREE, full-day, full-year program?

If you have a child who is:

  • A resident of Lowell and will be 4 years old by September 1, 2016 (born between September 2, 2011 and September 1, 2012)
  • Your child has NOT attended a preschool/center based program, family childcare or Early Head Start/Head Start program

If you provide:

  • Proof of income/eligibility (refer to chart on back)


                        Registration Information:

                        Monday through Friday

                       8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

                       Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


Please bring the following documents to the

Lowell Public Schools Family Resource Center

151 Merrimack Street, Downtown Lowell:

For More Information Call:

Lowell Public Schools                  Community Teamwork                    Little Sprouts

978-674-4330                                      978-459-0551                                  877-977-7688

Lowell Collaborative Flyer Final (Spanish)

Lowell Collaborative Flyer (Khmer)

Lowell Collaborative Flyer (Portuguese)

Lowell Collaborative Flyer Final

earth day
earth day

Celebrate Earth Day Today and Everyday

April 22nd is Earth Day! Below is a list of all sorts of things you can do to make a difference on the planet, in your own lives, and for your loved ones.

Eat local
–  Commercially grown produce travels far distances equaling lots of fuel burned and fewer nutrients for you.
–  Grow your own produce when possible.
–  Shop local farmers markets. Lowell’s will open this summer at the Lucy Larcom Park.  See this listing of those in surrounding towns.

Go organic
–  Non organic produce is grown using pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, ect. Organic animals do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.
–  Remember: non organic produce is always better than no produce! Check out this list of organic foods to try.

Be a chef
–  When you cook your own meals and eat at home you are reducing consumption of packaging and plastic cutlery. Try a new recipe.

Try to eat less meat
–  Eating more plant based food is good for the environment, healthy for you and cheaper!
–  Start by going meatless on Mondays.

Re-useable water bottles
–  Oil is required to make bottled water and we barely recycle them leading to clogging of landfills.
–  Carry a reusable bottle and refill it.

Enjoy nature
–  Pass up the drive thru and plan a picnic, turn off the TV and go for a family hike, skip the coffee date and go for walk together.

Rebecca Foulkes, BS, CLC
Program Nutritionist
Lowell WIC Program
Community Teamwork

Brain Building
Brain Building

Brain Building in Progress

Join Commnity Teamwork as we Dive into the Emotions of the Ocean!

Come read & explore the book “The Pout Pout Fish” with your child! Together  families will grin like a clam, squirm like a jellyfish, count like an octopus a nd shimmer like  a bright brilliant fish!

Date: April 10th
Time: 5pm-7pm
Location: 126 Phoenix Ave., Lowell, MA 01852

This event is open to the public.
Light food and refreshments will be served.