Tag Archive for: Children


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 paige@yourtowncrier.com

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



RenewUI x F
RenewUI x F

Emergency Unemployment Passes Senate

RenewUI x FA critical three-month extension of federal unemployment benefits for 1.3 million jobless Americans, including nearly 60,000 Massachusetts residents, won a key procedural vote in the Senate today. The 60-37 vote has given supporters hope that the House will next move to pass the Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

As we wait for the House vote, thousands of families and individuals are already feeling the full impact of having lost their benefits as of December 29th, 2013. This means they are going without some or many of the basics including food, medications, heat and shelter.

We encourage you to contact your federal representatives to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compenstion (EUC) program as soon as possible.

To find your U.S. Congressman:



Facing Foreclosure? Contact the HomeCorps Program.

Community Teamwork along with the Massachusetts Association for Community Action and sponsored by the Attorney General’s Office announce the HomeCorps Borrower Initiative program.

HomeCorps’ goal is to help distressed borrowers in Massachusetts who are facing foreclosure.

Services include:

  • Free legal consultation if you are facing foreclosure
  • Free advocacy to help you access affordable housing, maximize your income and offer financial counseling
  • Some funding is available for rental assistance.

How do you qualify?

There are no income quaifications, however you must be facing foreclsoure or have gone through the foreclosure process and need help accessing housing.

To contact the HomeCorps program, first call the Attorney General’s Office and then go online to fill out the referral applications:

Hotline: 617-573-5333    TTY;  617-727-4765


Community Teamwork’s HomeCorps Coordinator can help you with the referral application: call Gail Fortes Veloz at 978-654-5676.





Help Extend Emergency Unemployment Compensation

unemploymentSTILLNearly 60,000 Massachusetts residents are among the 1.3 million people in the U.S. who lost their unemployment benefits when the federal extension program expired on December 29th, 2013.

Congress is back in Washington this week and has begun the debate over the emergency program’s future.

Here at Community Teamwork and at other Community Action agencies across the commonwealth, we are starting to hear the real-life stories of everyday people affected by this cut as they and their families brace for severe hardship in the months ahead, should Congress refuse to reinstate these benefits.

The Boston Globe also has reported the total economic impact to the state could be a loss of $750 million to $900 million over the year, largely due to reduced consumer spending.

We are encouraging you to contact your federal representatives to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compenstion (EUC) program as soon as possible.

To find your U.S. Congressman:


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x main logo

Coats for Kids 2017

x main logoIn partnership with Anton’s Cleaners, Community Teamwork is pleased to announce that families can pick up clean, gently used coats every starting in December (and through January) at Saint Anne’s Church, 10 Kirk Street (the entrance directly on Kirk Street).

Childrens Corner Pix scaled
Childrens Corner Pix scaled

Dangerous and Toxic Toys to Avoid this Holiday Season

Childrens Corner Trouble in Toyland Pix scaled

Mass PIRG advises us to read the “Trouble in Toyland” report before making holiday purchases this year.

Community Teamwork’s Children Corner hosted this year’s public announcement by the Massachusetts PIRG’s (Public Interest Research Group) of dangerous and toxic toys people should avoid this holiday season.  PIRG spokesman Matthew Wellington, referring to the group’s newly published “Trouble in Toyland” report, noted that among the offenders are The Captain America’s Soft Shield that contains 29 times more lead than allowed by law and numerous products by Hasbro and Mattel being sold by Walmart, Kmart, Toys R Us and Babies R Us. The key dangers are toxicity, choking, exposure to magnets and unsafe noise levels. Also on hand to provide testimony on toy hazards were City of Lowell Mayor Patrick Murphy, Professor Ainat Koren of UMass Lowell’s School of Nursing and State Committee Woman Eilzabeth Coughlin.

You can download the full “Trouble in Toyland” report at www.uspirg.org.



Nurturing Families

familyNurturing Families is a fun, activity based parenting education group, held once a week for twelve weeks in the Fall and in the Spring.  The curriculum is designed to provide parents and children with experiences that support the development of healthy, meaningful relationships.

Parents are brought together in a supportive environment to share experiences, gain confidence in their parenting abilities and learn about the various techniques used in developing family bonds, managing stress and much more.

Dinner is provided to all that participate.  Transportation and child care are available to those families in need.

When:   Fall/Spring
Where:   Houlares Early Learning Center
Cost:   Free
For more info contact:   Tracy Young, 978-726-2623, tyoung@comteam.org

RSVP to:   Kristen Tremblay, 978-654-7153, ktremblay@comteam.org

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