In The News

Worcester Telegram Gazette
February 21, 2004

Helping hand offered — twice
Author: Kathleen A. Shaw Edition: ALL
Page: A2

WORCESTER — The massive failure of the boiler that heated the Massachusetts Veterans Shelter, 69 Grove St., could not have happened on a worse night back in October. It was the first really cold night of the season, and the veterans shelter had filled up with people coming in off the streets. Crack, crack, crack…

Five of the six cast-iron compartments of the large boiler had cracked because of a malfunction, according to Vincent J. Perrone, president of the shelter’s board. “The last thing we wanted to do was close the shelter when it was that cold,” he said. Workers from Aalanco Service Corp. of Westboro showed up and quickly assessed the situation. It was a catastrophic failure, but the workers toiled through the night — and in the cold — to get the boiler working. Mr. Perrone said if there was any good news, they discovered their insurance policy covered the situation.

Aalanco said it would wait for payment. The $21,000 check arrived recently from The Protector Group, Mr. Perrone said. He said he should have realized something unusual was happening yesterday when Aalanco Chief Operating Officer Joel Robbins came by to collect his payment. Mr. Robbins, who is not a veteran, had a little surprise for the shelter. He took his insurance check and then gave the shelter a $5,000 donation. “We think it is wonderful that this company waited this long for its payment, but to have them give us a $5,000 donation …” Mr. Perrone said. “It’s a worthwhile cause. I saw the good work they are doing at the shelter,” Mr. Robbins said yesterday. He was impressed that the staff works with homeless veterans to assess their needs, give them job training “and move them back into the mainstream. They are doing much more than just being a shelter,” he said. Mr. Robbins said fixing the boiler was “a difficult job,” but his workers kept going for long hours in the cold to get the heating system back in operation. He gave thanks to his workers for their effort. Mr. Perrone said the shelter staff operates on what executive director Dennis Leary calls the “triangle of needs.” A homeless veteran is assessed for medical and mental health needs first. He is then given job training and moves into transitional housing. The shelter has been training people to get certification in fixing computers. “With that certification they can get jobs all over the United States,” Mr. Perrone said.

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2004 Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.
Record Number: 0402218876