Worcester State University
Intergenerational Urban Institute


Thea Aschkenase

TheaMy name is Thea Aschkenase. I was born in Munich Germany. I have learned first hand, in German concentration camps, of the devastating effect hunger can have. After World War II, I was able to get to Israel, despite the British blockade there. In Tel Aviv I met my husband. We lived in Israel for seven years. Our daughter Lea was born there.

When we reached our quota to enter the United States we first came to New York. Having been an immigrant, with a poor ability to communicate in English was very frustrating. I experienced the hardship newcomers encounter when they first come to our country and can emphasize with them. I was one too.

We spent a few years in New York, and then my husband was offered a job in Clinton, Mass. We made Worcester our home. Our son Steven was born in Worcester. I found Worcester a very friendly and welcoming city, and it was a proud day when after five years we were granted our citizenship. But I have not forgotten how hard life can be and I am trying to do my share to make life a little easier for other people. I was a volunteer for the Worcester Association for the Blind for ten years. I took people shopping, and to medical appointments. We had a weekly bowing as well as bingo group, we went on outings, and we took a first aid course together and so much more.

After both my children went to college, I worked at the Physical Therapy department at UMMC for 15 years. When I was downsized with 150 other workers I realized that now it was my time to get the education I was denied in Nazi Germany. I went to Worcester State College where I received a certificate in Gerontology and after ten years I graduated in Urban Studies.

During those ten years at Worcester State we worked with many groups in the community, one of them was to make life easier for teen mothers and to give them an adult friend (mentor) they could count on. I was a mentor to a teen mother for four years. But through all those years at the college we have always worked with the hunger problem in one way or the other. I am very proud of my fellow students that they spend time teaching newcomers to be more proficient in the English language. They sure make life easier for them.

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