Untold Stories of Melrose: Doreen Ward

The Untold Stories of Melrose is a series of interviews by two senior interns from Melrose High School, Freddie Kelley and Connor Locke, who have been working in my office for the past few weeks.

Doreen Ward

Doreen Ward is the METCO director for the Melrose Public Schools.

I grew up in Dorchester. When I was coming along, Dorchester was still very mixed. We lived in a three family house. There was an Asian family on the first floor, there was a Jewish family on the second floor, and a black family on the third floor. So my early days were very different. It wasn’t just black family, black relations, black neighborhood. I grew up watching everything change.

When I was a METCO student, I often heard how lucky I was to be there. It changed my outlook on things because I realized later in life, no, they were lucky to have me. There is not a time when a person of color would not have to interact with a white person in their life. However, because of the nature of this country, a white person could go their whole life and never interact with a person of color. So it gave me a new perspective on what the world is.

I have matured enough to know that what you see isn’t always the reality. When students who are here at the high school are feeling things, they are often very correct about what they’re feeling. It may not look, to an outsider, that they are correct. But nine out of ten times they are. It’s not easy being a student of color in a predominantly white environment. Unfortunately, stereotypes and low expectation plague that experience. I’ve been able to help students show their promise. When I started, there was one or two METCO students that may have taken one or two honors courses. And that has increased dramatically.

This year 60-70% of METCO students in the high school are taking one or more honors or AP courses, which is a tremendous jump. And they are being successful in those courses. The number of students that have poor grades has decreased dramatically. We’re still working on getting a valedictorian, but we’re getting there.


Untold Stories of Melrose: Mike Noone

The Untold Stories of Melrose is a series of interviews by two senior interns from Melrose High School, Freddie Kelley and Connor Locke, who have been working in my office for the past few weeks.

Michael Noone

Michael Noone is a social studies teacher at Melrose High School.

My father was killed in a car accident when I was two and a half years old. He was hit by a drunk driver coming home at night. While I wasn’t old enough to know what happened at the time, that event has certainly had an effect on me in certain ways.

I think about my relationship with my mother, who I’m very close to. When that event happened she was there for me, in spite of the tragedy that she went through. We’ve always maintained a tight bond between us, and I think a lot of it goes back to that event. She remarried when I was five years old and my stepfather, to me, is just my dad.

I feel almost as if I’m fortunate because I have two fathers. I have my father whose name I carry. I’m a junior, Michael James Noone Jr., and I’m extremely proud to carry that name, and carrying on his legacy and the life he didn’t get to live. But I also have my father now, who has been an amazing influence on my life. I have two younger sisters, one from each of my fathers, who I am extremely close with. I feel blessed and fortunate to have both of my sisters. When I think about what’s had the most impact on my life, it’s family. Of all the events that you have no control over in your life, this is the one I think about most. I feel really fortunate more than anything when I think back on how my family came together under difficult circumstances, and how close we’ve all been as a result. When I think of the person I am today, I owe all of that to my family, and especially my parents. My parents are my two heroes, my mom and my dad, and I have another person looking out for me too.

Untold Stories of Melrose: Joy Fay

The Untold Stories of Melrose is a series of interviews by two senior interns from Melrose High School, Freddie Kelley and Connor Locke, who have been working in my office for the past few weeks.


Joy Fay is the owner of Joy Healthy Life, which includes Melrose Boot Camp and Joy Yoga. She ran the Boston Marathon for 15 years to benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Center. This is the first year since 2001 that she has not run the marathon.

Something that has influenced me as a person was running the Boston Marathon for my first time in 2001. I think taking on that challenge is life changing, because it made me believe I could do anything and it really sparked my interest in fitness. I run a business called “Melrose Boot Camp,” and I opened a yoga studio on Green Street called “Joy Yoga.” So now I’m offering fitness and wellness enrichment opportunities for all ages. Running the marathon empowered me to know that I could do anything I set my mind to and get it done.

I ran the marathon in the year of the bombing. I got to Kenmore Square before they turned us away. When I got word, I was up by Boston College. There was a lot of talking, but no one really knew what was going on. I was getting text messages from all of my Melrose friends saying, “Are you OK?” “Stop running!” and I thought they were crazy, calling me when I was trying to run a marathon. I heard people exclaiming, “My children are at the finish line!” It gives me the chills. It always will. We got shut down towards Boylston Street; I had to walk quite a ways once they shut down the race officially. There was just chaos. All of the cell phones were shut off. We were all in a daze. I had a friend who jumped in and ran with me that day—thank goodness I had her with me. She jumped in with me around mile 20. It was just so frightening that I am so glad that I had someone with me. To not know what was going on, too. I didn’t have the whole story. They didn’t tell us anything on the route—they just wanted us to keep going.

I am full of gratitude. I am so grateful that I am here today. I feel such sorrow for the families that were affected and all the lives that were lost. It was such a devastating day, I can’t even put it into words. I think it makes me more grateful for what I do have. That was going to be my last marathon. But I said that I couldn’t finish on that note. I went on to do it again, and again. That event strengthened me in a way: It made me more grateful, more appreciative for our law enforcement and our first responders, and more aware. We live in an amazing place where we are fortunate not encounter those kinds of things on a daily basis, but people in some places do encounter those things. It made me appreciate the safety of where I live.

Photo by Tanya O’Hara.

Untold Stories of Melrose: Michaela Smith

The Untold Stories of Melrose is a series of interviews by two senior interns from Melrose High School, Freddie Kelley and Connor Locke, who have been working in my office for the past few weeks.

Michaela Smith

Michaela Smith is a METCO student at Melrose High School.

Black girls are the mules of the world. We carry the world on our shoulders. There’s so much we go through, from the crown of our head to the souls of our feet. There’s so much we carry. I feel like we walk on eggshells, everything we do, we’re just watched so closely, from the way we dress to the way we talk to the way we do our hair. It’s either we’re made fun of for it, or we are appropriated.

And it’s weird, because people want to be like us, but they don’t want to be us. They want to do the things they do, but they don’t want to be oppressed. They want to walk the way we walk and talk the way we talk, but they don’t want to struggle. And, I feel like being a black girl is hard. You have to do so much, and you have to be so much at once. It’s like, people look up to you, but then again you’re shamed by society. So, I want to be me, but if I’m me, then I’m shamed for it.

Untold Stories of Melrose: Don Putney

The Untold Stories of Melrose is a series of interviews by two senior interns from Melrose High School, Freddie Kelley and Connor Locke, who have been working in my office for the past few weeks.

Don Putney at Green Street

Don Putney is the owner of Green Street Pharmacy.

I could have gone into medicine for free. There was a dentist here in town that told me “You have a gift of communicating with people, I will put you through medical school.” I did not want that, because there is a gap. And that gap is when the patient leaves the doctor’s office, confused and fearful of all the things they just heard, with all of the directions for what they’re supposed to do, they go to the pharmacy, and they go home. And they are now self-treating and self-medicating. Usually the last person they see before that is the pharmacist.

That’s not necessarily true in the pharmacy chains. You don’t get the consulting unless you ask for it. It’s available everywhere, I’m not knocking it, but because we know the patients well, we make sure they are counseled and they understand what to do before they leave the store. That’s why I gave up the opportunity to go free to medical school and paid to go to pharmacy school, because it was that important to me. I had the opportunity, working [in a pharmacy] as a teenager, seeing all sides of it, and seeing a need that wasn’t being met. And that’s why I went into pharmacy.

We will not make it if Pharmacy Benefit Management companies pay us only for the cost of goods. This is the big fear that we have. We are paid exclusively by prescriptions, and if they’re not paying us for anything beyond the cost of goods, that is a threat to us. That is what we’re dealing with right now.

The passion I have is for doing this kind of work. It would disturb me if somebody couldn’t help these people. If I were to be wiped out, I would have to find a way to find somebody to take care of these people. That’s just so important. To use simple terms, there is nothing in this life more important than people. If you don’t have people, you have nothing. So if you have the blessing to have the ability and the field to help people, that’s pretty special. I feel pretty blessed that I was given the opportunity to help people this way.

Untold Stories of Melrose: Jim Kelly

Today I would like to introduce a new series on my blog: The Untold Stories of Melrose, which is being written by two senior interns from Melrose High School, Freddie Kelley and Connor Locke, who have been working in my office for the past few weeks.

This series will feature interviews with people who have a connection to Melrose: Residents, workers, businesspeople, and others. The purpose is to bring the people within our community to the forefront and recognize individuals that make this city what it is today and what it will continue to be in the future. By doing so, we hope to aid others in realizing the vital role that the people in this city provide to the betterment of our community. An impactful event or story from the person’s past will be provided to give insight on the individual’s unseen story. New stories will be uploaded to this blog every Tuesday and Thursday.

JIm Kelly

Our first interview is with Melrose resident Jim Kelly, who is a Korean War veteran and a member of the Veterans Advisory Board. He went to high school in Louisville, Kentucky.

The first chance I had to play football was when I got to the Air Force. The coach asked where I was from and I said “Louisville,” and he thought I meant the University of Louisville! So I hadn’t played a day in my life, and here the coach thought I was a star from the University of Louisville football program.

My team won all the time. I had a rule: I’d rather lose with people I like than win with people that are nothing but problems. When I was playing football in the Air Force, I was playing for this guy from University of Alabama, and I was a pretty good player—I mean, I could run that ball, score some touchdowns, and you know, have all kinds of fun. So one day I missed practice and I didn’t have a good excuse for it. The coach said “OK Kelly, we’re benching you. You’re not gonna play, so put your uniform away ’cause you’re not gonna start.” So when it was game time, my buddies all lined up by the bench next to me, and when they called out the football team but didn’t call my name, my pals started chanting “WE WANT KELLY” and they were making lots of noise. My coach then proceeded to say “Hey, go up in the stands, your fans want you.” And later on, when I became a coach, I learned from this that everyone is just a player on the team and you as a coach cannot let anyone influence your team over you. No matter how good or talented they may be. You can win the game and lose the war. And you see a lot of teams today, and they have a superstar, but the superstar won’t win the championship for you, the team will. So I always try to surround myself with people that wanted to play, and play right.