Representative James J. O’Day and Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women Honor Peggy Middaugh and Mary Knittle of the Worcester Tree Initiative

Representative O’Day along with the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women proudly announce that Ms. Mary Knittle and Ms. Peggy Middaugh, both of Worcester, will be honored this year, with the Massachusetts ‘Unsung Heroines’ Award for their tireless work in combating the Asian Long Horned Beetle in Central Massachusetts.  Representative O’Day was happy to nominate both women after working closely with them in their roles as co-founders of the Worcester Tree Initiative, a local non-profit that has helped re-plant over 30,000 trees across the City and surrounding towns. 

The Unsung Heroines are women who don’t always make the news, but truly make the difference.  They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and towns.  They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who do what needs to be done without expectations of recognition or gratitude.  These women are the glue that keeps a community together and every community has them. 

In the wake of the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation in Worcester in 2008, Mary Knittle and Peggy Middaugh emerged as powerful community leaders and environmentalists through their help in co-founding the Worcester Tree Initiative.  The City of Worcester and surrounding towns saw the loss of over 30,000 large shade trees due to the widespread impact of the beetle.  Tree lined streets in the City lost their shade-trees, backyards in the City lost their oaks, and whole neighborhoods were unrecognizable.  With the help of the two women and their roles in the Worcester Tree Initiative, along with partnerships with Lt. Governor Tim Murray, and local legislators like James O’Day of Worcester and Congressman Jim McGovern, the Worcester Tree Initiative has done a tremendous job of re-foresting the urban canopy that once defined many Worcester neighborhoods.  The Worcester Tree Initiative has nearly reached its goal of re-planting all of the trees lost to the beetle infestation, and often holds city-wide re-planting seminars and tree giveaway events, where residents are given free trees and taught how to plant and care for them.  Due to the efforts and dedication of both Mary Knittle and Peggy Middaugh, the City of Worcester is beginning to restore its urban canopy. 

This year, every time Worcesterites and other Central Massachusetts residents look up at the now budding trees in their neighborhoods, they should remember that both Peggy Middaugh and Mary Knittle played a vital role in providing those.  This is why both women are much deserving of the title of Unsung Heroines of Massachusetts.  

The Unsung Heroine Award Ceremony will take place on Monday, April 29th 2013 from 1-4 p.m. in the Great Hall at the State House in Boston.  For more information on the award, and other 81 recipients, feel free to visit