A Lowellian through and through, Caroline (Petruzziello) Rider knows there’s no place like home.
She’ll also tell you there’s no place like Lowell CHC when it comes to caring for her community.
But it was time spent living in a foreign county, not to mention her own family’s health crisis, that taught Caroline how complicated accessing healthcare can be.
A proud Lowell High and UMass Lowell graduate, Caroline has deep roots here in Lowell. Her great-grandfather built the first house in his neighborhood with indoor plumbing, along with many of the smokestacks dotting Lowell’s iconic skyline.
Caroline grew up in Centralville in a family where activism was just a way of life. She has fond memories of hours spent outdoors with the neighborhood kids, but also of attending AFL-CIO protests. Her mother worked for the late Senator Paul Tsongas for many years and Caroline often babysat his three daughters.
In the 1990s, not long after she and her husband, Mike, were married, Polaroid offered Mike an opportunity to work in China. It was a big move for this hometown girl. Unable to speak or read Chinese, Caroline began to understand what it felt like to be an outsider, especially when she became pregnant and had to navigate a foreign medical system.
“When you don’t speak the language, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and isolated,” she shares.
The family returned to Lowell two years later, growing family in tow. But, more medical challenges lay on the horizon. At only 4, the couple’s youngest son, Charlie, was diagnosed with cancer. Once again, Caroline found herself navigating a complex medical system, this time at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Center.
Thankfully, Charlie is 10 years cancer-free – currently a Junior at Lowell High School.
“As someone who has lived in a foreign country and battled cancer, thankfully not at the same time, I can really relate to what it must be like to come to this city as an immigrant. It makes me so thankful that the Health Center is here.”
When Caroline and Mike learned about the Health Center’s impact during the Caring for Lowell Campaign to build our new home on Jackson Street, they were so impressed with the interpreter services and cultural diversity, which make every patient feel welcomed and cared for. “You can’t help but rally behind that cause,” she says. They remain steadfast supporters to this day.
Thank you, Caroline for all you do for our City and our Health Center! Supporters like you show us that there really is no place like Lowell.
“Lowell is wonderful in how we care for people. The Health Center is a huge part of that. That’s why I give.”