May 21, 2017

Serendipity and the Silver Ball — how a chance encounter fostered an enduring connection

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Courtesy Claudia Grenga

John Dotson and Claudia Grenga -- together again.

You can call it what you want — fate, kismet, destiny — but something allowed John Dotson to intervene in the life of an adolescent foster child at the Silver Ball arcade in downtown Worcester some 33 years ago.

Just don’t call it a coincidence.

“I don’t believe in coincidences. You can’t call it a coincidence when two people meet in life and, at least from my perspective, alters your path in life in such a positive way,” said Claudia Grenga, who was 13 years old when she ducked into the popular teen hangout to stay hidden from a Worcester Police cruiser.

“I call those God-incidences. God intervened and introduced me to John when I needed him most,” Grenga said in an interview earlier this month.

Two days earlier, Grenga had published an essay on Facebook — titled “Meet John Dotson: Father, professional, angel” — that told her story of life as a foster child in Worcester, nights spent on Oread Street in Main South, how she met Dotson, and how he treated her with such respect.

To understand how a chance encounter 33 years ago could leave such an indelible mark on Grenga and Dotson, one must understand their lives prior to when they met.

For Dotson, it was a matter of knowing exactly where Grenga was coming from.

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