Center of Hope Hosts Legislator’s Breakfast

The Center of Hope Foundation, Inc, along with the Central Mass Providers and South Valley Citizens Advisory Board hosted its 29th Annual Legislative Breakfast on Tuesday, June 12th at the College of the Holy Cross. This Annual Forum has provided Legislators from across Central Massachusetts an opportunity to hear about prevalent issues in the disability community and to hear how the budget issues will affect those with disabilities.

Each year, this Breakfast has a theme and this year’s breakfast was “Vision”, as those with disabilities and their families look to the future. Each guest received a pair of sunglasses to help remind them about the need for all of us to have a Vision.

Leo Sarkissian, Executive Director of the Arc of Massachusetts welcomed the audience. Linda Cournoyer, Board member of CoHF was the moderator.  Speakers on this topic were Jayne Bowler, parent, and her son Alex, who spoke about their vision for his future. Cindy Howard, COO for the Center of Hope spoke about the need for more funding to support higher wages for an underpaid workforce in this economy.

The featured Speaker Jane Ryder, newly appointed Commissioner of the Department of Developmental Services spoke about her vision for the future with the Department, families, providers and other stakeholders.

Recognition awards were presented to Pat Lynch of W. Boylston, from HMEA; Justin Bernard of Webster, from Arc of Massachusetts; Kristine Bauce of Spencer, from CoHF; Joaquin “Junior” Colon of Southbridge, CoHF; Missi McConnell of Webster, from Seven Hills Foundation; Andrew & Justine Marsh, mom and son from Oxford, from Linda Cournoyer; Megan Petty of Mendon, from the South Valley Citizen’s Advisory Board; Jen Walsh of Milford, also from SVCAB; Carol Tripp-Tebo of Worcester, from The Bridge; and Sue Moriarty of Gardner who received the “Linda Cournoyer Excellence in Advocacy Award”, for all for their work in the disability community. Also presented was an Achievement Award to Jim Howard and Cindy Howard, the CEO and COO of the Center of Hope, for their years of dedication and service to the Center of Hope and the disability community. Linda Cournoyer, life-long advocate and parent of an adult with a disability, cited them for their “vision and dedication”.

A special recognition was made by Fire Chief Mark DiFronzo of Southbridge to the 4 people who were in the right place at the right time who were able to assist a family from their burning home in Southbridge in May: Erika Travinski, Monique Chapdelaine, Jim Howard and Cindy Howard.

The sponsors were very pleased that 17 Legislators were in attendance!  They were Representatives, Kate Campanale, Daniel Donahue, Peter Durant, Kimberly Ferguson, Stephan Hay, Hannah Kane, Mary Keefe, Joseph McKenna, Brian Murray, James O’Day, Jeffrey Roy, Todd Smola, and Robin Frechette of Rep. Brian Ashe’s office.  The Senators included Ryan Fattman, Ann Gobi, Michael Moore and Christy Mylott of Senator Dean Tran’s office.  We are grateful for the Citations and for all of their support towards the issues that are so important for the people we serve.

The providers of Central Massachusetts request that all involved stakeholders still call their legislators to get the support needed for disability services.  As the plaques for the awardees said, “Because of your vision and inspiration you are making a difference.”  For more information call Cindy at 508-764-4085.

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