TO: The DMR Community
FROM: Gerry Morrissey
DATE: April 4, 2003
RE: Update 129

DMR Honors 16 Individuals and Groups at State House Ceremony

More than 250 people from all over Massachusetts attended DMR's ninth Recognition Day Ceremony that was held in the Great Hall of the State House on Friday, March 28th. The event honored 15 individuals and groups for their work on behalf of people with mental retardation

Jack Williams, WBZ-TV 4 news anchor served as the master of ceremonies for the program. Ronald Preston, Secretary for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, also addressed the assembly.

Secretary Preston outlined the goals of the Romney Administration, to protect the most vulnerable among us, while being mindful of the state's fiscal concerns. He also praised the cooperative work of individuals, family members, DMR, providers, advocacy groups and community organizations to help people with disabilities lead more independent and complete lives. He also cited the true spirit of community partnership of the individuals and groups who were honored at the ceremony who worked to make Massachusetts a leader in providing supports to people with disabilities.

The Dybwad Leadership Award was presented to Dr. David Bartley and Michael Daly at the ceremony. This marked the first time that the Dybwad Award was presented to two individuals.

Thirty years ago, David Bartley, then Speaker of the Massachusetts House, and Michael Daly who was House Chairman of the Education Committee, crafted the pioneering legislation Chapter 766, and then worked with their colleagues to bring it into law and practice.

In presenting the award, Commissioner Morrissey said, "Chapter 766 called for more integrated educational settings and required a child's academic program to enable him or her to achieve 'maximum possible benefit.' It required that children be educated in the least restrictive environment, and encouraged parent involvement. The work of Dr. David Bartley and Michael Daly revolutionized the educational system in Massachusetts, changed lives and opinions, and became the model for other states and the federal government to follow when they enacted similar legislation.

"Today, we live in a nation and a Commonwealth where every child, regardless of disability, becomes a student and every student is provided the supports and services to assure an education. The mainstreaming of individuals with disabilities in classrooms reflects and paves the way for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in communities. ... Much of the acceptance and understanding, that people with disabilities enjoy and we are honoring this morning can be traced to the fact that 30 years ago, Chapter 766 became law," Commissioner Morrissey observed.

The Commissioner also cited many of the 40 organizations and individuals who worked with Dr. Bartley and Daly to craft and enact this visionary legislation.

The award is named in honor of the late Dr. Gunnar Dybwad, who worked on behalf of people with mental retardation and their families for more than 65 years.

The honorees from each of the five service regions were:

Western Mass
Pamela Bassett, Paula Tonelli, April LaCasse, Judith Kamont, from Feeding Hills

Pamela Bassett has made tremendous advances in the last decade moving from a nursing facility to become a contributing member of her community.

Eileen Sullivan-Boss, Esq., from West Springfield

Eileen Sullivan-Boss is an attorney who has served as guardian, court monitor, and counsel for a great number of individuals.

"Padres Unidos En Accion"
Michael Romanovich, Wigberto Santana, Estelle Castuneda, Orlando Isaza, Myriam Quinones-Garcia, Jennifer Dolan, Robert Stowe, from Holyoke/Chicopee

"Padres Unidos En Accion" is a family support group that has accomplished an extraordinary amount of work. The families now are better able to advocate for their family members.

Central Mass
David Lee, Worcester Housing Authority

David Lee and his staff at the Worcester Housing Authority have done a tremendous job to help individuals with disabilities live in better homes.

Shrewsbury Rotary Club

The Shrewsbury Rotary Club has contributed their time and effort to unite their community with the people who live at the Glavin Regional Center.

Morgan Dykstar & Drew Dykstar, from Worcester

Morgan Dykstar and his son, Drew created a "New Beginnings Fund" that provides small grants to help individuals with developmental disabilities.

Northeast Mass

Joe Cunningham, from Stoneham

Joe Cunningham is a developer who has established a warm relationship with American Training and this agency's day work program, Work Choice.

Nancy Londono, Migdalia Cordero, Pamela Freeman, Lynn Time Dollar Exchange

The Lynn Time Dollar Exchange is a neighbor-to-neighbor bartering program open to anyone who is willing to participate.

Rep. Carol C. Cleven, from Chelmsford

Former State Representative Carol C. Cleven (R-Chelmsford) is the epitome of public service. Long known as a tireless and effective advocate, she became a champion on the Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee, especially for people with autism.

Southeastern Mass
Karen Cocchi, from Canton

Karen Cocchi has achieved her dream of finding successful and satisfying employment at Wendy's in Stoughton.

People Supporting Independent Living and Leisure, from New Bedford

For nearly a decade, People Supporting Independent Living and Leisure has been helping people prepare and overcome obstacles that can hinder full inclusion in their home communities.

Christina Nordstrom, Community Education Director, Jordan Hospital, Plymouth

Christina Nordstrom is an example of someone who is truly committed to creating community partnerships. She has coordinated a number of community health programs that benefited people with disabilities and their families.

Greater Boston Region
Bruno Fisher, Montachusetts Area Regional Transit

Through his efforts, Bruno has streamlined the transportation system for the DMR Metro Region, improved service, enhanced passenger safety, and saved significant tax dollars for the Commonwealth.

Joy Higham, Marty Prudhome, Susan Moore, from Lexington

Their care and follow through turned a crisis for 12 individuals into a successful move to a new facility.

Cheryl Gagnon, Pam Bedard, Joe Oliveri, Julia Hurst, Annette Davis, Tracy Roberts, Margaret Romard, Lauren Pollard, Lisa Petitpas, Joe Petitpas, Christopher D'Anna, Susan Schumar, MD, and David Avigan, MD., from Waltham

This team worked together to help a woman regain her life and independence.

The State House ceremony is the culmination of a series of events to commemorate March as Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities month. DMR regional, facility and area offices working in concert with families and community boards have hosted many local events, conferences, legislative receptions and recognition ceremonies, to honor the accomplishments of people with developmental disabilities.


This information is provided by the Department of Developmental Services.