For Immediate Release - November 27, 2013

HHS Secretary Polanowicz Joins Boston Firefighters, Local Leaders at Thanksgiving Dinner for 500 DMH Clients

10th annual Department of Mental Health Boston Thanksgiving tradition celebrated in Dorchester

photo of group at Thanksgiving dinner
From left: DMH Metro Boston Area Director Patty Kenny, Deputy Commissioner Cliff Robinson, Commissioner Marcia Fowler, HHS Secretary John Polanowicz, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and organizer Billy Higgins.

BOSTON — Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary John Polanowicz today joined Boston Mayor-elect Marty Walsh, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, Boston Firefighters and other local leaders to serve meals to 500 Department of Mental Health (DMH) clients at the 10th annual DMH Thanksgiving dinner at Florian Hall in Dorchester.

“This event is a blessing for DMH consumers, many of whom are isolated, especially around the holidays,” said HHS Secretary Polanowicz. “Our Health and Human Services agencies provide care to some of our most vulnerable residents and this event is emblematic of the commitment to public service shared by all of our 22,000 employees.”

Each year the full Thanksgiving meal is served by over 150 volunteers who bring cheer and good will to hundreds of DMH guests. This year, firefighters from Local 718 took on the cooking duties while an army of volunteers that include elected officials, DMH staff, Massport and the Boston Society of Vulcans, and provider agencies serve the sit-down meal. The Friends of Metro Boston this year presented an award to former Senator Jack Hart, who has previously hosted the event, for his many years of support to DMH consumers.

"I am honored to continue this tradition that began ten years ago with Senator Jack Hart and Billy Higgins," said Senator Forry. "As we gather with friends and family to give thanks, it is important to also share this holiday with this wonderful group of DMH consumers. With the help of DMH, Billy Higgins, Massport, Boston Firefighters Local 718 and the Boston Vulcans and so many volunteers, it is a privilege to share the Thanksgiving holiday with everyone."

“This is a much anticipated event for DMH consumers, and one that helps support our clients’ recovery,” said DMH Commissioner Marcia Fowler. “As we give thanks in our own lives, this strong showing of volunteers show the dedication of our staff to give back to those in need.”

About the Department of Mental Health (DMH)

Part of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, DMH provides services to adults, children and adolescents with long-term or serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbance; provides early and ongoing treatment for mental illness; and conducts research into the causes of and treatments for mental illness. Through state-operated inpatient facilities and community mental health centers and through community services and programs provided by nearly 200 mental health providers, DMH directly serves 29,000 citizens, including about 3,500 children and adolescents, with severe and persistent mental illness and serious emotional disturbance.

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