I will not forget the morning of May 9, 2014. Mary Margaret Moore and Joan Adrien presented me with the 2014 Gil Adrien Award for Outstanding Advocacy for my efforts on the stop bullying bill, S604. This was so important because the recognition admitted me and the Stop Bullying Coalition to a community of advocacy embracing the whole North Shore and helps to move our cause, to stop bullying, towards success.
The occasion was the 27th Annual Legislative Breakfast of the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann (ILCNSCA) organized with the Aging and Disability Resource Consortium of the Greater North Shore. Mary Margaret Moore is the Director of both agencies, and Joan Adrien, the widow of Gil Adrien, is a member of the ILCNSCA board of directors.
The Adrien Award for Outstanding Advocacy, named in honor of ILCNSCA Founder Gil Adrien, is given to an individual with a disability on the North Shore or CapeAnn who, by his/her actions and accomplishments, has done the most to promote the ideals of the Independent Living Philosophy.
When I first met with Mary Margaret Moore and the advocacy group of the ILCNSCA, I had gotten instant support because they understood what I was fighting against. And by demonstrating the full support of the agency for our efforts in front of our area lawmakers, they have given our campaign a terrific boost. I am so lucky to be their partner. Accepting the award, I said:
Thank you. I am honored but humbled because I cannot equal the accomplishments of Gilbert Adrien, who helped to create the Independent Living Center of the North Shore. Gilbert Adrien and his wife, Joan Adrien made it a force for good, and she continues the work.
I accept this award on behalf of all who have helped me in the effort to pass S604 to stop bullying, and as a challenge to follow the example of Gilbert Adrien. I am grateful for the support of the Independent Living Center of the North Shore in the effort to stop bullying including Shawn McDuff & the CAAT committee, and Mary Margaret Moore. And Mary Maple, who testified on Beacon Hill. And so many others who continue to work for change.
I thank Senator Joan Lovely for her help. I am so grateful for the positive reception by Representative Leah Cole and by the support of the Joint Commitee on Housing. We have decent, caring people who represent us on Beacon Hill. The first step is to pass S604, the stop bullying bill, this session. We can do this.
If I am not for myself, who is for me?
If I am for myself alone, what am I?
And if not now, then when?
Many of the state legislators and speakers attending took note of the award and the movement to stop bullying, including the co-hosts, US congressman John Tierney (Rosalyn Frontiera appeared for him), State. Senator Joan Lovely (Peabody) and Representative John Keenan (Salem). Nearly every speaker mentioned the award: Senators Thomas M. McGee (Lynn); Bruce Tarr (Gloucester); and Representatives: Leah Cole (Peabody); Brad Hill (Ipswich); Jerald A. Parisella (Beverly); Lori A. Erlich (Marblehead); Theodore C. Speliotis (Danvers). Also Paul Lanzikos, Executive Director of North Shore Elder Services and Board VP of ADRCGNS. In addition, Robert K. McCarthy, President of the Salem City Council, and Rebecca Guttman, VP Homecare for the union representing personal care assistants, 1199SEIU—United Healthcare Workers East.
And then Kate Machet, on behalf of US Senator Ed Markey, presented me with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition Upon Receiving the Adrien Award for Outstanding Advocacy and in recognition of outstanding and invaluable service to the community.
Yes, I treasure both these recognitions and the honors, but mostly I seize this moment as a renewal of the challenge and as an expanded opportunity to meet and work with legislators and citizens who can help achieve our goals. And I am grateful to be a partner in doing “the people’s business,” along with these fine public servants and officials.
A next order of business will be to work with the many agencies and providers of services on the North Shore, seeking to build cooperation and break down the “silos” of agency tasks. We need to focus on the whole person and the community, and enable people helping the elderly, for example, to also work with the disabled community. This is the vision expressed by speakers at the Legislative Breakfast, and our efforts to stop bullying of both elderly and disabled fits into this new program.
I am immensely grateful for the recognition of the cause of the Stop Bullying Coalition as well as for the for personal recognition. But the award ceremony was more of a coming out or induction ceremony: I and the stop bullying cause were introduced to the community of advocates on the North Shore, and we have a chance now to be part of, and work with, an established, strong community.
Mission Statement of the ILCNSCA
The Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann Inc. (ILCNSCA) is a service and advocacy center run by and for people with disabilities. ILCNSCA supports the struggle of people who have all types of disabilities to live independently and participate fully in community life.
The ILCNSCA pursues this mission through a combination of self-advocacy services and community action. Self-advocacy services are designed to enable participants to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve personal independence. ILCNSCA organizes and supports collective action by people with disabilities aimed at positive social change, the elimination of discriminatory barriers, and the creation of supportive and fully accessible community environment.