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Letter to the Editor: Sitting In

A letter from State Majority Leader Fred Berry.

My wife Gayle and I are proud to be serving as Honorary Chairpersons for the Northeast Arc’s Annual Wine Tasting and Auction Friday, March 23rd at Kernwood Country Club in Salem. Our lovely friend Kim Carrigan will join us as hostess and auctioneer as she so generously does each year.

The organizers, attendees and supporters of this event truly represent the best of what our region has to offer.  It is a heartwarming and critical campaign that sustains the programs that support people with disabilities in our communities.  Gayle and I are happy to back any effort that helps carry out the mission of the Northeast Arc.      

Now serving as Senate Majority Leader, I am in my 15th and final term in the Massachusetts State Senate, proudly representing the communities of Beverly, Danvers, Peabody, Salem, and Topsfield.  As a public servant, it is both an honor and privilege to be the voice of the people.  During these past few painful budget years, I have worked diligently to preserve needed programs such as Early Intervention Services, to provide insurance coverage for autism services and to keep the promise of community-based services for families.

My advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities and their families began before my Senate career.  I previously served as the Director of the Northeast Arc’s employment training and job placement program, Heritage Industries.  We were able to significantly expand the job placement mission, providing employment opportunities that opened new possibilities for the disabled community on the North Shore.  After becoming the State Senator who represents the Northeast Arc’s core service area, I have always looked at ways to support their mission to continue to give people with disabilities the individualized supports they need.

The Northeast Arc offers a wide range of services to my constituents at every stage of life.  Families can count on the Arc to be there for their infants in need of early intervention services, or for their parents in need of a personal care attendant.  The top notch staff at the Northeast Arc creates a comfortable atmosphere where families get educated guidance about the services that best suit their needs.  I commend Jerry McCarthy and his staff for continuing to deliver quality services during some of the most difficult fiscal years our state has ever seen.  I believe the Northeast Arc’s work and the people they support enrich the entire region.  Our local citizenry, businesses, families, schools, and community leaders need to look to their own strengths and offer them to the Arc.  Creative partnerships can lead to new volunteers, employment leads, teaching moments and awareness opportunities for all.

No calling can be greater for me, and I am pleased with the progress we have made – yet so much more needs to be done.  The Northeast Arc shares our vision to ensure the rights of people with disabilities to lead full lives in the community.  When trying to encourage others to get involved in furthering the rights of people with disabilities, I would ask them to put themselves in the shoes of that disabled person, or imagine that their family member is disabled.  Most of the men and women with disabilities I know just want the opportunity to achieve their own potential.  With the help of the Northeast Arc, our region’s disabled population has a great shot at doing just that. 

I hope you will join Gayle and me for a wonderful evening March 23rd that supports a truly worthy cause.  Proceeds from the Wine Tasting enable the Northeast Arc to continue to help children and adults living with disabilities lead fuller, enriched lives as contributing members of our communities. Now that’s a cause that everyone should believe in. 

To be part of this very special evening and do something to support people with disabilities, please give Becky Landry a call: (978) 624-2401 or email:  blandry@ne-arc.org   Becky can help you with tickets, donations and sponsorships. 

We hope to see you on March 23rd!

-Senate Majority Leader Frederick Berry

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