On Wednesday, March 6, The Arc of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC) hosted our 41st Annual Legislative Reception at the Massachusetts State House. This year’s theme, in keeping with The Arc’s ongoing Workforce Initiative, was Building a Stronger Future: Valuing Our Workforce.
Over 400 individuals – including self-advocates, family members, professionals, and elected and appointed officials – attended the event, with hundreds of additional individuals viewing remotely via The Arc’s Facebook livestream of the event. The reception was emceed by Lauren Beckham Falcone of WROR’s Loren & Wally.
This year’s Legislator of the Year honorees were Senator Michael Moore (The Arc of Massachusetts honoree) and Representative Patricia Haddad (MDDC honoree). The awards were presented by Senate President Emerita, Senator Harriette Chandler and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, both of whom are longstanding and committed disability advocates.
Reflecting on the work that earned him this award, Senator Moore noted: “I want to thank you for educating me on the struggles and the issues that you face on a daily basis. Thank you for allowing me to advocate on your behalf. You’re a great community, and I can’t think of any organization or issue that I would rather advocate for.”
Representative Haddad also spoke highly of her involvement with the disability community: “I accept this because they stood with us. They stood with all of us and said the most important thing that the Commonwealth can do for any citizen is make sure they live happy, healthy, productive lives at the very top of their ability. And I hope all of you are able to do that.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders shared Governor Charlie Baker’s proclamation of March 2019 as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Auditor Suzanne Bump spoke of her ongoing commitment regarding ensuring a place for individuals with disabilities in the workforce. Self-advocate Leigh Ann Barry spoke to the crowd about the role that Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) have played in her life and her pursuit of employment.
Drawing the event to a close, The Arc of Massachusetts’ Director of Government Affairs Maura Sullivan inspired all attendees with a powerful call to action: “Your voice is so important, and together, we are going to build a stronger future.”
Be sure to check out more great photos from the day below!