Extending the Legacy: The Arc of Massachusetts Celebrates the Becker Family

Leo Sarkissian with Cynthia Haddad and Alex Moschella

On April 6, a standing room only crowd gathered at the Sheraton Framingham to celebrate the enduring legacy of Dan and Angela Becker and their son Michael. Hosted by Alex Moschella, the Beckers’ attorney and trustee of their estate, the program featured many wonderful memories about the Becker family, a keynote address by Elin Howe, Commissioner of the Department of Developmental Services, and two major announcements.

A long-time advisor to the Becker family, Alex has specialized in elder and disability law for more than 35 years and currently is Senior Legal Counsel at Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin where he is head of the firm’s Estate Planning, Elder Law and Special Needs Group. He has spent decades as a volunteer in our field and has represented some of our movement’s founding mothers and fathers.

After sharing several warm memories of Dan and Angela, Alex issued a challenge to attendees and supporters of The Arc of Massachusetts. “Who will be the next Dan Becker to carry on the legacy of advocacy?” he asked. “Who will step up to be the next philanthropists to take The Arc to the next level? We need to make sure that there will be volunteers, advocates, and staff, resources, and funding available to keep up the fight until people with disabilities have the save opportunities and rights as those without.”

Alex then asked Cynthia Haddad to speak about the Beckers. Cindy, who is a Lead Wealth Advisor and Co-Founder of Special Needs Financial Planning, a specialty practice to Shepherd Financial Partners in Winchester, helps families like the Beckers in planning the lifelong care for their family member with special needs. Cindy gave attendees a very personal glimpse into the Becker family. “Behind Dan and all his passion for his son Michael, was his cherished wife, Angela. She was the love of his life. He was always so loving and gentle and kind when they were together. This mighty man at the State House was indeed a true gentleman to his bride.”

Cindy also noted that Angela had a strong desire to carry on the Becker family legacy. “She became a generous philanthropist with the guidance and support of her trusted attorney, Alex Moschella,” she said. “Giving these gifts during her lifetime gave her great joy.”

The program featured a keynote speech by Commissioner of the Department of Developmental Services Elin Howe. In introducing her, Executive Director Leo Sarkissian noted that The Arc of Massachusetts and our constituents are very grateful to Commissioner Howe for her leadership and work on a range of initiatives important to us, including National Background checks, Autism Omnibus, Real Lives, the removal of aversive procedures, and the championing of Positive Behavioral Supports. Commissioner Howe spoke about trends in disability services and supports, praising The Arc of Massachusetts and our 18 chapters for our advocacy and the wide array of services offered to people with I/DD.

Two Major Announcements
The afternoon wrapped up with two major grant announcements that will have an impact on advocacy and innovation for years.

The Becker Trust Funds Three-Year Advocacy Initiative at The Arc of Massachusetts
Dan and Angela Becker were devoted leaders and supporters of The Arc of Massachusetts. They were committed to ensuring that The Arc would be able to carry on for many years to come or until people with disabilities had the same rights and opportunities and those without. In order to help us continue this work, the Becker Family Trust awarded The Arc of Massachusetts a three-year grant that will fund an intensive advocacy and outreach initiative. Our goals are to:
• Advance opportunities for persons with disabilities through budget and systems advocacy
• Help families learn about and access needed supports, including elder caregivers
• Advance inclusion of persons with disabilities in work and social pursuits
• Address discrimination, both explicit and unintended

The Becker Trust Grants for Innovation
In addition, Alex announced the Becker Trust Grants for Innovation. Over the next three years, a total of $500,000 will be distributed to human service organizations for projects and programs that demonstrate high impact and innovation. Some areas of interest include: self-determination, shared living, supported living, supporting elder caregivers, and employment. Grant guidelines and additional information will be posted on The Arc’s website at www.arcmass.org/Becker by August 15, 2017.

Dan and Angela worked hard to make sure that Mike would have a good life long after they had passed away. When he predeceased them, their legacy became a gift for our entire community. In this spirit, the Becker Trust will advance family advocacy for innovative programs that promote lifelong community supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through both the grant to The Arc of Massachusetts and the innovation grant program, the legacy of the Becker family is being extended well into the future.

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