Employment Options honors Marlborough Police at annual dinner
By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Employment Options, Inc. hosted its annual awards dinner at its Marlborough clubhouse March 27, where it presented a special award to the Marlborough Police Department.
The nonprofit agency helps individuals in the MetroWest area manage their mental health and wellness including those who have experienced economic disadvantages.
Each year, it recognizes community leaders who encourage the work of the agency while also serving as a branch to understanding the needs of its members.
“We are honoring Chief [Mark] Leonard and the entire Marlborough Police Department with our Voices of Hope Award,” explained Executive Director Toni Wolf. “The chief and the entire force have truly made an impact in our community with their commitment to mental health education by ensuring all officers have received specific training and seeks to have a genuine understanding of our members’ needs to assist when a crisis occurs. Their training in this area serves as a template for the industry as we seek public service partners in our work.”
Wolf said she has seen such a transformation in the department and how they deal with people with mental illness.
“I believe it starts with the leadership,” she noted. “Chief Leonard turned the department into a place of helping with more training and awareness over the past 15 years. It’s like night and day.”
Leonard, who was recently reappointed, accepted the award on behalf of the department.
“It’s nice to receive this recognition and we hope to continue our work with this and other groups in the community,” he said.
According to Wolf, the awards dinner was first created as an internal event to honor members, but they decided to expand it “to welcome the public and let people know who we are.”
The dinner serves as not only a promotion of the agency’s day to day efforts, but also as a major fundraiser for its continued outreach, education, training, and work placement.
This year, the organization used the event to kick off its “45.9” campaign, to acknowledge the 45.9 million adults living with mental illness in the U.S.
“It is your daughter, your son, your mom, your dad, your neighbor, your colleague,” Wolf said. “Our 45.9 campaign alerts us that we are all impacted by mental illness.”
Employment Options’ mission is to empower mentally ill individuals and families to thrive in their community. It is in the midst of expanding its workforce development services through transporting and training disabled or disadvantaged unemployed individuals from the region.
According to Development Director James Grasberger, Employment Options, like many other human services organizations, is facing huge deficits. To make up for losses in state and federal funding, they recently introduced Catering Options and Cleaning Options, employing members to provide housekeeping and catering services for local businesses and residents. Catering Options caters functions – including the annual awards dinner – at Employment Options clubhouse and offsite.
State Representative Danielle Gregoire (D-Marlborough) and State Senator Jaime Eldridge (D-Acton), who attended the awards dinner, both said they are advocating to increase budgets for organizations like Employment Options.
“I’m excited to be part of all the progress that is happening here,” Eldridge said. “I am working hard on Beacon Hill to advocate for budget changes.”
The dinner also recognized the efforts of Helen Lemoine, executive director of Leadership MetroWest, who was awarded the Community Partnership Award for her exemplary leadership in facilitating partnerships with public, private or social sector leaders.
For more information, visit www.employmentoptions.org.
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