By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – On Jan. 18, roughly 90 Shrewsbury community leaders gathered to recognize the work of Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, Inc. and honor the 2019 Harry S. Cutting Jr. Award recipient, Jim Heald.
Dignitaries in attendance included State Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) and State Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury), Shrewsbury Selectman Beth Casavant, members of the Shrewsbury School Committee, School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Sawyer, and Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.
“We are so grateful for the large turnout to our annual breakfast and the presentation of the 2019 Harry S. Cutting Jr. Award to Jim Heald,” said SYFS Board Chair Tom Kennedy. “It is so fitting to recognize Jim Heald for his continual giving of his time, talent and treasure to make Shrewsbury the special place that it is. We are thankful that people like Jim Heald continue to step up to support the town.”
His remarks were followed by those of Executive Director Christine Mowry, who noted that 2018 was a year of change for the agency. They have moved to a larger office space where they can accommodate a growing caseload and provide more services to the community.
She reported that the agency spent 569 hours providing counseling services to Shrewsbury schools; 1,083 total hours were spent providing counseling in 2018.
Further, 867 adults were trained in youth mental health first aid and 652 youth were referred for services by those who received training.
Other support services include fuel and electric assistance, Holiday Gift Giving Program, health care links, SCAPE Drug-Free Coalition, and referrals and resources to shelter, housing, food and financial programs.
“In spite of all of the wonderful accomplishments that we made, I hate to say it simply isn’t enough. We currently have a three-month wait list for services and the calls come in fast and furious every single day,” Mowry stated.
John Heald, Jim’s twin brother, introduced him with witty recollections of growing up in a family of five and their mutual profession in funeral service. The brothers were previously co-owners of Heald & Chiampa Funeral Home in the center of Shrewsbury.
Jim Heald is a former SYFS board member and served as its gala chair in 2014. He has been an active parishioner of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and a founding member of the Turkey Trot for Memory Thanksgiving Day road race.
He is currently working in training and development for Life Celebration, Inc., and is a consultant for funeral homes in greater Boston.
Surrounded by his family and friends, which included his mother Patricia, Heald thanked SYFS for this honor.
“Change comes in many forms and it’s a matter of how we receive and accept it…And while change comes, even to SYFS periodically, the one thing that remains consistent is the commitment to the town, its clients and the many, many people who utilizes its services,” Heald said.
For more information about the work of SYFS, visit www.syfs-ma.org.