State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, were co-honored as the "2016 Legislators of the Year" as part of the Advocacy Day 2016 event and "Superheroes 4 Kids" campaign of the Children's League of Massachusetts (CLM).
A March 22 ceremony was held at Nurses Hall at the Massachusetts State House as part of the event. The campaign and honors are designed to celebrate Children's League members of and community members who advocate for increased protections, resources and funding for children in care in the fiscal 2017 budget.
"Both Senator Tarr's and Representative Farley-Bouvier's commitment to protecting the well-being of our children is unmatched," Children's League Executive Director Erin G. Bradley said. "The most vulnerable children of our commonwealth do not have access to the corridors of power to advocate for themselves, so having eloquent and dedicated legislators who give voice to the issues of importance to children is very much appreciated. We look forward to continuing to work with both of them to further improve the safety and success of the children of Massachusetts."
Said Rep. Farley-Bouvier, "I do thank the Children's League for this great honor, but it is them and the providers who do the ever important work of advocating for children every day that deserve the accolades."
Farley-Bouvier was honored for her creation and leadership of a legislative Child Welfare Subcommittee, driven by her belief that child welfare warrants a special body of legislators who can closely examine issues affecting system-involved youth. She was also acknowledged for bringing attention to the additional burdens placed on social workers in Western Massachusetts, where long drive times and rising caseloads decrease the amount of time they can spend on any one case.
Farley-Bouvier said child welfare should be a priority for legislators and noted that, "During times like these when the heroin epidemic is running rampant in the commonwealth and income inequality continues to leave more and more families behind, it is the children that get hurt the worst."
"Protecting children should always be a priority," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr.
Children's League highlighted Tarr's championship in the Senate of a bill that would ban "re-homing," a process by which adoptive parents use Internet message boards to find other adults to care for adopted children when an adoption is not working. They also noted his work to pass "Jessica's Law," which created stronger protections for children from child sexual predators, as well as his work to pass legislation to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old.
"We are so proud of our Troy Brainerd," said George Baldasarre, who contacted County Fare on March 21 to share the following story about his 14-year-old stepson:
"Last week [Troy] found a wallet in the Allendale Shopping Center parking lot. His first response to me was, "How do we find the owner?" He inquired in a couple of stores hoping to find this gentleman, Russell Clarke, but was unsuccessful."
They then looked up online a phone number for a person of the same name, called and left a voice message. But unsure whether the number was valid and the message would reach Clarke, Baldasarre said, "We decided to drop it off at the Dalton Police Department, where it was eventually returned to him.
"Mr. Clarke was so appreciative of Troy's efforts and honesty, he made a point to drive to our house on Sunday so he could shake his hand and thank him personally. In addition, he gave him a $25 reward!"
Baldasarre also said there's a twist to this story — a few months ago Troy dropped his wallet at the movie theatre and it was never seen again.
Said Baldasarre, "Troy, thanks for being YOU! You are a good person and make us very proud!"
Troy is also a regular contributor to The Eagle's daily "Pick of the Pics," demonstrating his creative talents in taking nature photos. Troy, we here at County Fare are pretty impressed with you too!
A running effort
This Sunday, Berkshire South Regional Community Center will hold its fourth annual benefit "5K Run/Walk & Breakfast," at the Housatonic "Housy Dome," 1064 Main St. All funds raised will support Berkshire South's TONE (Teen Outreach Nutrition Exercise) program as well as other youth health and wellness initiatives.
The all-ages, all levels race begins at 9 a.m., with breakfast being served from 10 a.m. to noon. Please leave pets at home.
Participants may register until 5 p.m. Friday for a $25 entry fee; the cost goes up to $30 per participant thereafter. Registration for children ages 7 and under are free with a registered parent/guardian.
Registration will take place up to 8 a.m. the day of the race. Race T-shirts will be given to the first 135 paid registrants. All participants also receive breakfast and a free day pass for use on race day that allows access to Berkshire South, including the locker rooms and sauna.
Following the race, all race participants are invited back to Berkshire South Regional Community Center for a breakfast and awards ceremony. Breakfast tickets for guests are $2 per child and $4 per adult. Guest passes to use the facility that day will also be on sale.
To register online and view the race course, visit berkshiresouth.org/5k. For more information, please contact Emerson Badessa at 413-528-2810, ext. 15.
County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.