Elizabeth ‘Betsey’ Jackson of Westfield Receives Achievement Award from The Association For Community Living

WESTFIELD – Even though health concerns kept Elizabeth “Betsey” Jackson, 62, in the hospital and the doctor’s office for much of 2012, she walked through life with a smile and dignity.

An adult with developmental disabilities who receives services from the Residential Services division of The Association For Community Living in Springfield, Jackson was in pain and often coping with stressful medical tests or extended hospital stays.

“The situation was exhausting and at times anxiety provoking,” said Robin M. Oldread, a program manager with The Association. “Betsey, however, handled the entire situation with calm, proving to herself and to others how strong she truly is.”

Oldread said Jackson’s health improved because she followed what she calls “The Rules,” and “she woke every day determined to have a fun day, a safe day and a healthy day.”

For her spirited determination, Oldread nominated Jackson for an Achievement Award from The Association For Community Living. She accepted it in June at the agency’s Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony to a backdrop of proud smiles and enthusiastic applause when over 300 board members, staff, volunteers, supporters and those in greater western Massachusetts who are served by the agency came together for its annual recognition event.

“We are thrilled to report that in the past year, Betsey had minimal experience in the hospital and hardly missed a day of her day program,” Oldread said. “She was even able to travel to Mystic Aquarium in the summer.”

Also at the annual meeting, Executive Director Barbara Pilarcik presented several dozen other achievement and anniversary awards to agency programs and highlighted outstanding contributions of staff and community members.

“Every day, day in and day out, our staff are in our communities doing good work. Their actions and deeds overwhelm prejudice, doubt and fear,” Pilarcik said. “These are the people who fulfill our mission each and every day and who, together with persistence and resilience, have overwhelmed the world with their good work.”

Pilarcik also held a moment of silence for 16 friends of The Association who died in the past year, including Judge Sidney Cooley of Longmeadow, who died in January at age 100.

She said of the friends, many of whom were also donors, “They often led the way in showing communities how to accept a child who may be more challenged than some, but no less gifted. Their courage in standing up and stepping up has left us much better off.”

For more information about the services and programs of The Association For Community Living, visit www.theassociationinc.org.

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The Association For Community Living has been Creating Opportunities, Building Relationships and Improving Lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities since 1952. Founded by the dedicated commitment of five young mothers of children with developmental disabilities who held a strong belief that their children had the same right as all other children—the right to live and grow with dignity in their own communities—The Association continues their vision today.

Our beginnings were modest and deeply rooted in Hampden County. Today, our reach extends to all of Western Massachusetts and parts of Central Massachusetts, supporting 1,116 individuals with autism, Down syndrome, fragile X, and other developmental disabilities and 760 families in 77 cities and towns with offices in Springfield, Easthampton, Greenfield, Hadley and Pittsfield.

We provide services that are many and varied, forming a continuum of support from infancy to old age with comprehensive services in five major areas - supported living, family services, employment services, social entrepreneurship, and recreation and enrichment. Additionally, we are recognized as a well-managed, fiscally responsible nonprofit agency with a budget of $27.5 million.

In October 2013, The Association was named in the Top 10 of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield Super 60 in the total revenue category.