CHICOPEE – Marie Guillmette, 28, does more than visit her grandmother in the nursing home. She brings joy and song to everyone who lives there.
An adult with developmental disabilities who is served by the Specialized Home Care division of The Association For Community Living, Guillmette has a monthly routine that includes visiting her grandmother at a nursing home in Connecticut.
“Marie will sing for her grandmother, and she sings also with her,” said Dennis LaFleche, placement coordinator for Specialized Home Care at The Association For Community Living. “Marie has become friends with many of the other residents of the nursing home. They look forward to seeing Marie monthly because of her friendly smile and wonderful personality.”
Guilmette was nominated for an Achievement Award from The Association by LaFleche. She accepted it in June 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 Association came together for the agency’s Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony.
“Some of these individuals have no one else that visits them, so Marie has become a special part of their lives,” LaFleche said. “They love seeing her, and she loves to bring a smile to their faces.”
Executive Director Barbara Pilarcik presented several dozen other achievement and anniversary awards to agency programs and highlighted outstanding contributions of staff and community members at the annual recognition event.
“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.”
Pilarcik said Guillmette has “shown the power of a loving presence in her visits to her grandmother.”
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.