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MetroWest Human Services Advocacy Coalition Hosts Legislative Breakfast Event honors local human services leaders and workers

The MetroWest Human Services Advocacy Coalition (MWHSAC) hosted its 19th annual legislative breakfast on Friday, April 28. The event, which was held at Nevins Hall in Framingham’s Memorial Building, is convened by local agencies Advocates, Justice Resource Institute, South Middlesex Opportunity Council, and Wayside Youth & Family Support Network. Approximately 250 guests attended this year’s event, which returned in-person with a “Building Community Connections” theme.
The yearly event allows the MetroWest legislative delegation to connect with local agencies and workers and provides a chance to honor excellence in the field of human services. Framingham mayor Charlie Sisitsky kicked off this year’s event with welcome remarks, while Martin Cohen, president of MetroWest Health Foundation, served as program emcee.
Advocates president and CEO Diane Gould presented this year’s Bill Taylor Outstanding Human Service Professional awards. The day’s first award went to Genilce Santana, a care navigator at MetroWest Care Connection. Santana is described as “a staunch advocate who ensures that individuals and families, often new to the U.S. and facing barriers to care, connect to the supports they need”. In her role at MetroWest Care Connection, Santana, who is trilingual, has served 700 community members, more than half of whom speak Portuguese or Spanish. 
The day’s second award went to Monique Delcy of Marlborough. Delcy, an employee of Justice Resource Institute, has served as a direct service worker for more than a decade and considers the role her calling. She was recognized for her attention to detail, advocacy on behalf of clients, and exemplary commitment to service. These qualities recently helped Delcy to identify a client’s undetected medical need, ensuring that the client received needed care.
Senate President Karen Spilka delivered keynote remarks and presented the day’s final award to Eric Masi, a Stow resident and president and CEO of Wayside Youth & Family Support Network. Masi, who is retiring this year after a 44-year career in human services, received the True North Award in recognition of his “visionary leadership and fearless advocacy.”
Event guests also heard from Graciela Saavedra, a youth and family support worker at Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, who is also a graduate student and mother of a child with special needs. In a video interview shown to attendees, Saavedra discussed her personal and professional connections to human services work. She also discussed the critical need for more care providers, particularly those who speak languages other than English.
 The event concluded with a panel of local legislators who spoke about their legislative priorities, particularly as they relate to human services. Panelists included Representative Jeff Roy (10th Norfolk), Representative Priscila Sousa (6th Middlesex), Representative Jack Lewis (7th Middlesex), Representative Carmine Gentile (13th Middlesex), Senator Jamie Eldridge (Middlesex and Worcester County) and Senate President Karen Spilka (Middlesex and Norfolk County). Issues discussed included improved wages for human service workers, affordable housing, criminal justice reform, access to higher education, climate change, and access to mental health care. 

About The MetroWest Human Services Advocacy Coalition 
For nineteen years, The MetroWest Human Services Advocacy Coalition, a consortium of consumers, providers, community board members, community agencies, organizations, family, and friends of human services, has advocated for the necessary resources to provide professional human services to enhance the quality of life of all residents of Metrowest Boston. For more information about the MWHSAC, contact Allison Parks at [email protected].