By Melissa Fales
Turley Publications Reporter
WARE – The Beaver Lake Association is holding a roast beef dinner to benefit the Louis H. Healy, Jr. Scholarship Fund Saturday, June 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Senior Center. The association has been offering the scholarship to deserving Ware graduating seniors for over a decade, but this year it’s decided to offer two awards.
“We felt that in light of the increased costs these students will be facing at college, and with the economy in such rough shape, we’d like to give out two awards this year,” said Linda Bertrand, Scholarship Fund chairperson. “The proceeds from this dinner will allow us to do to that.”
Louis H. Healy, Jr. was a longtime resident of Beaver Lake and according to Beaver Lake Association Board of Directors member Bill Lak, one of its most influential.
“Lou really loved the lake and its peaceful qualities,” Lak said.
He said Healy got involved with the Board of Directors at a time of turmoil.
“He went in and just turned things around,” Lak said. “He got involved with many of the committees and made each one more efficient and more effective.”
During a time of friction between the Beaver Lake Community Corporation and Beaver Lake Inc., Lak said Healy was instrumental in bringing the two entities together.
“He knew that both groups wanted the same thing, the preservation of Beaver Lake,” he said. “So, he used this common ground to smooth out relations between them. In a short time, both groups were working together toward the betterment of the lake.”
Lak said Healy’s style of communication promoted unity.
“Lou believed that almost any problem could be solved by sitting down and talking things out,” Lak said. “He was inclusive and listened to all sides of a discussion to try to come to a decision that would be best for all.”
Lak said the current Board of Directors still tries to emulate Healy’s approach to communication. Lak said the Louis H. Healy, Jr. Scholarship was established in memory of all Healy did for Beaver Lake.
“He worked right up to the end, even when he was very sick,” Lak said.
The scholarship is open to any Ware graduating senior. Recipients do not need to be residents of Beaver Lake. The two scholarships offered this year are for $500 each.
At the fundraising dinner, in addition to the delicious food, the association will also be holding a raffle.
“We have tons of stuff to raffle off,” Bertrand said.
Some of the prizes available are gift certificates from Astronaut Pizza, Bruso Liquor Mart, Cluett’s and Teresa’s Restaurant. The raffle tickets are six for $5 and are available at the dinner.
Tickets for the dinner are $15 each. There are only 150 available and they will not be sold at the door. To make a donation to the Louis H. Healy, Jr. Scholarship Fund or to purchase tickets, call Judy at (413) 967-4207, Rose at (413) 967-0341 or Linda at (413) 277-0077. The deadline to purchase tickets for the dinner is Thursday, June 4.
BOSTON – Baby Chris is working on his language development skills and getting stronger every day while Tim Jr. runs circles around him like other normal kids in our neighborhood.
There was a time when our two baby boys were not so fortunate. When Tim was born, four precious years ago, he had some muscular development issues. He couldn’t walk a step until he was almost two years old and struggled afterwards. This was not just a late bloomer thing. He had serious gross motor skill challenges.
We thought things would be different with our tiny bear, Chris, who will turn two next month. He can walk well now, but he still doesn’t speak a word – not even mommy or daddy. Like Tim, he suffers from a different kind of development delay. But he is making progress as did Junior during his ordeal.
My wife Danielle and I feel very lucky and blessed to have such a healthy family and private home life, so I usually refrain from discussing my personal life in print. However, budget news delivered through my wife yesterday compels me to write today.
The only reason – other than God hearing our prayers – that both boys are making progress is because of a state-funded program, titled “Early Intervention.” The state House Ways and Means Committee recently recommended a 31 percent cut to that program affecting at least 10,000 of the 30,000 enrolled babies and toddlers.
Incredibly talented and dedicated professionals come to our home weekly and work with Chris on language skills. They did the same for Timmy for more than a year. They don’t make much more than entry-level teachers, yet their dedication and professionalism is unsurpassed. This is not a program rife with fiscal abuse and hidden fat.
The sad news is there are thousands of children and parents in Massachusetts desperate for this service, who may not even receive a chance at consultation come July 1, 2009. A 31 percent budget cut to Early Intervention equates to a $10.3 million reduction in programming. The current budget is only $33 million, and, if slashed, would be the lowest funding level in more than 10 years – during a time when special needs children are on a sharp increase and many parents are out of work and cannot afford services on their own. Danielle and I certainly could not have funded Early Intervention on our salary and we are considered a modest middle class.
The other Early Intervention point to consider, other than to help our most delicate and needy baby citizens enjoy life later on, is it absolutely prevents children from entering public school special needs programs. If fewer children receive specialized help as babies and toddlers, SPED ranks will swell later on, only exacerbating public education costs, given how much SPED costs each school district in services and transportation.
One state senator recently told me, “we have no money” after I suggested a local tourism idea. Find the money senators and representatives, not for tourism, but for the sake of our children in need. The only way “we the people” can fight this devastating cut is by writing and emailing our local state representatives, and appeal to our state senators to not make the same mistake in their budget version.
There are scared parents – just like Danielle and I were – now feeling helpless that their children will not obtain critical intervention services so their babies have the same chance at healthy lives that we all did. The program is a miracle. Our two baby boys are a testament to that fact.
Tim Kane is executive editor of Turley Publications, publisher of 15 weekly newspapers reaching 120,000 readers in more than 65 Central Mass and Pioneer Valley towns.