January 2010: Christmas 2009 was much brighter for a number of people in our region, thanks to the kindness and generosity of a group of individuals, businesses and organizations who truly made a difference for dozens of families supported by Monadnock Developmental Services.

For the tenth year in a row, the remarkable employees of Kennedy Information in Peterborough sponsored a number of area families, providing toys, clothing, books, certificates and gift cards to make Christmas brighter for them.  Other companies whose employees sponsored families and children were FirstTracks Marketing Group of Peterborough, SunBridge/Harborside Healthcare of Sharon, the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, PSNH, United Natural Foods, and WKS-Residential Resources Inc. Wally Reney and Toys for Tots donated dozens of stuffed animals, toys and sleds for MDS children. The staff of the Community Kitchen provided nutritious food baskets for both Thanksgiving and Christmas for MDS families in need. We also want to thank the the Blais family, the Broad-Vigneault family, the Messier family, Norma Leach, Dennie Wheeler, the Family Council, MDS employees, and the many other wonderful community members who gave gifts and donations to help make a better Christmas for families in need in our region.

Especially during these difficult times, this generosity touched every family in so many ways.  One mother wrote:  “As I left the MDS office, I was attempting to get to my car without anyone seeing the tears in my eyes. But these tears were not like the ones I shed last Christmas. These tears were tears of Joy.” We heard from another family:  “Because of you, my children awoke on Christmas morning to see that Santa had come.” Another comment: “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

On behalf of everyone at MDS and the individuals and families we work with, we thank all of you for your generosity and good will. If you have any interest in sponsoring a child or family for next Christmas, please call us now at 352-1304 and we’ll put you on our list for 2010.


Ten Area Employers Recognized for Excellency in Disability Employment Practices

December 2009: Ten employers in the Monadnock region have been recognized for excellence in disability employment practices and policies.  The Monadnock Center for Successful Transitions (MCST) and Monadnock Developmental Services (MDS) will honor all of these exemplary companies at a special ceremony in Keene on December 14th.

At the top of the list of honorees is Keene State College, who received the prestigious Employment Leadership Award, one of five companies statewide to earn such a distinction in October. These Leadership Awards, sponsored by the Granite State Employment Project, spotlight employers who not only recognize the skills and contributions that people with disabilities bring to their workforce, but who also have adopted inclusive policies and hiring practices that allow people with disabilities to fairly compete for employment.

“We’re so honored to receive this award,” says Helen Giles-Gee, President of Keene State College. “Our approach to hiring, for people of all abilities, is not accidental; rather it’s part of how we do business. Diversity, civility and respect are core values at KSC.”

Of the more than forty nominees statewide for the Employment Leadership Award, ten are from the Monadnock region:  Armadillo’s Burritos, E.F. Lane Hotel, Hannaford Supermarket, Keene Food Services, Keene State College, The Keene Sentinel, NH Ball Bearing, Red’s of Jaffrey, TD Bank and the Home Healthcare, Hospice, & Community Service Meals on Wheels Program.

The recognition event at Keene State College on Monday, December 14th  is tagged “We Are Success,” which is the theme of a new public awareness campaign aimed at changing perceptions people may have about the types of work that individuals with disabilities can do. Several local people and companies, in fact some of the above-nominated, are featured as employment success stories.

“Barriers often exist that don’t allow people to demonstrate their abilities, and sometimes even lead people with disabilities to believe they can’t work,” says Sheila Mahon, Project Director for MCST.  “MCST and its partners are working hard to debunk those myths — aiming their efforts at businesses, individuals, families, schools and service agencies.”

MCST is a project of Monadnock Developmental Services and is funded by the Centers for Medicaid and federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, with the goal of improving employment outcomes for able workers with disabilities. For more information, please visit www.mcst-nh.org or call Sheila Mahon at 603-352-1304.

Bill Lynch Receives Lifetime Achievement MDS Citizen of Honor Award

December 2009: Bill Lynch of Keene has received the MDS Dennis DiTullio Citizen of Honor Award, with very special recognition of Lifetime Achievement for his work over the past 25 years. This award recognizes his enthusiastic support, dedication and tireless work in assisting individuals and families with developmental and other disabilities.

Bill Lynch was honored on December 8th at a special ceremony at Papagallo’s Restaurant in Keene. In addition to proclamations from the New Hampshire House, Senate and from Governor Lynch, Dennis DiTullio, MDS’s first Citizen of Honor, presented this very special lifetime achievement award to him.

Bill’s efforts on behalf of MDS families began more than a dozen years ago when he found out about a four-year old girl with complicated disabilities who had survived a stroke but still struggled with limited mobility and near-blindness. The young child was confined to a small area of her house where she could use her pony walker.

Bill wanted to find a way to allow that little girl a breath of fresh air and sunshine, so he went out into the community on behalf of MDS and found a group of folks willing to donate resources, time and materials to build a special roofed deck for the family.

“It was simple. I saw a need, a critical need, for things that don’t fit the usual guidelines set by the State and the Feds,” Bill explains. “I found out there were people out there who were suffering and barely making do because they couldn’t get something as simple as an adaptive wheelchair or a special lift to help move from wheelchair to bed or van.”

From that project, the MDS 600 Club was born. Bill’s efforts blossomed over the next dozen years. Bill and Dennis DiTullio together have raised tens of thousands of dollars for critical projects like this one, providing equipment, home modifications, and other items not covered by Medicaid.

“It’s particularly exciting for us to be able to give this award to Bill Lynch, as part of our 25th anniversary celebration,” says Alan Greene, Executive Director of Monadnock Developmental Services. “This is a man who has played such an important role in the lives of people with disabilities here in the region.”

Dennis DiTullio agrees: “Bill was the force behind much of the fundraising and development work that has been done for families over the past 15 years. He has always been there, raising funds for special projects, creating the 600 Club, even masterminding the Citizen of Honor award itself.” Dennis exclaims: “Bill Lynch is the epitome of the MDS Citizen of Honor, and I’m so proud to be able to present this Lifetime Achievement Award to him.”

Every year Monadnock Developmental Services honors an outstanding member of the Monadnock community with its Citizen of Honor Award. Dennis DiTullio, who lives in Keene, received the first award in 2006 at which time he was doubly honored by having the award named after him. In 2007 Cameron Tease of Harrisville was honored as MDS Citizen of Honor, and the employees of Kennedy Information in Peterborough were recognized in 2008. There are many families and individuals in the Monadnock region who have directly benefited from the creative thinking and hard work of Bill Lynch, and from his generosity.