In The People's Blog

On May 3, I attended Community Action Pioneer Valley’s Annual Meeting and 60th Anniversary Celebration to celebrate CAPV’s transformative work. 

I was honored to receive the Sargent Shriver Public Service Award, which is presented to an elected or appointed official demonstrating outstanding public service on behalf of people living with low incomes. 

Here are the remarks I offered: 


Community Action Pioneer Valley is the embodiment of the world as it ought to be.

And this award — named in honor of Sargent Shriver — is an incredible honor. 

Congratulations to Laurie Millman whose fierce work at Center for New Americans is a gift to all of us — welcoming class after class after class of passionate, talented newcomers to our region.

Congratulations — and my heartfelt thanks — to the volunteers at the Center for Self Reliance. Volunteers are the heart of every nonprofit.


I grew up knowing Sargent Shriver’s work as an architect of the War on Poverty — which launched VISTA, Head Start, and — of course — Community Action.

This is largely because I was raised, in part, by a powerhouse nun, Joan Shanley — an organizer and a social worker who lifted up the best parts, like Shriver, of liberation theology. 

Joan was lit on the inside by faith. Faith in justice. Faith in service. Faith in humanity. 

I was not an easy student for Aunt Joan, but she also had faith in me — believing as she did that she could wrench open my young heart to care about something larger than myself — like you all do. 

Aunt Joan called out the continued ravages of structural racism — worker exploitation, inequitable access to excellent education, mass incarceration, redlining, food desserts, and more — continually pounding on me to understand this injustice.

Aunt Joan, Sargent Shriver, and all who led that generation believed that government could and should work in the best interest of every single person. 

I came to believe that as well.

Shriver worked to win. 

He was intolerant of half measures. Impatient for justice. 

An impatience shared, I’d venture, by all of the people in this room.

You do not look away from inequity. You run toward it.

Community Action staff, volunteers, board members, and donors rise again and again and again in the service of justice. In the work of common opportunity. Common humanity.

Through collaboration, innovation, and service you work every day to make our communities places where everyone can not only survive but can thrive. And you won’t stop until we prevail.

I’ll say it again, Community Action Pioneer Valley is the embodiment of the world as it ought to be.


Clare you said such kind things about me. But I hope, Clare, that you know that you have also long been my teacher. 

Your example has shaped not only my work, but this region, the state, and nation. We owe much of what’s being celebrated today to you.  


I share this honor with my tremendous Senate team, without whom absolutely nothing is possible. 

I also share this honor with the State Representatives with whom I have the privilege to serve our region. I could not imagine my work in the Senate without Natalie Blais — who is with us today — in the House.

And I share this honor with all of you.

Perhaps you’ve heard me say this — government ONLY works well —- when people make it work.

You are that engine. Community Action is the fierce driver.

Onward to achieving your vision for our world.

Thank you again. I am truly grateful to serve alongside you all.

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search