HMEA celebrates an incredABLE 5K Walk, Run and All-Day Family Fun that raised much-needed funds to help those with autism and developmental disabilities live up to their potential and reach for independence
|Michael Moloney, CEO of HMEA, and Massachusetts Representative Jeff Roy, were all smiles at the finish line of HMEA's incredABLE Walk, Run and All-Day Family Fun at EMC2 in Franklin, MA, on May 22|
HMEA looks to its incredABLE future and finding an innovative way to deliver the services, supports and therapies families in Central Massachusetts desperately need.
The rain didn't stop hundreds of families and runners from celebrating the ABLE in all of us during HMEA's incredABLE Day on Sunday, May 22 at EMC2 in Franklin, Mass.
HMEA's incredABLE annual signature family event and fundraiser raise much-need funds so those with autism and other developmental disabilities have the services and supports they need to reach for independence!
"We want to focus on what people with autism and other developmental disabilities can accomplish and teach us," says Mike Moloney, chief executive officer of HMEA. "Let's build on the strengths that we all have."
Moloney points to HMEA's array of services and supports that span an entire life. "Our whole-life services and supports begin in infancy and continue through adolescence and into adulthood," he says. "We not only help the person with autism or developmental disabilities, but we also support his or her family, too."
HMEA looks to pioneer policies that will improve
health and human services in Massachusetts
Moloney sees HMEA not only as a health and human services agency but a family service agency, too.
HMEA's array of services aims to help families as soon as the need arises. "When we help an individual, we help a family. And when we help a family, we help to strengthen the community," he says.
The need is growing.
Autism currently affects one out of every 68 children and one out of every 42 boys in the United States Today, more than 1.5 million people have the condition in the United States — and most are under the age of 22. Central Massachusetts, like the rest of the country, lacks robust services and supports to help these families. When they age out of our school systems, families are left with uncertainty, sleepless nights, and, in some cases, having to give up their job to care for their child.
Before HMEA and other health and human services agencies can help these families, they must overcome some challenges — funding, advocacy and awareness. But according to Moloney, the biggest challenge agencies like HMEA faces is recruiting and retaining the dedicated people who can deliver the services and supports.
"Direct care workers make an average of $13 an hour, grouping them in a new economic class considered working poor," Moloney says. "Add the burden of student loan debt with low wages and it's a recipe for failure. Without a dedicated direct care workforce, we will fail the most vulnerable people throughout Massachusetts."
To face this challenge, Moloney is working with Massachusetts Representative Jeff Roy on House Bill 124 that allocates $750,000 to help alleviate human services workers' student loan debt.
Under the leadership of Senator Jennifer Flanagan, House Bill 124 has received a favorable response and has been assigned to the committee on Health Care Financing and is awaiting a hearing.
"Representative Jeff Roy, along with others on Beacon Hill, see the need and are working hard to alleviate the burden our direct care works face," Moloney says. "He believes in HMEA's mission and understands the important work our staff does every day."
HMEA, Inc. is a family and human services agency that offers hope, help and a bright future to those diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities throughout Central Massachusetts.
Founded in 1961, HMEA's mission is to help children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities reach their potential and become productive members of their communities. HMEA supports the family and advocates for greater acceptance.
HMEA's Children's Services, Adult Services, Family Supports, Residential Services and Employment Programs provide a continuum of care for people with disabilities from infancy through their adult lives. HMEA currently supports over 4,000 people and families in 110 Massachusetts communities. HMEA is headquartered in Franklin, Massachusetts. For more information, visit hmea.org.