On December 4, MHSA gathered with over 75 members and community partners to celebrate the 2013 MHSA Annual Meeting. Held at the Boston Public Library, the MHSA Annual Meeting provided an opportunity for MHSA members and supporters to reflect on MHSA’s accomplishments over the past year and honor two individuals who have made outstanding contributions to efforts to end homelessness.
The meeting opened with remarks from Maggie Howard, Director of Client & Housing Services at MHSA member agency Action Inc. in Gloucester. Maggie described MHSA’s involvement in addressing chronic homelessness in Gloucester and reflected on the significant impact of MHSA’s Home & Healthy for Good initiative on her organization and her community.
MHSA Board Chair Pam Feingold introduced a slideshow highlighting MHSA’s progress during Fiscal Year 2013.
After the slideshow, MHSA President & Executive Director Joe Finn reflected on the present landscape of homelessness and highlighted areas of critical importance as MHSA and our members move forward in our advocacy – including increased focus on outcomes, the development of Social Innovation Financing, and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Director of Finance & Administration Thomas Yotts then presented the Treasurer’s Report on behalf of MHSA Board Treasurer Wilton Hyman. The Treasurer’s Report shared the results of MHSA’s FY13 audit and concluded that MHSA’s financial strength and fiscal management is sound, effectively managed, and has improved substantially over the past fiscal year.
State Representative Brian S. Dempsey, House Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, was this year’s recipient of the Canon Brian S. Kelley Public Servant Award. Chairman Dempsey has graciously agreed to accept the award at a later date.
Joe Finn presented Allan Gillis of MHSA member agency New England Center for Homeless Veterans with the second annual Ed O’Neil Award for a distinguished direct care worker. The Ed O’Neil Award is named for Ed O’Neil, a Quincy native and long-time supporter of homeless individuals. Rosalie O’Neil, Ed’s wife, shared remarks during the award presentation. Allan – who currently serves as an addiction counselor, case manager and program coordinator – expressed how meaningful it was for him to receive an award named for the very person who had hired him years ago. Allan and Rosalie are pictured above.
About the Honorees
State Representative Brian S. Dempsey, House Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means
Brian S. Dempsey, 45, House Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, represents the Third Essex District, consisting of portions of the City of Haverhill.
Born and raised in Haverhill, Massachusetts, Brian is the son of Helen, a retired Hale hospital nurse, and James, a former Haverhill Public Library Book Mobile driver. He is a 1984 graduate of Haverhill High School and received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell in 1999. Brian is married to Julie (Baker) and has three children, Ryan, Tyler and Brittany. He is the owner and president of the Brian S. Dempsey Insurance Agency.
Prior to being elected state representative he was a member of the Haverhill City Council from 1988 to 1991, serving as Council President from 1990-91. In 1991 he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he is serving his 12th term.
During his time in the legislature he has served as Chairman of the Committee on Public Service, Chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology, and House Chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. He also served as Chairman of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy where he coauthored the Green Communities Act. In January 2011, he was appointed the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways & Means.
Brian has been recognized for his dedicated public service and leadership by the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA), the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Boys and Girls Club of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Extended Care Federation (MECF). In 2000 he was awarded the prestigious AMVETS “Pilgrim Award” for his work in the legislature.
Throughout his career Brian’s primary focus has been the city of Haverhill and his constituents. He remains active throughout the community having served on many local boards including the Glynn Memorial Nursing home, the Haverhill Boys and Girls Club, the Foster Kids of the Merrimack Valley and the Haverhill YMCA. He has taken the lead on securing over $7 million in state aid for the city, working tirelessly to help offset the debt incurred by the sale of the Hale Hospital. Brian remains honored and privileged to have the opportunity to represent his hometown of Haverhill at the State House in Boston.
Allan Gillis, New England Center for Homeless Veterans
Allan Gillis began serving his community in 1972, when he joined the Boston Alcohol Detoxification Project. He remembers a time during his tenure with the Project when he carried a man upstairs and put him into one of the organization’s beds. The man responded by saying, “Mister, God is going to be good to you.” Al feels this prediction was true, as he has enjoyed a 41 year career helping Boston’s homeless population.
In 1977, Mr. Gillis transitioned to the “Care About Now” program, which assists correctional facility inmates dealing with substance abuse issues. After 5 years, he continued his career with the USPS’ Employee Assistance Program, where he mentored employees at risk of losing their jobs. He was commissioned as a Postmaster in 1993 for his work with USPS.
Beginning in 1988, Al worked with the Pine Street Inn. During his time there, he encouraged one of his clients to pursue his education. This individual went on to attend Suffolk University Law School. From 2002 to 2010, Al worked at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans as a substance abuse counselor. Although he retired in 2010, he returned to the Center in 2012 because he missed the opportunity to help others on a daily basis. He currently serves as an addiction counselor, case manager and program coordinator.