On May 5, MHSA supporters and friends gathered at Polar Park in Worcester to celebrate MHSA’s special event reception Home for Good at Home Plate and to raise funds to support MHSA’s mission of ending homelessness in Massachusetts.
The cheerful evening included drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres overlooking the new ballpark. The jumbotron displayed MHSA’s logo and this year’s high-level sponsors, which included Eastern Bank, Eliot Community Human Services and Rasky Partners, Inc. The WooSox’s mascot, Smiley, greeted guests and MHSA’s Speakers’ Bureau member Tiffany was featured as the evening’s emcee. She welcomed guests and introduced the presentation of the four awards and honorees.
The program also included remarks from MHSA’s President & Executive Director Joe Finn and Chair of the Board of Directors, Ben Josephson. They shared updates about MHSA’s work and exciting plans that will reimagine how communities think about homelessness and how to end it.
The first honoree of the evening was Worcester City Manager, Edward M. Augustus, Jr, who received the Canon Brian S. Kelley Public Servant Award for leading his community’s response to end chronic homelessness, especially during the challenges of COVID-19. The Canon Brian S. Kelley Public Servant Award is named in honor of the late Canon Brian S. Kelley, a longtime advocate for people experiencing homelessness. He served as the Canon at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston and was a founder of Social Action Ministries (now known as Social Action Massachusetts, a program of MHSA).
The second honoree of the night was Alex Corrales, CEO of the Worcester Housing Authority (WHA), who received the Bob Ray Partnership Award. Alex has been instrumental in establishing a Real Estate Development division within the WHA to address the shortage of affordable housing in Worcester. Alex received funding from the Commonwealth for the micro-unit project A Place to Live, to build 24 apartments for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. This award is named in honor of the late Bob Ray and recognizes those who, like Bob Ray, have made outstanding contributions toward ending homelessness. He was committed to the vision of a Commonwealth where homelessness no longer existed and believed that each person should use their talents to make that vision a reality. The award presentation included a special video introduction from two members of the Ray family: Stephanie Eckersley-Ray and Nathan Eckersley-Ray.
Receiving the inaugural Rep. Byron Rushing Commitment to Housing Award that night was the former Deputy Undersecretary for the Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, James Arthur Jemison. During his time at DHCD, he was instrumental in advancing the early foundations of MHSA’s Pay for Success program, which was the first in the nation Social Innovation Finance model (SIF) to address chronic homelessness and provide demonstrable results. This new award is named after former Representative Byron Rushing, who represented the Ninth Suffolk district in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1983 to 2019. During his tenure, he was a tireless advocate for housing for all people, including those who were experiencing chronic homelessness and those with complex disabling conditions. Rep. Rushing shared video remarks which included congratulations to Arthur Jemison and his gratitude for naming this new MHSA award after him.
Lastly, the Cornerstone Award was awarded to the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness and to its Director Pamela Schwartz. Under her leadership, the Network has become a powerful vehicle for bringing the Western region’s housing needs to the attention of state and federal decision makers, promoting equitable distribution of resources and policies that address root causes of homelessness. The Cornerstone Award is given to those people and organizations who are working directly to provide innovative alternatives to homelessness. It recognizes those who provide time and resources toward ending homelessness instead of merely managing it, who recognize the humanity of each person experiencing homelessness, and who lead others to take action.
Through Home for Good at Home Plate, MHSA raised more than $120,000 to support its programs and address homelessness in Massachusetts. MHSA would like to thank all the vendors, auction donors, sponsors, volunteers, staff, the generous anonymous donor, and the many attendees who helped make Home for Good at Home Plate a success!