The Caring Force Blog North of Boston #CaringForceRally Recap

| Caroline O'Neill

Our very first regional #CaringForceRally was a huge success! Over 200 Caring Force members rallied to speak about the workforce crisis and low wages in the sector.

On Friday, March 22, The Caring Force gathered at the Holiday Inn in Peabody, MA to advocate for a livable wage and a student loan repayment program for the human services sector. Bridgewell, Centerboard, Incompass Human Services, JRI, Key Program, NFI Massachusetts, Northeast Arc, Plummer Youth Promise, Vinfen, and Wayside Youth & Family Support Network hosted the event. The TriTown Rock Band, an inclusive music group composed of local students, started the event with amazing upbeat music!

After the performance, Geraldine Neistorowich, a senior program coordinator with Northeast Arc, spoke as a human service worker and as a mother of a son who is receiving services. “Sam went from being a five-year-old who was so violent that we needed to, for the safety of our family, get him out of the house because (his) sister needed protection,” Neistorowich said. “But now, because of direct care workers who came into my home day after day, nights, weekends, he’s now living with us.”

The rally was attended by some of Vinfen’s self-advocates, including Todd Reis, chair of Vinfen’s Metro Boston Self Advocacy Group, who participated in the call for livable wages and a loan repayment program that would support our direct care workforce.

Rosalee Sanchez, a Direct Care Assistant Supervisor at NFI, spoke at the rally about the low wages in the sector. “One of the saddest, most common situations I’ve seen was when someone had built a strong connection with clients and would leave their work for better pay,” said Sanchez.

State Reps. Dan Cahill (Lynn), Manny Cruz (Salem), Jerald Parisella (Beverly), Tom Walsh (Peabody), and state Sen. Joan Lovely and Bruce Tarr attended the rally to voice their support  for the human services workers’ legislative priorities.

A special thanks to Breaking Grounds, who provides employment training to people with disabilities or autism from Northeast Arc, for catering the event; Justice Resource Institute for providing flowerpot centerpieces that were painted by program participants; Centerboard for hosting the rally in the hotel that is currently housing migrant families; and TriTown Rock Band for getting everyone in the rallying spirit with their tunes and dancing!

Coming up:

Friday, April 12: South of Boston at the Clarion Hotel in Taunton, RSVP here

Friday, May 10: MetroWest at the Framingham City Hall

Wednesday, May 22: Caring Force Rally in the Great Hall at the State House, RSVP here

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