The Caring Force Blog South of Boston #CaringForceRally Recap

| Caroline O'Neill

Our South of Boston regional #CaringForceRally brought together 200 program participants, human services workers, family members of those served, and legislators. Caring Force members rallied to speak about the workforce crisis and low wages in the sector.

On Friday, April 12, The Caring Force gathered at the Clarion Hotel in Taunton, MA to advocate for a livable wage and a student loan repayment program for the human services sector. Road to Responsibility, BAMSI, New England Village, and The Arc of Plymouth and Upper Cape Cod hosted the event.

The rally was kicked off by Christopher White, President and CEO of Road to Responsibility. White thanked The Caring Force for gathering together in Taunton to discuss the needs of the human services sector. State Senator Patrick O’Connor (Plymouth and Norfolk) was the keynote of the rally. O’Connor, a cosponsor of An act relative to a loan repayment program for human service workers (S.77 | H.214) and An act relative to a livable wage for human services workers. (S.84 | H.191), thanked human services workers for caring the most vulnerable in Massachusetts.

White then introduced Deborah Price, who is a residential counselor at BAMSI. “There are too many duties of my job, to list. I do it, because I love it, but it isn’t always an easy job. The biggest challenge we face in our industry is staffing and low pay. I work four 12-hour days, and often work 7 days a week, so I am able to just live and support my grandson. It is difficult to make ends meet on my salary, so overtime is not a choice, but more of a necessity,” Price said.

Steven Saunders, a person served by BAMSI, spoke about the impact of high staff turnover due to the low wages in the sector, “Without regular staff, we have temp staff that don’t know us, that can’t take us into the community. If I can’t find someone to take me to volunteer, I have to miss the event. When there is not enough staff on the weekend, then no one gets out. Sometimes I have to join on Zoom for my religious services, because I don’t have the staff to go in person. This is no way to live a good full life in the community, without regular staff to count on.”

Saunders joined a panel of human services workers and participants, who took the stage to answer questions from Chris White. On the panel was Artemas Hough, person supported/consumer at BAMSI, Damian McElroy, residential counselor at BAMSI,  Kim Sharf, program director at The Arc of Plymouth and Upper Cape Cod, and Steven Saunders, person served by BAMSI. The panelists discussed their passion for the sector and important work of human services workers.

After the panel, rally goers lined up to the microphone to talk about their human services story. It was a truly special day for The Caring Force.

Thank you to State Senator Marc Pacheco, whose office attended the rally to show their support  for the human services workers’ legislative priorities, and to all of The Caring Force members in the South of Boston for rallying!

Coming up:

  • MetroWest: May 10, 2024 Nevins Hall, 150 Concord Street, Framingham, MA–RSVP here.
  • Statewide/Boston: May 22, 2024 State House Caring Force Rally, RSVP here.

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