Pittsfield Child-Care Leader Named Commonwealth Heroine
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A local child-care leader was named a Commonwealth Heroine by the state House of Representatives for her support of children and families during an unprecedented year.
Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center's Chief Executive Officer Kelly Marion was named by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women as one of its Commonwealth Heroines — formerly known as the Unsung Heroine of Massachusetts — for the class of 2021.
Marion pivoted the center's operations to provide emergency care to essential workers in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and then opened back up to further support families.
"How do you pick one person after this year? Honestly, we spent a long time thinking about it and how to do that, and what I decided to do was to really talk about a group of people, and that are the early educators," said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier at last week's City Council meeting. The representative had recommended Marion for the award.
"The early educators who did the yeoman's work that we saw so many people do, but you didn't really hear about the people who were taking care of our children so that others could go to work and do the essential work, who were taking care of our most vulnerable children."
The Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center is a multi-service organization, with the goal of empowering children with a special emphasis on girls.
Under the leadership of Marion, it supported school-aged children with technology and instructional assistance while the school districts were under remote and hybrid schedules throughout the pandemic.
Marion has been with the organization for 32 years, beginning at the age of 20.
"When I had to close our building I was so worried about all of our families and what were we going to do, and my husband sent me flowers and said, 'Hang in there, it's going to be all right, you're going to figure this out,'" she said.
"And we did, and all of the child-care providers we talked to each other and we figured out how to reopen how to offer emergency care how to be there for the families who needed us most."
Marion contacted her 49 staff members to open for emergency child care and 21 of them were able to work while others were home caring for their own families.
Because of this, they were able to provide care for essential workers and assistance to families who had never dealt with remote schooling before.
"I think as a community, we deserve a lot of credit for what we've all done, or our city, our schools, our employers who helped employees be able to manage to work from home or they had to come in to be able to work hours so they can provide for their kids," she added. "I think it's something everyone should be proud of this recognition is wonderful, but it's really about a community, not just about one person."
The recognition was presented in partnership with Mayor Linda Tyer, who also commended Marion for her work in the community throughout the past year.
"And whereas unsung heroines are women who don't always make the news but are those that truly make a difference," she added.
"They are the women who use their time, talent, and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others positively impacting their neighborhoods their towns, and their cities. They are mentors volunteers and innovators who serve without expectation of recognition or gratitude, but not tonight, we're recognizing you. These women are the glue that binds the community together, Pittsfield is grateful for Kelly's selfless service and proud to have her as a part of our community."
This is the 18th year of the Heroines Program. Similar to last year, the recognition was unable to be celebrated at the State House because of the pandemic.
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