The following announcement was provided by Walker Therapeutic and Educational Programs:
On May 20, 2021 Walker Therapeutic and Educational Programs (Walker) hosted a virtual Lives in Bloom Gala which raised more than $260,000 to support the organization’s residential, educational, and community-based services for children and families. For Walker – which is celebrating 60 years of delivering special education and clinical programming to youth and families in Massachusetts – this marked the first time their signature fundraiser was held virtually.
The hour-long program featured families and children in the Walker Community (including the Beacon School in Watertown) who shared their experiences, plus a staff discussion forum examining the past year and looking to the future. Walker President and CEO Gene Takahashi reflected on how the pandemic impacted Walker’s programs over the past year. Gala Committee Chair and Walker Board Member Shim Sameer thanked participants and supporters for the impact they have made on the organization’s mission.
The highlight of the event was the celebration of Maureen O. Kelly, EdD, a former board member and art educator who volunteered many years of service to Walker because of her deep belief in Walker’s mission. Kelly, who lives in Scituate, was honored with the Distinguished Community Leadership award, which is given annually to recipients who have demonstrated a commitment to transforming the lives of children and families.
In his introduction of Kelly, Walker’s Board Chair, Jake Layton, described her as a remarkable person in the Walker Community. “Walker’s mission is to help transform the lives of children and families, and I cannot think of anyone who has embodied that mission more than Maureen,” he said.
“It is a great honor, and I am humbled by the gesture,” Kelly said as she accepted the award, highlighting the teams at Walker who collaborate to make a difference in the lives of children and families. “This award gives rise to talking about not doing the work alone,” she said, thanking Walker’s board members, leadership team and employees.
Kelly served on the Walker Board of Directors from 2009 to 2018, including time as board vice chair. She also served as chair and co-chair of the board’s governance committee. Kelly recently earned the position of Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts College of Art, in recognition of her three decades of distinguished service to the college as a faculty member and administrator. It is because of her efforts that enhanced therapeutic art education is now deeply embedded in Walker’s programs.
Takahashi thanked Kelly for her volunteer efforts, her unyielding support, and advocacy.
“We are so pleased to host such a successful virtual event and honor our friend Maureen Kelly,” said Takahashi. “Although we missed gathering together in person, this was a great opportunity to share and celebrate with Walker’s large community of supporters.”
Walker is deeply grateful to the many sponsors, donors and attendees, including lead corporate sponsors Alera Group and Bank of America, who helped to make Walker’s virtual Lives in Bloom Gala a wonderful success in support of children and families.
Founded in 1961, Walker Therapeutic & Educational Programs is a leading non-profit organization providing intensive, highly therapeutic academic and behavioral health services for children, youth and families living in 150 communities across the Commonwealth. Walker’s service offerings are divided across eight different educational, residential and community-based programs.