Man Honored for Work with People with Disabilities in Watertown

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Said Barko

The following announcement was provided by MAB Community Services:

MAB Community Services, a leading social service agency supporting over 1,500 individuals with visual impairment, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and acquired brain injuries across Massachusetts, has honored Peabody resident Said Barko as a recipient of the 2023 Maxo Joseph Excellence in Direct Care Awards. All honorees were formally recognized at a ceremony and luncheon at MAB’s headquarters in Brookline on Thursday, July 13.

Established in 2021, these awards honor direct care staff in MAB’s Adult Disability Services division who go above and beyond in their commitment to the participants they support. Their dedication reflects the legacy of Maxo Joseph, an exceptional caregiver and colleague who passed away in 2020. Totaling $50,000 annually, the Maxo Joseph Awards provide individual recipients with awards ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. 

Said is recognized for his extraordinary kindness and devotion in caring for participants as a residential counselor at MAB’s group home in Watertown. When he first came to MAB as a temporary staff member through an outside agency, the house manager believed Said was such an exceptional employee that he convinced his supervisor to buy out Said’s contract with the agency and hire him as a permanent MAB employee.

Said is known for giving participants personalized attention. When one participant was nearing the end of his life, Said would spend time with him, make him laugh, and pray at the participant’s bedside after he’d gone to sleep. When another participant moved into a MAB home after living alone with his mother, Said made sure to spend time with the him one-on-one so he didn’t feel like he had to compete with his four roommates for attention. A participant’s family member noted that Said provides participants the kind of care that someone would offer to a loved one.

Said consistently supports his fellow staff members, always offering to step in when others call out sick. He also regularly completes random acts of kindness, from changing his co-worker’s flat tire to shoveling the driveway of an elderly neighbor who lives near the group home. Said received one of two $10,000 Maxo Joseph Awards, which is the largest award given. 

“I am so proud of Said for his dedication to the participants he serves,” said John Quintero, Barko’s manager. “He is one of the most compassionate caregivers we have and naturally makes an impact with families – I am always hearing compliments from them about him.”

“We’re very grateful for the opportunity to celebrate our hardworking direct care staff with much deserved recognition through these awards,” said Barbara Salisbury, CEO of MAB Community Services. “Many of this year’s honorees were nominated by multiple people – colleagues, managers, and families of participants – which is a true testament to the impact they have on the individuals they support. It has been incredibly heartwarming to read their stories describing how they work to ensure that our participants are able to live full and satisfying lives.”  

Out of 28 nominees, 12 direct care staff received awards this year, representing MAB group homes across Greater Boston and Central Massachusetts. The length of service these individuals have dedicated to MAB ranges from two years to 18 years, with an average of six years. Honorees are chosen by a committee consisting of MAB staff, community supporters, and family members of the residents the nominees serve.

The awards are named for Maxo Joseph, a dedicated caregiver who served MAB participants for nearly 20 years. Nominees reflect Maxo’s life and legacy. Jay Lupica, in his role as Trustee of the Patricia W. and Alfred E. Farah Charitable Trust, has matched $100,000 in donations twice since the awards’ establishment, enabling MAB to secure $400,000 to fund eight annual awards cycles. 

In addition to recognizing direct care staff for their service to MAB participants, the Maxo Joseph Awards help to create a culture of recognition which improves recruitment and retention. While the direct care industry experiences an annual turnover rate between 40 and 60 percent, MAB’s turnover in direct care was less than 17 percent during the past year. 

Those who wish to support MAB’s initiative to reward high-performing staff may do so here, designating their gift to the Maxo Joseph Awards. 


MAB Community Services has been creating opportunities for people with disabilities since 1903. Formerly known as the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, MAB is one of the oldest social service agencies in the nation assisting individuals with blindness or visual impairment. Over time, MAB has grown to serve people with a wider range of disabilities. MAB’s three divisions are the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which offers a variety of services statewide; the Ivy Street School, which serves a neurodiverse population of students, including those on the autism spectrum, with behavioral health challenges, and with brain injuries; and Adult Disability Services, which serves individuals with intellectual disabilities and brain injuries.

Founded in 1973, MAB’s Adult Disability Services division offers 29 community-based group homes with 24/7 support. Through each division and program, MAB’s goal is to provide the support needed for each person to actively participate in their community and to live a full and satisfying life.

3 thoughts on “Man Honored for Work with People with Disabilities in Watertown

  1. Congratulations to Said Barko! What an extraordinary example of kindness and compassion. Thanks for spreading the word about good things happening in our community.

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