MSPCC, Kid’s Net, MAFF, and DCF celebrated foster parents at the 37th Annual Foster and Adoptive Parent Recognition Awards Brunch recently.
“We do not do this job alone as a department,” said DCF Commissioner Linda S. Spears during brunch. “Our social workers are not the ones that are putting kids to bed; they are not making the mac n cheese, they are not going over report cards. You all are helping them heal from trauma and mitigating future trauma, and we thank you endlessly for this.”
Foster parents Todd and Hilary Morrison received the Goldie Rodgers Memorial Award. The Goldie Rogers Award for outstanding foster parents has been awarded yearly since 1987. The award was established in memory of Mrs. Rogers, a foster parent who died in a tragic house fire. Each year, in her memory, one or more foster parents who exemplify her spirit of commitment to foster parenting are chosen to receive the award.
Todd and Hilary Morrison have been foster parents for the Cape and Islands Area office for more than 22 years. During that time, they have taken placement of more than 400 children from all across the state of Massachusetts, as far away as Springfield, when needed. They have opened their home to sibling groups and children of all ages. Todd and Hilary work incredibly well with children coming into care after traumatic events. Their gentle and kind demeanor gives the children the support and space they need to process those events.
Years ago, Todd and Hilary attended the brunch when they first became foster parents and remembered being awed by the Goldie Rodgers winner for their commitment.
“We never thought we would win it years later,” Todd said modestly. “It’s not something we planned.”
Todd noted that someone in that very room will be accepting the same award years from now, and he had a heartfelt message for them.
“Thank you. Your dedication makes a difference. Please just keep caring enough to show your love and heart to the kids of Massachusetts,” he said.
Later that morning, Ryan Gardell received one of the two awarded Community Leadership Awards. Those who frequent Worcester landmarks like Canal Street have likely admired the eye-catching murals signed by Ryan. He is a muralist and founder of Artifakt Studios, a thriving Worcester-based creative agency. Ryan connected with DCF through the Rise Above Foundation, which spearheaded building a playground attached to the Worcester West Area Office. The playground is a safe, developmentally appropriate place for children in foster care to visit with their families. Ryan’s two-story mural is the perfect finishing touch to this unique space.
“I am trying to make the world a little more colorful and brighter in a simple way,” he said. “What inspired me for this mural is the peace and tranquility you have with your family or guardian. I hope when families see this mural, they feel that sense of peace,” he added.
Ryan feels a personal connection to the work that foster parents do daily, as his father was in foster care as a child.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for the foster parents that raised my dad,” he said.
MSPCC Director of Prevention Services Meghan McGuirk thanked foster parents for their commitment.
“As a former foster parent, I know we are lucky to have every one of you in our corners,” she said. “The victories are so sweet and precious, but some days are hard. Please know you are valued beyond measure.”
MAFF Legislator of the Year:
Senator Jo Comerford
Goldie Rodgers Memorial Award:
Todd and Hilary Morrison
Commissioner’s Community Leadership Awards
Ryan Gardell & The Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs
Foster Parents of the Year:
Derian Capodagli &
Janie & Stephen Mein
Arthur & Maureen Johnson
ROBERT VAN WART
Rosalyn Chambers & Kofi Boateng
Mia Cabana & Oliver Snure
Melissa Marie Diguette
Trudi & Adam Wagner
Christopher & Sheila Rochman
Tanja & Thomas Herald
CAMBRIDGE – BURLINGTON
Cynthia & Robert Robbins
Elizabeth & Charles Serene
Madelyn Esmurria & TiffanyEspinosa
Liane & William Patterson
Alison Nash & Shawn Reeves
Emily Ullman & Allen Vietzke
Courtney Fischer & Morgan Hartwell
CAPE & ISLANDS
Molly Ross & Michelle Nowakowski
Diane & George Chase
Sonia Negron-Cabrera & RamonMarrero-Cespedes
Shantelle & Luke Dubois
Maha and Esam Sad