Dedicated volunteers from the Southeast Region of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Wrentham Developmental Center (WDC), Shriver Clinical Services, the Educational Collaborative for Greater Boston, Perkins School for the Blind, and beyond, worked so hard to make this day happen. The collective work of the volunteers was a palpable example of collaboration and set the stage for everyone at the conference to feel so comfortable and cared for.
Paul Saner, Commissioner with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind began the day by offering the welcome remarks followed by the keynote, Dr. Susannah Rowe from the Department of Ophthalmology at the Boston University School of Medicine. Her keynote address: "Ten Years and Counting: Lessons from a Decade of Successful Eye Surgery for People with Intellectual Disability" was very informative.
The concurrent sessions offered throughout the day (15 in all) as well as the information provided by more than 20 Poster Presenters and Vendors in the exhibit area were very well received. It was a terrific atmosphere to promote learning and professional collaborations. Through the generosity and efforts of Executive Director Jim Bunnell, Assistant Executive Director Anna Dunbar, and Producer John Shea from the Talking Information Center Network, the Welcome and Keynote were broadcast live on TIC and 6 additional sessions were audio recorded. All of these audio recordings are now available. Power points and/or handouts are also available.
Following remarks from Elin Howe, Commissioner of the Department of Developmental Services, the post-lunch program honored the legacy of two remarkable individuals. The “Gift of Lunch” in memory of Mark Holt was presented by Vinnie McLaughlin, Recreation Therapist at Wrentham Developmental Center to Christina Gravina from Till. The 9th person to register for the "Focus" Conference each year wins this special recognition in honor of Mark, an inspiring individual with intellectual disability and blindness whose birthday was on the "9th" of the month. Congratulations also goes out to the recipients of the Paul McDade “Focus” Awards. Paul McDade was instrumental in delivery of Orientation and Mobility services to individuals with intellectual disability and awards in his name go to distinguished leaders and service providers in the field. Lisa DiBonaventura, Statewide Director of Vision and Vision Loss Services for DDS presented the Paul McDade “Focus” Award for Distinguished Service to Karen Leger, Vision Rehabilitation Assistant in the Southeast Region and Wrentham Developmental Center. The recipient of the 2017 Paul McDade “Focus” Award for Distinguished Leadership is Senate President Stan Rosenberg. The award will be presented to Senator Rosenberg at a later date so that we can honor and congratulate him in person.
The day ended with a joyful musical presentation by the Wild Fire Girls who performed an inspiring medley of songs. All band members were awarded the "Focus" on Talent golden star. It was the perfect way to end the day!
Planning has already begun for 13th annual "Focus" Conference. Save the date: March 14, 2018! Registration information will be available in December 2017.
The 2017 "Focus" Conference Committee:
Lisa DiBonaventura, MA, COMS Statewide Director of Vision and Vision Loss Services, DDS (Chair)
Jean E. Ramsey, M.D., M.P.H., Boston University School of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Lemuel Shattuck Hospital
Barry S. Kran, OD, FAAO, New England College of Optometry, New England Eye Institute
Meg Robertson, COMS, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
Betsy Bixler, M.Ed., Perkins School for the Blind
Georgia Wattendorf-Guiney, M.Ed., COMS, Wrentham Developmental Center/DDS SE Region