The 20th Annual Partners for Youth with Disabilities Mentor Appreciation Night will take place virtually on Thursday, January 20, 2022 at 6:30 PM, with an interactive afterparty to follow.
As we prepare for Mentor Appreciation Night 2022, we invite you to participate in a peer-to-peer fundraising drive — 20 Years of Mentoring: Stronger Together. Start your own fundraising page or donate to an existing team. The fundraising drive is a fun way to share your love of PYD. Plus, we will be celebrating your fundraising success at the event.
This year we will once again be celebrating the accomplishments and achievements, commitment and dedication of our outstanding and remarkable mentors across all PYD programs.
Five awards will be presented to outstanding participants in PYD programs this year:
The Chris Dunne Peer Leadership Award is dedicated in memory of a young man who was intelligent, resourceful, helpful and patient. These are just a few of the fine characteristics that Chris demonstrated within the PYD community and the community at large on a daily basis. He illustrated his resourcefulness many years ago when he started his Soda Shop vending machine business through the Young Entrepreneur Program. Chris enjoyed creating a successful vending machine company and always tackled business challenges head on with determination and a smile.
Anna Weinberger, this year’s recipient of the Chris Dunne Peer Leadership Award, is a young individual who has Cerebral Palsy. She is a graduate of the Occupational Development Program at her local high school and a graduate of the Transition Program at Middlesex Community College. She has held several retail, clerical and childcare jobs. Anna has served as a Delegate for two years, as well as three years as a Peer Leader in the Youth Leadership Forum. She has also served as a Fellow in the Young Leaders Rising Program, designed for Massachusetts high school aged students with various disabilities. Anna is also actively involved in Open Door Theater, which provides diverse theater experiences. Anna is dedicated to being an advocate for disability rights.
The Rayleen Lescay Spirit Award was created to honor the life & memory of a remarkable young woman. As a participant, peer leader, & later a mentor in PYD programs Rayleen shared her optimistic spirit with everyone. This is especially true when she was in Access to Theater. Rayleen loved sharing her artistic voice and helping others develop theirs.
This year’s recipient of the Rayleen Lescay Spirit Award, Cassidy Glascock, also known as Carl, is a participant in Access to Theater (ATT) and has learned many things from his participation in the program. He has learned that anyone who is interested in theater is welcome. Through his involvement in ATT, Cassidy has learned self-acceptance as well as accepting others and not judging people by their looks. He has been encouraged to use and raise his voice to advocate for himself and his ideas. This encouragement has fostered Cassidy’s confidence and a desire to be a leader. He shares his thoughts, while listening to others’ ideas and has learned the art of compromise. Cassidy is grateful for the Access to Theater because it has been an opportunity to spend time, learn, and grow with other individuals who have a disability. He is excited to stay involved with ATT while pursuing new opportunities for growth.
The Greg Dees & Anita McGahan Entrepreneurship Award honors two luminaries in social entrepreneurship and business. They both took an interest in PYD in various ways. Greg was a former PYD board member. Greg and Anita were professional colleagues while at Harvard Business School. Through this professional relationship Anita came to know PYD and bring recognition to PYD through her own family engagement in the organization over the past 30 years.
Jillian Howland, this year’s recipient of the Greg Dees & Anita McGahan Entrepreneurship Award, was born in Boston and is currently a student at North Shore Community College pursuing her Associates Degree in Developmental Disabilities. She is also working as an Apparel Sales Associate at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Jillian recently served as an intern at PYD as a National Disability Mentoring Coalition Intern. The experience helped her to improve her writing skills and strengthen her interviewing skills. This month Jillian will take on another internship position at the Northeast Arc in the Journey’s program. In this role, Jillian is excited to be helping adults with intellectual disabilities apply for jobs, write resumes, and practice interview skills. In her free time Jillian enjoys socializing with friends, spending time with her family and her two cats. She also likes to cross stitch and knit.
The LENS Mentor of the Year Award is awarded every year to an outstanding mentor in Project LENS, a segment of our Mentoring program that is run through a formal collaboration with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB). Project Linking Expertise and Networking for Success, otherwise known as Project LENS, aims to match youth who are blind with adult mentors who share a similar disability and offer support for their career goals and personal development.
Justen K.J.C. Proctor, recipient of the 2022 LENS Mentor of the Year Award, is originally from the Big Island of Hawaii. He moved to Boston where he received his BA in Psychology and Sociology; and his MBA from Suffolk University. He currently works as a contract specialist with the General Services Administration/Technology Transformation Services. In his free time, Justen can be found eating all sorts of food, traveling around the world (when possible), and staying active – like working out, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities. Aloha Justen!
The Mentor of the Year Award is awarded each year to a mentor who exemplifies PYD’s mission to create a world where young people with disabilities will be able to live with dignity and pride in who they are, and to lead self-determined lives filled with purpose.
The 2022 Mentor of the Year, Lynn Pais, is a PYD mentor who likes getting to know people from diverse backgrounds and exploring local neighborhoods. She bonded with her mentee over walks around the Charles River and their mutual love for food. Professionally, she is a scientist at the Broad Institute and a genetic counselor at Boston Children’s Hospital.
We hope you will be able to join us this Thursday night, January 20th at 6:30 PM to celebrate these remarkable leaders and our community!
This blog post was written by Americorps Ambassador of Mentoring Athena Zeiter.