Skip Content

Vinfen Celebration of Family Partnerships

Each year, Vinfen honors families, advocates, self-advocates, and staff who have made a difference in the lives of the people we serve at the Vinfen Celebration of Family Partnerships. At Vinfen, we transform lives together and families and other caregivers are an integral part of this transformation.

Vinfen honored the dedicated family members, guardians, advocates, self-advocates, and staff who support the people we serve at the 11th Annual Celebration of Family Partnerships. The event was held on October 3 at the Four Points by Sheraton in Norwood, MA.

Susan Wornick, former WCVB-TV anchorwoman, entertained the audience as Master of Ceremonies. Developmental Services Commissioner Jane Ryder and Department of Mental Health Northeast Area Director Sue Wing greeted attendees. Commissioner Ryder remarked “I have personally witnessed the strength of partnerships…the evolution of services of individuals with Intellectual and developmental disabilities are a result of partnerships that all of you in the room have always been a part of. So thank you for allowing me to join in your celebration tonight. You are the greatest champions and inspiration, thank you for all that you have done and I look forward to what you’re going to accomplish in the future.”

Honored guests at this year’s celebration included Massachusetts State Representative Denise Garlick, recipient of the Public Official of the Year award; Deb Thompson and Todd Reis, recipients of the Craig Smith Self-Advocate award; and Doreen Hiltz, recipient of the Helen Fantasia-Arraj Staff Recognition award.

Emily Perl Kingsley was the keynote speaker. Kingsley is an American writer who joined the Sesame Street team in 1970 and retired in 2015 after 45 years with the show. Her son Jason Kingsley was born with Down syndrome and her experiences with Jason inspired her to include people with disabilities into the Sesame Street cast, including Jason himself. In 1987, Kingsley wrote Welcome to Holland, a widely published and translated piece, which compares the experience of someone finding out their child has a disability to having a trip to Italy rerouted to Holland. Guests were delighted to have a copy of this written piece within their event bag. Kingsley has written over 20 children’s books and two Sesame Street home video releases. She has won 23 Daytime Emmys and the Secretary’s Highest Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Over 20 Vinfen staff members received merit certificates for their commitment to family partnerships, advocacy, education, and leadership. They were chosen based on the nominations from families they work closely with each and every day.

The evening would not have been possible without the Vinfen Family Advisory Council and our incredible sponsors. Thank you to the Rae and Aaron Alberts Foundation, HUB International, Conlin’s Resident Care Pharmacy, and the Tiffany Ballroom at the Four Points by Sheraton Norwood.


View photos of this year’s event below.