It’s been another full week here in the state Senate. I want to remind everyone that the general population is now eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine. Many vaccination sites, including CVS Pharmacy, are now offering walk-ins. The Eastfield Mall will be accepting walk-ins starting Monday. Head to vaxfinder.mass.gov/ to find locations and appointments near you.
This past Tuesday, as the newly appointed Vice-Chair of the Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, I participated in an oversight hearing on the Office of the Child Advocate’s report investigating the death of Fall River teenager David Almond. David was a kind and caring 14 year old who tragically died in this past October after police found him bruised, emaciated, and living in abhorrent conditions. His death was heartbreaking and preventable. As Vice-Chair of the committee, I’m going to work diligently alongside DCF and other responsible agenciesto make sure that something of this nature never happens in the Commonwealth again.
This week I also had the pleasure of meeting the greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce’s new Executive Director, Eric Ouelette. The Greater Westfield Area makes up most ofmy district and as we come out of the pandemic, partnering with our local business leaders will be paramount to a true and speedy economic recovery. I look forward very much to working closely alongside Mr. Ouelette as I have with past Chamber Directors.
As some of you may already know, I was nominated by Senate President Karen Spilka and subsequently awarded a opioid fellowship through the National Conference of State Legislatures. This week I met with an addiction specialist, Dr. Peter Friedmann and Baystate CEO, Michael Knapik to discuss area efforts and best practices to combat the opioid crisis. As the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Recovery, I’m going to learn as much as I can from experts and use that knowledge to create the best policy to help those suffering from addiction.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound impacts on the mental health of people of all ages, and l now more than ever it is critical to reduce the l stigma around mental health struggles that commonly prevents individuals from seeking help. If you are struggling, know that you are not alone and that help is available. Resources like the Massachusetts Network of Care can connect residents with community services and treatments and my office is always available to provide connections as well.
I would also like to throw a special shoutout to the Westfield State Women’s Lacrosse team for winning the MASCAC conference against Framingham State this week.We’re all rooting for them as they prepare for the NCAA championship. Go Owls!
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As always, if there is anything I can do to assist you, please never hesitate to reach out to my office. I can be reached at my email: [email protected] or by phone: (413) 572-3920 and you can find me online at senatorjohnvelis.com.