MHSA Annual Meeting Honors United Health Foundation, Commissioner Joan Mikula, and Jayms Battaglia

December 15, 2017                                                           

For more information, contact:
Meg Hoffman, 617-367-6447 x18


The event raises funds to support MHSA’s mission of ending homelessness in Massachusetts

BOSTON, Mass. – The Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance (MHSA) honored United Health Foundation, Commissioner Joan Mikula of the Department of Mental Health, and Jayms Battaglia of University Lutheran Church / Harvard Square Homeless Shelter at the 2017 MHSA Annual Meeting. The event, which took place at Boston College Club, celebrated the honorees’ outstanding contributions to ending homelessness and highlighted innovative solutions that reduce public reliance on emergency resources.

MHSA awarded the “Cornerstone Award” to United Health Foundation for their dedication to making a difference through the development of community health work to prevent and end homelessness in Massachusetts. Joe Finn, MHSA President & Executive Director, and Lisa Renee Holderby-Fox, MHSA Director of Hospital to Housing, presented the award. Bernadette Di Re, CEO of UnitedHealthCare Community Plan of Massachusetts, accepted the award on behalf of United Health Foundation.

The family of Ed O'Neil joined Finn in presenting the sixth annual “Ed O'Neil Award” to Jayms Battaglia of University Lutheran Church / Harvard Square Homeless Shelter. The award honors an exceptional direct care worker from a MHSA member agency who has demonstrated a strong commitment to ending homelessness. Ana Chaves, Administrative Director of Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, accepted the award on Jayms' behalf. There will be a separate award presentation for Battaglia on the morning of Sunday, December 17, 2017, at Harvard Square Homeless Shelter.

“I am grateful for such an honor,” said Battaglia. “Ed O'Neil took into his own hands the want and need to help individuals experiencing homelessness and even addiction. Each day I am reminded of how important the work we do is, the impact one person can have on another's journey. Every day I am reminded to use each day for just that. Thank you for bestowing such an honor in me.”

Finn and the family of Canon Kelley presented the “Canon Brian S. Kelley Public Servant Award” to Commissioner Joan Mikula for her work to end homelessness through her focusing the Department of Mental Health on the critical importance of housing for all people facing serious mental health issues; for her development of a Housing Plan for the Department of Mental Health; for her support and growth of a "Safe Haven" model as part of the Special Initiative to House the Mentally Ill; and for her dedication to problem solving with those serving the homeless in Massachusetts.

“I am honored to receive the Canon Brian Kelley Public Service Award and accept it with the acknowledgement that my colleagues in state government share with me a profound commitment to ending homelessness among all populations in the Commonwealth,” said Mikula. “Safe and affordable housing remains one of the most critical needs for individuals who are mentally ill. Canon Kelley’s passion for social action and social justice coupled with his unique capacity to bring together varied groups is needed now more than ever as we join with MHSA and their ongoing efforts to move forward on this important agenda.”

MHSA is a nonprofit, public policy organization with the mission of ending homelessness in the Commonwealth through advocacy, collaboration, education, housing, and the implementation of outcome-based programs. MHSA membership includes nearly 100 community-based agencies statewide. For more information, visit