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CADY celebrates lasting legacy of community leaders

Carole J. Estes Award goes to Mimi Ford

Communities for Alcohol and Drug-Free Youth presented the First Annual Carole J. Estes Community Leader Award to volunteer Mimi Ford during a reception honoring friendship and leadership at the Common Man last Friday night. The award was presented by Allison Estes Browne. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
April 20, 2011
PLYMOUTH—The Honorable Edwin W. Kelly, Administrative Judge of the New Hampshire District Courts and Family Division and one of Plymouth's dynamic own community leaders, was the keynote speaker at an inspirational event sponsored by Communities for Alcohol and Drug-Free Youth on Friday at the Common Man in Plymouth.

The event also recognized the ongoing legacy of the late Carole J. Estes, former state representative from Plymouth and former Chair of the CADY Board of Directors. In her honor, the first annual Carole J. Estes Community Leader Award was presented to Mimi Ford by Allison Estes Browne.

Judge Kelly's remarks highlighted the importance of learning the lessons of community from our own childhoods so that we can continue to pass the legacy of leadership to our children and grandchildren. His reflections, deepened by his 32 years of judicial experience, were punctuated by the poignant recollections of the adults in his life who had helped to create the conditions of security and confidence so vital to growth and development.

He shared his own memories of growing up in a tightly knit, ethnically diverse neighborhood outside of New York City, where all the adults shared an implicit understanding that parenting was a job that could not be effectively accomplished in isolation.

"The neighbors felt a genuine responsibility for the welfare of all the kids in the neighborhood," said Judge Kelly. "We all understood that is was the adults' job to correct us, to keep us on the path set for us by our parents and the community. The business of caring for the neighborhood kids came naturally for them. It was an extension of the their normal everyday responsibilities."

Councilor Ray Burton was the lucky silent auction high bidder for a homemade carrot cake donated by the multi-talented CADY Executive Director, Deb Naro. Congratulations, and thank you, Councilor Burton. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
Judge Kelly said that in Plymouth, CADY is leading the way to a rediscovering of that traditional truth about childhood and community.

"Research tells us that it takes only one caring adult in the life of a child to make the difference between that child living a life of risky behavior or leading a life that is far more productive," said Judge Kelly.

Unfortunately, according to CADY Executive Director Deb Naro, nationwide trends indicate a spike in "risky behaviors" as measured by the most recent Teen Assessment Survey, after years of declining alcohol, drug and tobacco use by kids. Those encouraging trends have now begun to reverse, eroding so much of the progress that has been made to date.

The good news is that the Plymouth/Newfound Region is still doing better than the nationwide averages, but the trend is still distinguishable in the local region, as well. Meanwhile, funding for CADY programs and other services is disappearing at an alarming rate as federal and state resources shrink.

Judge Kelly noted that drug and alcohol treatment programs across the state are closing, and mental health services are being eliminated. Meeting the challenges of the future will be ever more difficult in the current economic environment.

With that in mind, it was even more meaningful to honor the legacy of community service and volunteerism personified by Carole Estes.

Deb Naro said that the award in intended as a tribute to Estes' life of commitment and power of example, in "leading by example, blazing the trial with genuine love of people and living a life of intention, purpose and significance."

He daughter, Allison Browne, was on hand to present the award to CADY volunteer Mimi Ford, a founder of the CADY Restorative Justice and Court Diversion Program , a panel member helping to create accountability for juvenile crime and help victims heal, and a supporter of community youth. Browne called Mimi Ford a "remarkable woman," a "behind the scenes leader" who was instrumental in establishing the Restorative Justice Program, organizing fund-raisers and volunteering many hours of service. She has also served on the Board of Genesis Behavioral Heath, the Whole Village, the Community Closet, and other local organizations and has made it her mission to head up the community wide effort to provide over 300 holiday food baskets to families in need each year.

"Mimi Ford is an example of someone who focuses on the possibilities, not on the problems," said Browne. "She exemplifies the power of one person to make a difference."

North Country Environmental
Martin Lord Osman
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