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Coalition Recognition: Shelly MacNeill

Our July Coalition Spotlight is on Shelly MacNeill, dedicated volunteer for the Stoneham Coalition. Shelly is a life-long resident of Stoneham and is married with three adult children. Shelly helped to form the Stoneham Coalition in 2014 and has served as Chair since its inception 6 years ago. We want to recognize Shelly for her years of service as she moves on from her position as Chair of the Coalition. Shelly will remain as Chair of the Coalition's Board, and our community thanks her for her continued support of this important work. We asked Shelly to tell us more on her involvement with the Stoneham Coalition for a Safe & Healthy community over the years.

Tell a little about yourself and how you got involved in volunteering in Stoneham:

Shelly: I am a life-long resident of Stoneham and am married with three adult children. I got involved in the community when my kids were young as an assistant Girl Scout Leader, Stoneham Youth Soccer coach and as a volunteer with the Stoneham Chamber of Commerce. I enjoyed participating in events with different organizations in town. I became a member of the Stoneham School Committee in 2007 and served on that board until 2017. I then ran for a seat on the Stoneham SelectBoard and was recently re-elected to serve my second term. I am the Chief of Staff for State Senator Michael Moore who represents the Second Worcester District in the Massachusetts Senate.

How did you first get involved / get started with the Stoneham Coalition?-

Shelly: As the Chair of the School Committee I worked closely with the Superintendent and at the time we were seeing a significant spike in students who were being admitted for treatment for Substance Use Disorder. We recognized the stigma around addiction and the lack of a direct resource for families struggling to find resources and support in the community. Along with Superintendent Les Olson, we met with the Town Administrator, David Ragucci, Police Chief James McIntyre and Selectman Bob Sweeney with our proposal to form a community coalition. The group was tremendously supportive and we were able to do outreach to several sectors in the community and create a structure for the start of the Stoneham Substance Abuse Coalition. The group's name has changed over the years to reflect our expanded scope and to use more appropriate terminology and it is now called the Stoneham Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Community. What has never wavered over the years is the ongoing commitment of community members who volunteer to address the needs of those with substance use disorder and their families and to increase awareness around the issues that impact the mental health and safety of Stoneham youth

Why do you volunteer with the Stoneham Coalition?-

Shelly: Substance use disorder affects everyone in some way. You would be hard pressed to find a family that hasn't been touched in some way by addiction or mental health issues. I have served as both the Chair of the Coalition Board and as Chair of the Coalition since its inception. I have recently decided to step down as the Chair of the Coalition because I feel that the coalition is stable and having secured a $625,000 grant we are able to continue the work without the need to continuously fundraise to support our efforts. A fresh perspective and new ideas in leadership is critical in the success of any organization and I am committed to ensuring that the Coalition continues its work in the future. I cannot overstate the level of dedication demonstrated by the volunteer members of the coalition. When we started out we all fumbled through together. We participated in training, learned from each other and grew as an organization in a way I never anticipated. I have gained lifelong friends and have developed relationships that I might not otherwise have as a result of this work.

What Coalition initiative has been most impactful for you to be involved in? –

Shelly: Every initiative that we have taken on has been one that involved the collective efforts of the group. It's hard to pick one initiative over another but I am particularly proud of the work we have done on mental health. Prevention work is critical to ending the epidemic. I personally believe that mental health is the most critical component of prevention. From dealing with everyday stress and anxiety to recognizing symptoms of clinical depression, removing stigma around mental health treatment and making sure treatment is accessible, there are many aspects we need to work on. By far, helping with the creation of the group has been the most personally impactful part of my involvement.

Thank you Shelly for your dedication to the mission of a safe and healthy Stoneham!

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