BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — DANVERS — Former Senate Majority Leader Fred Berry says he has “come full circle” now that he is going to work for Northeast Arc, a Danvers-based agency that serves people with disabilities.
Berry’s new part-time job will be to build relationships between the agency — the largest Arc in the state, and the fourth-largest in the country — and the business community, said Gerard McCarthy, a longtime leader of the nonprofit.
“We are thrilled,” said McCarthy.
Northeast Arc’s services include occupational, medical and housing programs, plus support and guidance to families, according to the agency’s website.
“I feel I’ve come full circle, back home to help them navigate a tough new fiscal reality,” Berry said in a prepared statement. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Before he served in the state Senate, Berry worked as director of Northeast Arc’s Heritage Industries division, which provides jobs and job training for people with disabilities.
“He started here managing our day services,” McCarthy said. “He was on the team that hired me.”
“Berry, a lifelong Peabody resident, has been a tireless advocate for those with disabilities and their families. Born with cerebral palsy, he overcame a speech impediment and various physical limitations to become one of the most powerful lawmakers on Beacon Hill. He was a state senator for 30 years and served as majority leader from 2003 until he retired last year.
McCarthy said Berry’s job will be to “develop relationships with businesses that might be able to use our services or provide jobs for people we train.” Heritage Industries, for example, does subcontracting work for more than 50 companies with services such as mailing, packaging and assembly, and document destruction. Heritage also has its own jewelry line and a caning company that repairs woven chairs.
As a state lawmaker, Berry advocated for programs such as early intervention for children with developmental delays. He founded F.B. Charities Inc. to fund children’s social and educational programs on the North Shore.
McCarthy, in a statement, said he is aware that Berry cherishes his time with his wife, Gayle, and their grandchildren.
“We are grateful and honored that his passion for disability services led him to choose the Northeast Arc for the limited time he has set aside for part-time work,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said there has never been a greater advocate for people with disabilities in the state Legislature than Berry.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.