SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

October 3, 2012

Our view: Three things to like about Beverly

Praise for Fort Beverly

It was good to see North Beverly Elementary School’s innovative program for military families, Fort Beverly, get the attention it deserves at the Statehouse earlier this week.

Fort Beverly, begun two years ago, helps provide support for students and family members with loved ones serving in the military, especially those with overseas postings. The program offers everything from in-school help for students to nights out at local restaurants for adults in military families.

At a Statehouse event Monday, the program was held up as a model for how schools can help children with parents or other relatives in the military. There were plenty of Beverly folks past and present on hand for the thank-you, including former North Beverly Principal Jennifer Flewelling, current Principal Erin Brown, school nurse June Kazes, former adjustment counselor Jennifer Rogers-Burke, teachers Donna Klimowicz and Patricia Drinkwater and city Veterans Agent Jerry Guilebbe.

“It’s because of you that thousands of civilians will understand the service and sacrifice of military families,” said Jack Hammond, executive director of the Home Base Program, a partnership between the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital that serves Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families throughout New England. Hammond is also a retired U.S. Army brigadier general.

Monday’s event offered a chance for Home Base to introduce Stayingstrong.org. It promoted the website with a 26-minute video featuring the Fort Beverly project, called “Staying Strong: How Schools Build Resilience in Military Families.”

Lisa Parisella, the mother of 8-year-old Sophia, came up with the name Fort Beverly. Her husband, Jerry, is a major in the U.S. Army Reserve who was sent to Iraq just months after he was elected state representative.

Parisella, who hosted the Statehouse event, told reporter Paul Leighton he was comforted by the fact that his daughter had her school’s support while he served overseas for 11 months.

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