Couple helps Dismas House residents reconnect with society
Westborough – Calling upon contacts made over the last 11 years, Westborough residents Dave McMahon and Colleen Hilferty are creating a regional solution to what has long been perceived as Worcester problem: what to do with former prisoners recently released from jail.
McMahon and Hilferty – who are married to one another and have two children, Maeve, 5, and Eamon, 3, – are co-directors of Dismas House, a facility that provides transitional housing and services to former prisoners to help them with their reintegration into society.
Dismas House, located on Richards Street in Worcester, celebrated its 20th anniversary June 26 at the New Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester.
Also operating under the Dismas House umbrella is the Father John Brooks House, located on Arthur Street in Worcester, and the Almost Home Program, which operates on the grounds of the Worcester County House of Corrections in West Boylston.
At Dismas House's 20th Anniversary Celebration, volunteers from St. Luke's Parish in Westborough were honored with the Father Jack Hickey Award, the highest award presented by Dismas House to its volunteers.
"We have had a group of about 10 who come in to Almost Home from St. Luke's faithfully every month and prepare dinner," McMahon said. "And at Christmas it's like Santa Claus stopped by. The folks from St. Luke's not only get gifts for the people in the house, put also for the children of the people in the house. They're amazing."
McMahon said the contributions to Dismas House from the Westborough area is not limited to the group of volunteers from St. Luke's.
"Many people in the Westborough community have expressed a desire to help us with our mission," Mc- Mahon said. "Sue Abladian, the former chairman of the Board of Selectmen is on our Board of Directors, as is Paul Gallagher, a member of the Westborough Rotary who lives in Shrewsbury and has a real estate business in Northborough."
Other local connections McMahon noted include: Northborough attorney Chris Tully, who serves as president of the Dismas House Board of Directors; Richard List, a Northborough resident who was the vice president of Hyde Tools before retiring; and Gail Parker, an area program manager for the Department of Social Services.
"We feel it's important to note that Dismas House is a regional eff ort that deals with people from all over central Massachusetts," McMahon said. "It's not just Worcester people in our program. We've had graduates from St. John's High School come through our doors as well as people from surrounding towns, like Westborough, who have run afoul of the law. We welcome them into our houses and back into the community and help them get back on their feet."
McMahon said he has seen first-hand how volunteering at one of the Dismas House facilities is an eff ective way for parents teach their children how to live and help others.
"It's a way to show them
" how to stop worrying so much about themselves," McMahon said. "Bring a meal to the house or cook one there and meet an interesting crew of people. It's a great way to give back. It's an intimate connection with others that gives people an insight into what we do."
McMahon also said that Dismas House does not accept sex off enders into any of their houses or programs.
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