McCarthy wins MLK Jr. Community Service Award
The Marin County Human Rights Commission has presented the 1997 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award to College of Marin's Disabled Students Program Coordinator Marie McCarthy, citing her "dedication, energy, vision and 'fight for the underdog' attitude.
"She has been responsible for the creation of innovative, unique and unparalleled support programs throughout the college and community serving over 2,000 disabled students each year," added the Commission in its awards ceremony program on Jan. 14.
"Marie has created an exemplary model for education/community partnerships, developing a network of support that enables all segments of the Marin disabled community an opportunity for a better life. Through her efforts, thousands of disabled Marin residents have become productive, contributing members of the community. In addition to her work at College of Marin, Marie is a volunteer with the Salvation Army Advisory Board, Centerforce, Exodux, INSPIRIT, Marin Center for Independent Living, Marin Athletic Foundation, Amnesty International, Jericho and the Child Welfare League."
Marie composed the following poem to read at the ceremony:
The Song of Unsung Heroes
I sing a song of unsung heroes
Of the battles they must wage every day
Of their courage and patience and great inner strength
It's the stuff that can show us the way.
Imagine, if you will, his wheelchair on a hill
As he starts his initial ascent
But the grade is too steep, and so backwards he'll creep
He'll be absent from this important event.
And speaking of access, she's invited to dine
At a restaurant they say she'll adore
But when she arrives, the entrance has steps
So she enters through a rusty back door.
And then there's the challenge of the young dyslexic
Who can barely read or write
He struggles for days on a one-hour project
Though he knows he's exceptionally bright.
And think of what a person who has suffered a stroke
Might face every morning and night
If you have limited use of your arms and your legs
The art of dressing can be quite a plight.
And then there are folks who are no longer speaking
Or have lost all their hearing or sight
Can you imagine the frustration and the new acclimation
And the fortitude to fight the good fight?
Can you somehow conceive of the persistence it takes
If you're paralyzed from your neck to your feet
You are dependent on others for all of your needs
These folks are awesome... with radiance replete.
And speaking of radiance, observe the natural delight
On developmentally challenged young faces
They work hard to be normal (whatever that means)
And stand tall when they're put through the paces.
But let's not forget the oft-unmentionable ill
That is summarily swept under the rug
Mental illness is tough, and unbearably rough
While doctors search for the miracle drug.
Have you ever spent time with a very special friend
Who knows that she is terminally ill?
She gives you a smile and you look in her eyes
And see a power much stronger than any pill.
For what she has learned, as we all shall some day
That we're here to learn lessons from life
And the path that we choose and the way we traverse it
Makes the difference between happiness or strife.
And here's where the caregivers come into play
For the support and the love that they give
For they are the ones who can make such a difference
So that another, so special, may live.
I sing a song of incredible people
Who have taken their charge from above
So these words do not come from patronizing pity
But from honor, respect, and from love.
And I'm sure you know some extraordinary heroes
Be they older or perhaps very young
So let's all come together with a universal voice
For with this song, they're no longer unsung.