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Community Work Services Celebrates 140 Years of Service to Boston Residents

Community Work Services Celebrates 140 Years of Innovation and Service to Boston and Greater New England

Community Work Services, one of the oldest social services agency in the United States, celebrates its 140th birthday on Thursday evening, November 9th, with a reception at Boston’s Omni Parker House from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. The event is made possible through generous support from the Georgianna Eaton Goddard Trust, Marble Harbor Investment Counsel, HYM Investments, Fidelity Charitable Fund and United Way of the Massachusetts Bay & Merrimac Valley.

The celebration honors the legacy created in 1877 by Mrs. Annie Fields, who founded the Cooperative Society of Visitors Among the Poor of Boston. In 1953, the Cooperative Society became Community Workshops, and later, Community Work Services, continuing Mrs. Fields’ pioneering vision in providing services to the poor of Boston and addressing the roots of poverty through employment, education, and housing improvements. For over 140 years, CWS has stayed true to the mission set by its founders while also expanding the scope of its programs and widening the range of the populations and geography it serves.

“CWS has a remarkable heritage,” said Craig Stenning, CWS’s Executive Director. “And yet, it remains on the cutting edge of innovation and entrepreneurship in its service to those who, because of a mental, social, emotional, or physical disability, have been challenged to find economic well-being. For 140 years, CWS has been enhancing the dignity, self-respect, and self-esteem of the participants in our programs. That’s a lot to celebrate.”

At the heart of the celebration, CWS will honor Jim Brett, President and CEO of the New England Council, a venerable alliance of schools, hospitals, corporations, and private organizations throughout New England, which promotes economic growth and a high quality of life in the region.  Mr. Brett has been a tireless and trailblazing voice in the realm of public policy issues, including health care, education, financial services and energy. His passion is service to those with disabilities, having served as the Chairman of The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities and more recently appointed to the National Council on Disability. He is also Chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Intellectual Disability and serves as the Chairperson of the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission.  In addition, Mr. Brett is a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities.

“I can think of no better way to celebrate Community Work Services’ birthday than by honoring Jim Brett,” said Paul Davis, Chair of the CWS board. “He embodies both the deep commitment and the pioneering spirit that drives CWS.  His advocacy for those we serve has changed—and improved—the lives of thousands and thousands of people throughout New England. This will truly be a memorable evening.”

To purchase tickets for the 140th celebration, visit the CWS website at  For more information, contact Steven Zarnfaller at 646 931 2329.