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Westfordian Honored, Recognized for Mental Health Advocacy

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By James Arciero, State Representative

2nd Middlesex District Chelmsford (5, 7, 8), Littleton, Westford

Some of the most important people in our communities are the ones that are sometimes overlooked or under-appreciated. People who help others quietly and without much recognition.

It was why State Representative James Arciero was honored to recognize Sue Hanly, RN, of Westford, for her volunteerism and mental health advocacy amidst the Covid-19 pandemic during a virtual ceremony recently.

Hanly, of Westford, was selected by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women as one of the Commonwealth Heroines of 2021.

Hanly worked as contact tracer for Westford and the town of Tewksbury during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as a Covid-19 vaccinator for first responders at regional clinics.

She also actively volunteers at the Merrimack Valley MRC and the Westford Parent Connection, a nonprofit that collaborates with the Westford Public School system, the Westford Elementary and Middle School Parent Teacher Association, the Roudenbush Community Center, the Westford Board of Health and the Westford Against Abusive Substances to provide networking, classes and seminars for parents looking to help their children’s mental health.

“Sue exemplifies community service and commitment,” Representative Arciero said. “People have said that Sue has time for everyone and takes every person’s challenges to heart. She treats every child like her own and fights fiercely for what she believes in.

It’s an honor to recognize her and her commitment to helping those around her.”

Annual Commonwealth Heroine honors go to women who have been recommended by legislators from their district and selected for their contributions to their community and the Commonwealth. Those selected usually make a difference within their respective community through business ventures, public service or volunteerism.

Hanly has also been a vocal advocate for suicide and mental health awareness for over two decades.

Receiving her Nursing degree from Boston College, Hanly worked as a visiting nurse at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center before settling in Westford in 2000 to become a public school nurse at Blanchard School and later Stonybrook School. She has also volunteered at flu clinics across Westford — committing to the health and well-being of others.

“For over two decades, Susan has been a public school nurse at Blanchard and Stony Brook Middle Schools,” Rep. Arciero said. “A passionate volunteer, both during the pandemic and before, she has been an advocated for suicide and mental health awareness in Westford, the greater Lowell region and during a time when mental health awareness has become vital to maintaining a healthy society.”

Outside her volunteerism and mental health advocacy, she has coached cross-country, been the President of Westford Youth Basketball and served on the Westford Town and School Safety Task Force. An active marathoner who has participant in 16 races, Hanly has been married to her husband, Ken, for 34 years and has helped raise four children, Steven, Caroline, Ailish and Connor.

“From flu clinics to substance abuse awareness, contact tracing to fundraising, it is an honor to recognize Sue for this prestigious honor,” Arciero said.