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Commissioner Paul Saner accompanied by guide dog, Phoenix (left) Mitch Sanborn (middle) Deputy Commissioner Ryder (right) pictured is Commissioner Saner's guide dog, Phoenix as well

Commissioner Paul Saner accompanied by guide dog, Phoenix (left) Mitch Sanborn (middle) Deputy Commissioner Ryder (right) pictured is Commissioner Saner’s guide dog, Phoenix as well

During my brief time serving as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission of the Blind (MCB), I have had the pleasure to present numerous awards to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the blindness community.  Last month, I was asked to make another such presentation, and this one was quite special. The recipient, Mitch Sanborn, is widely regarded for his tireless professional dedication over the last 40 years on behalf of individuals with intellectual disabilities who are legally blind or deaf blind. It was my honor and privilege to present him with the Paul McDade “FOCUS” Award for Distinguished Leadership at the 11th Annual Focus on Vision Impairment & Blindness Conference on March 9, 2016, with many present from MCB and the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).

Created in memory of Paul McDade, a dedicated leader, mentor, and visionary, who was a pioneer in providing Orientation & Mobility services to adults with intellectual disabilities and blindness in Massachusetts, this prestigious award appropriately reflects the endless hours Mitch has spent providing guidance on serving consumers in the most effective manner possible, while also instilling choice and self-determination.

Mitch Sanborn accepts award and gives speech

Mitch Sanborn accepts award and gives speech

Mitch has been a strong advocate and leader in the deaf blind community since joining MCB in 1976 after graduating from Boston College. He is highly regarded by community leaders and providers, his peers, as well as his staff. A social worker, Mitch calmly responds to the complex needs of consumers and their family members with the highest level of compassion and respect for their dignity, in often times challenging and complex circumstances.

Mitch’s breadth and depth of knowledge about MCB’s Deaf Blind Extended Supports (DBES) unit and consumers has been invaluable to MCB, particularly as systems and processes have changed over time. One example of this is the many changes with Chapter 257, an Act which places authority for determination of reimbursement rates for human and social services with the Secretary of EOHHS. Mitch has been a leader in overseeing this implementation with various DBES contracts including long term care, shared living, and the Deaf Blind Community Access Network (DBCAN).

On behalf of the 27,000 consumers and the entire MCB family, I extend congratulations to Mitch for being recognized for what he has done…and for all he continues to do.

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