Understanding Our Differences mourns the recent passing of our beloved founder, Carol Beard, and celebrates the many achievements of a life well-lived. Carol had the amazing ability to always fill those who met her with a sense of being loved and valued. She made a difference in the world each and every day that she was in it. Carol devoted her life to serving others. She was a visionary advocate for the rights and needs of people with developmental disabilities.
We would like to share reflections about Carol from our Board and Advisory Board members, and friends:
“On this peaceful, quiet day up here in Gloucester, I am staring at the cove and fog, thinking of Carol. I was so saddened to hear of her death. In her quiet, unassuming way, she was a particularly strong leader and voice for community (both for those with differing abilities and for Newton too). She impacted so many people, most of whom had no idea who she was.
“First and foremost were multiple generations of children (and their parents) who have gone through the Newton schools and participated in UOD. Back in the 1970’s, when MA and federal law first mandated the inclusion of all children in public schools, Carol felt the need to do what she could to make sure her sons, and all other children with disabling conditions, were understood and appreciated by their peers in school. Through the volunteer organization she developed with a group of like-minded friends, children learned to look beyond the superficial differences between people, to see and appreciate their special qualities that make them who they are. They came to understand the obstacles their peers faced everyday and to realize they were more the same than different. Taking this a step further, they also learn to become advocates. These have been lasting lessons. I see them continuing to play out with my children, who are now in their 40’s. Parents who got involved in the program have been similarly impacted. UOD also brought the City of Newton together creating community; a way for parents to become involved in their children’s classrooms and schools, a community who realized the importance of UOD’s message and were even willing to rally on its behalf when the program was facing elimination by previous school administrations. The project Carol began has a continuing ripple effect beyond what she could have imagined. UOD has expanded beyond its impact in Newton to communities throughout the Commonwealth, and is gearing itself up to do that on a much larger scale as it gains a digital presence. Carol was also a tireless advocate for her sons and people with cognitive challenges.
“My thoughts go out to her family and to all those she touched. I am proud to have known her. I know I am preaching to the choir but her leadership is even more valued in the current climate.” -Fran Osten
“Carol was indeed one of those rare and special people whose energy, creativity, determination and positivity made such a lasting impact on all of our lives and the thousands of families in Newton and beyond who have been reached by UOD. She will be missed.” -Carol Kanin
“In addition to all she did for her family, the entire UOD community and Newton at large, she was an incredible warm, generous and appreciative person one on one. I will always remember that about her.” -Barb Day
“I am so sad that Carol has passed away. Carol was my mentor and an inspiration. I hope that we all help to ensure that Forest and Lincoln Beard feel the support of the amazing UOD network.” -Beth Mendel
“Carol was my mentor, also. I observed her whole program at Oak Hill in order to be very prepared before I started it at Countryside. I learned from the best! She was supportive, kind, and understanding, but she always remained very humble. Carol started UOD, and her achievements and gifts are monumental. She was a dear friend, and I will miss her.” -Linda Hiller
“Carol was a very special visionary and leader who along with all of you from the past and present have made such an impact on Newton and beyond. I feel fortunate that I learned so much as a parent volunteer in the 80’s and 90’s and have had the opportunity to be part of the organization Carol founded.” -Marcia Herrmann
“I write to express loving memory of our founding leader, Carol Beard. Working with her to help grow Understanding Handicaps in its early days was a blessed opportunity which I cherish. She was, and will always be, an angel among us.” -Bonnie Rosenberg
“In memory of Carol Beard who brought light to Newton and way beyond.” -Anne and Bob Larner