BOSTON – After nominating her for the honor, State Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) presented Barbara Gillmeister, a Wrentham resident and the founder of Gilly’s House, with the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women’s (MCSW) 2019 Unsung Heroine Award at a ceremony at the State House on Tuesday. This prestigious award celebrates women in Massachusetts who are tireless advocates for improving their respective communities and who dedicate their time, talent, and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others. As the MCSW puts it, “The Unsung Heroines are women who don’t make the news, but make the difference.”
Gilly’s House is a residential program for young men who have struggled with addiction and want to continue their recovery. Fostering personalized and collaborative relationships with each individual, Gilly’s House offers a stable, structured, and safe environment where these men can develop and achieve goals as well as learn the life skills necessary to not only re-enter the community but live a successful life of sobriety.
Barbara is the true definition of a humble and unsung heroine. In October of 2016 Barbara lost her son, Steven, to a drug overdose. Since this tragedy Barbara has worked tirelessly to address drug addiction in the Wrentham and King Philip communities so that no more families experience such a profound loss in their lives. Barbara founded Gilly’s House in Wrentham in honor of her son and has worked tirelessly since to ensure Gilly’s House achieves its mission of helping young men overcome addiction and equip them with the life skills needed to succeed. Barbara is also a member of the SAFE coalition, which seeks to support those with substance use disorder. In tackling this critical issue, Barbara also maintains a full-time job traveling around the area to teach visually impaired students. Barbara is a true community leader who has dedicated her life to serving those around her.
After the ceremony Representative Dooley remarked, “I am extremely proud and beyond honored to present this award to my constituent and dear friend, Barbara Gillmeister. Her dedication to Gilly’s House and to improving the lives of people in our community is the true embodiment of this award. As a firefighter and EMT, I have seen the life-changing outcomes of her work with my own eyes. She is an inspiration to all of us, and, speaking as the father of two daughters, she is a true role model for future generations of women and girls in the Commonwealth.”