In an impressive ceremony held on a picture postcard pre-summer day, the beautifully done souvenir program distributed to the guests said it very well about the outstanding contributions of Kim Hanton to the North Suffolk Mental Health Association.
The program read: “NSMHA’s Addictions Division wouldn’t be what it is today without the leadership, guidance, and vision of Kim Hanton.”
Hanton retired from the organization in 2020 after 34 years of exceptional service. She is currently Chief of Staff to Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo’s Office.
The tribute to Kim Hanton Wednesday was the Kim Hanton House – a fully accessible, 12-bed residence with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders – that was named in her honor. City and state officials joined Hanton’s colleagues, friends and family at the dedication and official ribbon-cutting ceremony.
State Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders and NSMHA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Jackie K. Moore praised Hanton’s dedication, energy, and optimism during her career at the organization.
Sudders presented a Governor’s Citation to Hanton “in recognition of your passion and commitment to public service, your compassion and dedication to serving those who have a mental illness or substance use disorder, and your outstanding leadership and tireless efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic to support and protect the residents of Revere.”
Moore spoke about the incredible legacy that Hanton established at NSMHA.
“I am not sure what I can say about Kim Hanton – I don’t have the skill with words to capture what Kim means to many of us personally, to North Suffolk as an organization and to the citizens of the community we serve,” Moore told the gathering. “She is a force – full of energy and optimism. She works hard and gets things done. She calls it like she sees it – in the kindest and strongest way, what a gift! She is passionate. She believes in people and their capacity to be better. And she is determined to make sure there are opportunities to bring that to reality.
“Most of us here today have been touched in profound ways by this amazing woman,” continued Moore. “It is my privilege and honor both to recognize her retirement and to dedicate this house and this program to her legacy.”
Moore presented to Hanton a Chelsea Clock, a distinguished symbol of excellence.
In a heartwarming acceptance speech of the major honor, Hanton thanked her family and colleagues for their support.
“North Suffolk Mental Health Association’s to continuous quality improvement and team building kept my attention always,” said Hanton. “But I would be remiss if I did not mention my first team that taught me how to be a good partner: my family. I was brought up in a family village known as West Revere, surrounded by family, who taught me to love and have acceptance for others. Thanks, Mom, Uncle Sonny, Uncle Paulie, and thanks, Deb (sister).
“I was blessed to have chosen a partner, Dennis, who supported my dedication to a cause that wasn’t always popular and together we built a family, Denny, Haley, James, and our most recent addition, my first granddaughter, Charlotte, or as we call her, “Charlie,” said Hanton.
Hanton said that her original professional goal was to be a schoolteacher, but the passage of Proposition 2 ½ and the ensuing budget cuts altered her plans.
“I chose to look at it as fate,” said Hanton. “I then began my journey of social work and never looked back.”
Hanton said she met so many special people in her career at North Suffolk. “I challenge all of you to find a special person who inspires you, someone you don’t want to disappoint, someone who makes you want to be a better person, and for me that is Judi Lemoine, your COO (chief operating officer).”
Hanton praised the colleagues and families with whom she collaborated to help others while at North Suffolk. “Each of you have given me more than you will ever know,” she said.
Hanton talked about the mission of the Hanton House. “I hope the Hanton House will be a symbol of recovery that provides guidance through a lens of acceptance and appreciation for the differences that unite us all. The Hanton House will be a home for those seeking a new journey of travel, needing time to heal, time to learn, and time to build, with a team they can trust and rely on, because that team will be comprised of folks that will listen.
“For those of you that have worked with me, you know I take every opportunity to quote those far wiser than I. I will leave you with this from the Dalai Lama: “When you talk you are only repeating what you know. But if you listen you may learn something new.
“So please take a moment each day to listen,” said Hanton. “For this will make a difference in someone’s else life.”
As guests made their way up the stairs to tour the Kim Hanton House, they stopped to thank and take photos with the guest of honor, Kim Hanton. The smiles and well wishes were plentiful and sincere.
Kim Hanton truly left her mark at North Suffolk Mental Health Association and the Kim Hanton House is a testament to her excellence.