Ducharme Receives Distinguished Alumnae/i Award At Saint Joseph College
West Hartford, Conn. – George G. Ducharme, Ph.D., has been selected to receive the Sister Fay O’Brien Award from Saint Joseph College, where he earned a master’s degree in Special Education in 1969. The award is given to outstanding graduates of the School of Education. He will receive the award April 27.
George Gill Ducharme, Ph.D., has been instrumental in raising awareness and promoting full inclusion of children and adults with disabilities into community life. He is the director, as a volunteer, of the Institute on Disability and Community Inclusion at Manchester Community College. When he joined the faculty at MCC in 1991 he re-established the Disabilities Specialist associates degree program. He is also an adjunct professor of Disability Issues and Native American Studies there.
The disability specialist program honored him with the establishment of the Dr. George Ducharme Disability Specialist Award. The award is given to a Disability Specialist student who exemplifies Dr. Ducharme’s welcoming spirit. Throughout his long career in the disability field, he has shown by example how one person can change the world. Known for his idealism and optimism, Dr. Ducharme has worked tirelessly to connect people with disabilities with their communities.
He is also a cofounder of Communitas in Manchester. He explained its mission this way, “My colleagues and I decided to [form] Communitas to focus our attention on the area of eliminating negative attitudes concerning people with disabilities,” Ducharme said. “We wanted to focus attention on the gifts people with disabilities bring when fully included in community life.” For eight years, 1994-2003, Communitas operated a small business called “The Community Place,” dedicated to welcoming and serving all who entered.
In 1978 he received a doctorate in Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. More recently, he earned a master’s degree at Dartmouth College in Native American Studies.
Before coming to the community college, he was director of the Office for People for with Disabilities for the Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford. Ducharme worked from 1971 to 1985 with the state Department of Mental Retardation, first as director of Community Services and later as superintendent for the Tolland region.
Ducharme and colleagues created a fundraiser in honor of Kristin DeBonee, an alumna who transferred from Manchester Community College to Saint Joseph despite her disabilities. She died less than a year into her studies. The annual Kristin DeBonee Walk ’N’ Roll raises money to help those with disabilities.