Beverly Arel, The Moore Center founder, dies at 84By GRETCHEN M. GROSKY
New Hampshire Union Leader December 04. 2017 11:44PM
MANCHESTER — Beverly Arel set out some 60 years ago to find services for her developmentally disabled children and began a mission which has helped thousands of families like hers.
Arel, founder of what is now called The Moore Center in Manchester, passed away Nov. 24 at the age of 84. The organization has helped thousands of the developmentally disabled live the lives Arel envisioned for them — happy and in their communities.
“She was one of those people that she didn’t just talk about it, she did something about it,” said Paul Boynton, president and CEO of The Moore Center. “She’s a hero to me.”
Arel led the center for more than 35 years, retiring in 1997. Her retirement was the beginning of a new mission — helping older people enjoy that same independence and happiness in their communities.
“She was phenomenal,” said Barbara Salvatore, a friend who also served with Arel at EngAGING NH, a citizens advocacy group for New Hampshire’s older adults. “She was sweet, loving and positive, and she’s left a very lasting legacy in this state through her work.”
Arel’s work started at her kitchen table in the 1950s when pediatricians told her she should consider placing her developmentally disabled son and daughter in an institution. Shari Ferko said her mother wanted more for her brother and sister and gathered other families around the table to start talking about creating services for their children.
Today, Arel’s kitchen table sits in the lobby of The Moore Center as a tribute to the movement Arel started, Boynton said.
“Before Beverly started her work, there were so many people that we now serve that had no life, no future,” Boynton said. “When you think of what she accomplished, starting at that kitchen table, and the thousands of people she helped, it’s an amazing story.”
Arel was also a founding member of EngAGING NH. Salvatore said she brought to the group a different and holistic approach to helping older people that was borne out of her work with the developmentally disabled.
“Aging was once treated more as a diagnosis,” Salvatore said. “Beverly looked at the whole person and what could be done to support that person to help them live the fullest life possible instead of looking at it as ‘how can we fix this.’”
For Ferko, it was this approach of looking at people as a “person first,” that is the greatest lesson she will take from her mother’s life.
“If doesn’t matter where you come from, or the color of your skin, or your disability, or your age, everyone is a person first,” she said.
Throughout her life, Arel worked with a number of organizations, agencies and programs to help the developmentally disabled and elderly. She served on the University of New Hampshire Advisory Committee for the Institute on Disabilities and the state Department of Health and Human Services. She sat on many committees and Boards of Directors including the Manchester Regional Area Committee on Aging and Child Health Services.
She also received many awards for her work. In 1987, she was awarded a key to the city of Manchester by then-Mayor Robert Shaw and in 1994 honored as the Citizen of the Year. In 2008, The Moore Center honored her for her contributions to the lives of others and was recognized by the state Senate for her work. She received recognition for service with The Way Home, Service Link, EngAGING NH, SuccessAbility and many other agencies.
A funeral service will be held in the chapel at Edgewood Cemetery in Nashua today at 1 p.m.