DEVENS — It’s been ten years since the dedication ceremony for the Shriver Job Corps Center on Jackson Road on Devens. This week, flags fly at half-staff in honor of the wife of its namesake. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, wife of Robert Sargent Shriver Jr., for whom the Devens center is named, died Aug. 11 on Cape Cod at the age of 88. The couple was married for over 56 years and had five children together.
Locally, the Shriver Job Corps on Devens is formulating a community project out of respect for Shriver’s legacy of community service.
“We don’t have anything set in stone yet but we’re looking at some service projects for our students to participate in to pay homage to her,” said Center Director Tscherina Telesford.
Telesford says the Center was interested in lending a hand with the Special Olympics, which Kennedy Shriver founded, but their summer games just concluded in late June at Harvard University. But, the center still has calls into Special Olympics and hope to help in other ways.
“We’re looking at how we can get involved in any way,” Telesford said. Not that the Job Corps isn’t already mobilized locally already, with routine weekly and monthly projects. Telesford said they want to do something extra specifically in Kennedy Shriver’s name.
Telesford said the Job Corps center students are fully aware of Kennedy Shriver’s community impact. She said at a student assembly, the group commemorated Kennedy Shriver’s death with a moment of silence, “They’re very aware of what she stood for which is giving back to those with challenges.”
Remembering Kennedy Shriver’s service is a core component for the Corps students, said Telesford, “We’re training them on leadership skills and employment skills but especially to give back.”
Born Eunice Mary Kennedy in Brookline, she was the fifth of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald. Only two of her siblings remain – Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy and former US Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith.
Sargent Shriver was a key player in the Kennedy political team, a driving force behind the Peace Corps, VISTA, Upward Bound, Foster Grandparents and Head Start, and ultimately the creation of Job Corps. His contribution was so strong that the Job Corps and the managing company Adams and Associates opted to name the Devens center in his honor. Dedication ceremonies took place on Jackson Road in 1999.
Though suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, Sargent Shriver attended his wife’s wake in Centerville and funeral in Hyannis last week.
The center runs educational and career technical training programs that help young people ages 16 through 24 improve the quality of their lives.