HOLYOKE — State Sen. John Velis (D-Westfield) was honored in recognition for his commitment and work to supporting those in recovery during Hope for Holyoke’s eighth annual “Hopey Awards” on May 3.

Velis was given the award during the event, which also recognized individuals, businesses, staff, peer leaders and volunteers.

“I am beyond honored to have received the lifetime achievement award from Hope for Holyoke, an incredible organization that does so much work every single day to help those in recovery in our community,” Velis said. “I firmly believe that the three hardest and most courageous words any person can say is ‘I need help.’ In return, we must create an environment and really push back on the stigma that too often exists in society, so that when people raise their hand and ask for help that they are met with the support that they need to begin their recovery.”

Velis told Reminder Publishing his passion about work in the behavioral health space has only grown since becoming chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery.

“Ultimately it is my hope that whether it is through shaping policy or sharing my personal experience, that I can help at least a few people. Holyoke truly does such incredible work each day to support folks in their recovery journey,” Velis said.

He reiterated he was “beyond honored” for the lifetime achievement recognition from Hope for Holyoke.

Hope for Holyoke provides free peer to peer recovery support programming in the city of Holyoke. Throughout Velis’ career he has championed legislation and support for programs focused on supporting those with substance abuse use disorders.

“As we enter into the final months of the legislative session, I will be continuing to focus on ways that these issues can be prioritized, whether that be advocating for funding in the Senate’s budget this month or working on other policy that supports individuals throughout our communities who are struggling with substance use disorders,” Velis said.