Caryn Surkes lived a truly full and selfless life, forming strong therapeutic and interpersonal relationships. She worked diligently to provide those with disabilities recreational and exercise opportunities, stressing the physical and psychiatric health benefits of those activities.
After graduating with her Master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Lesley College in Cambridge, MA, she began her career at Beaverbrook STEP in Newton, MA, where she supported the lives of men and women with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In addition to the satisfaction she received from her work, Caryn had an unwavering love for books, theater, and the outdoors. In 2006 her love of those outdoors moved her to Pittsfield, MA, in the Berkshires, which marked a new chapter of professional focus and personal fulfillment in her life. She began work at Community Enterprises, Inc./Project AIM as a case manager for adults with a variety of challenges including psychiatric, developmental, and substance-addicted.
While at Project AIM Caryn tenaciously challenged complacency, resignation, and lack of creativity wherever she found it. With her characteristic absence of judgment she continually modeled for everyone the holding of hope for all those struggling with physical and mental disabilities. Caryn was much admired by her colleagues for her energetic, positive, and mentoring approach to service provision.
After 25 years of dedicated service to those living with mental and physical disabilities, she was awarded the prestigious Silver Ribbon Award for Excellence in the Field of Social Work sponsored by the National Alliance of Mental Illness of Berkshire County in recognition of her commitment, dedication and service in the area of mental health and for her efforts to eliminate stigma and foster hope through education, outreach, and research.
Caryn faced many years of uncertainty in her courageous battle with cancer, but never once allowed the disease to control her life. She will always be remembered and celebrated as one who steadfastly believed that, with lightness and love, everything is possible.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Caryn Surkes, 1956 - 2011." (Viewed on October 19, 2021) <https://jwa.org/weremember/surkes-caryn>.