It is with great sadness that I report that Mary Mulvey Jacobson passed away on May 20th. It is easy to understand what a wonderful person she was by reading the local Boston area reports of her passing.
On May 12, the Parkway Community YMCA dedicated the “Mary Mulvey Jacobson Community Room” in her honor. Although she wasn’t well enough to attend the ceremony, organizers Skyped her in so she could see all who had gathered in her honor, including representatives from West Roxbury Main Streets, Ethos, the Irish Social Club, West Roxbury Business and Professional Association, Kiwanis Club and the Rotary Club, as well as local politicians including state Sen. Mike Rush, Congressman Stephen Lynch, District Attorney Dan Conley, and City Councilor Matt O’Malley.
“We decided that because she was so dedicated that it was fitting to have that room dedicated to her,” said Marion Kelley, Parkway Community YMCA executive director. “We brought the laptop around so she could wave to folks. … She really enjoyed it.”
Mary was the President of the West Roxbury Business and Professional Association, Chairperson on the boards of the Parkway YMCA and Ethos, President of the Irish Social Club. She was a member of the Ward 19 Democratic Committee for 20 years. Mary was also involved in numerous other community organizations. There are far too many to mention.
Anyone who ever set foot in the Irish Social Club at some point would have run into Mary Mulvey Jacobson. She was a consummate advocate for the Parkway community, and helped to share her love of the neighborhood by giving back as much as she could, whether it was helping out over at the YMCA or her bi-annual turkey delivery in the form of Family in Need, Jacobson was always on a mission….Residents knew her to be a powerful force over the years, almost always working for others, and she helped to bring back the Irish Social Club after it had fallen into disuse and disrepair.
Her Family in Need program not only fed more than 200 residents and families in the Parkway, but also helped two or three families directly with whatever they needed, whether it was help with home repairs, children’s clothing or almost anything they needed, when Jacobson was on the job, residents knew they would be taken care of.
“Mary was an easy organizer. Life just came together around her. She knew everyone and everyone knew her. A force of nature,”..“She did things because she truly cared about her community and because doing the right thing mattered… She was kind, generous of her time, and always with a smile and a good laugh”
In the community, Jacobson will always be remembered as a kind soul who did whatever she could to help those around her. Jacobson’s like will not be seen again…she was the type of person you would go to and ask for help and she was there to say yes every single time. She had a way about her, she would go in and talk to people and even if it was difficult for them they would usually go along with Mary and she had a really nice way of working with people and getting things done.’
“The passing of Mary is a huge loss….Not only did Mary dedicate her life to the families and businesses of West Roxbury, but she also inspired so many of us to get more involved in improving where we live, work and play,”
This is what I want the world to know of Mary Mulvey Jacobson and what she did that has helped thousands of people:
In her professional career, Mary was Chief of Staff for a Boston City Councilor. Her ability to work full time ended around 2000 after being made gravely ill from exposure to mold in a water damaged building.
True to form, instead of sitting back feeling sorry for herself, Mary worked as much as she could to change policies on a national level. She didn’t want anyone to experience the same thing that she had. She was especially concerned for the welfare of economically disadvantaged children living in substandard housing.
I first met Mary in Washington DC in September of 2004. She was attending U.S. Congressman John Conyers’ caucus over the mold issue that had been primarily organized by Dr. Simone Sommer and her son, Josh.
Bianca Jagger was the keynote speaker. Like Simone, Josh, Mary and countless others who packed the hearing room, Bianca was also injured by mold and was having difficulty finding help from mislead U.S. physicians.
[Photo: September 2004 Josh Sommer, Simone Sommer, Bianca Jagger, Congressman Conyers, Katrine Stevens, Mary Mulvey Jacobson, and Nancy Davis ]
It quickly became obvious to me that Mary has special talents and skills. She was a delightful person who spoke her mind directly without being offensive.
She and I developed a fast friendship. We met in D.C. several times in the coming years. We knocked on so many legislators’ doors together that I can’t even count them all.
As I recall, I would explain how a widely marketed scientific fraud was occurring in the mold issue and what needed to be done to stop it. But Mary was the closer!
She could truthfully and passionately articulate the vast harm from the problem and why the legislators needed to act to make it stop. Although the subject matter was not a pleasant one, it always warmed my heart to watch Mary artfully articulate her heartfelt pleas for help.
We were seeking legislative help to remove the scientifically void concept from physician educational materials, policies, and toxic torts — that it had been proven mycotoxins in water damaged buildings can never reach a level to harm.
The 2007 WSJ article was written by David Armstrong of WSJ Boston office. It came about in large part because of a D.C. door which Mary was key in causing to crack open.
It was the door of the late Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Mary’s home state. Senator Kennedy was the minority chair of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee (HELP) when we first began calling on that office.
Contrary to what the medical associations were falsely marketing as proven science, the audit found that it was indeed plausible that mycotoxins in water damaged buildings were physically harming people.
“A short time after that we communicated our concerns and offered this documentation to you, we also offered them to the Wall Street Journal who believed that we had merit in our suspicions. After a 6 month investigation, the Journal published this past January a front page, top of the fold article exposing the conflicts of interest that surrounded the publishing of the ACOEM’s Guidelines on mold illnesses. Of note, one doctor mentioned in the WSJ article and the key sponsor of the ACOEM Evidence Based Guidelines had been recruited for membership by ACOEM to write the paper. This former Deputy Surgeon General had his membership compted so he could submit the paper.
We also offered our information to elected officials on the Federal level. Especially in light of Katrina and Rita, we were very pleased that Senator Kennedy submitted to the GAO this past October a request for study of our government’s efforts to “minimize and mitigate illnesses associated with human exposure to mold in housing and other indoor environments.” He notes that there is growing evidence that otherwise healthy individuals who are exposed to most experience persistent health problems.”
Like the WSJ article of 2007 (of which Mary was a behind the scenes contributor) the 2008 GAO Report lent rightfully-due credibility to the words of those being disabled by mold, their advocates, their treating physicians, and their attorneys. It became more widely known as scientifically plausible that people are being disabled by the microbial contaminants found in water damaged buildings.
In subsequent years, much has been written of the scientific fraud in policies which Mary was instrumental in exposing. Although it still lingers in some physician educational materials, government funded policies, insurer claims handling practices and toxic torts – it has been widely discredited and is much easier to fight in courts and claims handling practices all across the United States, in large part because of Mary.
Today there are many younger advocates, physicians and attorneys in the mold issue who still fight for justice for those being environmentally disabled. I want them to know who Mary was and what she did to give them a fighting chance to be heard.
Mary Mulvey Jacobson was a rare and great lady. Like many others who knew Mary, I feel fortunate to have known her, to have learned from her, and to have called her my friend.