‘He’ll forever be remembered’: Children’s Advocacy Center dedicates future labyrinth garden in honor of Mark Ledwell

  • From left, Ann Ledwell stands beside her mother, Mary Ledwell, and her brother, Mark Ledwell Jr., as Children’s Advocacy Center board of directors President Bill Benson speaks during a dedication ceremony for the future Mark Ledwell Labyrinth Garden, named after Mark Ledwell Sr., who died in May. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • Mary Ledwell stands between her children, Ann and Mark Ledwell Jr., at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Greenfield where a future labyrinth garden will be named after their husband and father, Mark Ledwell Sr., who died in May and worked with the Children’s Advocacy Center since it was founded. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • A plaque made to commemorate Mark Ledwell Sr., who died in May. Ledwell worked with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin since 2015, and led the renovations of its office space on Wisdom Way in Greenfield. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • The Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin held a dedication ceremony for the future Mark Ledwell Labyrinth Garden. Ledwell, who died in May, worked with the center since 2015 and led the renovations of its office space on Wisdom Way in Greenfield. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • From left, Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Irene Woods and board of directors President Bill Benson during an open house and the Mark Ledwell Labyrinth Garden dedication at the center in Greenfield on Thursday. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • From left, Ann Ledwell, Mary Ledwell, Mark Ledwell Jr., Irene Woods, Bill Benson, Lynda Zukowski and David Sullivan during a dedication for the future Mark Ledwell Labyrinth Garden at the Children’s Advocacy Center on Wisdom Way in Greenfield. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • The Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin in Greenfield held an open house and dedication ceremony for the future Mark Ledwell Labyrinth Garden on Thursday. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

Staff Writer
Published: 9/24/2021 5:54:26 PM

GREENFIELD — An open house at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin on Thursday served as both a time to welcome community members and as a dedication ceremony for a future labyrinth garden honoring a longtime supporter who died in May.

Mark F. Ledwell Sr., of Charlemont, died on May 5 after sudden and severe health problems. During Thursday’s open house, Children’s Advocacy Center representatives spoke to Ledwell’s more than half-decade of dedication to the nonprofit, and presented a plaque to his family.

Bill Benson, president of the center’s board of directors, said he has many local heroes, including those in attendance like Sheriff Christopher Donelan for his work with the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region, and Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan for his longstanding support of the Children’s Advocacy Center.

“Of course, the other hero we’re here to honor is Mark Ledwell,” Benson said. “We would not be here without him. That’s not an overstatement, that is a clear statement.”

Benson cited Ledwell’s ability to encourage donors and volunteers, having gathered crews to regularly work on Saturdays. Between 2015 and 2016, Ledwell, formerly of Wright Builders of Northampton, completed roughly $200,000 worth of repairs to the Children’s Advocacy Center building at 56 Wisdom Way in Greenfield, according to Executive Director Irene Woods.

Woods said Ledwell solicited donations from contracting contacts, so people donated windows, flooring and sheetrock. Renovations continued through 2018. In 2020, the nonprofit bought the building on Wisdom Way, which it had been leasing since 2016, for roughly $120,000.

The open house served as the first opportunity in five years for the public to visit the facilities. Those in attendance learned about the programs the center offers, and toured the building to see the significant rehabilitation it underwent under Ledwell’s leadership.

The future Mark Ledwell Labyrinth Garden on the center’s grounds was also dedicated on Thursday. Board of directors member Lynda Zukowski said the labyrinth is expected to be constructed by Snow & Sons Landscaping in spring 2022 as the second of a three-phase landscaping project. The first phase placed arborvitae trees along the property, the second will involve the labyrinth garden and the third will see installation of new play equipment.

“It’s wonderful,” Mary Ledwell, Mark’s widow, said of the dedication. “It really is what he was drawn to do.”

“He lived his life to help those most in need, and this was a need he saw in this community,” said Ann Ledwell, Mark and Mary’s daughter. “It’s fantastic that he’ll forever be remembered.”

“It’s been a very challenging year for our family with my dad’s passing, and this means the world to us to hear the kind words that the community said,” added Mark Ledwell Jr. “To get recognized like this, it’s a tremendous honor. He built countless projects over his career, but this by far was the most important one to him.”

Woods said Ledwell had a smile that “warmed you from the inside out,” and said the nonprofit chose a labyrinth garden with the hopes it would be a comfortable place for children and their families to wait while interviews take place.

“I envision the day when we can sit here and think about Mark, and reflect on all he brought to our lives and the many nonprofits in the valley,” Woods said. “It wasn’t just the CAC.”

The Children’s Advocacy Center offers a safe, child-friendly environment for children to be interviewed that have disclosed physical or sexual abuse.

Speaking Thursday, Sullivan said Ledwell’s dedication was “a gift” and a “miracle” to the nonprofit and children in the area. He said the center improves access to local services, noting that previously, families who may not have a car and who had just experienced a traumatic event, had to make the trip to Springfield or the UMass Medical Center.

“Now there are staff members that deal with child trauma, and that help families get to the next point in their lives where they can start to heal,” Sullivan said.

Through the center, children and families are linked to medical, mental health, victim advocacy and other services on a case-by-case basis. The model the agency uses involves law enforcement and child protective services acting first to make sure a child is safe from an abuser. The child is then brought to the center on Wisdom Way, where the joint investigation and interview begins. Once the case has been reviewed, decisions are made about how to proceed, including whether the case is presented to the district attorney for prosecution. A suspect is either charged or the case is refused.

The Children’s Advocacy Center runs on federal and state funding and grants, and also accepts donations. To donate or to learn more about the nonprofit, call 413-475-3401 or visit cacfranklinnq.org.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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