Each year the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women partners with state legislators to honor women who make outstanding contributions to their organizations and communities through its “Commonwealth Heroines” awards. Its rallying cry is, “They may not always make the news, but they most assuredly make a difference.”
PEABODY — Peabody resident Cheryl Holbert Millard has been named to the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women’s 2020 Class of Commonwealth Heroines.
“When I look at the list of women who have been named Commonwealth Heroines, I just don’t see myself with so many people who are so dedicated and have done so many great things in their communities,” said Millard. “It truly is an honor.”
Millard, a member of the support staff in the MRI department at North Shore Medical Center for the past 19 years, has been active in the Peabody community for more than four decades. A paraprofessional, she began her civic involvement as co-president of the Center Elementary School PTO, serving as the school’s Title I representative.
“That was absolutely the best job I ever had,” Millard said.
A longtime board member for the Sutton Home for Women in downtown Peabody, Millard also served on the board of the Peabody Historical Commission. She is a passionate member of the Garden Club and the No Child Goes Hungry campaign and has served as chair of the Alex Vitale Memorial Park Committee. She also volunteered at St. John’s Church and as a coach for Peabody youth sports.
But what Millard is best known for is her photography, serving for years as the city’s
unofficial photographer. She has lent her photographic talents to well over a hundred Peabody events, spending countless hours publishing her photos on social media for no charge. Your name it, and chances are she’s shot it — be it Peabody’s Centennial celebration, Peabody Police and Fire Department events, the Peabody International Festival, Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Fourth of July celebrations, school events and other nonprofit activities and events, just to name a few.
“I just take pictures when people ask me to help with their events and seem to get involved that way. It’s hard to think of the many people I have met in the last 40 years simply because of the photography I do for the city. Those opportunities and friendships would never have come my way but for that,” said Millard. “Honestly I have such a long list of the groups I’ve worked with, I hate to leave anyone out. I’m just honored to be asked. I have a friend who calls me the ‘memory maker’ and don’t know why my photos resonate with people so much.”
Millard was nominated by Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem).
“I proudly nominated Cheryl Holbert Millard for the 2020 Commonwealth Heroine award for her many outstanding contributions to the Peabody community for more than four decades,” said Lovely. “Cheryl personifies heroism through her selfless passion for helping others and her photography that preserves wonderful images of Peabody for countless others to enjoy.”
The commission’s website describes Commonwealth Heroines as “the women who use their time, talent, and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities, and towns. They are mentors, volunteers, and innovators who do what needs to be done, without expectations of recognition or gratitude. These women are the glue that keeps a community together and every community has them.”
This is the 17th year of the commission’s Commonwealth Heroines program. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, plans for a live awards ceremony have been scrapped. Instead, there will be a virtual ceremony (date and time to be determined).
MCSW’s Commonwealth Heroines program states, “It is an honor for us to identify extraordinary women from across the Commonwealth and we sought to find ways within our capacity that would still allow us to do so in these unprecedented times. The Commonwealth Heroines of 2020 are truly positive change makers. They may not always make the news, but they most assuredly make a difference.”