By Oriana Durand

Boston University Statehouse Program

BOSTON – Pam Hoffman, executive director of the Midas Collaborative, calls state Sen. Jamie Eldridge her group’s “first stop” when looking for a legislative advocate for low-income families.

“He gets it. He’s a fabulous listener, always thinking about his constituents, and he’s been that way since Day One,” said Hoffman, whose group honored Eldridge with its 2016 Assets and Opportunity Champion award Tuesday night.

The group, which helps low-income families save money and become financially independent, lauded Eldridge for his “tireless” work with Midas, which included legislation to expand the earned-income tax credit, saving working families up to $800 in taxes, and strategies to help people save money through college savings or individual development accounts.

Eldridge, an Acton Democrat who has served as a senator since 2009, called the honor “one of the most appreciated awards I’ve ever received.”

“It speaks to a real challenge we have here in Massachusetts,” he said. “The gap in income distribution is quite stark.”

Since his collaboration with Midas began, Eldridge has filed the financial literacy bill, which provides financial education for kindergarten through 12th grades.

“If we’re serious about adults making responsible financial decisions, financial education really needs to be a part of the K-12 curriculum,” he said.

George Guild, president of the Massachusetts Council on Economic Education and co-writer with Eldridge of the financial literacy bill, commended the senator on his success and support over the years.

“We have been for years trying to write and pass legislation that might be acceptable to the larger group of folks. Jamie Eldridge has been a major supporter, and in fact, champion of that,” he said in an interview before the awards ceremony.

Max Weinstein, head of Attorney General Maura Healey’s Consumer Protection Division, presented the award to Eldridge, praising him for his efforts toward creating economic development among low-income families.

“He’s beloved by his constituents because they know how hard he works for all families in Massachusetts,” Weinstein said.

Ruthie Liberman, vice president of public policy at Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath), noted Eldridge’s hard work and dedication.

“(Eldridge) was the first legislator I met with. I was incredibly nervous and it melted away because he’s so dedicated, down to earth and cares so much about the people of Massachusetts,” she said. “His team has worked tirelessly. They have had so many victories and have so many more in the works.”

Eldridge, whose district includes Shirley, said his primary focus for the coming legislation session would be to offer comfort and support to families that fear President-elect Donald Trump’s policies.

“I’ve talked to a lot of scared constituents who have fears on immigration, deportation, environmental and climate-change policy, and just generally the loss of federal aid,” he said. “It is so important to unite and show that strength to help lift them up.”

In addition to honoring Eldridge, the event celebrated founding Executive Director Margaret Miley, who was succeeded by Hoffman.

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