They Make a Difference in Many Ways

This region is going to miss Anthony Scott.
Holyoke’s police chief is slated to retire in a few months, when he turns 65. In addition to making a serious dent in the level of criminal activity in the Paper City, Scott has been as outspoken as they come, making him a real favorite of the media and a royal pain to the judges and parole officers he’s criticized seemingly without end for what he considers light sentences and decisions to release repeat offenders on their own recognizance.
Scott, who will retire to a consulting gig in South Carolina, will long be remembered around here for his hard-edged sound bites and newspaper headlines, but his main contribution — it remains to be seen whether it’s a lasting contribution (that’s up to his successor) — was his success with simply driving criminals out of his city because, as he put it, he made the “overhead costs” too high to do business there.
Scott’s decade-long tenure in Holyoke is a classic example of how there are many ways to make a difference in this region through one’s work or contributions to the community. And this year’s Difference Makers, as chosen by BusinessWest (profiled beginning on page 40), really drive that point home.
Lucia (Lucy) Giuggio-Carvalho has made a difference by starting Rays of Hope. She was still recovering from breast cancer when she pulled together the concept, the sponsors, the upfront money, and, yes, the courage and determination to get this fund-raiser off the ground. Today, Rays of Hope is on the brink of surpassing the $1 million mark for funds raised in one year, and with any luck, organizers will bust down that door this fall.
But beyond the money raised — which goes toward research and a variety of services for breast-cancer victims — the walk has become, well, an event, a show of strength and perseverance for survivors and their friends and families. The results are difficult to quantify, but Carvalho and her walk have certainly made a difference in thousands of lives.
Some of Tim Brennan’s contributions are hard to quantify as well. It’s like that when you’re a long-range planner. Some of his efforts as director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission are visible — like the bike trails running through area cities and towns, a visibly cleaner Connecticut River, and a widened Coolidge Bridge. However, with initiatives such as the Plan for Progress, which Brennan initiated, the benefits are difficult to see with the naked eye.
But they have succeeded in doing something that is desperately needed in this region — promoting business owners and municipal leaders to look beyond next week, next year, or even the next decade, imagine what the competitive landscape will be like, and be ready for that day.
As for Robert Perry, as he told BusinessWest, he’s not really handy, but that hasn’t stopped him from being a driving force with Habitat for Humanity — or any of the organizations to which he’s contributed his time, energy, imagination, and ability with numbers.
In short, his contributions have added up to something special — literally and figuratively.
Which brings us to Don Kozera, whose strong leadership skills and ability to shape goals and, as he put it, “define reality” for his staff, have enabled Human Resources Unlimited to help those with physical and mental disabilities find employment, independence, and self-esteem. By doing so, he and all those at HRU are making a difference in the lives of thousands of people, and this region as a whole.
BusinessWest invites all its readers to attend the Difference Makers gala on March 24 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. We’ll be celebrating these five individuals, but also the many ways in which people can make a difference, and the hope that their work will inspire others to find and develop still more methods for having an impact.