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Holyoke Rotary Gives Helene Florio Distinguished Service Award

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Rotary President Venus Robinson announced the selection of Helene Florio as the 2016 recipient of the William G. Dwight Distinguished Service to Holyoke Award. The selection jury, chaired by last year’s recipient, Carl Eger Jr., has chosen Florio to be the latest recipient of this coveted award.

The first award was presented in 1940 by the Transcript-Telegram to Joseph Weis. Holyoke Rotary was pleased to take over presentation of the awards when the Dwight family was no longer involved in the newspaper business in the city.

A native of Holyoke, Florio attended schools in Torrington and Goshen, Conn., graduating from Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield, Conn. before coming back to this region. She attended school at the University of Miami followed by Katharine Gibbs School in Boston.

Florio most recently was president of the Rotary Club of Holyoke during its centennial year. During this time, she was awarded Rotary’s highest recognition, the Paul Harris Fellowship, which acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, to the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Paul Harris was the founder of Rotary in 1905, and the foundation was established in 1957.

Florio joined the Holyoke Rotary Club in 2002, becoming the first third-generation Rotarian in the Club, and has a community-service classification within Rotary. She currently serves as executive director of the Holyoke Taxpayers Assoc., where she is also president of the board of directors. She is also vice president of the WestMass Elder Care board of directors. She has also served as president of the former Junior League of Holyoke, the Area Mental Health Center, the Holyoke Hospital Aid Assoc., and the former Holyoke YWCA. She has served on the boards of the United Way, the Holyoke chapter of the American Red Cross, Loomis Communities, and Holyoke Junior Achievement Foundation. She has lent her skills to Wistariahurst Museum Assoc.

In addition, Florio is a trustee of the Mansir Fund, serving the needs of disabled children in the Greater Holyoke area. In 2009, she was elected as one of the nine local citizen volunteers to serve on the Charter Revision Committee. From CIT experience at Camp Maria Pratt as a Girl Scout to Brownie leader in Holyoke, to Ski Club and PTO, she has worked to serve children in and throughout the area. During Holyoke’s centennial celebration, she was honored as one of Holyoke’s top 100 volunteers.

Florio follows in the footsteps of an aunt, Hortense Alderman Cooke, and her father, Wayne Alderman, previous recipients of this award. She will be honored at a celebration on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. Call Deb Buckley at (413) 534-7355 for information about tickets to the dinner.

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