Special Coverage

Reintroducing the Difference Makers Class of 2020

It seems like a long time ago — and, in most all respects, it really was — when BusinessWest first introduced its Difference Makers for 2020. That was back in February, before the pandemic arrived and changed the landscape in all kinds of ways. This large and distinguished class of honorees was due to be celebrated at a gala on March 19, but … well, you know what happened. This event, like almost everything else at that time, was postponed. For months, we watched and waited for guidance on when and how large-scale events like the Difference Makers gala might be staged again. But the only guidance we’ve received is that it might still be some time before such gatherings can take place. So the class of 2020 will be celebrated at a hybrid event on Sept. 24, with the honorees and sponsors gathered at the Log Cabin in Holyoke — groups cannot exceed 40 under current state regulations — with friends, family, and supporters taking in the proceedings remotely. However this celebration takes place, there is much to celebrate with this class, which features several individuals and one nonprofit that found their own, often unique, ways to make a difference. For this issue, we reintroduce them and update their stories to reflect the times we are now living in.

Difference Makers is sponsored by Burkhart Pizzanelli, Royal, P.C., and TommyCar Auto Group, while the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, MHA, and United Way of Pioneer Valley are partners.

Download the Program Guide HERE

2020 Difference Makers

Christopher ‘Monte’ Belmonte

DJ at WRSI the River Radio

His March is Changing
The Conversation
on Food Insecurity

Ira Bryck

Consultant and Former Executive Director of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley

He’s Helped Create
Fun, Imaginative
Learning Experiences

Sandy Cassanelli

CEO of Greeno Supply

She’s Fighting to Find a Cure for Metastatic Breast Cancer

Fuller Doherty

Retired Director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center

She’s Retired … but Not from Her Role as a Difference Maker

Ronn Johnson

President and CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Inc.

This Community Leader
Has Tackled Many Roles
With a Sense of Purpose

Steve Lowell

President and CEO of
Monson Savings Bank

Giving Back Has Always Been a Big Part of His Life — and His Work

Rick’s Place

This Unique Nonprofit Provides Support, Light in the Darkest of Times

2020 Sponsors

Pay it Forward Non-Profit Partners

Photography for this special section by Leah Martin Photography

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