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Difference Makers

Event-78-EditMore than 300 people turned out at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke on March 20 for a celebration of the Difference Makers for 2014. The photos on the next several pages capture the essence of the event, which featured entertainment from the Children’s Chorus of Springfield and the Taylor Street Jazz Band, as well as fine food and some poignant comments from the honorees. This year’s class, chosen by the editors and publishers of BusinessWest from dozens of nominations, and seen in a group photo above, are, from left: Paula Moore, founder of the Youth Social Educational Training (YSET) Academy; the Melha Shriners, represented by Potentate William Faust; the Gray House, represented by Executive Director Dena Calvanese; Colleen Loveless, executive director of the Springfield office of Rebuilding Together; and Michael Moriarty, attorney and president of Olde Holyoke Development Corp., chosen for his work with youth literacy.

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Sponsored By:
DifferenceMakers2014sponsors

Baystate Medical PracticesFirst American Insurance • Health New England • Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.Northwestern Mutual • Royal LLP • Sarat Ford Lincoln • 6 Pt. Creative Works

For reprints contact: Denise Smith Photography / www.denisesmithphotography.com / [email protected]

Difference Maker Colleen Loveless, center, stands with her parents, Jim and Pat Shanley, left, her husband, Donald Loveless, and her daughter, Taylor Loveless, prior to the ceremonies.

Difference Maker Colleen Loveless, center, stands with her parents, Jim and Pat Shanley, left, her husband, Donald Loveless, and her daughter, Taylor Loveless, prior to the ceremonies.

From left, Srs. Jane Morrissey and Cathy Homrok, members of the Sisters of St. Joseph and two of the founders of the Gray House, one of this year’s honorees, with Dena Calvanese, executive director of the Gray House, Leyla Kayi, director of Donor Relations, and Glenn Yarnell, director of Adult Education.

From left, Srs. Jane Morrissey and Cathy Homrok, members of the Sisters of St. Joseph and two of the founders of the Gray House, one of this year’s honorees, with Dena Calvanese, executive director of the Gray House, Leyla Kayi, director of Donor Relations, and Glenn Yarnell, director of Adult Education.

Lynn Ostrowski, director of Brand and Corporate Relations for Health New England, one of the event’s sponsors, with Brian Kivel, right, sales executive for Health New England, and Patrick Ireland, president and founder of Neutral Corner Inc.

Lynn Ostrowski, director of Brand and Corporate Relations for Health New England, one of the event’s sponsors, with Brian Kivel, right, sales executive for Health New England, and Patrick Ireland, president and founder of Neutral Corner Inc.

Carol Katz, member of the Difference Makers Class of 2010, talks with  2014 Diffference Maker Michael Moriarty, director of Olde Holyoke Development Corp., during the event’s VIP hour.

Carol Katz, member of the Difference Makers Class of 2010, talks with 2014 Diffference Maker Michael Moriarty, director of Olde Holyoke Development Corp., during the event’s VIP hour.

Jim Vinick, senior vice president of investments at Moors & Cabot Inc. and member of the Difference Makers Class of 2013, poses with speech pathologist Marjorie Koft, left, and Jane Albert, vice president of development at Baystate Health, another of the event’s sponsors.

Jim Vinick, senior vice president of investments at Moors & Cabot Inc. and member of the Difference Makers Class of 2013, poses with speech pathologist Marjorie Koft, left, and Jane Albert, vice president of development at Baystate Health, another of the event’s sponsors.


Corey Murphy, far right, president of First American Insurance, one of the event sponsors, with, from left, team members Dennis Murphy, document processor, and Edward Murphy, chairman, network with Adam Quenneville, president of Adam Quenneville Roofing and Siding (second from right).

Corey Murphy, far right, president of First American Insurance, one of the event sponsors, with, from left, team members Dennis Murphy, document processor, and Edward Murphy, chairman, network with Adam Quenneville, president of Adam Quenneville Roofing and Siding (second from right).

Kate Kane, left, managing director of the Springfield office of Northwestern Mutual (an event sponsor) and member of the Difference Makers Class of 2009, talks with Cathy Crosky, senior leadership consultant for Charter Oak Consulting Group, and Jeremy Casey, assistant vice president of Commercial Services at Westfield Bank, and president of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, Difference Makers Class of 2009.

Kate Kane, left, managing director of the Springfield office of Northwestern Mutual (an event sponsor) and member of the Difference Makers Class of 2009, talks with Cathy Crosky, senior leadership consultant for Charter Oak Consulting Group, and Jeremy Casey, assistant vice president of Commercial Services at Westfield Bank, and president of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, Difference Makers Class of 2009.

Karina Schrengohst, left, an attorney with Northampton-based Royal LLP, an event sponsor, talks with Crystal Boetang, an intern with the firm.

Karina Schrengohst, left, an attorney with Northampton-based Royal LLP, an event sponsor, talks with Crystal Boetang, an intern with the firm.

Paula Moore, founder of the Youth Social Educational Training (YSET) Academy and 2014 Difference Maker, networks with Robert Perry, a retired partner of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (an event sponsor) and member of the Difference Makers Class of 2011.

Paula Moore, founder of the Youth Social Educational Training (YSET) Academy and 2014 Difference Maker, networks with Robert Perry, a retired partner of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (an event sponsor) and member of the Difference Makers Class of 2011.

Team members of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., an event sponsor, gather prior to the ceremonies to show their support at the event. Front row, from left: John Veit, marketing and recruiting coordinator; Cheryl Fitzgerald, senior manager of Taxation; Brenda Olesuk, director of Operations and Development; and Robert Perry, past honoree and retired partner. Back row, from left: James Barrett, managing partner; Kelly Dawson, manager of Audit and Accounting; Kevin Hines, partner; and James Krupienski, senior manager of Audit and Accounting.

Team members of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., an event sponsor, gather prior to the ceremonies to show their support at the event. Front row, from left: John Veit, marketing and recruiting coordinator; Cheryl Fitzgerald, senior manager of Taxation; Brenda Olesuk, director of Operations and Development; and Robert Perry, past honoree and retired partner. Back row, from left: James Barrett, managing partner; Kelly Dawson, manager of Audit and Accounting; Kevin Hines, partner; and James Krupienski, senior manager of Audit and Accounting.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse takes a few minutes at the podium to welcome the audience to his city and commend Difference Maker Michael Moriarty for his work in the realm of youth literacy in the Paper City.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse takes a few minutes at the podium to welcome the audience to his city and commend Difference Maker Michael Moriarty for his work in the realm of youth literacy in the Paper City.

Difference Maker Paula Moore, recognized this year for her outstanding work with Springfield’s youth, offers words of inspiration after receiving her award.

Difference Maker Paula Moore, recognized this year for her outstanding work with Springfield’s youth, offers words of inspiration after receiving her award.

Continuing a Difference Makers tradition, the Children’s Chorus of Springfield kicked off the festivities. Led by Wayne Abercrombie, artistic director, the chorus performed three inspiring songs.

Continuing a Difference Makers tradition, the Children’s Chorus of Springfield kicked off the festivities. Led by Wayne Abercrombie, artistic director, the chorus performed three inspiring songs.

Gwen Burke, senior advertising consultant at BusinessWest, talks with Jeff Sarat, general sales manager at Sarat Ford, one of the event’s sponsors.

Gwen Burke, senior advertising consultant at BusinessWest, talks with Jeff Sarat, general sales manager at Sarat Ford, one of the event’s sponsors.

Difference Maker Colleen Loveless, executive director of the Springfield chapter of Rebuilding Together, was recognized this year for her work to help low-income families stay in their homes. Here, she introduces Oscar and Carol Granado, a couple whose home was renovated thanks to the organization.

Difference Maker Colleen Loveless, executive director of the Springfield chapter of Rebuilding Together, was recognized this year for her work to help low-income families stay in their homes. Here, she introduces Oscar and Carol Granado, a couple whose home was renovated thanks to the organization.

The Melha Shriners were recognized as Difference Makers for their commitment to bettering children’s lives, especially through their support of Shriners Hospitals for Children. Here, Potentate William Faust shares some thoughts with the audience after receiving the award on behalf of the organization.

The Melha Shriners were recognized as Difference Makers for their commitment to bettering children’s lives, especially through their support of Shriners Hospitals for Children. Here, Potentate William Faust shares some thoughts with the audience after receiving the award on behalf of the organization.

Michael Moriarty, honored as a Difference Maker for his work in youth literacy, shares his thoughts on that subject after receiving his award.

Michael Moriarty, honored as a Difference Maker for his work in youth literacy, shares his thoughts on that subject after receiving his award.

Meghan Lynch, right, president of Six-Point Creative Works, an event sponsor, networks with, from left, Gwen Burke, senior advertising consultant at BusinessWest; Jeremy Casey, assistant vice president of Commercial Services at Westfield Bank; and Peter Ellis, creative director at DIF Design.

Meghan Lynch, right, president of Six-Point Creative Works, an event sponsor, networks with, from left, Gwen Burke, senior advertising consultant at BusinessWest; Jeremy Casey, assistant vice president of Commercial Services at Westfield Bank; and Peter Ellis, creative director at DIF Design.

Features
Summit Will Shine a Spotlight on the Importance of Literacy
Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball, will speak about the importance of literacy at the Oct. 4 event.

Gianna Allentuck calls it “the snowball effect.”

She’s referring to research that shows that, when communities implement successful literacy programs, businesses, families, and society reap real benefits that boost the economy.

Allentuck is an adjustment counselor at Elias Brookings School in Springfield and the person who gave birth to the upcoming literacy-based event, “United in Hope: A Community Comes Together.”

On Oct. 4 at 2 p.m., national media personality Chris Matthews will convene a free, inspirational program about literacy programs in the area. It will be staged at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield in collaboration with WWLP-22 News, and will include an address by Matthews as well as compelling stories.

“We hope to encourage people in the audience to volunteer and become involved in the literacy effort as they hear stories of success,” Allentuck said. “More volunteers means more services can be offered. And if more students graduate from high school, more will go to college or into the work force, which will make Springfield stronger economically. Then, businesses from other parts of the state or other states will pay attention to this city.”

The afternoon will begin with a talk by Matthews about the importance of education in maintaining America’s standing in the world.

The author, international journalist, and political commentator is host of the MSNBC show Hardball with Chris Matthews as well as a weekly syndicated news program.

Allentuck worked as a nanny for his children years ago and invited him to lead the conference. “His job is to educate people and make them think about issues and pay attention to them,” she said.

There will also be presentations about five successful Springfield-based literacy programs. The event will be conducted in a town-hall-meeting style to allow people to interact with presenters.

Maura Geary, project manager for the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County’s LiteracyWorks initiative, says literacy and education is a continuum.

“It’s a fundamental part of the health and vitality of our community,” she said. “The business community consistently tells us they depend on a literate and skilled workforce. It can influence whether a business locates or remains in an area. We know literacy begins at birth and continues through school years and into adulthood.”

The first presentation will focus on the importance of exposing children to reading and books at a young age. It will be given by Bonnie McCain from the Early Childhood Center of Greater Springfield. “She is a really excellent teacher who has done a lot of training in the community,” said Geary. “She has also had a lot of success in helping children learn to read and helping parents implement strategies at home to improve the literacy of young children.”

The second presentation, by representatives from the Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative, will focus on the importance of summer programs.

Research from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation shows that children in low-income families start school with a pronounced literacy gap. Although they may catch up during the school year, the gap remains and increases every summer. “There is a two-month gap when they enter kindergarten, which increases to a two-year gap by fifth grade,” said Geary.

Hasbro runs a very effective program to reduce this gap that involves 3,500 children in 40 programs in Greater Springfield. It operates via a theme-based approach that includes options ranging from hip hop and drumming to theater and a hands-on Connecticut River Watershed program.

“Hasbro’s program was developed by local experts and is aligned with the Massachusetts School Curriculum Framework,” said Geary.

BusinessWest’s Difference Makers class of 2009 raised money to purchase 350 books for a component of the Hasbro program in which teachers work with children identified as struggling readers. Also, the magazine has committed to making literacy an ongoing focus for future classes of Difference Makers.

The third success story comes from the Big Y Youth Employment Mentoring Program. It’s a partnership with Springfield Public Schools to reduce the high school dropout rate, which stands at 60% in Springfield and Holyoke.

Although this statistic, combined with the poverty rate, educational gaps, and budget cuts can paint a negative picture, Geary said the program will make people aware of the “incredible things going on in our community.”

Leslie Lawrence is a shining example of the difference an individual can make. The Springfield Schools volunteer has succesfully recruited hundreds of volunteers and mentors. She and her mentee will talk share their experiences and what it takes to make a difference in the life of a young person.

“Research shows that in order to be successful in school and in life, children need a significant or meaningful relationship with an adult. But there are many children who don’t have that,” said Geary.

The afternoon program will also include a focus on adult-literacy programs. Geary said 17% of adults over the age of 25 in Hampden County don’t have a high-school diploma, and 22% of the population age 5 and older speak a language other than English at home.

“We know that adults need to have access to language and literacy programs to become productive citizens, better workers, and good members of the community,” said Geary. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, more than 1,200 adults are desperately waiting for spots to open in literacy progams in Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee.

Angelica Bay, who came to the U.S. from Russia in 1992, will share the story of how literacy programs helped her soar to success. The 19-year-old couldn’t speak a word of English when she arrived here, but thanks to local programs, she earned a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst, is working towards a master’s degree, and is personally responsible for helping 16 people learn English and find employment.

Event organizers include Literacy-Works, the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation’s READ! Reading Success by Fourth Grade program, Springfield Public Schools, and WWLP-22 News.

Departments

An Exciting Chapter

As part of a program called “Putting the Accent on Literacy, One Book at a Time,” BusinessWest and its Difference Makers Class of 2009 coordinated a book drive in conjunction with the Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative, which links young people with books during the summer months when they are away from school. On Aug. 5, program participants gathered for a reception and book reading at the Dunbar Community Center in Springfield. At right, Maura Geary, project coordinator for the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, reads Mia Hamm’s “Winners Never Quit” with Tea Webster; below, right, Trevis Wray, representing the Young Professionals Society of Greater Springfield, reads “Where the Wild Things Are” with Chris Benoite; below, BusinessWest Associate Publisher Kate Campiti reads “A Chair for My Mother” with Tahjai Lewis.

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