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Difference Makers to Be Feted on March 20 at the Log Cabin

BizDiffMakrsLOGO2011You might call this the ‘Home Depot class.’

Indeed, there are some notable building, or home-restoration, stories involving this year’s roster of Difference Makers, as chosen recently by the staff at BusinessWest.

For example, there was the massive effort 30 years ago to restore and repurpose an old Victorian on Sheldon Street in Springfield, a structure — and a nonprofit — that have both become known as the Gray House. There was also the extensive work needed to convert the former School Street School in Springfield into the Youth Social Educational Training (YSET) Academy, created by Paula Moore to help keep young people off the city’s streets and out of trouble.

And then, there’s the ongoing work being carried out by Colleen Loveless, the first executive director of the Springfield chapter of Rebuilding Together, a national organization committed to helping low-income homeowners stay in their homes.

But beyond these literal building projects, the Difference Makers Class of 2014 has been figuratively building momentum in a number of realms — everything from early literacy to vital support for low-income residents, to high-quality healthcare for young people — and thus giving this region a stronger foundation on which to build for the future.

These stories will be told — and the Class of 2014 will be celebrated — at the annual Difference Makers Gala on March 20 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke.

Tickets for the event are $60 each, with tables of 10 available. For more information, or to order tickets, call BusinessWest at (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or visit here.

The Difference Makers program was launched by BusinessWest in 2009 as a different kind of recognition program. It was created to show the many different ways that groups and individuals can make a difference and improve quality of the life for the residents of Western Mass., and it has, by all accounts, succeeded in that mission.

Past recipients have been honored for work across many spectrums, from fighting crime in Holyoke to creating a hugely successful fund-raiser to combat breast cancer; from tireless work on behalf of the homeless to a 40-year effort to keep professional hockey alive and well in Springfield; from a creative initiative to give residents of Springfield’s North End their streets back, to inspiring work to fill the shelves of area school libraries.

This year’s class, as profiled in the Feb. 10 edition of the magazine (viewable here), certainly adds to that legacy of stepping up and giving back.

The honorees are:

The Gray House, which, for three decades now, has provided a range of services — from food and clothing to adult education programs — to not only residents of Springfield’s North End, but those who live in other sections of the city and other communities as well;

• Colleen Loveless, who, as the first executive director of the Springfield Chapter of Rebuilding Together, has put that organization on the path to continued growth, and positioned it to have a deep impact on both individual homeowners and entire neighborhoods within the city;

• The Melha Shrine Temple, the first fraternal organization recognized as a Difference Maker. It is changing lives in many ways, but especially through its efforts to fund the many Shriners Children’s Hospitals operating in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada (including the one on Carew Street in Springfield), and also by raising awareness of these facilities and thus bringing more children and families in need to their doors;

• Paula Moore, who started Youth Social Educational Training (YSET) Academy as a way to keep at-risk youths off the streets. And when the church that hosted the program decided it couldn’t do that any longer, she personally secured a loan and purchased the former School Street School to keep the initiative alive. Today, it provides a host of services, from preschool to after-school workshops on a wide variety of subjects; and

• Michael Moriarty
, an attorney, current director of the Olde Holyoke Development Corp., and now-former school committee member, who has been at the forefront of efforts to improve early-literacy rates in one of the Commonwealth’s poorest and most challenged communities.

The March 20 gala will feature entertainment, butlered hors d’oeuvres, lavish food stations, introductions of the honorees, and remarks from the honorees. Over the years, the gala has become one of the region’s best networking opportunities, and an event not to be missed.

This year will be no exception.

Deadline Approaches for Finalizing the Class of 2014

The clock is ticking, but there is still time to nominate an individual or group for BusinessWest’s Difference Makers class of 2014.
Nominations, which can be completed online here will be accepted until the close of the business day (5 p.m.) on Dec. 20.
Difference Makers is the program BusinessWest launched in 2007 to recognize those who are, as the name suggests, making a difference in the region called Western Mass. Over the years, winners have come from a number of fields and been involved in a host of endeavors — from filling shelves in school libraries to creating a hugely successful fund-raiser to battle breast cancer; from fighting crime in Holyoke to making a community college more of a force in efforts to build a quality workforce in the region.
And in recent weeks, a number of nominations have been received that reinforce the notion that there are, indeed, many ways in which a group or individual can make a difference, said Kate Campiti, associate publisher of BusinessWest.
She noted that individuals and organizations representing several sectors, from healthcare to education to the nonprofit realm, have been nominated.
“Each year, we’re reminded that there are many ways to make a difference, and people and groups that are making a positive impact on overall quality of life in this region,” she said. “In recent years, we’ve had some hard decisions to make about who will be honored at our annual event in March, and this year is no exception.”
The class of 2014 will be selected by the editors and publishers of BusinessWest, and their stories will be told in a special section that will appear in the Feb. 10 edition of the magazine.
The annual Difference Makers awards event will be staged March 20 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. For more information on the Difference Makers program, call the magazine’s editor, George O’Brien, at (413) 781-8600, ext. 102.

Previous Difference Makers:


• Doug Bowen, president and CEO of PeoplesBank;
• Kate Kane, managing director of the Springfield office of Northwestern Mutual Financial/the Zuzolo Group;
• Susan Jaye-Kaplan, founder of GoFIT and co-founder of Link to Libraries;
• William Ward, executive director of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County; and
• The Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield


• The Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation;
• Ellen Freyman, attorney and shareholder at Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C.;
• James Goodwin, president and CEO of the Center for Human Development;
• Carol Katz, CEO of the Loomis Communities; and
• UMass Amherst and its chancellor, Robert Holub.

• Tim Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission;
• Lucia Giuggio Carlvalho, founder of Rays of Hope;
• Don Kozera, president of Human Resources Unlimited;
• Robert Perry, retired partner/consultant with Meyers Brothers Kalicka; and
• Anthony Scott, Holyoke police chief.

• Charlie and Donald D’Amour, president/COO and chairman/CEO, respectively, of Big Y Foods;
• William Messner, president of Holyoke Community College;
• Majors Tom and Linda-Jo Perks, officers of the Springfield Corps of the Salvation Army;
• Bob Schwarz, executive vice president of Peter Pan Bus Lines; and
• The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts.

• Michael Cutone, John Barbieri, and Thomas Sarrouf, organizers of Springfield’s C3 Policing program;
• John Downing, president of Soldier On;
• Bruce Landon, president and general manager of the Springfield Falcons;
• The Sisters of Providence; and
• Jim Vinick, senior vice president of Investments at Moors & Cabot Inc.