SPRINGFIELD – Carmelina “Lina” Durocher is only 11, but she is already learning how to promote her creative talents as an entrepreneur.
Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Durocher has found a passion in creating art. She first began painting for her family and then expanded her market. “She was able to take this passion to create an important milestone in her young life by selling her paintings at fairs, conferences and other community outings,” said Barbara Pilarcik, executive director of The Association for Community Living in Springfield, a nonprofit that provides an array of services to people living with disabilities, including Durocher.
“Through this experience, Lina is learning money management, customer service and socially appropriate behavior as she deals with those who are looking through her artwork,” Pilarcik added. “These efforts have assisted Lina with creating greater independence in her life and allows growth for personal development. She has also learned that hard work pays off.”
Pilarcik’s comments were offered on June 16 during the association’s Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, where Durocher received an achievement award for acting on her passion and producing and selling her artwork.
In addition to presenting 11 achievement awards to individuals served in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties, Pilarcik also honored staff with awards and discussed milestones the organization accomplished over the past year.
Pilarcik highlighted that the agency:
- Held its first-ever Leadership Institute, providing high-quality management training to 20 emerging leaders at the agency.
- Partnered with Baystate Health to present “Crash Reel” to over 200 community members. “Crash Reel” is a documentary that tells the story of a New England family and their son, an Olympic ski boarder who is recovering from a horrific head injury.
- Produced an original play, “Once Upon a Bog,” involving more than 30 teens and adults from the Whole Children and Milestones programs to a sold-out audience.
- Opened a new, fully accessible Residential Services home on Meadow Street in Agawam.
“These are just some of the highlights we have experienced,” Pilarcik said. “They don’t begin to capture the many acts of kindness that occur daily at The Association for Community Living.”
For more information about the services and programs of The Association for Community Living, visit www.theassociationinc.org.