The Association for Community Living Hosts Annual Honors Event For Individuals Served, Employees, Community Members and Programs

Success stories were plentiful at the agency’s annual meeting at the Log Cabin June 16

SPRINGFIELD – As an organization that improves the lives of people living with a disability and their families, The Association for Community Living had many stories of transformation to share at its Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony last month.

Before an audience of roughly 300 individuals served, their families, staff, board members, volunteers and donors, Executive Director Barbara Pilarcik proudly offered up multiple awards for individuals served in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. Achievements noted ranged from dedication in tackling volunteer work to accepting new challenges and life transitions with courage.

Pilarcik also presented achievement and anniversary awards to agency programs at the June 16 event at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, and she highlighted outstanding staff contributions and overall agency successes in the past year.

In addition to other accomplishments, 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.”

Pilarcik also held a moment of silence for 14 friends of The Association who died in the past year.

“They say that you meet the people you are supposed to meet on the path of your life,” Pilarcik said. “We are indeed fortunate that we were able to have the benefit of traveling with each one of these dearly beloved ones.”

Pilarcik presented the following achievement awards to individuals throughout western Mass. who are served by the agency:

In Hampden County:

Ellen Auchter of Westfield, for courage in beginning a new day program last September while also battling a medical condition.  “Since starting the new program, Ellen enjoys many more activities, such as listening to music, joining in an arts and crafts class and reading magazines,” Pilarcik said. “She continues to maintain her positive spirit and is working hard to get back to activities with her friends.”

Mary Jane Cleveland of Westfield, for facing with a positive attitude a very serious health challenge that required surgery and extended treatments and for triumphing over a move to a supported living environment at the same time. “Her energy at times seemed never-ending, no matter what her day had been like,” Pilarcik said. “Her physicians said this had much to do with her subsequent successful recovery.”

Linda Hardick of Westfield, for volunteering in the garden at her home and assisting staff in washing, peeling and preparing vegetables in healthy meals such as eggplant parmesan, tossed salads and tomato basil salad.  “Linda is waiting eagerly for the first ripe vegetables to be ready to pick and eat this year,” Pilarcik said.

Darlene Kalich of Westfield, for accepting a move from her home with a care provider back into a residential setting. “Darlene surprised everyone, most of all herself,” Pilarcik said, noting that Kalich began to work on walking independently, lost weight and took part in several day trips. “With continued determination, we know that Darlene will reach her goal of walking on her own, with just her walker to assist her,” Pilarcik said.

Nancy Rich of Monson, for courage and strength in accepting her new home and family at McCray Circle. “Nancy has blossomed.  Now we see her wonderful sense of humor, and she loves to laugh,” Pilarcik said. “She now says, ‘I’m at home.’ ” 

Carmelina “Lina” Durocher, 11, of Springfield, for acting on her passion for creating art, producing beautiful paintings for her family and selling her work at fairs, conferences and other community events.  “Lina is learning money management, customer service and using socially appropriate behavior,” Pilarcik said. “She has also learned that hard work pays off.”

Elizabeth “Betsy” Sullivan of Westfield, for battling a serious medical condition and following “doctors’ orders.” “Elizabeth, you are a strong woman, and we congratulate you on your determination to be healthy,” Pilarcik said.

Charis Barrett of Springfield, for managing her emotions and her impulses.  “Charis has learned to maintain her composure and can verbalize her disappointments,” Pilarcik said. “In addition to this emotional growth, she was also able to lose 40 pounds.  She was able to achieve her dream and went on an overnight vacation to Disneyworld.”

In Hampshire County:

Gerry Theriault of Easthampton, for determination and self-improvement efforts that led to a move from Amherst, the lowering of his utility bills and getting a dog for company. “This move has shown how hard Gerry worked to become the person that he is today,” Pilarcik said.

In Franklin County:

Donald “Donny” Frederick of Buckland, for accepting new social challenges and taking part in a recreational program known as All Out Adventures.  “Donald thoroughly enjoys discovering new things, and he has found out that he loves the outdoors,” Pilarcik said.

William “Bill” Quigley of Buckland, for volunteering at the Salvation Army, cleaning up local parks and planting flowers at Buckland Town Hall. “We are very proud of you, Bill, and the dedication you have shown to making the Buckland community a better place to live,” Pilarcik said.

These other awards were also presented to community members, care providers and agency staff:

The Nancy Patridge Direct Support Professional Award to Suhaiylah Abdul-Hakim of Springfield, a direct support professional at the Agawam residence, for dedication to her work.

The Michel Reberkenny Supervisor Award to Kathleen Salois of Wilbraham, vice president of Human Resources, for embodying the characteristics of a good leader and creating a high-performing human resources team that has a lot of fun.

The Robert V. Agoglia Community Living Award to Peter McLean of Florence, The Association’s training coordinator, for optimism and exuberance in his work; and Halley Philips of Ashford, Conn., an artist, for her good work in directing the agency’s Saturday Expressive Art Classes. 

The Paul D’Amato Volunteer Award to Susan Hurt of Wilbraham, Chair of the Development Committee, a member of the Personnel Committee, the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee and now, the first vice-president of the Board.  “Susan is an exceptional person. She has a genuine interest in our employees and in the individuals we serve,” Pilarcik said.

The Charles E. Veith Community Service Award, to Don Poulin of Smith Brothers Insurance in Easthampton for his thorough work with the agency’s Human Resources team; David Hastings, chief of the Gill Police Department, Gene Beaubien, Gill Fire Chief; Doug Edson, Chairman Gill Board of Health; and Ray Purdington, E-911 Coordinator, Town of Gill for all their help, above and beyond, with ensuring residents safety and their courtesy to residents and staff in two residential home programs in Gill.

The Care Provider Recognition Award, to Anne Marie Corrieri and John Perrin, both of Wilbraham, care providers for the agency’s Specialized Home Care division, for “truly exemplifying the spirit of shared living.”

Special Recognition Award to Crawford Lincoln of Enfield, Conn., and Marie Stebbins of Longmeadow, volunteers and corporators of the agency who helped raise a total of $4.24 million in unrestricted funds over 15 years; Stebbins was married to the late Richard Stebbins, a beloved civic leader and highly accomplished banking executive.   

The Sally Barnhart Award, presented to James Foard, Jr. of Longmeadow for his service as president of the Board of Directors for the past two years. Foard joined the board in 2007 and serves as first vice president of Keady Foard Montemagni Wealth Management Group. He led the agency’s Development Committee and consistently supports all the agency fundraising efforts, raising approximately $450,000 each year.

Pilarcik also recognized these agency programs celebrating milestone anniversaries this year: Whole Children, five years; Family Empowerment, 20 years; and Valley Tees, 20 years.

For more information about the services and programs of The Association for Community Living, visit

Photo by John Phelan via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0