Community Action honors helpers of those Valley residents in need

  • Deerfield Academy students Miles Manafee, left, and Tom Slack, right, accept Community Action's Jane Sanders Achievement Award on behalf of Deerfield Foods Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2017 at the Hadley Farms Meeting House. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo. Recorder Staff—Andy Castillo

  • Student Miles Manafee accepts Jane Sanders Award, with Tom Slack Friday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Hillside Plastics representatives Mike Cornelius and Stacey Curtis accept the Harmon Personnel Employer of the Year Award from Mary Clare Higgins on Friday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Ellen Story, former Amherst state representative, accepts Community Action's Sargent Shriver Public Service Award during an awards breakfast Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, at the Hadley Farms Meeting House. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo. Recorder Staff—Andy Castillo

  • Greenfield High School Senior Mariam Samake accepts the Community Action Youth Award Friday. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

For the Bulletin
Thursday, February 23, 2017

HADLEY — Local organizations and community leaders who’ve made an impact serving needy populations were honored by Community Action at its annual awards breakfast the morning of Feb. 17.

“I do want to say, as I look around this room and see people from our agency and our community — we’re in uncharted waters, and we have to figure out how to help those in our community,” said Community Action Executive Director Mary Clare Higgins to an audience of about 100 gathered at the Hadley Farms Meeting House.

One of the inspirations for finding ways to help, however, was Jane Sanders, the organization’s former director who passed away earlier this month.

“Jane was the director here for 15 years,” Higgins said, before presenting the awards. “Her service goes back decades in this region — and she’s really missed by a lot of people.”

In honor of Sanders, Deerfield Foods received the Jane Sanders Achievement Award, which recognizes commitment to community service and leadership. Deerfield Foods is a volunteer nonprofit organization which sells discount, quality food by purchasing in bulk through Deerfield Academy’s network.

Higgins said the award is deserving, because “we look for someone who has stepped up in community action, in Jane’s spirit — and this year we’re honoring Deerfield Foods”

Community Action’s Youth Award went to Marium Aamake, a Greenfield High School senior, for volunteering in many different social organizations at the school.

Erin Joyce received the 2017 Volunteer Award, and Hillside Plastics, a Turners Falls business that makes plastic containers such as those used for maple syrup, is this year’s Harmon Personnel Employer of the Year, for employing people with lower incomes.

And Ellen Story, who served as 3rd Hampshire District’s state Rep. for nearly 25 years, received the Sargent Shriver Public Service Award.

Community Action, which covers Franklin, Hampshire counties and the North Quabbin Region, runs six community assistance programs including family support including WIC, home energy and food assistance, and adult education.

By way of recapping the past year, Higgins focused on the organization’s Parent-Child Development Center (an educational program), saying, “our teachers are doing a lot right in those classrooms, and I’d like to thank them for all they’re doing. These are some of the highest risk children.”

According to Community Action’s website, the organization is “committed to upholding the common good by offering leadership, advocacy, and concrete resources that support children, youth, individuals, families, and local communities to thrive.”