SPRINGFIELD — The Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts announced the five recipients of its 2016 William Pynchon Awards Friday in advance of an award dinner set for Oct. 27.
The Order of William Pynchon class of 2016 is: Michaelann Bewsee, Jack Dill, Gale Kirkwood, Brian Tuohey and Angela Wright.
Named for Springfield's founder, the award recognizes people from Western Massachusetts for longtime community involvement.
"They are really selected because they committed a large part of their life to making Western Massachusetts a better place to live, to work and to raise a family," said Teresa Utt, chairwoman of the Pynchon Awards board of trustees.
Members of the Pynchon board nominate recipients who are then vetted by the group.
Dill, CEO of Colebrook Reality in Springfield, said the accomplishments of his fellow recipients mark Springfield as a unique place.
"It really represents community and the social contract here," Dill said.
The 101st Pynchon Awards will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Tickets are $75 and available online soon at www.adclubwm.org.
Bewsee was honored for her efforts at Arise for Social Justice. The organization, which advocates for economic justice and environmental causes, has waged long legal fights against the former Solutia Chemical plant in the Indian Orchard section of Springfield and against the proposed Palmer Renewable Energy biomass plant in East Springfield.
"What I have hoped to do is help communities see lower income people as an asset," she said. "Because lower income people have tremendous dedication to their families and their communities and are very creative."
Dill focuses his efforts on education and on affordable housing. He sits on the boards of the Mass Housing Investment Corp, Baystate Health, WGBY and the YMCA of Greater Springfield.
Kirkwood was instrumental in locating a Ronald McDonald House in Springfield. She has helped raise $13 million for breast cancer research through Rays of Hope and is a trustee at American International College. AIC president Vincent Maniaci nominated her for the Pynchon.
"I have met so many people who love this community and want the best for it," Kirkwood said. "And they are willing to work to make it successful."
Wright, of Holyoke, was honored for her work with the Girl Scouts, Holyoke Community College and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and for helping to save the Holyoke Merry-go-round after Mountain Park closed in 1987.
She spoke of her time with the Girl Scouts.
"There is nothing cuter than a Brownie on a street corner selling cookies," she said.
She also founded Maple House in Holyoke, which was a transitional home for 16 individuals recovering from mental illness. Today, it is part of an organization called Foundations Inc. that places people in apartments.
Tuohey was honored for efforts on behalf of Brightside for Families and Children, Habitat for Humanity and raising money for the Sisters of St. Joseph after the Holyoke-based nuns learned that, with an average age of 76, they were in danger of running out of money to care for their aging members.
He's also active in Residents Encounter Christ, a program for inmates at the Hampden County Jail.
"Your first though it. 'I'm not worthy,'" Touhey said of learning he was one of this year's recipients.
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