Knapik honored for community spirit

State Sen. Michael R. Knapik is the recipient of the 20th Annual American Red Cross Outstanding Community Spirit Testimonial.
The gala event is set for April 27 at Tekoa Country Club and will include live and silent auctions, dinner, testimonial and live music from the Westfield High School Jazz Ensemble.
Knapik said he was “honored” to be chosen for the award, a presentation he has participated in for most of its 20 years.
“Past recipients include Gaetana Aliotta, Angie Holmes, Rick Sullivan, Al Ferst, John Reed and Jim Hagen,” said Knapik. “I am put in a pantheon of really wonderful people.”
American Red Cross Westfield Chapter Director Rich Rubin said each yea, a person is selected who  is outstanding in Westfield and the surrounding area.
“The committee has always chosen someone who has made their mark on the community and Mike is one of those people.” said Rubin.
The annual testimonial is also the American Red Cross Greater Westfield Chapter’s largest fundraising event. Rubin said it is “significant” to the chapter.
“This is their largest fundraiser in the city,” said Knapik, who touted the group for its efforts last year in particular.
“Given the natural disasters of the past year, this group was really tested,” he said. “These people volunteered and helped residents, volunteered at shelters and at the university.”
“The Red Cross is there during the worst times in people’s lives,” Knapik said. “Whether it’s a fire or widespread natural disaster.”
Knapik said he was touched to be part of the organization that helps so many people.
“I am honored to be recognized by an organization we are fortunate to have in our hometown,” Knapik said.
The Westfield chapter formed in the 1920’s and has been in its offices on Broad Street since the 1940s, said Knapik, who said he hopes the community comes out to support the chapter at the testimonial.
“I am asking citizens to be very supportive and generous,” said Knapik. “We need to support those who aid us in our time of need.”
Knapik said the American red Cross is hoping to raise $40,000.
“I am asking folks to support this in any way they can, knowing 2011 was a historic year,” said Knapik.
The event starts at 5:50 p.m. with a cocktail hour where participants can bid on 40 silent auction items, preview eight live auction items, and enjoy the jazz ensemble and hors d’oeuvres.
Dinner is at 7 p.m. with testimonials from Rubin, Mayor Daniel Knapik, and Hampden County Clerk of Courts Brian Lees. The live auction will follow.

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