Horace Mann Awards tonight

WESTFIELD – Westfield State University (WSU) will honor four members of the community this evening with the inaugural Horace Mann Award for Public Service.
The Horace Mann Award for Public Service recognizes area residents who embody the spirit of Horace Mann (1796-1839), a public servant, social reformer and founder of Westfield State University.
Receiving the award are Deanna L. Clark, Kathleen E. Damon, James C. Hagan, and Ann D. Lentini.
Considered by many to be “the Father of American Education,” Mann believed in the power of education to improve society and the value of community service to change lives.
WSU Vice President for Alumni and Community Nancy Salvidio said the first honorees were chosen for their dedication to serving the community.
“They are outstanding in the community, as well as having an impact on the university,” said Salvidio.
In her position, Salvidio said she is honored to work closely with people in the city who “go above and beyond” to help others.
Each of the 2012 Horace Mann Award recipients is a role model, she said, whose life of service reflects the rich legacy of Horace Mann and the community service traditions of Westfield State.
Clark is a consummate volunteer who has served as a WSU trustee.
Her involvement in community services began 45 years ago, when as a young mother, she decided to join the Westfield Woman’s Club. She became actively involved in fundraisers for the club and chaired the 2003 Garden Tea committee. She also founded its Sponsorship Committee, which she chaired for four years, adding to the club’s revenue by producing a program for the Garden Tea. An avid photographer, she also has provided photographs for the cover of Garden Tea Programs.
Clark is a volunteer at Stanley Park, serves on the Noble Hospital Visiting Nurse and Hospice Board, the Scholarship Committee of the Westfield State College Foundation and as a corporator for the Westfield Athenaeum, Shurtleff Children’s Services and the Sara Gillette Elder Services.
In 2005, the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers honored Damon’s outstanding public service career by presenting her with its Greatest Contribution to Social Work Practice award.
For nearly 20 years, Damon has overseen the delivery of a broad array of behavioral health, education, and wellness services at the Carson Center for Human Services in Westfield – first as Executive Director from 1991-2008 and then as CEO from 2008 to the present. She plans to retire later this year. Founded in 1963, The Carson Center for Human Services is a private, nonprofit agency that provides behavioral health and rehabilitation services in communities throughout western Massachusetts.
Hagen has demonstrated significant contributions to his alma mater through his volunteerism, length of service, and philanthropic support.
As a Westfield native, Hagan’s connections with Westfield State go back generations. As a bat boy for the Westfield State baseball team in his childhood years, he first volunteered for the college. While a member of the Class of 1984, he balanced his academic life with participation on the soccer and baseball teams.As Chair of the Westfield State College Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Westfield State College Foundation, Mr. Hagan provided loyal and effective stewardship from 1996 to 2001.
Lentini has continued to distinguish herself an inspirational community leader and volunteer. Indeed, the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women named her one of the 100 Unsung Heroines in the Commonwealth in 2011.
As founder and Executive Director of Domus, Inc., a non-profit property management organization that provides low/moderate income housing opportunities to Westfield’s diverse population, Lentini has improved the lives of countless individuals. When the great need for GED classes in Westfield was identified, Ann formed The Westfield Community Education Committee, bringing together representatives from Westfield State University, Holyoke Community College, the Westfield Athenaeum and Volunteers in Public Schools and other community volunteers to address the dearth of GED programs.
The recipients will receive honorary degrees, something Salvidio said is not easy to accomplish. Once identified, the recipients must be vetted by the WSU honorary degree committee and must be approved by the university’s board of trustees.
Salvidio said she hopes the Horace Mann Award becomes a tradition and added that WSU President Evan Dobelle is very supportive of the award and community involvement in the city.
“His leadership really allows us and encourages us to do this,” said Salvidio.
The event to honor the Horace Mann Award recipients is tonight at WSU’s Scanlon Hall from 5-7 p.m.

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