Gazette presents community leadership awards

  • Daily Hampshire Gazette Person of the Year Barbara Black, right, of Northampton, and Daily Hampshire Gazette Young Community Leader Award winner Allison Jenks, a Hopkins Academy senior, after a reception for them Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst.

  • United Way of Hampshire County Executive Director Jim Ayres speaks during a reception for the Daily Hampshire Gazette Person of the Year and the Young Community Leader, Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hopkins Academy Principal Brian Beck, right, hugs Daily Hampshire Gazette Young Community Leader Award winner and Hopkins senior Allison Jenks during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hadley Select Board member Gerald T. Devine, right, speaks about Daily Hampshire Gazette Young Community Leader Award winner and Hopkins Academy senior Allison Jenks, center, during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. Hopkins Academy Principal Brian Beck smiles, left. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hadley Select Board member Gerald T. Devine hugs Daily Hampshire Gazette Young Community Leader Award winner and Hopkins Academy senior Allison Jenks during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hadley Select Board member Gerald T. Devine presents a citation to Daily Hampshire Gazette Young Community Leader Award winner and Hopkins Academy senior Allison Jenks during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hopkins Academy Principal Brian Beck, right, speaks about Daily Hampshire Gazette Young Community Leader Award winner and Hopkins senior Allison Jenks, left, during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. Gazette Publisher Michael Rifanburg is in the background. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Keith Barnicle, right, who is an assistant to U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, speaks before giving a certificate to Hampshire Gazette Young Community Leader Award winner and Hopkins Academy senior Allison Jenks, center, during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. Hopkins Academy Principal Brian Beck smiles, left. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Keith Barnicle, right, who is an assistant to U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, gives a certificate to Hampshire Gazette Young Community Leader Award winner and Hopkins Academy senior Allison Jenks during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Keith Barnicle, right, who is an assistant to U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, gives a certificate to Hampshire Gazette Young Community Leader Award winner and Hopkins Academy senior Allison Jenks during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Allison Jenks, a Hopkins Academy senior, receives a certificate, from State Rep. John Scibak's office, from Gazette Publisher Michael Rifanburg during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst.

  • Daily Hampshire Gazette Person of the Year Barbara Black, of Northampton, laughs as former Northampton Mayor Clare Higgins speaks about her during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst.

  • Allison Jenks, a Hopkins Academy senior, receives a certificate, from Governor Baker's office, from Gazette Publisher Michael Rifanburg during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst.

  • Daily Hampshire Gazette Young Community Leader Award winner and Hopkins Academy senior Allison Jenks receives applause from Hopkins Principal Brian Beck, left, and Gazette Publisher Michael Rifanburg during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Former Northampton mayor Clare Higgins speaks about Daily Hampshire Gazette Person of the Year Barbara Black, of Northampton, during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daily Hampshire Gazette Person of the Year Barbara Black, of Northampton, right, receives applause from Pamela Smith, left, Mandy Gerry, center, and others, after receiving her award during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. Smith and Gerry work with Black at Jackson Street School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Allison Jenks, a Hopkins Academy senior, receives the Daily Hampshire Gazette Young Community Leader Award from Gazette Publisher Michael Rifanburg during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daily Hampshire Gazette Person of the Year Barbara Black, of Northampton, shares a moment with United Way of Hampshire County Executive Director Jim Ayres during a reception for her Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daily Hampshire Gazette Young Community Leader Award winner Allison Jenks shares a moment with her grandmother, Linda Goulet, during a reception Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • United Way of Hampshire County Executive Director Jim Ayres, left, speaks during a reception for the Daily Hampshire Gazette Person of the Year and the Young Community Leader, Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daily Hampshire Gazette Publisher Michael Rifanburg, at podium, speaks during a reception to honor the Gazette Person of the Year and the Young Community Leader, Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daily Hampshire Gazette Person of the Year Barbara Black, of Northampton, right, shares a moment with Maria Garcia during a reception for her Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Daily Hampshire Gazette Publisher Michael Rifanburg, at podium, speaks during a reception to honor the Gazette Person of the Year and the Young Community Leader, Tuesday at Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

Published: 4/26/2017 12:30:08 AM

AMHERST — Around 100 people gathered Tuesday evening to watch as the Gazette presented its Person of the Year and Young Community Leader awards.

Longtime early childhood educator Barbara Black and 18-year-old Hopkins Academy senior Allison Jenks accepted their awards to standing ovations at the Lord Jeffery Inn. The two received $500 and $250 prizes, respectively, half of which was donated to a charity of their choice.

The awards were given in partnership with United Way of Hampshire County

The night started with Jenks, whose resume stacked with accomplishments won her the Gazette’s inaugural Young Community Leader award. Jenks is president of Hopkins’ Pro Merito Honor Society, captained her school’s basketball and soccer teams, is on the Student Council, plays in the band, mentors her peers and works during the school year at both T.J.Maxx and the Maple Valley Creamery & Local Scoop Shop.

“As a high school principal for the last 13 years, I’ve never felt so honored to speak about a student as I am this evening,” Hopkins Academy Principal Brian Beck told the audience. “Allison’s leadership and dedication have had a remarkably positive impact on our classrooms, our students and our community.”

In February, Jenks took part in a volunteer trip to Nicaragua with the organization La Esperanza Granada, to which she donated half of her award.

“This award is one of the greatest honors I have received,” she said. “I have learned invaluable lessons from academics, sports and community service. I hope to take these lessons with me throughout college and the rest of my life.”

Teachers and family were in attendance to cheer for Jenks, who will be attending the University of Connecticut next year to study allied health science.

“I’m so incredibly proud of her,” her grandmother, 74-year-old Linda Goulet, told the Gazette. “It’s not surprising. She’s a leader, she’s always been a leader.”

Next up was Black, the renowned early childhood coordinator for Northampton Public Schools.

Black graduated from New York’s Stony Brook University in 1971, after which she began working at a child care center helping low-income families in New York, where she was born and raised.

After taking graduate courses at night at Bank Street College of Education in Manhattan, Black moved to Northampton in 1978 to take a job as a teacher at the now-defunct Hampshire Community Action Commission, where former mayor Clare Higgins was one of the teachers on the hiring committee that brought Black on board.

“I’m going to cry right away, so let’s get that over with,” Higgins said as she took the mic on Tuesday.

Higgins spoke about Black’s leadership at HCAC first as a teacher and later as day care director, a position she held until 1996 when she took her current position heading the city’s early childhood program.

“That kind of leadership grew a network of advocates for young children, some of whom are in this room today,” Higgins said.

Those advocates, Higgins said, were in awe as Black, who is blind, led them around Boston to “fearlessly march around the Statehouse to tell people what we thought.

“Now, of course, we’re still fighting the same battles, and we’re going to be fighting the same battles because, as Barbara would tell us, it’s a part of a bigger problem,” she said.

“But we moved the ball, right? We’ve got a little further down the way, to a point now where across the country, people are saying early education is critical for young children, for the health of our communities, for the health of our economy,” Higgins said. “That wasn’t what we were talking about 30 years ago.”

“You talk in these big, big ways about the work that needs to be done, but she did it one child, one family at a time,” Higgins said, pointing out that in the audience were Black’s former and current colleagues, friends, fellow advocates and parents of her former students.

Vicki Van Zee, 66, was one of those in attendance. She knows Black from her days at HCAC, and also lived in the same two-family house as Black, where they raised their kids together.

“It’s so fitting that this would be for her,” she told the Gazette.

Van Zee’s daughter, 38-year-old Anna Souza, said Black was like another mother to her.

“She’s probably one of the bravest people I know,” Souza said of Black. “Definitely one of the smartest people I know.”

Pamela Smith, a program assistant who works with Black, said she was sad that Black will be retiring in October.

“I wish I had another year with her,” she said.

Black chose Northampton’s Center for New Americans as the charity that will receive half of her $500 prize.

Although she’s retiring, Black told the audience that she has no plans to stop doing advocacy work.

“I’m not really going to disappear,” she said. “I’m going to do a lot of the things I do, I just don’t exactly know how they’re going to happen.”

It wasn’t originally in Black’s plans to do child care work when she took a day care job in 1972, after all. But soon, she said, it became her passion.

“We always talk about, ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ but you know it takes a village to raise a grown-up, too,” she said, thanking those who helped her along the way. “It’s because of everybody that works together — parents and all of my colleagues — that we’ve all figured it out.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy