Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

BusinessWest’s Difference Makers to Be Honored March 22

BusinessWest magazine, the bimonthly business journal covering Western Massachusetts, will honor its Difference Makers for 2018 on Thursday, March 22 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke.


The Difference Makers program was established in 2009 to recognize individuals and groups that are, as the name suggests, making a difference in the Western Mass. region. This year’s honorees are:

• Bob Bolduc, CEO of Pride Stores
• Bob “The Bike Man” Charland, Founder of Pedal Thru Youth
• Girls Inc. of Holyoke
• Evan Plotkin, President of NAI Plotkin
• Crystal Senter-Brown, Author and Adjunct Faculty at Bay Path University
• WillPower Foundation

Honorees are profiled in the Feb. 5 issue of BusinessWest. “This year’s honorees provide more direct evidence that there are many ways for an individual or group to make a difference in this region,” said BusinessWest Associate Publisher Kate Campiti, “and all of them are important to overall quality of life.”

Bolduc was honored for his accomplishments in business, but especially his work within the community. He has supported a number of area nonprofits over the years, with financial donations — including his share of the winnings from that record lottery payout last summer — but also through contribuitions of time, energy, and imagination.
Bob Charland, a.k.a. the Bike man, has become a truly inspirational figure across the region — and also well beyond. His story has now been told by dozens of media outlets, and it is an impressive story, about how, despite a terminal illness, Charland finds the time, energy, and will to not only repair bicycles and donate them to children in need, but find other ways to give back within the community.

Girls Inc. of Holyoke, meanwhile, has established itself as a force when it comes to empowering girls of all ages and inspiring them to be strong, smart, and bold.Through its Eureka program and other initiatives, Girls Inc. is not only exposing girls to a variety of careers, especially those in STEM, but providing them with the needed determination to pursue them.

Evan Plotkin has long been described as Springfield’s cheerleader. But he is much more than that. He has been a tireless advocate for the city and has taken a lead role in efforts to revitalize its downtown, especially through the arts. He
was instrumental in revitalizing the annual jazz festival, and has led a number of initiatives to bring people — and vitality — to the city and its downtown.

Crystal Senter-Brown, an author and educator, has been empowering people, especially girls and women, through a number of vehicles. They range from children’s books and novels to a class in Leadership she teaches at Bay Path
University, to motivational talks to groups of women who need a spark of inspiration to push past the challenges life has thrown at them.

The WillPower Foundation, now celebrating its 10th year, fills a unique niche within the Western Mass. region. Through grants capped at $500, it helps families of children with disabilities and special-care needs pay for services and
equipment not covered by insurance. By closing these gaps, the Northamptonbased nonprofit, like all of this year’s honorees, is a true Difference Maker.


The Difference Makers Gala on March 22 will begin at 5 p.m. with networking and opportunities to meet this year’s honorees. There will be live entertainment, butlered hors d’oeuvres, a plated dinner, and more networking
opportunities.


Tickets cost $75 each, with reserved tables of 10 available. The event is sponsored by Health New England, Royal P.C., and Sunshine Village. For more information or to order tickets, call Bevin Peters at (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or
e-mail peters@businesswest.com.

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