March 13, 2017
Holyoke resident honored for lifelong service to those in need
Story and photos by David Martin
HOLYOKE — Close to 150 people attended the annual Communion Breakfast at the Wherehouse? in Holyoke, Sunday, March 12. Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians James A. Curran Division I, which organizes the breakfast each year, gathered for an 8 a.m. Mass at St. Patrick’s Chapel of St. Jerome Parish on Hampden Street, before heading to the breakfast.
Karen Blanchard, administrative assistant at the Newman Catholic Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst was presented with the 2017 Christian Charity Award.
“Every year we meet to see what person in this community has truly improved the lives of the people of Hampden and Hampshire County and we felt this year that Karen Blanchard was that person,” said Francis X. Hennessey, public relations chairperson for the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
Hennessey explained that Blanchard, the former executive director of Kate’s Kitchen in Holyoke, also developed a “hope card” in which people who are homeless and living on the street can get services that they need. Hennessey said it is very important to recognize the people who are deserving of this award every year because they “walk the walk.” This is the fourth time the Christian Charity Award has been given. The Ancient Order of Hibernians of Hampden and Hampshire Counties was founded in Holyoke in 1872 and promotes friendship, unity and Christian charity.
“Karen Blanchard has seen firsthand what a difference one person can make in the lives of those less fortunate. She said she has dedicated her soul to this cause, nourishing hope, rebuilding lives, and seeking to improve the lives of those that she serves,” said John J. Driscoll, who presented the award to Blanchard.
During the ceremony, past winners of the Christian Charity Award were acknowledged along with this year’s Holyoke Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshall, Sister of Saint Joseph Jane Morrissey.
Blanchard was given a rousing standing ovation as she moved to the podium to give her acceptance speech. She thanked everyone who helped her make a difference in the community and added their works follow the teachings of Jesus. Blanchard said in her mind, it feels like she is never doing enough and said, “For those I have helped, I wish I could have done more. For those I could not help, I ask for understanding. For those who helped me, I am grateful for all you did.”
Blanchard, a lifelong Holyoke resident, said she is thrilled to march in the Holyoke St. Patrick Parade Sunday, March 19.
For a video version of this story, tune into an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel” the Diocese of Springfield’s weekly television newsmagazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22 NEWS