Advertising Club announces 2011 Pynchon winners
Sept. 28, 2011
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD Officials of The Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts announced Sept. 26 that two nominees out of a field of 13 would receive the William Pynchon Medal and induction into the Order of William Pynchon this year.
The 2011 honorees are Aaron Lansky, founder and president of the National Yiddish Book Center and Mary Pat McMahon, founder of the Western Massachusetts Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
The Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts has bestowed the honor annually since 1915 to “individuals from the region who have demonstrated exceptional community service with compassion, humility and grace.”
According to a statement from the Pynchon Trustees, “These two individuals have demonstrated, throughout their lives and in their service to the community the key traits deemed necessary to become Pynchon recipients. Among these traits: a selfless dedication to one’s community; service with humility and grace; a resolute passion for their cause; and unwavering courage.”
Lansky was introduced as the “mensch who saved Yiddish.” Under his efforts, the National Yiddish Book Center has rescued and collected one million Yiddish books.
He said at the press conference on Sept. 26, “Awards mean we’ve arrived. We’ve not arrived yet.”
“I’m thrilled by the award but our work has only begun,” he added.
Lansky explained to Reminder Publications
that Yiddish is one of 18 languages spoken by Jews and was developed over 1,000 years ago by Jews living in Europe. Although he doesn’t know exactly how many people speak the language today, he does know that many young people are learning it.
“It’s a modern and secular literature earthy and passionate,” he said.
The Book Center has also helped establish Yiddish collections at more than 600 libraries, including those at Harvard and Yale universities, the Library of Congress, the British Library, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and national libraries in countries as distant as Australia, China and Japan.
McMahon’s life changed in 1991 when her 23-year-old son Matthew took his own life.
She described her own journey to try to deal with her loss.
“I sat on a couch for a year,” she recalled. “You talk about wearing a ‘Scarlet A,’ I wore a ‘Scarlet S.’”
She went to a weekly therapy session, but her life changed when she realized she needed to speak to other people who had lost a family member through suicide.
McMahon ran an ad in The Republican seeking other people who were facing the aftermath of suicide. She was overwhelmed by the response and her therapist volunteered to donate time for one year to get the Survivors of Suicide Loss support group started.
She also developed a program of meeting one-on-one with newly bereaved families in the comfort of their homes, which has grown into a National Outreach Program.
In 1992, McMahon joined the (AFSP) National Board of Directors, determined to shift focus to support and education for survivors because she believes survivors are the foot soldiers in the battle to prevent suicide. AFSP honored her dedication with the National Leadership award in January 2010.
Due to her efforts, the Western Massachusetts Chapter of AFSP has won several awards for its education and survivor support programs, most recently the “Best Survivor Day Conference” out of 178 that took place worldwide on Nov. 22, 2008.
Pynchon Trustee Alta Stark said that what these two award winners have in common is “they don’t look back, they look forward.”
The awards dinner and ceremony for the 97th annual William Pynchon Awards will be presented Nov. 17 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Chez Joseph in Agawam. Rich Tettemer, news anchor and reporter for 22News, will serve as emcee. More information is available at www.adclubwm.org
.For ticket information, call the club’s administrator at 736-2582.