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Clay and Doherty win Pynchon Awards

Steve Clay and Paul Doherty are this year's Pynchon Award winners.
By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD "Two remarkable individuals" were named as this year's recipients of William Pynchon Awards.

Sue Wiggam, a Pynchon trustee, introduced Attorney Paul Doherty and Springfield YMCA Director Steve Clay, at a press conference on Wednesday at the Banknorth building.

Wiggam said that there are "many many threads that keep the region from unraveling and these are two of them."

The Order of William Pynchon and the Pynchon medal have been given annually for the last 90 years by the Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts to residents of the Pioneer Valley who have demonstrated outstanding community service.

Both men expressed surprise and humility at their selection.

"Wow!" exclaimed Doherty with a laugh, who later said he was "stunned" when he was told the news.

Doherty said that the Pynchon Award is "the premiere recognition of community service in the Valley."

Clay said that his accomplishments at the Springfield YMCA and the surrounding Liberty Heights neighborhood were "not really all my doing. I had a lot of help." He added that he was "thrilled to be honored with Paul Doherty."

A Springfield native, Doherty is a founding member of Downey Side, a teenage adoption service and helped develop Northern Educational service, a tutorial program in Springfield. He is now in charge of the outreach to the business community for Step Up Springfield.

Doherty lives in Longmeadow.

Clay has been president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield since 1993 and is credited with eliminating a $1.5 million operating deficit and expanding the budget from $3.2 million to $7.5 million. He has also worked extensively with neighborhood activists in addressing problems in the Lower Liberty Heights area.

During Clay's leadership of the YMCA, the organization opened a youth center in the North End neighborhood as well.

Clay lives in Springfield.

Clay told Reminder Publications that being a volunteer and active in your community is very important today.

"There's only so much the government can do," Clay said. "There comes a time when residents have to step up and do it."

Referring to the improvements in the Lower Liberty Heights area, Clay said, "If we had waited it would have never happened."

Doherty said that he couldn't "think of anything more important than being involved in your community."

Both men will be formally honored at the 90th William Pynchon Award Ceremony dinner and reception Oct. 18 at Chez Josef in Agawam. For ticket information, call 736-CLUB or log onto