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Kathy Picard awarded 2014 Pynchon Award

Date: 11/25/2014

AGAWAM – Kathy Picard was honored as the 200th person to be inducted into the Order of William Pynchon on Nov. 20. The award celebrates those who serve to better their community.

Picard’s work to educate, mentor and advocate for survivors of childhood sexual abuse made her the unanimous choice, according to Alta Stark, an Ad Club of Western Massachusetts board member and Pynchon Awards chair.

Picard has dedicated herself to educating and mentoring children and worked to pass a bill earlier this year that extends the statute of limitations for cases involving victims of childhood sexual abuse, allowing survivors to seek legal justice. Out of 24 nominees, Picard was the only selected winner, Stark said.

“People have told me it’s great to be nominated for the work that you have done and I’ve been doing the work for about 14 years now,” Picard said. “It’s nice to get some recognition, not that I’m looking for that, but it will open up the doors to other paths that I can go down.”

While Picard said she never expected an honor of this kind, others were less surprised. Stark said that the decision to award Picard was an easy one.

“It was really obvious to us really early on that this was a person who was definitely going to receive the award,” Stark said. “Her contributions, her dedication of spirit, just the very painful and personal things that maybe someone else could have had a different reaction to, she kind of rose above that and turned it into advocacy which certainly gives her closure but is helpful to so many other people.”

Picard has served as a mentor to the survivors of sexual abuse, becoming a mother-like figure for them to rely on. Jordan Chmura refers to Picard as her “second mother,” one whom she has to speak with every night before going to sleep.
“She’s always there for me when I’m having a bad day with everything I’ve gone through,” Chmura said. “She won’t give up. She’s the kind of person who won’t stop until she gets what she wants.”

For right now, what Picard wants is more education and more candid conversations about the realities of sexual abuse. She said that her openness has helped victims open up before, and her willingness to speak to children about her experiences may be the helping hand some kids need.

“That makes a big difference when somebody personally goes through it and goes and talks to the kids,” Picard said. “They have people that go in and talk about suicide and drinking and drugs, why are they so afraid to open the doors about sexual abuse?”

 Education is a staple in Picard’s approach, but she has been hoping to open Kathy’s House, a safe place for victims to go to and get the support that they need. This would be yet another move forward for Picard and her fight to help to victims find the closure they deserve. She has made it clear that she is nowhere near finished with her work, starting with opening up the conversations.

“They have to let their guards down because I’m willing to have the conversations with them but they just have to let me in, you know, Picard said. “I keep on knocking. I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to go away.”