Congratulations to Shawn Robinson, honored by Business West as a member of the 40 Under Forty Class of 2017
At age 15, he wrote an application for and won a grant from the United Way to launch a free Culture Camp for kids that he ran with his peers, and a year later he was named to the Berkshire Coalition board of directors.
Robinson was exposed to people with diverse abilities throughout his youth because his parents worked for the Department of Developmental Services, and clients shared Thanksgiving and overnight stays with them. Those experiences, combined with parental values and his involvement in church, Boy Scouts, youth groups, and two missionary trips to Haiti during high school and college, fueled his passion to help others.
“I’ve always had a deep sense of wanting to make a difference,” he told BusinessWest. “I want to do anything I can to help the community, and often find myself getting involved in things without thinking, although I try to serve on only three boards at a time.”
Robinson and his wife, Jill, are parents to Sofia, 6, and Jake, 3, and he has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County since 2008. He co-founded the Pioneer Valley chapter of Young Democrats, and served as president and was named Massachusetts Young Democrat of the Year in 2010.
In 2011, ServiceNet asked him to develop a program to improve client health outcomes through fresh-air and outdoor work. He spent a year working with a disabled man who lived in a house in Hatfield with plenty of acreage, and they converted the property into Prospect Meadow Farm.
Today, it employs 70 people with developmental disabilities, autism, or brain injuries who raise chickens, sell eggs, manage one of the state’s largest log-grown shiitake-mushroom operations, build and sell wood products, and operate catering and community landscaping services.
Robinson is president of the board of Highland Valley Elder Services and serves on the Ethics Committee at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, the town of Hatfield Finance Committee, the town’s Mental Health Awareness Committee and Council on Aging, and ServiceNet’s Diversity Committee. He has received awards from United Way of Hampshire County and the Mass. Department of Developmental Services. And he’s not slowing down.
“In the next few years,” he said, “I will look at new ways of engaging in the community.”
—Written by Kathleen Mitchell, Business West Staff Writer
Daniel Clifford, a resident of Amherst who lives at one of ServiceNet’s group homes, was recognized by the American Red Cross of Western Massachusetts for his heroic use of the Heimlich maneuver to save the life of program director, Gus Ramirez. Clifford took a first aid class ten years ago, and when Ramirez started choking, he immediately sprang into action. “It made me feel good, I felt like I did what I needed to do,” said Clifford. The award was presented by Hali Dunn, of Eversource, at the annual Hometown Heroes breakfast on Friday, March 17th in Springfield.
WWLP: Western Mass. Red Cross Names Danny Clifford, who is a ServiceNet program resident, a Hometown Hero
AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Danny Clifford lives in a group home in Amherst. He suffers from Cerebral Palsy and has limited use of one arm.
But that didn’t stop Danny from becoming a hometown hero. Danny used the Heimlich maneuver, saving the life of the group home director who was choking on a tangerine wedge that was stuck in his throat.
Gus Ramirez of the Servicenet Program told 22News, “He knew the universal sign that something was wrong, He immediately within seconds reacted, came behind me and saved my life. What’s remarkable is that Danny, a client in this program was the only client I knew who took the first aid CPR, he learned it.”
Danny Clifford, a western Massachusetts hometown hero, said, “It look me that long to look at seeing this gentleman choking and react, using the skills that I learned ten years ago.”
Ramirez added, “After I recovered, after the Adrenaline rush, I looked at him and I gave him a hug. I went home and told my wife about it I was very touched that Danny was able to save my life
Danny Clifford overcame his disability during those precious seconds when he saw his friend, mentor, and caregiver in jeopardy. Staff members called it inspiring.
Cheryl Denniston, also of the Servicenet program said, “He has one arm that he doesn’t have full use of. But it didn’t matter. He made sure that was his arm that he used. He took a strong arm to push the other arm in.
Clifford said, “It made me feel good, I felt like I was, I did what I needed to do.”
Danny Clifford has earned the right to be called a hometown hero. The western Massachusetts Red Cross will honor Danny at the hometown hero’s breakfast on Friday March 17th.
All ServiceNet Outpatient Clinics will be closed tomorrow due to the impending snow storm.
Have you donated? As a partner agency, ServiceNet receives funding from both Franklin and Hampshire County United Ways. This year, we expanded our giving opportunities to all four United Ways in Western MA, so you can give to the community that matters most to you! Ask your manager for a form and return it to Human Resources - 296 Nonotuck Street, Florence.
No amount is too small, even giving less than $1 per pay period can still make a big impact!
Check out the story by Matt Caron of WWLP News on our Northampton Resource Center. Matt interviewed program director Katie Miernecki about resources available.
Watch the video here.