Chicopee – When James “Jim” Kelly was notified by Chicopee St. Patrick’s Parade Committee President Brenda Pauze Guiel that he had been selected as the city’s Parade Marshal for the 2020 Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade, his enthusiasm was unmistakable. “As a kid, I grew up in the Elmwood Section of Holyoke. This is where the St. Patrick’s Day parade begins, so for me, there is a certain emotional tie to the parade. In my neighborhood, you would live it and breathe it – every year. In fact, I met my wife 24 years ago during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. So, everything surrounding the parade—has a special place in my heart!”
Guiel referenced Kelly’s role as a community leader as a major factor in his selection. As President and CEO of Polish National Credit Union (PNCU), he spends most of his days out in the community. Over the course of the year, he along with PNCU employees have personally visited businesses of all sizes across Western Massachusetts, offering a handshake and lending an ear to their concerns, while delivering local produce such as tomatoes, blueberries and corn in the summertime; chocolates and candy during Halloween; and bread and apple cider donuts from local bakeries in the Fall. Kelly is known by many for his big smile and friendly “drop-ins.” He has continuously advocated for the development and growth of the communities in which he serves.
Kelly has also actively participated on many Boards, countless community events and encouraged employee participation totaling over 1,500 volunteer hours. Under his leadership, PNCU has hosted many educational workshops including Elder Financial Abuse workshops, Paralegal Breakfasts, Cybersecurity trainings, HR Director Updates and high school financial literacy workshops. PNCU has invested in numerous resources and tools for its members, teachers and youth, including GreenPath Financial Services and Banzai Financial Literacy.
Kelly kick started the Chicopee Comprehensive High School internship program in which the Credit Union selects three graduating seniors to work at the school branch to learn what it is like to work at the Credit Union. They learn priceless business and people skills over the course of this yearlong internship. Over the last calendar year, the Credit Union has donated over $100,000 to different organizations in need, including the Chicopee Book Mobile and upgrading the sports facility and playing fields at Chicopee’s Nash Field.
Looking forward to the 2020 Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade, Kelly will lead the Chicopee contingent, walking with his wife, Ann, and their adult children Erin, Maureen, & Daniel. “As a young boy growing up in Holyoke, I could never have imagined I would someday be the CEO of the Polish National Credit Union and lead the Chicopee Contingent as Parade Marshal. In many ways, I haven’t journeyed far at all. In fact, on March 22nd I’m returning to the Elmwood Section of Holyoke – where it all began – which is the ultimate honor!”
In addition to Kelly, Guiel has also announced the recipients of other committee awards.
Edward Kenfield has received the Jack Woods Award. Named after one of the founding members of the committee, it recognizes an individual who has actively served ten or more years on the Committee.
Kenfield joined the Chicopee St. Patrick’s Parade Day Committee 15 years ago, and served as President in 2018. He has been a member of the float committee for many years, also serving its Chairperson most recently. The float committee has won multiple awards including 1st place Colleen float and 1st place open in Holyoke, as well as 4th place national from the supplies vendor, Victory Corps. He has also been a member of the contest committee, on the Board of Directors, and has helped on any subcommittee where needed.
A native of Flint, Michigan, Kenfield moved to Holyoke, MA with his father when he was 10 years old. He moved to Chicopee when he was in his 20’s where he has lived ever since. He has been married to his wife Theresa for 27 years. They have 2 daughters, Dawn and Tabitha, 2 sons-in-law Tino and Pete, plus their pride and joy, granddaughter Makenzie, who is 16 years old. He also has another granddaughter due any day now.
Kenfield is currently employed at Lancer Transportation & Logistics of Springfield, Ma. He was a volunteer at the VA Central Massachusetts Healthcare System (formerly the VA Medical Center) in Northampton, and has assisted with projects for the Disabled American Veterans and Auxiliary. In his free time, he is an avid hunter for deer during hunting season.
Kenfield is usually seen behind the wheel of the truck pulling the Colleen’s float, but this year, he will be marching in the Parade in a place of honor. When notified that he was chosen as this year’s Woods Award Recipient, he stated how proud he was to receive this honor by the Committee.
The Atkinson Award was created by the Parade Committee to honor the late George Atkinson, who was a founding member, and his son, George “Buddy” Atkinson Jr., and is given each year to a person who is not a committee member, but has supported its functions and events. This year’s recipient is Joel Rodowicz. For the past eleven years, he has taken photographs of parade committee activities for the Colleen Ball Program book, news releases and social media.
A Chicopee native, Rodowicz graduated from Chicopee High School and attended Springfield Technical Community College and Holyoke Community College. He worked in the printing industries for 45 years, retiring from AM Lithography in 2018. He is currently an amateur musician, playing guitar and bass, but played professionally in bands and as a DJ in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, and enjoys just about every kind of music. His favorite hobby is photography, and he has brought his cherished camera with him to photodocument his travels throughout mainland US, Alaska and Hawaii; Europe, and Canada and Mexico.
Rodowicz has been married to the former Mary O’Brien for 36 years. They have two children: a son, Brian, a pharmacist with Trinity Health in Livonia, MI; and a daughter, Kate, who works at Springfield College, and is an artist. In 2008, Kate entered the Chicopee Colleen Contest, and was selected as a member of the Court. It was after that parade season that Rodowicz began to use his photography skills to assist the committee, and he has been doing so ever since. His selection as Atkinson Award recipient came as a surprise, but he is most grateful for the honor: “For many years, I watched the parade from the sidelines with my family. After 2008, it has been a pleasure to take photos for this committee, helping them while doing something I really enjoy. I look forward to marching in the parade, with my camera, on March 22, 2020…hoping for a mild, sunny day!”
Jim Campbell recalls going to a birthday barbecue on a sunny Sunday last July, but little else after he jumped feet first into the pool to cool off. His longtime girlfriend, Gisele Gilpatrick, and others at the party became alarmed as the Amherst resident was not moving and began to turn blue. Quick action by family members Sara Gilpatrick and Joshua Malone, who jumped into the water, dragged Campbell out of the pool, and began CPR as they waited for paramedics to arrive, saved his life. “I wouldn’t be here talking with you today if it wasn’t for Josh and Sara. I was in cardiac arrest and taken to Baystate Medical Center, where I stayed for a week. Other than a few cracked ribs, I was OK, thanks to them.” Campbell’s story reached the Chicopee St. Patrick’s Parade Committee, which then chose Gilpatrick and Malone as recipients of the Meara Award, given to a member or members of the community, not to preclude public safety officials in an off-duty capacity, who performed an act of selfless courage, bravery or heroism. It is presented in memory of William R. Meara Sr. who was one of the founding members of the Committee.
As she looks back on the situation, Gilpatrick remembers feeling a sense of urgency, but she did not panic. “I kept calm… I knew what I had to do and I thank God for my training as a first responder.” The daughter of Ron and Simone Gilpatrick, she is a 1999 Chicopee Comprehensive High School graduate and went on to Holyoke Community College, where she received an Associate’s Degree in 2001. She served in the United States Navy for four years as an Aviation Ordnanceman, and was promoted to the rank of Third-Class Petty Officer in 2008. Gilpatrick then went on to receive a second Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice, and is now working toward a second Masters’ Degree in Education in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling. She has worked Oregon Department of Corrections as a correctional officer.
Malone is the son of Gisele Gilpatrick, and is married to the former Laura Cloutier. He graduated from Chicopee Comprehensive High School in 2007, a 3-sport athlete, and went on to Elms College where he played soccer and coached volleyball. He has been employed as a correctional officer at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department since 2012. In 2017 he was promoted to the rank of Corporal and was a member of the Special Operations Response Team. In March of 2019, he was promoted to the Intake Training Corporal on the second shift. Malone has also worked for Pro-Tech Waterproofing Solutions, a family business, and for over 17 years.
Gilpatrick’s and Malone’s experience and education served them well during a critical moment back on that sunny July day. As Malone recaps: “I helped Sara drag Jim out of the water, and then we started CPR. I did what I was trained to do.” Both are appreciative of the recognition they are receiving from the parade committee, and will be proudly marching with their family and friends on parade day.
Formal Recognition of Award Recipients:
Each of these individuals will be honored at the annual President’s Dinner on February 1, 2020 at Munich Haus. The public is invited. Ticket information will be posted on the Parade Committee’s website at www.chicopeespc.com and Facebook page.
The Parade Committee has been organizing the Chicopee contingent in the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade for over 65 years. Information about all events and fundraisers can be found on the group’s website and social media. Applications for the 2020 Colleen Contest are also available on the site.