Nonprofit Awareness Day: A Celebration of the Sector

“Like the 351 flags hanging above our heads, representing every city and town in the Commonwealth, each of our nonprofits is a unique part of a rich and vibrant tapestry that is, collectively, the nonprofit sector.” – MNN CEO Rick Jakious to attendees at the 2014 Nonprofit Awareness Day celebration.

Yesterday, at the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network’s 7th annual celebration of Nonprofit Awareness Day, presented by Citizens Bank, the Great Hall of the State House was packed with more than 200 nonprofit, business, and elected leaders from across the Commonwealth. They gathered to recognize the essential role nonprofits play in strengthening the Commonwealth and honor the best work being done in the nonprofit sector through the Excellence Awards.

State Treasurer Steve Grossman thanked the attendees for their commitment to community and explained that he had his grandfather to thank for instilling an understanding of the importance of giving back. Senate President Therese Murray also shared her own experience serving nonprofits, and told the crowd they were “deserving of our utmost gratitude because you make the Commonwealth a better place.”

The highlight of the event was the presentation of the Nonprofit Excellence Awards. The 32 impressive finalists were honored for their work and the eight awards were presented to nonprofit organizations and employees that exemplify the most innovative, creative, and effective work being done throughout the Commonwealth.

Pavel Payano, when accepting the Young Nonprofit Professional Excellence Award, described the struggles he had overcome to get where he was today:“We’ve heard ‘no’ all our lives… but the ‘no’s’ energized us…” Deb Samuels, winner of the Excellence in Leadership Award, explained that like many nonprofit leaders, her career was a labor of love: “We think about our jobs and the people we serve morning, noon and night. We don’t stop thinking about them until we go to bed. And even then, we dream about them!”  

Congratulations to the 2014 Nonprofit Excellence Award winners:

  • Excellence in Advocacy: Strategies for Children, Inc.
  • Excellence in Board Governance: Junior Achievement of Northern New England
  • Excellence in Collaboration: Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness
  • Excellence in Communication: Mass Mentoring Partnership
  • Excellence in Innovation: Beacon Academy
  • Excellence in Leadership: Deb Samuels, Crossroads for Kids
  • Excellence by a Small Nonprofit: Falmouth Artists Guild
  • Young Nonprofit Professional Excellence Award: Pavel Payano, Greater Lawrence Young Professionals Network

You can view a full list of finalists and winners, along with descriptions, here.

These organizations motivate and encourage us all to be better citizens and ambassadors for the nonprofit sector. As Jerry Sargent, President, Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens, Massachusetts, presenting sponsor of the event said “The organizations being honored this year by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network should serve as an inspiration for all of us to work together and invest our skills, time and dollars to helping our neighbors in need meet their challenges head-on.”

As the celebration came to a close, the energy of the Great Hall was topped only by the sense of camaraderie among the attendees. It was a nice reminder that although we often work for difference causes, or are miles apart, we -nonprofits, and the businesses and elected officials who support us-are in this together. And it is only by working together that we will strengthen the nonprofit sector, just as the sector strengthens the Commonwealth every day.