Awards & Recognition
William H. Abrashkin receives national recognition for Talk/Read/Succeed!
William H. Abrashkin, Executive Director of the Springfield Housing Authority, has been selected as a Purpose Prize Fellow of the prestigious national Encore organization, which honors social innovators who are over 60 years of age and dedicated to finding solutions to challenging social problems.
Abrashkin was among more than 900 nominated this year, finishing as one of just 38 chosen to be Purpose Prize Fellows. He will receive his formal recognition this week at Encore’s annual ceremony in Tempe, Arizona.
The nomination was made in connection with Abrashkin’s role as a founder and supporter of Talk/Read/Succeed!, a program that unites two SHA family developments – Sullivan and Robinson Gardens Apartments – with two city schools – Boland and Dorman – and more than two dozen local agencies for a comprehensive, family-centered approach to promoting early literacy. It is the latest in several awards and recognitions T/R/S! has received.
Abrashkin said he is pleased to have been named an Encore fellow.
“I’m honored be in their top tier and be inducted as a Fellow of the organization,” said Abrashkin, who served as Western Division Housing Court judge for 22 years before leaving six years ago to head the housing authority.
“I completely agree with the philosophy and the mission of the Encore organization, which is that people in the encore phase of their life, who are over 60 and who have had full careers, still often have not only a lot to contribute, but are able to contribute in enriched ways, because of the knowledge and experience that they have acquired and can bring to their work,” he said.
Now in its ninth year, Encore is the nation’s pre-eminent large-scale organization supporting people over the age of 60 who are combining their life skills and talents for social good. The Purpose Prize is a program of the organization that seeks to build a movement to tap the skills and experience of those in midlife and beyond to improve communities and the world.
Eunice Lin Nichols, director of the Purpose Prize, said the Fellows have shown a commitment to work that makes for positive social change in their communities, and beyond.
“The 2014 Purpose Prize fellows have applied their abundant talents to address a broad range of issues, including poverty, racism, community health, education, veterans’ issues and the environment,” Nichols said. “Despite their differences, they are united in the belief that the work they are doing now ranks among their most significant accomplishments, impacting thousands of people.”
Abrashkin stressed that while he is being recognized by the Encore organization, the focus of the award, T/R/S!, has succeeded thanks to the work along of many others.
“I was nominated as somebody pursuing an Encore career, trying to work in the public interest in general, but specifically because of the work of the housing authority on our break the cycle early education program known as T/R/S!” he said.
“Even though this is a project operated in the SHA, it is not only a project of the SHA but is a project of numerous participants and collaborators in the city,” he added.
In addition to the SHA, T/R/S! partners include the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, the United Way of Pioneer Valley, the Springfield School Department, Springfield Education Association, the Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative, Behavioral Health Network, and others.
SHA Board of Commissioners Chairman Raymond Warren said he has watched Abrashkin over the years tackle tough challenges with grace and intelligence, and with a knack for bringing talented people together.
“After a long career on the bench, the Judge was in a position to do most anything he chose to do,” Warren said. “I am convinced that he is doing it. It is my hope that this encore career has many years remaining. “
He added, “I think Judge Abrashkin has one of the toughest jobs in Springfield. I can attest that he throws himself at the difficult challenges he faces with great skill, thoughtfulness and determination.”
Springfield Schools Superintendent Daniel J. Warwick has worked closely with Abrashkin on T/R/S! and other community issues, and knows him to be a man of thoughtful action.
“Judge Abrashkin is deeply committed to our youth and works tirelessly to improve quality educational programs for our students that will give them the opportunity to have a bright future,” Warwick said. “He is a public official with exceptional vision, commitment, integrity, and intellect who has set an example for all of us on what leadership is all about.
Abrashkin said he is gratified to be involved in a program whose aim is to guide people to literacy and life success.
“It is a tremendous privilege to be able to work with such fine organizations and people. I’m just speaking from the heart. We are all dedicated to open up opportunities for these poor children and to try to help them get an education, have a better life, not only for them but because it makes for a much stronger community,” he said.