Human Relations Committee to honor 4 for Human and Civil Rights Awards

The MTA Human Relations Committee will honor four extraordinarily talented and dedicated individuals at its annual Human and Civil Rights dinner on Friday, June 20. The dinner recognizes MTA members and others who have shown long-standing commitments to civil rights and human relations.

Reservations for the dinner, to be held at the Westin Waltham-Boston, can be made here.

The recipient of this year’s Louise Gaskins Lifetime Civil Rights Award will be George R. Spivey, a retired educator and a member of NAACP-Cape Cod and Concerned Black Men.

Recipients of this year’s Kathleen Roberts Creative Leadership Award will be Kelvin Ing and Amy Lipkind of the Cape Cod Challenger Club, and Worcester educator and screenwriter Caitlin McCarthy.

George Spivey is a former school principal and teacher of math and history in Falmouth and Barnstable Public Schools. He also served as the town of Falmouth’s affirmative action officer for 13 years. In each of these roles, he displayed “compassion and leadership, inspiring people to reach for high goals with dignity and respect,” said MTA Retired member John L. Reed, who nominated Spivey for the award. Spivey has developed internships and mentoring programs that promote racial harmony and equity for all, and even though he is now retired, he still tutors young people and chairs the No Place for Hate Committee. MTA Board member Susan Baker, another nominator, said Spivey has “dedicated his life to enriching all children’s lives,” especially minority students on the Cape “who needed guidance and encouragement.” Baker said Spivey “continues his work with students,” showing them that career opportunities are open “and that there is a future for them if they persevere and achieve their goals.” In January 2014, Spivey accepted the Falmouth Clergy Association’s first award for human rights work and community leadership.

Kelvin Ing and Amy Lipkind are the founders of the Cape Cod Challenger Club, which has become a vital support for parents of special needs children on Cape Cod. What started as an effort to integrate special needs students into the Sandwich Little League program has blossomed into a year-round program servicing over 300 students, as well as nearly the same number of “typical” students who serve as mentors, role models and counselors. The Challenger Club “serves as a beacon of inspiration” to everyone associated with the program, according to nominator Kelli Donehey, a Title I math teacher at Barnstable Intermediate School. The club’s weekend programs serve not only as a respite for parents but as a vital networking opportunity for families, and as learning opportunities — both socially and emotionally — for the students served. Dale Forest, another nominator and vice principal of Barnstable United Elementary School, said that while Ing and Lipkind have no special needs children of their own, they saw a need and filled it. When Forest attended his first baseball game organized for physically and developmentally disabled children, he “stood next to two parents who were ecstatic. The husband told me he never thought he’d see the day when he’d be watching his son play baseball.” Reaction to the initial effort was so positive, Ing and Lipkind went on to found the nonprofit Cape Cod Challenger Club in 2005.

Caitlin McCarthy is an English language arts teacher at Worcester Technical High School and screenwriter of the film “Wonder Drug,” which tells the story of DES (diethylstilbestrol), once thought to be a ground-breaking synthetic form of estrogen that instead became one of the most devastating medical disasters in history. McCarthy’s interest is personal; her mother, unaware of the risks, took DES when she was pregnant. When McCarthy discovered in 2005 that she had been exposed to the drug in utero, she researched DES and its potential ramifications: a rare vaginal cancer in DES daughters, and an increase in the risk of breast cancer in DES daughters and testicular cancer in DES sons. Rather than turn inward in fear, McCarthy began to educate others about DES. In addition to writing the screenplay for the film, McCarthy worked with the offices of Massachusetts Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, obtaining FDA acknowledgment of the drug’s devastating health consequences. Nominator Andrea Goldstein, another DES daughter, said McCarthy “has made selfless contributions through political action, community organizing and mentoring” and that she has “served the global DES community in a volunteer role.” 

Click here for coverage of the 2013 winners and here for a list of honorees dating back to 1983. In 1986, the committee offered special recognition to Nelson Mandela. Read the story here.