Award winners share commitment to ‘enriching the lives of those they serve’
By Jean Conley
F our individuals committed to furthering civil rights and human relations were honored on June 20 at the annual MTA Human and Civil
George Spivey, a retired educator and a member
of NAACP-Cape Cod and Concerned Black Men,
was the recipient of this year’s Louise Gaskins
Lifetime Civil Rights Award.
Worcester educator and screenwriter Caitlin
McCarthy received the Kathleen Roberts Creative
Leadership Award, as did Kelvin Ing and Amy
Lipkind of the Cape Cod Challenger Club.
During the event, outgoing MTA President Paul
Toner acknowledged Roberts and Gaskins, both
of whom were on hand, for their contributions to
education, the MTA and to human and civil rights.
Toner, whose term of office ended in July, said that
again this year, the MTA would make a $2,000
contribution in the name of each honoree to the
charity of his or her choice.
In the spirit of the evening, Toner’s eighth-grade
algebra teacher, Roland LaChance, who was in
attendance, was recognized. Toner said LaChance
and several other teachers “inspired me and shaped
my future career as a teacher and union leader
without me even realizing it.”
Human Relations Committee Chair Dale Forest
said the four award recipients were chosen for their
efforts “to make the world more just and tolerant.”
“Though they have contributed to society in
very different ways,” he said, the honorees “share
a commitment to enriching the lives of those they
Spivey is a retired school principal and teacher
of math and history in Falmouth and the Barnstable
Public Schools. He also served as the town of
Falmouth’s affirmative action officer for 13 years.
In January, Spivey received the Falmouth Clergy
Association’s first award for human rights work and
community leadership, and he still acts as a mentor
to young people.
Spivey was born in the Bronx but moved to rural
New Jersey with his family. He said he was a slow
starter in school, initially having trouble with reading.
But his mother inspired him and he worked hard,
eventually becoming the valedictorian of his class. His
high school principal, he said, persuaded him to aim
high and consider applying to Dartmouth College.
“He helped me to look beyond what I could
see,” Spivey said. Spivey did attend Dartmouth, and
he said the principal’s sentiment became his mantra.
He urged the audience of educators to help
students “look beyond what they can see, and never
be told that you can’t help young people.”
He said he decided after a year of working in
the insurance industry — which he hated — that
he would spend his life helping other people, so he
became a teacher, a principal and a mentor.
McCarthy, an English language arts teacher at
Worcester Technical High School, served as
the screenwriter of “Wonder Drug.” The film tells
the story of diethylstilbestrol, otherwise known as
O nce thought to be a groundbreaking synthetic form of estrogen and widely prescribed to millions of pregnant women,
DES instead became a medical disaster when the
risks of taking the drug became known: a rare
vaginal cancer and an increase in the risk of breast
cancer in DES daughters, along with increased
testicular cancer in DES sons.
McCarthy’s mother had been prescribed a
vitamin containing DES when she was pregnant.
When Caitlin discovered in 2005 that she had been
exposed to the drug, she researched it and then began
to educate others about DES.
McCarthy offered “a thousand thank yous”
to her mother, Ann, and father, Albert, who
accompanied her to the dinner. She said that as an
educator and a writer, she considered it her duty to
educate the world about DES.
“The sad story of DES demonstrates how
hormone-disrupting chemicals can influence disease
risks across generations, reminding us why it’s
important to reduce exposures now,” she said.
McCarthy said she had already made arrangements
for her $2,000 award to be sent to a leading
researcher at Tulane University who is organizing
a DES meeting in Washington among scientists,
“Without the MTA,” she said, “this much-needed
education in Washington would not be possible.”
Ing and Lipkind are the founders of the Cape
Cod Challenger Club, which has become a vital
provider of support for parents of special needs
The club began as the couple’s effort to integrate
special needs students into the Sandwich Little
League program, but it blossomed into a year-round
effort serving more than 400 young people and
attracting a similar number of volunteers. The club’s
programs serve not only as a respite for parents but
also as a vital networking opportunity for families
and as learning opportunities — both socially and
emotionally — for the students.
The club spends all of the money raised through
donations and gifts to foster individual growth and
development, confidence and self-esteem in the
children, Lipkind said.
She lauded the volunteers who “play with the
kids, teach the kids and just be a friend” through
athletic, recreational and social activities.
Ing said that the club continues to grow, sharing
a closed Barnstable school with the Cape Cod
Collaborative and offering activities over the summer
and during other school vacation periods.
Forest, the HRC chair, also paid tribute to
Beverly Miyares, an education policy specialist for
the MTA who undertook much of the organizing and
logistics of the annual dinner for nearly 25 years.
Her contributions to the event have been
“truly greatly appreciated” by Human Relations
Committees past and present, Forest said.
The 2014 MTA Human and Civil Rights Award winners shared the banquet spotlight with Louise
Gaskins and Kathleen Roberts, for whom the honors are named. From left to right are Gaskins,
George Spivey, Caitlin McCarthy, Roberts, Amy Lipkind and Kelvin Ing.
Photo by Jean Conley