'A Valued Friend'

DATE: Wednesday, June 6, 2018

HCC honors disability rights activist Chris Palames

President Christina Royal presents the Distinguished Service Award to Chris Palames at Commencement June 2.

Disability rights activist Chris Palames of Florence is the recipient of this year's Distinguished Service Award from Holyoke Community College.

Palames is the founder of the Stavros Center for Independent Living in Amherst, executive director of Independent Living Resources, and a retired consultant for the Massachusetts Division of Capital and Asset Management, which manages building and construction projects for state facilities, including colleges and universities. He has served on the Northampton Commission on Disability, the Massachusetts Disability Policy Consortium and is frequently consulted on matters large and small by staff in HCC's Office for Students with Disabilities and Deaf Services.

HCC president Christina Royal presented the award to Palames at HCC's 71st Commencement ceremony at the MassMutual Center in Springfield on June 2.

"Chris has long been a valued friend of HCC, and, as a consultant for the Commonwealth, has had a significant role in helping to make HCC and other Massachusetts colleges more welcoming and accessible to all," Royal said. "Chris, thank you for your friendship, and for the important work you do to make our world, our community, and our college a better place. We are so happy to honor you today."

Palames began his life as an activist as a freshman at Wesleyan University in the 1960s, demonstrating for civil rights on the White House lawn. A spinal cord injury left him a quadriplegic, but, after a year recuperating, he was back, protesting the Vietnam War and completing his bachelor's degree in psychology.

PHOTO by DON TREEGER: President Christina Royal presents the Distinguished Service Award to Chris Palames of Florence at Commencement June 2.