In April, Roger Hankins, director of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross, received a “Community Works” award which is given by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services Central Region Advisory Board. The award is given in recognition of a person that shows a commitment to supporting individuals with disabilities so that they can become fully participating members of their communities. In addition to his award Hankins also received a legislative citation from the Commonwealth.
Hankins has demonstrated professional leadership while at Holy Cross but it is his personal interactions with people in the community that make him a true leader in every sense of the word according to Paula Rosenblum, assistant director for communications and operations at the Cantor Gallery. Rosenblum has watched Hankins work with many organizations in Worcester and surrounding areas and how he has encouraged them to experience and enjoy first-hand the exhibitions at the Cantor Art Gallery. Some of the organizations he has worked with over the years include: Seven Hills Foundation, New England Dream Center, Alternatives, and VSA Massachusetts.
His nomination for the award discussed his efforts when escorting guests to the Gallery. The space, which is located in an historic building on campus, has limited handicap access and Hankins always makes sure that his patrons can safely disembark their vehicle and then personally escorts them to the Gallery. “His schedule is very busy day-to-day but Roger always takes the time to show people the space and exhibits that he takes such time and care to curate” explains Rosenblum. Hankins can often can be found answering a question about a piece of art, engaging visitors in discussion about what is currently on display, and even snaps a photo or two of groups that tour the gallery.
In 2012, Hankins brought a special exhibition of artwork to the gallery from the West Coast. The exhibition “Create” highlighted the artistic talents of individuals with disabilities who have worked in several pioneering art making programs in the San Francisco Bay Area over the last 30 years. The viewing of the exhibition sparked many creative endeavors with the College and the day program at Seven Hills Foundation which included a special project between a visual arts faculty member at the College and students. Over the years Hankins has always found a unique way of supporting or involving himself in organizations within the community and making art accessible for all to enjoy.
“It is a privilege to work with someone who clearly appreciates every individual, and he has shown a generosity of spirit that embodies the ‘Community Works’ theme, as well as the Jesuit principle of ‘men and women for and with others’” says Rosenblum.
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