When Amy Richter first started teaching in the Department of History at Clark University in 2000, she got to know an older gentleman who had a passion for learning and audited some of her classes. Jack Lund was a retired Worcester businessman who had helped establish the Greater Worcester Community Foundation.
“He was a lovely human with a tremendously positive presence,” Richter said.
So Richter was particularly delighted to receive a 2022 John W. Lund Clark Community Achievement Award, which recognizes the contributions made to the Worcester community by faculty, students, or staff members at Clark University. Molly Kessler ’24 also received a Lund Award this year.
Richter, who currently serves as chair of the Department of History, was honored for her work with the Worcester Clemente Course in the Humanities, an award-winning college-level seminar for highly motivated low-income adults seeking to build better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. She was also recognized for her involvement with Simon Says Give, which provides binders and school supplies to new middle-schoolers and birthday parties for younger children. The Worcester chapter of Simon Says Give, a national organization, was founded by Richter’s son, Simon, and her husband, Jim Eber.
Richter has taught U.S. history in the Clemente Course since the fall of 2018 and has served as the program’s academic director since May 2021.
“This award is just a lovely reminder of Jack and the early encouragement he gave me when I was really just a baby professor,” Richter said. “I think Jack would have especially loved the Clemente Course — he was a lifelong learner himself, and the Clemente course tries to inspire folks to be lifelong learners and to see the value and the joy of studying the humanities.”
“Your leadership and commitment to those who struggle to access education is exemplary,” President David Fithian told Richter on presenting her the award. He noted that the Clemente Course allows low-income adults to be part of a larger intellectual community, and that Simon Says Give has delivered nearly 3,000 kits of school supplies and provided birthday celebrations for 235 children.
“You exemplify Jack Lund’s vision for this award with your dedication, talent, and compassion that has resulted in positive change for the Worcester community,” Fithian said.
Kessler was honored for her work with Worcester’s food-insecure and unhoused populations. She led weekly student trips to buy food for and fill the Community Fridge on Main Street, and also organized students to volunteer at the AME Zion Church food bank. Kessler and other students also created hygiene kits and delivered them, along with bagged lunches, to unhoused people in the city.
Kessler said she received a phone call from her parents informing her that the Lund Award letter had arrived at home in New York. “I was beaming and couldn’t take the smile off my face for the rest of my drive,” she said. “It was even more meaningful knowing that someone in the Clark community nominated me to receive this award.
“I chose to attend Clark because of its strong connection to the Worcester community,” Kessler said. “The mutual aid impact of the Worcester Community Fridges spoke to me. The work is not performative — it is simply people giving what they can, taking what they need, and spreading awareness so the program could grow.
“I have always been passionate about community work because of the human connection attached to it,” she continued. “I never forget any of the people I meet when distributing food — I always love sparking up a good conversation because it has the power to make someone’s day.”
In giving Kessler the award, Fithian said, “Your commitment to the community exemplifies Jack Lund’s belief that positive change is created by individual dedication.”
Kessler’s community involvement happens on campus, too. She plays the flute and is the vice president of the Clark Concert Band, plays in a flute-violin chamber group, and is in the pit orchestras for musicals at Clark. She also serves as the secretary for Clark Hillel and is co-lead of the Student Advisory Board for the Center for Counseling and Personal Growth.
Kessler encouraged other members of the Clark community to take some time out of their busy lives to volunteer. “Reach out to the local organizations that provide so much for others,” she said. “Engage with the beautiful community we live in and meet new people while doing so. Every little act makes a difference.”
Getting involved “lets you see a place through many different sets of eyes,” Richter said. Clemente Course students, while based in Worcester, come from all over the world — Jamaica, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Uganda — and truly reflect the city, she added. And delivering birthday party supplies or school backpacks has helped her build connections with others.
“It changes your relationship to where you live,” she said. “You become rooted.”
The annual John W. Lund Community Achievement Award, first presented in 1994, recognizes faculty, students, and staff whose leadership has made an impact on the surrounding Worcester community. The award, which includes a $2,560 cash prize for each recipient, is the result of a generous gift to the Greater Worcester Community Foundation by the late Jack Lund, a retired chief executive officer of the S&S Paper Company and the New England Envelope Manufacturing Company. Lund had been a generous supporter of Clark University and an active member of the Friends of the Goddard Library, and he had audited classes at Clark for more than 20 years.