“Someone helped me and I’ve wanted to pay that forward,” said Edward “Skip” Hammond when asked about his significant record of community service and philanthropy.
Hammond was referring to the three “angels” in his life, business leaders from the previous generation who made the difference between failure and success when he was starting out with his own company in 1983. While he is admittedly very proud that he had an idea to develop a then-new business concept – to sell candy bars for school band fundraising – after many years of employment with Gribbons Music in Greenfield, he acknowledges that the guidance and support provided to him by these mentors were the turning point that made GBI Marketing a successful enterprise.
GCC is one of the area’s great assets, providing an affordable, quality education to students who otherwise may not have a chance to achieve success.
– Skip Hammond
“What if they hadn’t been there?” he mused. One answer is that the Yankee Candle Corporation would not have bought his business in 2004 at the height of its success, when they employed 121 people with a 60,000 sq ft office in Greenfield and a 20,000 sq ft distribution center in Bernardston.
That sale created the opportunity for the Hammond family to give back and that is exactly what they have done since that time. Hammond has served on numerous boards and town committees over the past decade, made meaningful charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations and supported an annual scholarship at Pioneer Valley Regional School for a student who intends to major in Business. He notes that one of his angels was a Bernardston businessman, leading to the selection of PVRS for the scholarship.
But why GCC? Hammond is a regular contributor to the GCC Foundation Annual Campaign and has made two major gifts in the past five years in support of the college’s Business Department programming and other physical space improvements.
“GCC is one of the area’s great assets, providing an affordable, quality education to students who otherwise may not have a chance to achieve success,” he responded quickly. “Both of our children attended there and really got their start at GCC.” An impact of changing lives that he knows has been repeated thousands of times over the college’s 50 year history.
One individual whose life was most recently changed by the Hammond’s generosity is Peter Klepadlo of Bernardston, the current winner of the scholarship at PVRS, who notes that he gained both the monetary award to help with school expenses and a friend. “When he learned where I worked, he made it a point to stop by, introduce himself and get to know me,” Klepadlo said. He describes Hammond as an ‘inspirational person’ who he looks up to. “I take what he says to heart and try to implement it because I know it comes from his experience and his caring.”
“It is completely fitting that Skip serve as honorary chair of the campaign,” remarked GCC President Bob Pura. “Skip and the Hammond Family are so perfectly Franklin County. A very good family starts a family business, grows it to the point of success and then gives back to the community that helped them succeed. They typify the very best of what this community is all about. We are so appreciative of the generous support provided to this college by the Hammond family.”
The students, faculty and staff at GCC couldn’t agree more.