University News

Niedel Honored with Jim Quinn Human Service Award

Published: May 30, 2018 | Categories: All News, Arts and Sciences
Close up of the 2018 Jim Quinn Human Service Award.

Richard M. Niedel of Longmeadow has been honored for his distinguished contributions to the human service profession, receiving the Jim Quinn Human Service Award during the 2018 Regional Social Work Conference at Western New England University May 23. The award recognizes Niedel’s pioneering work on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities over the course of his 43-year career.

“My position and title has changed many times over the years, but I’ve always worked for the same agency,” speaking of the organization now known as Pathlight, where he serves as program director for family based living.

“Oscar Wilde said experience is the name we give to our mistakes. Having said that, I stand before you as one of the most experienced persons I know,” Niedel told the crowd of more than 360 human service professionals as he accepted the award.

Niedel recounted taking on the role of “house parents” with his wife Kate while he was still in college in the 1970's. A business student at the time, Niedel quickly found a new career path.

“We lived in that group home for almost 12 years, which were the most fulfilling years of our lives,” he said. “We felt like we were driving the direction of group homes for men and women with developmental disabilities.  

Throughout his career, Niedel has worked to ensure that people with developmental disabilities have live that are enriching and dignified. He is a vigorous advocate for the shared living model in Massachusetts, and a founding member of the Shared Living and AFC Conference. He has also served as vice president for the National Adult Family Care Organization.

“I am also very fortunate to work with colleagues who have set the bar very high for themselves, ensuring that we provide a service that is admirable,” he added.

“I could not do this for over forty years if I didn't believe that I was helping improve the lives of the individuals we serve. I am most proud of the thousands of individuals we have been able to provide living situations that are normative and family-like settings that are in the community of their choosing with the providers they wish. It’s their connection that makes me come to work every day.”

The Jim Quinn Human Service Award honors a human service professional who has made outstanding contributions to the profession. The award is named in memory of James N. Quinn, a social worker, child and family welfare advocate, lecturer, and advisor who devoted more than 30 years of his professional and personal life to helping those in need.