Holly Lurgio recognized at WSU for commitment to serving school community through Elm Gives Back

Congratulations to our own Holly Lurgio (pictured above with her family). Holly was recently recognized at Westfield State University for the work she does — and coordinates — through the Elm Gives Back program.

Reverend Warren Savage (Catholic Chaplain at WSU) presented a citation in appreciation of Holly’s vision, continued commitment, and dedication to the students and campus community.

Here’s what Holly had to tell us about the recognition: “Community service holds immense value in my life as it provides a tangible way to give back and make a positive impact on the world around me. When we get involved in service activities at Elm Electrical, it’s not just about helping out – it’s about building connections with our community. Working alongside WSU, we feel like we are part of something bigger, contributing to the greater good while also forming valuable relationships. It’s all about making our greater Westfield community stronger. I consider myself fortunate to be part of a company that aligns with my personal values and actively contributes to our community.”

Though Holly wasn’t able to be in town for the ceremony, Deana Casamento accepted the citation on Holly’s behalf.

Deana’s speech below is certainly worth reading to understand just how big an impact Holly’s work on Elm Gives Back and coordinating donation drives from all of us at Elm is having an incredible impact on our community.

Thank you so much. What an honor this is. Those of you expecting to see tall Holly with the spectacular red hair are so confused now, right? Holly was very disappointed she couldn’t be here this morning. She is taking a few well-deserved days off enjoying some time away with her husband Pete. And so she asked me if I could accept this award on her behalf. And I am so excited because it gives me a chance to talk about how wonderful Holly is and some of the great things she has done.

My name is Deana Casamento and I’m with Elm Electrical. We had started a little thing about 10 years ago called Elm Gives Back to find ways to give back to our community. Westfield has been so supportive of Elm, we wanted to be able to return that support. Holly was brought in in the fall of 2021 to help grow our community outreach. As a former teacher, she naturally started interacting with the city schools to find small ways Elm could help others—Thanksgiving meal items for school families in need, care packages for Boy & Girls club families. She will admit, the idea that there were opportunities to help Westfield State students didn’t really occur to her.

Growing up on street close by here and then moving back to the same street to later raise her family, the college was always a constant in Holly’s life. As a child she played soccer on the fields and rode her bike around campus. And as an adult, she looked forward to the college kids trick or treating every Halloween in their great costumes. It wasn’t until Father Savage, at her church, mentioned the program with the laundry baskets for the students who were coming onto campus who were housing-insecure or coming from the foster program, who didn’t have sheets or a comforter for their bed, that she realized there were some incredible students working very hard with very little to put themselves through school.

One meeting with Marjorie and Jen, learning about the FACES program, and she came back to Elm telling me how blown away she was. The stories she came back with from that meeting were so impactful. The adversity some of these students were facing. I mean, being mothers with college-age students, at that time, and thinking about these children coming in having to worry about not having sheets for their bed. College is hard enough on its own, right, but to have so many basic needs that weren’t being met was hard to imagine. And then the amazing things Marjorie & Jen were doing with such limited supplies and manpower. So, she’s telling me these stories and we’re both in tears, and she mentions the Common Goods food pantry and how these students wished they had some healthier choices, fresh food instead of something from a box or a can. She says, “I don’t know, is it crazy or do you think we could get them a refrigerator?” At this point, I’m a mess, yes, of course, a refrigerator, a freezer, a farm stand, a Costco on the South Lot—whatever they need.

So, we started with the refrigerator, which wasn’t a problem, but then the church didn’t have the electrical system to support the refrigerator and was going to need some electrical work and upgrades to be able to run the refrigerator. Luckily, we knew a guy…

And from there, as the opportunities presented themselves, our incredible employees got behind each one. Holly brought the laundry basket idea to Elm and we’ve grown the back to school baskets year over year, bundling bedding and linens, toiletries and dorm supplies. Our employees step up each time and make sure every item on the gift registry for those baskets is purchased. When Holly sends out that last call looking for just a few more donations, people turn up and we’re able to do more than we expected.

One fall, we offered every employee who got their flu shot an extra hour of pay or the chance to donate the hour and have Elm match it and almost every employee donated their extra hour. We had enough to pay the dorm expenses for FACES students staying on campus over the summer.

We’ve done food drives and we’ve tapped into other local businesses to donate gift cards and help us supply meals on school breaks when the dining hall is closed. Holly has come up with wonderfully creative ways to challenge the company to support the FACES program—sometimes throwing in the bribe to trade her ridiculously delicious baked goods for needed donations—and we’re good with that. And Elm’s employees have got behind every one of her great ideas.

Holly would tell you she is very humbled to accept this award, but, I believe, she is also very deserving of it. Holly will tell you it’s the just the right and natural thing to do, to take care of the people in the community. I believe we are a better community, definitely a better Elm, to have Holly as a part of it. Thank you again!

Way to go, Holly!