Nelly Ayala Bystran
Enjoying tropical weather!
The daughter and granddaughter of Puerto Rican émigrés, Nelly Ayala Bystran was born and grew up in Springfield, MA.
She became a single mom while still a teenager, and often struggled to provide for her three kids, working in all kinds of jobs, including the tobacco fields of the Connecticut River valley in the Windsor Locks area.
Along with her children, Nelly returned to her roots in Puerto Rico in the hope of being able to provide a better quality of life for her young family. They came back to the Spingfield area a year later in 1988 due to medical issues.
This period was a particularly difficult one for Nelly and the children. Nelly was a victim of domestic abuse for a time, and due to the faltering economy and weak job market in the Springfield area, the family was forced to live in a homeless shelter for a while.
Nelly worked in food service and as a receptionist for several years, and in 1997 completed CNA training and worked in the Alzheimer Unit of Ring Nursing Home. In 1999, she received her Medication Administration training, and went on to hold several positions including Residential Manager with Hawthorne Services, a mental health agency with several group homes.
Her interest in law and the legal field led her in 2006 to begin her work as a legal assistant for several female attorneys. She also became a Notary Public and recorded Spanish radio commercials for the law office, among many other duties.
Nelly has found that her bilingual skills have always proved very useful to her and her employers.
Believing strongly in assisting other Latinos and in helping to provide more opportunities for them, she was among the first group of volunteer leaders to help establish Impacto Latino, Scouting's outreach program for Latino families and youth. She served as an Impacto Latino Cubmaster for several years beginning in 1995, and has continued as a volunteer committee member for the initiative.
Nelly's experiences in overcoming adversity have led her, along with her husband Larry, to establish the Latino Alliance movement as an important way to help, empower, and encourage Latinos to build a better life for themselves and their families, and to seek ongoing personal achievement, leadership opportunities, and success.
In addition to her own children, Nelly has been a "second mom" to several young people, providing them with guidance and support.
Nelly and Larry live in Springfield, and enjoy spending time with their two adult children and six grandchildren.
Going "Over the Edge!"
Larry Bystran was born in Lackawanna, NY and joined Scouting at the age of twelve. He graduated from St. Francis High School, Athol Springs, NY, as Salutatorian. In 1979, he became a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Canisius College, Buffalo, NY, with a bachelor’s degree in communication and political science.
He joined the professional service of the Boy Scouts of America in 1980, serving an inner city district in the Buffalo, NY council. In 1983, he was promoted to Senior District Executive in Syracuse, NY, where he served a suburban district. He also spent seven summers directing the Syracuse council's summer camping programs. In Syracuse, he was promoted to Exploring Director, and then later served as Assistant Council Executive. While the #2 in Syracuse, he directed one of the largest fundraising dinner campaigns in the US, raising more than $500,000 annually for the council.
He came to the Springfield area in 1992, and has served as Council Executive of the Pioneer Valley Council and its 2008 successor, the Western Mass. Council BSA.
After arriving in western MA, Larry worked to invigorate the council’s Executive Board, increase fundraising & marketing, and establish a strong camp maintenance and improvement program. A strong advocate of urban Scouting & urban youth, he established in 1995, and later developed Impacto Latino, the council’s outreach program for Latino families and youth. He has been a proponent of ongoing strategic planning efforts, and in 2007, served as co-advisor of the merger study, and then later implemented the consolidation of the Pioneer Valley and Great Trails Councils.
Despite the area’s economic challenges, Larry spearheaded efforts to institute additional fundraising programs for Scouting. He also established the council’s campership and special assistance programs for lower income, urban youth.
In 2012, after 32 years of service to Scouting, he retired early and helped to form Latino Alliance. During the 1st half of 2013, Larry volunteered as national marketing chair for Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance, and continues his involvement with the movement as a member of the National Marketing Team & National Congressional Outreach Team.
His recent articles include: Now or Never: Borinqueneers Gold Medal Act Nears Quota Of Co-Sponsors, Recognize The Borinqueneers Ahora!, Time to Honor the Borinqueneers, Legendary “Borinqueneers” Deserve the Congressional Gold Medal, all on Fox News Latino; plus The next Greatest Generation on Being Latino, & Latino population influential, growing, in Hampden County and nationwide on Masslive.com. He and his wife Nelly Ayala Bystran, a former Impacto Latino cubmaster, reside in Springfield.