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HOLYOKE — The Dowd Insurance Agencies announced the launch of a cell-phone-collection drive to benefit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). The organization, founded in 1978, works to end violence in the lives of women and men through education and advocacy efforts. The donated cell phones will be refurbished and sold or recycled, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the organization and its programs. Collection boxes will be placed at the reception desk of each Dowd branch location throughout the month of May.

According to NCADV, every minute, as many as 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S.; during one year, this equates to more than 10 million victims. “With such staggering figures, we felt compelled to make a difference,” said Jon Lumbra, Dowd’s chief financial officer.

Seeing multiple benefits to the drive — funding domestic-violence programs and, additionally, environmental benefits to reusing and recycling the electronics — it was unanimously agreed the cause was a noble one, and efforts to accelerate the program began. “We are honored to have the platform to raise awareness and funds for such a worthy cause,” Lumbra noted.

Cellular Recycler, NCADV’s recycling partner, has received responsible-recycling certification, the highest designation from the Environmental Protection Agency and confirmation that donated materials are recycled safely and reliably.

“There is no need to clean or wipe information from the cell phone you wish to donate,” Lumbra explained. “All donated electronics are either refurbished and resold or recycled for parts. If refurbished, all of the item’s software is replaced, which completely wipes all stored information on the device. If the item is recycled, it is crushed down during the process, making data retrieval impossible.”

To date, an estimated 3 million cell phones have been kept out of waste sites due to the efforts of NCADV and cellular recyclers. Items donated fund programming that empowers domestic-violence victims, connects survivors to helpful and potentially life-saving resources, impacts legislation aimed at ending domestic violence, and gives support to organizations across the U.S. working to stop violence in the home.

Those interested in donating a cell phone to the drive may do so through the month of May by visiting a Dowd location in Holyoke, Southampton, Hadley, Indian Orchard, or Ludlow.

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SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) entered a new chapter in its 50-year history Thursday with the inauguration of John Cook as its sixth college president.

The installation ceremony at STCC’s Scibelli Hall Gymnasium featured a mixture of pageantry, tradition, and celebration. The event opened with a processional led by the STCC Ceremonial Brass Ensemble, followed by the Bearer of the Mace and more grandeur befitting such formal occasions.

The audience of STCC students, faculty, staff, and members of the community witnessed the presentation of colors, heard a rendition of the National Anthem, and listened to greetings from a variety of dignitaries and members of the STCC community.

After the presentation of the presidential medallion, Cook spoke about the college’s rich history, while looking ahead to the future.

“Springfield Technical Community College carries an incredible legacy, and it is an absolute privilege to champion who we are becoming in this, our 50th year, and during a time of renaissance and innovation all around,” he said.

Christopher Johnson, chair of the STCC board of trustees, praised the new president for his efforts since taking the helm.

“The board of trustees is delighted with its selection of Dr. John Cook as STCC’s president. It has been a pleasure working with Dr. Cook during this academic year as we strive to continue to improve the lives of our students. Dr. Cook has done a great job in his inaugural year to keep STCC moving forward as the Commonwealth’s only ‘technical’ community college,” Johnson said.

Brian Tuohey is president of the Collins Companies, sponsor of the inauguration. He also is a longtime member of the STCC Foundation board of directors and its past president. He noted, “I have been very impressed with Dr. Cook’s commitment to and involvement with the STCC Foundation and our new board. His enthusiastic leadership and direction have been key components in re-energizing this very important asset, both for our college and our students.”

Cook’s induction office falls during the 50th anniversary of the founding of STCC. He replaced Dr. Ira Rubenzahl, who guided the college for 12 years. Cook took over the reins to become the sixth president of STCC on Aug. 1, 2016.

Before the inauguration ceremony, the STCC Foundation hosted a VIP luncheon that included business community partners, community stakeholders, and representatives from other education institutions. A 50th Anniversary Gala is planned for tonight at the Springfield Marriott.

Prior to his appointment, Cook was vice president of Academic Affairs at Manchester Community College (MCC) in New Hampshire. In his role as chief academic officer, he was responsible for the administration, leadership, and oversight of all academic programs and faculty at the college. Successes at MCC included working with faculty to revise developmental education, creating early-college pathways, and injecting energy into both a comprehensive program review and assessment process.

Cook also worked for 12 years at Granite State College, one of four institutions that constitute the public university system of New Hampshire; Granite State is known particularly as the leading provider of public online education in the state. He served in multiple roles, including assistant dean of faculty, faculty coordinator, and research and evaluation coordinator for a child-welfare training partnership. For a number of years, he taught Research Methods and Educational Psychology part-time to Granite State undergraduates.

Cook has long held a deep interest in the relationships between communities and their higher-education collaborators. He was nominated and selected in 2010 to be an Emerging Engagement Scholar by the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, whose goal is to work collaboratively to build strong partnerships between communities and colleges and universities.

His service includes membership on the boards of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, Partners for a Healthier Community, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts.

Cook holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology from St. Lawrence University, a master’s degree in community/social psychology from UMass Lowell, and a Ph.D. in education (curriculum/instruction) from the University of New Hampshire.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — As part of the ongoing BusinessWest and HCN Lecture Series, Comcast Business will host an informative program titled “Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage” on Wednesday, May 10. The event is part of a series of lectures, panel discussions, and presentations that address timely and important business information. This is an opportunity to meet industry leaders and network with area business professionals.

“Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage” will be presented by Dennis Perlot, vice President, Enterprise Architecture at CleanSlate Centers, and former ‘technology evangelist’ at Microsoft and BI specialist master at Deloitte. It will take place at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield. Perlot will address how other organizations are using their data to provide them with a competitive advantage. Attendees will learn how data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.

On-site parking is available. Registration is scheduled for 7:15 to 7:30 a.m., followed by breakfast and Perlot’s presentation from 7:30 to 9 p.m. RSVP at businesswest.com/lecture-series.

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced the promotion of Mark Pedrotti to vice president, marketing officer.

Pedrotti began his career with Berkshire Bank as a college intern from Johnson & Wales University in 2006. He was offered permanent employment in 2008 as eMarketing and website administrator and has continued to learn and grow within the marketing department, taking on new titles and increasing challenges as the years have progressed.

“Mark is a key member of Berkshire Bank’s marketing team, and this promotion reflects his dedication to his position,” said Elizabeth Mach, senior vice presient, marketing officer. “We are proud of his accomplishments and look forward to his continued growth in the future.”

Pedrotti continues to cultivate his career by acquiring new knowledge and challenging himself in and out of the office each day. In his new role, he will manage the strategic initiatives of Berkshire Bank’s digital properties, in addition to assisting with the overall integrity of marketing assets.

Outside of the bank’s marketing department, Pedrotti is also engaged with his community. He is an active participant of the Berkshire International Film Festival, and has been since its inception. Passionate about film and the Berkshire region, he does his best to merge the two, spending much of his time immersed in the outdoor community, always with a camera in hand.

Daily News

AGAWAM — Dave’s Soda and Pet City will host the “Calling All Dog Lovers” book signing and informational event on Sunday, May 7 from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. at the Dave’s store located at 151 Springfield St., Agawam. Well-mannered dogs are encouraged to attend.

The event is sponsored in part by the Springfield Jewish Community Center and Kehillah, the JCC Special Needs Department. Author of The Underdogs, Melissa Fay Greene will share the story of her book about service dogs and the amazing acts they perform for the people they love and explore what can be accomplished through unconditional love. This is a free family friendly event where local nonprofit service-dog organizations and pet-adoption agencies will have informational booths on site. Attendees will be provided a 10% coupon off their entire purchase that day.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Saturday, May 6 performance of the play Wit at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will be staged as a benefit for Longmeadow-based Survivor Journeys, which provides social and emotional support services to cancer survivors, their families, and caregivers.

The STCC College Theater Workshop will present Margaret Edson’s acclaimed play at the Scibelli Hall Theater at STCC on Thursday, May 4, 11 a.m.; Friday, May 5, 7 p.m.; Saturday, May 6, 7 p.m.; and Sunday, May 7, 2 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.

Wit focuses on the final hours of English professor Vivian Bearing, who is dying from ovarian cancer. She agrees to undergo an experimental treatment that might not save her but will provide research data for the future of oncology. The character reflects on her life over the course of the play, using the intricacies of the English language. The play chronicles the professor’s journey while touching on the moral and ethical dilemmas of medical research. The professor also, not surprisingly, uses wit to help her to the end.

In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 for Best Drama, the play was made into an HBO movie starring Emma Thompson and was recently revised on Broadway with Cynthia Nixon in the lead role.

“Everyone associated with Survivor Journeys is honored and thrilled that the Springfield Technical Community College Theater Workshop will be donating the May 6 Wit performance proceeds to our organization,” said Dr. Jay Burton, founder of Survivor Journeys and a cancer survivor himself. “We are grateful to all of the actors, stage crew, and supervisory staff, including Professor Phil O’Donoghue, for their recognition of Survivor Journeys and its mission to help provide emotional and social support to cancer survivors, their families, and caregivers.”

Burton will speak at the theater after the Saturday performance.

Daily News

WESTFIELD — Salons throughout the U.S. will be participating in HAIRraising, a fund-raising event benefiting Boston Children’s Hospital’s Heart Center. Puffer’s Salon and Day Spa has joined this initiative with a month-long celebration including raffles, featured items, and promotions. Throughout the month of May, 100% of the proceeds from all children’s haircuts will go to Boston Children’s Hospital.

Founded in 2010 by longtime business partners John Frieda and Gail Federici, HAIRraising brings together the salon and hair communities to help support the life-saving care and breakthrough cures, treatments, and innovations at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“We’re so grateful to the salon community for their ongoing support of Boston Children’s Hospital,” said Frieda. “We’re consistently overwhelmed and amazed by the level of commitment this effort receives from salon owners and stylists.”

Added Federici, “support for Boston Children’s Hospital is critical. We need everyone to understand the huge global impact that this hospital has, not only for children, but for adults as well. Together with this event, we can help save countless lives.”

Judy Puffer, owner of Puffer’s Salon & Day Spa, said she is “thrilled to participate in HAIRraising this year to support Boston Children’s Hospital. It’s exciting to be a part of something that unifies our community and can make such a huge difference in the lives of sick children.”

In the past seven years, salons have raised more than $1 million for Boston Children’s Hospital through HAIRraising and the generosity of the salon community. This year’s event is expected to raise more than $300,000 for the hospital.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) is committed to ensuring that its online courses and programs employ best practices based on the existing research literature. Course-development goals are focused on ensuring the highest levels of student learning, interaction, and engagement.

To meet these goals, AIC has become a Quality Matters (QM) member. QM is a faculty-centered peer-review process designed to certify the quality of online courses. The QM Rubric and course-review process were developed from a grant provided by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. QM has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to quality assurance and continuous improvement in distance learning and has more than 1,000 subscribers in North American and around the world.

The QM Rubric is research-based and promotes best practice-based quality standards. Alignment, a central concept of the QM Rubric, requires that critical course components — learning objectives, assessment and measurement, instructional materials, learner interaction, and engagement and course technology — work together to ensure that students achieve desired learning outcomes.

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SPRINGFIELD — Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of the groundbreaking book Collective Courage: A History of African-American Economic Thought and Practice, will facilitate an exploration of the rich history of African-American economic cooperation and its role in movements for black civil rights and economic equality today, April 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. at TechSpring, 1350 Main St., Springfield.

Nembhard is a political economist and professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development in the Africana Studies Department at John Jay College, City University of New York. She is also a member of the Grassroots Economic Organizing Collective, the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, and the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network, and also serves on the leadership team of Organizing Neighborhood Equity DC. She was inducted into the Co-op Hall of Fame in 2016.

Workshop objectives include understanding the compelling case for using cooperatives in inclusive economic-development strategies; understanding how cooperatives address poverty and the marginalization of communities of color and immigrants; understanding how cooperatives can bridge divides in the common interest of creating good jobs that are rooted in the community; and understanding how cooperatives create opportunities for business ownership, wealth building, and democratic management.

The event is sponsored by Wellspring Cooperative Corp., Baystate Health and the Worker Cooperative Boot Camp Project. Parking will be validated.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Single-family home sales were up 5.9% in the Pioneer Valley in March compared to the same time last year, while the median price was up 1.7% to $188,000, according to the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley.

In Franklin County, sales were up 21.2%, while the median price fell 12.0% from a year earlier. In Hampden County, sales were up 10.2%, while the median price was up 2.8%. And in Hampshire County, sales fell 8.0% from March 2016, while the median price was up 4.3%.