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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM), now celebrating its centennial anniversary, will host the JA Inspire Career Exploration Fair on Tuesday, May 28 from 8 a.m. to noon at the MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Springfield.

“We’re excited to offer this event for the first time in our region, as it’s been very successful in other parts of the country,” said Jennifer Connolly, president of JAWM. “We will host more than 500 students from seventh through 11th grades, who will have the opportunity to explore diverse career options at interactive booths featuring colleges, universities, trade schools, apprenticeship programs, companies, local law enforcement, and public-safety organizations from throughout Western Massachusetts.”

The JA Inspire program provides students with the opportunity to learn about careers from industry representatives in time to begin planning for high-school coursework and better prepare themselves for life after graduation. The program consists of four in-class lessons, plus the career exploration fair, all designed to engage students and help them explore education and career pathways, showcase careers in Western Mass. with a focus on high-wage and high-demand industries, and connect students with industry representatives who can share career advice and offer interactive exhibits during the career fair.

“LENOX/Stanley Black and Decker is honored to participate in the JA Inspire program,” said Erica Pellegrino, the company’s senior manager, Human Resources. “We look for opportunities to partner with our local communities to develop and educate future leaders in manufacturing. We continue to be impressed with the level of commitment that Junior Achievement brings through programs like JA Inspire.”

Added Connolly, “in addition to benefitting students, the JA Inspire program benefits our communities and businesses. It allows businesses, higher education, and apprenticeship programs the opportunity to participate in building Western Massachusetts’ future workforce, which strengthens the entire region.”

Alicia Pare of Florence Bank, a JA of Western Mass. board member, noted that “we signed on quickly with JA Inspire to be part of their career fair because I’ve seen first-hand how the interactive, hands-on experience motivates students to speak with local business professionals and inspires and develops career aspirations. Florence Bank is excited to be part of a program that aids in the strong development of young people that will go on to contribute to our local economy in the future.”

Exhibitor space is still available at no charge. Exhibitors will present interactive and engaging career stations, while providing volunteer mentors to staff the career stations throughout the event. To reserve a career station, contact Connolly at (413) 747-7670 or [email protected]. To learn more about the event, visit jawm.org/events or call (413) 747-7670.

Nonprofit Management

In Good Company

Jennifer Connelly, left, and Dawn Creighton

Jennifer Connelly, left, and Dawn Creighton display promotional materials for the JA Inspire program’s career-exploration fair set for May 28.

The 100th Anniversary Gala for Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts will have a decidedly ’20s flair — as in the 1920s. In fact, the theme is “The Roaring ’20s are Back.”

Attendees are encouraged, but not required, to come in period dress, a challenge that Jennifer Connelly, executive director of the local JA chapter, met (with considerable help from her daughter) by doing a hard search online that yielded the appropriate dress as well as a headband with a feather.

“I’ll have the long gloves and the long cigarette holder — a full outfit; it will be very interesting to see what people come up with to mark the ’20s,” she said with a trace of understatement in her voice.

But while the gala will amount to an effort to turn back the clock in many respects, Junior Achievement, and especially its Western Mass. chapter, have been turning the clock forward, focusing on the 2020s — and the decades to follow — with a host of programs that are seemingly far removed from the organization’s original mission to introduce young people to the principles of business — but then again, not very far removed at all.

Programs like JA Inspire.

Created by a coalition of education and industry leaders led by JA of Western Mass., this endeavor is designed to introduce young people to industry sectors and careers, and also provide awareness of what skills will be needed to thrive in those settings.

At the heart of the initiative is a massive career fair set for May 28 at the MassMutual Center that won’t follow the typical model for such events.

Actually, it will, but the audience will be decidedly different. Instead of people looking for jobs they can enter in a few weeks or even a few days, those roaming the aisles will be middle- and high-school students gaining information on jobs they might fill sometime in the next decade.

“We’re going to have representatives of a number of industry clusters, and we’ll also have representatives of the post-secondary schools in this area,” said Connelly, “so students can understand that there is a pathway to a career that they might be interested in.”

In many respects, JA has always been about identifying and illuminating pathways, and JA Inspire is just one example of how this nonprofit has stayed true to its original mission while also evolving over the years and expanding into programs, 23 of them in all, for students in grades K-12, said Connelly.

These programs provide lessons in everything from how government works to how large a slice of one’s paycheck the IRS takes; from how global the global economy truly is to the all-important difference between a ‘want’ and a ‘need’ when it comes to how one spends their money, she said, adding that, to get these messages across, JA relies (as it has throughout its history) on volunteers.

“We try to make that match between what they’re learning and why it’s important, and it’s very rewarding work.”

People like Sharon Dufour, chief financial officer at Ludlow-based LUSO Federal Credit Union and a JA volunteer for more than 30 years, 20 of them in this market. She has been instrumental in bringing JA programs into schools in the Wilbraham/Ludlow area, and also in moving beyond traditional school-banking initiatives — where students learn the basics of banking — and into financial literacy.

She’s taught at all levels, including seventh grade and a program called “JA is My Future,” which helps students understand the value of what they’re learning.

“It helps them understand the skills they’ll need for specific jobs,” she explained,” adding that, in the last full school year, LUSO helped coordinate 130 classes for Junior Achievement, reaching 2,810 students. “We try to make that match between what they’re learning and why it’s important, and it’s very rewarding work.”

Julie Ann Pelletier agreed. A retired transplant to the Berkshires just over a decade ago, she was looking for volunteer work to take on and certainly found it with JA — she now coordinates the agency’s programs across the Berkshires.

One of them is an initiative to promote entrepreneurship in high-school students, for which they needed a product that students could design, make, market, and sell. Pelletier helped inspire one — crocheted hats (she teaches that art).

Fast-forwarding, she said she wound up teaching a number of Putnam Vocational Academy students that skill, and a few of them went on to start their own businesses and eventually win business competitions as they moved their ventures forward.

“I’m 72, and they’re 17, so they called it ‘Twisting the Generations,’ — it was the old school teaching the new school,” she said, summing up quickly and efficiently what JA, and its volunteers, have been doing for the past century.

For this issue and its focus on nonprofits, BusinessWest examines all that JA is celebrating as its marks an important milestone — 100 years of not only teaching young people about business, but preparing them for all that life can throw at them.

Getting Down to Business

Connelly told BusinessWest that JA’s 100th birthday bash will be a year-long celebration, one that has a number of goals, from honoring the past to raising awareness of its many programs and initiatives in an effort to ensure sustainability.

It will be capped, in most respects, by a series of events on Sept. 28, when JA National, as it’s called, which is based in Colorado, will stage JA Day at the Big E, home to the first Junior Achievement building ever erected — funded by Horace Moses, president of Strathmore Paper Co., and one of three men who founded JA in 1919. There will be a parade, speeches, and a dinner, and Connelly is expecting representatives from many of the 107 JA chapters nationwide to be in attendance.

Jennifer Connelly says JA has evolved considerably

Jennifer Connelly says JA has evolved considerably over the past century, but remains true to its original mission.

Locally, the immediate focus is on the May 4 gala, to be staged at MGM Springfield, an event expected to draw more than 300 people. The list of attendees includes two descendants of U.S. Sen. Murray Crane of Massachusetts, another of the founders (the third was Theodore Vail, president of AT&T), as well as a representative of Strathmore Paper.

So there will be significant ties to the past, said Connelly, adding that the gala will honor the agency’s founders, but also all the change and evolution that has come over the past century, and there has been quite a bit of both, as her quick history lesson shows.

“When they founded JA 100 years ago, it started off with what they called the company program,” she explained. “Students came together, formed a company, and sold a product; they envisioned a way to help young people transitioning from an agrarian-based economy to a manufacturing-based economy.”

A glass display case in the front lobby of the JA’s offices on the second floor of Tower Square holds artifacts that speak to those early days of the company program, everything from ribbons awarded at a competition in the mid-1920s to a wooden lamp built by area high-school students to later sell. (Connelly isn’t sure of the date on that item, but guesses it’s from the mid-’70s.

The student-company initiative continues to this day, she said proudly, noting that a number of area high schools run the program after school, during the summer, and as part of the regular school day.

Pathfinder Regional High School, for example, has expanded its program to includes a Facebook page, she said, adding that one class is enjoying success with selling a brush designed for pets called Brush It Off.

But over the past 30 years or so, JA has taken on a broader role, one certainly in keeping with the founders’ intent, especially within the realm of financial literacy. And that role will likely become deeper still following the passage of a bill in January that allows state education officials to establish standards around financial literacy, which schools could incorporate into their existing curricula in subjects like math, business, and social sciences.

The standards will be guidelines, not a mandate, said Connelly, adding that, for those schools who wish to adopt these guidelines, JA could become a partner in helping to bring those lessons home.

The agency already provides a wide array of financial-literacy programs to students in grades K-12, she noted, citing, as one example, something called the Credit for Life Fair, staged recently at Elms College, a program created for high-school students.

Students essentially choose a field, are given a budget, and are presented a number of options on how to spend their money — from investments to essentials like housing, a car, and groceries, as well as ‘fun’ items. They then visit with a credit counselor to review their choices and discuss the consequences of each one.

“These are great learning experiences,” Connelly said of the fair, several of which are conducted each year. “They actually get to see that, even if they get a good job and make a lot of money, that money doesn’t go too far. And they learn about the importance of having a good credit score; they can be a doctor and make a lot of money, but if they have a bad credit score, that’s going to hurt them down the road.”

The Job at Hand

While JA is providing young people with a look at life in a chosen profession through these Credit for Life programs — well, sort of — it is also introducing them to industry sectors, career paths, and specific jobs through initiatives like the JA Inspire program and the aforementioned event at the MassMutual Center.

The formal name of that gathering is the Inspire Career Exploration Fair, and that’s appropriate, because that’s what the attendees will be doing — exploring. And while they’re doing that, area employers might be getting some help with the biggest problem they face these days — securing a workforce for the future.

“Every employer in every industry sector is experiencing workforce shortages,” said Dawn Creighton, Western Mass. director for Associated Industries of Massachuetts, which came on board as a sponsor of the initiative early on and has been encouraging its members to take part. “People are not ready for the workforce, whether it’s vocational skills, technical skills, soft skills — they’re not ready.”

The career-exploration fair was conceived to help ensure that the next generation of workers is more ready, she went on, by not just introducing young people to career possibilities they may or may not have known about, but also spell out for them what it will take to land such a position in terms of skills and education.

And that’s why the event has caught the attention of businesses in several sectors, from manufacturing to healthcare to financial services, and from every corner of the 413, said Creighton, adding that all see a chance to open some eyes.

“All too often, these types of career days come during the spring of senior year, and by then it’s often too late,” she told BusinessWest. “We need to introduce young people to all the career opportunities out there, and we need to do it earlier.”

Sharon Dufour, long-time volunteer with JA

Sharon Dufour, long-time volunteer with JA, is seen here with third-graders as she provides lessons about zoning and building a city.

Thus, the fair, as noted, is an example of how JA’s mission has evolved and the agency has moved beyond the classroom in many respects. But area schools are where most of JA’s life lessons are delivered, a tradition that began a century ago and continues today through the work of teachers and especially volunteers.

Dufour has worked to recruit them for years and said more are always needed to help JA reach more young people.

“I tell every volunteer I know that it’s the most rewarding experience you can imagine,” she said. “The kids see you; they remember you. I once had a kid come flying across the Stop & Shop to give me a big hug. Her mother said, ‘my daughter does not stop talking about you.’”

Pelletier agreed, and said the rewards from volunteering come in many flavors, especially the satisfaction that comes from seeing a light go on in a young person’s eyes as they realize their potential to take an idea or a skill (like crocheting) and run with it.

“Once people get the basics, they fly,” she said, referring specifically to crocheting, but also to the many principles of business in general. “And it’s incredibly exciting to watch it happen.”

Past Is Prologue

“The future of our country depends upon making every individual fully realize the obligations and responsibilities belonging to citizenship. Habits are formed in youth. What we need in this country now is to teach the growing generations to realize that thrift and economy, coupled with industry, are as necessary now as they were in past generations.”

Theodore Vail spoke those words a century or so ago when JA was in its infancy. But they certainly ring true today, especially that part about habits being formed in youth.

Helping young people develop the right habits has been JA’s informal mission for 100 years now. There are now more ways in which in that mission is being carried out, but it’s still about pathways and putting people on the right ones.

And that’s a proud history worth celebrating.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Company Notebook

Wright-Pierce Opens Westfield Office

WESTFIELD — Wright-Pierce, an environmental/civil infrastructure engineering firm, announced the opening of an office in Westfield. “Opening the Westfield office is the next step in our strategic plan to better serve our expanding client base in Central and Western Massachusetts,” said Wright-Pierce President and CEO John Braccio. “We look forward to being an active community partner with municipalities throughout the region, helping to engineer environmentally sustainable and economically sound solutions to New England’s aging water, wastewater, and civil infrastructure challenges.” Thomas Hogan, regional group leader for Central and Western Massachusetts, will serve as office manager. Prior to joining Wright-Pierce, he served more than 20 years as an engineering consultant to Massachusetts municipal, institutional, industrial, commercial, and energy-sector clients. Wright-Pierce is an award-winning, multi-discipline engineering firm that has been providing water, wastewater, and civil infrastructure services since 1947. Employee-owned, Wright-Pierce’s more than 200 engineers and support professionals are strategically located in offices throughout New England and Florida.

Hampshire College Resolves to Admit Full Class for 2020

AMHERST — In a letter to the Hampshire College community, interim President Ken Rosenthal said the school is committed to admitting a full class for 2020, only a few months after the troubled institution decided to admit only a partial class this fall. “People have asked, why is the board confident they can enroll a new class next fall 2020 when they voted four months ago not to accept a full class for fall 2019 and spring 2020? What changed?” he wrote. “The answer is the remarkable, historic outpouring of support this spring from Hampshire alums, friends, and people who believe in our college. We are deeply grateful for the unprecedented energy and giving to secure an independent Hampshire.” Rosenthal said the college and its board are working on a number of fronts simultaneously. These include reinforcing its governance and leadership; defining and improving its value proposition; restructuring its business model so it is sustainable, and continuing to operate efficiently and reduce costs where possible; renewing its academic program; leading a successful fundraising campaign, including building the endowment; investing in improving the student experience on campus and upgrading campus facilities to benefit recruitment and retention; and continuing to participate fully in the Five College Consortium for the benefit of students and employees. The school is also making strides toward hiring a new president.

Open Square Creates Headquarters for VertitechIT

HOLYOKE — Architect John Aubin announced plans for the build-out of a company headquarters at his flagship mixed-use development, Open Square. Aubin is creating a new, custom-designed and custom-built workspace in his historic zero-net-energy development in Holyoke. The modern office environment will provide approximately 6,000 square feet of work and meeting space for 25 employees. Current tenant and national healthcare IT consultancy VertitechIT is expanding its presence at Open Square. The new space will also house employees of two sister companies — Akiro Consulting, a firm that facilitates medical practice transactions and acquisitions, and BaytechIT, an IT services provider to physician practices, clinics, and nonprofit healthcare companies. BaytechIT is a joint venture between VertitechIT and Baystate Health. The new space will allow collaboration between the three companies while giving each their own autonomy, said Greg Pellerin, VertitechIT’s chief operating officer.

Basketball Celebration Nets $7,500 for Five Nonprofits

SPRINGFIELD — A basketball event that celebrated the restoration of the court at the Greenleaf Community Center — just in time for summer pick-up games — netted $7,500 in donations for five area nonprofits. Roughly 50 area residents attended the festivities, which included a demonstration by a comedic basketball troupe called the Court Jesters. Several dozen adults and children took part in the Helping Hoops Challenge. As part of this game that benefited nonprofits, participants took shots at the basket from three designated points on the court — one that was kid-friendly for younger children.  The plan was to give each nonprofit $100 or $25 per basket, depending on the distance from the hoop. But Florence Bank and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame were feeling generous during the event. John Heaps Jr., president and CEO of Florence Bank, ended the celebration by announcing that each nonprofit would receive $1,000 from the bank. Additionally, Jason Fiddler, vice president of Sales, Marketing and Partnerships for the Hall of Fame, offered $500 per nonprofit from his organization. The following nonprofits received the donations: Camp STAR Angelina, Dunbar Community Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, Urban League of Springfield, and Open Pantry Community Services. The event was a celebration of the rejuvenation of the basketball court at Greenleaf Community Center, which is only a few miles from Florence Bank’s new Allen Street branch. The city of Springfield and Florence Bank each contributed $15,000 to repave and paint the court at the center for young people in the neighborhood. Two new hoops and backboards were also installed.

STCC Rolls Out Child Development Associate Plus Program

SPRINGFIELD — This fall, Springfield Technical Community College will launch a new certificate program to help early-childhood educators or school paraprofessionals take their careers to the next level. The Child Development Associate Plus (CDA Plus) certificate of completion is designed for educators who want to get their CDA credential and earn college credit at the same time. An individual with a CDA credential, which is nationally recognized, has demonstrated competency in meeting the needs of children and working with parents and other adults to nurture children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth, said Nancy Ward, STCC’s Early Education and Care Pathways Grant and Activity director. The Career Pathways Grant, funded through the state Department of Early Education and Care, enables STCC to provide a range of support for CDA Plus students. STCC also has credit-earning opportunities available for educators who have earned their CDA credential or have acquired other skills in the field or from existing certifications. Students with a CDA credential can receive 17 credits toward an associate degree, Greco said. STCC has named experienced educator Aimee Dalenta as chair of the Early Childhood Education Department. Among her responsibilities, she will oversee the new CDA program.

Delaney’s Market Store Opens in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Owner Peter Rosskothen held a grand-opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 19 at Delaney’s Market at 1365 Main St. in Springfield. Delaney’s Market is a retail store that features chef-inspired meals that are fresh and ready to serve with little effort. It also features a selection of beer and wine. The Delaney’s Market target audience is a busy individual or family who wants to eat a quality lunch or dinner at their home or office without the hassle of long prep times and/or high costs. Delaney’s Market Springfield will also feature delivery to its immediate area, as well as curbside pick-up. “We are so excited to be part of downtown Springfield,” said Roberta Hurwitz, general manager, who oversees operations and an eight-member team at the Springfield store. “The renaissance of the city is happening; we look forward to being a great citizen and neighbor.” This is the second Delaney’s Market store; its flagship store is located at the Longmeadow Shops in Longmeadow and has been open since 2016. Additional stores will open later this year, one in Wilbraham and one in Westfield.

Greenfield Cooperative Bank Reports FY 2019 Results

GREENFIELD — Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB) and its parent company, Greenfield Bancorp, MHC, shared the operating results of the bank’s latest fiscal year as announced at the 114th annual meeting of the bank on June 18. Tucker reported that FY 2019, which ended on March 31, was very successful, and the assets of the bank grew by $26.3 million (up 4.3%) over the prior year. Also in FY 2019, GCB originated more than $117 million in loans of all types, including $30.16 million in residential mortgages, $46.02 million in commercial real-estate/C&I lending, $28.31 million in municipal lending, $11.88 million in home-equity loans and lines, and $1.05 million in Mass Save zero-interest energy loans and Mass Solar loans. GCB had an increase of $11.4 million in deposits (up 2.14%) over the past year. Interest paid to depositors of GCB increased by $531,000 (23%) over last year. Total equity grew to $73.45 million. GCB’s tier 1 capital to average assets is 12%, and total capital to risk-weighted assets is 21.40%. The bank is considered well-capitalized by all regulatory definitions. The pre-tax operating income for Greenfield Cooperative Bank was up to $5.723 million for the year ended March 31, and the net income after taxes was $4.491 million. The bank also paid its fair share of federal and Massachusetts income taxes ($1.23 million) and local property taxes (more than $133,000) in the cities and towns where it has offices. As a result of these earnings and the fact that Greenfield Cooperative Bank targets its charitable and civic giving at 5% of the prior year’s pre-tax operating income, GCB and its employees were able to contribute $224,054 to 218 charities, community groups, school events, youth teams, and cultural events throughout both Hampshire and Franklin counties during the past fiscal year. This was a 13.8% increase over the prior year. Greenfield Cooperative Bank management noted it has received regulatory approvals for opening its new South Hadley location, and the bank expects to open the office by the end of 2019.

Daily News

WILLIAMSTOWN — Waterford Hotel Group announced three appointments at the Williams Inn. Kevin Hurley has been appointed general manager, Kevin DeMarco was named executive chef, and Darcy Lyle is director of sales.

The new Williams Inn, located at the corner of Latham and Spring streets in Williamstown, will open on Aug. 15. Owned by Williams College, the inn will replace the current Williams Inn, which will continue to operate through July 31.

With more than 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Hurley has dedicated his career to the hospitality industry by taking on various roles at several hotels and resorts in the U.S. in addition to his native Canada. Prior to joining the Williams Inn, he worked as assistant general manager at the Kimpton Taconic Hotel in Manchester, Vt. He has also held posts at Omni Hotels and Resorts, the storied Charles Hotel in Cambridge, and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. He completed his undergraduate studies at Bishops University in Sherbrook, Quebec and later went on to earn a master certificate in hospitality management from Cornell University.

A graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., DeMarco has honed his culinary skills up and down the East Coast over the past 13 years. He joins the Williams Inn team from the Newport Restaurant Group in Newport, R.I. His last post was as chef tournant at Castle Hill Inn, a historic Relais & Châteaux property in Newport. He also worked at Grande’s Bella Cucina in Palm Beach, Fla. and Public Kitchen & Bar in Providence. He is a SWE-certified specialist of wine and spirits.

Lyle brings a wealth of knowledge to the Williams Inn with 28 years of experience in the hospitality and sales industry. Prior to joining the Williams Inn, she worked in sales at the Clark Art Institute, and has also held positions in operations and sales at numerous hotels throughout the upstate New York region, as well as the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Assoc. She attended Herkimer Community College, where she received a degree in tourist facilities and management promotion. While in school, she interned with Disney, where she found her passion for the hospitality and tourism industry.

Inspired by the architecture of local area farms, the new, 58,000-square-foot inn is built of stone and wood, with interior design that is reminiscent of a contemporary New England farmhouse. The inn will feature 64 guest rooms, a fitness center, a full-service restaurant and bar, and a combined 3,200-square-foot meeting and event space that includes a 2,800-square-foot ballroom and an additional 400-square-foot space directly adjacent to the ballroom. Event-space reservations are being accepted for dates starting Sept. 1. The property’s exterior features a 3,500-square-foot green space that can be tented for outdoor functions.

The inn will house a 62-seat restaurant, the Barn offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as two private dining spaces. During prime weather months, outdoor seating will be available on the rear of the property.

Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]

 

Inspiring Young People

Junior Achievement of Western Mass., working in concert with Associated Industries of Mass. (AIM) and a host of area businesses, staged the inaugural JA Inspire program at the MassMutual Center late last month. The event is a type of job fair for area young people, designed to not only introduce them to potential careers and area employers, but offer insights into what it will take to enter these fields. More than 400 students from 12 area schools and youth organizations attended, and 42 area companies participated.

Jennifer Connelly, president of JA of Western Mass., with students from Granite Valley Middle School in Monson

Jennifer Connelly, president of JA of Western Mass., with students from Granite Valley Middle School in Monson

Kristin Carlson, president of Peerless Precision, talks with a student about opportunities in manufacturing while Dawn Creighton, Western Mass. Director for AIM, listens in

Kristin Carlson, president of Peerless Precision, talks with a student about opportunities in manufacturing while Dawn Creighton, Western Mass. Director for AIM, listens in

students visit the Comcast booth

students visit the Comcast booth

students from M. Marcus Kiley Middle School in Springfield pose for a group shot

students from M. Marcus Kiley Middle School in Springfield pose for a group shot

students take part in the activities at the Florence Bank booth

students take part in the activities at the Florence Bank booth

 


 

Paul Harris Winners

The Rotary Club of Holyoke recently bestowed Paul Harris Fellowships, Rotary International’s highest honor, upon two community leaders, Peter Rosskothen and Edward Caisse III. Rosskothen is co-owner of the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House, the Delaney House, and other businesses. He is actively involved with a number of area groups and organizations, including the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, the Pioneer Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Link to Libraries. Caisse is unit director of High Risk/Community Initiatives for the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, known for his work with the Safe Neighborhoods Initiative in Holyoke. Here, Holyoke Rotary Club President Robert McKay, center, congratulates Rosskothen, left, and Caisse.

 


 

TWO Grants

Training & Workforce Options (TWO) helped obtain grants to train workers at Savage Arms in Westfield and Conklin Office Furniture in Holyoke. The Baker-Polito administration in March announced the awarding of $7.48 million in Workforce Training Fund Program grants that will fund training for almost 6,000 workers and is expected to create more than 1,100 new jobs in the Commonwealth over the next two years. The awarded grants included $238,485 for customized training for 67 workers at Savage Arms and $48,820 to train 72 workers at Conklin Office Furniture. The training at Savage Arms will help workers learn to operate computer numerical control (CNC) machines. The grant also includes training in English as a second language. The company expects to add 54 new jobs by 2021. The grant for Conklin Office Furniture will pay for the training of 72 workers in a range of skills, from customer service and team building to sales and leadership. Here, Mark Stafinksi, left, who completed the Introduction to Manufacturing Technologies course facilitated by TWO, stands with Michael Welsh, director of Human Resources at Savage Arms, and Tracye Whitfield, director of Business Development at TWO.

 


 

Breaking Ground

MassMutual was joined by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and the Fallon Company as it broke ground recently on the company’s new commercial building in Boston’s booming Seaport district at 10 Fan Pier Boulevard. This is an integral milestone in support of MassMutual’s multi-year plan to expand in its home state of Massachusetts. Once completed, the new, 17-story, 310,000-square-foot building will house approximately 1,000 MassMutual employees. MassMutual is also renewing its commitment to Springfield, the city of its founding, by adding 1,500 jobs to its headquarters by the end of 2021. Here, MassMutual Chairman, President, and CEO Roger Crandall (eighth from left) is holding the original shovel used for the groundbreaking of MassMutual’s headquarters building in Springfield in 1925. From left, Sean Anderson, head of Facilities at MassMutual; Susan Cicco, head of Human Resources & Employee Experience at MassMutual; Richard Martini, chief operating officer at the Fallon Company; Anis Baig, head of Talent Acquisition & People Analytics at MassMutual; Jennifer Halloran, head of Marketing and Brand at MassMutual; Joe Fallon, founder, president, and CEO of the Fallon Company; Walsh; Crandall; Baker; Teresa Hassara, head of Workplace Solutions at MassMutual; Pia Flanagan, chief of staff at MassMutual; Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S. (MMUS); Gareth Ross, head of Enterprise Technology and Experience at MassMutual, and Renee Roeder, head of the MMUS Business Project Management Office at MassMutual.

 


 

Legacy Gift

During her lifetime, Elaine Marieb donated more than $1.5 million to Holyoke Community College in large and small amounts she once described as “tokens of gratitude” to the institution where she earned her nursing degree and taught biology for 24 years. Even after her death in December, Marieb’s generosity continues. HCC is the beneficiary of a $1 million legacy gift Marieb set up as part of her estate plan, money earmarked for HCC programs that support non-traditional-age students. The gift was officially announced on May 28 at HCC’s monthly board of trustees meeting, followed by the presentation of a $1 million ceremonial check. Pictured, from left, HCC Foundation board chair John Driscoll, HCC Vice President of Institutional Advancement Amanda Sbriscia, HCC President Christina Royal, and HCC board of trustees chair Robert Gilbert hold a ceremonial check for $1 million from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Foundation.

 


 

Rally Against Cancer

Country Bank’s Employee Charitable Giving program recently donated $26,000 to the Jimmy Fund’s Rally Against Cancer. Team captains Eric Devine, Bonnie Trudeau-Wood, and Jeremy Toussaint led Team Country Bank with fundraising activities to help them exceed their goal of $25,000 and claim the first-place spot in the Corporate Team Challenge. Fundraising activities included staff-donated raffle baskets for employees to win, paying to wear jeans on casual Fridays, a bus trip, bake sales, and online staff donations. In addition to these activities, Country Bank provided a generous matching donation.

Agenda

JA Inspire Career Exploration Fair

May 28: Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM), now celebrating its centennial anniversary, will host the JA Inspire Career Exploration Fair from 8 a.m. to noon at the MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Springfield. The JA Inspire program provides students with the opportunity to learn about careers from industry representatives in time to begin planning for high-school coursework and better prepare themselves for life after graduation. The program consists of four in-class lessons, plus the career exploration fair, all designed to engage students and help them explore education and career pathways, showcase careers in Western Mass. with a focus on high-wage and high-demand industries, and connect students with industry representatives who can share career advice and offer interactive exhibits during the career fair. Exhibitor space is still available at no charge. Exhibitors will present interactive and engaging career stations, while providing volunteer mentors to staff the career stations throughout the event. To reserve a career station, contact Connolly at (413) 747-7670 or [email protected] To learn more about the event, visit jawm.org/events or call (413) 747-7670.

Bay Path Graduate Spring Open House

May 29: Ready to take your career to the next level? A professional headshot and a graduate degree can help take you there. Attendees of Bay Path University’s spring graduate open house can meet with programs directors, faculty, admissions team members, and financial-aid representatives, and learn about the graduate-school admissions process, ways to finance an education, and more than 30 graduate degrees and certificates available at Bay Path University online or on campus, while enjoying light refreshments and entering to win raffle prizes. A professional photographer will also be at the event taking free headshots, perfect for use on a LinkedIn profile or résumé. The spring graduate open house is slated for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Bay Path’s Longmeadow campus at 588 Longmeadow St. For more information or to register, visit baypath.edu/visit or e-mail [email protected].

Girls on the Run 5K

June 2: Girls on the Run of Western MA will host its 5K celebration at 10:30 a.m at Springfield College. The mission of Girls on the Run is to inspire girls to be healthy, joyful, and confident using an experiential-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Girls on the Run is a physical-activity-based, positive youth-development program that uses fun running games and dynamic discussions to teach life skills to girls in third through eighth grade. During the 10-week program, girls participate in lessons that foster confidence, build peer connections, and encourage community service while they prepare for an end-of-season, celebratory 5K event. Participation in the 5K event on June 2 is open to the public. About 950 girls from 68 school sites around Western Mass., as well as 280 volunteer coaches, have participated in the program this season. Around 2,500 participants are expected at the event. The pre-registration cost is $25 for adults and $10 for children and includes a Girls on the Run 5K event shirt. After a group warm-up, the event will begin on the outdoor track on Alden Street and will continue through the campus. Registration is open at www.girlsontherunwesternma.org, and will also be available the day of the event beginning at 9 a.m. For more information about the event, how to register, and volunteer opportunities, visit www.girlsontherunwesternma.org.

Family Business Center Leadership Summit

June 4: The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley is gathering leaders of Western Mass. companies, agencies, and organizations to explore together the upcoming trends and forces all will need to respond to. About 100 local leaders will participate in a World Café-style session at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, led by strategic leadership coach Ingrid Bredenberg, that will result in an improved perspective on paths forward into the inevitable future. Tickets are $35 (there are also discount packages, sponsor opportunities, and roles as scribes and table hosts), and includes a networking-style dinner and a relevant, practical, stimulating exploration. The FBC is doing this to mark its 25th anniversary and first-ever leadership transition with an event that will creates wins and takeaways for all. For more information and to register, e-mail fambizpv.com/leadershipsummit.

Community Action Awards

June 13: Springfield Partners for Community Action will present a night of celebrating those in action within the community. The Community Action Awards will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Springfield Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. It will be a night of speakers, awards, handing out scholarships to Community Scholarship winners, and a silent auction for guests to participate in. Ticket purchase is available at communityactionevent.eventbrite.com. Springfield Partners for Community Action is the federally designated community action agency of Springfield whose mission is to provide resources that assist those in need to obtain economic stability and ultimately create a better way of life. For more information on the event, contact Natalia Arocho at (413) 263-6500, ext. 6516, or [email protected].

Paid Family and Medical Leave Seminar

June 20: Over the past few months, Massachusetts-based employers have been inundated with information about the upcoming Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave requirements. Unfortunately, this deluge of information has done little to answer employers’ pressing questions. The draft regulations are just that: a draft, and subject to change prior to the issuance of final regulations. But we do know some things for sure, and there is still some time before employer obligations go into effect. Royal, P.C. will host a discussion of the steps employers can begin to take to prepare for the implementation of Paid Family and Medical Leave. The event will be held from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at 270 Pleasant St., Northampton. The price is $30 per person, and registration is limited. For more information or to register, contact Heather Loges at (413) 586-2288 or [email protected].

40 Under Forty Gala

June 20: BusinessWest will present its 13th annual 40 Under Forty Gala, a celebration of 40 young business and civic leaders in Western Mass. The lavish cocktail party, to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, will feature butlered hors d’oeuvres, food stations, and entertainment — and, of course, the presentation of the class of 2019, which is profiled in the April 29 issue of BusinessWest and at BusinessWest.com. Also, the fifth Continued Excellence Award honoree will be announced. Limited standing-room-only tickets are still available for $75 per person. For more information, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected]. PeoplesBank is the presenting sponsor, Health New England is the Continued Excellence Award sponsor, and WWLP-22 News is the media sponsor. Other sponsors include Baystate Health, the Isenberg School of Management, MP CPAs, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, Live Nation, MGM Springfield, Comcast Business, and YPS of Greater Springfield (partner).

‘Thrive After 55’ Wellness Fair

June 21: State Sen. Eric Lesser announced that he will host the third annual “Thrive After 55” Wellness Fair in partnership with Health New England, Springfield College, and the Center for Human Development (CHD). This year’s fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Field House on the campus of Springfield College, 263 Alden St., Springfield. The fair is free and open to the public. With more than 70 local organizations ranging from health and fitness to nutrition and elder law, the annual fair will connect residents of the Greater Springfield area with information and resources to help them thrive. The event will feature several educational seminars which will highlight areas of interest for attendees, including estate planning and elder law, scam avoidance, and diet and nutrition. Heart Song Yoga Center of East Longmeadow will return for a third year with an interactive demonstration of chair yoga and movement. The free program includes a boxed lunch, hundreds of raffle prizes, and access to information and experts. To RSVP, call Lesser’s office at (413) 526-6501 or visit senatorlesser.com/thrive.

Filmmaking Workshops

June 24-28, July 8-12: The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative (BFMC) will host two summer filmmaking workshops: one for 15- to 19-year-olds from Monday, June 24 to Friday, June 28, and one for 11- to 14-year-olds from Monday July 8 to Friday, July 12. These week-long workshops will meet daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Berkshire Community College’s South County Campus, 343 Main St., Great Barrington. Early dropoff (9 a.m.) and late pickup (5 p.m.) is available by request. The purpose of the workshops are twofold: for kids to experience what it’s like to work on a real movie crew from creation of an idea to the final edit of the project, and for the group to produce a high-quality short film championed in every aspect by everyone in the group. The kids will work collaboratively — performing as actors on camera; running the lights, camera, and sound; editing; and marketing the film’s premiere to the community. On the final night, parents, friends, and the public will be invited to attend, and the young filmmakers will participate in a question-and-answer session with the audience. Each participant will walk away with a copy of the film and the experience of creating a professional-quality film together. Specific topics covered will include story structure, screenwriting, character development, cinematography, sound recording and mixing, lighting, editing, sound design, and marketing. The course is being taught by writer, director, actor, and educator Patrick Toole. All equipment will be provided. The cost for the week-long workshop is $325. Students will need to bring lunch. Class size is limited. To register online, visit shop.berkshirecc.edu or call (413) 236-2127.

Agenda

‘How Will Marijuana Affect the Workplace’

May 14: MassHire Holyoke Career Center will host a workshop titled “How Will Marijuana Affect the Workplace In Massachusetts” with attorney Erica Flores from Skoler, Abbott & Presser. This free event will take place from 8 to 10 a.m. Flores will the current state of the law regarding marijuana use by employees for both medical and recreational purposes, including employers’ obligations to accommodate marijuana use by disabled employees; proposed legislation that would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who use recreational marijuana and how this rule would affect employers’ current rights in the workplace; and the importance of reasonable-suspicion testing in this new legal climate and strategies for implementing and enforcing such testing programs.

‘Turn Up The You and Quiet The Critic’

May 15: Baystate Health’s Every Woman program will hold a special evening titled “Turn Up the You and Quiet the Critic” at 5:30 p.m. at 121 Club at Eastworks, 116 Pleasant St., Easthampton. Keynote speaker Pam Victor, president of Happier Valley Comedy, will discuss “Five Techniques for Quieting Your Inner Critic,” and there will be live music, food, women’s health information, and shopping with local vendors. Victor is a professional improviser, facilitator, teacher, and the founder and president of Happier Valley Comedy, the first improv theater and training center in Western Mass. She directs the three branches of the company: the comedy-training center, regular shows, and the Through Laughter program for professional and personal development. The event cost is $15. To register, visit turnuptheyou.eventbrite.com. For more information, call (413) 794-5200.

Maifest Block Party

May 17-18: Maifest is a colorful, joyous tradition in Germany. It celebrates the arrival of spring, when food is plentiful and spirits flow freely. The tradition will unfold in Springfield with the Maifest Block Party, a two-day community event, presented by the Student Prince & the Fort, set to take place outdoors on Fort Street and inside the restaurant. Live bands will fill the air with music while guests sip beer and head inside for a Maifest menu filled with spring delights. This year, a generous portion of the proceeds will benefit Rays of Hope to bring the organization closer to its mission of finding a cure for breast cancer. The festivities will be emceed by radio personality Lopez from WMAS. The tapping of the ceremonial keg will be headed by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and Denise Jordan, chair of the Rays of Hope campaign, who is also executive director of the Springfield Housing Authority. Sgt. Brian Elliott of the Springfield Police Department will host the ceremonial cheer. Rudi Scherff of the Student Prince will give a brief talk about the Maifest tradition.

Labor and Employment Law Conference

May 21: Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. will hold a Labor and Employment Law Conference from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Springfield. “The conference will deliver an in-depth review of some of the most challenging employment-law issues organizations, human-resources personnel, and management have faced over the past year, and will provide cutting-edge insights needed for surviving challenges on the horizon,” said Partner Marylou Fabbo. Breakout sessions will include “Paid Family and Medical Leave: Change Is Coming” “Wage and Hour Mistakes,” “Harassment, Discrimination, and Why Employers Get Sued,” “Labor and Employment Law Update,” “How to Handle Requests for Reasonable Accommodations,” and “How to Conduct an Internal Investigation.” Speakers and panel-discussion participants will include Skoler Abbott attorneys and other leaders in human resources and employment law. A continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and luncheon are included with the conference, as well as time for networking and questions following the presentations. See the full agenda and register online at skoler-abbott.com/training-programs or call (413) 737-4753.

Social Work Conference

May 22: More than 350 professionals from throughout Western Mass. will gather on the campus of Western New England University from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the 37th annual Social Work Conference. The keynote speaker will be Jen Falcone, director of Businesses Against Human Trafficking. A survivor of child sexual abuse and trafficking as an adolescent, she will discuss her experiences and how utter devastation kick-started the healing that drives her life choices and professional work. Falcone will focus on launching a movement within the Springfield-area business community to address human trafficking. Frank Sacco will be honored with the Jim Quinn Human Service Award at the conference. In addition to a celebrated career nationally and internationally in the fields of social work and psychotherapy, Sacco has spent his life researching and authoring books and articles on bullying, teacher bullying, and building a successful anti-bullying structure within a school. He consulted for the FBI after the 1999 Columbine shooting as well as internet sexual exploitation and domestic violence. The day-long conference, sponsored by Western New England University’s Bachelor of Social Work Program, the Social Work Advisory Council, and the Office of Enrollment Management, will also feature more than 30 exhibitors from throughout the region. The conference fee is $165 and includes registration, luncheon, and six credit hours for full (100%) attendance. Lower student rates are also available. To register online, visit wne.edu/prodev, or call (413) 796-2173.

JA Inspire Career Exploration Fair

May 28: Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM), now celebrating its centennial anniversary, will host the JA Inspire Career Exploration Fair from 8 a.m. to noon at the MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Springfield. “We will host more than 500 students from seventh through 11th grades, who will have the opportunity to explore diverse career options at interactive booths featuring colleges, universities, trade schools, apprenticeship programs, companies, local law enforcement, and public-safety organizations from throughout Western Massachusetts,” said Jennifer Connolly, president of JAWM. The JA Inspire program provides students with the opportunity to learn about careers from industry representatives in time to begin planning for high-school coursework and better prepare themselves for life after graduation. The program consists of four in-class lessons, plus the career exploration fair, all designed to engage students and help them explore education and career pathways, showcase careers in Western Mass. with a focus on high-wage and high-demand industries, and connect students with industry representatives who can share career advice and offer interactive exhibits during the career fair. Exhibitor space is still available at no charge. Exhibitors will present interactive and engaging career stations, while providing volunteer mentors to staff the career stations throughout the event. To reserve a career station, contact Connolly at (413) 747-7670 or [email protected]. To learn more about the event, visit jawm.org/events or call (413) 747-7670.

Community Action Awards

June 13: Springfield Partners for Community Action will present a night of celebrating those in action within the community. The Community Action Awards will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Springfield Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. It will be a night of speakers, awards, handing out scholarships to Community Scholarship winners, and a silent auction for guests to participate in. Ticket purchase is available at communityactionevent.eventbrite.com. Springfield Partners for Community Action is the federally designated community action agency of Springfield whose mission is to provide resources that assist those in need to obtain economic stability and ultimately create a better way of life. For more information on the event, contact Natalia Arocho at (413) 263-6500, ext. 6516, or [email protected].

40 Under Forty Gala

June 20: BusinessWest will present its 13th annual 40 Under Forty Gala, a celebration of 40 young business and civic leaders in Western Mass. The lavish cocktail party, to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, will feature butlered hors d’oeuvres, food stations, and entertainment — and, of course, the presentation of the class of 2019, which is profiled in the April 29 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. Also, the fifth Continued Excellence Award honoree will be announced. Tickets cost $75 per person; only standing-room tickets remain. For more information, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected] PeoplesBank is the presenting sponsor, Health New England is the Continued Excellence Award sponsor, and WWLP-22 News is the media sponsor. Other sponsors include Baystate Health. the Isenberg School of Management, MP CPAs, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, Live Nation, MGM Springfield, Comcast Business, and YPS of Greater Springfield (partner).

‘Thrive After 55’ Wellness Fair

June 21: State Sen. Eric Lesser announced that he will host the third annual “Thrive After 55” Wellness Fair in partnership with Health New England, Springfield College, and the Center for Human Development (CHD). This year’s fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Field House on the campus of Springfield College, 263 Alden St., Springfield. The fair is free and open to the public. With more than 70 local organizations ranging from health and fitness to nutrition and elder law, the annual fair will connect residents of the Greater Springfield area with information and resources to help them thrive. The event will feature several educational seminars which will highlight areas of interest for attendees, including estate planning and elder law, scam avoidance, and diet and nutrition. Heart Song Yoga Center of East Longmeadow will return for a third year with an interactive demonstration of chair yoga and movement. The program includes a boxed lunch, hundreds of raffle prizes, and access to information and experts. To RSVP, call Lesser’s office at (413) 526-6501 or visit senatorlesser.com/thrive.

Agenda

Food Truck Fridays and Derby de Mayo Weekend

May 3-5: MGM Springfield will kick off a weekend of festivities with the launch of Food Truck Fridays and Derby de Mayo Weekend at Armory Square. Derby de Mayo Weekend kicks off at 11 a.m. on Friday with a performance by local cover band Feel Good Drift, lawn games, and bites from the inaugural Food Truck Fridays event. Guests can also enjoy TAP Sports Bar’s signature outdoor beer garden, which will be open for the first time this season. On Saturday, Armory Square will transform into an outdoor viewing party for the Kentucky Derby as it plays live on the 330-square-foot marquee screen. The event also will feature live music and MGM Springfield’s three food trucks. The party continues Sunday starting at 1 p.m. with a Cinco de Mayo fiesta complete with a mariachi band and custom tequila bar. Every week throughout the spring and summer, Food Truck Fridays will bring local eats to downtown Springfield from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The culinary bonanza will include three original concept food trucks from MGM Springfield, serving tacos, gelato, and Asian-inspired dishes. A variety of other popular food trucks from across the region, such as Wahlburgers, Hot Oven Cookies, and Say Cheese, will be offered on a rotating schedule. In addition to MGM’s three food trucks, opening day of Food Truck Fridays on May 3 will include Wahlburgers of Boston; Holyoke Hummus; Hot Oven Cookies, Palazzo, and Sweet Chili’s, all of Springfield; Say Cheese of Worcester; Liberty Rock Tavern of Milford, Conn.; and Kona Ice of Stamford, Conn.

Blessing of the Animals

May 4: Trinity United Methodist Church will give special recognition to horses at its 12th annual Blessing of the Animals service at 4 p.m. on the front lawn at 361 Sumner Ave., Springfield. Two equine organizations, Blue Star Equiculture and Whispering Horse, will bring horses to the event and will give presentations on the work they do. The event is free, and and people are invited to bring their pets for a blessing. All pets and their owners are welcome. Blue Star Equiculture of West Brookfield is a working horse sanctuary that offers care and shelter to 27 retired, disabled, and homeless draft horses, many of whom might otherwise end up facing poor living conditions or even slaughter. The sanctuary is an official retirement venue for carriage horses from large cities around the country. Blue Star Equiculture’s younger, healthy horses do community work, assisting with farming, logging, law enforcement, competitive pulling, and other activities. The organization also finds good homes for horses that are suitable for adoption. Whispering Horse of East Longmeadow offers equine-assisted therapy to help children and adults with physical or mental challenges. Clients who benefit from these services include those with autism, cerebral palsy, stroke, brain trauma, oppositional defiance disorder, ADHD, and numerous other conditions. Specially trained equine therapists work with clients to help them achieve cognitive, physical, emotional, educational, social, or behavioral goals. Working with seven horses, Whispering Horse presently provides services to 45 clients.

Elder-law, Estate-planning Series

May 6, 13, 20: Attorney Karen Jackson of Jackson Law, an elder-law and estate-planning firm, will teach a series of classes highlighting the latest developments in elder law and estate planning at Holyoke Community College (HCC). The six-hour course, called “Elder Law and Estate Planning: What You Need to Know,” will be presented on consecutive Mondays from 6 to 8 p.m. Jackson will present comprehensive subject matter on what she calls “The Core Estate Plan,” in which she will explain core documents and provide stories and examples. In the first session, Jackson will explain each document in the core estate plan. She will discuss the problems that can occur when proper documents are not prepared before a loss of mental capacity or physical health or before sudden loss of life. The second session will address four areas: trusts, the probate court process, Medicare hot topics, and options for community care and home care. Jackson will provide pertinent information and details about each to assist attendees in planning now. In the third and final session, Jackson will introduce the various Medicaid programs that provide long-term skilled-nursing home care in Massachusetts and the financial assistance associated with each. While participants may attend only one session of their choosing, they must still pay the full course cost of $89. To register, call (413) 552-2500 or visit www.hcc.edu/bce.

Labor and Employment Law Conference

May 21: Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. will hold a Labor and Employment Law Conference from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Springfield. “The conference will deliver an in-depth review of some of the most challenging employment-law issues organizations, human-resources personnel, and management have faced over the past year, and will provide cutting-edge insights needed for surviving challenges on the horizon,” said Partner Marylou Fabbo. Breakout sessions will include “Paid Family and Medical Leave: Change Is Coming” “Wage and Hour Mistakes,” “Harassment, Discrimination, and Why Employers Get Sued,” “Labor and Employment Law Update,” “How to Handle Requests for Reasonable Accommodations,” and “How to Conduct an Internal Investigation.” Speakers and panel-discussion participants will include Skoler Abbott attorneys and other leaders in human resources and employment law. A continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and luncheon are included with the conference, as well as time for networking and questions following the presentations. See the full agenda and register online at skoler-abbott.com/training-programs or call (413) 737-4753.

JA Inspire Career Exploration Fair

May 28: Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM), now celebrating its centennial anniversary, will host the JA Inspire Career Exploration Fair from 8 a.m. to noon at the MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Springfield. “We will host more than 500 students from seventh through 11th grades, who will have the opportunity to explore diverse career options at interactive booths featuring colleges, universities, trade schools, apprenticeship programs, companies, local law enforcement, and public-safety organizations from throughout Western Massachusetts,” said Jennifer Connolly, president of JAWM. The JA Inspire program provides students with the opportunity to learn about careers from industry representatives in time to begin planning for high-school coursework and better prepare themselves for life after graduation. The program consists of four in-class lessons, plus the career exploration fair, all designed to engage students and help them explore education and career pathways, showcase careers in Western Mass. with a focus on high-wage and high-demand industries, and connect students with industry representatives who can share career advice and offer interactive exhibits during the career fair. Exhibitor space is still available at no charge. Exhibitors will present interactive and engaging career stations, while providing volunteer mentors to staff the career stations throughout the event. To reserve a career station, contact Connolly at (413) 747-7670 or [email protected] To learn more about the event, visit jawm.org/events or call (413) 747-7670.

Community Action Awards

June 13: Springfield Partners for Community Action will present a night of celebrating those in action within the community. The Community Action Awards will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Springfield Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. It will be a night of speakers, awards, handing out scholarships to Community Scholarship winners, and a silent auction for guests to participate in. Ticket purchase is available at communityactionevent.eventbrite.com. Springfield Partners for Community Action is the federally designated community action agency of Springfield whose mission is to provide resources that assist those in need to obtain economic stability and ultimately create a better way of life. For more information on the event, contact Natalia Arocho at (413) 263-6500, ext. 6516, or [email protected].

40 Under Forty Gala

June 20: BusinessWest will present its 13th annual 40 Under Forty Gala, a celebration of 40 young business and civic leaders in Western Mass. The lavish cocktail party, to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, will feature butlered hors d’oeuvres, food stations, and entertainment — and, of course, the presentation of the class of 2019, which is profiled in this issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. Also, the fifth Continued Excellence Award honoree will be announced. Tickets cost $75 per person, and tables of 10 are available. For more information, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected] PeoplesBank is the presenting sponsor, Health New England is the Continued Excellence Award sponsor, and WWLP-22 News is the media sponsor. Other sponsors include the Isenberg School of Management, MP CPAs, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, Live Nation, MGM Springfield, Comcast Business, and YPS of Greater Springfield (partner).

‘Thrive After 55’ Wellness Fair

June 21: State Sen. Eric Lesser announced that he will host the third annual “Thrive After 55” Wellness Fair in partnership with Health New England, Springfield College, and the Center for Human Development (CHD). This year’s fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Field House on the campus of Springfield College, 263 Alden St., Springfield. The fair is free and open to the public. With more than 70 local organizations ranging from health and fitness to nutrition and elder law, the annual fair will connect residents of the Greater Springfield area with information and resources to help them thrive. The event will feature several educational seminars which will highlight areas of interest for attendees, including estate planning and elder law, scam avoidance, and diet and nutrition. Heart Song Yoga Center of East Longmeadow will return for a third year with an interactive demonstration of chair yoga and movement. The free program includes a boxed lunch, hundreds of raffle prizes, and access to information and experts. To RSVP, call Lesser’s office at (413) 526-6501 or visit senatorlesser.com/thrive.

Agenda

STCC Majors and Career Fair

April 3: Springfield Technical Community College will host a Majors and Career Fair for students, local vocational high schools, and community agencies interested in exploring opportunities in the biomedical, architectural, civil and mechanical engineering, optics and photonics, social work, landscape and design, digital media, graphic communications, IT security, and many other STEM fields. The Majors and Career Fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Scibelli Hall Gymnasium in Building 2. This event is a collaboration among the Career Development Center, the HSI-STEM Grant, and the Perkins Grant. Representatives from academic majors, career fields, and local employers will be on hand. With a goal of raising awareness about STEM majors and careers, the fair will give attendees an opportunity to speak with employers about potential opportunities in their field. For more information, contact Felicia Griffin-Fennell at [email protected] or (413) 755-4819.

EANE Leadership Conference

April 4: The Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) will stage its annual Leadership Conference on Thursday, April 4 at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place with a focus on measuring success while motivating and inspiring one’s team to improve performance. The program will feature Jim McPartlin, vice president of Leadership Development for Forbes Travel Guide. McPartlin’s keynote will challenge attendees to bring integrity to their leadership responsibilities, even when times get tough. A second keynote will be presented by Tim Hebert, a perennial entrepreneur, innovator, author, speaker, and adventurer. Hebert will ignite the leadership spark in attendees in a keynote focused on the choices of leadership and techniques to help live life by design, not by default. Between keynote presentations, conference attendees will have access to dozens of breakout session topics ranging from performance management to diversity and inclusion, to perfecting ‘C-suite speak,’ and more. The cost for the program is $360 per person with discounts for three or more. Register at www.eane.org/leadership-2019 or by calling (877) 662-6444. The program will offer 5.75 credits from the HR Certification Institute and SHRM.

Riverside Industries Silent & Live Auction

April 5: Riverside Industries’ 15th annual Silent & Live Auction, featuring more than 250 silent-auction items and a live auction full of experiences from the Valley and beyond, will be held at One Cottage St. in Easthampton from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Attendees can expect plenty of food, casual attire, and a cash bar. Tickets cost $30 in advance. Securely register online at rsi.org. The presenting sponsor is bankESB; the associate sponsor is Harvard Pilgrim; the table sponsors are Finck & Perras Insurance Agency and Mutual of America; and the collaborator sponsors are A-Z Storage & Properties, Helping Hand Society, SBI Benefits Consulting Group, Ruth and Spencer Timm, Whittlesey & Hadley P.C., and Williston Northampton School.

‘What Is Spiritual Direction?’

April 6: Elms College will host a day of reflection titled “What Is Spiritual Direction? Is It for Me?” from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Decice Hall at the Marian Center, located at 1365 Northampton St. in Holyoke. The event will include an introduction to what spiritual direction is (and what it is not), some exploration of different ways to be with God in prayer, reflection on each participant’s own sacred story, discussion of several approaches to spiritual direction, and time for both shared and personal prayer. Virginia Collins-English, a certified spiritual director, retreat director, writer, and psychotherapist, will lead the day of reflection. All are welcome, including those who are ‘spiritual but not religious,’ those who feel marginalized by the church, and those of all faiths. Sponsored by the Religious Studies Department and the Institute for Theology and Pastoral Studies at Elms, this event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register, call (413) 265-2575 or e-mail [email protected] Attendees should bring a bag lunch. Beverages and dessert will be provided.

‘Growing Up WILD’

April 13: The School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Elms College, in partnership with Berkshire Community College and 1Berkshire, will host an early-childhood-education workshop from 8:30 a.m. to noon in the cafeteria at Berkshire Community College. The workshop, titled “A Glimpse at Growing Up WILD,” is free and open to the public. In this extensive training for educators run through MassWildlife, Jane McCarry, academic coordinator and advisor for the Early Care and Education program at Elms, and also a trained Growing Up WILD facilitator, will present two of the program’s activities: “Seed Need” and “Lunch for a Bear.” These hands-on activities encourage participants to move, learn to collect data, and make science-based observations, all at a preschool level. Participants in this workshop will take part in these activities and learn how to use them in childcare settings. The primary intended audience includes people who are already working in early education at preschools or in group care who are required to obtain 20 hours of training per year, but the workshop is also open to BCC students currently earning their associate degrees in early education or a related field, prospective early-childhood-education students, and any community members who are interested in learning about Growing Up WILD. Upon completion of the training, participants will receive a certificate of attendance confirming they have successfully completed two hours of training in Core Competency Area 5: Learning Environments and Implementing Curriculum. The total participants are limited to 50. For more information or to register, e-mail Kelly Zieba at [email protected]

Paid Family and Medical Leave Seminar

April 18: Over the past few months, Massachusetts-based employers have been inundated with information about the upcoming Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave requirements. Unfortunately, this deluge of information has done little to answer employers’ pressing questions. To date, most of this information has been speculative or otherwise subject to change before implementation. In fact, the most helpful information thus far, the new Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave’s draft regulations, has only given an idea of what the program will probably look like. These draft regulations are just that: a draft. They are subject to change prior to the issuance of final regulations. The good news is there are some things we do know for sure, and there is still some time before employer obligations go into effect. Royal, P.C. will host a discussion of the steps employers can begin to take to prepare for the implementation of Paid Family and Medical Leave. The event will be held from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at 270 Pleasant St., Northampton. The price is $30 per person, and registration is limited. For more information or to register, contact Heather Loges at (413) 586-2288 or [email protected]

Springfield Art Stop

April 26: The Springfield Cultural Partnership (SCP) announced the return of Art Stop, a pop-up gallery/street festival hybrid, from 5 to 8 p.m. The SCP is partnering with venues downtown to open galleries in unexpected spaces simultaneously. Additionally, several existing Springfield art galleries along this year’s route will also participate as stops along the Art Stop. Between the galleries, which will have the typical artist talks and receptions, there will be street performances. Art Stop was designed to activate underutilized community spaces with colorful art, create economic opportunity for artists, and bring communities together. Galleries will all be located in downtown Springfield. Each individual gallery opening will have an reception with the artist on site to both sell and talk about their work. This year, the SCP has also partnered with several downtown restaurants that will offer a discount on food to Art Stop attendees who present their Art Stop ‘passport’ on April 26. The SCP, along with organizing the curation of art in the pop-up spaces, is hiring unique buskers to encourage attendees to walk from place to place. Guides will be strategically placed to guide attendees along the Art Stop route. The performers will showcase an array of dance, music, and entertainment. All locations are within a walkable area.

DiGrigoli Educational Programs

April 29: For the first time in many years, Paul DiGrigoli, owner of DiGrigoli Salon and DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology in West Springfield and a national spokesperson and educator for the beauty industry, will offer his popular seminars to all local salon professionals and business owners. The all-day program at the Log Cabin in Holyoke will kick off at 10 a.m. with DiGrigoli’s most popular program, “Booked Solid,” based off his best-selling book in the beauty industry of the same name. Designed to help stylists, estheticians, nail techs, or anyone in the service industry to increase sales and retention, “Booked Solid” has inspired professionals across the country at major beauty shows, colleges, and businesses for more than 15 years. After lunch, the day will conclude with “How to Build a Healthy Salon or Business” from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. This leadership program, geared towards salon and beauty professionals, business owners, managers, or anyone in a leadership position, will use DiGrigoli’s more than 35 years of experience in the industry to educate on the best leadership practices, how to cultivate a healthy team or healthy business, and how to outperform the competition. This intensive workshop is being made possible through the sponsorship of Sullivan Beauty in New Hampshire. For more information and to purchase tickets, interested stylists and professionals should visit www.sullivanbeauty.com.

Class of 2019 Difference Makers

This Business Leader Has Made a Career of Finding Ways to Give Back

Joe Peters

Joe Peters

‘El Gordito.’

That’s what the people of Guayape, Honduras started calling Joe Peters — according to his son, anyway, who relayed this bit of news while he was spending the summer of 1999 in that remote town working to help build a medical clinic.

That was about eight months after Hurricane Mitch parked itself over the country and dropped nearly six feet of rain on it, and about six months after his father came to visit, bringing much-needed medical supplies and, even more importantly, a pledge of sorts to help buy an ambulance for the impoverished community.

“‘El Gordito?’ … I’m thinking, ‘what the heck does that mean?’” Peters recalled, still laughing heartily as he retold a story he’s told dozens of times. “I’m thinking in my head that I’m some kind of big shot now, they’ve given me a nickname. Turns out, it means ‘short, fat guy’ — but in the nicest possible way.”

Actually, the good people of Guayape (pronounced guy-up-eh) have much more flattering phrases with which to describe Peters, who would eventually ride triumphantly, and pretty much to the point of embarrassment, from the airport into that town in the ambulance he raised money for (much more on that later), in a poignant episode that serves as a microcosm for his life, his service to the community — a term with broad meaning, to be sure — and the pattern he’s established for stepping in and making a difference in the lives of others.

Other examples abound — starting with the family business, Universal Plastics, which his father created and Joe started working for when he was a teenager. He grew it exponentially over the years, and while he and his brothers sold it to Jay and Pia Kumar in 2012, he remains active, representing the company in the community and still figuring some quotes here and there.

“Our goal here has always been to take all the good that Joe has done and build upon it further. I’m inspired by Joe’s commitment to our community and feel a strong sense of responsibility to continue his ongoing legacy. Joe doesn’t just make a difference, he also inspires others to do so, and this only amplifies his impact.”

But he’s always been active outside the walls of the plant, whether it was in Chicopee, where it was launched and remained until 2003, or in Holyoke, where it resides today. And active in many different ways, from being involved with the chamber of commerce or the Rotary Club to being the face of regional efforts to create summer jobs for young people; from getting involved regionally, and now on the state level, in a host of workforce issues to becoming a deacon at his church.

And then, there’s the ‘sandwich ministry,’ a name that certainly helps tell the story.

It’s an outreach program for the homeless in Chicopee, created to fill a gap when another soup kitchen relocated from the city’s downtown area to the Willimansett section and, eventually, had to stop serving meals on weekends as one of the conditions for its operation. And, yes, it’s mostly about sandwiches. Peters, one of its principal architects, explains:

“We saw this as an issue for the less-fortunate people in downtown Chicopee who couldn’t get to Willimansett,” he explained. “On weekends, they had nowhere to go, so we talked about it with the pastor and went about finding a solution.

“That was 10 years ago,” he went on. “We have a group of about 20 people who get together at the school and make lunches; we’re up to 160 sandwiches, which makes 80 lunches. We put two sandwiches in a bag with a banana and some cookies … it’s a little well-oiled machine at this point; we have a good staff of people, and we’re adding new volunteers regularly.”

Joe Peters played a large role in bringing a new ambulance to the Honduran village of Guayape

Joe Peters played a large role in bringing a new ambulance to the Honduran village of Guayape, which was devastated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

The sandwich ministry is another example of how Peters has seemingly always been there to help the city he still calls home — Chicopee — and be an employer willing to give people a chance, sometimes changing their life in the process.

People like Manny Cruz. He had been struggling for some time in his efforts to secure a job because of mistakes made earlier in his life, when he came to Universal Plastics via CareerPoint, now MassHire Holyoke, another organization to which Peters has given his time, energy, and talent. Today, he’s one of the company’s best CNC programmers.

He and Peters were honored by the state in 2014 as a success story when it comes to workforce development and manufacturing training. Peters has helped script many similar stories over the years, winning a number of different awards and citations. He now has another — BusinessWest’s Difference Makers award, which is given for many reasons, including the recipient’s ability to inspire others to want to make a difference as well.

Peters has been able to do just that, said Pia Kumar.

“Our goal here has always been to take all the good that Joe has done and build upon it further,” she told BusinessWest. “I’m inspired by Joe’s commitment to our community and feel a strong sense of responsibility to continue his ongoing legacy. Joe doesn’t just make a difference, he also inspires others to do so, and this only amplifies his impact.”

True to Form

The Universal Plastics saga — and therefore Joe Peters’ story — have been told more than a few times on the pages of BusinessWest since the magazine started publishing nearly 35 years ago.

The company’s story, and in some ways Joe’s as well, was forged by his father, James, the son of a farmer from Wisconsin, and one who knew early on that he didn’t want to be a farmer.

The ‘sandwich ministry’

The ‘sandwich ministry’ is another example of Joe Peters’ commitment to helping those in need, especially in his hometown of Chicopee.

Instead, he joined the Army Air Corps and was assigned to work at Westover Air Force Base in the mid-1940s. He met Frances Ogarzalek at a polka dance and fell in love.

When the Westover facility became a major support base during the Berlin Airlift, James Peters, a flight engineer, served in Germany as an interpreter. He eventually became a sheet-metal worker with the Air Force repairing airplanes, his son recalled, later worked at Pratt & Whitney in the broad realm of R&D and prototype development, and eventually joined a plastics company in Chicopee.

“After 12 years there, he decided he could do this himself — and he did; he borrowed a little bit of money and started Universal Plastics in 1965,” said Peters, who was 15 at the time, and remembers going to his father’s shop with him as he was getting things off the ground.

“We’d go down at night while he was still working and building his first machine,” he recalled. “I had no idea what the machine was going to do, but I helped with the wrenches and screwdrivers, I’d light his cigarette when his hands were all greasy, and I’d answer the phone when my mother called to ask when we were coming home.

“It was a very humble beginning, but I fell in love with manufacturing,” he went on, adding that this love affair continues to this day, and he’s spent the latter part of his career trying to convince others to become equally enamored.

Over the years, Peters would lead Universal Plastics to steady growth and status as one of the leading producers of precision thermoformed plastics in this region, and the country, for that matter. The company produced everything from jet-engine covers to kayaks; from housing for computers and medical equipment to visors for riot helmets.

But while that one word — plastics — neatly sums up what went on at the family business, it doesn’t begin to define what would have to be considered Peters’ life’s work.

James Peters, left, started Universal Plastics

James Peters, left, started Universal Plastics and was a big believer in providing summer jobs to young people. His son, Joe, followed in his footsteps in both realms.

For that, we would need two words — giving back. Peters has been doing that consistently, and in many different ways, over the past several decades.

Examples abound, and one could start anywhere, but maybe the most appropriate place would be with one of the many things his father gave him, and he helps provide for countless others — a summer job.

Indeed, Peters has become the face and in many ways the driving force behind efforts to create summer jobs for area young people — positions that provide not just a paycheck, but invaluable lessons about the world of work and teamwork.

“These jobs are so important,” he said, adding that his father would always hire several young people for the summer, and he has continued that tradition while also working hard to help secure the funding needed to put more people to work. “The statistics bear it out — kids who work in summer jobs do a lot better in life than those who never did. Kids who have the perspective of having to work find it easier to get jobs later on and keep them.”

But summer jobs constitute just one facet of Peters’ work in the broad realm of workforce development, a task he took up as the manufacturing sector began to decline in the ’70s and ’80s and the profession became a harder sell for young people and their parents.

He was first appointed to the REB by Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos (during his first stint in the corner office at the start of this century) and has been there ever since.

And just a few months ago, he was named one of two Western Mass. representatives on the Mass. Workforce Assoc., a 15-member panel with a broad and significant charge that Peters boiled down to helping to make sure that the state’s employers have the workers they’ll need in the years to come.

“As a workforce board, we’ll have to be able to see two or three years into the future and say, ‘what are we going to need for employees — where is the market going?” he explained. “Healthcare has become a huge issue for the Regional Employment Board in terms of training and securing money from the federal government so that people are properly trained. Advanced manufacturing is another area of concern, among many others.

“Training is the probably biggest issue facing this region and the state as a whole,” he went on. “There are three populations we’re working with — young people, individuals who are working but are underemployed, and people who have been laid off and are missing from the workforce because they’ve just given up. In each case, training is the key to getting them into the workforce.”

Making His Mark

It’s been just over 20 years since Peters made that first trip to Guayape, but the memories are still etched in his mind.

So are the events leading up to it and all that has happened since. Telling the story as quickly as he could, he said it all started with a missionary friar from upstate New York, the Rev. Ronald Roll, who was doing a lot of work in Honduras and had been invited — via Peters and his long-time friend, the Rev. Placid Kaczorek, a priest from Chicopee — to speak to the Chicopee Rotary Club about his work and solicit some help.

“I was sitting in my office one day, and this little woman walked in and said to the secretary, ‘does the guy who’s trying to raise money for the ambulance work here?’”

Indeed, he was involved with a number of efforts in that country, from building bridges to securing safe water supplies, said Peters, adding that, in the weeks running up to his talk at the Rotary Club, he hinted that he would solicit help for one of those initiatives.

But when he reached the podium, he flipped the script somewhat. “He said, ‘I thought that maybe you guys would like to do a bigger project … they really need an ambulance in this particular village,’” Peters recalled, adding that, in the months afterward, Roll regularly e-mailed him with requests to come to Honduras for a visit.

Plans were eventually made for Peters, Kaczorek, and others to visit in December, he continued, and in between, Hurricane Mitch visited the country and stayed for several days.

“It flooded the country out … virtually every bridge was washed out; it was a mess,” he recalled. “We were trying to talk him out of letting us go, but he said, ‘no, no, you’ve got to come now.’”

They did, and the work of ‘El Gordito’ began.

Fast-forwarding significantly, he said the need for an ambulance was quickly verified — the nearest hospital was in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, more than 30 miles away, and there was often no way to transport people there — and Peters took the lead in a very ambitious effort to raise half the cost of the $45,000 ambulance and write a grant application to the Rotary Foundation to cover the other half.

The second part of the equation was relatively simple, and the first part … well, it wasn’t that difficult, either, thanks in part to a large story in the Republican — a reporter actually accompanied them on the trip to Honduras — and Peters’ energy, drive, and ability to inspire others.

One story that he loves to tell sums it all up.

“I was sitting in my office one day, and this little woman walked in and said to the secretary, ‘does the guy who’s trying to raise money for the ambulance work here?’” he recalled. “She sat down opposite me and said, ‘I want to give you some money for your ambulance.’ She pulled out her checkbook, wrote out ‘5,’ then ‘0,’ and I’m thinking to myself, ‘50 bucks, that’s great’ … then she writes another zero, and then another zero — 5,000 bucks! I was like, ‘can I hug you?’”

Throughout his life, Peters has been able to not only give back, but get others to join him as he does so, be it fellow Rotary Club members, his own sons, who went to Honduras in subsequent years, or fellow sandwich makers, including his wife, Jan, who have joined him in his new ministry.

“It’s meaningful to everyone … I think part of the reason people do things like this is that they get more out of them than they give,” he told BusinessWest. “When you see the gratitude on the faces of people, it reminds you why you’re there.

“We have days when we have more people than we do sandwiches,” he went on. “People will open their bags, and they’ll share their sandwiches with others. It really is a remarkable program.”

What’s in a Name?

Guayape, Honduras is a long way from Chicopee — and in all kinds of ways.

But Joe Peters found an important common denominator. In both places, he’s encountered people in need, and he’s stepped in to help — in a fashion that could be described as humble yet determined.

As he was on his way to the airport to return home from Honduras 20 years ago, a tired Peters, when asked about the plight of the people in that country, told that reporter from the Republican who went along on the trip, “I don’t have answers. I don’t think I can make a tremendous difference, but a little is better than no difference at all. I just wish there was more I could do.”

He was right with regard to that specific moment and place. But with regard to his career and all that he’s done within the community … he was way off the mark.

‘El Gordito’ has made a tremendous difference, and better still, he’s shown everyone that they can, too.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]