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Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Bank recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) to receive one of its community grants. The foundation aims to help low- and moderate-income families improve their economic situation and quality of life.

“We are very grateful to have been selected to receive this grant. It will help us to continue to provide home-ownership and home-repair services in Hampden County,” GSHFH Executive Director Aimee Giroux said.

Tony Liberopoulos, Liberty Bank’s market president for Massachusetts, added that “the work that Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity does fits so well with Liberty Bank’s philosophy of ‘be commmunity kind.’ We look forward to continuing our relationship and seeing the grant dollars help out in our community.”

Through Liberty Bank Foundation, Liberty Bank supports nonprofit organizations that its neighbors depend on to build strong families and communities. Grant making is focused on organizations that serve people within Liberty Bank’s market area.

GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home-ownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — On Monday, July 18, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) will host a double in-person dedication ceremony (that will also air on Facebook Live) for two Holyoke homes and two families.

Since construction began in summer 2021, roughly 150 volunteers from local companies and school groups helped complete this project. They include the Holyoke Department of Community Development; the Holyoke Housing Authority; the Holyoke Community Preservation Act Committee; Sunbelt Rentals; PeoplesBank; OMG; Anna Maria College; Meyers Brothers Kalicka; Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley; Citizens Bank; and Restoration Worship Center.

“We are very grateful for the opportunity and partnerships created allowing us to provide more affordable housing in the city of Holyoke. We hope that this is the start of more to come,” said Aimee Giroux, GSHFH executive director.

Single mother Jennifer and her three teenage boys will move into a three-bedroom Greater Springfield Habitat home currently under construction. Since divorcing her abusive husband, Jennifer has strived for a safe and decent affordable home. In her current apartment, her two youngest sons share a bedroom and bed, and the neighborhood they live in is dangerous.

“I see so much better for my children, and I want to be able to provide them a forever home — a place where we will feel safe, stable, happy, and accomplished,” Jennifer said. “We want a place to create beautiful memories for many years to come.”

Ireydiza and her husband, Juan, will soon purchase the other three-bedroom GSHFH home in Holyoke. The couple has two young children. Just four years ago, the family was happy, healthy, and dreaming of buying their first home. Then tragedy struck. A workplace injury disabled Juan and Ireydiza left school to be the sole breadwinner. The family is eager to move forward and out of the apartment, which in the winter is cold in the living room and master bedroom.

“We’ve been trying to leave for a while. This neighborhood has a bad reputation,” Juan said. “We want something different for our kids. We want them to be able to have something where they come home and say, ‘this is our home.’”

GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through homeownership and home repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing. GSHFH has helped more than 100 local families realize their dream of homeownership over the last 35 years.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The law firm of Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley made a financial contribution and donated staff man hours to help with the construction of a new home in Holyoke by the Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity.

“As a firm, we are committed each day to help make the lives for residents of our state better,” said Charlie Casartello, the firm’s managing partner.  “To be able to literally construct a building to help a family in need is something very special indeed.”

Michael Cardaropoli, PSRB attorney and vice president of the Habitat for Humanity board of directors, agreed. “This is the second build project the firm has been involved with for Habitat for Humanity. We are always happy to roll up our sleeves and dig into another project for this amazing organization,” “Making a financial contribution is critical, but having the firm help with sweat equity is a labor of love for our whole team.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Rocky’s Ace Hardware, one of the country’s largest family-owned Ace Hardware dealers with 38 locations in eight states, will host a round-up fundraising campaign in eight of its Western Mass. stores, with 100% of money raised going to benefit local Habitat for Humanity chapters. Customers can round up their totals to the next dollar the week of Feb. 18-25 at the Island Pond Road and Liberty Street stores in Springfield, and the Agawam, East Longmeadow, Westfield, Ludlow, Palmer, and South Hadley stores.

“Habitat for Humanity continues to do amazing things in the community,” Rocky’s Ace Hardware President Rocco Falcone said. “Everyone deserves a warm, safe place to live. Habitat is working to make that happen for families in our region and beyond. We are proud this round-up will support their efforts building and renovating homes for deserving families.”

Habitat for Humanity helps qualifying families obtain a home of their own with an affordable mortgage, partnering with people in the community to help them build or improve a place they can call home. To donate through this campaign, simply make a purchase at one of the participating Rocky’s Ace Hardware locations and round up the total.

Daily News

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and its Department of Business Administration will once again partner with Habitat for Humanity to offer free tax-preparation services to local residents in need through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

Habitat for Humanity administers VITA, a program of the IRS, to assist taxpayers with disabilities or limited English-speaking skills, those 60 years of age or older, and individuals who make $57,000 or less per year. MCLA students will be available to complete both basic and advanced returns, including those with itemized deductions.

The students who participate in this program undergo a rigorous training, become IRS-certified, and will work under the supervision of MCLA Professor of Accounting Tara Barboza, an enrolled agent with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and a certified public accountant (CPA).

In addition to meeting a significant need in Northern Berkshire County, Barboza said, “participating in the VITA program is a unique opportunity that will provide students with valuable, hands-on preparation experience.” They will earn college credit, and accounting students can use this credit toward the requirements for the CPA exam.

Interested individuals should call Habitat for Humanity offices at (413) 442-0002 or (413) 442-3181 to find out if they qualify and schedule an appointment. MCLA students will begin to see clients on Monday, Feb. 7. Hours will be Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. in Murdock Hall on the MCLA campus in North Adams. The program will continue through April 13.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Fall Feastival, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity’s (GSHFH) biggest fundraiser of the year, will take place on Thursday, Nov. 4 starting at 5:30 p.m. at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow. At $50 a ticket — a $25 savings from previous years — the evening promises hours of fun and networking opportunities.

This year marks the event’s 20th year. Attendees can enjoy sweet and savory samplings from local restaurants, including Nadim’s Downtown Mediterranean Grill, Elegant Affairs, Twin Hills, and Mamma Mia’s, and bid on live and silent auctions to win featured prizes such as four tickets to see the Boston Bruins play the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 11 with four passes to Legends — the private, members-only restaurant at TD Garden — and an overnight stay at Red Lion Inn in the Berkshires.

“We are so thrilled to have this event in person once again and look forward to a great evening of fun, food, and live and silent auction items. A huge thank you to our many generous event sponsors, including Dietz & Company Architects,” said John O’Farrell, GSHFH fundraising and volunteer coordinator. “The collective support of our donors, community partners, and volunteers truly make our building projects possible throughout Hampden County. We hope to see everyone at Twin Hills on Thursday, Nov. 4.”

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Springfield’s Sinai Temple and the Jerome S. Gurland Human Relations Award Committee recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) as the 2021 award recipient. GSHFH Executive Director Aimee Giroux met with Rabbi Jeremy Master on May 26 to accept the honor.

Award namesake Rabbi Gurland of Longmeadow, who passed away on May 20, had been a beloved member of the community and an advocate for community service and interfaith relations.

“Our committee was most impressed with your proposal for the affordable home-ownership project on Bay Street in Springfield. We are very pleased with your partnership with Putnam Vocational High School. By partnering with your organization, students will be able to help someone within their own community,” Master said on behalf of the committee. “Sinai Temple’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity a few years ago reminds us of the pride we felt working with you.”

Added Giroux, “we are honored to have been selected to receive this award. The funds will be used to promote community involvement, primarily with youth volunteers through construction on our Bay Street project. We want to create a lasting tribute to the rabbi’s memory, and we want to honor our donors and volunteers. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to reach our mission.”

GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home ownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing. GSHFH has helped roughly 100 local families realize their dream of home ownership over the last 34 years.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) is now accepting applications for a new, three-bedroom home in Holyoke. Construction will begin this year. The deadline to apply is June 10. For more information, including an application, visit habitatspringfield.org.

“My hope is that every lower-income family that wants to own their own home knows about the GSHFH home-ownership program,” said Deborah O’Mara, GSHFH Family Services manager. “With all kinds of support from staff and volunteers, these selected partner families successfully work toward closing, and after, they live many happy years in their own homes.”

GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home ownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing. Habitat’s mission to provide homeownership opportunities to low-income families is unique as it requires partner families to work alongside the community that is reaching out to help them. GSHFH has helped roughly 100 local families realize their dream of homeownership over the last 34 years.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Habitat for Humanity Women Build Week event, sponsored by Lowe’s, is an opportunity to spread the positive and powerful message of “women helping women” and facilitate in building stronger and safer communities.

During the weeklong event, which began March 8, women from all walks of life and skill levels have come together to work on a job site. Under the guidance of construction professionals, the group learns new skills and/or adds to their repertoire.

At Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH), the event has been a staple for several years teaming up with Lowe’s. This year, GSHFH has partnered with Western Mass. Tradeswomen to empower and encourage women volunteers to become involved on the build site.

“This is an awesome opportunity to showcase the skills of women and prove gender shouldn’t dictate capability,” said Brandice O’Brien, Marketing and Communications manager at GSHFH. “Whether the women on these build sites are construction workers or volunteers, they are simply ‘women helping women.’ The house they are working on is for a single mother.”

Western Mass. Tradeswomen is a network of female construction workers in Western Mass., Northern Conn., and Worcester. The majority of the women are in unions. They meet regularly to support one another, build their labor movement, and promote union construction careers for girls and women. The group began several years ago on the construction site of what is now MGM Springfield, where, because of a project labor agreement, workforce-diversity goals were consistently met by contractors.

“It has been a joy to get to work on a project with my sisters this week. We are skilled professionals, we love what we do, and it has been really fun to get to share that together,” said Amy Calandrella of Western Mass. Tradeswomen, who organized the tradeswomen volunteers for this year’s Women Build Week. She is a journeyman operating engineer with International Union of Operating Engineers Local 98 and serves on the board of the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation.

During Women Build 2021, GSHFH construction crew and volunteers are working on a two-story, four-bedroom house in Springfield for single mother Ana and her children. Volunteers help with inside finish work, painting, installing cabinets and countertops, building the front-porch rails, and putting in the walkway.

GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through homeownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing. Habitat’s mission to provide homeownership opportunities to low-income families is unique as it requires partner families to work alongside the community that is reaching out to help them. GSHFH has helped roughly 100 local families realize their dream of homeownership over the last 33 years.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — In the wake of a record number of new homes being built, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) recently welcomed new staff to assist with furthering the agency’s mission.

Jason Montgomery joins GSHFH as its Donor Relations manager. He comes to GSHFH with more than 10 years of experience in nonprofit/human-services work and has strong ties in the local community. He has previously served with Habitat for Humanity in Hartford and locally with Way Finders.

Also joining the team, Sarah Tanner is now on board for a short term as interim executive director. Tanner is a principal with Financial Development Agency and brings more than 20 years of local nonprofit experience to the affiliate.

GSHFH also announced internal promotions and realignments to maximize the agency’s resources. In response to a capacity grant received by Habitat for Humanity International, Jeff Lomma has been named Marketing & Communications manager, with an emphasis on promoting the value of Habitat programming throughout the community. Meanwhile, Mary Olmsted has transitioned from serving as an Americorps volunteer to full-time staff as Volunteer Services coordinator.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Tickets are now available for one of the area’s most taste-ful events of the season: the 18th annual Fall Feastival, benefiting Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH). The event takes place on Thursday, Nov. 1 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Twin Hills Country Club, 700 Wolf Swamp Road, Longmeadow.

The evening will feature networking, cocktails, and food from local restaurants, including Nadim’s Mediterranean Restaurant and Grill, The Log Cabin and the Delaney House, Elegant Affairs, Tekoa Country Club, the Magic Spoon, Twin Hills Country Club, Center Square Grill, and Holyoke Hummus. Evening festivities also include live and silent auctions, featuring items such as four VIP tickets to the Dropkick Murphys on St. Patrick’s Day weekend at the House of Blues in Boston, five Red Sox-Yankees tickets at Yankee Stadium in the Jim Beam Suite, and much more. Habitat will also auction off a week-long Napa Valley getaway.

Platinum sponsors include Bank of America and iHeartRadio. Gold sponsors include Excel Dryer and PeoplesBank. Silver sponsors include Berkshire Bank, the Home Builders & Remodelers Assoc. of Western Mass., Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., Mortgage Network, the Perry Family, and Reminder Publications.

Tickets are $75 per person and available online at www.habitatspringfield.org or by calling (413) 739-5503. A limited number of tickets are available, and, as with previous years, the event is expected to sell out.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Springfield has built 65 houses for partner families in Hampden County since it was founded in 1987. GSHFH’s retail and donation center, ReStore, opened in Westfield in 2015, is designed to collect and resell new and gently used home and construction goods for a fraction of the retail price. All proceeds from the store support the mission of serving families. Fall Feastival is an event to celebrate all the work that has been done through the organization as well as a chance to share the stories of homeowners that have benefitted from Habitat.

Daily News

WARE — Country Bank staff recently volunteered their time to assist the Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity build a home for a local Springfield family.

“Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity is blessed to have wonderful community partners like Country Bank who contribute the time, talent, and treasure needed to help families build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter,” said Jennifer Schimmel, executive director for Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity.

Added Jodie Gerulaitis, vice president, Community Relations at Country Bank, “when asked to support such a meaningful cause, the staff at Country Bank was eager to help with this project. The staff was truly grateful to be a part of making the dream of home ownership a reality for Joseph and Lakery and their family.”

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — State Rep. Aaron Vega and state Sen. Jim Welch will square off in a bartending competition to benefit Homework House and Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity on Thursday Aug. 9 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Irish House Restaurant and Trinity Pub, located at the Irish Cultural Center at 429 Morgan Road in West Springfield.

Vega will be mixing, pouring, and donating his tips to benefit Homework House. HCC President Christina Royal, Holyoke School Committee member Devin Sheehan, and Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, SPARK coordinator, will join Vega behind the bar for Team Homework House. Welch will donate his tips to Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity. The event is free and open to all age 21 and older. Dinner reservations may be made by calling the Trinity Pub directly at (413) 342-4358.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — This week, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GHSFH) will celebrate the end of its 30th anniversary, in partnership with the Home Builder’s Blitz program, by building a house to honor the visionary leadership of GSHFH’s past 30 years, including York Mayo, Bob Perry, Bruce and Ruth Pierce, George Burtch, Pastor Led Baxter, First Church in Ludlow, Ellen Freyman, Bill Mazeine, Neil Swinton, Walt Tomala, Jennifer Schimmel, Jason Tsitso, Karen Carlson, and Steve Gelling.

The house, located at 963 Sumner Ave. in Springfield, will be constructed in one week — specifically, exterior complete with interior drywall finished. This build is made possible with the help of habitat partner families, local construction companies, and hundreds of volunteers from the local community, as well as Guatemala. Funding was made possible, in part, through the Beveridge Family Foundation, the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, the Perry family, the Mayo family, the Lyons family, TNT General Contracting, and many more partners (for a full listing, visit www.habitatspringfield.org).

The Legacy Build Week activities at 963 Sumner Ave. kicked off on July 14 with the wall raising. The build will continue throughout the week from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, July 21 at 4 p.m., a celebration will take place, kicking off the 31st year with a proclamation from City Councilor Kateri Walsh, along with the blessing of three Springfield homes and their families, including 37 Bristol St., 1512 Dwight St., and 963 Sumner Ave. An ice-cream social and a tour of 963 Sumner Ave. will conclude the ceremony.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity’s (GSHFH) 16th annual Fall Feastival on Nov. 3 raised more than $50,000 to support the organization’s work.

The event was hosted at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow. Hundreds from the community gathered alongside more than 30 sponsors, making it one of the most successful events in Habitat’s history. Eventgoers enjoyed food from a dozen local restaurants, raffles, silent and live auctions, and a touching speech from a long-time Habitat family.

“We’re thrilled with the turnout and participation by so many members of our community,” said Jennifer Schimmel, executive director. “This is a testimony to how much our community cares about meeting needs right here at home. We want to extend a sincere and heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone who participated.”

Since its founding in 1987, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity has helped more than 60 local families, and 90 international families, realize their dream of safe, decent, and affordable home ownership.

“Every one of our partnering organizations and community friends who work tirelessly to keep our communities vital and strong are truly appreciated,” Schimmel said.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) announced an upcoming Circle of Faith build on 479 Allen St. in Springfield. This project is a partnership between GSHFH and 11 local faith communities who have come together to raise the funds for a Habitat home, and who will also contribute volunteers, in-kind materials, and amenities for the project. As an intentionally interfaith project, this build incorporates Christian, Islamic, and Jewish communities.

These 11 faith communities include First Church of Christ in Longmeadow, Sinai Temple in Springfield, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in East Longmeadow, St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Longmeadow, the Islamic Society of Western Mass. in West Springfield, Christ the King Lutheran Church in Wilbraham, East Longmeadow United Methodist Church, Mercy Medical Center and the Sisters of Providence Health System in Springfield, St. Cecilia’s Parish in Wilbraham, and Foster Memorial Church in Springfield.

Ellen Tougias, the point person for First Church of Christ in Longmeadow, says her church is “proud to be a part of the Circle of Faith Build for Habitat. We have committed to this project as part of our 30th-year celebration. It is one way that we have chosen to give back to our community in honor of this special year.”

Mohammad Bajwa of the Islamic Society of Western Mass. referenced a piece of Scripture in relation to the project: “cooperate with one another, for doing good deeds and righteousness … surely God’s mercy is upon the good doers.”

To kick off this partnership, the Circle of Faith communities and GSHFH are hosting a “House Wrapped in Love” event at the Islamic Society of Western Mass. on June 1 at 6:30 p.m. This event is family-friendly and invites kids to paint what home, family, and love means to them on sheets of plywood that will then be used to build the walls of the new habitat house at 479 Allen St. Following this event will be several days of building on the job site, where the exterior walls of the home will start to take shape.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) announced that Bob Perry — a donor, volunteer, partner, and friend who has supported the organization for more than 15 years — will join the team as the new volunteer donor relations manager.

“Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity is thrilled to be able to welcome back Bob Perry as our new volunteer donor relations manager,” said Jennifer Schimmel, the organization’s executive director. “Even with his new title, he’ll still be known by many as Habitat’s chief hugging officer!”

Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home ownership and home-preservation opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing. GSHFH has helped 70 local families (58 through home ownership and 12 through home preservation), as well as 90 international families, over the past 27 years.

Daily News

WESTFIELD — Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) and its ReStore in Westfield recently received a donation of lighting products from Luminance USA, headquartered in Commerce, Calif. The product will be used in GSHFH’s construction projects as well as sold at its ReStore retail outlet.

Products received include chandeliers, bathroom vanity lights, lightbulbs, wall sconces, ceiling-fan replacement parts, and table lamps, and are available for purchase at the Habitat ReStore located at 301 East Main St. in Westfield, with prices from 30% to 50% off regular retail prices.

“Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity and our ReStore in Westfield rely on the generous support of our partners such as Luminance to provide strength, stability, and self-reliance to our partner families through our home-ownership and home-preservation programs. We have made an investment in ourselves with the opening of our ReStore, and with the support of partners such as Luminance, we know it was worth it,” said Jennifer Schimmel, executive director of Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity.

GSHFH’s ReStore opened last April. Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home-improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity will present its 15th annual Fall Feastival tonight, Nov. 5, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Springfield Country Club, 1375 Elm St., West Springfield.

The event will feature food selections from area restaurants, including the Log Cabin – Delaney House, Nadim’s Mediterranean Restaurant & Grill, and more. Live and silent auction items will be available, including theater tickers, golf foursomes, and family-fun activities.

The event is supported by platinum sponsors BusinessWest and Babson Capital; gold sponsor PeoplesBank; silver sponsors Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. and Columbia Gas of Massachusetts; and bronze sponsors Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation and Monson Savings Bank.

Tickets cost $75. To RSVP and purchase tickets, call (413) 739-5503 or visit habitatspringfield.org.

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank and NESN have announced that Berkshire Bank Foundation again will be donating to New England Habitat for Humanity chapters during NESN’s coverage of the Boston Bruins’ 2014-15 season through its Hockey 4 Housing initiative.

This donation is connected to the team’s level of play during the regular season, and will directly benefit 12 regional Habitat for Humanity chapters. Berkshire Bank Foundation will donate $200 for each successful Boston Bruins penalty kill during NESN televised games. A penalty kill is the moment during a hockey game when one team, which has fewer players on the ice due to a penalty, prevents the opposing team from scoring. Last season, the team had 176 penalty kills, and Berkshire Bank Foundation evenly split its $44,000 donation among New England Habitat for Humanity chapters.

In addition to the financial support, Bank employees will help build Habitat for Humanity homes in communities across New England where Berkshire has a presence through the company’s X-TEAM, its award-winning employee volunteer program. Hockey 4 Housing highlights the bank’s support for housing initiatives and its commitment to making a difference in the community.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — A limited number of tickets are available for the 14th annual Fall Feastival benefiting Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity. The event takes place Thursday, Nov. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Springfield Country Club, 1375 Elm St., West Springfield. Courtesy valet parking is available.

The evening features a lavish menu provided by 12 of the area’s most popular restaurants, including Chez Josef, the Country Club of Wilbraham, Elegant Affairs, Heartfelt Fine Gifts, Lattitude, theLog Cabin/Delaney House, Nadim’s Mediterranean Restaurant and Grill, Pintu’s Indian Palace, Springfield Country Club, Tekoa Country Club, the Latin Gourmet, and the Magic Spoon.

Guests will have an opportunity to bid on silent and live auction items, including a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame dinner for six prepared by Steve Jackson, former chef for the Chicago Bulls; a one-week Florida escape with four Disney one-day park-hopper passes; Red Sox/Yankees tickets in the Jim Beam Suite at Yankee Stadium; four VIP tickets and backstage passes to the Dropkick Murphys’ St. Patrick’s weekend concert at the House of Blues in Boston; a Napa getaway for two with luxury timeshare condo accommodations; and a backyard barbeque package catered by Log Rolling (Log Cabin/Delaney House) with musical entertainment provided by Pridefalls.

The event’s Gold Sponsor is Babson Capital Management, LLC, while the Silver Sponsor is PeoplesBank. Bronze Sponsors include Consigli Construction; Freedom Credit Union; the Home Builders and Remodelers Assoc. of Western Mass.; Hastings; Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.; Nicholas LaPier CPA, P.C.; TD Bank; and TNG General Contracting. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Jeff LaValley at (413) 739-5503, or [email protected].

Tickets cost $75 per person and are available by registering securely online using a credit card at www.habitatspringfield.org, or by calling (413) 739-5503.

In recognition of the 14th annual Fall Feastival, and of 27 years serving the community and aiding 58 families through home ownership and home-preservation opportunities, Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno has proclaimed Nov. 6 Greater Springfield for Humanity Day.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Jeffrey LaValley was recently appointed community outreach manager at Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity.

LaValley’s primary responsibility is the development and execution of strategies to increase awareness and financial support of the affiliate’s mission. LaValley will play a pivotal role in implanting the organization’s capacity-building efforts, specifically the 30 in 3 campaign, the affiliate’s vision to serve 30 families in three years. He also will oversee Habitat’s annual resource-development plan, including outreach efforts to foster a positive identity for the affiliate in the community.

Most recently, LaValley served as executive director and director of sales and marketing for Shaker Farm Farms Country Club in Westfield. Previously, he served as associate director of donor relations for Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield. Prior to that, he was the community-development coordinator at Noble Hospital in Westfield and director of alumni and parent relations at Keene State College in New Hampshire.

LaValley received a bachelor’s degree in journalism/public affairs and a master of education in curriculum and instruction from Keene State College. He also earned a certificate in fund-raising from UMass Amherst. With nearly 20 years of experience working in higher education and healthcare settings, LaValley brings a great depth of experience to Habitat for Humanity, including a background in public relations, marketing, event and program management, as well as knowledge of annual fund and major-gift strategies, volunteer management and board development, and strategic planning.

Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home ownership and home-preservation opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing. Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity has helped 58 local families (54 with home ownership and four with home preservation), as well as over 90 international families, realize their dream of home ownership over the past 27 years.

Daily News

FLORENCE — Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity (PVHH) announced that Megan McDonough has accepted the position of executive director for the organization.

McDonough has been working for Habitat for more than a year and has demonstrated skilled leadership and vision since the previous director left in April, said Mike Simolo, PVHH’s board president. “I am pleased to report that the hiring committee made an enthusiastic recommendation to the board to hire our own Megan McDonough as PVHH’s next executive director,” he added. “The board members present unanimously accepted that recommendation, and we all look forward to working with her in her new role.”

McDonough holds a master’s degree in regional planning from UMass Amherst, and is an alumna of the Williston Northampton School in Easthampton. She has seven years of experience working with green builders during her time at the Center for EcoTechnology, and seven years of experience working with the Valley Community Land Trust, an affordable-housing nonprofit based in Franklin County. Her experience in housing, paired with her past leadership experience at the UMass Graduate Employee Organization, makes her an ideal fit for furthering Habitat’s mission, Simolo said.

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue to work alongside the many kind and generous Habitat volunteers I’ve met in the past year,” said McDonough. “The board, the office volunteers, the committees, the building volunteers, and our many donors are what make it possible for Habitat to be a catalyst for change — not just for the families we house, but for the whole community that is enriched by the experience of helping build hope.”

Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity (PVHH) serves Hampshire and Franklin counties, seeking to eliminate homelessness and substandard housing by making decent, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action for all people. PVHH builds homes with volunteer labor and donations of material, supplies, land, and services. PVHH then sells each home with a no-interest mortgage to a low-income family. The family becomes an active Habitat partner, contributing many hours of sweat equity during the construction of their home. Since 1989, nearly three dozen families have become homeowners in the Valley through Habitat’s work.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Attorney Michael Cardaropoli, a partner in the law firm of Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley, has been appointed to serve on the board of directors of Springfield Habitat for Humanity.

“I’m proud of the opportunity to serve on the board of this incredible organization,” said Cardaropoli.  “We have a rich history as a firm of charitable connections to the community.  I had first-hand experience with the Habitat for Humanity team as we worked on the SGT Sullivan house, and I am so pleased to now be a part of their ongoing efforts,” he added.

Twelve staff members from Pellegrini Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley donated a total of nearly 100 man hours to kick off the Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan project on the first build day in 2018. The firm also contributed $2,500 to the effort.
“As a firm we are committed each day to help make the lives better for the residents of Springfield,” said Cardaropoli.

Daily News

WARE — A group of 14 Country Bank employees recently joined forces with Habitat for Humanity Metro West/Greater Worcester in a team-building exercise that ended with a local veteran family receiving a unique gift: a custom playhouse.

Habitat’s Operation Playhouse is a program designed to allow groups to come together to create and complete a custom playhouse in one day. The opportunity to work together and collaborate on design and construction of the house is wrapped up with the reward of seeing it turned over to a local veteran and their children.

“Working with the Habitat staff was seamless, and the day couldn’t have been more rewarding,” said Deb Gagnon, Corporate Relations officer, Country Bank. “Completing the playhouse gave us all a sense of accomplishment, and when the family arrived to receive their gift, there wasn’t a dry eye around.”

Daily News

EASTHAMPTON — Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of Easthampton Savings Bank, announced that the bank has become a keystone sponsor for the first Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity home in Easthampton. The bank contributed $10,000 to the East Street Habitat home. The money will go toward the costs of planning, construction, volunteer recruitment, and training. A 15-volunteer committee is already in place to plan the building of the East Street Home. “This particular build is significant because we are building two homes at once, and it is our first Women Build Initiative, which is a project designed to proactively welcome women leadership and women volunteers,” said Peter Jessop, interim executive director of the Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity. “Three of our steering committee members are from Easthampton Savings Bank, so ESB is providing more than just financial support — they are also providing leadership and volunteer capacity. This is the true spirit of the Habitat model, and we hope ESB’s commitment will inspire others to get involved.” Added Sosik, “the Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity is about building communities. Being a sponsor gives us the unique opportunity to become involved in a family’s journey towards home ownership in our community. Plus, the Women Build Initiative is a great way to empower women to get involved in the construction of a home and help a family who wouldn’t be able to build a home otherwise.” Easthampton Savings Bank has supported Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity since 2004 with contributions totaling over $31,000, while ESB employees sit on the organization’s board of directors, finance committee, and the Women Build steering committee.

Company Notebook

HCC Named One of State’s Top Women-led Businesses

HOLYOKE — For the second year in a row, Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been named one of the top women-led businesses in Massachusetts by Boston Globe Magazine and the Women’s Edge, formerly the Commonwealth Institute, a nonprofit that supports top female executives. Taken together, the 100 companies on the list represent a total revenue and operating budget of $75.9 billion. HCC and its president, Christina Royal, were ranked 61st. The full list was published Oct. 30 in the annual “Women & Power” edition of the magazine. Royal was also one of 11 executives from the list featured in a separate article, “‘Resist the Temptation to Fit the Mold: Eleven Leaders Share Insights on Cultivating Diverse, Dynamic Teams in Challenging Times.” Royal has been the president of HCC since January 2017. She is the fourth president in HCC’s 75-year history and the first woman to hold that office. In August, she announced that she will retire from HCC after the 2022-23 academic year. Also making the Top 100 list at number 59 was 1983 HCC alumna and Westfield native Linda Markham, president of Cape Air and Nantucket Airlines, based in Hyannis.

 

UMass Amherst Named a Bike Friendly University

AMHERST — UMass Amherst has been designated as a Bike Friendly University (BFU) by the League of American Bicyclists, a grassroots advocacy organization encouraging better bicycling and protecting the rights of people who bike. UMass Amherst is one of only eight universities in Massachusetts to receive the commendation for providing safe, accessible biking on campus. Providing bike-friendly accommodations is a vital part of the university’s Sustainable UMass initiative. In recent years, four-foot-wide bicycle lanes have been constructed on the primary campus roadways of Massachusetts Avenue, North Pleasant Street, and Commonwealth Avenue to promote safe bike travel. In 2016, the university expanded its bike access for students, faculty, and staff by becoming a founding member of ValleyBike Share, and six bike-share stations are now spread across campus to allow students, faculty, and staff to easily rent and return bikes. The UMass Bicycle Commuter Program coordinates the Campus Bicycle Advisory Committee to help the university prioritize bike-related goals on campus, and the UMass Amherst Bike Library rental program, operated by the Student Government Assoc. and the Physical Plant, lets students, faculty, and staff borrow bikes for free, for as long as an entire academic year. UMass joins Harvard, MIT, UMass Lowell, Bentley University, Tufts University, and Boston University’s Charles River and medical-school campuses as Bike Friendly Universities. Since the program launched in 2011, such designations have been certified at 222 U.S. colleges and universities in 47 states.

 

V-One Earns Top Honors at Warsaw Spirits Competition

HADLEY — From its distillery in Kamien, Poland and its headquarters in Hadley, Valley Vodka Inc. recently announced that its original V-One Vodka earned its third Double Gold medal at the Warsaw Spirits Competition in Poland. The Warsaw Spirits Competition is in its fifth year, and this was the third time V-One has competed. This year, the number of entries and producers was record-breaking, with hundreds of alcoholic beverages from more than 32 countries. In the most competitive category, unflavored vodka (in the wheat/spelt/barley category), V-One earned the Double Gold with a score of 93.14.

 

Bulkley Richardson Named Best Law Firm in 12 Areas

Best Lawyers, in partnership with U.S. News and World Report, ranked Bulkley Richardson as 2023’s Best Law Firm in the Springfield region in the following 12 practice areas: banking and finance law, bankruptcy and creditor debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law, business organizations (including LLCs and partnerships), commercial litigation, corporate law, criminal defense – general practice, criminal defense – white collar, litigation – labor and employment, medical-malpractice law – defendants, personal-injury litigation – defendants, tax law, and trusts and estates law. To be eligible for a ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer included in the year’s list of Best Lawyers. Bulkley Richardson had 16 lawyers included on the 2023 Best Lawyers list, and two of the firm’s partners, Mark Cress and John Pucci, were named 2023 Springfield-area Lawyers of the Year. Rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations and peer reviews from leading attorneys in their field.

 

GCAi’s Video for Harvard Tours Middle East

SPRINGFIELD — Harvard Graduate School of Education tapped GCAi’s New England Corporate Video (NECV) division over the summer to produce a series of videos (click here to view) on the Middle East Professional Learning Initiative (MEPLI). MEPLI aims to develop the capacity of teachers in the region. The fellowship is job-embedded and lasts for one year, providing scholarships for professional-education courses (online and/or residential) and support for incorporating learning into existing work. Fellows receive a certificate in professional education upon successful completion of the program. The NECV-produced videos, now being shown at presentations on the program in the Middle East, were shot on campus at Harvard University and produced at NECV’s edit suite in Springfield. Three separate videos were produced, including English, English and Arabic, and all-Arabic language versions. Visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=lP3aBOEQqz0 to view the videos.

 

Liberty Bank Supports Habitat for Humanity

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Bank recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) to receive one of its community grants. The foundation aims to help low- and moderate-income families improve their economic situation and quality of life. Through Liberty Bank Foundation, Liberty Bank supports nonprofit organizations that its neighbors depend on to build strong families and communities. Grant making is focused on organizations that serve people within Liberty Bank’s market area. GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home-ownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing.

Company Notebook

Collins Electric Wins Project Excellence Award in Education

CHICOPEE — Collins Electric Co. Inc., an electrical contractor based in Chicopee, was recently recognized by the National Electrical Contractors Assoc. with a NECA Project Excellence Award in Education in the over $1 million category for Smith College Neilson Library. NECA established the Project Excellence Award to showcase the exceptional work that its members perform throughout the country. Collins Electric was recognized along with this year’s other winners during NECA’s 2022 convention in Austin, Texas on Oct. 17. The renovation gutted the historic building with a new focus on the future. Additions to the library in the 1930s, 1960s, and 1980s were demolished along with the entire interior of the original 1909 library. The front and rear brick brownstone façades were the only remaining parts. The project involved 150,000 square feet with 5,000 LED, energy-efficient light fixtures; glass skylights; dimming; and windo- shade controls to deliver the best-quality energy-efficient lighting possible. Strict attention was paid to controlling temperature and humidity, as well as tight security, for the library’s rare-books collection.

 

Breeze Airways to Expand Flights at Bradley in 2023

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that Breeze Airways is launching four new destinations from Bradley International Airport, including non-stop service to Vero Beach, Fla., and Phoenix, Ariz., starting from $79 and $99 one-way, respectively; and one-stop/no-plane-change ‘BreezeThru’ flights to Provo, Utah, and San Bernardino, Calif, starting from $99. The new routes will operate on an A220 aircraft as follows: Vero Beach daily, starting Feb 2; Phoenix and Provo Thursday and Sunday, starting Feb. 9; and San Bernardino Thursday and Sunday, starting Feb. 16. “Partnering with Breeze on their expansion has been transformative for Bradley International Airport,” said Kevin Dillon, Connecticut Airport Authority’s executive director. “Their national growth, ongoing innovation, and expanding local network offer our passengers more opportunities to travel conveniently and affordably. We thank Breeze for their partnership in bringing these exciting new routes to this key market and for their continued commitment to our community.”

 

bankESB Supports Food Pantries with Annual Fundraising Drive

EASTHAMPTON — Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced the kickoff of the bank’s 2022 Neighbors Helping Neighbors fundraising drive to help support local food pantries. This marks the second year of the bank’s annual appeal, inviting bank customers, employees, and members of the community to donate money toward food pantries throughout the month of November. All donations (up to $2,500 per customer) will be matched dollar for dollar by bankESB, and the total raised will be divided among participating food pantries across Western Mass. in communities the bank serves. In 2021, a total of more than $39,000 was raised, which equated to $3,000 for each participating pantry. Donations of any amount are encouraged, and as an added incentive to give, the bank will offer those who donate the opportunity to win a $25 gift card at each of its locations. Those who wish to participate have until Nov. 30 to make their donations. Checks should be made payable to “bankESB Neighbors” and can be dropped off at any bankESB branch or mailed to Margaret Prendergast, bankESB, 36 Main St., Easthampton, MA 01027. The food pantries to be supported include Amherst Survival Center Food Pantry; Best Life Food Ministry, Agawam; BUCC Helping Hands Cupboard Food Pantry, Belchertown; Chicopee Cupboard; Easthampton Community Center Food Pantry; Easthampton Congregational Church Food Cupboard & Oasis Kitchen; Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Hatfield; Hadley Food Pantry; Hilltown Food Pantry, Goshen; Margaret’s Pantry, Holyoke; Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Inc., South Hadley; Northampton Survival Center; Southampton Community Cupboard; and Westfield Food Pantry.

 

Lee Bank Foundation Distributes $48,600 in Year’s Third Grant Round

LEE — Lee Bank Foundation awarded $48,600 to 16 Berkshire-area organizations in its third round of 2022 community funding. Recipients were awarded grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,600 to support local programming. Included in the awards are a series of Arts Access Grants for arts and culture organizations to expand access to programming for underserved audiences and Food Security Grants for organizations with programs focused on providing food to community members in need. The following organizations received funding from Lee Bank Foundation: Berkshire Innovation Center, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Center for Peace Through Culture, Chabad of the Berkshires, CDCSB, the Christian Center, Dalton CRA, EforAll, Good Work Institute (Alliance for a Viable Future), Housatonic Heritage (the Mastheads), Lee Historical Society, Life Needs Co-Op (Stanton Home), the People’s Pantry, Second Street Second Chances, Volunteers in Medicine, and WAM Theatre. Lee Bank Foundation was established in 2021 to support Lee Bank’s long-standing mission of community reinvestment. In its first year, 2021, the foundation awarded a total of $228,610 in grants, and the bank contributed an additional $84,000 in sponsorships.

 

Berkshire Bank’s Foundation Supports 160 Nonprofits During Q3

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced more than $660,000 in philanthropic investments from its foundation during the third quarter of 2022. The grants awarded cover a wide range of projects that help foster community DEI-focused programs, support education and youth, and enhance opportunities for individual success in the communities the bank serves. These investments also support the company’s BEST Community Comeback, which includes a planned $15 million in community contributions by the end of 2024. “We are so pleased to support nonprofit organizations once again with philanthropy to sustain vital community services in all the regions that Berkshire Bank serves during challenging economic times,” said Lori Gazzillo Kiely, foundation director. “Since January 2022, the Berkshire Bank Foundation has provided nearly $2 million to support the needs of the community.”

 

 

JimBuddy’s Rec Shop Hosts Grand Opening

CHICOPEE — The Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce celebrated the grand opening of JimBuddy’s Rec Shop at 1269 Memorial Dr. with a ribbon cutting on Nov. 2. It officially opened to the public on Oct. 1. JimBuddy’s Rec Shop is owned by Jim and Lisa Robinson, who opened JimBuddy’s Glass Gallery & Vape Shop next door at 1271 Memorial Dr. in 2015. When the space next door at 1269 became available in 2018 — the year cannabis was legalized by Massachusetts voters — the Robinsons rented the space with hopes to open a dispensary. JimBuddy’s received a special permit from the city of Chicopee in April 2021, making it the third recreational cannabis dispensary approved in the city. As a small family business, JimBuddy’s focus is offering quality products from small, local businesses in the cannabis industry like those based Florence, Whately, and Pittsfield. JimBuddy’s Rec Shop is open to customers who are age 21+ with valid ID.

 

Girl Scouts Receive $10,000 from TD Charitable Foundation

HOLYOKE — The Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts announced that it has received a $10,000 grant from the TD Charitable Foundation in support of On Your Own: Financial Literary for Girls. The grant will provide a free badge program to all Girl Scouts designed to empower them to control their financial futures. All participants complete age-appropriate activities to gain real-world money-management skills. Girl Scouts develop leadership skills and self-esteem as they build a greater understanding of becoming responsible consumers, creating and living by a budget, building and managing credit, increasing their income, and saving and investing for whatever’s next. With the support of contributors such as the TD Charitable Foundation, Girl Scouts is able to help build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. On Your Own: Financial Literacy for Girls is available to all members in grades K through 12. Learn more and sign up to be a member at www.gscwm.org.

 

Chariot Payments Network Emerges from Reorganization

BOSTON — Chariot Payments has emerged from reorganization with a reconstructed board, a new CEO, and an experienced team poised to launch its bank-compliant, hybrid-payment network to introduce a new way to connect traditional finance and banking to the emerging digital economies burgeoning in the world of decentralized finance. Chariot’s hybrid network is configured for bank and regulatory compliance, enabling trusted, secure transactions between traditional finance and banking and instant settlement across digital currency protocols at a fraction of the cost imposed by the current payment networks. Chariot’s CEO, Benjamin Cavallari, along with Chief Technology Officer Mariana Jbantova, resuscitated the startup. After a long rebuild, Chariot Payments announced that Glenn Hanson, CEO of Colony Hills Capital and co-founder of River Valley Investors, and Jay Como, chief data officer of Silicon Valley Bank, are joining Cavallari on the new board of directors. Chariot also announced the reformation of its board of advisors, which includes prominent compliance leaders Angela Ratliff and Kevin Troxell (both with US Bank) and Brandon Oliver (previously with JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, and the DCU Fintech Center).

 

 

Liberty Bank Supports Habitat for Humanity

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Bank recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) to receive one of its community grants. The foundation aims to help low- and moderate-income families improve their economic situation and quality of life. “We are very grateful to have been selected to receive this grant. It will help us to continue to provide home-ownership and home-repair services in Hampden County,” GSHFH Executive Director Aimee Giroux said. Through Liberty Bank Foundation, Liberty Bank supports nonprofit organizations that its neighbors depend on to build strong families and communities. Grant making is focused on organizations that serve people within Liberty Bank’s market area. GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home-ownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing.

Company Notebook

New Valley Bank & Trust Opens West Springfield Branch

SPRINGFIELD — New Valley Bank & Trust cut the ribbon on its newest full-service branch at 333 Elm St., West Springfield, on Oct. 7. Joining the bank’s board chair, Frank Fitzgerald, was West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt, state Sen. John Velis, and state Rep. Michael Finn. “Our customers and prospects have been asking us to open a branch on the west side of the Connecticut River for some time,” New Valley President Jeff Sullivan said. “We have recognized the need to increase the convenience of doing business with the bank, and we are proud to be able to offer our services in West Springfield. I spent 11 years of my career working on Elm Street, and many members of the New Valley team have had similar past experiences. We are thrilled to be back in the neighborhood with friendly, familiar faces. As a gesture of good will, the bank recently donated to the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club, the first of many new community partnerships to come.”

 

Country Bank Pledges $10 Million to Support Affordable Housing

WARE — Country Bank has introduced a new affordable-housing program featuring no down payment for first-time homebuyers. The first-of-its-kind program will assist low- to moderate-income families in purchasing a home. Country Bank has pledged $10 million to the program to help make a difference for these first-time homebuyers. This program is designed to help those who need it most by offering 100% financing for single-family homes or condominiums and 95% financing for two-family properties, with no down payment. In addition, the bank will cover 100% of the private mortgage insurance (PMI) that traditionally adds to the monthly payment, saving the borrower hundreds of dollars each month. This feature also gives the borrower more purchasing power by not having to pay the cost of mortgage insurance. Certain restrictions and locations apply for this program. “Buying your first home can be very stressful, and not having the ability to save for a down payment prohibits many from purchasing a home, even when they can afford the monthly payment. Country Bank’s mortgage experts can assist those interested in learning more about the program or who may be ready to purchase a home. The no-down-payment, first-time homebuyer program is available until the $10 million commitment has been allocated. To learn more, visit www.countrybank.com/mortgages or a banking center, or call the Customer Care Center at (800) 322-8233.

 

Arts Integration Studio Opens

HOLYOKE — Priscilla Kane Hellweg announced the launch of a new consulting firm, the Arts Integration Studio. Hellweg, who retired in December 2021 after 40 years as the executive/artistic director of Enchanted Circle Theater in Holyoke, said the Arts Integration Studio is a creative makerspace designed to address critical needs in education, community health, and the environment. The studio incorporates creativity, the arts, and cultural engagement, and collaborates with others to promote positive outcomes and sustainable solutions to pressing educational and social concerns. This fall, the studio announced four partnerships: with Pittsfield Public Schools and Berkshire Educational Resources on comprehensive professional development in arts integration, open to all K-12 teachers and specialists in Berkshire county; with Mount Holyoke College and its Professional and Graduate Education Department on a graduate fellowship focused on producing research and publications on arts and learning; with the town of Longmeadow, Bay Path University, and Deza Studios to produce a public art exhibit that illuminates community-wide perspectives around climate despair, resilience, and action as the town embarks on updating its master municipal plan with a focus on equity and climate change; and with the Treehouse Foundation, an intergenerational community in Easthampton designed to support families with children who have experienced foster care. The Arts Integration Studio is also developing ARTS CORPS, a work/study/professional training program for college students and emerging teaching artists interested in the intersectionality of arts, education, social justice, and community well-being.

 

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield Celebrates Five Years

CHICOPEE — Mercedes-Benz of Springfield is celebrating five years since opening its doors on Oct. 16, 2017. Mercedes-Benz of Springfield’s early and sustained success continues to validate the brand’s decision to put a site in the Pioneer Valley, despite the 11-year hiatus in having a local Mercedes-Benz dealership. Since opening five years ago, the dealership has serviced 53,795 cars, conducted 68,000 car washes, sold and delivered more than 6,400 vehicles, partnered with more than 350 organizations, and increased its team from 30 employees on opening day to 55 today. It has been honored with two BusinessWest 40 Under Forty awards, three Mercedes-Benz Best of the Best Awards, and an Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce A+ Award, and was an EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.

 

Rocky’s Ace Hardware Reopens Agawam Store

SPRINGFIELD — Rocky’s Ace Hardware, one of the country’s largest family-owned Ace Hardware dealers, celebrated the reopening of its Agawam location on Oct. 22. “This renovation has allowed us to expand options for our customers and offer a more well-rounded shopping experience,” Rocky’s Ace Hardware President Rocco Falcone said. “Aside from a complete indoor and outdoor remodel, we have added full fishing and Carhartt departments to the store, as well as expanded tool and grill departments. We are really excited to show off these renovations to our new and returning customers.”

 

Hometown Financial Group Welcomes Envision Bank

EASTHAMPTON — Hometown Financial Group Inc., the multi-bank mutual holding company for bankESB, bankHometown, and Abington Bank, has completed its acquisition of Randolph Bancorp Inc, the bank holding company for Envision Bank. Under the agreement, the acquired Envision Bank branches have been rebranded as Abington Bank. Abington Bank now has $1.4 billion in assets and 10 branches located throughout the South Shore and South Coast, adding offices in Braintree, Randolph, and two in Stoughton to its existing network of offices in Abington, Avon, Holbrook, Marion, and two in Cohasset. The transaction expands Hometown Financial Group’s market presence in Eastern Mass., bringing consolidated assets to $4.5 billion with 37 branches located throughout Massachusetts and Northeastern Connecticut. In addition, Envision Mortgage, with offices in Braintree, North Attleboro, and Westport, will join Hometown Financial Group within the newly formed Hometown Mortgage. This transaction is the sixth strategic merger for Hometown in the last seven years. In 2015, Hometown acquired Citizens National Bancorp. Inc., based in Putnam, Connecticut, then merged with Hometown Community Bancorp. MHC, the holding company for Hometown Bank, in 2016. It then acquired Pilgrim Bancshares Inc. and Abington Bank in 2019, and later that year acquired Millbury Savings Bank.

 

Chariot Payments Network Emerges from Reorganization

BOSTON — Chariot Payments has emerged from reorganization with a reconstructed board, a new CEO, and an experienced team poised to launch its bank-compliant, hybrid-payment network to introduce a new way to connect traditional finance and banking to the emerging digital economies burgeoning in the world of decentralized finance. Chariot’s hybrid network is configured for bank and regulatory compliance, enabling trusted, secure transactions between traditional finance and banking and instant settlement across digital currency protocols at a fraction of the cost imposed by the current payment networks. Chariot’s CEO, Benjamin Cavallari, along with Chief Technology Officer Mariana Jbantova, resuscitated the startup. After a long rebuild, Chariot Payments announced that Glenn Hanson, CEO of Colony Hills Capital and co-founder of River Valley Investors, and Jay Como, chief data officer of Silicon Valley Bank, are joining Cavallari on the new board of directors. Chariot also announced the reformation of its board of advisors, which includes prominent compliance leaders Angela Ratliff and Kevin Troxell (both with US Bank) and Brandon Oliver (previously with JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, and the DCU Fintech Center).

 

Liberty Bank Supports Habitat for Humanity

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Bank recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) to receive one of its community grants. The foundation aims to help low- and moderate-income families improve their economic situation and quality of life.

“We are very grateful to have been selected to receive this grant. It will help us to continue to provide home-ownership and home-repair services in Hampden County,” GSHFH Executive Director Aimee Giroux said. Through Liberty Bank Foundation, Liberty Bank supports nonprofit organizations that its neighbors depend on to build strong families and communities. Grant making is focused on organizations that serve people within Liberty Bank’s market area. GSHFH is a housing ministry dedicated to strengthening communities by empowering low-income families to change their lives and the lives of future generations through home-ownership and home-repair opportunities. This is accomplished by working in partnership with diverse people, from all walks of life, to build and repair simple, decent, affordable housing.

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire United Way (BUW) announced renewal funding of $1,029,500 for 40 programs across 24 community partner organizations, providing a much-needed additional year of support.

This funding will be for a one-year period, from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, and will continue to stabilize BUW’s three main community-impact areas: early childhood development, positive youth development, and economic prosperity. Visit www.berkshireunitedway.org/our-impact to learn more about the 40 programs.

“Through BUW’s relationships with currently funded partners, we understand how critical the timing of this funding is as the ripple effect of the pandemic still lingers. I am proud of our commitment to these organizations who have endured many challenges and continue to serve our community in innovative and creative ways,” said Laurie Gallagher, board member and chair of the community impact committee.

BUW’s investments in these programs support family well-being and address gaps in services in the community. Programs generate a whole-family, integrated approach focusing on educational advancement and economic mobility. This assistance helps to fund programs such as Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity’s Community Navigator Program, which is designed to assist marginalized residents with connections to resources that will enable them to remain economically resilient.

“The funds support staffing for the Community Navigator Program. We appreciate that Berkshire United Way values the impact of the Community Navigator model,” said Carolyn Valli, CEO of Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity.

A new round of funding requests will be announced in early 2023. To donate to BUW’s fundraising campaign, visit www.berkshireunitedway.org/donate.

People on the Move

James Sullivan, president of The O’Connell Companies Inc., announced that the board of directors has named Matt Flink president of Appleton Corporation. Flink, who will be based in the firm’s Holyoke office, succeeds Paul Stelzer. Prior to joining Appleton in 2012, Flink worked in the real estate development and construction industry in Colorado and Florida. He has developed management services accounts in the transportation industry, and coordinated projects for The O’Connell Companies real estate portfolio of multi-family and commercial assets. “I am very excited to be named President of Appleton Corporation,” said Flink. “The culture of the company is based on our family-oriented core values and principles and our service delivery model is implemented across a diversified portfolio of management accounts. Our team is loaded with talent and energy, and I look forward to guiding the future strategic and management direction of the firm.” Appleton Corporation provides comprehensive property, facilities and asset management services, along with accounting and financial services, to managers and owners of commercial and residential properties in central New England.

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UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, under whose leadership the commonwealth’s flagship campus experienced a decade of unprecedented success and momentum, has announced that he will retire at the end of June 2023. Subbaswamy arrived in Amherst in July 2012, and during his tenure the campus has excelled in a wide range of key areas, including attracting growing numbers of diverse, high-achieving students, steadily improving graduation rates, and conducting cutting-edge research with real-world impact. “It has been a privilege to serve as chancellor of this great university,” said Subbaswamy. “I will forever treasure the support and friendship of the faculty, staff, students and alumni whom I’ve come to know over the past decade and am grateful for all that we have accomplished together. By channeling our revolutionary spirit, we have become one of the fastest rising top-tier public research universities in the country and I am confident that, in its next chapter, the University of Massachusetts Amherst will soar even higher.” In the latest U.S. News & World Report Colleges Guide, UMass Amherst is ranked No. 26 among the 209 public universities included in the national survey. A rankings rise from No. 52 in 2010 marks a 26-step ascent, principally during Subbaswamy’s tenure. Robert Manning, chair of the UMass Board of Trustees, has named UMass Trustee and UMass Amherst alumnus Victor Woodridge as chair of the search committee that will be appointed to identify candidates to be the next UMass Amherst chancellor. Under Subbaswamy’s leadership, the university has played a pivotal and unique role in educating the commonwealth. UMass Amherst alone enrolls more first-year students from Massachusetts than do the commonwealth’s top eight private universities combined. In addition, UMass Amherst awards more undergraduate STEM degrees than any other college or university in Massachusetts, public or private. Meanwhile, the university’s research enterprise is driving innovative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges and boosting the state’s economy. In FY 2021, UMass Amherst totaled $213 million in research expenditures, and it ranked first among public universities in New England in National Science Foundation grant awards. UMass Amherst recently secured major investments in computer science, fueling the Massachusetts tech economy. An $18 million naming gift will endow the Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences. A state investment of $75 million—along with $30 million from the Amherst campus—will enhance and expand the college’s facilities, enabling accelerated enrollment growth. The university is also playing a lead role to help address the commonwealth’s pressing health care needs supported by the largest gift in UMass Amherst history to the Marieb College of Nursing. The $21.5 million naming gift from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation is advancing the university’s innovative nursing engineering center, and it is also providing support for student scholarships, an endowed professorship, and mentorship and research initiatives designed to further access, equity and excellence in nursing education.

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The Board of Trustees at Amherst College announced Wednesday that Michael Elliott, a 1992 graduate, has been named the next president of the institution. He will succeed Carolyn ‘Biddy’ Martin, who announced last year that she would retire from the presidency but continue teaching at the college. He is expected to begin work August 1. Elliott has been the chief academic and executive officer of Emory College of Arts and Science in Atlanta since 2016. He earned a doctorate in English and comparative literature at Columbia University in 1998. His bachelor’s degree from Amherst consisted of a dual major in Russian and English.

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Erik Lamothe

Erik Lamothe

bankESB recently promoted Erik Lamothe to assistant vice president, asset liability management. Lamothe joined bankESB in 2016 as ALM manager and was promoted to ALM officer in 2017. He has nearly 25 years of experience in banking, and is responsible for budgeting, forecasting, managing interest rate risk, and CECL for the Hometown Financial Group family of banks, which includes bankESB, bankHometown, and Abington Bank. Lamothe earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Westfield State University and his master’s degree in banking and financial studies from Boston University. He serves as a board member and Finance Committee member of the Lathrop Home in Northampton and is also a course instructor with the Center for Financial Training.

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Timothy M. Netkovick

Timothy M. Netkovick

Jennifer R. Sharrow

Jennifer R. Sharrow

Alayna Anderson

Alayna Anderson

Bacon Wilson, P.C. announced that attorney Timothy M. Netkovick and attorney Jennifer R. Sharrow have joined the firm. Netkovick is a member of Bacon Wilson’s Employment Law Practice Group. He is licensed to practice in both Massachusetts and Connecticut and has significant experience in matters including employment and commercial litigation. He has been practicing law for 20 years, having earned his J.D. from Western New England College School of Law in 2002, and a B.S. magna cum laude from American International College in 1999. He was recognized as the School of Law Academic Scholarship Recipient during his time at Western New England, and an All-American Scholar in 1998 at American International. He will be working from Bacon Wilson’s Springfield location. Sharrow is a member of Bacon Wilson’s Commercial Law Practice Group. She is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She has more than a decade of experience working in public service, with experience in federal programs where she focused on municipal, non-profit, and business development. She earned her J.D. in 2010 from the University of Connecticut School of Law and earned a B.A. summa cum laude from the University of New Hampshire in 2007. She has volunteered her time by serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Habitat for Humanity from 2010 to 2011 and participated in multiple pro bono programs including the Women’s Bar Foundation Family Law Project and the Hampden County Bar Association Lawyer for the Day Program. Currently, she serves as the Legal Chair for the Shoshin Ryu Martial Arts Association and is a member of the Belchertown Zoning Board of Appeals. She will work from Bacon Wilson’s Springfield location. The firm also welcomed Alayna Anderson, as the marketing coordinator, who recently joined the firm at the Springfield location. She is a Cape Cod Native who since relocated to Springfield after earning her bachelor of Science degree in marketing as well as her master’s of Business Administration, both from Springfield College. She will work directly with Bacon Wilson’s Executive Director, Lisa Carpenter, on all aspects of managing the firm’s marketing and public relations for all five locations.

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Kevin Conway, whose IT expertise spans both domestic and global markets, has been named Senior Vice President & Chief Information & Digital Officer (SVP/CIDO) of Baystate Health. His appointment becomes effective June 27.

Conway, a strategic executive with more than 25 years of success in executive leadership, strategic planning, and consulting within large academic multi-facility healthcare IT systems, most recently served as client executive for Tegria Services Group, overseeing the clinical and digital transformation initiative for Northern Ireland. In his role, he was responsible for strategic direction and leadership of Epic Solutions deployment as part of the overall digital health strategy for acute, community, mental health, and social care services. Previously, Conway held the role of Chief Information Officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he managed all facets of IT operations of clinical and essential service departments at UPMC Presbyterian, UPMC Shadyside, and UPMC Mercy & UPMC Magee-Womens Hospitals. He also served as VP of IT Advisory Services, chief information officer, and director of IT at UPMC.

Conway received his BA in Business Administration Health Management Systems from Robert Morris University. In his new role at Baystate Health, Conway will be a key senior executive responsible for the health system’s information and technology systems. His work will include system interoperability and optimization of IT systems, transformation of business processes, human-centered design, enhancements of patient-centered technologies, and focused work on cyber and information security.

•••••

The Royal Law Firm recently welcomed Attorney Kylie Brown to its team. Brown received her bachelor’s degree from Lasell College and her juris doctor from Western New England University School of Law. She is admitted to practice law in the state of Connecticut. Prior to joining The Royal Law Firm, she worked as a Law Clerk of Court at the Connecticut Superior Courts in Hartford, Rockville and New Britain.

•••••

Bulkley Richardson has welcomed five law students to its 2022 Summer Associate Program. The program will introduce law students to the inner workings of a law firm, where they will receive mentorship from lawyers ranging from firm leaders and retired judges all the way through the ranks to junior associates, and gain exposure to real-life legal matters.

This year’s Summer Associates are:

Allison Laughner, who is currently attending Western New England University School of Law, where she is on the Law Review staff. She is also working toward an MBA at Western New England University College of Business and earned a B.A. from Smith College;

Jacob Cronin is currently attending Northeastern University School of Law. He earned a B.A. from Connecticut College with additional coursework at Carnegie Mellon University and Georgetown University;

Sara Sam-Njogu is currently attending Western New England University School of Law. She earned a B.A., magna cum laude, from St. Lawrence University and participated in the Denmark International Study Abroad Program in Copenhagen, Denmark with a focus on international business;

Christa “Christabelle” Calabretta is currently attending the University of Connecticut School of Law and earned a B.A. from St. John’s University and an A.A. from Suffolk County Community College; and

Mumina Egal is currently attending the University of Connecticut School of Law, where in addition to a juris doctorate, she is seeking certificates in both Intellectual Property and Transactional Practice. Egal received a bachelor of Social Sciences from the University of Ottawa.

•••••

Country Bank announced the appointment of 16 new corporators from local businesses within the communities it serves at its annual meeting held at the Publick House in Sturbridge on June 6.

Newly appointed corporators include:

Grace Barone, director of the East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce;

Kelly Tufaro Bartholomew, a certified public accountant at Marcum LLP;

Heather Bean, an eCommerce IT PM/Tech Expert at Nestle;

Ashley Clark, vice president of Marketing & Sales at Quirk Wire Company Inc.;

Debra Cusson, owner of Spartan Auto Care Center;

Keshawn Dodds, executive director at the Boys & Girls Club Family Center;

Anthony Frasco, vice president of Corporate Sales & Marketing at Quality Beverage;

• Ivon Gois, president at Gois Broadcasting;

Russell Haims, owner and real estate investor at Hampton Properties, LLC;

Cherisa Hernandez, a middle/secondary clinical professor at Worcester State University;

Amie Miarecki, executive director at Christopher Heights of Belchertown.

Richard Morris Jr., chief information officer at Linedata;

Charles Norton, resident of Franklin Realty Advisors Inc.;

Jasmine Jina Ortiz, founder & principal CEO at HestiaLIVING;

Joseph Searles, president at International Container Company LLC.; and

• Erin Wynne, assistant head of School for Institutional Advancement at Eagle Hill School in Hardwick.

“While each of our markets offer a unique value proposition, we are adding strategic business professionals throughout the region to help us focus our efforts on the areas that will provide the bank with the greatest growth opportunities,” stated Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank. “We are excited to have these new dedicated and experienced business professionals join us. Together, we look forward to the future with great optimism, continued success and making a difference in the lives of our customers, communities and team members.”

•••••

Five University of Massachusetts faculty have been awarded the 2022 Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching for their exemplary dedication to students and the university. The faculty members — one from each UMass campus — will receive $10,000 awards in recognition of their commitment to academic excellence. UMass Lowell alumni Rob and Donna Manning established the Manning Prize in 2016 to honor UMass professors who excel in teaching and service. With the selection of this year’s honorees, 35 UMass faculty members now have the distinct honor of being Manning Prize recipients. The winner from UMass Amherst is Lorraine Cordeiro, PhD, director of the Center for Research on Families and associate professor of Nutrition, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Cordeiro is a community-engaged scholar who describes herself as “an educator, a scientist, a first-generation college graduate, a U.S. immigrant, a woman, a cancer survivor, a multigenerational caregiver, and a community volunteer.” Cordeiro has been at the forefront of leading efforts for major curricula changes, new pedagogical approaches, and her department’s efforts in implementing and assessing holistic faculty teaching evaluation. Cordeiro has been nominated consistently for teaching awards; she is the recipient of the university’s 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award and the College Outstanding Teacher Award from UMass Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences in 2013.

Company Notebook

bankESB Makes $500,000 Challenge Grant to Cooley Dickinson

EASTHAMPTON — Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced that the bank has made a $500,000 challenge grant to support the Emergency Department at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. The funds will be used to support Transforming Emergency Care: Campaign for the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department, a $19.76 million expansion, reconfiguration, and renovation effort to allow Cooley Dickinson to meet the ever-evolving emergency medicine needs of all members of the community, from infants to older adults. “Access to quality medical care is something we all count on, and Cooley Dickinson continues to do an amazing job treating our friends, family, and neighbors who live and work in our communities,” said Sosik. “bankESB is pleased to do its part in supporting Cooley Dickinson and its efforts to transform its Emergency Department into one that’s as up-to-date as possible and can unlock its full potential. We hope others will do the same.” According to Cooley Dickinson Hospital, its Emergency Department is 40% undersized to meet the community’s needs and cares for many patients who require critical medical attention. The number of patients visiting the department has doubled — from 17,000 in the 1970s to nearly 34,000 in recent years. Renovations are expected to break ground next spring. Organizations contributing to the Campaign for the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department can increase the impact of their donations through this matching grant. bankESB will give one dollar for every two dollars donated to the Emergency Department campaign through Dec. 31, up to $500,000.

 

AIC Partners with STCC with Signing of Articulation Agreement

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has signed an articulation agreement with Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), formally establishing a close academic relationship between the two-year college and the four-year institution. This accord between American International College and Springfield Technical Community College aligns academic programs that enhance the seamless transition of STCC graduates and qualified candidates from STCC, and promote a smooth, successful transfer to AIC. This articulation agreement offers time and cost savings for students by recognizing the coursework pursued at the community college and demonstrates the ongoing commitment of both AIC and STCC to the community and its students, by ensuring that educational pathways are created for all those who wish to consider a degree in higher education. At AIC, the program is referred to as Direct Connect. Direct Connect transfer students automatically receive a $4,000 scholarship in addition to their earned merit scholarship, before any need-based aid is awarded. This means Direct Connect students can earn up to $18,000 in financial gift aid, not loans, before being evaluated for additional need-based aid. And, unlike some other transfer articulation agreements, the Direct Connect program at AIC allows students to study and major in their area of interest while attending their community college.

 

Easy Company Brewing Launches in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Easy Company Brewing recently launched Springfield’s newest brewery Thursday at the Student Prince in downtown Springfield. Easy Company Brewing (ECB) is a veteran-owned business that is committed to donating 100% of its profits to veterans, first responders, and their families. The name and its mission are inspired by the men of Easy Company from WW II, made famous by the book and mini-series Band of Brothers. Following in the footsteps of the men of Easy, ECB is committed to brewing drinkable European style beers with “a little bit of American boldness and edge,” while honoring the men and women who serve or have served our country. All of ECB after-tax profits, will be donated through its companion foundation to a number of charities that do work on behalf our nation’s heroes. Founders Jeff St. Jean and John DeVoie served together in the Air National Guard, and have teamed up to create this new beer brand in the City of Homes. St. Jean is still serving, and DeVoie is one of the co-founders of Hot Table, a Springfield based fast casual restaurant company. ECB beers are currently contract brewed locally in Western Mass., but DeVeVoie and St. Jean hope to build a brewery and tap room in Springfield at some point. Their beers are currently available for sale at Table & Vine in West Springfield. Other retailers will follow this summer.

 

Two New Woman-owned Businesses Open in Thornes Marketplace

NORTHAMPTON — Two women entrepreneurs with a passion for artistry and design have opened shops in Thornes Marketplace, one offering Bohemian home décor and the other, women’s lingerie and loungewear. Cigdem “Chi” Turkomer, the owner of Le BonNton, originally located on Old South Street, moved into Thornes last June, relocating several times within the building over the past year and recently settling permanently on the second floor. In its fifth year, Le BonNton offers linens, furniture and other décor, which Turkomer also provides for a fee to couples through her wedding design service. On June 10 from 5-8 p.m., Thornes will host a fifth-anniversary celebration for Le BonNton in the shop, with music, local art displays and Turkish Delight sweets prepared by Turkomer.

Ali Ingellis, owner of Ooh La La, opened her boutique on the first floor of the historic shopping center in downtown Northampton in May. The lingerie and loungewear she designs and produces are inspired by history and nature, and she describes her shop as, “Beautiful, unapologetically feminine, intimate — like your best friend’s closet.”

 

MassMutual Center Sees Positive Economic Impact in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — The MassMutual Center recently collaborated with Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company that measures local economic impact in local markets, to research the economic impact the venue had in Springfield and surrounding markets from July 2018 through June 2019 (FY19). Findings show that the MassMutual Center’s gross economic impact as well as Incremental Impact were significant. Tourism Economics found that in FY19, the MassMutual Center had more than 300,000 total attendees in the arena and convention center events, resulting in a total gross economic impact of $47.1 million, which generated 555 total jobs in the market and contributed $4.4 million in total state and local tax revenues. Of the total event attendees, 147,000 were out-of-town attendees, resulting in a total incremental impact of $34.9 million, which generated 443 total jobs in the market and contributed $3.2 million in total state and local tax revenues. Gross economic and incremental impacts were measured by money spent by the venue in the local economy to sustain operations, including spending on payroll, marketing costs, legal services, and professional services, as well as money spent by event attendees while attending events at the MassMutual Center and at off-site establishments, including local restaurants, hotels, retailers, and recreation/entertainment venues. Gross economic impact shows impact made by all event attendees, while incremental impacts focuses on the out-of-town event attendees.

 

Florence Bank Celebrates 20th Annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program

FLORENCE — Florence Bank celebrated its 20th annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program gala last month, awarding $100,000 to 45 nonprofits across the valley. And at the close of the event, President and CEO Kevin Day drew cheers from the audience of nonprofit leaders, announcing that giving will increase to $125,000. Day’s announcement was the second commemoration of the evening, the first coming as he called for bank and nonprofit staff and leaders to raise a glass to toast the event’s 20th year. “We can’t let that go without celebration,” he said. Florence Bank’s community grants program is an annual offering founded in 2002, and, through it, Florence Bank customers are invited to vote for their favorite local nonprofit in hopes it will receive a share of grant funding. Voting takes place all year long, online at www.florencebank.com/vote and in bank branches, and each customer has only one vote. To qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes. In 2021, roughly 7,000 votes were cast, making 45 nonprofits eligible for a grant. Over the past 20 years, Florence Bank has tallied more than 141,000 customer votes and given grants to roughly 164 different organizations. At its 20th annual event, held May 19 at Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, the bank offered awards to 45 nonprofits and celebrated a total of $1.4 million in community giving through this one channel. Six nonprofits received funding for the first time — some in Hampden County, where Florence Bank now has three branches and has established a presence as a good neighbor. Three recipients have accepted an award every year since the program launched. Four organizations received the maximum amount of $5,000 this year: Cancer Connection Inc., Dakin Humane Society, Food Bank of Western Mass., and Friends of Williamsburg Libraries.In addition to the four top vote-getters, these other organizations received an award: Friends of Lilly Library, $4,097; Northampton Survival Center, $3,782; Amherst Survival Center, $3,588; Our Lady of the Hills Parish, $3,564; Friends of Forbes Library, $3,539; Goshen Firefighters Association, $3,370; Friends of Northampton Legion Baseball, $3,224; Easthampton Community Center, $2,909; It Takes a Village, $2,909; Williamsburg Firefighters Association, $2,642; Northampton Neighbors, $2,400; Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, $2,303; Belchertown Animal Relief Committee, Inc. (BARC), $2,230; Manna Community Kitchen, $2,109; Shriners Hospitals for Children, $1,988; and J.F.K. Middle School PTO. Also, $1,867; Kestrel Land Trust, $1,867; Northampton High School PTO, $1,794; Riverside Industries, Inc., $1,770; R.K. Finn Ryan Road School PTO, $1,648; Cooley Dickinson Hospital, $1,624; Safe Passage, $1,624; Northampton Community Music Center, $1,527; Therapeutic Equestrian Center, $1,527; Amherst Neighbors, $1,503; Friends of M.N. Spear Memorial Library, $1,455; Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation, $1,430; Grow Food Northampton, $1,430; Smith Vocational High School PTO, $1,333; Whole Children, $1,309; Easthampton Elementary Schools PTO, $1,164; Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity, $1,139; Hitchcock Center for the Environment, $1,115; Revitalize CDC, $1,091; The Parish Cupboard, $1,067; Belchertown Police K-9 Unit, $1,042; Cooley Dickinson Hospital VNA & Hospice, $1,042; Historic Northampton, $1,018; Granby Senior Center, $994; Leeds Elementary School PTO, $994; and Ludlow Boys & Girls Club, $970.

 

Monson Savings Bank Donates Bikes to YWCA of Western Mass.

MONSON — In the spirit of its 150th Anniversary, Monson Savings Bank announced earlier this year that it will be launching its 150 Build-a-Bike campaign. The community bank has purchased more than $20,000 worth of bikes to donate to local children and they have partnered with various non-profits in the area to host Build-a-Bike events throughout the year. Most recently, Monson Savings delivered 10 bikes and 10 helmets to YWCA of Western Mass. Members of the Monson Savings team delivered the bikes that they helped to assemble with Ray Plouffe, owner of Family Bike Shop in East Longmeadow. Many members of the team expressed feelings of gratitude and a sense of fulfillment after building and delivering the bikes. “All of us were very excited to come together for the YWCA Build-a-Bike event. Our team had a great time getting to know the YWCA team and confirming our knowledge about all of the incredible ways they help those in need,” said Dan Moriarty, President and CEO of Monson Savings Bank. “Plus, it was wonderful to deliver the bikes and hear how the YWCA plans to make a safe, designated area for children to enjoy the bikes as they receive support from the organization.” Throughout the summer, Monson Savings Bank will also partner with I Found Light Against All Odds and the Springfield Housing Authority, South End Community Center, and Educare Springfield to host more 150 Build-a-Bike events, continuing to spread happiness to children and families throughout the area. To learn more about Monson Savings Bank’s 150th anniversary, the bank’s historical timeline, and to view a full schedule of events visit www.monsonsavings.bank/anniversary.

 

Caolo & Bieniek Architects Selected to Design Northfield Emergency Services Facility

CHICOPEE — Caolo & Bieniek Architects (CBA) has been selected, and has begun work, on designing options for a public safety complex to serve the town of Northfield. The CBA design team boasts 60 years of experience working in Western Mass., with extensive knowledge in the construction of public safety complexes, police stations, fire stations, and emergency service facilities. The team will compose a feasibility study assessing program needs and developing Phase 1 – programing and conceptual design. The focus of the study is to explore design options that accommodate the town’s Fire Department, Police Department, and Emergency Medical Services Department. Each department’s current condition is in need of attention and redesign to better enable department members to effectively serve their community.

 

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Provides Financial Gift to Community Legal Aid

SPRINGFIELD — The law firm of Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley recently made a $3,500 donation to support Community Legal Aid of Central and Western Massachusetts.Community Legal Aid Executive Director Jonathan Mannina Esq., in accepting the donation said, “with the firm’s gift, PSRB is helping to pass on the American promise of equal Justice under the law. With Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley’s support, Community Legal Aid will be able to continue to serve some of the most vulnerable members of our community.” “It is critical to us as a firm, that the work of the Community Legal Aid continue,” said Charlie Casartello Jr., Managing Partner at Pellegrini, Seeley Ryan & Blakesley. “For 70 years, they have provided invaluable advocacy for and support to people who otherwise would not be able to afford legal representation in central and western Massachusetts. The impact they make is tremendous and we are proud that we can make a difference in their mission.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson, P.C. announced that Attorney Timothy M. Netkovick and Attorney Jennifer R. Sharrow have joined the firm. 

Netkovick is a member of Bacon Wilson’s Employment Law Practice Group. He is licensed to practice in both Massachusetts and Connecticut and has significant experience in matters including employment and commercial litigation. He has been practicing law for 20 years, having earned his J.D. from Western New England College School of Law in 2002, and a B.S. magna cum laude from American International College in 1999. He was recognized as the School of Law Academic Scholarship Recipient during his time at Western New England, and an All-American Scholar in 1998 at American International. He will be working from Bacon Wilson’s Springfield location. 

Sharrow is a member of Bacon Wilson’s Commercial Law Practice Group. She is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She has more than a decade of experience working in public service, with experience in federal programs where she focused on municipal, non-profit, and business development. She earned her J.D. in 2010 from the University of Connecticut School of Law and earned a B.A. summa cum laude from the University of New Hampshire in 2007. 

She has volunteered her time by serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Habitat for Humanity from 2010 to 2011 and participated in multiple pro bono programs including the Women’s Bar Foundation Family Law Project and the Hampden County Bar Association Lawyer for the Day Program. Currently, she serves as the Legal Chair for the Shoshin Ryu Martial Arts Association and is a member of the Belchertown Zoning Board of Appeals. She will work from Bacon Wilson’s Springfield location.  

Bacon Wilson’s Managing Shareholder, Kenneth J. Albano, welcomed the new attorneys to the legal family, “Tim and Jennifer provide significant depth and experience to their respective practice groups.” 

The firm also welcomed Alayna Anderson, as the marketing coordinator, who recently joined the firm at the Springfield location. She is a Cape Cod Native who since relocated to Springfield after earning her bachelor of Science degree in marketing as well as her master’s of Business Administration, both from Springfield College. She will work directly with Bacon Wilson’s Executive Director, Lisa Carpenter, on all aspects of managing the firm’s marketing and public relations for all five locations.  

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank celebrated its 20th annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program gala last month, awarding $100,000 to 45 nonprofits across the valley. And at the close of the event, President and CEO Kevin Day drew cheers from the audience of nonprofit leaders, announcing that giving will increase to $125,000. 

“Some of you longtime recipients may recall when we began this great program back in 2002, we started by giving away $50,000,” Day said. “Years later we increased to $75,000 and then to $100,000. We’ve decided to increase the total grant amount again — to $125,000 — immediately, for grants to be awarded at next year’s gala. 

“My hope is that our customers continue to use this program to provide you with a vote of confidence, as well as some much-needed funding to help you continue your mission to serve the community,” he added. “All of us at Florence Bank truly appreciate everything you do to make our communities better places to live and work.” 

Day’s announcement was the second commemoration of the evening, the first coming as he called for bank and nonprofit staff and leaders to raise a glass to toast the event’s 20th year. “We can’t let that go without celebration,” he said.  

Florence Bank’s community grants program is an annual offering founded in 2002, and, through it, Florence Bank customers are invited to vote for their favorite local nonprofit in hopes it will receive a share of grant funding. 

Voting takes place all year long, online at www.florencebank.com/vote and in bank branches, and each customer has only one vote. To qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes. In 2021, roughly 7,000 votes were cast, making 45 nonprofits eligible for a grant. 

Over the past 20 years, Florence Bank has tallied more than 141,000 customer votes and given grants to roughly 164 different organizations. 

 

At its 20th annual event, held May 19 at Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, the bank offered awards to 45 nonprofits and celebrated a total of $1.4 million in community giving through this one channel. 

Six nonprofits received funding for the first time — some in Hampden County, where Florence Bank now has three branches and has established a presence as a good neighbor. Three recipients have accepted an award every year since the program launched.  

Four organizations received the maximum amount of $5,000 this year: Cancer Connection Inc., Dakin Humane Society, Food Bank of Western Mass., and Friends of Williamsburg Libraries. 

“The commitment of Florence Bank customers to all of you serving the needs within our community is awesome, and we couldn’t be prouder to be able to support the programs our customers believe in,” Day said.  

Organizations receiving awards range from police, fire, library, and school groups to nonprofits that provide food, shelter or support to people living with a serious illness or disability. 

In addition to the four top vote-getters, these other organizations received an award:  

Friends of Lilly Library, $4,097; Northampton Survival Center, $3,782; Amherst Survival Center, $3,588; Our Lady of the Hills Parish, $3,564; Friends of Forbes Library, $3,539; Goshen Firefighters Association, $3,370; Friends of Northampton Legion Baseball, $3,224; Easthampton Community Center, $2,909; It Takes a Village, $2,909; Williamsburg Firefighters Association, $2,642; Northampton Neighbors, $2,400; Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, $2,303; Belchertown Animal Relief Committee, Inc. (BARC), $2,230; Manna Community Kitchen, $2,109; Shriners Hospitals for Children, $1,988; and J.F.K. Middle School PTO. 

Also, $1,867; Kestrel Land Trust, $1,867; Northampton High School PTO, $1,794; Riverside Industries, Inc., $1,770; R.K. Finn Ryan Road School PTO, $1,648; Cooley Dickinson Hospital, $1,624; Safe Passage, $1,624; Northampton Community Music Center, $1,527; Therapeutic Equestrian Center, $1,527; Amherst Neighbors, $1,503; Friends of M.N. Spear Memorial Library, $1,455; Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation, $1,430; Grow Food Northampton, $1,430; Smith Vocational High School PTO, $1,333; Whole Children, $1,309; Easthampton Elementary Schools PTO, $1,164; Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity, $1,139; Hitchcock Center for the Environment, $1,115; Revitalize CDC, $1,091; The Parish Cupboard, $1,067; Belchertown Police K-9 Unit, $1,042; Cooley Dickinson Hospital VNA & Hospice, $1,042; Historic Northampton, $1,018; Granby Senior Center, $994; Leeds Elementary School PTO, $994; and Ludlow Boys & Girls Club, $970. 

Company Notebook

Monson Savings Bank Elects New Corporators

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank announced the election of five new corporators. At the bank’s recent annual meeting, it was announced that Nikki Burnett, Cesar Ruiz, John Zienowicz, Ciara Speller, and Christian D’Amour had been elected by existing corporators. Burnett is the executive director of Educare Springfield. She also sits on national committees for the Educare Learning Network, such as the Educare Policy Work Group, the Collaborative Fundraising Advisory Board, and the Red Nose Day Advisory Board. Additionally, she is a trustee for the Community Foundation of Western Mass., and serves on the Distribution Committee as co‐chair; the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion subcommittee; and the Executive Committee. She is also a member of the Baystate Community Benefits Advisory Council. Ruiz is the founder, president and CEO of Golden Years Home Services. He was the first Hispanic popularly elected official in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, serving on the Springfield School Committee from 1980-1986. Prior to founding Golden Years, he worked in banking at Region’s Bank. He was recently recognized as one of business’s most influential Latinos by Hispanic Executive magazine. Zienowicz is the executive director of the Ware Council on Aging. Furthermore, he sits on the board of directors for the Quaboag Hills Community Coalition, the Ware Cable Access Television, and the Advisory Board for BHN Carson Center. He is a member of the Bay State Eastern Region Community Benefits Advisory Board, the Quaboag Region Coordinating Council, and the Quaboag Hills Substance Use Alliance. Speller is a weeknight news anchor for Channel 22 WWLP. She serves as a board member for local nonprofit I Found Light Against All Odds, is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, volunteers for the Miss Western Massachusetts Scholarship Assoc., and is a panelist for Girls Inc. of the Valley. Additionally, she was the recipient of the “Leadership in Broadcasting Award” from Bay Path University in 2019 and a 2021 Boston/New England Regional Emmy Winner. D’Amour is the director of E-Commerce at Big Y World Class Market and a third-generation member of Big Y Foods’ founding D’Amour family. Prior to working at Big Y, he worked at Delta Dental of Rhode Island as a sales and marketing representative. Additionally, he holds a B.A. from Saint Michael College.

 

HNE Offers $100,000 in Grants for DEIB in Maternal/Infant Health

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England is offering $100,000 in grants for non-profit organizations that address inequities to improve maternal and infant health. The company’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) grants will award up to $10,000 per organization. The DEIB grants will fund non-profits whose programs address health equity and focus on engaging at least one social determinant of health (SDOH). SDOHs are conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age that affect health, quality of life, and life expectancy. These may include socioeconomic status, food insecurity, education, access to health care, safe housing, discrimination, violence, and trauma, etc. Registered 501(c)(3) non-profits focused on communities in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties are eligible. Eligible organizations can find out more and apply for the grant here. Submissions are due by midnight on May 30.

Mercy Medical Center Earns Fourth Consecutive ‘A’ Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade

SPRINGFIELD — Mercy Medical Center has received an “A” Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade for spring 2022. This national distinction recognizes Mercy Medical Center’s achievements in protecting patients from preventable harm and error in the hospital. This latest recognition marks Mercy’s fourth consecutive “A” safety grade. The Leapfrog Group, an independent national watchdog organization, assigns an “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F” grade to general hospitals across the country based on over thirty national performance measures reflecting errors, accidents, injuries, and infections, as well as systems hospitals have in place to prevent harm. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is the only hospital ratings program based exclusively on hospital prevention of medical errors and harms to patients. The grading system is peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public. Grades are updated twice annually, in the fall and spring.

 

Lee Bank Foundation Distributes $83,750 in First Grant Funding Round of 2022

LEE — Lee Bank Foundation has awarded $83,750 to 12 Berkshire area organizations and an additional grant to Pittsfield Public Schools in its first-round of 2022 community funding. Recipients were awarded grants ranging from $1,000 to $16,000 to support their local programming. Included in the awards are a series of Arts Access Grants for arts and culture organizations to expand access to programming for underserved audiences.

The following organizations received funding:

• Berkshire Center for Justice;
• Berkshire Community Diaper Project;
• Berkshire Concert Choir;
• Berkshire County Arc;
• Berkshire Historical Society;
• Berkshire Family YMCA;
• Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity;
• Community Access to the Arts;
• Great Barrington Public Theater;
• Greenagers;
• Roots Rising; and
• The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

Arts Access Grants of $1,000 each were awarded to Berkshire Concert Choir, Berkshire Historical Society, and Great Barrington Public Theater. Additionally, Lee Bank Foundation announced a $16,000 grant to the Pittsfield Public Schools — $1,000 for each school serving children and adults in Pittsfield, to coincide with the groundbreaking of the new Lee Bank branch on South Street. The deadline for the next round of 2022 Foundation funding is June 1. The application and more information can be found on the Community Impact section of Lee Bank’s website (https://www.leebank.com/community-impact/donations-sponsorships.html). To be considered for grant awards, applicants must be a (501)(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Foundation is focused on funding programs that work to bridge income and opportunity gaps in our region. Funding requests should reflect one or more of Lee Bank Foundation’s primary focus areas: education and literacy; food security and nutrition; economic growth and development; health and human services; mentorship, internship and “school to work” initiatives; and arts and culture

 

Marriott Brand Restored on Downtown Springfield Hotel

SPRINGFIELD — The Marriott brand has been restored to a downtown Springfield hotel in preparation for a planned September opening. The Marriott ‘M’ logo was attached to the Tower Square Hotel recently, a milestone in a nearly four-year-long effort to restore a brand name that was lost in 2017. Extensive renovations of the property, projected to cost $40 million, are ongoing, with a grand reopening planned for this fall. The new Marriott will have 266 rooms.

 

North Brookfield Savings Named Among ‘Top Extraordinary Banks’

NORTH BROOKFIELD — North Brookfield Savings Bank, was recently named among the top extraordinary banks in the United States by The Institute for Extraordinary Banking. This award comes on the heels of the Community Choice Central Mass. Best Bank Award it received for 2021. North Brookfield Savings Bank was recognized with the institute’s Banky Award for its commitment to strong community banking. This recognition is given to top community banks across the country to help people find the best banks in their communities.

 

Massage Clinic to Open at Asnuntuck Community College

ENFIELD, Conn. — The public is invited to make a reservation for a massage through Asnuntuck Community College’s massage clinic. Massages can provide physical and mental benefits. Massage can loosen tight muscles, lower blood pressure, and assist in recovery from injuries and illness. Students enrolled in ACC’s Massage Therapy program provide the massages for the clinic. The appointments begin May 23, and run until August 16 on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Appointment times are 9 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Rates are $30 for 50 minutes, and $60 for 100 minutes. Gift certificates are available. Tipping is not allowed by state law. Reservations are required. Visit https://asnuntuck.edu/massage/ to learn more about the clinic.

 

Spectrum Home Health & Hospice Care Named to ‘Elite List’

LONGMEADOW — JGS Lifecare, a not-for-profit healthcare system serving seniors and their families in Western Mass. for more than 110 years, announced that Spectrum Home Health & Hospice Care, one of its subsidiary organizations, has made the 2022 Hospice Honors Elite list. Hospice Honors is a prestigious annual national program from HEALTHCAREfirst that recognized hospices that continuously provide the highest level of quality care as measured from the caregiver’s point of view. HEALTHCAREfirst is a leading provider of billing and coding services, CAHPS surveys, and advanced analytics. It acknowledges the highest performing agencies by analyzing the performance of the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) hospice survey satisfaction measures. Award criteria were based on Hospice CAHPS survey results for an evaluation period of October 2020 through September 2021. Award recipients were identified by evaluating performance on a set of 24 quality indicator measures. Performance scores were aggregated from all completed surveys and were compared on a question-by-question basis to a National Performance Score calculated from all hospices contained in the HEALTHCAREfirst’s Hospice CAHPS database. Hospice Honors recipients include those hospices scoring above the HEALTHCAREfirst national performance score on 20 of the 24 evaluated questions. HEALTHCAREfirst holds a special recognition, Hospice Honors Elite, to honor hospices scoring above the HEALTHCAREfirst National Performance Score on all 24 of the evaluated questions.

 

‘Together HCC’ Raises $192,000 for Scholarships, Student Aid

HOLYOKE — Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of Holyoke Community College led a historic day of giving last month, raising more than $192,000 for student support programs during its one-day ‘Together HCC: Drive to Change Lives’ campaign. Organizers had set a goal of 300 donors for the 24-hour, April 26, fund drive. The final tally was 418, a 41% increase from 2021. Auto dealer Gary Rome, an HCC Foundation board member, led the way with a $5,000 challenge when the campaign met its goals of securing 300 donors. Another alumni donor was Dylan Pilon, ’12, of Springfield, a former scholarship recipient who graduated from HCC debt free, which allowed him to start his own company, Cloud 9 Marketing in East Longmeadow. In addition to Rome and Pilon, Peg, ’58, and Gary Wendlandt, Jim Izatt, ’59, trustee Robert Gilbert, Foundation board member Carl Eger, ’56, and Shirley Eger, and HCC President Christina Royal all posed matching and challenge gifts for the campaign.

 

‘Parklets’ Come to Downtown Amherst

AMHERST — The Amherst Business Improvement District (BID) has received an $80,750 grant from the Regional Economic Development Organization (REDO) for outdoor seating accommodations on Amity Street and South Pleasant Street that have been dubbed ‘parklets.’

The grant is funded through the Massachusetts Office of Business Development and is being administered through the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council. It will cover the materials, labor, and insurance costs.

Each parklet will be located in front of a designated food-and-drink establishment for that establishment’s use, and the sidewalk next to each parklet location will be maintained as a pedestrian pathway. These ‘parklets’ will also be accessible to those with disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessible design.

The Amherst BID is managing this project with support from the Amherst Planning Department staff. The parklets are being constructed by Keiter Corporation, a Florence-based construction company. Additionally, Evan Jones from Cowls Building Supply, located in Amherst, worked with the BID to procure the materials at a reduced cost.

“The main goal of this project is to help activate the downtown streetscape by providing extended sidewalks to serve as outdoor dining spaces, to attract residents and visitors and support local businesses. As the town explores urban design standards and streetscape designs for the downtown, this pilot project is an excellent opportunity for all stakeholders to learn from and enjoy,” said Maureen Pollock, Amherst planner.

The parklets are expected to be fully constructed by Saturday.

Daily News

LEE — Lee Bank Foundation has awarded $83,750 to 12 Berkshire area organizations and an additional grant to Pittsfield Public Schools in its first-round of 2022 community funding. 

Recipients were awarded grants ranging from $1,000 to $16,000 to support their local programming. Included in the awards are a series of Arts Access Grants for arts and culture organizations to expand access to programming for underserved audiences. 

The following organizations received funding: 

  • Berkshire Center for Justice;
  • Berkshire Community Diaper Project;
  • Berkshire Concert Choir;
  • Berkshire County Arc;
  • Berkshire Historical Society;
  • Berkshire Family YMCA;
  • Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity;
  • Community Access to the Arts;
  • Great Barrington Public Theater;
  • Greenagers;
  • Roots Rising; and
  • The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

 

Arts Access Grants of $1,000 each were awarded to Berkshire Concert Choir, Berkshire Historical Society, and Great Barrington Public Theater. Additionally, Lee Bank Foundation announced a $16,000 grant to the Pittsfield Public Schools — $1,000 for each school serving children and adults in Pittsfield, to coincide with the groundbreaking of the new Lee Bank branch on South Street.  

The deadline for the next round of 2022 Foundation funding is June 1. The application and more information can be found on the Community Impact section of Lee Bank’s website (https://www.leebank.com/community-impact/donations-sponsorships.html) 

To be considered for grant awards, applicants must be a (501)(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Foundation is focused on funding programs that work to bridge income and opportunity gaps in our region. Funding requests should reflect one or more of Lee Bank Foundation’s primary focus areas: education and literacy; food security and nutrition; economic growth and development; health and human services; mentorship, internship and “school to work” initiatives; and arts and culture 

Applicants are only eligible for funding once in a 12-month period. 

Lee Bank Foundation was established in 2021 to support Lee Bank’s long-standing mission of community reinvestment. In its first year, the Foundation awarded a total of $228,610 in grants and the Bank contributed an additional $84,000 in sponsorships. 

Company Notebook

PeoplesBank Announces New Banking Center in South Windsor, Conn.

Fresh off its successful launch in the center of West Hartford and the renovation of its Suffield Banking Center, PeoplesBank has announced that it will add to its Connecticut footprint by building a new 2,000-square-foot banking center at 50 Cedar Ave. in South Windsor. The banking center is expected to be the anchor for other adjacent development that may include a restaurant, coffee and retail shops, and a medical office building.Designed by Tecton Architects of Hartford, the banking center will feature many of the innovative technologies that PeoplesBank has rolled out at its other new and renovated locations, including two VideoBankerITMs and two EV charging stations. The new banking center will also utilize the bank’s Universal Banker approach, which allows its associates to provide a wide range of banking services to customers. The new South Windsor Banking Center is expected to be open in early December, 2022.

 

Florence Bank to Celebrate 20th Annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program

FLORENCE — For 20 years, Florence Bank has awarded grants of up to $5,000 each to dozens of nonprofits chosen by its customers, and at its annual gathering this year, it will once again offer up $100,000 to organizations that support young and old in the community. At its 20th Annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants gala, to be staged May 19 at 5 p.m. at Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, the bank will offer awards to 45 nonprofits and celebrate a total of $1.4 million in community giving through this one channel. Organizations like Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield and the Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Holyoke will receive awards for the first time this year thanks to customer voting. In addition to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield, the Therapeutic Equestrian Center and Dakin, the following organizations received enough votes to qualify for a grant and will receive an award at the celebration: Amherst Neighbors, Amherst Survival Center, Belchertown Animal Relief Committee Inc. (BARC), Belchertown K-9, Cancer Connection, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Cooley Dickinson Hospital VNA & Hospice, Easthampton Community Center, Easthampton Elementary Schools PTO, Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Friends of Forbes Library, Friends of Lilly Library, Friends of M.N. Spear Memorial Library, Friends of Northampton Legion Baseball, Friends of the Williamsburg Library, Goshen Firefighters Assoc., Grow Food Northampton, Granby Senior Center, Habitat for Humanity Pioneer Valley, Historic Northampton, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, It Takes a Village, J.F.K. Middle School, Kestrel Land Trust, Leeds Elementary School PTO, Ludlow Boys & Girls Club, Manna Community Kitchen, Northampton Community Music Center, Northampton High School PTO, Northampton Neighbors, Northampton Survival Center, Our Lady of the Hills Parish, Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, Revitalize CDC, Riverside Industries, R.K. Finn Ryan Road School, Safe Passage, Smith Vocational High School PTO, The Parish Cupboard, Whole Children, and Williamsburg Firefighters Association.

 

Greater Springfield CVB Names 2022 Howdy Award Finalists

The Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (GSCVB) has announced 50 Finalists for the upcoming 2022 Howdy Awards for Hospitality Excellence. The Howdy Awards, as they are also known, celebrate workers in visitor-facing roles across Western Mass who deliver outstanding guest service, create loyal customers for their businesses and help make a positive impact upon the region’s hospitality economy.The 2022 Howdy Awards will be celebrated on May 16 at 6 p.m. at the MassMutual Center, and will also include the presentation of the Spotlight Award to Nate Costa and the Springfield Thunderbirds ownership group for keeping professional hockey in Western Mass.

The 50 finalists are:

Accommodations
FeliciaFernandez, front desk clerk, Hampton Inn and Suites, Hadley;
AustinGinman, front desk agent, MGM Hotel, Springfield;
GenesisRamos, front desk clerk, Residence Inn, Chicopee; and
FeliciaLaurin, housekeeping supervisor, The Inn on Boltwood,Amherst.

Attractions
David Dunston, show staff, Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield;
Laura Litterer, owner,Full of Grace Farm, Hadley;
Steve Ferraro, director of Operations, Eastern States Exposition, West Springfield;
Sabrina Brizzolari, director of Event Services, Mass Mutual Center, Springfield;
Gary Laprade, tour host,Sports Travel and Tours, Hatfield;
Pearl Wesley, ranger, Springfield Armory, Springfield;and
Sharon Ferrara, Welcome Center manager,Springfield Museums, Springfield.

Banquets
Shanique Fair, catering sales manager,MGM Springfield;
Will Diaz, event planner, Log Cabin, Holyoke; and
Brenda Lee Glanville, director of Sales & Marketing, Summit View Banquet House, Holyoke.

Beverage
Terry Ryan, bartender, Collins Tavern, West Springfield;
Rob Dullea, bar manager,Fitzwilly’s, Northampton;
Jessica Santinello, bartender, Maple Leaf, Westfield;
Matthew Jerzyk, bartender,Max’s Tavern, Springfield; and
Amanda Reed, bartender,the Ranch Pub House, Southwick

Food Casual
June Leduc, general manager, Delaney’s Market, Longmeadow;
Silvana Cardaropoli, customer service, Palazzo’s, Springfield;
Humberto Caro, manager, Starbuck’s, Monarch Place, Springfield; and
Erica Rosado, breakfast attendant, Tru by Hilton, Chicopee.

Food Tableside
Kelsi Donohue, server, Bnapoli Italian, West Springfield;
Donna Nardi, server,Cal’s Restaurant, West Springfield;
Matthew Canata, counter clerk,EB’s, Agawam;
Darlene Robinson, server,Gregory’s Pizza, Wilbraham;
Bernadette Beaudry, server,Johnny’s Roadside Diner, Hadley;
Benny Beans, server,Lattitude, West Springfield;
Amy Silvestri,general manager,UNO’s Pizzeria & Grill,Springfield; and
Michael Moriarty, server,Villa Napoletana, East Longmeadow.

Public Service
Serena Curley, concierge,Baystate Medical Center, Springfield;
Latrina Haynie, phlebotomist, Baystate Lab, Springfield;
January Russell, insurance agent,Bluestone Insurance/Horace Mann, Agawam;
Heather Wyman, office manager,Cordes Orthodontics, Westfield;
Paul Barden, Meals on Wheels,Greater Springfield Senior Services, Springfield;
Tricia Zoly, nurse, Holyoke Council on Aging, Holyoke; and
Harold Anderson, program director, Valley Eye Radio, Springfield.

Retail
Yates Greenhalgh, cashier, Big Y, Wilbraham;
Kerri O’Connor, manager,Athleta, Longmeadow;
Patrick Hamel, service advisor, Gary Rome Hyundai, Holyoke;
Tiarra Henderson, framing specialist, Michael’s, West Springfield;
Maria Lepage, sales and leasing consultant,Gary Rome Hyundai, Holyoke;
Sabrina Pretti, customer service,Insa Inc., Easthampton;
Carolyn Owens, cashier,Walgreen’s, Springfield;
Janet Graves, retail sales associate, Yankee Candle Village, South Deerfield;and
Stephen Ross, sales associate, Yankee Candle Village, South Deerfield

Transportation
Jose Guzman, valet parker,Baystate Medical Center, Springfield;
Barbara Eckert, booth attendant, Civic Center Garage, Springfield; and
Tom McLeer, PVTA bus driver,PVTA, Springfield

The Howdy Awards for Hospitality Excellence are sponsored by Eastern States Exposition, Aladco Linen Services, Mass. Convention Center Authority, Freedom Credit Union, Performance Foodservice, People’s United Bank, MGM Springfield, MassMutual Center, Baystate Health, Yankee Candle Village, Modelo Especial, The Republican, MassLive, WWLP TV-22 and IHeart Media.

The GSCVB, an affiliate of the Economic Development Council of Western Mass, is a private non-profit destination marketing organization dedicated to promoting Western Mass for meetings and conventions, group tours, sports and leisure travel.

 

Whalley Computer Associates Named One of The 2022 Tech Elite 250

SOUTHWICK — Whalley Computer Associates (WCA) has again been named to the Tech Elite 250 list comprised of solution providers in the U.S. and Canada that have made the investments necessary to earn the highest level of certifications from the largest and most prestigious manufacturers of technology products and services. CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, named WCA to the Tech Elite 250 in 2016, 2019, 2020, and 2021 as well. WCA’s engineering team has earned about 125 certifications with nearly 30 different manufacturers by numerous dedicated engineers. Founded in 1979, WCA has been providing IT solutions and services to customers throughout New England and upstate New York for 43 years.

 

UMass Amherst Dining to Measure Carbon Footprint for Individual Dishes

AMHERST — Bolstering UMass Amherst’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2032, UMass Amherst Dining Services has made the commitment to measure the carbon impact of their menu. In doing so they will be the first college or university dining program in the country to include carbon footprint for individual dishes.

The initiative will help students reduce their carbon footprint with their everyday food choices by including a carbon rating on the menu identifiers. In a fall survey of over 800 people, 88% of students indicated the climate crisis informs their decisions at least some of the time. In addition, 75% indicated they believe their food choices impact the environment and 76% said reducing their carbon footprint is important to them. Launching during Earth Week, the first phase of this project will feature an A-E carbon rating for all menu items at Hampshire Dining Commons on the menu identifiers, online and on the UMass Dining App. Determining the carbon footprint of a dish is a multi-faceted process that incorporates things like water consumption as well as storage and transport. To create a clear,concise way to communicate thesevalues fortheir customers, UMass Dining is working withMy Emissions, a leading provider of food carbon labelling. My Emissions’ standardized process makes it easy to calculate the carbon footprint from a recipe and demonstrates the impact of a customer’s food choices using a rating scale.Factoring in all the contributing elements, My Emissions has developed an A-E rating scale based on the carbon intensity (“A” signals Low impact and “E” signals Very High).

 

Big Y Donates $100,000 to Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Relief

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y World Class Markets added to the collected donations from customers and employees from March 17 to March 30 through their traditional registers, online and myExpress check out for Ukraine Humanitarian Relief. Community and employee donations along with additional support from Big Y resulted in a donation of $100,000, which will be donated to the global Red Cross network response to provide humanitarian relief to people affected by the crisis in Ukraine. As the conflict continues, the Red Cross continues to help families impacted by this devastating conflict. International Red Cross teams are currently on the ground in the region distributing food, delivering medicine and medical supplies, assisting with evacuations, and providing shelter.

 

JGS Lifecare Welcomes Northeast Rehab Associates

LONGMEADOW — JGS Lifecare, a not-for-profit healthcare system serving seniors and their families in Western Mass. for more than 110 years, announced the addition of Northeast Rehab Associates Inc. to services offered at its Longmeadow campus. Northeast Rehab, a specialized sub-acute rehab service operated by Registered Physical Therapist Cherie Stack for the past 25 years, most of those years spent in Agawam, will operate out of The Sosin Center for Rehabilitation, located at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home at 770 Converse Street in Longmeadow. “JGS Lifecare, an affiliate of Legacy Lifecare since 2018, is always seeking ways to enhance the services we offer to our residents, families and the local community,” said Mary-Anne Schelb, director of Business Development for Legacy Lifecare’s Western Mass. market. “We have a full continuum of eldercare services located on 23 acres on Converse Street that the community knows well and has confidence in. The addition of Northeast Rehab to our family of services is a mutually enhancing partnership that will benefit not only our residents, but their families as well as our local community.” Northeast Rehab has specialized in orthopedic rehab for more than two decades. Over the past five years, care has expanded to include cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. Stack’s longtime staff will come with her, offering continuity of care and a seamless recovery for all of their patients. “We’re very excited to welcome Northeast Rehab Associates Inc. to our campus of care,” said Rob Whitten, LHNA, administrator of the Leavitt Family Jewish Home at JGS Lifecare. “It was clear from the start that we share a similar commitment to providing the highest quality of rehab services, and that our environment and how we deliver care is a great match.

40 Under 40 Class of 2022

Vice President of Marketing, Country Bank; Age 32

For Justin Roberts, being vice president of Marketing at Country Bank is all about giving back to the community.

“It all goes back to my interest that I’ve always had in giving back and making sure that individuals and organizations continue to succeed, especially the ones that have important missions that support the communities and the individuals that live in them and that need help,” he told BusinessWest.

Roberts’ desire to support individuals who need help was the driving force behind Suit Up Springfield, a nonprofit he founded eight years ago that provides professional attire in the form of suits, shirts, and ties to individuals graduating from high school or college, and individuals being released from incarceration who need assistance with their professional development. The program has provided attire to thousands of young men in the Greater Springfield area.

Additionally, Roberts has developed a partnership with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, providing professional attire to all inmates in the post-incarceration program. He’s even an honorary Hampden County deputy sheriff.

Beyond Suit Up Springfield, Roberts’ role at Country Bank has allowed him to be active with countless organizations.

“We do so much good and give back so much time, talent, and treasure to the community, which has always really been such an important part of my mission, my personal mission statement,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate to both personally and professionally give back in so many ways, whether it’s sitting and serving on some boards or volunteering for some organizations like Habitat for Humanity or Square One, or my board involvement at AIC, where I did my undergrad and MBA work. It just all ties back to the opportunities that I have to continue to give back and support the communities and the individuals that make them up.”

Currently, Roberts is vice president of the Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity board. He’s been involved with building 10 homes in the past five years for families in need of good, affordable housing in Western Mass. He was instrumental in raising more than $150,000 to build Tommy’s House, a house built in memory of Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, who died as a result of an act of domestic terrorism at the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center in Tennessee in 2015.

Outside of his work and volunteering, Roberts loves to spend time with his family, his partner, Heather, and their two daughters, Maxie and Charlie. He loves playing golf, cooking, and eating good food.

 

— Elizabeth Sears

Daily News

 

FLORENCE — For 20 years, Florence Bank has awarded grants of up to $5,000 each to dozens of nonprofits chosen by its customers, and at its annual gathering this year, it will once again offer up $100,000 to organizations that support young and old in the community. 

At its 20th Annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants gala, to be staged May 19 at 5 p.m. at Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, the bank will offer awards to 45 nonprofits and celebrate a total of $1.4 million in community giving through this one channel. 

Organizations like Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield and the Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Holyoke will receive awards for the first time this year thanks to customer voting. 

“We are so grateful,” said Stacey Perlmutter, director of development at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield. “All care and services at Shriners Hospitals for Children are provided regardless of a family’s ability to pay. This grant money will help us to continue to provide life-changing pediatric specialty care to families throughout Western Massachusetts and beyond.” 

Likewise, Gerry O’Connor Page, executive director of Therapeutic Equestrian Center (TEC) in Holyoke feels grateful for an assist that will help provide therapeutic horseback riding to individuals with physical, emotional or psychological disabilities. 

“We will use the money to enable us to keep prices down,” she said. “It helps make the service accessible.” 

In the past, the bank has granted funds to some Hampden County-based nonprofits, such as Dakin Humane Society, which typically is the top vote-getter each year. This year, as Florence Bank develops its engagement in the southern county, the awards to organizations based there are increasing. 

“We have branches now in West Springfield, Springfield and Chicopee, and we very much want to be good neighbors in those communities,” said Florence Bank President and CEO Kevin Day. He noted that this year, the bank held a Zoominar event to educate Hampden County nonprofit leaders about the Customers’ Choice program. 

“We wanted to be sure they were aware of the program so they could take part and have the best chance at success,” he said. 

Florence Bank’s community grants program is an annual offering founded in 2002, and, through it, Florence Bank customers are invited to vote for their favorite local nonprofit in hopes it will receive a share of grant funding. 

Voting takes place all year long, online at www.florencebank.com/vote and in bank branches, and each customer has only one vote. To qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes. In 2021, roughly 6,700 votes were cast, making 45 nonprofits eligible for a grant. 

Over the past 20 years, Florence Bank has tallied more than 141,000 customer votes and given grants to roughly 164 different organizations. 

Organizations to receive awards this year range from police, fire, library and school groups to nonprofits that provide food, shelter or support to people living with a serious illness or disability. Leaders of these nonprofits will learn the amount of their award at the May event. 

In addition to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield, the Therapeutic Equestrian Center and Dakin, the following organizations received enough votes to qualify for a grant and will receive an award at the celebration: Amherst Neighbors, Amherst Survival Center, Belchertown Animal Relief Committee Inc. (BARC), Belchertown K-9, Cancer Connection, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Cooley Dickinson Hospital VNA & Hospice, Easthampton Community Center, Easthampton Elementary Schools PTO, Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Friends of Forbes Library, Friends of Lilly Library, Friends of M.N. Spear Memorial Library, Friends of Northampton Legion Baseball, Friends of the Williamsburg Library, Goshen Firefighters Assoc., Grow Food Northampton, Granby Senior Center, Habitat for Humanity Pioneer Valley, Historic Northampton, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, It Takes a Village, J.F.K. Middle School, Kestrel Land Trust, Leeds Elementary School PTO, Ludlow Boys & Girls Club, Manna Community Kitchen, Northampton Community Music Center, Northampton High School PTO, Northampton Neighbors, Northampton Survival Center, Our Lady of the Hills Parish, Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, Revitalize CDC, Riverside Industries, R.K. Finn Ryan Road School, Safe Passage, Smith Vocational High School PTO, The Parish Cupboard, Whole Children, and Williamsburg Firefighters Association. 

People on the Move

Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank, announced eight recent staff promotions.

Mary McGovern

Mary McGovern

Mary McGovern was promoted to executive vice president, chief financial and operating officer. She joined Country Bank in 2011 as the executive vice president and chief financial officer. She oversees the bank’s finance, operations, electronic delivery, information technology, retail banking, retail lending, facilities, and security. She holds an MBA in accounting and finance from Babson College and recently served on the board of the Baystate Health Foundation.

Miriam Siegel

Miriam Siegel

Miriam Siegel was promoted to first senior vice president, chief Culture and Development officer. She will continue to lead the human-resources and learning and development functions, and serves as the bank’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer. Joining Country Bank in 2018, she brought 26 years of professional experience as the senior vice president of Human Resources for United Bank. She serves on the board of Behavioral Health Network, the Baystate Wing Hospital board, and the Wilbraham Personnel Advisory Board.

Jennifer Bujnevicie

Jennifer Bujnevicie

Laura Dennis

Laura Dennis

Jennifer Bujnevicie and Laura Dennis, of the Retail Banking division, were promoted to vice presidents. Collectively, they contribute 36 years of experience at Country Bank; each began her professional banking career as a teller and has grown within the organization to oversee the Retail Banking division. Together, they bring a wealth of experience to the banking centers and are focused on providing the bank’s customers with exceptional customer service throughout its network. Both hold associate degrees in business administration and management from the New England College of Business and have attended the New England School for Financial Studies.

Alyson Weeks

Alyson Weeks

Alyson Weeks was promoted to vice president of Human Resources and Professional Development. She has been with Country Bank for 13 years, starting as a teller and working in various other roles in the Retail Banking division, including teller supervisor, Branch Operations manager, and Retail Operations manager, before joining the Human Resources team six years ago. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Worcester State University and a master’s degree in education from American International College.

Erin Skoczylas

Erin Skoczylas, assistant controller, was promoted to assistant vice president, assistant controller. She began her career at Country Bank 25 years ago as a part-time Operations clerk. Before transitioning to Accounting in 2008, she worked in various positions throughout the Operations department. She holds an associate degree in business administration from Springfield Technical Community College and a bachelor of business administration degree from Western New England University. She is also a 2017 graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies.

Tracey Wrzesien

Tracey Wrzesien of Retail Banking, Wilbraham Banking Center was promoted to assistant vice president. She has been with Country Bank for 27 years and previously served as a Retail Banking officer. She is the vice president of the Wilbraham-Hampden Rotary Club and will take over as president in July. She is a graduate of the New England College of Business and holds an associate degree in science and business administration with a concentration in finance and is also a graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies.

Dianna Lussier

Dianna Lussier

Dianna Lussier has been promoted to assistant vice president of Risk Management. She has been with Country Bank for 18 years and previously served as the Risk Management officer. During her tenure with Country Bank, she has worked in various roles, including accounting representative and financial-reporting analyst. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance and accounting from Worcester State College and has attended the New England School for Financial Studies. She is currently attending the Graduate School of Banking and Wharton Leadership Program. She was also the recipient of the President’s Platinum Award in 2021.

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Springfield Museums announced that Jenny Powers has been named director of the Springfield Science Museum. A science educator for 20 years and the family engagement coordinator for the Springfield Museums for six years, Powers is ready to take her knowledge of playful learning to the Science Museum in the form of interactive, immersive additions to the museum. She also takes inspiration from the last woman who directed the Science Museum, Grace Pettis Johnson, who led the way from 1910 to 1949. Powers’ dynamic programing has filled the Museums on family-engagement days with exciting features such as bubble parties, high-fives with the Cat in the Hat, and Mount Crumpit derbies during Grinchmas. She has also been a regular guest on WWLP’s Mass Appeal, sharing hands-on science that families could explore together at home.

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Alissa Fuller

Alissa Fuller

Florence Bank is announced that Alissa Fuller joined the bank as assistant vice president, Compliance and CRA manager. She has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking, consumer lending, and compliance. Prior to joining Florence Bank, she was a compliance specialist at a local community bank. Her duties included ensuring that the organization’s operations complied with relevant laws, regulations, and policies. In her new role at Florence Bank, Fuller’s primary responsibilities will include the oversight of programs to ensure compliance with all federal and state laws that govern the bank’s operations. In addition, she will play a vital role in the encouragement and development of the bank’s Community Reinvestment efforts. She graduated from the New England College of Business and Finance in 2016 with an associate degree in business administration with a concentration in management.

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Bulkley Richardson recently welcomed Jeffrey Roberts to the firm as counsel in the Trusts & Estates and Business practices. Roberts has handled many sophisticated estate-planning matters and complex business transactions throughout his career. His practice will continue to focus on estate planning, trusts and estates, taxation, and estate administration, as well as corporate work and business transactions primarily for closely held companies. He also has extensive experience with advice to family-owned companies with respect to business-succession planning and representation of the owner with respect to the sale of a closely held business. Roberts has practiced law at Robinson Donovan P.C. since graduating from Georgetown Law in 1974 and served as the firm’s managing partner for many of those years.

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Chris McMasters

Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. announced the promotion of Chris McMasters to the role of vice president. He is an accredited adviser in insurance and has been with Phillips Insurance for more than eight years. He is a graduate of Springfield College. “Chris has developed a strong clientele within the construction, hospitality, and manufacturing industries throughout New England,” said Joseph Phillips, president of Phillips Insurance. “His strong work ethic and creativity in developing risk-management strategies has set him apart.”

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The Hampshire, Franklin & Hampden Agricultural Society, the nonprofit organization that manages Northampton’s Three County Fair and fairgrounds, has elected two new members to its board of directors, Jessica Dizek of Mapleline Farm in Hadley and Thomas Giles, former owner of Hadley Garden Center. Dizek and Giles join the society’s board, consisting of 21 other members who make up the fair’s agricultural leadership. Dizek is the fifth generation on her family’s farm. Mapleline Farm milks about 125 Jerseys and bottles their milk on the farm premises, while running a distribution business, wholesaling fluid milk products to the local area and Boston market. Prior to her taking over operating the farm full-time in 2018, Dizek held full-time employment off the farm for 20 years, most recently at UMass Amherst. She started at the university working for cooperative extension programs and eventually working in alumni major gifts. During this time, she also earned her MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. She currently serves as treasurer for the New England Jersey Breeders Assoc. and as a director for the Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board, and is a member of the Massachusetts Dairy Advisory Board for the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center. Giles is a graduate of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, having majored in landscape operations, and first worked for the Hadley Garden Center in the spring of 1973. In January 1988, Giles and his wife, Janine, purchased the center and ran it for 33 years until selling it to Gardeners Supply Co. of Vermont in January 2020. Giles is an active member of the First Congregational Church of Hadley and is on the board of directors for Easthampton Savings Bank and has also served on the horticulture/forestry advisory committee at Smith Vocational High School.

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Heather Gawron

Annie Celdran

Annie Celdran

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) announced it has hired Development and Grants Associate Heather Gawron and Audience Development Manager Annie Celdran. Gawron has focused the past 10 years of her career on fundraising for community nonprofits in Western Mass. Most recently, she served as senior director of Development at New England Public Media (NEPM), where she focused on overseeing the nonprofit media organization’s fundraising efforts, including grants, on-air fundraising campaigns, and its planned and major giving programs, contributing to the organization’s overall budget of $10 million. Prior to NEPM, Gawron spent years at American International College as executive director of Institutional Advancement. During her tenure at AIC, Gawron was an engine for growth, strengthening and expanding the college’s alumni-engagement program on a national scale. Her stewardship work with alumni yielded remarkable growth in engagement of the alumni base and landed one of the largest-ever single donations made to AIC. She also worked closely in supporting the grant director to secure Title III funding and developed scholarship funds to help AIC students continue their education. Before AIC, Gawron worked for Alstom University, headquartered in Paris, and helped launch five international corporate university campuses across Europe and Asia. Prior to joining SSO, Celdran most recently worked for New England Public Media as the New Voices Campaign manager. She communicated regularly with donors, visitors, and volunteers and worked closely with the president, chief operating officer, and Marketing and Development personnel on ambitious fundraising campaigns. A Western Mass. native, Celdran spent some of her career in San Francisco, utilizing her client-services skills at Hanson Bridgett, LLP, a Bay Area law firm with a reputation for community engagement. At the firm, she managed the Client Concierge and Office Services departments, also bringing her creativity to various fundraising campaigns such as the firm’s annual Food From the Bar campaign in support of the SF-Marin Food Bank.

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Beth Cohen, professor in Western New England University (WNE) School of Law and former WNE Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, has been named interim dean of the School of Law by Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Maria Toyoda. Cohen will provide interim leadership following the departure of current Dean Sudha Setty, who will begin her new role as dean of the City University of New York School of Law on July 1. A School of Law professor since 1990, Cohen has also served as director of the Legal Research and Writing Program since 1999. She was the associate dean for Academic Affairs from 2009 to 2020 and the director of the Academic Support Program from 1994 to 2008. She teaches Lawyering Skills, Externship Seminar, Professional Responsibility, and Mindfulness in Law Practice, and has written a number of articles in the areas of legal education, legal writing, civic education, and name-change law. Cohen graduated cum laude from Suffolk University Law School and earned a diploma in Advanced International Legal Studies in Salzburg, Austria, from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge Law School. She also co-founded and co-directed the popular civic-education Mini-Law School Program at WNE. A search committee will be appointed to conduct a national search for a new School of Law dean. Cohen will hold her position until a new dean is appointed.

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Carolyn Martinez

Carolyn Martinez

Shannon Mumblo, executive director of Christina’s House, announced that Carolyn Martinez has joined the organization as program manager. In her new role, Martinez will work closely with Christina’s House human-services professionals and direct service staff to ensure that mothers and their children who were homeless or near-homeless are developing vital life skills and are steadily working through the program with the goal of transitioning to stable housing and self-sufficiency. Martinez brings first-hand experience to Christina’s House as a graduate of the program. She has worked in community healthcare settings for the past several years and has completed certificate programs in child behavioral health and community health. She is currently a student at Cambridge College working toward a bachelor’s degree in human services.

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Milford Federal Bank announced that Jeremy Leap has joined the Bank as senior vice president, Commercial Lending. He will lead a growing team of commercial bankers, joining Anna Case, associate vice president, Commercial Credit officer, and Operations manager; Anita Carroll, Commercial Portfolio manager; and Stephanie Saraidarian, Commercial Credit representative. Leap has 16 years of experience as a commercial lender, including in the Western Mass. region at Country Bank in Ware and People’s United Bank in Springfield, and most recently at Savers Bank in Southbridge. He is involved with the United Way and Habitat for Humanity.

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