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SPRINGFIELD — Parents will discuss what adults can do to protect their children from child sexual abuse at a series of ‘parent cafés’ titled “Keeping Privates Private” to be held in Springfield and Holyoke throughout April.

The events, sponsored by the Prevention Collaboration — a community-based group organized out of the Family Advocacy Center at Baystate Children’s Hospital — are being held in conjunction with Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The Prevention Collaboration is dedicated to helping the community take action to prevent child sexual abuse. Parent cafés will be held on:

• Thursday, April 7: Head Start, 30 Madison Ave., Springfield, 5:30 to 7 p.m.;

• Wednesday, April 20: Square One, 1095 Main St., Springfield, 5 to 6:30 p.m.; and

• Thursday, April 28, HCS Head Start, 206 Maple St., Holyoke, 5:30 to 7 p.m.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four girls and one in six boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before they turn 18. Sexual abuse does not discriminate; children and adolescents of all races, cultures, and backgrounds are equally susceptible to sexual abuse.

Those attending the events will receive a children’s book, My Body Belongs to Me, then guided through a discussion of parenting choices help prevent child sexual abuse in their families.

The Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime offers the following strategies on how to respond if a child reports he or she has been abused:

• Stay calm.

• Listen to the child’s words and expressed emotions. Believe the child and stress that his or her safety is important.

• Don’t press the child for more information.

• Reassure the child that he or she has done nothing wrong. Abuse is never a child’s fault.

• Remember that the people who harm children are often people whom children love.

• Avoid negative comments. Encourage the child, saying that he or she did the right thing by telling and that it was brave to tell.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Dakin Humane Society has announced the formation of Pat’s Cats Feline Success Fund to provide necessities and upgrades for several aspects of cat and kitten care at Dakin’s two locations in Leverett and Springfield.

The fund is named for the late Patricia Ford Yurkunas, former director of development and marketing at Dakin Humane Society. Yurkunas, who passed away in March 2015, had provided a bequest for Dakin which has been used to establish the fund. Yurkunas was especially fond of the cats and kittens who arrived at Dakin and spent considerable time caring for them. She adopted several during her seven years at the nonprofit organization.

“Pat’s generosity enabled us to launch this important fund, and we are asking the public to join in to help these cats and kittens,” said Nancy Creed, president of Dakin’s board of directors. “Your contributions will bring many wonderful essentials and enhancements to the lives of these felines as they await a new home, including nebulizers for sick kittens in Nick’s Nursery, which is our kitten-care ward, as well as life-saving medical treatments, specialized behavioral support, spay/neuter surgery for community cats and mothers with litters, enrichment toys, climbing surfaces, and more. You’ll also help with much-needed renovations to our cat-housing areas. The cost of providing these life-saving services is more than $110,000, so we hope you will help make them a reality for these homeless cats. Every donation counts!”

Donations can be accepted online at www.dakinhumane.org/support. Whether choosing to make a one-time gift or a monthly contribution, donors may select Pat’s Cats as a designation option. Those wishing to send a check may write ‘Pat’s Cats’ on the memo line to ensure their gift will be directed to the fund. Donations may be mailed to Dakin Humane Society, P.O. Box 6307, Springfield, MA 01101.

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced that Allan Costello has been promoted to executive vice president, home lending and will join the bank’s executive team.

Costello has more than 30 years of experience in the banking industry with expertise in risk management, compliance, accounting, internal audit, and operations. He will lead the sales and operations functions of the home lending division, including loan origination, underwriting, compliance, processing, and servicing.

Costello joined Berkshire Bank in 2011 and held the position of senior vice president, audit before transitioning to the home lending division. Prior to Berkshire Bank, his career was focused in the financial field, including director at Accume Partners, divisional vice president of bank protection at Charter One Bank, and chief financial officer at Rhinebeck Savings Bank. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Siena College and completed the American Bankers Assoc. three-year graduate banking program. His certifications include certified internal auditor and certified fraud examiner.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — The Academy of Music Theatre will host a “125 Years of Memories” benefit on Thursday, April 21st at 6:30 p.m. in the theater.

In the late 19th century, Edward H.R. Lyman, a philanthropist and Northampton native, had a vision for a new venue for culture and theater in his hometown. On May 23, 1891, the 800-seat Academy of Music Theatre opened its doors to the public for the first time. One year later, Lyman deeded the Academy to the citizens of Northampton, making it the first municipally owned theater in the nation.

The theater quickly became a favorite stop on tours of leading troupes and big-name performers: legendary French actress Sarah Bernhardt, film star Mae West, and illusionist Harry Houdini all performed at the Academy in the early 20th century. Today, the 800-seat Academy of Music has been renovated and reclaimed as a venue for live theater, as well as dance, film, music, and performing-arts education.

The “125 Years of Memories” benefit will begin with a cash bar reception in the lobby, where guests will mingle and enjoy hors d’oeuvres, craft beer, and wine. In addition, silent-auction items donated by local businesses and artists will be on display. At 6:30 p.m., guests will move into the theater for a brief program, paying tribute to the Academy through the decades. Following the production, attendees will be invited onstage for the party, with musical accompaniment by jazz pianist Jerry Noble, appetizers from River Valley Market, craft beer, and wine provided by Black Birch Vineyard.

Tickets for the event are $50, and can be purchased online at www.aomtheatre.com. For those who prefer to pay by check, tickets are available at the Academy of Music Theatre box office, Tuesday through Friday, from 3 to 6 p.m.

Any questions can be directed to Development Coordinator Kathryn Slater at (413) 584-9032, ext. 101, or [email protected].

Daily News

FARMINGTON — Farmington Bank announced the fifth annual Farmington Bank Community Concert Series, featuring 20 free performances by Simply Swing, a popular, 10-piece swing orchestra based in Connecticut.

“We’re proud to support communities in Greater Hartford and Western Massachusetts by continuing to sponsor free concerts throughout the spring and summer months,” said John Patrick Jr., chairman, president, and CEO of Farmington Bank. “These fun-filled concerts provide wonderful opportunities for families, friends, and neighbors to enjoy time together in their own communities.”

This year’s expanded series includes performances at Pleasant View Senior Center in East Longmeadow on Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m.; the Common in West Springfield on Monday, July 4 at 2 p.m.; plus 18 performances in Connecticut.

Simply Swing specializes in the music of Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie; vocalists Ella Fitzgerald, Natalie Cole, and Diana Krall; and high-energy swing dance favorites. In 2013, the group released its Dancing to Simply Swing CD, featuring music composed for swing and ballroom dancers by Joe LaRosa, the group’s musical director and drummer.

“Our goal is to engage and entertain audiences throughout the region,” said Vivian LaRosa, Simply Swing’s featured vocalist. “We love seeing people swaying in their lawn chairs, singing along, and getting up to dance.”

For a complete listing of dates, times, and locations, visit www.farmingtonbankct.com/communityactivity and click on ‘Community Concert Series.’

Daily News

BOSTON — Unemployment rates went down in all 24 labor market areas in Massachusetts during the month of February, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported. The rates were also down in all areas compared to February 2015.

Six areas added jobs over the month, with gains in the Springfield, Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Worcester, Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, and Peabody-Salem-Beverly areas.

From February 2015 to February 2016, fourteen areas added jobs, with the largest percentage gains in the Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, Haverhill-Newport-Amesbury, and Barnstable areas. The Lynn-Saugus-Marblehead area recorded a loss.

Last week, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 4.5% for the month of February. The unemployment rate is down 0.6% over the year. The statewide seasonally adjusted jobs estimate showed a 13,300 job gain in February and an over-the-year gain of 67,100 jobs.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley reported that single-family home sales in February were up 30.3% compared to the same time last year. The median price dropped 6.9% from $186,750 to $172,000.

While inventory of homes for sale dropped 14.7% in February, new listings coming on the market rose 23.4% in February.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums’ popular Museums à la Carte lectures continue throughout April on Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. in the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts.

Admission is $4 ($2 for members of the Springfield Museums). Visitors are invited to bring a bag lunch; cookies and coffee are provided. For more information about Museums à la Carte, call (413) 263-6800, ext. 488. This month’s lectures are:

• April 7: “The English Garden: Perfection on Earth.” Curt DiCamillo, historian, will discuss the development of the English landscape tradition and demonstrate why the English garden has often been called Britain’s single most important contribution to world culture.

• April 14: “All Over England.” Amy Dane, global traveler, lecturer, and photographer, highlights the amazing gardens, moody British landscapes, Roman and Medieval ruins and castles, university towns, and charming villages she witnessed in her recent visit.

• April 21: No lecture scheduled.

• April 28: “All About Emus, and Why Would a Museum Hatch Their Eggs?” Elizabeth Thwing, nonfiction writer for children, traces the zigzag historical trail that connects the odd emu with its meat-eating dinosaur ancestors and the Science Museum’s egg-incubator project.

As part of the Museums’ members-only Continuing Conversations series, museum docent Jerre Hoffman will lead a guided gallery discussion at the Wood Museum of Springfield History following the April 14 lecture, and docents Dennis and Nancy Swartwout will lead a post-lecture gallery discussion on April 28 at the Springfield Science Museum.

Daily News

State Sen. James Welch will address the Springfield Rotary Club’s luncheon meeting on Friday, April 1. His topic will be the opioid crisis and marijuana-legalization issues that face the Commonwealth.

Welch was elected to the Senate in 2010, representing a district that includes West Springfield, Springfield, and Chicopee. He currently serves as Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, and is a member of the joint committees on Public Safety and Homeland Security, Election Laws, and Post Audit & Oversight.

The Springfield Rotary Club meets every Friday at 12:15 p.m. in the MassMutual Room at the Basketball Hall of Fame, West Columbus Avenue, Springfield. The April 1 luncheon is $18 per person and is open to the public.
For more information on the Springfield Rotary or becoming a member, contact Mike Healy, membership chair, at (413) 267-1217 or visit www.springfieldmarotary.org.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — “Performance management is the foundation of performance excellence,” said Janice Mazzallo, executive vice president and chief human resource officer at PeoplesBank. “Unfortunately, the best-laid management systems often go awry due to lack of communication.”

Mazzallo will help area business leaders overcome performance-related communication hurdles at a free seminar titled “Managing Employee Performance” on April 14 from 7:45 to 9:30 a.m. at the PeoplesBank executive office, 330 Whitney Ave., Holyoke. She will address how to establish SMART goals, provide counseling documentation, and develop an effective performance-improvement plan (PIP). “Most importantly,” she said, “should the PIP be unsuccessful, we’ll discuss the necessary steps to take prior to terminating an employee for poor performance.”

The event — part of an ongoing business best-practices seminar series offered by PeoplesBank — is open to the public; however, registration is required, and attendance is limited. To register, visit bit.ly/PBPerformance.

Mazzallo has more than 30 years of human-resource-management experience and joined PeoplesBank in 2005. She is a graduate of America’s Community Bankers National School of Banking at Fairfield University and holds a master’s degree from Cambridge College. She serves on the board for the Stonier ABA Graduate School of Banking Advisory and the Northampton Survival Center. She is also an active member of the Northeast Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management and a volunteer reader for Link to Libraries.