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Difference Makers

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2019 Difference Makers
Thursday, March 28, 2019
5 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
The Log Cabin, Holyoke

This program, initiated in 2009, is a celebration of individuals, groups, organizations, and families that are positively impacting the Pioneer Valley and are, as the name suggests, making a difference in this region. As previous classes have shown, there are many ways to do this: through work within the community on one or many initiatives to improve quality of life; through success in business, public service, or education; through contributions that inspire others to get involved; through imaginative efforts to help solve one or more societal issues; or through a combination of the above.

Our 2019 Difference Makers will be announced in the Feb. 4, 2019 issue of BusinessWest

Tickets are $75 per person/$750 for a table of 10.

Purchase Tickets Below:

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Sponsored by

40 Under 40

40under40SMALLBusinessWest is now accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2019, a celebration of young business and civic leaders in the Western Mass., and an undertaking in which our readership will play a pivotal role. Indeed, the process of selecting this region’s 40 Under Forty begins with nominations. And we urge you be thorough, because 40 Under Forty is a nomination-driven process; the background material submitted on a given individual is the primary source of information to be weighed by the judges who will score the candidates.

Please take a few minutes and help us identify the region’s 40 Under Forty. For more information about 40 under Forty >>Go Here

Save the Date

The selected individuals will be profiled in the April 15th edition of BusinessWest and celebrated at the annual 40 Under Forty Gala on June 20, 2019.
For more information call (413) 781-8600

About the nomination form:

• Candidates should have achieved professional success and actively volunteer for civic and/or non-profit organizations.
• Only nominations submitted to BusinessWest on
this form will be considered.
• Fill out the nomination form completely.
• Photocopies are acceptable.
• Supporting information (i.e. résumé) may be sent to [email protected] Please include nominee’s name in subject line.
Deadline is February 15, 2019. No exceptions.
• Nominees must be under 40 as of April 1, 2019

Fill out the nomination form completely.
  • As of March 1
  • (job responsibilities, special projects, business-related affiliations)
  • (board involvement in community, state, or national organization, including trade associations)
  • (spouse, children if applicable)
  • Nominated by (your information):

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Seven individuals and one team will be inducted into the Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame’s class of 2019. They include Justine Siegal, Dana LeVangie, Karl Oliveira, Mike Laga, Jim Jachym, Mark Belanger, Candy Cummings, and the 2018 Pittsfield Little League team.

The class will be inducted at the Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, presented by Westfield Bank, on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. at the La Quinta Inn and Suites Ballroom, 100 Congress St., Springfield.

The keynote speaker for the evening’s ceremonies will be Siegal, president and founder of Baseball for All, a nonprofit organization that empowers women to play, coach, and lead in baseball. Siegal became the first female coach of a Major League Baseball team in 2015, when the Oakland Athletics invited her to be a guest instructor for two weeks in the instructional league in Arizona.

This year’s class is the sixth since the inaugural banquet in 2014. Since its inception, 35 individuals and four teams who have represented and served the baseball community of Western Mass. have been honored.

Tickets for the banquet are $50, or $450 for a table of 10. Dinner and dessert are included. To purchase tickets, call (413) 533-1100 or visit valley-blue-sox.ticketleap.com/2019-hof.

Daily News

AGAWAM — Starting Jan. 1, farmers in Western Mass. are invited to apply for Local Farmer Awards up to $2,500 toward equipment and infrastructure projects to help them complete in the marketplace.

The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation (HGCF), in partnership with Big Y and with the support of other funders, is entering the fifth year of the awards program, which has helped more than 125 farmers carry out a total of 188 projects. 

“Big Y has been partnering with and supporting local farmers since we began over 80 years ago,” said Big Y president and CEO Charles D’Amour. “Our partnership with the Grinspoon Foundation provides one more way we help the local growers to thrive in our community.”

Some examples of how the awards have been used include a high-efficiency vegetable washer, a walk-in cooler aging room, an egg washer, high tunnel irrigation, electric fencing, and a milkplan bulk tank. Philanthropist and project founder Harold Grinspoon noted that “farmers don’t typically ask for help. They are genuinely appreciative of these awards and use the money in creative ways for projects to help their businesses.” 

To be eligible, farms must have gross sales of $10,000 or above and either be a member of Berkshire Grow or Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) or reside in one the four Western Mass. counties. Berkshire Grown and CISA share their passion for local farms by providing ongoing guidance and help with promotion of the of the Local Farmer Awards.

 The deadline for applying is Thursday, Jan. 31. Interested applicants are encouraged to visit www.farmerawards.org for more information.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — The Munich Haus will host its signature Game Feast events in the first quarter of 2019. The Game Feast is a buffet-style celebration that takes place in the upstairs banquet hall at the Munich Haus. The event will feature carving stations for venison, bison, elk, and mountain goat, as well as a buffet featuring kangaroo, alligator, and all of the Munich Haus favorites.

Game Feasts will be held on the following Saturdays at 6 p.m.: Jan. 19, Feb. 23, March 23, and April 27.

“We are happy to announce new Game Feast dates for our patrons,” said Patrick Gottschlicht, owner of the Munich Haus. “We have been selling them out lately and want to make sure everyone gets a chance to experience one. This is probably the most unique assortment of game at an event in the Valley.”

Tickets are $55 per person and can be purchased on the Munich Haus website or by calling (413) 594-8788.

Daily News

EASTHAMPTON — The Western Massachusetts chapter of Business Among Moms will host its January event on Tuesday, Jan. 8 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at 396 Main St., Easthampton.

The exercise mindset of ‘no excuses’ tends to have the opposite effect on women. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy set in, creating obstacles for reaching goals, which hinders their success both personally and in business.

As a personal trainer, business owner, and mother of two, Michelle Crean knows the demands on mothers and how important it is when setting goals — whether it be for health, family, or business — to understand how to not let setbacks derail one’s momentum. Crean will talk about how reframing your exercise mindset can help shape your vision for yourself and your business in the new year.

To register, click here.

Daily News

SOUTH DEERFIELD — TommyCar Auto Group announced its ownership of the Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley dealership, formerly Pioneer Valley Volvo.

“This is a brand that we’ve been looking at for a long time because it fits in well with the other manufacturers we have in the group, plus it’s a great location, and it’s a perfect size for us,” said Carla Cosenzi, president of TommyCar Auto Group. “We’re really attracted to Volvo and everything it stands for in terms of luxury and convenience it provides to customers, the value of the brand, and the safety of the vehicle.”

She added that Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley will bring amenities that all TommyCar Auto Group dealerships offer, including Click.Drive.Buy, a new way to buy a car online; TommyCard Rewards, through which customers can earn 15% back of every dollar they spend; and efforts to support the local community; the company has contributed more than $4 million to local organizations, schools, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

“Our focus moving forward is really going to be on customer satisfaction and convenience,” Cosenzi said.

Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley will commemorate the new ownership with an “Eat.Meet. Greet” event on Wednesday, Jan. 16 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Customers can get an early look at the long-awaited 2019 Volvo S60, hors d’ouevres from Seth Mias Catering, cocktails from Hitchcock Brewing, and giveaways. For more information on the event, visit www.volvocarspioneervalley.com.

Daily News

EASTHAMPTON — Smith Brothers Insurance sponsored 25 children in need this holiday season and raised $5,000 for the 2018 Holiday Bear Project. 

For 12 straight years, Smith Brothers’ team members donated money and time for this annual gift-giving program for needy public-school children. Team members individually sponsored a child, donated money, and coordinated company fundraising activities. Hundreds of gifts were purchased and wrapped for students ranging in age from 5 to 17.

More than 10,000 public-school students have benefited from the holiday program since the Holiday Bear Project began in 1998.

“All of us at Smith Brothers worked together as a group of passionate helpers to raise money, give of our time, have fun helping kids, and give back to our community. Helping others is our big purpose, throughout the year and especially during the holiday season,” said Joe Smith, president and CEO of Smith Brothers.

The Smith Brothers team also conducted a toy drive for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and a food collection for a local food bank.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the eligible candidates for the class of 2019, including the addition of a new direct-elect category for women veterans. Click here for the full list of eligible nominees.

The women veterans direct-elect committee aims to recognize the historical greats of the women’s game who may be overshadowed by those in the contemporary women’s game, such as nominees from the WNBA or the present-day college game. Those considered must be retired from the game for 35 years or more and may be a player, coach, contributor, or team. Direct-elect committees were developed by the hall’s board of governors to ensure the election process is fair and equitable to all constituencies. Longstanding direct-elect categories still in consideration include early African-American pioneers, international, contributors, and men veterans.

A press conference announcing the finalists from the North American and women’s committee for the class of 2019 will be held during NBA All-Star Weekend, which is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 15 in Charlotte, N.C. The entire class of 2019, including those selected by the direct-elect committees, will be unveiled during the NCAA Final Four in Minneapolis. Enshrinement festivities will take place in Springfield on Sept. 5-7.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — In Puerto Rico, before Hurricane Maria forced thousands to flee the devastated island, Maria Crespo Santos had been working as a medical technician in a pathology laboratory and blood bank. 

“I like to work with people,” she said recently. “I like to work in the medical field.”

The storm, however, had caused too much damage, and, like so many others, she left.

“It was horrible,” she said. “I don’t live in Puerto Rico; I survive in Puerto Rico.”

Crespo Santos, 58, moved to Western Mass. about a year ago. She now lives with her sister in Chicopee and works in retail, but thanks to a Holyoke Community College ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) program for Puerto Rican evacuees, she is on the road back to a career in the medical field. 

She was one of more than two dozen students recognized for completing the five-month ESOL program. With her improved English skills, Crespo Santos has already been accepted into a medical assistant training program at HCC that begins in February.

“It’s a pleasure and an honor to be part of this group,” she said at a Dec. 20 celebration that included a feast of traditional Puerto Rican food. “The teachers and advisers have a commitment to us, and I don’t quit. I have to follow my dreams. Follow my goals. I have challenges, but I try very hard.”

The Puerto Rican New Arrivals Program started July 23 and concluded Dec. 20 with a recognition ceremony and feast at HCC’s Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center (PAFEC) in downtown Holyoke. The HCC division of Business and Community Services offered the free ESOL program specifically for residents of Puerto Rico who left the island after Hurricane Maria and relocated to Western Mass.

Classes were held Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and funded through a National Dislocated Worker Grant administered by the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board in partnership with the MassHire Holyoke and MassHire Springfield career centers.

The program focused on much more than just English language skills, however. Students received lessons in computer literacy at the Gill Technology Center on the first floor of PAFEC, and they received job-search and résumé-development support from advisers at HCC and counselors at the MassHire career centers. 

Community integration and civic engagement was also part of the curriculum. Guest lecturers included state Rep. Aaron Vega and Holyoke mayor Alex Morse, who provided lessons on state and local government. Classes took field trips to the Holyoke Public Library, the Nuestras Raices farm, and Springfield Museums. 

The students came in with different levels of English-language skills, and they are heading in different directions. Some have found jobs; others will continue to participate in HCC’s regular, free ESOL classes; while some, like Crespo Santos, have enrolled in one of HCC’s workforce-training programs. Many have expressed an interested in continuing their education as students at HCC.

“I admire you so much for focusing on your next steps,” HCC President Christina Royal said. “Our purpose at Holyoke Community College is to serve the community, and you are part of our community. Thanks for being part of this, and as you move on, we hope you’ll think about the skills you need for the jobs you’re looking for and just know we are here to help.”