Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and the MassHire workforce system have partnered to offer no-cost training that can open the door to a career in advanced manufacturing.

Funded by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the training begins Sept. 11 at STCC. Participants will learn to operate CNC (computer numerical control) machinery in the state-of-the-art lab at Springfield Technology Park. The training, which runs through Dec. 19, is open to those who are unemployed or underemployed (working part-time or making less than $17 per hour). Classes are scheduled Mondays through Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m.

Participants must be 18 or older and have a high-school diploma, GED, or HiSET completion, among other requirements. Two-week prerequisite training is required before starting the program. For more information, including full applicant training requirements, visit stcc.io/cnc.

“This no-cost training program provides an excellent opportunity to learn the fundamentals to begin a career pathway that can lead to becoming a CNC machinist or toolmaker,” said Larry Martin, director of Labor Market Research and Business Services for the Hampden County Workforce Board.

Gladys Franco, assistant vice president for Workforce Development at STCC, added that “we are excited to partner with MassHire to help people get trained for in-demand jobs with competitive wages and benefits. The CNC training will help people get a foot in the door. Springfield-area advanced manufacturing businesses have positions available, but they often tell us they need us to help candidates learn the skills required to get hired.”

Participants will train on CNC machines used in manufacturing and also in STCC academic programs. STCC offers a two-year associate degree program in mechanical engineering technology and a one-year certificate in CNC operations.

STCC faculty will teach the classes offered at no cost this fall. Trainees will learn blueprint reading, shop math, precision-measuring tools, and how to operate CNC machinery.

“This is a terrific opportunity for people who are unemployed or underemployed because the labor pool is dry right now,” said Thomas Minor, a professor and coordinator of the MET program. “The MET program has more job opportunities than we are able to fill with our day and night students. These aren’t just jobs; they are high-paying careers with benefits and upward mobility.”

Upon completion of the 15-week training, participants must actively seek full-time employment. Participants might consider enrolling in an STCC program while working, Minor said. “Some of our students work full-time while pursuing a degree or certificate. We offer flexibility in our programs to help them succeed.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — A new date for the ninth annual Dragon Boat Festival has been set for Saturday, Oct. 14 on the Connecticut River. The event will feature dragon-boat races, food trucks, and Asian-themed entertainment from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at North Riverfront Park, 121 West St., Springfield.

The festival was originally scheduled for July 29 but postponed due to unsafe water conditions resulting from recent flooding. Admission to the festival is free for spectators.

Twenty-four teams from throughout New England are registered to participate in this year’s dragon-boat races. Community teams include Behavioral Health Network, CRRC-MA, as well as the defending champions, Springfield Pharmacy First Responders. With the new date set, registration will be reopened at www.pvriverfront.org for additional teams to sign up to race on Oct. 14.

The Springfield Dragon Boat Festival, which has been hosted by the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club (PVRC) since 2013, attracts hundreds of participants and spectators to the banks of the Connecticut River for a day of competition, festivity, and community support. The festival is an important fundraiser in support of breast-cancer survivors and community programming at the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club.

According to Ben Quick, executive director of PVRC, “we are happy to have found an alternative date for the Dragon Boat Festival, which has become a staple of our offerings on the riverfront. With the additional time, we are opening registration for teams, and a fall dragon-boat experience on the Connecticut with colleagues and friends can be spectacular. We look forward to welcoming dragon boaters and fans of this fun and exciting event.”

Hundreds of paddlers from New England participate in the festival races. A team is comprised of up to 20 paddlers who race against other teams in 200-meter races on the Connecticut River. Each race lasts about one minute, and each team races at least three times on the day of the festival. Dragon boating originated in China 2,000 years ago and today is one of the world’s fastest-growing team water sports.

The festival makes it easy for anyone to participate and spectate. Free parking is available nearby at 77 West St. or along Avocado Street and on property abutting and behind the new Starbucks store adjacent to the Riverfront Club. The festival can also be reached by the Connecticut Riverwalk Bikeway. More information can be found at www.pvriverfront.org or by calling (413) 736-1322.

Daily News

AGAWAM — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Central New England announced the recipients of the 2023 Marketplace Excellence Awards, naming Braman Termite & Pest Elimination the winner of the Western Massachusetts Award for Marketplace Excellence, Mid-sized Business.

Based in Agawam, Braman serves residential and commercial customers across Southern New England, with additional Massachusetts locations in Auburn, Hampden, Lee, and Waltham, as well as Bloomfield, Conn.

“Our success was founded in 1890 on three key principles: pride, honesty, and quality,” said Jerry Lazarus, the third-generation owner and operator of Braman Termite & Pest Elimination. “These are the ideals we live by. While any business can say this, this recognition by the BBB underscores our commitment to these values.”

The BBB award recognizes both high standards of behavior toward customers, employees, and suppliers and a history of ethical business practices and community involvement.

Braman is a member of the National Pest Management Assoc. and has earned the association’s QualityPro and GreenPro designations. Its pest-control technicians are all licensed, certified, insured, and trained to observe all relevant federal, state, and local regulations pertaining to the services they provide.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of June, Freedom Credit Union collected cash donations at its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit Griffin’s Friends, a volunteer-led group dedicated to providing relief and support to children with cancer and their families, raising a total of $1,400.

“Over the years, Griffin’s Friends has earned a special place in our hearts because of the passion its volunteers have for preserving the memory of Griffin Kelleher through generous acts of kindness,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “There is a kind of magic in honoring the spirit of a child by providing joyful experiences that impact children and families on such a personal level, and at a time when they are needed most.”

Griffin’s Friends was founded in 1994 in Springfield and is named for Griffin Kelleher, who passed away from cancer when he was 14 months old. This group is his legacy, uniquely supporting children in treatment for cancer and their families by providing small acts of joy.

Examples of the types of experiences offered by Griffin’s Friends include trips to stage performances and sporting events, in-hospital and outpatient entertainment, massage therapy, and activities such as art, computers, and games. To contribute, visit griffinsfriends.com. All funds donated go to the Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Health Foundation Inc.

Senior Planning

Distributing Tangible Personal Property Can Cause Conflict

By Hyman G. Darling, Esq.


Very often in preparing an estate plan, issues arise over the tangible personal property, also known as ‘the stuff.’ This may include cars, collectibles, the dining-room furniture, Waterford china, and basically any other item in a house that is not attached to the walls. These tangible personal property items are often dealt with separately from other assets, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, cash, etc.

Unfortunately, when the client has not provided enough detail in listing the distribution of assets, the tangible property becomes a major issue. Arguments may ensue, and often, the family brings the case to litigation to argue about all these items. In some cases, the family has significant assets to be distributed, but these tangible items become contentious and cause the estate to be litigated and prolonged.

Hyman G. Darling

Hyman G. Darling

“Arguments may ensue, and often, the family brings the case to litigation to argue about all these items.”

There are several ways in which this matter may be resolved, but the clients need to take the time to prepare properly for the distribution. The first way would be to have a complete listing of the items that may have either sentimental value or material value. The client can either list these items in the will, in which case they may have to be probated, or in other cases, the client can sign a memorandum.

The memorandum is fairly new in Massachusetts, as determined in the Uniform Probate Code, which was enacted in 2013. A client may now make a listing of assets and the individuals to receive the assets, which may be memorialized in writing and signed by the client, and then merely referred to in the will. In this manner, if the client desires to change the memorandum, they may merely write up a new memorandum and have it signed and dated and placed with the will, as opposed to having the entire will rewritten.

It is very important in this memorandum to be clear about what items are listed. For example, a mention of a ring or a watch may not be clear enough; perhaps the ring should be listed as the engagement ring with two small diamonds, and the watch could be listed as the Timex watch with rhinestones.

If there are items that are to be identified more clearly, they also should be listed, so that a painting or picture should state the setting or picture, as well as where it may have been hanging in the house, such as in the den above the piano.

Some clients have made lists and put stickers on the back of items or underneath them with identifying colors such as a yellow sticker for daughter Susie, a white sticker for son John, and green stickers for all the grandchildren. This is acceptable so long as the stickers are still on the items at the time of the client’s death and if someone doesn’t get to the items and move the stickers to different items.

In cases where the client was not clear, there are several alternatives to litigation. The first would be to have all parties make a list of the items that are important to them and then allocate an item to each person from their lists, taking turns between the beneficiaries. In some cases, clients have had to draw straws in determining who makes the first selection. Once they are finished choosing all of the items, they can then do their own ‘horse trading’ between themselves, but at least some of the beneficiaries will receive some of the items they want.

If this does not work, it may be necessary to gather the lists of the desired items by the family and engage the services of a mediator to attempt to resolve the differences. The problem then becomes whether the items are more valuable in terms of material value or sentimental value. If the sentimental value isn’t as great as the material value, then a client might decide to choose a larger, more valuable item and hope to trade it later for the more sentimental item.

If the resolution is not able to be made voluntarily, then an inventory of all items will have to be filed with the court, and perhaps an appraiser or two will have to be hired by the estate to value all the items. Some items without much value may be included in a ‘lot,’ which will be valued as a commingling of these items and valued as such.

Once these are all valued and listed on the inventory, one party might have to petition the probate court to determine the proposed distribution of these items, which is unfortunate, as they will be utilizing valuable court time merely to divide the tangible items. The court has the discretion to appoint a master, who will be an experienced lawyer, to hold the hearing at the expense of the estate, and then each party will also be paying their own lawyer to argue over who will receive what items.

In many cases, when this matter is over and resolved, none of the parties are pleased with the result, which means it was probably a fair and equitable decision.

Very often, clients are convinced that the children will have no problem distributing the assets and dividing the items; the client will merely state that nobody will want anything, as they have their own items. This is not always the situation; when a person passes away, not only do the children have a say in what will be distributed, but their spouses may wish to intervene and strongly suggest what their spouse should take. It is usually helpful to keep these in-laws (often called out-laws) out of the decision-making process, as this only causes more people to be involved and greater dissent between the parties.

When completing your own estate plan, consider the potential use of the memorandum with specific detail for the items you wish to distributed. Be careful in considering and discussing these issues with the children since, if you ask them all what they want and they all state that they want the same items, you will then be faced with the decision of having to tell some of them they will not be getting certain items. This can easily cause conflict, and family dinners and holiday occasions may prove to be less than pleasant.


Hyman G. Darling is a shareholder and the head of the probate/estates team at Bacon Wilson; (413) 781-0560; [email protected]

Senior Planning

Ten Tips on How to Approach a Difficult Topic


By the AARP Foundation


The reality is that some conversations are just plain difficult — even with the people to whom you feel the closest. When preparing to discuss a difficult topic like senior care needs, it helps to follow the ground rules below to ensure that everyone’s feelings are respected and viewpoints are heard. To help make the conversation as productive and positive as possible:


1. Try not to approach the conversation with preconceived ideas about what your loved ones might say or how they might react. “Dad, I just wanted to have a talk about what you want. Let’s just start with what is important to you.”


2. Approach the conversation with an attitude of listening, not telling. “Dad, have you thought about what you want to do if you needed more help?” — as opposed to “we really need to talk about a plan if you get sick.”


3. Make references to yourself and your own thoughts about what you want for the future. Let them know they are not alone, that everyone will have to make these decisions. “Look, I know this isn’t fun to think about or talk about, but I really want to know what’s important to you. I’m going to do the same thing for myself.”


4. Be very straightforward with the facts. Do not hide negative information, but also be sure to acknowledge and build on family strengths. “As time goes on, it might be difficult to stay in this house because of all the stairs, but you have other options. Let’s talk about what those might be.”



5. Phrase your concerns as questions, letting your loved ones draw conclusions and make the choices. “Mom, do you think you might want a hand with some of the housekeeping or shopping?”


6. Give your loved ones room to get angry or upset, but address these feelings calmly. “I understand all this is really hard to talk about. It is upsetting for me, too. But it’s important for all of us to discuss.”


7. Leave the conversation open. It’s OK to continue the conversation at another time. “Dad, it’s OK if we talk about this more later. I just wanted you to start thinking about how you would handle some of these things.”



8. Make sure everyone is heard — especially those family members who might be afraid to tell you what they think. “Susan, I know this is really hard for you. What do you think about what we are suggesting?”


9. End the conversation on a positive note. “This is a hard conversation for both of us, but I really appreciate you having it.”


10. Plan something relaxing or fun after the conversation to remind everyone why you enjoy being a family. Go out to dinner, attend services together, or watch a favorite TV program.

These are just a few suggestions of things you, your loved ones, and other family members can do to unwind after a difficult conversation.

Daily News

AGAWAM — Brittany Yvon, credit manager for OMG Inc., has been named as a Rising Star by HBS Dealer magazine in its annual Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply listing. She was selected from among a record-breaking number of nominations of up-and-coming and high-performing leaders who are making an impact in the hardware and building-supply industry.

Since 2020, HBS Dealer and industry partners have promoted the role of women in the hardware and building-supply industry. Individuals are nominated by their peers and selected by a panel of judges based on their contributions and attributes that go above and beyond the call of duty. Professionals receiving the Rising Star designation have been identified as women with the potential to make a significant, positive difference both within their company and within the industry for years to come.

“It is a great honor to be recognized among this group of outstanding industry leaders,” Yvon said. “Collectively, the women named as Rising Stars will potentially make some very significant differences in our industry, and I’m very proud and humbled to be part of the class of 2023.”

Yvon has been with OMG for seven years and was promoted to credit manager in 2021, where she is responsible for overseeing OMG’s Accounts Receivable department, including researching customer credit reports, creating credit scoring models to predict risk, monitoring customer balances, and preparing end-of-month reports and reconciliations. She is a member of the National Assoc. of Credit Management, a certified international credit professional through the Finance, Credit, and International Business Assoc., and a credit business associate through the National Assoc. of Credit Management.

Yvon and the other award recipients will be honored at HBS Dealer’s annual Top Women in Hardware & Building Supply convention on Nov. 15-16 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk Hotel.

Daily News

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank President and CEO Dan Moriarty was named Board Member of the Year at the East of the River Chamber of Commerce (ERC5) 2023 annual breakfast.

“We are grateful for Dan’s strategic vision, leadership, and exceptional service and commitment to the communities we serve, and the board,” said Grace Barone, executive director of the ERC5. “We are thrilled to honor him for his exceptional service and contributions to the chamber and our community.”

Moriarty, who has been a member of the ERC5 board of directors for more than four years, said he was surprised to receive the award.

“I’m incredibly honored to have received this award and grateful to be a part of the ERC5. I am proud to be a member of the board of directors for an organization that strives to bring members and businesses of our community together the way the ERC5 does. I look forward to what the future has in store.”

In addition to the work he does with the ERC5, Moriarty is involved with several other community organizations. He is a strategic council member of Springfield nonprofit I Found Light Against All Odds- Lighthouse Home for Homeless Teen Girls, a board member of the Monson Home for the Aged, and a member of the Links to Libraries board of directors. He also is on the Baystate Health community benefits advisory council, a member of the Monson Free Library finance committee, and co-chair of the Monson Savings Pro-Am. He co-chairs the diversity, equity, and inclusion council of the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. and he serves on the finance committee and as a confirmation teacher at St. Patrick’s Church in Monson. Additionally, he is a former volunteer grant scholarship reviewer for the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and a past co-chair of the Brightside’s Golf Classic.

At the end of his brief, impromptu acceptance speech, Moriarty shared some inspiring words. “Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and always try to do your job with love and kindness; that is what truly matters in this world. Every day, I strive to do these things, and I truly believe it helps me be a better person than I was yesterday.”

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — LiftTruck Parts & Service Inc., a local, family-owned business, recently launched a fundraiser to benefit the Dakin Humane Society.

For 35 years, LiftTruck has been a family-owned business providing cost effective forklift sales, rentals, parts, and service experience to the Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Connecticut, and Rhode Island areas.

The company invites the community to contribute with monetary donations to Dakin Humane Society through its team fundraising page (click here). Dakin will also be collecting items daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside its Springfield Animal Resource Center. Click here for a list of accepted items. Every dollar raised through LiftTruck’s fundraising page will improve the lives of animals in need and the people who care about them.

“We are so excited to partner with Dakin Humane Society on this event,” said Kara Sotolotto, vice president of LiftTruck Parts & Service. “At any given time, there is usually a dog in our administrative offices greeting our team members; we are a big animal-loving community.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Zoo in Forest Park will host its Kindergarten Kickoff, an event for incoming Springfield kindergartners, on Saturday, Aug. 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The free event, presented by Teddy Bear Pools & Spas, will not only include free entrance to the zoo for Springfield kindergartners and one caregiver, but it also offers a chance for children to practice skills needed to succeed in their first year of elementary school.

Community partners such as the Springfield Public Library and the Connecticut Science Center will be in attendance to help the children practice essential skills, such as writing their name, cutting a shape, and identifying colors. At the start of the event, all children will receive a free backpack. After completing each skill, they will collect a school item to fill their new bag. At the end of the event, children will leave with a backpack full of school supplies and the confidence to head into the new year.

Pre-registration for Kindergarten Kickoff is required to attend, and spots are extremely limited. Attendees must show proof of Springfield residency upon check-in with either a valid ID or a welcome letter from their child’s school. Admission for additional guests can be purchased at a discounted rate. Registration is available at www.forestparkzoo.org/kko23.

“This event encourages students to explore skills they will perfect in the upcoming school year while hopefully washing away the worry of starting kindergarten,” said Caroline Cay Adams, director of Education at the Zoo in Forest Park. “We are so grateful to our amazing community partners for their dedication to this event and cannot wait to meet these young scholars on Aug. 12.”

Cover Story

Working in Tandem

Chris and Andrea Zawacki

Chris and Andrea Zawacki

As he talked about the business venture and the name that would go on it, Chris Zawacki said a good deal of thought went into the selection process.

The bagel shop would be located in the old railroad depot in the center of Easthampton. That’s right next to the bike path, he said, so there was considerable talk concerning bicycling terms. Meanwhile, Zawacki and his wife, Andrea, were entering into this venture with another couple, Brian and Shannon Greenwood.

Somewhere along the way, the word ‘tandem’ was tossed out, and because it has at least two meanings that were relevant to the conversation, it stayed in play, and was eventually chosen.

A little more than a decade later, Tandem Bagel Co., and even simply ‘Tandem,’ has become an ever-larger part of the lexicon — and the landscape, with additional locations in Northampton, Hadley, West Springfield, and Florence. The Hadley location also houses a central baking operation, with the bagels made there and then taken in vans to the various locations.

“It became a meeting place and a co-working space. We have several writers who come in and get some writing done during the day.”

Indeed, what started as a single bagel shop is now a thriving enterprise with multiple locations. Zawacki doesn’t like the word ‘chain’ and laments that many — as in far too many — people think Tandem is a national chain. It isn’t.

Not yet, anyway.

It’s a local business that offers bagels of all kinds, with names and flavors ranging from Snickerdoodle to Wild Cheddar to French Toast, but also breakfast and lunch sandwiches, salads, smoothies, coffee and iced coffee — a billboard promoting the company displays that product and invites people to “beat the heat” — and a lot more.

Indeed, its locations have become a place to gather and also a place to get some work done. Meanwhile, at least a few of the locations, especially those in Easthampton and West Springfield, have had a significant impact on economic development and overall vibrancy in the communities where they’re located.

It all started with the goal of replicating the model — and success — of a bagel operation that Zawacki, an Easthampton native and mechanical engineer by trade, had observed while living for a time in the state of Washington. That goal has already been achieved, he said, adding that the question he hears, and answers, most often is, “where do we go from here?”

The West Springfield Tandem Bagel location

The West Springfield Tandem Bagel location was a key contributor to the redevelopment of the Town Commons complex downtown.

Continued growth is certainly in the forecast, he said, adding that he and others are considering several potential landing spots, especially Westfield, where many visitors to the Easthampton and West Springfield locations are from, as well as Springfield. He has looked at several locations in downtown Springfield but isn’t ready to pull the trigger just yet.

Overall, the company is focused on smart growth and expansion that makes sense, he said, adding that Tandem won’t grow for the sake of growth. And, overall, he’s not really sure where he wants this brand to be in five, 10, or 20 years.

“It took a lot to get where we are, so it will take a lot to get the next level,” he explained. “Things are going well, and for our employees, getting to that next level puts a lot of pressure on people. If we can go at a steady pace, treat our employees well, and expand in slow fashion that works for all, that’s fine with me.”

For this issue, BusinessWest looks at how Tandem Bagel has become a brand in the region as well as a force when it comes to economic development and helping to transform communities into destinations.


Spreading the Wealth

As noted earlier, Zawacki was working in Washington State in the late ’90s when he became acquainted with an individual who had retired and started a venture called Sunrise Bagels.

“We frequented it with our kids,” he recalled. “We thought he had a good product, a product that was different than what we had here. It was a neat business model — he had a lot of different varieties, 25 or 30 of them any given day.

“I got in touch with him and stayed in touch with him,” he went on. “I was thinking that, at some point, maybe I would give up my engineering career and open up a bagel place.”

The team at the Easthampton location

The team at the Easthampton location, where it all started.

This blueprint, if that’s what it can be called, took a while to become reality, he told BusinessWest.

Indeed, the Zawackis looked at a few possible locations that didn’t work out, and then, in 2012, some friends suggested the old railroad depot in the center of Easthampton, owned by Williston Academy, a landmark with an intriguing history.

In 1854, Samuel Williston, a button manufacturer and founder of what is now Williston Northampton School, established the Hampden Railroad Co. with business partner Joel Hayden and purchased the now-extinct route of the Northampton-New Haven Canal, according to willistonblogs.com. After completing the 24 miles of railroad, they also constructed a small depot to go along with it.

Built in 1871, the station included a waiting room, a baggage room, and an office for the stationmaster. After rail service ended in the 1950s, Williston Academy purchased the property with the intention of using it as a maintenance building. Years later, it housed art studios and, eventually, became home to a painting teacher, Marcia Reed. Upon her retirement in 2012, the building was put up for lease again.

The Zawackis approached the school about leasing the property, and a concept that had been on paper and in the works for more than a decade was soon to be on … well, the fast track.

Actually, there were extensive renovations that had to be undertaken, said Zawacki, adding that Tandem Bagel officially opened in late March 2013.

Over the past decade, it has been a key player in the transformation of the city from a mill town to a destination characterized by a diverse economy, a thriving arts community, a burgeoning restaurant and hospitality scene, and a growing cannabis sector. Indeed, the bagel shop has drawn customers, and many regulars, not only people living and working in the mills, attending Williston Academy, and visiting the city to take in its many attractions, but also people from several neighboring communities willing to drive for a Snickerdoodle bagel. Or a Cheesy Garlic. Or a Hot & Spicy.

“I’ve looked everywhere, from Westfield recently to Longmeadow and Springfield; we’ve also looked at Greenfield. We’re just looking for the right space.”

“We helped get people downtown,” he said, adding that, while some pick up a bagel and breakfast sandwich to go, many tend to stay a while and even get some work done.

“It became a meeting place and a co-working space,” he said. “We have several writers who come in and get some writing done during the day.”


Toast of the Towns

The success of the Easthampton shop eventually led to talk of expansion, Zawacki said, adding that, almost from the beginning, the goal was to create multiple locations.

The company first expanded into neighboring Northampton, opening in the Northampton Athletic Club in 2014. This was a small location, and as Zawacki put it, “it took a number of years for people to find us.”

But eventually, the location, like the one in Easthampton, developed a strong following, and this past April, the company moved into a new and much larger space in the Stop & Shop plaza on King Street.

After Brian and Shannon Greenwood relocated to Maine several years ago, the Zawackis bought them out and later continued their course of expansion. As they did so, they recognized the need for a larger bakery space and found one in the former Sears franchise location on Route 9, space that also became home to a small bagel shop as well.

That location opened in 2020, just a few weeks before the pandemic hit, Zawacki went on, adding that the next several months were, obviously, a time of challenge for the company. But the business model and product lines enabled Tandem to effectively ride out the storm.

“After the initial six months of chaos and everybody not knowing what’s going on, we were able to get our menu going,” he explained. “We already had online ordering, so we were able to stay above water and keep our business going based on our menu. It was simple, it was online — sandwiches, coffee; everyone still wanted their coffee. It’s a good to-go business, so it worked out, and we were able to withstand the pandemic.”

And as COVID eased somewhat, the company was able to continue on its course of expansion, he said, adding that the next landing spot was Florence in early 2021, specifically the site of the former Freckled Fox Café on North Main Street, a relatively easy move because the site was nearly turnkey, having been a café.

Later that year, the company expanded into West Springfield, another location has sparked greater vibrancy in an area that’s considered West Side’s downtown.

Indeed, Tandem has become one of the linchpins in the success of redevelopment of the former United Bank building on Elm Street into a mixed-use complex called Town Commons. It features a number of offices, but also another restaurant and several other tenants.

Zawacki said that location has worked out well, with many workers in City Hall, just around the corner, becoming regulars. And if he could do again, he would — he’d just try to take a little more space.

“I wish we’d made the space a little bigger,” he said with a laugh. “We could use more seating — it fills up quickly.”

By expanding to five locations and a centralized baking facility, the company has created some economies of scale, obviously, but also a larger operation and some logistical challenges — buying vans and hiring drivers among them — as well.

And hiring became increasingly challenging as the workforce crisis continued and talent became more scarce, he said, adding that, by and large, the company has been able to weather that storm as well.

Moving forward, he said additional expansion is certainly in the business plan, with several communities and locations currently under consideration.

“We’re always looking,” he said, adding that, with others now handling most of the day-to-day operations of the various locations, he is free to focus on the proverbial big picture and especially what comes next for Tandem. “I’ve looked everywhere, from Westfield recently to Longmeadow and Springfield; we’ve also looked at Greenfield. We’re just looking for the right space.”

Elaborating, he said that, unlike large, national chains — and, as noted, many people believe Tandem is one of those — the company relies more on instinct and what it can see and feel at its current locations, rather than analytics and traffic flow, to determine where it could and should go next.

“We can map where our customers come from,” he explained. “So we know that a lot of customers come from Westfield and the Westfield area. We know the population of the city — we just have to find the right place with the right traffic flow and parking.”

As for downtown Springfield, Zawacki noted the presence of Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, but said there is room for Tandem Bagel as well — if the right location can be found.

He has looked in Tower Square, the TD bank Building, and other properties, and said the search is ongoing. “We’re under no pressure to grow,” he said in conclusion. “But if the opportunity is there, we’ll definitely take advantage of it.”


Senior Planning Special Coverage Special Publications

Inside This Year’s Planner

When BusinessWest and the Healthcare News first started publishing an annual Senior Planning Guide, the idea wasn’t to create a roadmap to the end of life, though it could, in some sense, be described as such.

The goal is to make sure you get your plans in order — from where you or your loved ones will live to how finances will be distributed — so you don’t have to worry so much, and instead enjoy the senior years to the fullest, or to help your aging parents enjoy them.

After all, the retirement years should be an enjoyable time, highlighted by special moments with family and friends, the freedom to engage in a range of activities, maybe even a chance to develop new interests and hobbies.

But to make the most of that time, proper planning — estate planning, financial planning, plans for care — is critically important. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans age 65 and older — which was 35 million in 2000, just 12% of the population — will reach 73 million by 2030, or 21% of U.S. residents. That’s a lot of people. And a lot of planning. And a lot of living left to enjoy.

Achieving your goals — and your desires for your loved ones — requires careful thought, and that’s where our annual Senior Planning Guide, presented by UMassFive Financial & Investment Services, comes in. So let’s sort through some of the confusion and get those conversations — and the rest of your life — started.

View this  year’s digital Senior Planning Guide HERE

Wellness for Life

Sharing a Life

Journaling Is a Therapeutic Exercise — for All Those Involved

Savvy Seniors Freeze It

Nutrition-minded Older Adults Should Heed These Tips

The Emotional Bank Account

How Seniors Can Maintain Mental Wellness

A Whole Year of Fun

Older Adults Have Plenty of Ways to Stay Physically Active

Estate & Financial Planning

Estate Planning: An Introduction

Goals, Strategies Can Vary with Each Stage of Life

Creating an Estate Plan

The Process Begins by Understanding the Key Documents

Decisions, Decisions

How to Choose a Medicare Plan

Preparing a Will

It Can Be a Dreaded Task, but It’s an Important One

A Task Better Left to a Professional

Being in Charge of an Estate Can Be Unsettling for All Involved

Roadblocks to Equality

LGBTQ+ Elders Face Unique Planning Challenges

Let’s Not Fight over This Stuff

Distributing Tangible Personal Property Can Cause Conflict

Caregivers & Adult Children

A Gentle Reminder

Don’t Lose Yourself in Caring for Others

Reading the Signs

Six Indications It Might Be Time for Memory Care

Having the Talk

Ten Tips on How to Approach a Difficult Topic

Four Steps to Emotional Wellness

Caregivers Must Understand the Importance of Self-care

It’s Not About Dying

How Hospice Care Supports the End-of life Journey

Senior Resources

Education Special Coverage

Embracing Differences

Harry Dumay

Harry Dumay says some race-conscious policies have benefited both colleges and students over the years, even if Elms College doesn’t employ them.

Harry Dumay said he was disappointed, though perhaps not surprised, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the use of race-based criteria in college admissions on June 29.

At the same time, he said the ruling wouldn’t change anything at Elms College, where he serves as president.

“We do not use race-conscious policies in admissions,” he explained. “The way we go about having a diverse student body — and we are very satisfied that our student body has been increasingly diverse — is by projecting the idea that we are a campus where everyone is accepted, everyone is embraced, and everyone belongs.”

Elms recruits heavily from Greater Springfield and the broader Western Mass. region, as well as Connecticut, areas that are already demographically diverse, he noted. “We attract those students by creating an atmosphere on campus where every student feels this is the place where they’re valued and where they belong, so all students can benefit from the additional educational advantages of being in a diverse campus environment.”

“We sought legal counsel on whether we should be changing our practices, and also whether this would hamper us in achieving our mission of having a diverse student population, and it doesn’t.”

When the SCOTUS ruling came down, Dumay added, “we sought legal counsel on whether we should be changing our practices, and also whether this would hamper us in achieving our mission of having a diverse student population, and it doesn’t. We will continue to have a campus where all people, faculty, students, and staff feel that they belong, and feel the diversity that they bring is embraced.”

His sentiments were reflected across the region by college and university leaders who felt the court’s ruling was creating barriers to opportunity — affirmative action began in the 1960s as a tool to prevent discrimination at selective institutions, and has been used as an admissions tool ever since — but stressed that their own policies would continue to promote a diverse student body in lawful ways.

“While we have been anticipating and preparing for this outcome for some time, the court’s decision dismantling affirmative action in college admissions marks a historic and challenging moment for all of higher education, including institutions such as ours that are deeply invested in inclusive education,” said Kumble Subbaswamy, outgoing chancellor at UMass Amherst. However, “while the court may require us to change our methods, it cannot change our mission.”

Kumble Subbaswamy

Kumble Subbaswamy

“While the court may require us to change our methods, it cannot change our mission.”

Noting that university leaders will work closely with the UMass Office of General Counsel to ensure the admission process continues to reflect those values while operating within the boundaries of the law, he also cited the campus mission statement, which reads, “we draw from and support diverse experiences and perspectives as an essential strength of this learning community and accept for ourselves and instill in our students an ongoing commitment to create a better, more just world.”

To achieve this end, Subbaswamy explained, the admissions process has, for the past decade, employed a holistic approach that considers the entirety of an applicant’s life experiences. “Holistic admissions, which does not use race as a determinative factor, has served us well. Since 2011, the percentage of students of color in the incoming class has grown from 21% to 37%.”

Dumay, like most college presidents in Western Mass., was among more than 100 leaders from higher education, advocacy organizations, and the Massachusetts Legislature who signed a letter on June 29, the day of the SCOTUS decision, criticizing it.

“Massachusetts will always be welcoming and inclusive of students of color and students historically underrepresented in higher education. Today’s Supreme Court decision overturns decades of settled law. In the Commonwealth, our values and our commitment to progress and continued representation in education remain unshakable,” it reads. “We will continue to break down barriers to higher education so that all students see themselves represented in both our public and private campus communities. Massachusetts, the home of the first public school and first university, will lead the way in championing access, equity, and inclusion in education.”

Kerry Cole

Kerry Cole

“This doesn’t actually change our fundamental admission structure. But there are changes I think the industry can make to stop putting up additional barriers for certain populations of students.”

Even if the ruling doesn’t change practices at Elms, Dumay told BusinessWest, he is concerned about the broader higher-education sector.

“Studies have demonstrated the value of diversity,” he noted. “Studies have demonstrated that, without some race-conscious policies, elite institutions are not succeeding at recruiting a diverse student body. In the broader higher-education sector in general, one has to be concerned about the Supreme Court decision, but at Elms, we’ll continue to fulfill our mission to make sure that we have a very diverse and inclusive campus.”

American International College President Hubert Benitez released a statement following the ruling that struck a similar balance between concern over the ruling and a conviction that AIC doesn’t need affirmative action to be diverse.

“The Supreme Court’s decision will have minimal impact on AIC, as the college has always operated based on core values that prioritize access, opportunity, and diversity,” he noted. “Given our student demographic, diversity naturally thrives at AIC, and we must continue to serve this diverse population.”


Evolving Legacy

Kerry Cole, AIC’s director of Admissions, reiterated to BusinessWest that the college’s process will not change. “We have a holistic admissions process. We naturally have diversity within the student body, and we’re very fortunate, and we embrace that. So this doesn’t actually change our fundamental admission structure. But there are changes I think the industry can make to stop putting up additional barriers for certain populations of students.”

One of those, she said, is for colleges to start moving away from legacy admissions, which historically have not benefited minorities. Another is to recruit in all geographic areas, including low-income areas, because successful students can be found in all types of communities. “We heavily recruit in Hampden County, followed by Hartford County, and those are areas that are extremely diverse.”

Hubert Benitez

Hubert Benitez

“Given our student demographic, diversity naturally thrives at AIC, and we must continue to serve this diverse population.”

Over the past decade, Subbaswamy noted, UMass Amherst has significantly broadened its recruitment efforts across every demographic. “Since 2012, our Admissions team has recruited and received applications from underrepresented students from 66 additional high schools in Massachusetts alone. We have also partnered with more community-based organizations to help us recruit and enroll a more diverse class, including lower-income and first-generation students. We will also continue to work with our partners in the state and federal government to develop funding for pipeline programs and advocate for financial-aid investments.”

UMass and other institutions are doing this because of a shared belief that a diverse campus creates a sense of inclusion and belonging, which in turn promotes a healthy environment for everyone.

“We will continue to implement data-driven initiatives and procedures to ensure students of all backgrounds experience a strong sense of belonging and inclusion in our community,” Subbaswamy said. “We want every prospective student, no matter their background, to see their values reflected across the institution and recognize UMass as a place where they will thrive.”

Even absent the SCOTUS ruling, he added, “our commitment to upholding our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion would drive us to deepen our investments in recruiting and welcoming students from diverse backgrounds.”

Dumay agreed, arguing that a diverse student body reaches into the community, creating a more robust Western Mass., and the Supreme Court’s ruling only strengthens Elms’s resolve to enhance representation of all kinds.

He conceded that the ruling mainly impacts colleges that admit only a small percentage of their applicants. At Elms, which admits all students who have demonstrated they can do the work and succeed there, diversity efforts are a matter of attracting more applicants, as opposed to making tough decisions to admit or reject equally qualified students. “If you can do the coursework, regardless of race, you are admitted. We do not use any race-conscious policies in our admissions.”

However, he emphasized that the court’s ruling narrowly focused on the use of race in admissions at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina; it did not reject the importance of campus diversity itself, only certain means to achieve it.

“That is a great comfort to us because diversity is part of the Elms College mission statement,” Dumay went on. “The statement says that Elms serves a diverse student body in a nurturing educational environment. That is part and parcel of our mission: to foster an atmosphere that is diverse.”

Benitez added that AIC’s mission is to educate next generation of a diverse regional workforce, making a diverse campus an issue of economic development.

“What do we want in a student body? What do we want our classes to look like?” Cole added, noting that AIC recently launched a guaranteed-admissions initiative to qualified students, designed to ensure a fair and transparent admissions process for students who meet eligibility requirements.

As opposed to race-based admissions practices, AIC assures that all prospective freshmen applying to AIC will be admitted, provided they fulfill certain academic requirements. “We bring more transparency to the process,” she noted. “We at AIC don’t have the same challenges as some institutions, but it’s really important for us to show transparency.”


New Ways Forward

Late last month, the U.S. Department of Education drew more than 100 academics, government officials, and administrators to a National Summit on Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, where discussions touched not only on the post-affirmative-action landscape, but whether there should be change in the practices of legacy admissions and preferences for family members of donors.

According to the New York Times, attendees discussed the importance of developing and expanding tools to achieve diversity beyond race-based admissions, including recruiting through academic-enrichment programs for talented low-income students; improving financial aid; initiating direct admissions, or automatically admitting students who have met certain threshold requirements, as AIC has done; bringing disadvantaged students to campus to generate interest; and making it easier for community-college students to transfer to four-year colleges.

“We’re very committed to access, opportunity, and diversity as the foundation of the institution — it’s who we are,” Cole said. “We’re always making strategic decisions as an institution to make sure we’re able to maintain that, and to support all students moving forward.”

After all, people learn more amid different perspectives than in a homogenized environment, she said, and that goes for more than just students.

“I’ve been at AIC since January 2014. I learn things from the student body every year, even every day. It’s really important for folks to learn from each other and have a diverse campus like AIC,” she told BusinessWest. “We’re constantly learning, using different lenses when we looking at problems and issues. There’s a huge benefit to diversity on campus.”

Special Coverage Technology

Creating Collisions

While the pandemic was a time of upheaval in higher education, not all the changes that occurred were negative.

Indeed, Gina Puc said colleges and universities have seen higher education transformed in some ways, with a new sensitivity to innovative models of learning.

“We took a close look at how we were serving students in this new environment,” said Puc, chief of staff at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams. And one good example is MCLA’s new partnership with the Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC) in Pittsfield on an MBA program to enhance and expand experiences and career connections to prepare graduates for innovation-driven careers in the Berkshires and beyond. 

This fall and spring, BIC will host students from MCLA for 10 Saturdays as part of their MBA program, which will be taught online and on-site at BIC in a hybrid format. Applications for the fall 2023 program are due by Aug. 18.  

Puc said the partnership is reaching students who may not have thought about getting their MBAs pre-pandemic, but are drawn by this innovative, experiential model. “We’re meeting students at this moment in time through the collaborative nature of this MBA program.”

The BIC has been an intriguing story in its own right. With the approval of more than 80 regional stakeholders in the private sector, government, and academia, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center awarded the city of Pittsfield a $9.7 million capital grant in May 2014, with the goal of developing a 20,000-square-foot innovation center in Pittsfield’s William Stanley Business Park, the former site of General Electric.

These days, the BIC, which officially opened in 2020, provides regional manufacturers and STEM businesses with advanced research and development equipment, state-of-the-art lab and training facilities, and collaboration opportunities with BIC’s research partners, as well as internship and apprenticeship programs for local students.

A relationship with Berkshire County’s only four-year public college just made sense, said Dennis Rebelo, BIC’s chief learning officer.

“BIC’s three pillars are community, technology, and learning, and innovation is most likely to be robust and have a likelihood of succeeding at the interaction of those [pillars],” he explained, noting that such interactions can range from hyper-localizing the supply chain of building a new product to technology workshops that teach companies — from hundred-year-old firms like Crane Currency to much newer entities like Boyd Biomedical — how technology can be a tranformative agent in ways they might not have considered.

Gina Puc

Coming out of the pandemic, Gina Puc says, higher education was being transformed, and colleges were taking a hard look at serving students in more innovative ways.

“There are different ways technology can be a catalyst in economic growth and development,” he said. “When we saw what was happening with MCLA, we started exploring how they could be more embedded in our world and how we could serve them. It made sense to host their MBA program as partners; we’re now referring to it as an innovation-based MBA.

“An MBA student does a capstone — maybe it’s building a new product, like an advanced car seat, maybe a therapeutic device, or maybe something like SolaBlock,” he went on, referring to the Easthampton-based developer of solar masonry units. “They can have coffee with an industry leader and talk about clean tech. They have access to all these organizations.”

MCLA President James Birge, a BIC board member, added that “it’s incredible to see two major Berkshire County institutions come together to leverage the growth of MCLA’s programming with the BIC advancement opportunities. I’m looking forward to the networking and educational opportunities this will provide for our MBA students and the collaborations with industry leaders at the BIC.”


Innovative Model

Through this partnership, MCLA aims to contribute to the BIC’s efforts to foster growth within the life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and all regional technology and innovation-based sectors. 

“To explain an MBA influenced by innovation … you could substitute the word innovation for creativity. What we’re able to do by having the classes at the BIC is that we’re allowing students to be adjacent to the creative process,” Rebelo said. “To be able to spark additional thinking that conjures up new ideas that can also be socially responsible is a big win. You may think about technology as anti-human, but we think about it as really serving humanity … we think about things more from a humanitarian standpoint.”

Dennis Rebelo

Dennis Rebelo

“When we saw what was happening with MCLA, we started exploring how they could be more embedded in our world and how we could serve them.”

Josh Mendel, associate dean of Graduate and Continuing Education at MCLA, agreed. “The possibilities are really limitless for our students to embrace and be a part of the future of advanced technologies,” he said, adding that this partnership allows the college to fulfill the critical needs of the advanced-manufacturing industry in Berkshire County to grow and enhance the future of the county’s workforce, and that partnering with BIC in this way was a logical next step in the MBA program.

“We needed to be at this hub of innovation, advancement, and opportunities for students to grow and support a critical sector in the Berkshires,” he explained.

Mendel said he expects applicants to the program to be a blend of recent MCLA graduates with a passion and desire to stay in the Berkshires and want to be part of the energy happening at BIC, and also working professionals who have an interest in getting their MBA to get to the next pay grade or promotional opportunity.

“Some are about to become entrepreneurs; we’ve had several students in the past couple of years start their own business organization,” he said. “So this made so much logical sense — our mission is to support critical growth sectors in the Berkshires, and what better partner than BIC?”

The Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation

The Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation at MCLA, which prepares students to enter the research pipeline and STEM careers.

The Berkshire Innovation Center’s programming includes the BIC Manufacturing Academy, an industry-led training collaborative designed to address persistent challenges facing the manufacturing economy in the Berkshire region by closing the gap between local supply-chain capabilities and the needs of larger manufacturers through ongoing education, training, and technology assistance. Another program is the BIC Stage 2 Accelerator, a 30-week, hands-on, results-oriented program designed to serve early-stage tech startups that are building a physical product and moving toward the manufacturing phase.

Josh Mendel

Josh Mendel

“We needed to be at this hub of innovation, advancement, and opportunities for students to grow and support a critical sector in the Berkshires.”

There’s also a robust slate of ‘learning series’ — for students, BIC members, community members, and executives — some of which MCLA’s students will be able to access. But beyond the specific programming, Rebelo said, the BIC is also a space that will excite students about learning, not only through classes and panel discussions, but through day-to-day conversations with people doing innovative work.

“They’ll have access to resources and ‘collisions’ — and the collisions they make in the café could lead to some of the most valuable outcomes of these innovative relationships,” he noted.


Staying Connected

Drawing on the ‘systems thinking’ philosophy of Peter Senge, a pioneer in organizational development, Rebelo noted that, “if we’re going to be a learning organization that thrives in the 21st century, MCLA and BIC have to be in constant conversations about the systems we’re creating together and strive for mastery of the educational experience of the adult learner.”

In addition, Mendel told BusinessWest that MCLA draws many students from outside the Berkshires, and connecting them to a hub like BIC could be a factor in keeping young talent within the region.

“It’s very important to us to connect these students back to these companies and organizations and job opportunities and internships, so they stay and grow and raise families and have full-time careers here in the Berkshires.”

Puc agreed. “We’re in a rural community, and I can’t think of another hub like BIC that serves a rural community they way they are. That speaks to the efficacy of our educational programs and the innovation of BIC, in the way we serve learners in a rural community.”

Nonprofit Management Special Coverage

Building on a Legacy

aerial photo shows the former Square One property

This aerial photo shows the former Square One property, at lower right, the day after the tornado ripped through Springfield’s South End in 2011.
Photo by John Suchocki The Republican

While early-education provider Square One has a presence in several Springfield neighborhoods and serves residents city-wide, it has always been associated with the South End.

That’s where it’s been headquartered since the beginning, in 1883, when it was founded as Springfield Day Nursery by Harriett Merriam, the daughter of Charles Merriam, of Merriam-Webster dictionary fame, to meet a critical need for childcare among the city’s working families, said Dawn DiStefano, the agency’s president and CEO.

“We’ve always been anchored in the South End,” she said. “And it doesn’t take too much effort to walk into the South End and see that it is in woeful need of some attention.”

The bond with the South End was — and is — so strong that, when the agency’s facilities at 947 Main St. were heavily damaged by the June 1, 2011 tornado that devastated a large swath of that neighborhood and eventually razed, then-President and CEO Joan Kagan quickly pledged that the agency, which soon started leasing space at 1095 Main St., would rebuild in that section of the city.

But fulfilling that pledge has proven to be an enormous challenge.

“We’ve always been anchored in the South End. And it doesn’t take too much effort to walk into the South End and see that it is in woeful need of some attention.”

Indeed, although other options were looked at early on, it quickly became clear that, if the agency was going to rebuild in the South End, it would have to be on the property it owned, DiStefano said. And this property is fraught with challenges because of its small size, odd dimensions, contamination in the wake of the tornado, and other factors.

But, in a measure of its commitment to the South End, the agency is taking on all those challenges and moving forward with plans for a 26,000-square-foot, $12 million, three-story facility that will be built on the east end of the property that fronts Main Street.

Dawn DiStefano

Dawn DiStefano stands at the site on Main Street where Square One had a facility — and will again.

Plans call for erecting a Butler-style building on the property, one that features a number of pre-fabricated elements, which serves to reduce the overall cost of designing and building a structure, DiStefano said.

“We’re savings millions of dollars because we’re not doing a traditional brick-and-mortar building,” she explained, adding that the agency is working with One Development & Construction LLC in Westfield, which specializes in Butler-style construction, on the project.

The current timetable calls for construction to begin late this year, probably November, with the new facility slated to open its doors in the fall of 2024.

The agency is in the early — also known as the ‘quiet’ — stage of a capital campaign for the new building, with nearly $3 million committed to date — $950,000 from the city in the form of ARPA money, and a $2 million commitment from the state.

DiStefano said early indications suggest a strong measure of support for Square One’s initiative, and she expects the nonprofit will be able to open its facility with little, if any, debt.

“It’s all achievable … but we’re not working with 10 acres here. We ultimately determined that we could do something with this site.”

“The most enjoyable, and most encouraging, part of this project has been how many people and institutions are compelled to give or have shown promise,” she explained, adding that the agency undertook a feasibility study on the campaign, one that surveyed 42 individuals and companies and revealed “100% intent to support the project.”

For this issue and its focus on the region’s nonprofit sector, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at Square One’s building plans and how they reflect a nearly century-and-a-half-old commitment to a city and especially one of its proudest, and neediest, neighborhoods.


Building Momentum

As she talked about the many challenges with building a new home for Square One, DiStefano said it’s good to keep things in their proper perspective.

Indeed, while there has been nothing easy about this building project, and it has a long way to go, the overall degree of difficulty pales in comparison — in most respects, anyway — with coming back from the twin disasters of 2011 and 2012 — and coping with the pandemic of 2020, for that matter.

The agency was completely displaced by the 2011 tornado; staff, teachers, and students were forced from the building and never allowed to return before engineers determined that it had to be demolished. In 2012, a natural-gas explosion downtown extensively damaged another Square One learning facility, to the point where it had to be abandoned. And early in the pandemic, Square One was forced to close its childcare facilities, as well as its operations on Main Street, before having to completely revamp operations after it was allowed to reopen to meet a huge need for childcare services.

Square One’s facility

An architect’s rendering of Square One’s facility to be built in Springfield’s South End.

The agency managed to push on and meet its broad mission — it provides early-learning services to more than 500 infants, toddlers, and school-aged children, and also offers an array of support services to more than 1,500 families each year — through all of that, DiStefano said, adding that the ability to do so offers strong testimony to the imagination and resiliency of its staff.

Those same qualities have been necessary for this building project, she went on, adding that, while rebuilding in the South End has always been the goal and the promise, it has proven to be a daunting challenge.

Indeed, the property that was ultimately destroyed by the tornado in 2011 was wedged into a narrow but deep lot, said DiStefano noted there was an administration building fronting Main Street and a two-story, L-shaped school building that extended eastward a few hundred feet. In a perfect world, or at least in a neighborhood with several alternatives when it comes to buildable lots and available property, Square One almost certainly wouldn’t rebuild on its former site, she added.

But this isn’t a perfect world. And Square One is building here only because there are few if any other options, she said, adding that she tried to purchase the brick property adjacent to former home of the agency, a move that would have provided considerably more frontage on Main Street, but was unsuccessful in that effort, just as her predecessor was unsuccessful in her efforts to secure other lots on which to build.

So the agency then focused its attention on building on its former home — an undertaking made challenging by the size and shape of the property as well as contamination from the demolition of the structures that once occupied the site.

“The bricks and all the materials from the homes that were razed obviously have asbestos and lead and other chemicals that have now seeped into the ground,” the explained, adding that the agency is currently working with a remediation company to determine just what is in the ground and what needs to be done to make the property ready for its intended use — as a home for programs for children.

Before even getting to that point, though, the agency had to conduct some due diligence to make sure it was feasible to build what it wanted to build on that parcel.

“This land is so awkward and small and weird that we didn’t want to buy it if we couldn’t build a building on it,” she explained, adding that Square One engaged in discussions with One Development to determine if its plan, its dream, was, in fact, doable.

Brad Miller, senior project manager with One Development, said that he and others ultimately determined that the answer to that question is ‘yes.’

“It is a challenging site because of its narrowness — it’s wedged between Hubbard and Williams streets,” he explained. “We only have so many options as far as the building footprint goes. The agency also needs a certain number of parking spaces, which we have to find a location for on that site, as well as a playground. It’s all achievable … but we’re not working with 10 acres here. We ultimately determined that we could do something with this site.”

The plans, still to be finalized, call for those parking spaces to be located on the Main Street end of the property, with the playground and building located toward the rear of the site, on a combination of the original site and a few smaller parcels acquired by the agency, DiStefano explained.

The planned structure will give the agency far more space than it has presently in the South End, she said, adding that the facility destroyed by the tornado had more classrooms than the currently facility.

Miller described what is planned for the site as a ‘Butler-hybrid’ building, a combination of conventional steel structure, with Butler components on the interior.

“This will a be steel-framed building with insulated metal panels on the outside, as well as some masonry on the first floor of the building,” he explained, adding that it will have a glass entranceway.

This pre-engineered building will ultimately save on design costs, he went on, adding that this is a design-build project, with One Development managing a large portion of the design as well as the construction.

While work continues on design aspects of the building project, Square One is proceeding with its capital campaign to raise funds to build the new facility.

As noted earlier, the agency has entered the quiet phase of the campaign, focusing on major grants from foundations and other donors, DiStefano said, adding that, by the start of 2024, she anticipates the process will enter the public phase.


Bottom Line

Returning to that feasibility study on the capital campaign and the resounding support it revealed, DiStefano said those results validate the agency’s determination to clear a long row of hurdles and ultimately build in the neighborhood where it was founded back when Chester A. Arthur was patrolling the White House.

“Those results make it enjoyable — that pushes you when you’re ready to say that this piece of land is too difficult to build on and it’s going to cost too much to do this,” she said, adding that this vote of confidence provides another dose of determination.

And even more commitment for Square One to build on a legacy that’s been 140 years in the making.


Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight

Moe Belliveau

Moe Belliveau says the WorkHub initiative is an example of how the Easthampton Chamber is evolving into more economic development.

It’s called WorkHub on Union.

This is an ambitious project to create co-working space at the Easthampton Chamber of Commerce facility on Union Street.

WorkHub will create space for solopreneurs and emerging business ventures, and also provide access to mentorship programs, networking events, educational programming, and other support services designed to accelerate the growth of startups and small businesses.

In addition to all that, Moe Belliveau, executive director of the chamber, categorizes the project as a not-so-subtle shift in the direction and overall mission at the chamber — one that moves the agency away from the traditional networking events that have defined such agencies, and more into the realm of true economic development.

“This is part of the evolution of this chamber,” she explained, adding that other examples (as we’ll see later) include more emphasis on professional development and educational programs on topical issues such as artificial intelligence.

WorkHub, for which Belliveau is actively trying to raise $500,000 to make it reality, is one of several positive economic developments in a community that has been making headlines mostly for the wrong reasons in 2023.

“Housing, housing, housing … that’s our biggest need right now.”

Indeed, a school-superintendent search that has gone terribly awry — the leading candidate had his job offer rescinded, in part, over his use of the term ‘ladies’ in an email to the School Committee chair — has brought national and even international attention, and not the kind this community would want, as well as resignations among school-board members and even a bid within the community to recall Mayor Nicole LaChappelle.

An interim school superintendent has been hired, and a search for a permanent successor will resume later this year, said a defiant LaChappelle, who responded to the recall effort in June by saying, “I will continue to do what I have been doing for five and a half years — working to give all of Easthampton the best quality of life possible.”

As noted, aside from the controversy surrounding the superintendent search, there have been generally positive developments in this community. It continues to build on the considerable progress made over the past few decades in transforming itself from a mill town to a destination, one with a strong arts community, a growing number of restaurants and other hospitality-related businesses, such as Tandem Bagel, an emerging cannabis sector, and scores of old mills that have found new uses as everything from artists’ studios to event spaces; cannabis dispensaries to condos and apartments.

Specific initiatives range from CitySpace, the nonprofit group tasked with creating a flexible arts and community space in Old Town Hall (Burns Maxey, CitySpace’s board president, was honored by BusinessWest as one of its Difference Makers for 2023), to the ongoing and very ambitious One Ferry Project to renovate several mills on Ferry Street; from the chamber’s WorkHub on Union project to expansion of the renamed public library into the former Bank of America building on Park Street.

Moving forward, LaChappelle said that perhaps the city’s greatest need is for more housing because the community is in vogue, and in addition to being a great place to work or start a business, it is increasingly viewed as a desirable place to live.

One Ferry Project

The One Ferry Project remains a work in progress, with several renovated mills and some still waiting to be reimagined.

There are several housing projects in various stages of development, including redevelopment of three former city school buildings, she said, but the need for more is constant.

“Housing, housing, housing … that’s our biggest need right now,” she said, adding that, while it’s a good problem to have in some respects, it’s a stern challenge for which her administration continues to seek solutions.


Work in Progress

As she talked with BusinessWest about plans for WorkHub on Union, Belliveau said the initiative was conceptualized to address that growing part of the community’s business community that visitors and residents can’t see — and they can see plenty.

These are ventures that people are operating in their basements, home offices, and dining-room tables, she said, adding that such businesses existed before the pandemic, but mushroomed during that time.

“This year’s topic focus is going to be resilience and collaboration, but collaboration with technology, and specifically around AI. We want to help people move from fear and panic to ‘how is this tool going to benefit my business?’ There will be some hands-on experimenting and learning with AI.”

“These are businesses, but they’re informal as opposed to formal,” she explained, adding that her goal is to take these ventures out of the basements and onto Main Street — or Union Street, as the case may be.

“We want to help these businesses become more sustainable and more resilient,” she explained, adding that there are probably hundreds of these ventures in and around Easthampton.

Recognizing the existence of, and the need to support, these businesses and those behind them, the chamber applied for and received a seed grant from MassDevelopment to conduct a feasibility study for the WorkHub facility. The results of that study verified the need and essentially confirmed that this was the project for the chamber at this time in its history and the city’s history, said Belliveau, adding that the chamber’s board voted to raise funds for the initiative and get the ball rolling.

The total price tag is roughly $500,000, which includes construction, a website, branding, and marketing, she noted, and to date, the chamber has raised $180,000 for the venture, with a $50,000 contribution from Sourcepass, an Easthampton-based IT-solutions company being the latest gift. There has also been a $100,000 ARPA earmark, as well as a $25,000 donation from Easthampton Savings Bank and $5,000 from Greenfield Savings Bank.

Easthampton at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1785
Population: 16,211
Area: 13.6 square miles
County: Hampshire
Residential Tax Rate: $14.65
Commercial Tax Rate: $14.65
Median Household Income: $45,185
Median Family Income: $54,312
Type of Government: Mayor, City Council
Largest Employers: Berry Plastics Corp., INSA, Williston Northampton School, National Nonwovens Co.
* Latest information available

Belliveau said WorkHub will provide more than physical space for as many as 18 small businesses following a complete renovation of the chamber’s space. Indeed, she said the goal is to position it as an educational hub as well to help entrepreneurs succeed, thus creating a “vibrant, lively, healthy local economy and regional ecosystem.”

She said the facility would be ideal for artists, freelance writers, consultants, and ‘digital nomads’ — those who travel from job to job but still might need a home base of sorts. It will include workstations, a conference room, private spaces (she called them ‘phone booths’) for phone calls and teleconferencing, and light administrative support. There is really nothing like it in Easthampton, she emphasized, and it should receive a strong response.

As noted earlier, the hub represents the latest and most visible evidence of ongoing evolution at the chamber, Belliveau said, noting that it is moving more toward economic development and professional development than the pure networking that has characterized this and other chambers in the past.

Other examples include the women’s professional-development conference called sheLEADS, the latest installment of which was staged in June, and Ignite, a two-day professional-development conference scheduled this year for Nov. 15-16 at Abandoned Building Brewery. The working title for the event is “Humanification in the Age of AI.”

“This year’s topic focus is going to be resilience and collaboration, but collaboration with technology, and specifically around AI,” Belliveau explained, adding that she hopes to have 50 to 75 people in attendance. “We want to help people move from fear and panic to ‘how is this tool going to benefit my business?’ There will be some hands-on experimenting and learning with AI.”


Getting Down to Business

The chamber’s WorkHub project is one of many initiatives designed to help spur new business development and create more vibrancy and jobs, said LaChappelle, adding that, in the post-COVID area, businesses still need support, but often different kinds of support than they did at the height of that crisis.

“During COVID, I thought our city’s response when it came to economic development and what I call Main Street jobs and concerns … I was proud of the job we did; we all pulled together,” she explained. “Now, our task is … ‘we’ve made it through; how do we keep the new things going, and how do we help the people who were always there?’

“We’re not back to the walking traffic on Union Street and Cottage Street that we had pre-COVID,” she went on. “What are we going to do to support those businesses? You rise to the challenge in a crisis, but resiliency is the long game.”

Elaborating, she noted that, to create this resiliency, the chamber and city need to work together to build into the ecosystem long-term educational and capital support. Such work is ongoing, the mayor said, adding that WorkHub is just one example of providing needed support to businesses and entrepreneurs to not only help them maintain what they’ve built, but get to the proverbial next level.

Such initiatives to build resiliency are needed, she said, because over the past few decades, Easthampton has succeeded in inspiring and nurturing entrepreneurship and growing and diversifying its economy.

That includes a cannabis cluster, if you will, that is adjusting to a new reality in the form of more competition — in this state and from other states — as well as falling profits and even tighter margins, creating a survival-of-the-fittest environment.

“The ones who got in early, and the ones who had the strongest business plans, are fine,” she explained, putting INSA, the Verb is Herb, and others in that category. “And the ones who came in because they had the biggest dispensary somewhere else and thought they’d put a branch here … they’ve closed or have chosen not to expand.”

Beyond cannabis, the cultural economy continues to thrive in Easthampton, LaChappelle said, noting that many of its old mills have become home to artists and art-related ventures, and to residents as well. Meanwhile, the city has been working with property owners on initiatives to improve the mill district.

“We’ve been successful in getting grant money to re-envision and design that mill district and make it friendlier to the immediate neighborhood and see what we can do for walking traffic and safety,” she explained.

“All of the mill owners have been great partners,” she went on, citing the Ferry Street project, which has seen several of the long-abandoned Hampden Mill buildings re-envisioned and repurposed, as the latest example of the old mills that gave the city its character finding new life.

Easthampton was able to channel $3.9 million in MassWorks public-infrastructure grants for improvements at Ferry, Pleasant, and Loveland streets to support the One Ferry mixed-use development initiative, she said, citing this as one example of the city, state, and mill owners working collaboratively to achieve positive change in the mill district.

Today, the city is working with developer Mike Michon, who also developed Mill 180, and One Industrial Lofts LLC to determine the best course for what’s known as Mill 7, the largest of the eight mills still standing on the property (many have been razed) moving forward.

“It was to be a mixture of apartments and some affordable housing, and other uses, but the affordable-housing process is now years behind,” LaChappelle said. “So he’s looking at some other solutions and mixed use, and we’re helping him do that.”

Housing, as she noted earlier, is the most pressing need within the community. And while there are several projects planned or already underway — from a new apartment complex on Cottage Street to the 180 units planned for a mixed-used development at the former Tasty Top site on Route 10 (a project called Sierra Vista Commons), to redevelopment of three city school buildings into roughly 70 apartments — there is certainly a need for more, she said.

But clearly, despite its challenges, Easthampton has become a hub of positive activity and progress, in every sense of those words.

Senior Planning

Journaling Is a Therapeutic Exercise for All Involved

Liz Berezin, who recently completed a journal for John Scalia

Liz Berezin, who recently completed a journal for John Scalia, described the experience as one that was rewarding on many levels.

Lisa Berezin acknowledged she was moving out of her comfort zone.

“Completely out of my comfort zone,” actually.

Indeed, she had never done anything remotely like the assignment she agreed to take on. But when her good friend, Susan Jaye Kaplan, asks for help with something, it is her policy to say ‘yes.’

In this case, she was agreeing to a request to create a journal chronicling the life and times of one of the residents at Ruth’s House, an assisted-living facility in Longmeadow. For Berezin, who earned a degree in elementary education before segueing into business, and someone who had volunteered mostly with young people, this was a going to be an exercise in learning while doing, but she was willing and able.

So was John Scalia, a 64-year-old resident whose life has been dominated by four passions — his family, his friends, his love of music (especially doo-wop), and an obsession with the New York Yankees. Family comes first; after that, it’s a toss-up between the other three.

The journal makes that clear.

While Berezin fashioned a cloth cover for Scalia’s journal, one dominated by Yankees logos and pennants, his large family is arguably the focal point of this document. It is dedicated to his mother, Lucy; father, Joseph Sr.; brother, Joseph; and sister-in-law, Michelle with a note expressing that he wouldn’t be where he is today without them.

“The process itself works different parts of the brain — the memory part and the creative part can be very healing if you have any conflicts or things you need to resolve as you’re speaking them out, working them out … it can be very healing in that way.”

Capturing passions and letting others know all the many moments and memories that go into a life is just one of the broad goals behind journaling and this particular project, said Kaplan, known to many in this region as the founder of the nonprofits Go FIT and Link to Libraries.

Others include a desire to have the subjects of these documents open up to people, exercise their memory, and simply talk about what is important to them.

Berezin agreed.

“The process itself works different parts of the brain — the memory part and the creative part can be very healing if you have any conflicts or things you need to resolve as you’re speaking them out, working them out … it can be very healing in that way,” she said. “John was very excited to share his memories, and I think he was so happy to be part of this project and have someone who really and truly cared and listened, and asked questions back. And what made John happy was so contagious for me; John’s like a happy pill for me.”

As for John, he said this was a fun experience, one in which Berezin’s questions, and prompting, brought back many great memories and made him even more appreciative of all that he’s been able to experience. “She asked all the right questions, and I tried to answer as best I could,” he said, noting that he moved to Ruth’s House with his mother several years ago and helped take of her until she died shortly after they arrived there.

Kaplan’s husband, Steve, is a resident of Ruth’s House, now four years into a courageous battle against brain cancer. And it was while creating a journal for Steve — an eye-opening experience on many levels, she said — that she decided that more people should be sharing in the process of creating these living documents — and enjoying the final product.

Susan Jaye Kaplan, left, and Delia Jones

Susan Jaye Kaplan, left, and Delia Jones say the journaling project at Ruth’s House has been a learning experience for all those involved.

So she put out a call for volunteers on Facebook, and eventually saw more than a half-dozen area residents, including Berezin, sign up to be part of this initiative.

Most of the journals are still works in progress, she said, adding that the work to compile them is as important as the final document.

It is here where the resident and the volunteer meet several times over the course of a few months to talk, learn about each other, and, most importantly, forge a friendship, said Delila Jones, Life Enrichment director at Ruth’s House, adding that, in a word, journaling is therapeutic for all those involved.

“Journaling is about voicing yourself — your identity, your mind, your heart — and just giving it a voice,” she explained. “Journaling is bringing it out of your mind and putting it down on paper.”

Berezin agreed, noting that, because of the journaling project, she has made a friend in John, and has also become committed to Ruth’s House and its patients. Indeed, she now volunteers for Wednesday trivia and other programs, and volunteered her husband, Mark, a pianist, to play on Fridays at the facility. And he, in turn, volunteered Lisa to lead a sing-along.

That’s one example of how journaling has not only enabled someone to become involved in telling a life’s story, but become more involved in the lives of others in general.

And that’s a big part of what this project is all about.


Pride in the Yankees

As she put her journal of Scalia’s life together, Berezin used words, pictures, and even some numbers, such as $12.6 million.

That’s the amount a 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card fetched at an auction several years ago, making the card the most valuable sports collectible in the world.

Mantle has always been one of Scalia’s favorite Yankee players, as is the case with many who grew up when he did. Others include Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, and, more recently, Aaron Judge.

These insights are a few of the many references to the Yankees in this journal. Others include everything from Scalia’s bobblehead collection to his recollections of five-time Yankee manager Billy Martin, to memories of visits to both the old and new Yankee Stadiums.

“He’s the biggest Yankees fan you’ll ever meet,” Berezin told BusinessWest. “He can tell you what positions people played, what years, who their managers were … and on and on.”

These many and different references to the Bronx Bombers help explain how the journaling exercise yields what could be called the ‘essence’ of a person, said Berezin, adding that what came through with Scalia were both general themes — family, the Yankees, and doo-wop — and small bits of information that, together, tell a story.

In Scalia’s case, these small but significant bits include the fact that he worked at Stop & Shop in Enfield for 40 years — and wasn’t particularly thrilled with the company when it didn’t recognize his four decades of service. And the fact that he met Whitey Ford at the store one day — the Yankee legend pulled up in a limo — and got his autograph.

They also include his fondness for Mel’s Diner in Naples, Fla. and its barbecue ribs, as well as the long list of TV shows he has enjoyed over the decades, from Leave It to Beaver to the original Charlie’s Angels (yes, he had that iconic Farrah Fawcett poster on the wall in his bedroom when he was young), to a slew of cop shows including Columbo, Kojak, and Police Woman.

They also include memories of his grandmother, who would pick grapes off the vine and grind them up to make wine, and his mother, who would discipline him by saying simply, “wait ’til your father gets home.”

Summoning such memories — and Scalia has many of them, not just of his mother and grandmother, but also his Uncle Tony, a restaurant owner, and his Aunt Louise and Aunt Ann — is why journaling is such good therapy for those taking part in this exercise, Jones said.

“It’s important for the senior to participate in this because it’s giving them a voice — the opportunity to share who they are, their situation, what they grew up with … sharing their life,” she said. “For the person who facilitates this … they’re giving us access to another world, another perspective, another vision. It’s like reading a book; it’s like listening to another life and gaining a perspective that’s not yours, and that’s a privilege, because humans need to see beyond themselves, and this provides that opportunity.”

Kaplan agreed. She said she created a journal for a Ruth’s House resident more than 20 years ago, an experience that opened her eyes to the importance, and value, of such an experience.

“I didn’t know the resident very well; I just knew the family,” she recalled. “The family was on vacation. I brought a notebook with me and started asking some simple questions, and it opened a flood of memories, everything from where she grew up as a child to who her siblings were and what she remembered about growing up with them.

“I was amazed; she had beautiful stories to share — some happy, some not so happy,” Kaplan went on. “And she was willing to open up to me, a virtual stranger. She was so delighted to share a little about herself, and I found it was a win-win for me as well because I gained a wealth of knowledge about so many things and learned about this remarkable woman.”

Rob Whitten, president of JGS Lifecare, said this journaling project has yielded learning experiences on many levels.

“This is a program that opens people up and allows them to make connections that they otherwise might not have made,” he told BusinessWest. “JGS Lifecare has always had a strong track record for volunteer engagement, and this is just another example of this; it’s a wonderful program that is really by volunteers and family members … and it connects people together.”


The Last Word

Berezin said she received a wonderful and very sincere thank-you note from Scalia’s family after she presented him — and them — with the journal.

She was touched by the gesture, quickly adding that, in many ways, she should be sending one to them as well. That’s because, while this experience, this document, is beneficial for him and his family, it has been beneficial to her as well. It has given her insight into not just one life, but many, and a new appreciation for all the things that make a life special.

As she said, the best part is that she made a good friend in the process.

That’s what journaling is all about.

Senior Planning

Nutrition-minded Older Adults Should Heed These Tips

By Kimberly DaSilva with Carrie Taylor and Andrea Luttrell


Your nutritional needs change throughout your lifetime. Some physical changes may impact appetite, senses, and fluctuations in your digestive system. These changes may be due to aging, decreased physical activity, or in conjunction with prescriptive medication suppressing your appetite.

Having a decreased appetite may impact your intake of calories, essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins needed to maintain muscle mass and prevent unintentional weight loss. When it comes to appetite, decreased senses of smell and taste can also affect the enjoyment of your food’s flavor and aroma. For digestion, your gastrointestinal tract could become less mobile and more rigid — leading to issues including constipation, stomach pain, and nausea.

“Produce that freezes well includes tomatoes, corn, carrots, peppers, zucchini, and berries. High-water-content foods such as melons, cucumbers, lettuce, and eggplant should stay clear of the freezer.”

To overcome any decrease in taste and smell, get creative. Cook with spices; herbs; aromatic vegetables like celery, onion, garlic, and shallots; and savory sauces to engage your taste buds. Select higher-quality food; cook seasonal fruits and vegetables so they have a softer mouth feel in recipes like soups, stews, and casseroles; drink plenty of water; and reduce stomach irritants, such as alcohol, to overcome physical changes as well.

As you age, your nutrition may be affected by your social and financial situation versus physical. For example, your social circle may become smaller due to the loss of a spouse, family members, and friends. Living alone and cooking for one while eating on a fixed income can present challenges for some as well.

Not all is lost! Below are some tips when cooking for one on a budget.

Six Nutritional Tips for Older Adults

Older adults have unique nutritional needs.

Simple adjustments can go a long way toward building a healthier eating pattern. Follow these tips from the National Institute on Aging to get the most out of foods and beverages while meeting your nutrient needs and reducing the risk of disease.

• Enjoy a variety of foods from each food group to help reduce the risk of developing diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Choose foods with little to no added sugar, saturated fats, and sodium.

• To get enough protein throughout the day and maintain muscle, try adding seafood, dairy, or fortified soy products, along with beans, peas, and lentils, to your meals.

• Add sliced or chopped fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks. Look for pre-cut varieties if slicing and chopping are a challenge for you.

• Try foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as some cereals, or talk to your doctor about taking a B12 supplement.

• Reduce sodium intake by seasoning foods with herbs and citrus such as lemon juice.

• Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help stay hydrated and aid in the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. Avoid sugary drinks.

Tip 1: Be a savvy shopper. Get the most out of your food budget and purchase meats and shelf-stable foods when they are on sale. And stock up on fruits and vegetables when they are in season.

Tip 2: Be an organized shopper. Plan meals in advance and create a shopping list from your menu. Buy store brands for the same quality items at a lower cost.

Tip 3: Freeze your meals. When cooking for one, a great option is to cook and freeze meals. To do this, make multiple servings versus just one. Divide quantities into individually sized portions and freeze for future ready-made meals. Planning portions also prevents waste and can save you money.


Freezing Inspiration

With cooler weather around the corner, plan for hearty soups, stocks, and quick casseroles. For example, take advantage of less-expensive seasonal fruits and vegetables and preserve their fresh-picked flavor by freezing them.

Why freeze? Freezing temperatures stop the growth of microorganisms while slowing the chemical reactions that break down food and reduce its quality. This makes freezing food perfect for enjoying the taste of summer for seasons to come!

Produce that freezes well includes tomatoes, corn, carrots, peppers, zucchini, and berries. High-water-content foods such as melons, cucumbers, lettuce, and eggplant should stay clear of the freezer. Avoid discoloration of fruits such as peaches, apples, pears, and apricots by tossing with lemon juice prior to freezing.

For the best flavor and texture, use ripe, non-bruised produce free of nicks. Most raw fruit freeze just fine without blanching.


Tips for Freezing

• Rinse and cut produce into the desired size.

• Blanch vegetables before freezing. Drop vegetables in boiling water for one to two minutes, then immediately transfer to an ice bath and chill completely to help stop the cooking process. Drain and pat dry.

• Place fruit or vegetables in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with wax or parchment paper. Place in the freezer until the produce is frozen solid.

• Once frozen, pack into whichever freezer-safe container you prefer — a freezer-safe food-storage bag, a plastic container with an airtight lid, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil. Avoid glass, as it can shatter and cause your food to become unsafe to eat.

• Leave only a half-inch to one-inch space at the top of containers. Reducing food’s contact with air will prevent ‘off’ flavors or freezer burn.

• Store sauces and soups in freezer-safe food-storage bags and lay flat on shelves to save space.


Tips for Storage

• Practice food safety when cooling leftovers. Cool to room temperature for no more than two hours, or one hour for hot summer conditions above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, to avoid the risk of a foodborne illness. Putting hot food directly into the freezer creates condensation on the food, which can lead to freezer burn while possibly raising the temperature of the refrigerator. Although freezer-burned food may have off flavors, it will not cause you harm.

• Label foods with prepared, frozen, and use-by dates. Soups and stews with meat can be frozen for up to two to three months. Leftover meals can be frozen for two to six months, and fruits and vegetables can be frozen for up to one year.


Tips for Thawing

• Determine the quality of food after thawing. First, check odor, as some foods will develop a rancid or off odor when frozen too long. Discard such items. (Note: although some items may not look picture-perfect when frozen, they work exceptionally well in soups, stews, casseroles, and sauces.)

• Never defrost foods at room temperature. Use these three safe ways to defrost food: in a refrigerator running at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, in the microwave, or under cold running water. (Note: for foods thawed in the microwave or by running cold water, cook immediately after thawing.)


Tips for Use

• Enjoy frozen fruit as is, without cooking, for smoothies, flavoring plain yogurt, adding to sautés, and baking recipes.

• Vegetables can be cooked while still frozen and/or after thawing.

• Raw meat and casseroles can be cooked, or reheated, from the frozen state.

• Always reheat and/or cook foods to their recommended internal temperature, as verified with an instant-read food thermometer.

As you can see, any challenges that impact nutrition as you age can be minimized by incorporating a few new practices into your normal routine. Preserving nutrients and flavor of seasonal produce and your favorite recipes by freezing is a great way to control your food budget as well. Happy freezing!


Kimberly DaSilva is dietetic intern with Be Well Solutions. Carrie Taylor, RDN, LDN, RYT and Andrea Luttrell, RDN, LDN are registered dietitians with Big Y.

Senior Planning

How Seniors Can Maintain Mental Wellness

By Behavioral Health Network


How can people continue to support their mental health and find ways to engage in life as they age? Leona LaFleur, a behavioral-health clinician and mental-health consultant for elder services at Behavioral Health Network, has been finding those answers through the people she works with.

Their wealth of life experience is key, she says. “I am constantly learning from my clients. They have a good degree of resilience, and so I try to help them identify what their strengths are.”

Leona LaFleur

Leona LaFleur

“A lot of people have this idea that we have to make huge changes in order to feel some success, and that’s not really necessary. We can experience success from small changes.”

According to LaFleur, there are four pillars of mental wellness for seniors: sleep, nutrition, exercise, and social connection. The latter of these is of the utmost importance, as recently referenced in an advisory by the U.S. surgeon general.

As we get older and our bodies age, maintaining a sense of control can be difficult, and choosing the people you allow to be in your life and influence you helps maintain that sense of control. Not only that, but the COVID-19 pandemic and forced isolation was tough on many people’s connections, and many are still reeling from those impacts today.

LaFleur advises seniors and their loved ones to assess how well these pillars are being addressed and where they might need to make a change. It is important to normalize what they are going through, recognize where they may be stuck, and then identify what small things can be done to make progress.

“A lot of people have this idea that we have to make huge changes in order to feel some success, and that’s not really necessary,” she said. “We can experience success from small changes.”

For example, if there is a need for more physical activity, she might recommend connecting with a friend who does yoga. Sometimes the change is as simple as getting out of bed, which can be difficult for some seniors due to their physical limitations. It is important to note that, in many cases, the elderly are not disconnected in life because they are depressed, necessarily, but because it is physically difficult for them to actively engage in their life.

Breaking things down into small components helps with anxiety and decision fatigue as well. Because of the abundance of information in the world today, people can be easily overwhelmed. Simplifying things is important to identify where the challenges are and where improvement can happen. LaFleur notes that “I try to break things down and recognize the individual, and try to get them to identify what they need.”

She also recommends considering mental healthcare like an ‘emotional bank account.’ Determine what actions can you take — whether relaxing, socializing, or otherwise — to put ‘money’ in the bank and increase your reserves for managing stress. With more reserves in your emotional bank account, you are better able to manage difficult situations that you encounter.

Deposits are different for each person and situation. For example, social actions are not always a deposit; time spent with family can come with difficult history and thus can increase stress. It is important to give yourself credit for the things you do, especially the little things, because they all contribute to your self-worth and overall well-being.

Senior Planning

Older Adults Have Plenty of Ways to Stay Physically Active

By the National Institute on Aging

There are lots of fun and simple ways to build exercise into your daily routine. It’s easy to come up with ideas for activities to do with your family and ways to stay active in all four seasons.


Spending Time with the Family

Being physically active with your family is a great way to stay healthy and make exercise fun. Whether you play team sports with the entire family or take brisk walks with your spouse, child, or grandchild, you’ll be rewarded with improved health and time spent together. Here are a few activity ideas for you to do with your grandchildren:

Infants and toddlers:

• Take them for walks in the stroller and rides on your bike. Don’t forget your helmets.

• Play games that get your bodies moving, like wheels on the bus, pretend we’re animals, and hide and seek.

• Sign up for baby yoga or exercise classes.

• Try baby-friendly swimming classes.

School-aged children:

• Walk to the park and push their swing.

• Jump rope together.

• Build a fort — indoors or out.

• Play catch, kickball, basketball, or soccer.

• Go swimming or biking together.

• Play a video fitness game together and see who wins.

Teens and young adults:

• Participate in activities that interest them. Try hiking, skating, or tennis.

• Go golfing or swimming. Invite them to join you in physical activities that require two people, such as tennis or ping pong.

• Ask them to help you in the garden or with heavy-duty household chores.


Be Physically Active Without Spending a Dime

You don’t need to spend a fortune to be physically active. In fact, you can be active in many ways without spending any money. You don’t need special exercise equipment other than comfortable walking shoes. Here are a few ideas to help get you moving for free:

• Make your own weights from household items such as soup cans or bottles of water.

• Try out free demonstration exercises classes at your local senior center or fitness center.

• Go for a hike in a park.

• Participate in community-sponsored fun runs or walks.

• Yard work such as raking, digging, and planting can keep you active.

• Make sure to drink water or juice after exercise.


Find Ways to Stay Active in All Four Seasons

Being creative about your physical activity plans and trying new forms of exercise can keep you motivated by preventing boredom. A change in seasons is an excellent time to be creative about your exercise routine and try something new. There are many ways to be active throughout the year.



• When your grandchildren visit, head outside to build a snowman together or go ice skating.

• Cold outdoor temperatures are an excellent reason to join a mall-walking group.

• Start the new year by trying out a fitness center — many offer New Year’s resolution specials.

• Give your heart a Valentine’s Day gift with dance lessons, such as salsa, tango, or belly dancing.



• As the temperatures start to get warm, get your garden ready for spring and summer. The lifting and bending you do when gardening are great for strength and flexibility.

• A bike ride is a great way to enjoy the warmer temperatures.

• Anything can be fun with upbeat music, including spring cleaning.

• Build your endurance and strength with a bike ride during National Bike Month (May). Remember your helmet.



• Swim laps or take a water-aerobics class. These are both refreshing once the weather gets steamy.

• Walking in the mall is a cool way to beat the heat.

• Now that the grandchildren are out of school for the summer, ask them to teach you their favorite sport or physical activity.

• Celebrate National Bowling Week the first week in August. Get friends and family together and challenge each other to a friendly tournament.



• If you’ve heard about the benefits of yoga but haven’t tried it yet, National Yoga Awareness Month (September) is a great time to find special events and trial classes for beginners.

• As the weather begins to cool, join an indoor sports league, such as basketball, handball, or bowling.

• Fall provides great opportunities for physical activity. You can take long walks to see the beautiful fall colors. Once the leaves have fallen, raking is good exercise.

• If you have holiday shopping to do, walk the entire mall each time you’re there.

Senior Planning

Goals, Strategies Can Vary with Each Stage of Life

By UMassFive Financial & Investment Services


By definition, estate planning is a process designed to help you manage and preserve your assets while you are alive, and to conserve and control their distribution after your death, according to your goals and objectives. But what estate planning means to you specifically depends on who you are. Your age, health, wealth, lifestyle, life stage, goals, and many other factors determine your particular estate-planning needs.

“Your age, health, wealth, lifestyle, life stage, goals, and many other factors determine your particular estate-planning needs.”

For example, you may have a small estate and may be concerned only that certain people receive particular things. A simple will is probably all you’ll need. Or you may have a large estate, and minimizing any potential estate-tax impact is your foremost goal. Here, you’ll need to use more sophisticated techniques in your estate plan, such as a trust.

To help you understand what estate planning means to you, the following sections address some estate-planning needs that are common among some very broad groups of individuals. Think of these suggestions as simply a point in the right direction, and then seek professional advice to implement the right plan for you.


Over 18

Since incapacity can strike anyone at any time, all adults over 18 should consider having:

• A durable power of attorney: This document lets you name someone to manage your property for you in case you become incapacitated and cannot do so; and

• An advance medical directive: The three main types of advance medical directives are a living will, a durable power of attorney for healthcare (also known as a healthcare proxy), and a do-not-resuscitate order. Be aware that not all states allow each kind of medical directive, so make sure you execute one that will be effective for you.


Young and Single

If you’re young and single, you may not need much estate planning. But if you have some material possessions, you should at least write a will. If you don’t, the wealth you leave behind if you die will likely go to your parents, and that might not be what you want. A will lets you leave your possessions to anyone you choose (e.g., your significant other, siblings, other relatives, or favorite charity).


Unmarried Couples

You’ve committed to a life partner but aren’t legally married. For you, a will is essential if you want your property to pass to your partner at your death. Without a will, state law directs that only your closest relatives will inherit your property, and your partner may get nothing. If you share certain property, such as a house or car, you may consider owning the property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. That way, when one of you dies, the jointly held property will pass to the surviving partner automatically.


Married Couples

For many years, married couples had to do careful estate planning, such as the creation of a credit shelter trust, in order to take advantage of their combined federal estate-tax exclusions. For decedents dying in 2011 and later years, the executor of a deceased spouse’s estate can transfer any unused estate-tax exclusion amount to the surviving spouse without such planning.

You may be inclined to rely on these portability rules for estate-tax avoidance, using outright bequests to your spouse instead of traditional trust planning. However, portability should not be relied upon solely for utilization of the first to die’s estate-tax exclusion, and a credit-shelter trust created at the first spouse’s death may still be advantageous for several reasons:

• Portability may be lost if the surviving spouse remarries and is later widowed again;

• The trust can protect any appreciation of assets from estate tax at the second spouse’s death;

• The trust can provide protection of assets from the reach of the surviving spouse’s creditors; and

• Portability does not apply to the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax, so the trust may be needed to fully leverage the GST exemptions of both spouses.

Married couples where one spouse is not a U.S. citizen have special planning concerns. The marital deduction is not allowed if the recipient spouse is a non-citizen spouse (but a $164,000 annual exclusion for 2022 is allowed). If certain requirements are met, however, a transfer to a qualified domestic trust will qualify for the marital deduction.


Married with Children

If you’re married and have children, you and your spouse should each have your own will. For you, wills are vital because you can name a guardian for your minor children in case both of you die simultaneously. If you fail to name a guardian in your will, a court may appoint someone you might not have chosen. Furthermore, without a will, some states dictate that, at your death, some of your property goes to your children and not to your spouse. If minor children inherit directly, the surviving parent will need court permission to manage the money for them.

You may also want to consult an attorney about establishing a trust to manage your children’s assets in the event that both you and your spouse die at the same time.

You may also need life insurance. Your surviving spouse may not be able to support the family on his or her own and may need to replace your earnings to maintain the family.


Comfortable and Looking Forward to Retirement

If you’re in your 30s, you may be feeling comfortable. You’ve accumulated some wealth, and you’re thinking about retirement. Here’s where estate planning overlaps with retirement planning. It’s just as important to plan to care for yourself during your retirement as it is to plan to provide for your beneficiaries after your death.

You should keep in mind that, even though Social Security may be around when you retire, those benefits alone may not provide enough income for your retirement years. Consider saving some of your accumulated wealth using other retirement and deferred vehicles, such as an individual retirement account.


Wealthy and Worried

Depending on the size of your estate, you may need to be concerned about estate taxes. For 2022, $12,060,000 is effectively excluded from the federal gift and estate tax. Estates over that amount may be subject to the tax at a top rate of 40%.

Similarly, there is another tax, called the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax, that is imposed on transfers of wealth made to grandchildren (and lower generations). For 2022, the GST tax exemption is also $12,060,000, and the top tax rate is 40%.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017, doubled the gift- and estate-tax basic exclusion amount and the GST tax exemption to $11,180,000 in 2018. After 2025, they are scheduled to revert to their pre-2018 levels and cut by about one-half.

Whether your estate will be subject to state death taxes depends on the size of your estate and the tax laws in effect in the state in which you are domiciled.


Elderly or Ill

If you’re elderly or ill, you’ll want to write a will or update your existing one, consider a revocable living trust, and make sure you have a durable power of attorney and a healthcare directive. Talk with your family about your wishes, and make sure they have copies of your important papers or know where to locate them.


Help with Estate Planning

Looking for guidance for getting started with estate planning, or maybe you just need a second opinion? The CFS fnancial advisors at UMassFive Federal Credit Union are well-versed in this type of planning and can work in conjunction with your estate-planning attorney. Visit [email protected] for more information.

Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, LP (CFS), a registered broker-dealer (member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC registered investment advisor. Products offered through CFS are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Investment representatives are registered through CFS. UMassFive has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit-union members. CFS does not provide tax or legal advice. For such guidance, consult your tax or legal professional.

Senior Planning

The Process Begins by Understanding the Key Documents

By Stephen Sobey, Esq.


In the back of your mind is a list that, particularly in quiet moments, likes to assert itself. It’s the list of the things you know you should do but haven’t. Items may include scheduling an oil change, finding a primary care physician, cleaning out your refrigerator…and creating an estate plan.

Stephen Sobey

Stephen Sobey

“You need to consider who you trust and, among those individuals, who has the right skill set and disposition to serve as personal representative of your estate or as the guardian of your children.”

One day, hopefully soon, you resolve to check off this last, very important item. What do you need to know? Although an estate-planning attorney can guide you through this process, it is to your benefit to have a basic understanding of the core documents that make up an estate plan and have already considered certain key questions.

The documents generally considered to form the core of any estate plan are the last will and testament, durable power of attorney, and healthcare proxy. Depending on your circumstances (e.g., minor children, taxable estate, etc.) or preferences, a fourth document, the revocable trust, may also be part of this core group. A discussion of trusts would require more space than is available in this article, but the questions posed here will still be useful if you and your attorney decide trust planning is appropriate.


Last Will and Testament

A will’s primary functions are to direct the distribution of probate property, nominate the personal representative (previously known as the ‘executor’) of your estate, and nominate the guardians and conservators of any minor children who survive you.

First, who do you want to get your probate property when you die? Although seemingly straightforward, this question contains within it a multitude of sub-questions. Do you want to make sure someone gets a particular item? Do you want to leave someone a specific dollar amount, and, if so, how much? Is there someone you want to make absolutely sure gets nothing from your estate? And what happens if everyone you have named in your will predeceases you?

As you consider these questions, keep in mind two critical points: the will ultimately controls only the distribution of probate property, which is not necessarily all the property you may own. Probate property consists only of the assets you owned in your name alone at your death. Assets with beneficiary designations, such as life-insurance policies and IRAs; jointly owned assets, such as some bank accounts; and assets in trust are all examples of non-probate property. In creating an estate plan, then, just as important as the question of what you own is the question of how you own it.

Finally, you need to consider who you trust and, among those individuals, who has the right skill set and disposition to serve as personal representative of your estate or as the guardian of your children. The best way to think about these roles, and about any of the other roles discussed here, is as jobs with their own particular job descriptions. In this way, deciding on the right person should be more than a matter of simply naming, for example, your eldest child; rather, give some thought to each person’s proverbial resumé.


Durable Power of Attorney

The purpose of the durable power of attorney is to designate someone to manage your financial affairs during your life. The person you appoint is variously referred to as your ‘agent’ or ‘attorney-in-fact.’

When your agent may act for you will depend on how the document is drafted. In some durable powers of attorney, the agent’s authority is immediate. In so-called ‘springing’ durable powers of attorney, the agent’s authority commences only upon the determination of a physician that you lack the capacity to manage your own affairs. Each of these approaches has its own pluses and minuses, which your attorney can explain.


Healthcare Proxy

In a healthcare proxy, you designate an individual to serve as your ‘healthcare agent.’ Their role is to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes. However, the healthcare agent’s authority is effective only upon a physician’s determination that you are incapacitated.

Healthcare proxies are often conflated with what are commonly known as living wills. A living will is a document in which you set your preferences regarding, among other things, end-of-life care. Living wills, unlike healthcare proxies, are not legally binding in Massachusetts; however, this document can provide a helpful framework for your healthcare agent in making medical decisions on your behalf.

This is a general overview of what is ultimately an intensely detail-oriented subject. But, armed with this little bit of knowledge, you have the beginnings of what you need to create your estate plan. The next step, naturally, is to contact an attorney.


Stephen Sobey is an associate with Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin.

Senior Planning

How to Choose a Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plan

By Sarah Fernandes


In Massachusetts, more than 1.4 million people who are 65 or older will be making decisions about their 2024 Medicare and Medicare Advantage coverage during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (open enrollment) from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. Before choosing their plans, Medicare beneficiaries should consider a few things.

Sarah Fernandes

Sarah Fernandes

“By focusing on prevention, any potential health issues can be identified early, and you can work to maintain optimal health and prioritize your well-being.”

Is All Medicare Coverage the Same?

While Original Medicare (Parts A and B), the plan provided by the federal government, covers hospitalizations and most doctors’ services, coverage for other services like outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive health care (Parts C and D) can vary widely. Part C, otherwise known as Medicare Advantage, and Part D (prescription drug coverage) are offered through private insurers, such as Health New England and others.


What is Medicare Advantage (Part C)?

Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans cover everything Original Medicare (Parts A and B) would cover, but offer additional benefits and services beyond Original Medicare. These added benefits can include prescription-drug coverage, vision care, dental services, hearing aids, wellness programs, and more. Medicare Advantage plans provide greater opportunities for beneficiaries to engage in preventive services, such as regular checkups, screenings, vaccinations, and health education.

By focusing on prevention, any potential health issues can be identified early, and you can work to maintain optimal health and prioritize your well-being. If you do have a chronic condition, a coordinated approach from your Medicare Advantage plan and your providers ensures that you receive the necessary support, education, and interventions to manage your condition effectively, leading to improved quality of life and health outcomes.


How Do I Decide?

To decide what plan is right for you, be sure to review the features of the plan. For instance:

• Make a list of your preferred healthcare providers and see if they are considered in-network or out-of-network for each plan you are considering. Some plans do not cover out-of-network services at all, while some cover them partially.

• Similarly, make a list of your medications and see if they will be covered and how much, if anything, you will need to pay out-of-pocket (your co-pay).

• If you travel or spend time in other areas of the country, check if the plan allows you to use any Medicare-accepting doctor anywhere in the U.S.

• See if the plan covers dental, vision care, hearing services, and prescription drugs.

• Ask if the plan offers additional healthy benefits such as gym memberships, coverage for acupuncture, activity trackers, and weight-management programs.

How Do I Learn More?

Health New England’s Medicare Advantage plans are a popular option for people aged 65 and older who are looking to tailor their healthcare coverage to their personal needs. As part of Baystate Health, Health New England has many high-quality providers in our network across Western Mass., and we have plans that cover you anywhere you travel in the U.S.

To learn more about choosing the right Medicare or Medicare Advantage plan, you can attend Health New England’s live information sessions, which you can find and register for at healthnewengland.org/medicare/sessions.

For more information about Health New England, visit healthnewengland.org/medicare or call (877) 443-3314 (TTY: 711). SHINE, Massachusetts’ free Medicare advice service, is available online at mass.gov/health-insurance-counseling or by calling (800) 243-4636. For more information about Medicare, visit medicare.gov.


Sarah Fernandes is the Medicare sales manager at Health New England and been with Health New England for more than 23 years. She and her team educate Medicare beneficiaries in Western Mass. on their Medicare options.


Senior Planning

It Can Be a Dreaded Task, but It’s an Important One

By Mary Paier Powers, Esq.


Completing a will is often a dreaded task to undertake — partly because we don’t want to face our own mortality, and partly because we don’t know where to begin.

A will is an important document that ensures property you own in your own name passes to the beneficiaries of your own choosing, and it can be changed as necessary. Your will gets filed at probate court when you pass away owning assets in your own name. Assets that have a beneficiary listed or assets that you own jointly are not controlled by your will.

Mary Paier Powers

Mary Paier Powers

“A will is an important document that ensures property you own in your own name passes to the beneficiaries of your own choosing, and it can be changed as necessary.”

As you are about to embark on this process, here are some thoughts to consider.

• Who are your beneficiaries? Family, children, friends, charities, or a combination of all? You can construct your will to leave your estate to the beneficiaries of your choosing.

• How old is a beneficiary, and does that beneficiary have the ability to manage the money or inheritance? Can they be in control if they receive a lump sum of money?

• Will you need a trust as part of your will? A trust provides for the management and distribution of assets for a beneficiary in a manner that is best for the beneficiary.

• What if a beneficiary passes away before you? Does that beneficiary’s share pass to their children? Or does it go only to your surviving beneficiaries?

• Some people plan for the future when they prepare their wills and try to accommodate various situations. It is OK and often recommended to update your will as your family and beneficiaries change. There is always uncertainty with what the future holds.

• If you do want to make minor changes later, you can do that with a codicil. This is an amendment to your will that changes the specific paragraphs that need to be adjusted, or, if there are a lot of changes, you would redo your entire will.

• If you opt to leave money to a charity, I encourage you to look at the organization’s website. You can opt to leave your money to a general fund and allow the charity to use the funds as the charity chooses, or you can specify your preferences for the use of your bequest.

• Another consideration is whom you should name as your personal representative, formerly known as an executor. This is an important responsibility since this person will gather your assets and distribute them as you direct. The personal representative will be responsible for making sure that the estate-tax return and income-tax return are completed if required, as well as making sure final personal income-tax returns are done.

• You should think of a second person to serve as a backup if the first named person/party cannot carry out these responsibilities.

• If you have minor children, you will want to think about who their guardian and/or conservator will be. Generally, the spouse or the child’s surviving parent will be listed, but you can also name alternate agents to serve in this capacity.

• You can also prepare a memorandum that will list various personal property items. Your personal representative will follow this list as a guideline. A memorandum can be completed by you individually, but you need to keep it with your will so the personal representative has access to it. This memorandum is a great mechanism to distribute personal items as well as sentimental items to beneficiaries of your choice — and if you change your mind, you can write a new memorandum.

This list is meant to be a starting point, and everyone’s situation is different. The most important step is to prepare a will; otherwise, the Commonwealth will dictate who will receive your assets at your death.


Mary Paier Powers is a partner at Powers Law Group in Springfield and West Springfield, where her practices focus primarily on estate settlement, estate planning, and elder law.

Senior Planning

Being in Charge of an Estate Can Be Unsettling

By Janice Ward, Esq., CFP


It is a fact: estate administration is complicated and time-consuming. Money can, and often does, complicate relationships. Money can make people do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. Money can breed distrust — and worse.

These are just some of many reasons why those with estates, especially large estates or those with complex assets, should think carefully about who they choose to be their personal representative (formerly known as an executor or executrix) to administer their estate after they pass. Because settling an estate can be an unsettling experience and can potentially damage and destroy personal family relationships, you might consider an alternative to a family member.

Janice Ward

Janice Ward

“Overall, the person you choose as your personal representative will be responsible for a daunting list of tasks.”

Overall, the person you choose as your personal representative will be responsible for a daunting list of tasks. For a grieving family member, this could represent an unintended burden that requires a wide range of expertise and significant time commitment during this very difficult life transition. And if this isn’t enough, they may have to contend with pressure from — and disputes with — beneficiaries who are usually other family members. The resulting tug of war can lead to lengthy delays, sometimes lasting years, and often resulting in strained relationships and sometimes irreconcilable, heartbreaking splits among surviving family members.

An increasingly popular alternative is to choose a third-party professional, such as the Estate Settlement team within Greenfield Savings Bank Wealth Management and Trust Services. Such professionals can take away the burden and worries of estate settlement and ensure that one’s estate is managed efficiently and according to their wishes, without overburdening one specific family member. Alternatively, a professional personal representative can serve jointly alongside a family member. Such professionals can handle a wide array of responsibilities, including:

• Entering the will into probate and handling other legal requirements;

• Gathering all personal property and arranging for support of the family;

• Clearing out the decedent’s home and preparing for distribution or sale;

• Obtaining appraisals of required property for tax purposes;

• Reviewing real-estate records to assure timely payment of taxes and collection of rents;

• Evaluating contracts and leases, giving necessary notices, and complying with all requirements;

• Investigating all claims against the estate and handling them accordingly;

• Collecting all life insurance, rents, and other amounts due;

• Preparing and filing your final personal income-tax return, as well as any estate/inheritance tax returns that may be required either on a state or federal level;

• Paying related estate and inheritance taxes;

• Preparing a final accounting of the estate for the remainder beneficiaries; and

• Distributing the estate as directed by the will.

This partial list of responsibilities reveals just how complicated and time-consuming the settling of an estate can be. Individuals should keep this in mind when they are choosing a personal representative.

While choosing a family member may seem like a logical step, and some family members may actually volunteer for the assignment, most individuals are not fully qualified to handle such duties, and even if they are, they would often be placed in a difficult situation where relationships can become strained and matters can be delayed. There is often a perception of unfairness if one family member is making all the decisions that affect the personal finances and tax consequences of each beneficiary. For example, is this individual liquidating all the assets — which might cause significant capital gains to family members who pay high tax rates — and are those decisions equally fair and appropriate for all affected parties?

A professional personal representative will not only know the requirements of estate administration from a tax perspective, but will also understand the consequences of every decision they make as they assemble and then distribute each important piece of the puzzle. Choosing such a professional shouldn’t be considered disrespectful to family members. It should be looked upon as a common-sense alternative, one that can alleviate potential problems and eliminate the stress on familial relationships that often arises when money is at stake and an estate needs to be settled.


Janice Ward is an attorney, certified financial planner, and first vice president and trust officer at Greenfield Savings Bank.

Senior Planning

LGBTQ+ Elders Face Unique Planning Challenges


By Julie A. Dialessi-Lafley, Esq.


You have heard it and read it over and over again: everyone, regardless of their level of wealth, should have an estate plan. However, for LGBTQ+ elders, it may be even more critical to have an estate plan in place due to the challenges faced by many in the community.

Despite the fact that same-sex marriages are legally recognized in all 50 states, only 54% of same-sex couples are married. Not only are there still challenges for married same-sex couples, the high percentage of non-married couples also necessitates planning. While the government can create a law recognizing these marriages, there are organizations, businesses, and people who do not acknowledge these couples. The result is challenges for couples who simply want equality, as well as to provide and plan for their loved ones and chosen family.

Julie A. Dialessi-Lafley

Julie A. Dialessi-Lafley

“Making sure planning is in place to provide for the needs of the surviving spouse, partner, and other family and friends is crucial, as the laws in the absence of planning may not provide for those loved ones as you would want.”

Planning for retirement is both a financial goal as well as a lifestyle decision for LGBTQ+ elders. Making sure planning is in place to provide for the needs of the surviving spouse, partner, and other family and friends is crucial, as the laws in the absence of planning may not provide for those loved ones as you would want.

Additionally, social isolation can really creep up and become a serious problem to overcome. The question of where to retire has become overwhelming, as relocation brings with it a need to find an area that provides for the social inclusion for these elders as well as financial stability, reasonable cost of living, and lifestyle needs.

Within the U.S., about 80% of long-term care for older people is provided by family members, such as spouses, children, and other relatives. LGBTQ+ elders are only half as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to have close family to lean on or children to help. Simply put, folks who are part of the LGBTQ+ community are less likely to be married, they may have children where only one partner is the biological parent, and there is a high incidence of alienation from non-accepting family members.

Planning how long-term-care medical needs will be paid and who will act as the healthcare proxy/advocate for the LGBTQ+ elder is crucial, as many LGBTQ+ elders need to make sure they have an appropriate person to assist in making decisions about their care, as well as being concerned about harassment and hostility in facilities that serve the aging population. These folks often do not access aging services out of fear of hostile and harassing treatment. Few facilities are prepared to address insensitivity or discrimination aimed at LGBTQ+ elders by staff or other older people. Proper planning and memorializing those wishes in an estate plan can allow the elder person to age with the dignity and respect they deserve.

For non-married partners, planning is extremely important because, under the law, a partner is not going to have the standard rights to healthcare information and the ability to make healthcare decisions on behalf of their partner. A partner will not be able to access bank accounts if they are not in joint names and they are not able to make any and all decisions on behalf of their partner. Unmarried partners are not entitled to any inheritance in the absence of a will, trust, or proper planning.

Regardless of marital status, end-of-life decisions, the question of cremation versus burial, and any memorial arrangements should be documented to make sure your wishes are carried out as, again, both non-married and married partners may face significant challenges in carrying out your wishes in the absence of documentation.

In LGBTQ+ couples with children, only one parent might be the biological parent, or neither might be. They might have used an egg or sperm donor to conceive, or a surrogate to carry the child. There are varying rules across states about parental rights, but from a legal perspective, the biological parent is the one with the legal rights, barring any other court documentation. Even a birth certificate with both parents’ names on it may not be enough.

A last will and testament lays out who your assets should go to after you die. It also allows you to name a guardian for your minor children. It can help your family avoid disputes that might arise if there is not a plan in place or if it is not clearly stated. Additionally, trusts can be used to plan where assets go after you die and also avoid probate of your estate. This can be a cost-effective way to reduce conflict in the future and avoid claims against the elder’s estate from family who have been intentionally omitted from the planning.

As a result of what the community describes as continued discrimination and lack of inclusion, elders need to ensure that they have in place, at minimum, the appropriate documents, such as durable power of attorney, healthcare proxy; will, trusts (if warranted), and end-of-life directives in order to ensure their wishes can be carried out and their needs will be met in the event of an illness or death.

Estate planning can help to navigate through an increasingly complex legal system, and proper planning can protect your loved ones when they will need it most.


Julie Dialessi-Lafley is a shareholder with Bacon Wilson whose practice areas include estate planning and elder law, domestic relations and family law, and business and corporate law; (413) 781-0560; [email protected]

Senior Planning

Don’t Lose Yourself in Caring for Others

By Mary-Anne Schelb



And I don’t mean winter, spring, summer, or fall. I am referring to the seasons of life. Seasons of friendship, seasons of career, seasons of family. You get it.

We all know the saying: friends come into and out of our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Really, the same thing happens in all we do. Getting married, you become someone’s wife or husband or partner. You have children, and you are mom or dad. You get a career, and you are someone’s employee or boss. Even C-suite employees report to someone. If you are a business owner, you may have a board of directors you are in step with — or you are answering to your customers or clients. Some of these will be for a reason, for a season, or maybe a lifetime.

Mary-Anne Schelb

Mary-Anne Schelb

“If you give too much of yourself away, there will be nothing left for you, and that is why, when you step into your final season — retirement — it’s easy to feel sad or lost.”

When you are all of these things to everyone, all the time — wife, mom, employee, business owner — are you losing the core of who you are? Are you getting lost in the hustle and bustle? We all know that, as the years pass, the hustle and bustle gets more hustley and bustley.

Don’t get lost. Don’t lose your identity of who you are at your core. Remember what you need — to feel whole, to feel alive. If you give too much of yourself away, there will be nothing left for you, and that is why, when you step into your final season — retirement — it’s easy to feel sad or lost.

As the years go by, you see many college graduations with children becoming adults and going out on their own. Empty-nest syndrome is a real thing, and it is OK to feel sad, but (you knew there would be a but) do not lose yourself in this sadness. Try to replace the sadness with excitement that your kids are going forth into the world with all you have taught them, all you have shown them. Our job is to guide them and encourage them to become successful and contributing members of society. Let them live. Let them experience. And I dare you to do the same.

What were things in your world you used to love to do that got pushed to the side or put on a back burner while you cared for your children, or while you worked countless hours at a job you may or may not have even liked. Hobbies you used to love? Friends you used to see? Live your life. Become the person you have always wanted to become — or reignite the passion for yourself you used to have. I always share with clients: it is never too late.

Whether you are still mom and dad — or now maybe caring for your own mom and dad — or you are finding you are identifying too much with a job, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and picture the perfect you. Connect with your higher self (that perfect version of yourself) and move toward that. One small step at a time still moves you forward.

Don’t get lost in someone else’s dream; make sure you are living your own. And if you are? Kudos to you! We are very few and far between. So I ask this of you: reach out to a friend who may be in need. Give them a hug, spend some time, lend an ear. Talk to them about the wonderful person you know they are, and remind them not to get lost.

We are all in this together.


Mary-Anne Schelb is director of Business Development at JGS Lifecare.

Senior Planning

Six Indications It Might Be Time for Memory Care

By Arbors Assisted Living


Memory care is a special kind of long-term care designed to meet the specific needs of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia or types of memory problems. Often housed within an assisted-living community, a memory-care program offers a more structured environment that comes with set schedules and routines to create a stress-free lifestyle, safety features to ensure the health of the residents, and programs designed to cultivate cognitive skills.

Five Symptoms of Dementia to Look Out For

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.

One of the most common signs of dementia involves trouble with short-term memory. From forgetting recently learned information to asking for the same information over and over, your aging loved one may be able to remember events that took place years ago, but not what they had for breakfast.

2. Difficulty handling complex tasks.

You might notice a subtle shift in your loved one’s ability to complete normal tasks, such as driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work, or remembering the rules of a favorite game — or when they start having difficulty handling more complex tasks, such as balancing a checkbook.

3. New problems with words in speaking or writing.

Maybe your mom has always been a stellar conversationalist, and you notice that now she may have trouble following or joining a conversation. Or perhaps your dad struggles to find the right word or calls things by the wrong name.

4. Apathy and withdrawal or depression.

Changes in mood can be an indication that your loved one has dementia. Perhaps they avoid being social because of the changes in their brain. They may also have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby, so they may start to withdraw from things they previously enjoyed.

5. Increasing confusion and disorientation.

Someone in the early stages of dementia may often lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. Confusion may arise as they can no longer remember faces, find the right words, or interact with people normally.

When to see a doctor:

If your aging loved one exhibits several of these signs, consult a doctor. A general practitioner will typically refer you to a neurologist who can examine your loved one’s physical and mental health to determine whether the symptoms result from dementia or another cognitive problem.

One of the goals of a memory-care community is to keep seniors with dementia engaged and active in a safe, home-like environment and to promote the highest quality of life by adapting the staff, environment, and daily routine to the needs of each individual.

Because of this, there is no downside to placing a loved one in a memory-care community too soon. However, there are many drawbacks to waiting too long.

So, how do you know when it’s the right time to consider moving your loved one to a specialized memory care community? The following questions may be helpful when determining if a move to memory care is a good option.


1. Is My Loved One Becoming Unsafe in Their Current Home?

As dementia progresses, your loved one will have a harder time functioning independently. Maybe you used to be able to help your mom by writing out a daily to-do list and a schedule of when she should take her medications. But now, she needs reminders to shower and help choosing appropriate clothes for the season.

Bathing, toileting, dressing, and other activities of daily living all come with risks. Safety should always be considered, and if there are any tasks that your loved one cannot perform safely on their own, assistance should be provided.

How often each day you worry about her, check on her, or make a call regarding her safety or whereabouts? If your loved one has fallen, had a driving accident, or suffered an unexplained injury, these are safety signs it’s time to consider moving your loved one to a memory-care community.


2. Is the Health of My Loved One or My Health as a Caregiver at Risk?

Dementia will affect your loved one’s ability to remember to take prescribed medications at the right time or the right dosage, which can lead to serious health problems. For example, chronic health conditions such as COPD and heart disease may worsen rapidly if dementia interferes with your loved one’s ability to manage their treatment. You might also notice that your loved one starts to look different. Maybe your dad is losing weight because he forgets to eat or gaining weight because he forgets he’s eaten and eats again.

When you look in a mirror, you might notice that you are starting to look different, too. Caring for someone with dementia is mentally draining and physically exhausting. If the stress of caregiving is left unchecked, it can have an impact on your health, relationships, and state of mind, eventually leading to burnout.

Is dementia preventing your loved one from taking care of their health? Are you and your other family members exhausted? It’s important to be honest with yourself about your emotional and physical limits while caregiving. Sometimes placement in a memory-care community is best for both the caregiver and the loved one’s overall health and well-being.


3. Are My Loved One’s Care Needs Beyond My Physical Capabilities?

In the later stages of dementia, your loved one may require assistance getting in and out of bed and moving from the bed to a chair. Additionally, dementia physically damages the brain, which can affect your loved one’s personality and behavior.

Wandering, agitation, repetitive speech or actions, paranoia, and sleeplessness may pose many challenges for families and caregivers. However, it’s important to remember that these behaviors are often coping tactics for a person with deteriorating brain function.

Is your petite, 70-year-old mom trying to get your 180-pound dad to the bathroom two or three times each night? Is your dad’s aggression triggered by something — physical discomfort, being in an unfamiliar situation, poor communication — on a regular basis? If continuing to care for your loved one at home puts both of you in danger, that’s a telltale sign that it’s time for memory care.


4. Am I Becoming a Stressed, Irritable, and Impatient Caregiver?

Stress arousal is the first sign that you’re not getting the physical and emotional support you need as a caregiver. Maybe you’re frustrated or disappointed over your loved one’s deteriorating condition or lack of progress. It can be hard to accept that the quality of your care and effort have nothing to do with the actual health-related decline or mood of the care recipient. This frustration can lead to caregiver stress.

If you are so overwhelmed by taking care of someone else that you have neglected your own physical, mental, and emotional well-being, it will not be long before you are experiencing caregiver burnout. When you are burned out, it is tough to do anything, let alone look after someone else.


5. Am I Neglecting Work Responsibilities, My Family, and Myself?

You might be struggling to maintain a sense of purpose in working so hard to provide care, which leads to neglecting responsibilities, withdrawing socially from friends and family, and having much less energy than you once had.

Family caregivers often have to take time off, either paid or unpaid, while some have to reduce their work hours. Others leave the workforce entirely in order to provide full-time care for a loved one. Additionally, caregivers don’t have as much time to take care of themselves, and they can often feel cut off from the outside world. Social isolation leads to higher levels of both caregiver stress and depression.

“There is no downside to placing a loved one in a memory-care community too soon. However, there are many drawbacks to waiting too long.”

Are you feeling irritable or hopeless, struggling with emotional and physical exhaustion, or getting sick more often? Do you have heightened anxiety or trouble making care decisions? If your loved one’s need for care is wearing you out, it may be time to start considering your memory-care options.


6. Would the Structure and Social Interaction at a Memory-care Community Benefit My Loved One?

Somewhere in the middle and late stages of dementia, your loved one will no longer be able to drive, and communication with others will become increasingly difficult. Your loved one may lose track of their thoughts, be unable to follow conversations, and/or have trouble understanding what others are trying to communicate.

Maybe it’s become too challenging to take your mom out to eat, shop, or exercise because her behavior is unpredictable. Or perhaps your dad can no longer drive, so he rarely goes out and is restless and lonely.

Is dementia shrinking your loved one’s world? Memory-care programs are equipped to provide activities and stimulation — including trips and outings — that can keep your loved one engaged and active in a safe, homelike environment.

If you answered yes to any of these questions or if you have reached a point where you feel like you cannot fully meet the needs of a loved one struggling with memory impairment, it is time to start visiting memory-care communities, which offer specialized environments where your loved one can not only live, but even thrive. Plus, knowing that your loved one has trained, 24-hour care can help relieve the caregiving burden and give your family peace of mind.

Senior Planning

Caregivers Must Understand the Importance of Self-care

By A Place for Mom

Being a caregiver for a parent or senior loved one can be a full-time job, leaving little opportunity for anything else, including your own self-care. However, self-care is essential, benefitings not only you, but the loved one you are caring for as well.

Many people who find themselves in the role of caregiver experience feelings of guilt for wanting (and needing) time for themselves; however, the necessity for self-care is sometimes compared with that of applying your own oxygen mask on an airplane before assisting anyone else. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others.

Self-care is an essential and necessary part of the process of providing care that benefits not only you but the person you are caring for as well. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup.

While providing care can be very rewarding and satisfying, it can also be exhausting, with many caregivers reporting personal health issues including depression; excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; failure to exercise; failure to stay in bed when ill; poor eating habits; postponement of (or failure to make) medical appointments; and sleep deprivation.

“Self-care is an essential and necessary part of the process of providing care that benefits not only you but the person you are caring for as well. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup.”

To combat these possible issues and live your best life possible while providing care for a loved one, consider adopting the following restorative practices for a healthy body, mind, and soul:


Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is important, not just for your physical health, but your emotional health as well. In the short term, enjoying a diet of nutritious and well-balanced meals can help to increase energy and reduce sluggishness, while in the long-term, eating well can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.


Get Enough Sleep

Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your mental health and cause a ripple effect of negative emotions and thoughts. Your body needs seven to eight hours of restorative sleep each night for optimal health. Try implementing a predictable and regular bedtime routine to coax your body into a relaxing slumber, including limiting mobile devices or tablets two hours before bed; sleeping in a cool, dark room; and wearing comfortable pajamas.


Get Regular Exercise

Exercise promotes better sleep, reduces depression and tension, and increases alertness and energy. Although finding the motivation and time to exercise, especially in the beginning, may be a struggle, small steps will add up. Try walking for 20 minutes a day, three days a week to experience the full benefits of exercise.


Make Time for Hobbies

Taking a break from caregiving to reinvest in activities and hobbies you enjoy will help to reinvigorate you and remind you of who you are, outside of being a caregiver. Accepting help from family, friends, and professionals to reinvest in yourself may be difficult, but the reward of getting reacquainted with yourself and rediscovering what brings you happiness and peace will allow you to be the best caregiver you can be.

Senior Planning

How Hospice Care Supports the End-of life Journey


By Maria Rivera


Hospice care focuses on the quality of one’s life as they embark on the end-of-life journey. It is not about dying. Instead, hospice affirms life, neither hastening nor postponing death.

The goal of hospice care is to provide patients with comfort and symptom management to help them find peace and meaning in the final months or weeks of their lives. At Hospice of the Fisher Home, we focus on quality of life, and this guides everything we do to support patients and their families.

Managing terminal illness can feel overwhelming. A hospice care team provides support to patients and their families through a delicate and challenging time using a comprehensive care model.

Maria Rivera

Maria Rivera

“Hospice helps people to live the best life they possibly can up until their very last day.”

The hospice team forms a safety net for the patient and the family. The medical director, nurses, and CNAs are experts in comfort care. They manage pain and symptoms so that patients can live as fully and comfortably as possible.

Spiritual and bereavement counselors meet with patients and their loved ones to guide them through the emotional and social challenges that often arise at the end of life. Social workers assist with social and emotional issues. Volunteers offer support in various ways, including massage, harp, and other live music, as well as therapy dogs, Reiki, acupuncture, meditation, reading books, and sitting vigil. Each member of the team has specialized hospice training and a deep dedication to helping patients and their families experience peace, comfort, and happiness.

Hospice helps people to live the best life they possibly can up until their very last day. For some people, that may mean feeling good enough to float in the pool at the local YMCA, spend a few hours fishing with a friend, or have their favorite dish for dinner and a big helping of dessert.

Educating people about the benefits of early hospice admission is important. Because hospice care focuses on the well-being of the whole patient — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual — earlier admission to hospice means the patient can experience more quality time with loved ones. There is also a greater opportunity to contemplate what matters most in life when the patient is comfortable and experiences less stress and anxiety during their final months.

When caregivers and providers are aware of the benefits of hospice, they can facilitate early admission. It’s important to plan for these difficult decisions, put preferences in writing, and have conversations about the care you want for the end of life.


Maria Rivera, BSN, RN, is executive director of Hospice of the Fisher Home in Amherst, the only independent, nonprofit hospice in Western Mass., providing end-of-life care at a nine-bed residence in Amherst and visiting private residences, assisted-living facilities, and retirement communities throughout Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden counties. It also provides hospice care to veterans at the Veterans’ Home in Holyoke.

Senior Planning

These regional and statewide nonprofits can help families make decisions and access resources related to elder-care planning.


AARP Massachusetts

1 Beacon St., #2301, Boston, MA 02108

(866) 448-3621; www.states.aarp.org/region/massachusetts

Administrator: Mike Festa

Services: AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, social-welfare organization with a membership of nearly 38 million that advocates for the issues that matter to families, such as healthcare, employment and income security, and protection from financial abuse


The Conversation Project and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement

53 State St., 19th Floor, Boston, MA 02109

(617) 301-4800;

Administrator: Kate DeBartolo

Services: The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care; its team includes five seasoned law, journalism, and media professionals who are working pro bono alongside professional staff from the Instititute for Healthcare Improvement


Elder Services of Berkshire County Inc.

877 South St., Suite 4E, Pittsfield, MA 01201

(413) 499-0524; www.esbci.org

Administrator: Christopher McLaughlin

Services: Identifies and addresses priority needs of Berkshire County seniors; services include information and referral, care management, respite care, homemaker and home health assistance, healthy-aging programs, and MassHealth nursing home pre-screening; agency also offers housing options, adult family care, group adult foster care, long-term-care ombudsman, and money management, and oversees the Senior Community Service Aide Employment Program


Estate Planning Council of Hampden County


Administrator: Susan McCoy

Services: Provides a forum for current, accurate, and authoritative information with regard to estate and financial planning; council members are life-insurance professionals, bankers, fiduciaries, lawyers, accountants, planned-giving professionals, and other financial-service providers engaged in the planning, settlement, and management of estates


Greater Springfield Senior Services Inc.

66 Industry Ave., Suite 9, Springfield, MA 01104

(413) 781-8800; www.gsssi.org

Administrator: Jill Keough

Services: Private, nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining quality of life for older adults, caregivers, and people with disabilities, through programs and services that foster independence, dignity, safety, and peace of mind; services include case management, home care, home-delivered meals, senior community dining, money management, congregate housing, and adult day care


Highland Valley Elder Services

320 Riverside Dr., Florence, MA 01062

(413) 586-2000; www.highlandvalley.org

Administrator: Allan Ouimet

Services: Services include care management, information/referral services, family caregiver program, personal emergency-response service, protective services, home-health services, chore services, nursing-home ombudsman services, adult day programs, elder-care advice, bill-payer services, options counseling, respite services, representative payee services, local dining centers, personal-care and homemaker services, and home-delivered meals



101 Munson St., Suite 201,
Greenfield, MA 01301

(413) 773-5555; www.lifepathma.org

Administrator: Barbara Bodzin

Services: LifePath, formerly Franklin County Home Care Corp., an area agency on aging, is a private, nonprofit corporation that develops, provides, and coordinates a range of services to support the independent living of elders and people with disabilities with a goal of independence; it also supports caregivers, including grandparents raising grandchildren


Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs

1 Ashburton Place, Unit 517, Boston, MA 02108

(617) 727-7750; www.mass.gov/elders

Administrator: Elizabeth Chen

Services: Connects seniors and families with a range of services, including senior centers, councils on aging, nutrition programs such as Meals on Wheels, exercise, health coaching, and more; supports older adults who may be somewhat frail through programs in nursing homes, such as the ombudsman program, volunteers who visit residents, and quality-improvement initiatives in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities; caregiver programs offer support to people with mild Alzheimer’s disease or those caring for someone with more advanced Alzheimer’s


Massachusetts Senior Legal Helpline

99 Chauncy St., Unit 400, Boston, MA 02111

(800) 342-5297; www.vlpnet.org

Administrator: Joanna Allison

Services: The Helpline is a project of the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Boston that provides free legal information and referral services to Massachusetts residents age 60 and older; the Helpline is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon



(844) 422-6277; www.massoptions.org

Administrator: Marylou Sudders

Services: A service of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, MassOptions connects elders, individuals with disabilities, and their caregivers with agencies and organizations that can best meet their needs; staff can also assist with determining eligibility for and applying to MassHealth


VA Central and Western Massachusetts Healthcare System

421 North Main St., Leeds, MA 01053

(413) 584-4040;

Administrator: Suzanne Krafft

Services: Provides primary, specialty, and mental-health care, including psychiatric, substance-abuse, and PTSD services, to a veteran population in Central and Western Massachusetts of more than 120,000 men and women


WestMass ElderCare Inc.

4 Valley Mill Road, Holyoke, MA 01040

(413) 538-9020; www.wmeldercare.org

Administrator: Roseann Martoccia

Services: Provides an array of in-home and community services to support independent living; interdisciplinary team approach to person-centered care; information, referrals, and options counseling as well as volunteer opportunities available; primary service area includes Holyoke, Chicopee, Granby, South Hadley, Belchertown, Ludlow, and Ware, as well as other surrounding communities