Difference Makers Nominations

Through Dec. 8: Do you know someone who is truly making a difference in the Western Mass. region? BusinessWest invites you to nominate an individual or group for its 16th annual Difference Makers program. Nominations for the class of 2024 must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8. Difference Makers was launched in 2009 as a way to recognize the contributions of agencies and individuals who are contributing to quality of life in this region. Past honorees have come from dozens of business and nonprofit sectors, proving there’s no limit to the ways people can impact their communities. Let us know who you think deserves to be recognized as a Difference Maker in our upcoming class by visiting to complete the nomination form. Honorees will be profiled in an upcoming issue of BusinessWest and celebrated at a gala in the spring.


Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Nov. 1-30: Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, is kicking off the bank’s 2023 Neighbors Helping Neighbors fundraising drive to help support local food pantries. This marks the third year of the bank’s annual appeal, which invites bank customers, employees, and community members to donate money between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30 to help fight food insecurity. All donations up to $2,500 per customer will be matched dollar for dollar by bankESB, and the total raised will be divided among participating food pantries across Western Mass. in communities the bank serves. In 2022, through contributions and matching donations, the campaign raised $35,000, and since inception, the bank has donated $74,000. Donations of any amount are encouraged. As an added incentive to give, the bank offers those who donate the opportunity to enter a drawing for a $25 gift card, which will be awarded at each of its 11 locations. Those who wish to participate have until Nov. 30 to make their donations. Checks should be made payable to “bankESB Neighbors” and can be dropped off at any bankESB branch or mailed to Margaret Prendergast, bankESB, 36 Main St., Easthampton, MA 01027. A total of 14 food pantries will be supported this year, including the Best Life Food Ministry, Agawam; BUCC Helping Hands Cupboard Food Pantry, Belchertown; the Chicopee Cupboard; Easthampton Community Center Food Pantry; Easthampton Congregational Church Food Cupboard & Oasis Kitchen; the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Hatfield; the Hadley Food Pantry; Hilltown Food Pantry, Goshen; Margaret’s Pantry, Holyoke; Neighbors Helping Neighbors Inc., South Hadley; Northampton Survival Center; Not Bread Alone, Amherst; Southampton Community Cupboard; and Westfield Food Pantry.


The Mighty Oktoberfest

Nov. 3-4: The Student Prince and the Fort Restaurant will celebrate the Mighty Oktoberfest. The two-night event kicks off on Nov. 3 at 5:30 p.m. with the Berkshire Mountain Wanderers on stage and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno on site to tap the ceremonial keg. Oktoberfest food will include bratwurst, knockwurst, and burgers, with a full menu indoors that includes German fare such as sauerbraten, braised lamb, and pork shanks. Other live music includes Trailer Trash at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, followed by Saturday’s lineup of Berkshire Mountain Wanderers at 5 p.m., American Badass (Kid Rock tribute) at 6 p.m., Jagged Little Pam (Alanis Morissette tribute) at 7:15 p.m., and a Foo Fighters tribute at 8:30 p.m. Single-night and two-night passes are available at the gate. Passes include one complimentary ‘haus beer’ from a list for those who are 21 or older.


Whisker Wonderland

Nov. 4: Dakin Humane Society will present Whisker Wonderland from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 171 Union St., Springfield. Admission is free, but donations will be welcomed. The second-annual holiday craft event will include a variety of local artisans offering pet-centric crafts and gifts. Last year’s first-ever Whisker Wonderland event attracted many pet lovers and craft enthusiasts across Western Mass. and Northern Conn., as well as holiday shoppers and people seeking eco-friendly, locally focused gift items. Vendors featured at the event will include Auntie’s Best Creations, Best Dressed Cup, Brodester’s Bandannas, Cindy’s Creations, Chicken Frosty, Diane’s Little Creations, Fine Design Solutions, Fleece4Fun, FroebelArt, Gifted Vine, Grandma Hubbard’s Candy Cupboard, Laura Louise (author), M&M Rustic Designs, Make It Wright Creations, MJ’s Creative Crochet, Noni’s Notions, Paintings by Sandy, Pet Rocks by LF, Sand and Sea, Sew Cozy by Abby, Sew Kreative, Toby’s Treats, and the Tragic Whale. In addition, Dakin’s Home Again thrift shop will be open at that time to provide additional shopping options. There will be a raffle of donated gift items to support animals at Dakin Humane Society, and Dakin’s holiday merchandise will be for sale. The family-friendly event will also feature a bake sale with hot chocolate. Sponsors for Whisker Wonderland include VCA Animal Hospitals and Finck & Perras Insurance Agency Inc.


Trees of Hope

Nov. 4-17: Ronald McDonald House of Springfield announced the third annual Trees of Hope holiday celebration, being held at Gary Rome Hyundai, 150 Whiting Farms Road, Holyoke. Trees of Hope is a festive fundraising event that supports the Ronald McDonald House of Springfield’s mission to provide the critical link between specialized medical treatment and the children who desperately need it. The event will feature creative holiday trees, dream gifts, and displays donated by local businesses, individuals, and community organizations. There is no entry fee to view the displays. Each display will be raffled off using an online raffle system that allows people to participate both in person and virtually. On Thursday, Nov. 9, a Halfway to Hope reception will be held for sponsors, display donors, and friends of Ronald McDonald House. Center Square Grill, Jackalope Restaurant, Pete’s Sweets, LoopHole Brewing, and Horizon Beverage will donate the evening’s refreshments. Trees of Hope will also include a Paint & Sip fundraiser on Sunday, Nov. 5 from 1 to 3 p.m., and a craft fair on Sunday, Nov. 12 from 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., both hosted at Gary Rome Hyundai. The craft fair is open to the public. The Paint & Sip event is by reservation only. To register, contact Cathy Riley of Gary Rome Hyundai at [email protected] or (413) 536-4328, ext. 1062.


Super 60

Nov. 9: Ashley Kohl, owner of Ohana School of Performing Arts and an entrepreneur with an inspiring story to tell, will be the keynote speaker at the Springfield Regional Chamber’s Super 60 lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. The Super 60, a program that traces its roots back to the late ’80s, when it was the Fabulous 50 before being expanded, is being revamped for 2023. In addition to the two traditional categories — Total Revenue and Revenue Growth — there will be three new categories recognizing nonprofits, startups, and giving back to the community. There are 12 winners in each category; read about them starting on page 22. Tickets will be available for purchase at the chamber’s website, For more information on Super 60, call (413) 787-1555.


ignite 2023 Conference

Nov. 15-16: “The Future of Work/Humanification in the Age of AI” will be the topic of the Chamber of Greater Easthampton’s ignite 2023 professional-development conference at Abandoned Building Brewery, 142 Pleasant St., Easthampton. The two-day conference is designed to empower leaders, business owners, professionals, entrepreneurs, employers, and employees with the knowledge and skills required to thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of work. The conference will emphasis the latest trends and best practices in artificial intelligence (AI) and explore the intersection of AI and the human workforce. Over the course of the two days, ignite 2023 attendees will better understand how AI is reshaping industries; discover ways to utilize AI integration to propel sales; learn new approaches to boosting employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention using AI; explore cutting-edge communications tools, techniques, and insights into customer behavior; and identify actionable strategies and tactics for implementation. The ignite 2023 conference will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and will include speakers, interactive workshops, group problem-solving activities, and relationship-building opportunities. Registration for the ignite 2023 conference costs $179 for chamber members and $199 for non-member, and includes all conference materials as well as lunch both days. Pre-registration is required, and the deadline for registration is Wednesday, Nov. 8. For more details about the conference and to register, visit


Women of Impact

Dec. 7: BusinessWest will honor its sixth annual Women of Impact at Sheraton Springfield. Tickets cost $95 per person, and tables of 10 are available. To purchase tickets, visit The class of 2023, profiled in the Oct. 16 issue of BusinessWest and at, are: Fredrika Ballard, president, Aero Design Aircraft Services and Fly Lugu Flight Training; Carla Cosenzi, president, TommyCar Auto Group; Arlyana Dalce-Bowie, CEO, Moms in Power; Sandra Doran, president, Bay Path University; Dr. Khama Ennis, founder, Faces of Medicine and Intentional Health, LLC; Dawn Forbes DiStefano, president and CEO, Square One; Amy Jamrog, CEO, the Jamrog Group; Michelle Theroux, CEO, Berkshire Hills Music Academy; and Lisa Zarcone, author, speaker, and child and mental-health advocate. The event is sponsored by Country Bank and TommyCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors) and Comcast Business (partner sponsor).