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Celebrating 40 Years

Robert MacDonald, executive director of Work Opportunity Center Inc. (WOC) was recently honored with a Zoom anniversary celebration for his 40 years of leadership. WOC provides services to individuals with developmental challenges, including community integration, work skills, and community employment. Agawam Mayor William Sapelli, Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno, and West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt all offered proclamations. Pictured, from left: Mary Akers, assistant executive director; Dale Lapointe, board secretary; Joanne Roberts, board member; MacDonald; Steve Robinson, board president; and Rick Hanchett, vice president.

 


 

Sharing and Caring

Cooley Dickinson Health Care employees recently donated hundreds of personal-hygiene products ranging from hair brushes and razors to deodorant, soap, and toothpaste to the Amherst and Northampton Survival Centers and the Easthampton Community Center. Pictured, from left: Jeff Harness, Cooley Dickinson’s director of Community Health and Government Relations; Robin Bialecki, executive director of the Easthampton Community Center; and Angela Belmont, chief Nursing officer at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

 


 

Service Above Self

Last month, John Doleva, president and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; and Frank Colaccino, Hall of Fame governor, CEO of the Colvest Group, and chair of the Westfield Bank 2019 Service Above Self luncheon committee, presented a check for $6,500 to the Rotary Club of Springfield, which is planning to award $10,000 in grants to Springfield-based nonprofit organizations that benefit the Greater Springfield community, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured from left: Paul Lambert, Rotarian and vice president of Enshrinement Services & Community Engagement at the Hall of Fame; Doleva; Colaccino; and Sue Mastroianni and Jack Toner, past presidents of the Rotary Club of Springfield.

 


 

Special Delivery

Amid COVID-19, the need for organizations such as Open Pantry Community Services has grown. Matt Ogrodowicz of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. led a charge to collect food and donations at MBK over a two-week period. He shared Open Pantry’s mission as well as its high-demand items, including cereal, pasta, canned goods, peanut butter, and spaghetti sauce. Staff at MBK donated food and/or money, which Ogrodowicz used to shop for additional items on the high-demand list. With the combined efforts, MBK was able to donate 279 pounds of food to Open Pantry.

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Breaking Ground

 

Florence Bank broke ground earlier this month on its third Hampden County branch at 705 Memorial Dr. in Chicopee, the former Hu Ke Lau site. The full-service location will open later this year. The bank has been working with Marois Construction of South Hadley, HAI Architecture of Northampton, and R. Levesque Associates, an engineering firm in Westfield, on the project. Pictured: Florence Bank President and CEO Kevin Day (left) poses with Chicopee Mayor John Vieau at the groundbreaking.


Feeding the Front Lines

 

Ludlow-based Pioneer Valley Financial Group and Mill’s Tavern & Grille recently partnered to cook and deliver food to front-line workers during the pandemic. Starting on April 10, PV Financial donated $350 to Mill’s Tavern each week to help pay for the cost of food and delivery, while a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $2,280 from the community. The donations have allowed Mill’s Tavern and PV Financial to deliver more than 400 meals to hospitals, police and fire departments, and pharmacies across Western Mass., including the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke (pictured), Baystate Mary Lane in Ware, and CVS Pharmacy in Ludlow.

 


Deserving Scholars

This spring, the Holyoke Community College Foundation awarded nearly $210,000 in scholarships to 200 incoming, current, and transferring HCC students and will set a record for the number of scholarships it distributes for the 2020-21 academic year, with 233. The number of applications for scholarships this year increased by 22%, from 391 to 479. Pictured: HCC business major Alexandra Clark is the recipient of this year’s Marguerite I. Lazarz Memorial Scholarship from the HCC Foundation.

 

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Summer Fun

The law firm Pellegrini, Seeley Ryan & Blakesley donated $3,000 and employees’ time to provide and distribute summer-activity backpacks to 300 children for the Boys & Girls club of Greater Westfield. The backpacks were stuffed with art supplies, puzzles, games, soccer and gym balls, and other items for children.

Attorney Patrick McHugh stuffs a backpack

Attorney Patrick McHugh stuffs a backpack

 

Ayame Anthony is pleased with her haul

Ayame Anthony is pleased with her haul

 

 


Feed the Fight

Peter Pan Bus Lines and the Bean Restaurant Group recently teamed up with U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to show appreciation for first responders. On May 26, as part of the “Feed the Fight” project, Neal helped deliver more than 300 meals to Mercy Medical Center in Springfield. Supported by a donation from Neal’s campaign and organized by Peter Pan and the Bean Group, the project rewards the hard work of frontline healthcare workers while also supporting local Western Mass. restaurants.

 

 


Bridging the Gap

bankESB recently donated $5,000 to the Easthampton Community Center to support the Kid’s Bag Pantry program, which typically provides each child up to age 18 with a bag of food monthly during the school year and weekly during the summer months. This year, the weekly program began in March due to school closures, contributing to a shortfall in funding. Pictured: Easthampton Community Center Executive Director Robin Bialecki (left) receives the donation from Natalie Didonna, assistant vice president and branch officer at bankESB’s Easthampton office.

 

 


 

 

 

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Celebrating Carol Leary

On May 17, what would have been Bay Path University’s 123rd commencement celebrating the class of 2020, President Carol Leary and her husband, Noel, were treated to a surprise drive-by parade commemorating Carol’s retirement after 25 years. For 20 minutes, more than 200 cars snaked down Route 5 in Longmeadow blasting their horns. Headed by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, the decorated cars featured a giant teddy bear, an inflated flamingo raft tied to a car roof, numerous signs expressing ‘carpe diem’— the official school motto — and, of course, balloons. While maintaining their social distance, the parade of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends shouted their thanks and well wishes to the Learys. (Photos by Leah Martin)

 


 

Election Protection

Scott Rote, president of Wheeler & Taylor Insurance, recently called Charles Burger, director of the Southern Berkshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee, wanting to donate 2,000 surgical masks. Then the agency went a step further, procuring foam, elastic strapping material, and 200 sheets of polycarbonate plastic and constructing face shields to be used by poll workers in upcoming elections. Burger will allocate the personal protective equipment to the 12 towns in Southern Berkshire County. After the face shields are used for elections, they will be cleaned and repurposed.

 

 


 

Project Toybox

The United Way of Pioneer Valley recently partnered with numerous community organizations to deliver more than 1,000 educational, age-appropriate to families hit hard by COVID-19. Thanks to its partnership with Good360, the toys arrived at the United Way’s office on May 13 and are being distributed to the following organizations who will pass them along to children in need: Boys & Girls Clubs of West Springfield, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Westfield, Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Holyoke, YMCA of Greater Springfield, and Holyoke Housing Authority. Pictured: the United Way’s Joe Mina moves a pallet of donated toys.

 


Sign and Drive

Bulkley Richardson trusts and estates attorneys have been coordinating parking-lot and driveway signings for higher-risk clients in need of executing legal documents. Keeping the health and wellness of clients a top priority, these arrangements, and others, are made so that an office visit is not required.

 


 

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Special Deliveries

With campus closed, Holyoke Community College donated its perishable food supplies to three area nonprofits: Martin Luther King Jr. Family Center in Springfield, the YWCA Transitional Living Program in Holyoke, and Easthampton Community Center. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts helped coordinate the donations.

load a cargo van with surplus produce and other food

Sarah Schmidt, director of programming for HCC’s Center for Excellence, and Stacy Graves, coordinator of the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, load a cargo van with surplus produce and other food

ready to deliver a load of food

Mark Pronovost, director of Aramark/HCC Dining Services, gets ready to deliver a load of food to the Easthampton Community Center.

 


Needed Supplies

UMass Amherst recently donated 300 face shields — developed by UMass researchers, engineers, nurses, and other healthcare professionals — to the Skilled Nursing Center at Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing. UMass contributed more than $30,000 toward the initial production of face shields and hundreds of volunteer hours designing, testing, revising, and manufacturing them.

a box of shields designed and donated by UMass Amherst

Tomara Meegan (left), assistant director of Nursing and infection preventionist at Loomis Lakeside, and Patty Coughlin, director of Nursing at Loomis Lakeside, carry a box of shields designed and donated by UMass Amherst.

 

 


Gear for the Front Lines

Lenco Armored Vehicles recently donated nearly $300,000 worth of personal protective equipment to regional first responders working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, including sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and spray, respirators, masks, eyewear, gloves, protective clothing, and power air respirator supplies — about 35,000 pieces of equipment in all. Recipients include Dalton, Lanesborough, Pittsfield, and Richmond fire departments; Dalton, Lanesborough, and Pittsfield police departments; County Ambulance and Action Ambulance in Pittsfield; and the emergency room at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.

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Meeting the Need

Action Ambulance Supervisor Kyle Rondeau

Action Ambulance Supervisor Kyle Rondeau, HMC President and CEO Spiros Hatiras, and HMC Chief Operating Officer Carl Cameron.

Holyoke Medical Center has shared personal protective equipment (PPE) with local first responders, including Action Ambulance, South Hadley Fire Department, and the city of Springfield. The donations included 700 face shields, 1,000 KN95 face masks, and 1,500 standard face masks for the responders to give to people they interact with at a distance closer than six feet. Holyoke Medical Center executives also spoke with officials in other surrounding municipalities, most of which had an adequate current supply of masks and face shields.


Bedtime Stories

Link to Libraries recently launched a new initiative called “Link Live: Bedtime Stories,” airing on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 8 p.m. on Facebook Live. Children’s book authors are reading their own books and then taking questions from participants. With the use of Facebook, children and their parents can not only enjoy being read to, but also have the unique opportunity to interact with the author in real time. The first authors who participated were Ashley Morse (The Big E Book, pictured), Jamie Michalak (The Coziest Place), Anika Aldamuy Denise (The Love Letter), Josh Funk (Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast), and Cynthia Platt (A Little Bit of Love). Link to Libraries is planning to extend the program into May and will release an updated schedule soon.

Mask Maker, Mask Maker, Make Me a Mask

When the COVID-19 pandemic made wearing face masks a public health concern, those masks suddenly become hard to find — and Lauren Hummel and Donna Fournier sprang into action. Fournier’s mother taught her to sew long ago, and she had a lot of fabric on hand, so she started making masks — 50 to begin with, mostly for her family. Hummel started by making a mask for herself, and friends reached out wondering if she would make masks for them. Both eventually connected with the Mental Health Assoc. to make masks for staff who work in MHA’s group homes, who are considered essential workers. Hummel got her daughter, Kellie, involved as well (pictured), and MHA continues to look for volunteer sewers.

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Community Support

Earlier this month, UMassFive College Federal Credit Union reached out to support community members and healthcare workers heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, sponsoring 150 portions of chicken pot pie (made fresh and delivered by Log Cabin Rolling) that were served at the Amherst Survival Center daily community meal, and also sponsoring the delivery of 200 meals to emergency-room staff, split between Springfield’s Mercy Medical Center and Worcester’s UMass Memorial Medical Center. These meals were delivered to the staff at lunchtime, with extra meals to support the next shift as well.

 


 

Meeting the Need

 

The United Way of Pioneer Valley

The United Way of Pioneer Valley recently donated 5,000 frozen meals to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The transfer took place at Springfield City Hall, with Mayor Domenic Sarno and United Way President and CEO Paul Mina, in attendance. With the economic effects of COVID-19 causing many area businesses to close, the Food Bank and the food pantries it serves have seen a dramatic increase in need. This donation was a part of the Western Massachusetts United Ways’ combined efforts to provide relief for COVID-19. Pictured: Mina (left) and Tom Leporati of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts handle a pallet of food.

 

 

 


 

A Story Worth Reading

Link to Libraries and MGM Springfield announced a partnership


Last month, Link to Libraries and MGM Springfield announced a partnership to promote learning and literacy in support of Springfield students who are out of the classroom and learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Link to Libraries and MGM Springfield donated more than 1,000 books to children ranging from kindergarten through high school. The books were distributed to families through the 15 schools designated as lunch pick-up sites.

 

 


 

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Customers’ Choice

$1,221 award

Florence Bank President Kevin Day presents Nikki Lewis, coalition coordinator of first-time grant award winner West Springfield CARE Coalition, with a $1,221 award.

 

Tammy Walunas of the Smith Vocational High School PTO chats

From left, Tammy Walunas of the Smith Vocational High School PTO chats with It Takes a Village volunteer Sierra-Rae Bottum and Mollie Hartford, co-executive director

Florence Bank gave $100,000 to 57 area nonprofits on March 10 at its annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program celebration at the Garden House at Look Memorial Park, putting the program over the $1.2 million mark in grants made to community nonprofits over almost two decades. The recipients each garnered at least 50 votes from bank customers in 2019, and the bank also awarded $500 each to six organizations that received between 40 and 49 votes.

 


Grand Tour

Grand Tour

From left, John LaFrancis, chair, Mechanical Engineering Technology; STCC President John Cook; state Rep. Jeffrey Roy; state Sen. Anne Gobi; state Rep. Stephan Hay; STCC graduate Elizabeth Ryan; state Rep. Mindy Domb; and state Rep. Aaron Vega

 

Student trustee Yanira Aviles

Student trustee Yanira Aviles

From the patient simulation center to the mechanical engineering technology lab, state lawmakers toured Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) last month to get a better understanding how it is preparing students for careers and boosting the economic vitality of the region. STCC was the 25th stop for the Joint Committee on Higher Education, which plans to visit all 29 Massachusetts public colleges and universities.

 


 

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Elevating the Brand

Valley Vodka Inc., maker of V-One Vodka, announced a new partnership with Julious Grant and Ty Law. Grant brings 29 years of executive-level experience in the spirits industry, having held senior leadership roles in sales and marketing in some of the most successful companies in the world. Law, an NFL Hall of Famer, won three Super Bowls as a cornerback with the New England Patriots. This partnership comes on the heels of Valley Vodka Inc. completing a multi-million-dollar purchase and renovation of its own ‘farm to glass’ distillery in Kamien, Poland. “With our new distillery, expanded production, and new packaging, this is the perfect time to introduce more people to our clean-drinking vodka,” V-One creator Paul Kozub said. “Julious and Ty are tremendous assets to help us expand distribution and increase brand awareness.” Pictured, from left, are Grant, Kozub, and Law.

 


Supporting the Community

Florence Bank recently pledged $50,000

Florence Bank recently pledged $50,000 to the YMCA of Greater Springfield to help fund the new wellness and childcare center that opened at Springfield’s Tower Square on Dec. 5. The new, state-of-the-art facility includes a 15,000-square-foot education center that serves infants through elementary-school students. Additionally, the facility includes a new, 12,000-square-foot wellness center with premium strength and conditioning equipment in a space that overlooks the city. Pictured, from left: Jeffrey Poindexter, YMCA of Greater Springfield board chair; Dexter Johnson, YMCA of Greater Springfield president and CEO; and Nicole Gleason, Springfield branch manager and vice president of Florence Bank.

 


Highest Honors

For the third consecutive year, the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter at Western New England University

For the third consecutive year, the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter at Western New England University earned the “highest honors” designation for its campus engagement and programming for the 2018-19 academic year. One indicator of the chapter’s engagement is participation at the annual Global Leadership Summit (GLS), which chapter President Tessa Wood and Secretary Kathryn Wells attended last year. The GLS enables delegates to participate in professional-development workshops and share best practices with student leaders from other BGS chapters worldwide. Pictured, from left: chapter members Wood, Finance Chair Emily Sajdak, Service Chair Krystyna Germano, and Vice President Teddy Doyle.

 


Record Donation

Holyoke Community College (HCC) has received the largest donation

Holyoke Community College (HCC) has received the largest donation in the college’s 74-year history — $7.5 million — from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Foundation, established by the late Elaine Marieb, a longtime HCC faculty member, alumna, best-selling textbook author, and Northampton native. The donation includes $5 million outright and a $2.5 million matching gift that will go toward future renovations of HCC’s main science facility, the Marieb Building, as part of a multi-phase plan to expand the recently opened Center for Life Sciences to encompass the entire three-story structure. Pictured: HCC Biology Professor Emily Rabinsky (center) teaches a biotechnology lab in the Center for Life Sciences.

 


Advocating for Girls

Executives from Girls Inc. of the Valley recently joined executives

Executives from Girls Inc. of the Valley recently joined executives from Girls Inc. of Lynn, Worcester, and Berkshires on the State House floor to highlight the Eureka! program — which prepares teenage girls to participate and excel in cutting-edge, dynamic STEM careers — and advocate for its inclusion in the state budget. Pictured, from left: Ruth Roy, campaign director, Girls Inc. of the Valley; Kelly Marion, CEO, Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, home of Girls Inc. of the Berkshires; Victoria Waterman, CEO, Girls Inc. of Worcester; Agnes Nkansah, Girls Inc. of Worcester Eureka! alumna and student at Brandeis University; Suzanne Parker, executive director, Girls Inc. of the Valley; Deb Ansourlian, executive director, Girls Inc. of Lynn; Brenda Nikas-Hayes, director of Eureka!, Girls Inc. of Worcester; Sidney Hamilton, outreach and site coordinator, Girls Inc. of the Berkshires; Lena Crowley, director, Teen and Middle School Program, Girls Inc. of Lynn; and Alexandra DeFronzo, supervisor of STEM Programs, Girls Inc.

 


Read Across America Day

First American Insurance Agency recently took part in Read Across America Day

First American Insurance Agency recently took part in Read Across America Day by reading to students at Saint Stanislaus School as part of its Kids First campaign. The campaign is an ongoing effort to support children and teens in Western Mass. through education and play. The staff volunteers time and resources through several activities and fundraisers throughout the year. Pictured, from left: Theresa Kelly, Kristie Learned, Ginger Marszalek, and Meghan Harnois from First American Insurance Agency.

 


 

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A Visit from the First Lady

On Feb. 21, Massachusetts First Lady Lauren Baker paid a visit to Square One’s Tommie Johnson Child & Family Center, where she spent the afternoon learning about Square One’s work with children and families in the region. She was greeted by Square One educators, therapists, and children, who welcomed her with songs and gifts for the children Baker engages with in her work with the Wonderfund of Massachusetts.

 


Advocating for Community Colleges

James Lombella (left), North-West regional president of Connecticut Community Colleges, and Eileen Peltier (right), dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education for Asnuntuck, Northwestern Connecticut, and Tunxis community colleges, traveled to Hartford in February to represent the 12 Connecticut community colleges as part of a 2020 Skills Summit organized by the National Skills Coalition. Lombella and Peltier met with staff from the office of state Sen. Richard Blumenthal and state Rep. Joe Courtney (center) to provide updates on the community colleges and seek support for Pell grants for students in non-credit programs that provide industry licensure and credentials.


Grand Opening

Brenda Cuoco & Associates Real Estate Brokerage celebrated its grand-opening ceremony on Feb. 8. The office opened for business in Wilbraham in November. State Rep. Angelo Puppolo presented Cuoco, who has been a real-estate agent for 15 years, with a House of Representatives citation.

The brokerage team, from left, Amy Beaulieu, MaryKate Caron, Paula Lynch, Alyssa Stout, Brenda Cuoco, Tammy Sandomierski, Kathleen Brenner, Paige Belcastro, and Cori Bessette

 

From left: Puppolo, David Cuoco, Brenda Cuoco, Marco Cuoco, and Antonio Cuoco

 


Giving Back to the Community

Community Bank N.A. announced that its annual charitable giving reached more than $2.6 million in 2019 through sponsorships, donations, and grants, with its branches across Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont donating to more than 2,500 local organizations. In Massachusetts, it supported a variety of organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of Springfield, the YMCA of Greater Springfield, Springfield Rescue Mission, Open Pantry Community Services, Way Finders, Gardening the Community, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County, and (pictured) the Western Regional Office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (MSBDC).

From left: Community Bank N.A. Springfield Branch Manager Gilbert Nieves, Commercial Banking Team Leader Keith Nesbitt, MSBDC Regional Director Samalid Hogan, MSBDC Client Services Coordinator and Office Manager Lynn Shedd, and MSBDC Senior Business Advisor Anita Elisaon.

 

 


Art History

Tower Square unveiled a James Kitchen sculpture in its Center Court on Feb. 26. The 11-foot-high sculpture, titled “Tower Squares,” is comprised of intricate, stacked blocks, a la Dr. Seuss, filled with parts and pieces recycled from Springfield’s past. Visitors will discover a 1940s Indian motorcycle seat, pipe wrenches invented by Solymon Merrick in 1835, a clip-on ice skate patented by Everett Barney in the 1800s, a basketball hoop, ice tongs, hammers, gears that turn, doorbells that ring, faucets, and much more. The entire installation is interactive, inviting children and adults to explore its components. The statue will be a permanent feature of the building.

 

 


 

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Accessible Design Award

At its annual awards gala, the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) presented Caolo & Bieniek Associates Inc. with the 2019 Accessible Design Award for its work at Westfield State University’s Davis Hall. The award honors design excellence in buildings that are accessible for people of all abilities, with an emphasis on projects that exceed the legal accessibility requirements in anticipation of diverse user needs and benefits. The residence-hall addition and renovation, designed in coordination with the university and Stegman+Associates Inc., includes new private and multi-user restrooms, providing access to all students.

Pictured, from left: Janet Stegman, owner, Stegman+Associates; Janet Chrisos, deputy director, Massachusetts State College Building Authority; Steven Taksar, vice president, Administration & Finance, Westfield State University; Curtis Edgin, president, Caolo & Bieniek Associates.


Grand Opening

The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated the ribbon cutting and grand opening of Hadley Dental Care on Jan. 31. More than 50 community and business leaders stopped by to see the state-of-the-art technology and hear about the client-centric care offered by Dr. Tapan Pujara, DDS and Dr. Chaitalee Ganatra, DDS (pictured). The practice is located at 1 Mill Valley Road, Unit D, Hadley. A celebration followed the ribbon cutting next door at the Taproom, featuring networking, food, and prizes.

 


Charitable Champions List

Pioneer Valley Financial Group is one of 20 financial-advisory firms selected for the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation’s 2019 Charitable Champions List, which recognizes advisory firms for their exemplary efforts to give back to their communities by promoting a culture of philanthropy among employees and financial advisors. Invest in Others received dozens of applications, which were evaluated blindly by a judging panel made up of financial advisors. Applications were evaluated on criteria including employee benefits, company contributions, and philanthropic events and programs offered by the firms.

 


Getting a Boost

Led by state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, the Springfield legislative delegation was able to secure a $250,000 appropriation for the UMass Center at Springfield. On Feb. 10, a ceremonial check was presented by the delegation at the center, located in Tower Square in downtown Springfield. At that event, UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy introduced Jamina Scippio-McFadden as the new director of the center, which opened its doors in 2014. Pictured below: Scippio-McFadden and Gonzalez address those gathered for the check presentation.

From left, state Sen. James Welch, state Rep. Angelo Puppolo, McFadden, Gonzalez, state Rep. Bud Williams, and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno gather around the ceremonial check.


 

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A Home for Innovation

On Jan. 23, DevelopSpringfield celebrated the completion of the Springfield Innovation Center at 276 Bridge St., a $7.1 million project funded through state and federal tax credits, grants, foundation money, and private financing. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (left, with Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno), who helped secure more than $1 million in federal tax credits to finance the project, noted that innovation is a key part of the country’s — and the region’s — story, and needs to continue to be. State Sens. Eric Lesser and James Welch and state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez were also on hand for the ceremony.

 


 

Scoring a Milestone

The Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament celebrated an important milestone in 2019, pushing past the $1 million mark in donations to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The tournament hosted its 11th annual tournament on Aug. 19 at Twin Hills Country Club and Elmcrest Country Club, where attendees heard from Dr. Patrick Wen from the Neuro-Oncology Department at Dana-Farber (pictured, left, with Carla Cozenzi and Tommy Consenzi of TommyCar Auto Group) about the impact of the tournament on brain-cancer research. In its 11 years, the tournament has raised $1,086,487.50 for Dana-Farber.

 


Car Wash for a Good Cause

 

Balise Motor Sales helped make a difference this holiday season by raising $13,341.51 for Square One. Balise donated the first month’s payment from each unlimited monthly car-wash plan purchased in December at two Western Mass. locations. Balise is a longtime supporter of Square One, donating $5,000 in 2018 to support its Adopt-a-Classroom program, $10,000 in 2017 to help build a new indoor playspace, and $10,000 in 2016 to support the organization’s new fitness program, LAUNCH. Pictured, from left: Joan Kagan and Kristine Allard from Square One, Alexandra Balise from Balise Motor Sales, and Dawn DiStefano from Square One.


Toward a New Home

Florence Bank has pledged $7,500 to the Harmony House of Chicopee to help fund a renovation and expansion that will allow the nonprofit to improve services and care for more terminally ill individuals who live alone or lack a capable caregiver. Harmony House is currently fundraising to cover the cost of the $600,000 home renovation. It recently broke ground on a permanent and much larger home in the Aldenville section of Chicopee. Pictured, from left: Ger Ronan, president, Yankee Home; Maureen Buxton, West Springfield branch manager, Florence Bank; Ruth Willemain, Harmony House founder; Amy Corcoran, president, Harmony House board of directors; and Pamela Quirk, RN, house operations and volunteer committee chair, Harmony House.


Forging Connections

State Sen. Eric Lesser and state Rep. Brian Ashe toured Toner Plastics in East Longmeadow recently with members of the FORGE Manufacturing Initiative, which builds and fosters connections between regional suppliers and innovative startups across the Commonwealth. They were also joined by QUIKCORD, a regional startup that has worked with Toner Plastics to develop a life-saving utility case for military paracord. Pictured, from left: Lesser and Ashe take in the tour with Toner Plastics President Jack Warren.


MassHire Grand Opening

On Jan. 14, MassHire Springfield Career Center held a grand-opening celebration at its new facility on the third floor of 95 Liberty Street. About 125 people attended the event, which included guided tours of the 13,200-square-foot facility. Pictured, from left: state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez; Rosalin Acosta, state secretary of Labor & Workforce Development; Kevin Lynn, executive director of MassHire Springfield Career Center; Shayvonne Plummer, Springfield Office of Planning & Economic Development; Talia Gee, Springfield chief Diversity & Inclusion officer; and Gary MacDonald, vice president of AIM HR Solutions.

 


Cannabis Conference

The Springfield Regional Chamber hosted the region’s first-ever cannabis conference on Wed., Jan. 28: “The Buzz About Cannabis: Marijuana in the Marketplace and the Workplace.” Employers and employees from all over Western Mass. attended the conference to get some help navigating the brand new complex world of marijuana in Massachusetts.

Theory Wellness, soon to open a new location in Chicopee, presents at the exhibitor marketplace

Scott Foster, attorney at Bulkley Richardson, and Tina Sbrega, CEO of GFA Credit Union, present “Business Structure and Banking in the Cannabis Industry”

Daniel Fogarty and Mikayla Bell from NETA show their products at the exhibitor marketplace

Joanne Berwald, vice president of HR at Mestek, Erica Flores, attorney at Skoler Abbott, and Pam Thornton, director of Strategic HR Services at the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast, answer questions about cannabis in the workplace

 


 

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Coats of Arms

Employees at Smith & Wesson collected gently used coats during a recent on-site coat drive, and will distribute them to people in need Western Mass., with the help of the United Way of Pioneer Valley. “Our employees are continually looking for ways to give back to our community,” said Lane Tobiassen, president of Firearms at Smith & Wesson. “Knowing these new and gently used coats will be distributed locally makes this event even more special.”


Another Term Begins

Domenic Sarno, the 54th and longest-serving mayor of Springfield, was inaugurated for the fifth time on Jan. 6 at Springfield Symphony Hall. Denise Jordan, executive director of the Springfield Housing Authority, served as the mistress of ceremonies.


The Youngest Fans

Mercy Medical Center and the Springfield Thunderbirds announced a partnership to gift babies born at Mercy’s Family Life Center with a Mercy/Thunderbirds branded onesie. Every year, the Family Life Center welcomes more than 1,000 babies into the world. In their admission packets, parents will be given the onesie, along with instructions on how to enter a monthly drawing. A winner will be chosen each month to win a Boomer’s Kids Club membership, a plush Boomer, and four tickets to a Thunderbirds game. “We’re thrilled to be able to provide each newborn a special gift to welcome them to this world along with Mercy,” said Nathan Costa, president of the T-birds. “It’s never too early to start loving hockey.”


Workplace Pledge

Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced that the bank recently donated $61,000 to the United Way of Hampshire County. The bank directly pledged $25,000, while the bank’s employees contributed another $36,000 of their own funds in support of the United Way’s workplace campaign.  That campaign provides employees with the opportunity to donate and direct funds, volunteer time, and advocate for causes that are most important to them.


Toast to the Season

The Hampden County Bar Assoc. (HCBA) recently held its annual Toast to the Season at the Sheraton in Springfield. Members were asked to bring a toy for Toys for Tots.

HCBA President-elect Thomas Wilson, Esq.; HCBA Executive Director Noreen Nardi, Esq.; and HCBA President Kathleen Cavanaugh, Esq.

 

Judge Barbara Hyland, Hampden County Probate & Family Court; and Judge William Hadley, Holyoke District Court.

 

Assistant Clerk Magistrate Michael Wallace, Holyoke District Court; Clerk Magistrate Nathan Byrnes, Westfield District Court; and Charles Casartello Jr., Esq.

 

 

 


 

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HCC Gives Back to the Community

Representatives from four Holyoke Community College (HCC) student clubs delivered hundreds of winter care packages to agencies in Holyoke and Springfield that serve the homeless. Members of the HCC Military Club, Criminal Justice Club, Radio Club, and Sociology Club created hygiene kits (84 for women, 86 for men) that included basic toiletries, and also prepared 208 kits that included hats, mittens, scarves, and blankets and gave away winter coats.

HCC Criminal Justice Professor Alex Sanchez, student John Serrano, student Sierra Palazzi, alumna Lindsey Pare, student Robert Vigneault, and student John Colleto hold some of the winter care packages. HCC also celebrated the 20th anniversary of its annual Giving Tree campaign this year, fulfilling the holiday wishes of 375 individuals from four nonprofits that aid and support some of the area’s most at-risk residents

Palazzi helps distribute gifts during the closing celebration for the Giving Tree campaign

 


 

No Shave November

TommyCar Auto Group joined forces with the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Patrick Cahillane for No Shave November, in which participants forgo shaving and grooming for one month to raise cancer awareness. Throughout November, deputies and staff in the Sheriff’s Office were able to opt out of the dress code prohibiting beards for a donation of $20 to the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, which supports the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Meanwhile, TommyCar Auto Group employees donated the money they would spend on shaving to the charity. In total, the Sheriff’s Office raised $2,700, which Carla Cosenzi, president of TommyCar Auto Group, matched, resulting in a donation of $5,400 to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

 


Florence Bank Open House

Florence Bank hosted its 12th annual holiday open house at its Williamsburg branch on Dec. 11.  Complimentary appetizers and refreshments from the Williamsburg Snack Bar were served, and local businesses, including Cichy’s Garage, O’Brien’s Auto Works, Williamsburg Market, Dove Business Associates, and Village Green, donated raffle prizes.

The event featured a performance of holiday carols by the Williamsburg Congregational Church Choir

Kristine Zdaniewicz, assistant branch manager at the Williamsburg branch (left), and April O’Brien, vice president and Williamsburg branch manager

 


Helping Families Celebrate the Season

Robinson Donovan, P.C. once again partnered with the Gray House for its Adopt-a-Family Christmas program to brighten the season for deserving families in the Western Mass. community. The Gray House pairs local businesses with families in need to fulfill Christmas wish lists for their children; this year, Robinson Donovan assisted five families. Through the help of participating businesses, the Gray House was able to provide more than 800 gifts from children’s wish lists in 2018. In addition to the Adopt-a-Family Christmas program, the organization hosts a general toy drive for children in the community with the help of local schools and shelters.

Robinson Donovan Partner David Lawless with Teresa Liberti, executive director of the Gray House

 


 

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Care Where It’s Needed

Baystate Health recently received a $1 million grant from TD Bank to further the health system’s commitment to the communities it serves by funding an innovative new mobile health clinic called the TD Bank – Baystate Health Bus, which will deliver preventive care to people in urban and rural communities who are not receiving services due to financial and transportation barriers, including a shortage of providers in their neighborhoods. As a mobile medical unit, the bus will be staffed by a multi-disciplinary healthcare team to bring health screenings, early detection, and referrals for needed treatment or other services directly to at-risk individuals.

At the announcement, from left: Mark Keroack, president and CEO, Baystate Health; Rebecca Blanchard, senior director of Education, Baystate Health; Steve Webb, regional vice president, TD Bank; Dr. Kevin Hinchey, chief education officer, Baystate Health; Christina Cronin, philanthropy officer, Baystate Foundation; and Scott Berg, executive director, Baystate Health Foundation

Keroack talks about the importance of the health bus

 


Going Above and Beyond

Polish National Credit Union (PNCU) has made a $10,000 donation to the Chicopee Police Department, to be used to purchase an aerial drone for public safety. Drones have become a critical tool for first responders, allowing for additional capabilities for search and rescue, surveillance, crash reconstruction, and other tasks.

Pictured, from left: PNCU board members John Murphy and Stephen Burkott with Chicopee Police Chief William Jebb.

 


 

STEM Center at STCC

On Dec. 11, Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) officially opened its STEM Center, featuring resources and services to assist students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students who visit the facility can use a computer lab and study lounge and take advantage of other services, including exam proctoring, career exploration, and class support. In addition, the center features collaborative spaces for group study, tutoring, supplemental instruction, and group meetings.

Pictured: faculty and staff join STCC President John Cook, right, at the grand opening of the STEM Center at STCC. Barbara Washburn, interim dean of the School of STEM, second from right, cuts the ribbon with Vice President of Academic Affairs Geraldine de Berly.


 

Helping Students Thrive

A reception on Dec. 10 acknowledged a $50,000 donation from PeoplesBank to Holyoke Community College’s (HCC) Thrive Center, which assists students as they negotiate the complex bureaucracies associated with myriad issues, such as health insurance, food, housing and utility assistance, and credit repair. The money will be used to establish a dedicated fund for Thrive managed by the HCC Foundation, the college’s nonprofit fundraising corporation.

Pictured, from left: Thomas Senecal, president and CEO, PeoplesBank; HCC President Christina Royal; HCC student Christopher Royster; and Amanda Sbriscia, executive director, HCC Foundation.

 


 

Third Party Lender of the Year

Florence Bank was recently recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the Western Massachusetts Third Party Lender of the Year for loans the bank administers to small businesses in the area. Third-party loans, called SBA 504 loans, are offered by the bank in collaboration with certified development corporations such as Granite State Development Corp., Bay Colony Development Corp., and BDC Capital/CDC New England.

Pictured, from left:  Peter Kontakos, office deputy district director, SBA Massachusetts; Erin Couture and Michael Davey, Florence Bank vice presidents in Commercial Lending; Robert Nelson, office district director, SBA Massachusetts; and Ili Spahiu, assistant district director for Lender Relations, SBA Massachusetts.

 

 

 

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Cutting the Ribbon

EforAll Holyoke recently cut the ceremonial ribbon at its new headquarters on High Street. The well-attended event featured remarks from a number of those responsible for creating EforAll, now a key component of the region’s entrepreneurship infrastructure, and also building a home for it, one complete with co-working space, in the city’s downtown.

Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, executive director of EforAll Holyoke, offers some remarks

 


History Lessons

Fifth-grade students at Springfield’s DeBerry School visited the Springfield Armory on Nov. 26 on a field trip organized by BusinessWest as part of its sponsorship of the school through the Link to Libraries Community Book Link Program. The students were reading recently about creation of the National Parks, which prompted a visit to the Armory, a National Historic Site. The students learned about the Armory’s importance to Springfield’s development and its lead role in bringing mass-production processes to the forefront. Here, the students pose in front of the historic photo that greets Armory visitors.

 


Early Literacy Leadership Summit

More than 100 community and state education leaders gathered at Reading Success by 4th Grade’s first Early Literacy Leadership Summit on Nov. 14 at UMass Center at Springfield in Tower Square. The summit featured a presentation by Junlei Li, Saul Zaentz senior lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education (top right), whose work is significantly influenced and inspired by the pioneering work of Fred Rogers. Pictured at left: from left, Chrissy Howard, manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade; Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman; Literacy Champion Award honorees Tyeshia Weir and Melissa Blissett; Springfield City Councilor Tim Allen; Sally Fuller, retired program manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade and Literacy Champion Award honoree; and Robert Bolduc, CEO of Pride Stores and Literacy Champion Award honoree. Top left: panelists in the Out of School Time breakout session at the summit.

The summit featured a presentation by Junlei Li, Saul Zaentz senior lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education whose work is significantly influenced and inspired by the pioneering work of Fred Rogers

From left, Chrissy Howard, manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade; Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman; Literacy Champion Award honorees Tyeshia Weir and Melissa Blissett; Springfield City Councilor Tim Allen; Sally Fuller, retired program manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade and Literacy Champion Award honoree; and Robert Bolduc, CEO of Pride Stores and Literacy Champion Award honoree

Panelists in the Out of School Time breakout session at the summit.

 


President’s Platinum Award

Country Bank recently held its annual staff recognition, which recognized the recipient of the President’s Platinum Award, Matt Croft, IT solutions architect (left). “Matt embodies the bank’s values and its mission,” said Paul Scully (right), president and CEO of Country Bank. One nominee wrote that “Matt shares his knowledge and continually collaborates with teammates by asking for their opinions and different viewpoints to solve problems. He analyzes situations, and if he sees that someone has a heavy workload to meet a deadline, he pitches in to lend a hand to hit the target date. He follows up with appreciation and sincere gratitude toward others for their efforts.”

 


 

Rock-solid Performance

Granite State Development Corp. approved 21 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loans totaling more than $8 million in its last fiscal year, making it the most active 504 lender in Western Mass. by both dollars and loan approvals. In addition, it ended the fiscal year ranked fourth in the country by approving 223 loans for $109,099,000.

Pictured, from left: Peter Kontakos, SBA deputy district director; Tracey Gaylord, vice president, Business Development, Granite State Development Corp.; Barbara Arena, vice president, Business Development, Granite State Development Corp.; Robert Nelson, SBA district director; and Ili Spahiu, SBA assistant district director for Lender Relations.

 


Stuff the Bus

The Springfield College campus community filled the Springfield College Athletics bus on Nov. 20 with more than 2,900 pounds of non-perishable food items as part of the annual Fill the Bus campaign, sponsored by the Springfield College Student Athlete Leadership Team, the Department of Public Safety, and the Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement. Fill the Bus is an annual tradition that allows students, faculty, staff, and community members to donate non-perishable food items to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, German Gerena Community School, and the Springfield College Food Pantry. Donations included canned fruit and vegetables, canned soup, cereal, crackers, granola bars, jelly, peanut butter, rice, and stuffing mix.


 

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Toys for the Kids

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and Massachusetts State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin, along with Springfield police officers and state troopers, recently went shopping at Walmart on Boston Road on Tuesday morning with a special delivery in mind. Afterward, they made a large donation of toys to Baystate Children’s Hospital.

 


Honoring a Supporter

At the launch of the college’s first major gifts campaign in more than a decade, Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook announced the naming of the Tuohey Family Welcome Center at the Student Learning Commons. Brian Tuohey (pictured), a generous supporter of STCC, beamed with delight after hearing the news. His family, including his five children and 12 grandchildren, made a surprise appearance at the kickoff event on Oct. 22.

 


Celebrating 100 Years

Balise Auto Group recently held its 100th-anniversary employee-recognition event at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

President Jeb Balise

A shot of all Balise associates who have been with the company for 10 years or more

 


Food Fest West

The West of the River Chamber of Commerce (WRC) held its annual Food Fest West on Nov. 7  at Springfield Country Club in West Springfield. The event featured the foods of area restaurants, including Carrabba’s Italian Grill, bNapoli, 110 Grill, Hamel’s Creative Catering, Courtyard by Marriott, Pintu’s Indian Cuisine, Partners Restaurant, Springfield Country Club, Storrowton Tavern, Tekoa Country Club, and more. Storrowton Tavern in West Springfield won the People’s Choice Award.

Guests Kelli Lemelin and Ron Lemelin enjoy food from Springfield Country Club

 

A chef from bNapoli serves WRC Chairman Ryan McL

 


Where Health Matters

Health New England recently awarded five $50,000 Where Health Matters grants to organizations that have a positive impact among vulnerable population groups in Western and Central Mass. The honorees included Men of Color Health Awareness, or MOCHA (represented by Lamont Scott, pictured below); Square One (represented by Joan Kagan and Kristine Allard, pictured at bottom); 18 Degrees, a division of Berkshire Children and Families Inc.; Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services; and the Center for Youth Engagement at UMass Amherst.

Lamont Scott

Joan Kagan and Kristine Allard

 


Instilling a Love of Books

The start of the 2019-20 school year marked several significant milestones for Link to Libraries. First, thanks to the generosity of local businesses and families, including Monson Savings Bank (MSB), which now sponsors a record five schools, every public elementary school in the city of Springfield is now a part of Link to Libraries’ Community Book Link sponsorship program. During the 2018-19 academic year, Link to Libraries donated 23,000 new books to sponsored libraries throughout the region. In addition, a record 200-plus Link to Libraries volunteer readers began reading in classrooms in underserved elementary schools in Hampden, Hampshire, Berkshire, and Hartford counties.

Principal Terry Powe and students from Elias Brookings Elementary School welcome their new sponsor, MSB President Steve Lowell, and Link to Libraries President and CEO Laurie Flynn

 

William Johnson, vice president of St. Germain Investments, reads to students at Lincoln Elementary School

Longtime volunteer Francie Cornwell reads to students at Homer Elementary School

 


A Challenge from the Commissioner

Carlos Santiago, commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, spoke to a crowd at Holyoke Community College on Nov. 5. He emphasized the importance of reconceptualizing the work that educators have been doing for the past 20 to 30 years, examining the students that are coming into the system, and changing the perception of the students themselves.

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President’s Gala

An evening of elegance and passion, the Springfield College President’s Gala raised more than $500,000 for Springfield College student scholarships. More than 300 gathered on Saturday, October 26 at the MGM Springfield Aria Ballroom. All proceeds will go toward need and merit-based scholarships. The gala was also an opportunity to celebrate the Springfield College Humanics philosophy and its 50-year commitment of having an active member of the current student body serve as a voting member of the board of trustees. Pictured, clockwise from top left: Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper with sport management major Shamar Martin; Kristian Rhim, a communications/sports journalism major from Philadelphia who serves as the student trustee-elect this academic year and will continue on as the 50th student trustee starting in June 2020, is introduced at the gala; Alexandra Goslin, a math and secondary education major from South Windsor, Conn., who is serving as the 49th student trustee this academic year, welcomes visitors to the gala.

Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper with sport management major Shamar Martin

 

Kristian Rhim, a communications/sports journalism major from Philadelphia who serves as the student trustee-elect this academic year and will continue on as the 50th student trustee starting in June 2020, is introduced at the gala

 

Alexandra Goslin, a math and secondary education major from South Windsor, Conn., who is serving as the 49th student trustee this academic year, welcomes visitors to the gala

 


 

Children’s Study Home Art Show

On Sept. 19, the Children’s Study Home held a child and youth art show and auction at the Carriage House at the Barney Estate in Forest Park. More than 30 pieces of artwork from all mediums, including acrylic, watercolor, colored pencil, chalk, and sculptures, were shown from the students of the Children’s Study Home’s Mill Pond School and Curtis Blake Day School, as well as artwork from the children of the Children’s Study Home’s residential programs. Local area artisans participated and donated art pieces to the event. The art was displayed for the evening and sold to raise money for the Children’s Study Home’s art and culturing programs.

 


 

Uplifting Women

More than 130 people attended the COMMversations 2019 event at the Springfield Museums. This Bay Path University student-directed event, in partnership with community collaborators, honored and recognized the voices of historic women of the past, pacesetters of the present, and those who are working in ‘brave’ spaces today to define a future for all. Featured speakers were Bay Path President Carol Leary, who was recognized for her 25 years of leadership at Bay Path, and Freedom Rider Jean Denton Thompson, who courageously fought for justice on the front lines of the civil-rights movement.

Allison Zacynski (left) and Tabitha Shustock were two of many Bay Path students who participated in COMMversations 2019

 

From left, state Rep. Brian Ashe, Leary, state Sen. Eric Lesser, Denton Thompson, Bay Path Professor Janine Fondon, and Marvena Shubrick, representing state Rep. Jose Tosado.


 

Harvest of Creativity

On Oct. 25, students and staff from DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology in West Springfield delivered creepy, cute, and festive Halloween pumpkins to the young patients of Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield and Baystate Children’s Hospital. A yearly tradition at DiGrigoli School, the students spent weeks painting, gluing, and designing their pumpkins. Paul DiGrigoli, owner of DiGrigoli School and DiGrigoli Salon, purchases 60 pumpkins every year to increase creativity among the students and teach them the importance of giving back. Once the pumpkins are designed and completed, they are judged by staff members, and prizes are awarded. A selection of the best are then hand-delivered to the child patients of the two Springfield hospitals.

 


Note-able Family

The Ja’Duke Theater announced a father/daughter duo as winners of the Valley Voice competition, which took place Oct. 26. The winner of the Valley Voice Kids & Teen division is 10-year-old Natalie Duff of Wilbraham. She competed in three rounds of performances to win the top spot, a cash prize of $500, and a one-hour recording session at Next Level Records. This division is designated for singers in grades 1 to 12. Natalie’s father, Jared Duff, was named the winner of the Valley Voice adult division. He also competed in three rounds of performances and won a cash prize of $1,000 and a one-hour recording session at Next Level Records.

 


 

Super 60

Now in its 30th year, the Springfield Regional Chamber’s Super 60 program celebrates the success of the fastest-growing privately-owned businesses in the region. Businesses on the Total Revenue and Revenue Growth categories for 2019 represent myriad sectors of the economy, including nonprofits, transportation, healthcare, technology, manufacturing, retail, and hospitality. They were feted on Oct. 25 at Chez Josef in Agawam.

Pictured at right: Michael Mancuso (left) of event sponsor People’s United Bank presents a plaque to Nate Costa, president of the Springfield Thunderbirds, honored in the Revenue Growth category.

 

 


Passing the Torch

The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley (FBC) celebrated its 25 years of success and first leadership transition with a Legacy and Soul event on Oct. 23 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Founding Director Ira Bryck officially passed the torch to the new Executive Director Jessi Kirley (pictured belwo). FBC members, sponsors, friends, and family shared stories about Bryck and gave a show of support for Kirley. The night finished with dancing to local reggae band (and family business) ReBelle.

 


 

Keep the Ball Rolling

Joe Phillips (right), president of Phillips Insurance Agency Inc., recently delivered a $5,000 check to John Freedman (center) and state Rep. Brian Ashe for the eighth annual Joseph D. Freedman Bowl-a-Thon. John is the founder of the event, and Ashe will serve as master of ceremonies. The event is being held Saturday, Nov. 16 at AMF Lanes in Chicopee. All proceeds will benefit Camphill Village, a community for adults with developmental disabilities who live and work together, caring for each other. Last year, hundreds of bowlers enjoyed the bowling, face painting, and other activities.

Joe Phillips (right), president of Phillips Insurance Agency Inc., recently delivered a $5,000 check to John Freedman (center) and state Rep. Brian Ashe for the eighth annual Joseph D. Freedman Bowl-a-Thon

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Empowering Women

Girls Inc. of the Valley hosted Joyce Roché, businesswoman and author of The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success on Oct. 10 at the Delaney House. She was interviewed by Girls Inc. teens Maya and Janira and shared her story from humble beginnings to becoming the first African-American woman vice president of Avon.

Joyce Roché autographs copies of her book after the event

Maya, Girls Inc. Executive Director Suzanne Parker, Roché, and Janira.

 


Discussing Brexit

On Oct. 3, American International College hosted Stavros Lambrinidis, European Union ambassador to the U.S., and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to discuss the history of the EU as well as the organization’s role in international trade. Lambrinidis told Neal and a packed audience that there is a “divorce” happening in the EU, referring to Brexit, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, and discussed the importance of a continued relationship with the U.S.

 


 

Smoothing Career Pathways

Under a new agreement with Springfield Technical Community College, students at Springfield High School of Commerce will be able to take courses at STCC and earn up to 20 college credits at no cost to them. The Early College initiative allows high-school students to explore high-need career pathways, avoid student-loan debt, and ultimately complete a college degree more quickly.

Pictured, from left: Matthew Brunell and Colleen Beaudoin, co-executive directors, Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership; John Cook, STCC president; Chris Gabrieli, chair, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education; Daniel Warwick, Springfield Public Schools superintendent; and Paul Neal, executive principal, Springfield High School of Commerce.

 


 

Earning an A+

The Parmar family of Pioneer Valley Hotel Group received the 2019 Legacy Award at the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual A+ Awards Dinner at Hadley Farms Meeting House on Oct. 3.

From left: state Rep. Mindy Domb, Elena Cohen of state Sen. Jo Comerford’s office, Laxman Parmar, Kishore Parmar, Shardool Parmar, and chamber Executive Director Claudia Pazmany.

Lisa Solowiej and Jocelyn Potter, A+ awardees for Community Service, are joined by their children and Pazmany to receive a citation from Domb for their leadership creating and coordinating the Amherst Survival Center Neighborhood Food Project.

 


 

Illusionist Performs for a Cause

Illusionist Jason Bishop and his dog, Gizmo, greet Treehouse Foundation youth Destiny and Sheyenne after his performances at the Armory at MGM on Oct. 13. The magician made Gizmo disappear and reappear, turned one-dollar bills into one hundred-dollar bills, and wowed the audience with his illusions and humor. Bishop performed two shows to benefit the Treehouse Foundation, an Easthampton nonprofit that supports children and youth who have experienced foster care.

 


 

Responding to the Call

Polish National Credit Union (PNCU) recently made a $10,000 donation to the Chicopee Fire Department. The donation will be used to purchase an industrial-sized washer extractor, an innovative machine that reduces the amount of carcinogens in turnout gear without damaging the equipment.

Chicopee firefighters with Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos, PNCU President and CEO James Kelly, Chicopee Fire Chief Daniel Stamborski, and Chicopee Fire Fighters Local 1710 IAFF President Glen Olbrych (fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh from left, respectively).

 


 

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield Turns Two

On Oct. 16, family and friends of dealership owners Michelle and Peter Wirth joined to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the dealership’s opening in 2017. Since launching the Chicopee location, the dealership has sold more than 2,000 cars. The celebration included cake, cupcakes, and balloon décor provided by Rise Event Production.

 

 

 

 

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They Shoot, They Score

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Lexington Group hosted an Aeron Chair Hockey Tournament on Oct. 2. Lexington Group invited players and administrative staff from American International College and UMass Amherst to battle it out in a friendly competition (pictured at top left). AIC won and advanced to a match against the Springfield Thunderbirds, with the AHL squad prevailing. The event, which raised $18,000 for the Foundation of TJO Animals, was incorporated into an After-5 networking event co-hosted by BusinessWest, the West of the River Chamber of Commerce, and the East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce. West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt served as referee, Pat Kelley of Lazer 99.3 emceed and provided entertainment, and complimentary refreshments were provided by Log Rolling.

Two squads with Boomer, the Thunderbirds mascot

Lexington Group owner Mark Proshan (far left), Reichelt, and some of the players present the $18,000 check to the Foundation for TJO Animals

The cake created by Cerrato’s Bakery to commemorate Lexington’s 30th anniversary

 


 

 

Square One Tea Party

Square One held its 14th annual Tea Party on Oct. 4 at the Starting Gate at GreatHorse in Hampden. Proceeds will benefit the children and families served by Square One.  (Michael Epaul photography)

event sponsors Jenny Mackay and Maureen Gaudreau of USI Insurance

Keynote speaker Tasheena Davis, attorney and Springfield city clerk

Dawn DiStefano of Square One with event sponsors Peter Miniati and Jeff Ligori of Napatree Capital

 


 

New Home for Williamstown Police

Caolo & Bieniek Associates Inc., the Chicopee-based architectural firm, has completed construction at the new Williamstown Police Station. Built at the Turner House, formerly a center for veterans, the new station provides improved accessibility and safety, as well as the most current technologies in law enforcement.

Pictured, from left: Chris Kluchman, Housing Choice Program director, Department of Housing and Community Development; Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for Community and Government Affairs, Williams College; Williamstown Selectwoman Anne O’Connor; state Sen. Adam Hinds; Williamstown Selectman Andrew Hogeland; Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch; Williamstown Police Chief Kyle Johnson; state Rep. John Barrett III; and James Hanifan, architect, Caolo & Bieniek Associates.

 

 


 

Grand Opening

The Sisters of Providence celebrated the grand opening of Hillside Residence, 36 units of elder affordable housing, on Sept. 27. The $9,250,000 housing development is located on the Hillside at Providence campus, formerly known as Brightside, at 100 Hillside Circle, West Springfield. This innovative facility’s objectives will demonstrate a nonprofit model of affordable elder housing and be integrated with Mercy LIFE, a Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) offering health and care management services, with both organizations co-located on the same 27-acre campus devoted to elder programs.

 


 

Cooking Up Support

bankESB recently donated $10,000 to the Holyoke Community College Foundation to support students preparing for careers in the culinary-arts and hospitality industries.

Pictured, from left: Amanda Sbriscia, HCC vice president of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the HCC Foundation; Harry Montalvo, Community Development specialist at bankESB; Tiffany Raines, assistant vice president of the bank’s Holyoke branch; HCC president Christina Royal; and John Driscoll, board chair of the HCC Foundation, hold a ceremonial check for $10,000 at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute.

 


 

Bridging the Gap

On Sept. 24, Elms College launched the Center for Equity in Urban Education (CEUE). The CEUE will help bridge the 800-teacher annual gap across K-12 schools in the area, especially in specific roles such as special education, English-language learners, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs. The center was made possible through the foundational support of the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation of Springfield and Cynthia and William Lyons III of Wilbraham. The launch ceremony included the signing of memorandums of understanding with leaders from schools in Chicopee, Holyoke, and Springfield.

Pictured, from left: John Davis, senior director, Davis Foundation; Modesto Montero, head of school, Libertas Academy Charter School in Springfield; Cynthia Lyons, chair, Elms College board of trustees; Elms College President Harry Dumay; William Lyons III; Daniel Baillargeon, superintendent, Catholic Schools Office, Diocese of Springfield; Stephen Zrike Jr., receiver/superintendent, Holyoke Public Schools; Daniel Warwick, superintendent, Springfield Public Schools; Rachel Romano, executive director, Veritas Preparatory Charter School in Springfield; and Paul Stelzer, vice chair, Elms College board of trustees.

 


 

Supporting Veteran Families

Revitalize Community Development Corp. and its JoinedForces initiative announced they were awarded a $730,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to continue their mission to support military veteran families. This statewide grant will be used to modify and rehabilitate the homes of more than 51 military veterans. The funds will be used to remedy safety hazards in the home; install energy-efficient features such as insulation, heating system repairs, and Energy Star appliances; and make age-in-place modifications, including the installation of grab bars and ramps. The announcement took place at the home of Lonnie Chappell, a U.S. Marine veteran who served in Vietnam, and his wife, Mary (pictured with U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno).

 

 

 

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Dig In

With the help of local dignitaries, the Walhburgers chain broke ground on Sept. 20 at its newest location at the corner of Union and Main streets in downtown Springfield. Wahlburgers at MGM Springfield will be a casual-dining eatery, featuring its signature burgers and full bar. Founded by brothers Mark, Donnie, and Chef Paul Wahlberg, Wahlburgers will be filled with photos and memories celebrating the brothers’ life journeys from Dorchester neighborhood kids to rising chef and international celebrities.

The 4,400-square-foot space, set to open in 2020, will provide 120 jobs to the community.

 


 

Sweet Harvest

Loomis Village installed two beehives this spring with the help of the Hampden County Bee Keepers Assoc. The hives were tended to throughout the summer, and residents also had the chance to learn about beekeeping. By summer’s end, the facility harvested 54 pounds of honey, with the possibility of another harvest later in the year.

Pictured: resident Karen Hyvonen helps Hampden County Bee Keepers Assoc. members remove the caps from the combs. From there, the honey is extruded and strained before being bottled.

 


 

Car Wash for a Good Cause

During the weekend of Sept. 7-8, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield hosted a car-wash fundraiser benefiting Chris Thibault and his family. Thibault and his wife, Missy, own and operate Chris Teebo Films, a local production company that helped Mercedes-Benz get its start in Western Mass. more than two years ago. Chris has been diagnosed with stage-4 cancer and is fighting hard for his life.

Pictured, from left: dealership co-owners Michelle and Peter Wirth; Missy and Chris Thibault with son Brayden; and Rich Hesse, co-owner of the dealership, with son John.

 


 

Launching Women Luncheon

Carla Oleska, principal of Carla Oleska & Co. and former executive director of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, leads an exploration of glass ceilings women often don’t think about — the one within ourselves, the one they construct for other women, and, of course, the big, systemic one. The talk was part of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce’s Launching Women Luncheon.

More than 50 women leaders in business, government, and nonprofit organizations attended the first of the series at the Inn on Boltwood.

 


 

Revitalizing a Community

On Sept. 20, Revitalize CDC held its annual Green N Fit event. The organization and hundreds of volunteers rebuilt four homes throughout Holyoke in one day. Three out of the four homes are owned by military veteran families.

Pictured: Jeremy Ducharme from Blue Cross Blue Shield helps to paint the home of Carol LaBoursoliere, an 80-year-old widow of a military veteran who has lived in her home on Brown Avenue for 53 years. Other homes renovated were on Homestead Avenue and Norwood Terrace.

 


 

 

Open for Business

Architecture Environment Life President Kevin Rothschild-Shea (left) and architect Rick Morse stand in front of New Valley Bank’s first location, a building they designed. The office, located at 1930 Wilbraham Road in Springfield, opened the week of Sept. 9 and is the first new bank to open in Massachusetts in a decade.

Sixteen Acres banking veteran Kimberly Marion will oversee the location and lead the bank’s retail efforts in the market as vice president and personal banking officer

 

 


 

New Life for the Pedlar

The Hildreth House, built in 1882 and home for more than 70 years to the Yankee Pedlar Inn, is now the Pedlar Banking Center, restored and renovated by PeoplesBank. The interior of the LEED-certified building now houses a community room, which will be available to nonprofit organizations free of charge. A new addition was added in the rear of the Hildreth House to provide space for the bank lobby, service counter, and support offices, as well as the drive-through canopy.

Pictured: Mason Lebron of Dowd Insurance Agency and Victor Rodriguez, mortgage consultant at PeoplesBank, celebrate the building’s grand opening.

 


Climate Strike

Organizers encouraged those attending to call their representatives and demand action be taken to mitigate the warming of the planet.

The Interfaith Council of Springfield and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield organized a ‘solidarity vigil’ in collaboration with the global Climate Strike on Sept. 20 in Springfield’s Court Square. Members of the community gathered to speak on the issue of climate change and joined in song.

 

 


Back(pack) to School

First American Insurance Agency, an independent insurance firm, recently donated more than 200 backpacks to nine Chicopee elementary schools. Notebooks, pencils, and glue sticks filled each bag, along with Kleenex and a bookmark.

Pictured, from left: First American’s Noni Moran, Julianne Rossi, Dennis Murphy, Jenna Dziok, and Katelyn Morgan.

 

 


Bridging the Generations

Springfield College and Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing have developed an intergenerational Students in Residence program for graduate students in the School of Health Sciences. Julie Torchia and Allie Tupaj, both doctor of physical therapy students, moved into a two-bedroom apartment at Loomis Lakeside this fall and will contribute to social and educational aspects of community living at the facility, logging eight hours of community-engagement project work each week.

Pictured, from left: Brooke Hallowell, dean of the School of Health Sciences at Springfield College; Torchia; Tupaj; Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper, Loomis Communities President Lauren Scruggs; and Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing CEO Craig Johnsen

 

 

 

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Project SEARCH

Springfield College is once again collaborating with New England Business Associates and recently introduced the second cohort of interns participating in the community’s Project SEARCH program. The second cohort started at Springfield College the week of Sept. 2-6, and will continue on throughout the 2019-20 academic year. Project SEARCH’s mission is to help young adults with disabilities transition from school to work through a community agency partnership while gaining employability skills. The model involves an extensive period of training and career exploration, innovation adaptations, long-term job coaching, and feedback from teachers, job coaches, and employers.

Pictured, from left: Project SEARCH participants Zach and Jose; Springfield College Director of Multicultural Affairs Felicia Lundquist; and Ruth Poirier, New England Business Associates Project SEARCH program coordinator and division supervisor.

 


Effective Gateway

The Gateway to College program at Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been recognized for the third year in a row for its outstanding graduation rate, one of the best of all programs of its kind in the nation. The award for Graduation Achievement was presented in July to HCC Gateway’s director, Vivian Ostrowski (left, with Julissa Colon, special programs coordinator). Gateway to College is an alternative high-school program that offers dropouts and struggling teens a chance to earn their high-school diplomas through dual enrollment by taking college classes. Gateway students also collect transferable college credits they can apply toward a college certificate or degree. Since 2008, 384 students have earned their high-school diplomas through HCC’s Gateway to College program, and 33 have continued on to earn their associate degrees from HCC.

HCC Gateway’s director, Vivian Ostrowski (left, with Julissa Colon, special programs coordinator).

 


Pedal Power

More than 300 participants and volunteers gathered on Aug. 25 at Greenfield Community College for Wheeling for Healing, Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s yearly ride, walk, and run benefit to support oncology services. Past donations have been used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment such as new infusion chairs and exam tables to ensure patient comfort, support improvements for a better healing environment, and fund programs such as art therapy and yoga to encourage wholesome healing for patients and survivors.

 


Name That Ice Cream

In collaboration with Gran-Val Scoop, maker of gourmet homemade ice cream, Bulkley Richardson recently launched a challenge to create a new ice-cream flavor. The top three flavors were produced by Gran-Val Scoop and sampled by attorneys and staff at Bulkley Richardson on Aug. 20. The overwhelming winner was Executive Director Betsey Quick with ‘Butter Representation,’ a play on the law firm’s tagline, ‘better representation.’ The flavor consisted of peanut-butter ice cream with marshmallow and fudge swirls and crushed peanut-butter cups.

 


Community Support

Phillips Insurance Agency recently donated $1,000 to the Melha Shriners. Chris McMaster of Phillips Insurance (right) recently presented the check to Shriner Shonn Monday to support the 2019 Shriners Music Feztival, held Sept. 7 at the Three County Fair in Northampton.

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts / August 2019

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Rolling Away

Food Truck Friday at MGM Springfield is coming to a close on Sept. 13 and has been a big success, drawing large crowds and long lines to the end-of-week fun. Business owners, employees working in the area, families, and more have been visiting the casino to indulge in the wide variety of foods provided by the trucks.

Lydia Riccio takes lunch on a busy Friday at Murphy’s Mobile, where the Reuben sandwich tops the list of the truck’s most popular items.

Sandra Torres (left) and Danielle Powell, both employees at MGM, enjoy a snow cone during a recent Food Truck Friday.

 

 

Overcoming Barriers

Energy provider Eversource recently announced it will bring the Dress for Success Professional Women’s Group to Western Mass. as part of a new partnership with the global nonprofit to support women overcoming barriers to employment so they can thrive in work and in life. Operating in more than 150 cities in 30 countries, Dress for Success provides an extensive network of support to empower women, including professional attire and development tools that build confidence for success. The partnership was announced late last month at a fundraiser for Dress for Success at the Valentine Mansion.

from left: Jessica Dupont, Dress for Success Western Mass. board president; Eversource Transmission President Katherine Prewitt; Margaret Tantillo, executive director of the Dress for Success Western Mass. chapter; and Kassandra Carrasquillo, a participant in the Dress for Success program

 

 

Getting a Taste

Members of the media were invited to the Carriage House at Storrowton Village on Aug. 23 to taste and rate some of the foods that are set to hit the streets of the Big E this month.

Chef Antoine Alston and Manager Pam Vadnais of Storrowton Tavern serve up cheeseburger chowder and fried oysters

a table of tastes from Noujaim’s Mediterranean Bistro

the signature Big E cream puff will be topped with a chocolate ganashe for the first time ever

a cucumber-flavored vodka will be one of V-One’s fair selections

 

 

Just Down the Road

The Dowd Agencies, LLC officially opened its new Southampton office during an open house on Aug. 21. Having outgrown its previous space in town, the Dowd Agencies packed up at 170 College Highway and moved down the road to 124 College Highway, lured by the desire for expanded parking and office space.

from left, David Hess, David Griffin Jr., David Griffin Sr., Jackie Routhier, Diane Cygan, John Dowd Jr., and Jack Dowd

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Senior Games

During the weekend of July 13-14, Springfield College hosted the Massachusetts Senior Games, as it has since 1991. Hundreds of participants took part in a range of events, including track and field, swimming, racquetball, and more. Pictured at left: from left, Springfield College Professor Emeritus Beth Evans, occupational therapy master’s student Renée deLisser, and Joan Simmons, associate professor of Occupational Therapy, get ready for the Senior Games. At right: Davis Cox, Massachusetts Senior Games board of directors president, prepares for the event at Blake Track at Springfield College.

From left, Springfield College Professor Emeritus Beth Evans, occupational therapy master’s student Renée deLisser, and Joan Simmons, associate professor of Occupational Therapy, get ready for the Senior Games.

Davis Cox, Massachusetts Senior Games board of directors president, prepares for the event at Blake Track at Springfield College.

 


 

Patio Party

The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with Young Professionals of Amherst and Northampton Area Young Professionals for a patio party on July16 at the Courtyard by Marriott.

Pictured, from left: Youssef Fadel of New England Promotional Marketing, Regina Curtis of the Greenfield Community College Foundation, Dawn Creighton of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, and Vince Jackson of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce.


 

Planners Tell All

On July 17, Michael’s Party Rental teamed up with Meeting Professionals International of the Connecticut River Valley and CJC Creative to host a “Planners Tell All” event. A panel of corporate and special-event planners joined local wedding/meeting planners and suppliers at the Michael’s warehouse for a night of networking and education.

Pictured, from left: Jackie Martucci, owner of Events by Jackie M; Lisa Antonecchia, owner of Creative Concepts by Lisa; Erin Tierney, lecturer at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst; and Amanda Cristina, senior meeting planner at LIMRA.

 


 

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Connecting Youth with Careers

River East School-to-Career recently held its annual breakfast meeting at the Ludlow Country Club. The program places high-school students from Belchertown, Ludlow, Monson, Palmer, Ware, and Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School in a business environment to gains skills through part-time jobs and internships. Seven student-mentor teams were honored for their outstanding work performance and providing students with job opportunities. Hampden Veterinary Clinic and Baystate Health Eastern Region accepted the Business Champion Award for providing work-based learning opportunities to students each year for the past 15 years.

From left, Jennifer Gouvin, president, River East School-to-Career board of directors; Lori Manseau, manager, Rehabilitation Services, Baystate Wing Hospital, accepting the award on behalf of Baystate Wing and Baystate Mary Lane; and Loretta Dansereau, director, River East School-to-Career Inc.

From left, Gouvin; Dr. Penny Peck, owner, Hampden Veterinary Clinic; and Dansereau.

A Bed for Every Child

The Cooperative Credit Union Assoc. Inc. (CCUA), on behalf of Massachusetts credit unions, along with members of the Massachusetts Credit Unions Social Responsibility Committee, recently presented a $202,725 check to the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless at the third annual Stephen D. Jones Credit Union Charity Golf Tournament in support of “A Bed for Every Child.”

From left: Charlene Bauer, Metro Credit Union; Ronald McLean, CCUA; Rui Domingos, Naveo Credit Union; Mark Cochran, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union on behalf of the Stephen Jones Family; Kevin Zipps, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union; Tina Baptista, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless; Paul Marotta, Hanscom Federal Credit Union; David Plantier, MassMutual Federal Credit Union; and Peter Panaggio, St. Anne’s Credit Union. Committee members not pictured include Sarita Ledani, RTN Federal Credit Union; Robert Lockett, Workers’ Credit Union; Melissa Morin, Credit Union of the Berkshires; and Jon Reske, UMassFive College Federal Credit Union

Xtraordinary Day of Service

Berkshire Bank employees recently came together to package more than 50,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger, which will be sent to nations where starvation is a key concern. The donation was a part of the bank’s annual Xtraordinary Day of Service, when the bank closes its offices early to empower employees to volunteer in their local communities. The event is in its fourth year. The volunteer work for Rise Against Hunger was one of 37 projects completed as a part of Xtraordinary Day. More than 90% of Berkshire Bank’s workforce participated in the event, totaling over 6,000 hours of volunteer work in a single day throughout the bank’s footprint.

Surprise Gift

On June 21, Richard’s Fuel and Heating celebrated its 500th Mitsubishi Electric Heating and Cooling mini-split installation with an event that surprised lucky customer Lisa Bartlett, as well as the installation technicians. Briget Michaud, business manager at Richard’s Fuel and Heating and one of the organizers of the promotion, showed up with a cake and balloons and presented Bartlett with a gift certificate covering half her unit and installation costs. Richard’s Fuel and Heating also donated $500 to the Easthampton Council on Aging.

From left: Michaud, Bartlett, and Sean Gallagher from BellSimons Co., the Mitsubishi Electric rep for Richard’s Fuel and Heating.

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A New Chapter

Fifth-graders at DeBerry Elementary School were honored at graduation ceremonies staged earlier this month. BusinessWest, which sponsors the school as part of Link to Libraries’ Business Book Link program, was on hand to present Most Improved Reader awards and hand out graduation presents — yes, books to read over the summer. And there was a special guest there as well. At right, Bob Charland, a.k.a. ‘the Bike Man,’ presents bicycles to most-improved readers J’Siah Turner Goode and Yaneliz Andino. They were also presented with plaques from BusinessWest. At left, BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien presents a book to fifth-grader Noah Peralta. Looking on are, from left, Maria Nunez, paraprofessional; Laura Sacco, fifth-grade teacher, and Beth Fazio, principal.

Bob Charland, a.k.a. ‘the Bike Man,’ presents bicycles

At right, Bob Charland, a.k.a. ‘the Bike Man,’ presents bicycles to most-improved readers J’Siah Turner Goode and Yaneliz Andino. They were also presented with plaques from BusinessWest

BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien presents a book

BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien presents a book to fifth-grader Noah Peralta. Looking on are, from left, Maria Nunez, paraprofessional; Laura Sacco, fifth-grade teacher, and Beth Fazio, principal


Thrive After 55

About 1,000 area residents turned out to state Sen. Eric Lesser’s third annual Thrive After 55 Wellness Fair on June 21 to learn about local resources available to help them plan for retirement. This was the biggest Thrive fair yet, with 81 organizations providing information. Health New England, Springfield College, and the New England Dermatology & Laser Center returned as sponsors of the fair this year, in addition to a new sponsor, the Center for Human Development. HCN, BusinessWest’s sister publication, was a media sponsor. This year’s program included five educational seminars, on topics including estate planning and elder law, diet and nutrition, and an interactive demonstration of chair yoga and movement.


Woman of the Year

The Professional Women’s Chamber (PWC) recently honored Denise Hurst (right), vice president of Advancement & External Affairs at Springfield Technical Community College, with its coveted Woman of the Year award at a celebration at the Springfield Sheraton. Hurst is also currently secretary-treasurer for the Massachusetts Assoc. of School Committees Inc. and has served on the Springfield School Committee since 2009. She is an inaugural graduate of the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact, a member of the League of Women Voters and the Collective Majority, and a graduate of the 62nd Citizens’ Legislative Seminar, Massachusetts Senate. She and her husband, Springfield City Council President Justin Hurst, are both BusinessWest 40 Under Forty alumni.

Hurst, fourth from left, with members of the PWC board.

Hurst, fourth from left, with members of the PWC board.


Seeing Purple

On June 21, the Bertera Auto Group and Fedor Financial Group, LLC in West Springfield went purple in support of the Alzheimer’s Association’s “Longest Day” fundraising event. Pictured here, Michael Bertera, right, president of Bertera Auto Group; David Fedor, president of Fedor Financial Group and volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Assoc.; and Bianca Walker, director of Fundraising for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, share a moment.


Scholarship Winners

Monson Savings Bank recently distributed more than $20,000 in scholarships to graduating high-school seniors. The students were invited to the bank’s corporate headquarters for a celebration, where President Steven Lowell, seen here with the honorees, spoke to them about their future and congratulated each on their hard work and accomplishments. They are: Edward Wurszt, Hunter Acconcio, and Timothy Connors (Minnechaug High School); Derek Joyce, Liam Metcalfe, Taylor Mitchell, and Hannah Somers (Monson High School); Shelby Tweedie, Kayla Smith, and Travis Orszulak (Ware High School); and David Krutov (homeschooled).


JGS Lifecare’s Day of Tournaments

JGS Lifecare recently staged the 39th annual Frankel-Kinsler Day of Tournaments, which raised more than $97,000 for the care of the community’s elders. The day featured a golf tournament, but also many other competitions as well, in tennis, bridge, canasta, and mahjong. The event provides JGS a way to continue to honor the memory of Michael Frankel, former chairman of the JGS Lifecare board of directors, and the families of Raymond and Herman Kinsler, longtime leaders and supporters, for their exemplary commitment to those served by JGS Lifecare.

Seymour Frankel, father of Michael Frankel, is surrounded by his family

Seymour Frankel, father of Michael Frankel, is surrounded by his family

From left, Susan Goldsmith, JGS Lifecare board chair; state Sen. Eric Lesser; and Richard Halpern, JGS Lifecare board member, share a moment at the cocktail reception


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Cutting the Ribbon

New Valley Bank & Trust recently staged a grand opening at its headquarters at Suite 910, One Monarch Place.

Mayor Domenic Sarno welcomes the bank to the city

Mayor Domenic Sarno welcomes the bank to the city

Sarno and bank Chairman Frank Fitzgerald cut the ceremonial ribbon alongside board members and dignitaries

Sarno and bank Chairman Frank Fitzgerald cut the ceremonial ribbon alongside board members and dignitaries

Fitzgerald thanks the almost 300 local investors who raised $23.5 million to get the bank started, well in excess of what is needed by regulatory requirements

Fitzgerald thanks the almost 300 local investors who raised $23.5 million to get the bank started, well in excess of what is needed by regulatory requirements

 

Innovation Fest

On June 12, Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) staged the region’s inaugural Innovation Fest, a day-long celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation that featured seminars, networking, the awarding of cash prizes to finalists in VVM’s accelerator program, walking tours of downtown, and much more.

VVM CEO Kristin Leutz welcomes attendees to the festival

VVM CEO Kristin Leutz welcomes attendees to the festival

Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, executive director of SPARK EforAll Holyoke, and Bill Cole, president of Living Local, present a program called “Reviving Main Street”;

Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, executive director of SPARK EforAll Holyoke, and Bill Cole, president of Living Local, present a program called “Reviving Main Street”

Michael Molinari, a principal with Autodrop3d

Michael Molinari, a principal with Autodrop3d, a New London, Conn.-based company that has created an automated ejection system for 3D printers, took home the top prize ($10,000) among the accelerator finalists

the five accelerator finalists

the five accelerator finalists, all holding their ceremonial checks, gather with VVM mentors and supporters

Mayor Domenic Sarno welcomes visitors to Springfield.

Mayor Domenic Sarno welcomes visitors to Springfield.

 

Innovation Accelerator Graduation

The 2019 Innovation Accelerator, a program that transforms nonprofit leaders’ thinking by bringing a culture of innovation into their organizations, recently graduated its fourth cohort. The event, held at TechSpring in Springfield, hosted three graduating Innovation Accelerator teams. With numerous funders and business and foundation executives in attendance, they supported, learned, and provided a pathway to potential funding for initiatives realized during the six-month class. Each team pitched its best plan to create mission-aligned revenue for their organizations. They also had to clearly demonstrate the core assumptions underlying their new ventures, how they tested those assumptions, the evidence they gathered, and what they learned.

from left, students

from left, students Cody Andrews, Julie Lococo, Monique Whiting, and James O’Neill (Viability) present to sharks John Goodhue (Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center), Joe Minton (Digital Development Management), Marty Caine (Wolf & Co.), Ali Usman (Pixeledge), and Paul Silva (Innovation Accelerator)

from left, Kelly Minton (Innovation Accelerator), student Rose Egan (Community Education Project), and Silva

from left, Kelly Minton (Innovation Accelerator), student Rose Egan (Community Education Project), and Silva

students Ethan Ferris and Will Swyers

students Ethan Ferris and Will Swyers, co-founders of Xernai, talk with sharks Caine and Dana Barrows (Northwestern Mutual)

 

The Business of Cannabis

The Springfield-based law firm Bulkley Richardson staged an informational forum on June 18 as part of an ongoing series on the many legal aspects of operating a cannabis-related business. The featured speaker was Tina Sbrega, president and CEO of GFA Federal Credit Union, to talk about how her financial institution became the first in the state to serve recreational marijuana companies. The event drew about 50 business professionals. Sbrega explained that the process of banking the cannabis industry involves a host of regulations because the drug is illegal at the federal level.

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Inspiring Young People

Junior Achievement of Western Mass., working in concert with Associated Industries of Mass. (AIM) and a host of area businesses, staged the inaugural JA Inspire program at the MassMutual Center late last month. The event is a type of job fair for area young people, designed to not only introduce them to potential careers and area employers, but offer insights into what it will take to enter these fields. More than 400 students from 12 area schools and youth organizations attended, and 42 area companies participated.

Jennifer Connelly, president of JA of Western Mass., with students from Granite Valley Middle School in Monson

Jennifer Connelly, president of JA of Western Mass., with students from Granite Valley Middle School in Monson

Kristin Carlson, president of Peerless Precision, talks with a student about opportunities in manufacturing while Dawn Creighton, Western Mass. Director for AIM, listens in

Kristin Carlson, president of Peerless Precision, talks with a student about opportunities in manufacturing while Dawn Creighton, Western Mass. Director for AIM, listens in

students visit the Comcast booth

students visit the Comcast booth

students from M. Marcus Kiley Middle School in Springfield pose for a group shot

students from M. Marcus Kiley Middle School in Springfield pose for a group shot

students take part in the activities at the Florence Bank booth

students take part in the activities at the Florence Bank booth

 


 

Paul Harris Winners

The Rotary Club of Holyoke recently bestowed Paul Harris Fellowships, Rotary International’s highest honor, upon two community leaders, Peter Rosskothen and Edward Caisse III. Rosskothen is co-owner of the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House, the Delaney House, and other businesses. He is actively involved with a number of area groups and organizations, including the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, the Pioneer Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Link to Libraries. Caisse is unit director of High Risk/Community Initiatives for the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, known for his work with the Safe Neighborhoods Initiative in Holyoke. Here, Holyoke Rotary Club President Robert McKay, center, congratulates Rosskothen, left, and Caisse.

 


 

TWO Grants

Training & Workforce Options (TWO) helped obtain grants to train workers at Savage Arms in Westfield and Conklin Office Furniture in Holyoke. The Baker-Polito administration in March announced the awarding of $7.48 million in Workforce Training Fund Program grants that will fund training for almost 6,000 workers and is expected to create more than 1,100 new jobs in the Commonwealth over the next two years. The awarded grants included $238,485 for customized training for 67 workers at Savage Arms and $48,820 to train 72 workers at Conklin Office Furniture. The training at Savage Arms will help workers learn to operate computer numerical control (CNC) machines. The grant also includes training in English as a second language. The company expects to add 54 new jobs by 2021. The grant for Conklin Office Furniture will pay for the training of 72 workers in a range of skills, from customer service and team building to sales and leadership. Here, Mark Stafinksi, left, who completed the Introduction to Manufacturing Technologies course facilitated by TWO, stands with Michael Welsh, director of Human Resources at Savage Arms, and Tracye Whitfield, director of Business Development at TWO.

 


 

Breaking Ground

MassMutual was joined by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and the Fallon Company as it broke ground recently on the company’s new commercial building in Boston’s booming Seaport district at 10 Fan Pier Boulevard. This is an integral milestone in support of MassMutual’s multi-year plan to expand in its home state of Massachusetts. Once completed, the new, 17-story, 310,000-square-foot building will house approximately 1,000 MassMutual employees. MassMutual is also renewing its commitment to Springfield, the city of its founding, by adding 1,500 jobs to its headquarters by the end of 2021. Here, MassMutual Chairman, President, and CEO Roger Crandall (eighth from left) is holding the original shovel used for the groundbreaking of MassMutual’s headquarters building in Springfield in 1925. From left, Sean Anderson, head of Facilities at MassMutual; Susan Cicco, head of Human Resources & Employee Experience at MassMutual; Richard Martini, chief operating officer at the Fallon Company; Anis Baig, head of Talent Acquisition & People Analytics at MassMutual; Jennifer Halloran, head of Marketing and Brand at MassMutual; Joe Fallon, founder, president, and CEO of the Fallon Company; Walsh; Crandall; Baker; Teresa Hassara, head of Workplace Solutions at MassMutual; Pia Flanagan, chief of staff at MassMutual; Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S. (MMUS); Gareth Ross, head of Enterprise Technology and Experience at MassMutual, and Renee Roeder, head of the MMUS Business Project Management Office at MassMutual.

 


 

Legacy Gift

During her lifetime, Elaine Marieb donated more than $1.5 million to Holyoke Community College in large and small amounts she once described as “tokens of gratitude” to the institution where she earned her nursing degree and taught biology for 24 years. Even after her death in December, Marieb’s generosity continues. HCC is the beneficiary of a $1 million legacy gift Marieb set up as part of her estate plan, money earmarked for HCC programs that support non-traditional-age students. The gift was officially announced on May 28 at HCC’s monthly board of trustees meeting, followed by the presentation of a $1 million ceremonial check. Pictured, from left, HCC Foundation board chair John Driscoll, HCC Vice President of Institutional Advancement Amanda Sbriscia, HCC President Christina Royal, and HCC board of trustees chair Robert Gilbert hold a ceremonial check for $1 million from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Foundation.

 


 

Rally Against Cancer

Country Bank’s Employee Charitable Giving program recently donated $26,000 to the Jimmy Fund’s Rally Against Cancer. Team captains Eric Devine, Bonnie Trudeau-Wood, and Jeremy Toussaint led Team Country Bank with fundraising activities to help them exceed their goal of $25,000 and claim the first-place spot in the Corporate Team Challenge. Fundraising activities included staff-donated raffle baskets for employees to win, paying to wear jeans on casual Fridays, a bus trip, bake sales, and online staff donations. In addition to these activities, Country Bank provided a generous matching donation.

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts / May 2019

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Meeting the Class of 2019

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, one of the sponsors of BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty program for 2019, recently staged a cocktail party for the class of 2019 and their guests, providing an opportunity for the soon-to-be members of an exclusive club to meet and get to know one another. Here, honorees gather for a class photo. They’ll be together again on June 20 for the 40 Under Forty Gala at the Log Cabin in Holyoke.



Trees into Cartons, Cartons into Trees

Fourth- and fifth-graders from the Ludlow Community Center/Randall Boys and Girls Club recently gathered to learn about the environmental benefits of trees, paper, and recycling from staff members of the Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC), a national trade association, headquartered in Springfield, for the manufacturers of paperboard boxes. The presentation was part of PPC’s educational outreach program, TICCIT (Trees into Cartons, Cartons into Trees), which teaches students that trees are a sustainable crop, highlights the many uses for trees and paper, and underscores the importance of recycling. The students also planted tree saplings in paperboard cartons to take home. The carton, when planted directly in the ground, provides protection and a natural water funnel for the new tree. As the tree grows, the carton will break down and complete the TICCIT cycle. PPC also donated a young weeping cherry tree that was planted near the front entrance of the community center.



Investment in the Future

Aerospace Components Manufacturers (ACM), a nonprofit regional network of independent aerospace companies, recently announced a four-year, $180,632 pledge to Asnuntuck Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center. The center’s CNC machine-technology lab was also named in honor of ACM. “By ensuring that more students gain access to careers in this exciting industry, these funds will aid in both the realization of individual educational and career goals as well as helping to satisfy a dramatically increasing demand for a technologically skilled workforce,” said Asnuntuck President Frank Lombella, pictured at right with ACM President Pedro Soto (left) and ACM Executive Director Paul Murphy. See story on page 21 for an broader look at the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center.



Marking a Milestone

The Edward P. Boland VA Medical Center in Leeds is marking its 95th anniversary this year. It is marking this milestone in a number of ways, including a ceremony, complete with a large birthday cake, at the facility on May 15.

CEO John Collins, FACHE, addresses those gathered, offering both a look back and a glance to the future

CEO John Collins, FACHE, addresses those gathered, offering both a look back and a glance to the future

Audience members listened to a number of different speakers

Audience members listened to a number of different speakers

Gordon Tatro, a retired employee (Engineering) and the VA’s unofficial historian, references an old photo of the facility to highlight changes that have taken place in recent years

Gordon Tatro, a retired employee (Engineering) and the VA’s unofficial historian, references an old photo of the facility to highlight changes that have taken place in recent years

Collins joins recently hired employees to cut the cake

Collins joins recently hired employees to cut the cake

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts April 2019


Common Threads

Dress for Success staged its annual Common Threads gala on April 25 at the Sheraton in Springfield. The event, described as a ‘celebration of women,’ inspires supporters with stories of success and empowerment as recent program participants speak of their achievements and successes.

Wilhelmina Humphries is ushered to the stage by Werner Maiwald, president of Renaissance Insurance Benefits

Wilhelmina Humphries is ushered to the stage by Werner Maiwald, president of Renaissance Insurance Benefits

Maria Pelletier is ushered to the stage by Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health

Maria Pelletier is ushered to the stage by Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health

Carla Cosenzi, president of Tommy Car Auto, Margaret Tantillo, executive director of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, and Jessica Dupont of Health New England, chair of the board of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts

Carla Cosenzi, president of Tommy Car Auto, Margaret Tantillo, executive director of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, and Jessica Dupont of Health New England, chair of the board of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts

 


President’s Gala

Bay Path University staged its third annual President’s Gala on April 27 at the Sheraton in Springfield. The gala, which raises money for scholarships, again featured a Dancing with the Stars format that had a team of judges — and the audience — struggling to determine who should take home the coveted President’s cup. After audience voting, that honor eventually went to Julian Jusko, a community partner and long-time supporter of the gala, who earned three perfect 10s from the judges, as did fellow competitors Erin Hornyak.

Gala chairs Tim and Carrie Burr, Drew and Lauren Davis

Gala chairs Tim and Carrie Burr, Drew and Lauren Davis, Tiffany and Ted Madru, and Carol and Rick Steele Jr.

Jusko finishes off her routine in style

Jusko finishes off her routine in style

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal addresses the audience

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal addresses the audience

Bay Path President Carol Leary offers a few remarks

Bay Path President Carol Leary offers a few remarks

the judges for the dance competition, from left, Lindsay Arnold, Wayne Hooker, and Kara Wolters

the judges for the dance competition, from left, Lindsay Arnold, Wayne Hooker, and Kara Wolters

from left, instructor Gunnar Sverrisson, Hornyak, Jusko, Clemons, and instructor Daryll & Sverrisson gather for a final round of applause

from left, instructor Gunnar Sverrisson, Hornyak, Jusko, Clemons, and instructor Daryll & Sverrisson gather for a final round of applause


Celebrating Entrepreneurship

The Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative (GEI) staged its annual awards banquet on April 24 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House. The well-attended gathering featured an Entrepreneur Showcase featuring students attending 14 area colleges and universities, an elevator-pitch competition, the presentation of awards, and keynote speaker Wombi Rose, CEO and co-founder of Lovepop.

GEI Founder Harold Grinspoon visits with Julia Baker, Springfield Technical Community College student and founder of Media Journeys

Jarrod Coletta, Western New England University student and co-founder of Bimiitech, chats with guests about his venture

Jarrod Coletta, Western New England University student and co-founder of Bimiitech, chats with guests about his venture

the crowded ballroom floor during the Entrepreneur Showcase

the crowded ballroom floor during the Entrepreneur Showcase

Anna Aron (left), a Hampshire College student and founder of Anna Leigh Pottery, shows some of her works to Katie Allan Zobel, president and CEO of the Community Foundation

Anna Aron (left), a Hampshire College student and founder of Anna Leigh Pottery, shows some of her works to Katie Allan Zobel, president and CEO of the Community Foundation

Hampshire College student Adil Sarwar shows off his venture, the Cupcake Factory

Hampshire College student Adil Sarwar shows off his venture, the Cupcake Factory

 


Derby Day

Square One staged its fourth annual Kentucky Derby fundraising gala on race day at Mercedes-Benz of Springfield. More than 210 guests turned out to watch the Running of the Roses, do some networking, and raise nearly $30,000 for early-education provider Square One.

attendees watch as the horses head for the finish line

attendees watch as the horses head for the finish line

from left, Carrie and BJ Calvi, Kelli Moriarty Finn, David Finn, and Ryan McCollum

from left, Carrie and BJ Calvi, Kelli Moriarty Finn, David Finn, and Ryan McCollum

from left, Jeff and Laura Lomma, Andrew and Megan Hersman, and Dawn DiStefano

from left, Jeff and Laura Lomma, Andrew and Megan Hersman, and Dawn DiStefano

Square One President and CEO Joan Kagan addresses the crowd of race watchers

Square One President and CEO Joan Kagan addresses the crowd of race watchers

from left, Lakisha Coppedge, Margaret Tantoillo, and James Coppedge do some networking

from left, Lakisha Coppedge, Margaret Tantoillo, and James Coppedge do some networking

 


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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts April 29, 2019

Cutting the Ribbon

Ribbon-cutting ceremonies were staged on April 12 for the Isenberg Business Innovation Hub, which opened to students this past January. The stunning addition to the Isenberg School of Management was hailed as a critical turning point in the history of the school, a facility that provides much-needed additional space and an opportunity to climb higher in the ranks of the nation’s leading business schools.

officials cut the ribbon

officials cut the ribbon

Bjarke Ingels, founding partner of the Bjarke Ingels Group

Bjarke Ingels, founding partner of the Bjarke Ingels Group, which partnered with Goody Clancy on the design of the hub, addresses those gathered

an exterior shot of the building

an exterior shot of the building

an aerial shot of the hub shows how it connects with the existing Isenberg building

an aerial shot of the hub shows how it connects with the existing Isenberg building


Creating a Buzz

Springfield Technical Community College’s student radiology team placed first at the 2019 Massachusetts Society of Radiologic Technologists Buzz Bowl competition. With six community colleges participating, Buzz Bowl challenges students’ knowledge in the field of radiologic technology. STCC’s seven-member team did not lose a match in the competition, which featured questions in the categories of safety, image production, radiographic procedures, patient care, and more.

STCC students who participated in the competition

STCC students who participated in the competition included Brian Griffin, Kurt Reeter, Briana Rudman, Hillary Ladeau, Selenia Hernandez, Julie Korman, and Sabrina Provost.


Jobs for Youth

The Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board brought a team of youth and business service staff at the recent [email protected], encouraging members to hire a youth this summer. From school-to-career programs for in-school youth to partner programs such as Community Action’s Northampton Youthworks project, the team aims to match youth with jobs at area firms. This year, they are also developing STEM internships for youth with the help of Collaborative Educational Services.

Pictured, from left, are Marija Boily, business service representative

Pictured, from left, are Marija Boily, business service representative, MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center; Rebecca Bannasch, employer partnership specialist, Community Action; Patricia Crosby, executive director, and Jennifer Droesch, executive assistant, MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board.


Record Haul for Riverside

On April 5, more than 400 people attended Riverside’s signature annual event at One Cottage Street in downtown Easthampton, helping to raise $112,000, the most ever in the 15-year history of the event. Guests enjoyed food, drink, and more than 250 silent and live auction items to bid on.

Pictured, from left: Susan Lapointe

Pictured, from left: Susan Lapointe, Riverside’s director of Development; Irene Lamson, Riverside supporter; Silas Kopf, master of ceremonies; and Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of presenting sponsor bankESB, conduct the live auction.


Supporting High Achievers

Michael Ostrowski, president and CEO of Arrha Credit Union, recently congratulated the 2019 Anthony J. Serafino Scholarship winners. Five $1,000 scholarships were awarded by Arrha to worthy students based on scholastic merit and civic achievement.

Pictured, from left: Ostrowski

Pictured, from left: Ostrowski; recipients Jessica Smith of Minnechaug Regional High School, Isaac Schein of Longmeadow High School, Taylor Woods of Pioneer Valley Christian Academy, Quinn Serafino of West Springfield High School, and Kaylee Fife of Tantasqua Regional Senior High School; and Erin Panteleakis, director and scholarship committee chair at Arrha.

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Women’s Leadership Conference

Bay Path University staged its annual Women’s Leadership Conference on March 29. The theme for the day was “Why Not Me,” and a number of keynote speakers and focus sessions addressed that broad topic.

More than 1,700 people attended the day-long conference

More than 1,700 people attended the day-long conference

luncheon keynote speaker Mel Robbins shares the ‘five-second rule’ with the audience

luncheon keynote speaker Mel Robbins shares the ‘five-second rule’ with the audience

Rita Moreno, winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony, and Golden Globe, was the closing keynote speaker at the conference

Rita Moreno, winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony, and Golden Globe, was the closing keynote speaker at the conference

he sizable contingent from MassMutual poses for a photo

he sizable contingent from MassMutual poses for a photo

Dr. Ann Errichetti, chief operations and academic officer at Presence Health

Dr. Ann Errichetti, chief operations and academic officer at Presence Health

Kate Kane, managing director and wealth-management advisor for Northwestern Mutual, were both inducted into the Women Business Leaders Hall of Fame

Kate Kane, managing director and wealth-management advisor for Northwestern Mutual, were both inducted into the Women Business Leaders Hall of Fame




Cutting the Ribbon

Ribbon-cutting ceremonies were conducted on April 5 for a new medical/professional building at 15 Atwood Dr. in Northampton, a project led by Development Associates and Northwood Development, LLC.

Ken Vincunas, right, president of Development Associates, with Ronald Waskiewicz, assistant chief probation officer, and Michael Carey, Hampshire County register of Probate, both tenants in the building

Ken Vincunas, right, president of Development Associates, with Ronald Waskiewicz, assistant chief probation officer, and Michael Carey, Hampshire County register of Probate, both tenants in the building

from left, Vincunas, Susan O’Leary Mulhern of Northwood Development, Eileen O’Leary Sullivan of Northwood Development, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, and Travis Ward of Development Associates

from left, Vincunas, Susan O’Leary Mulhern of Northwood Development, Eileen O’Leary Sullivan of Northwood Development, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, and Travis Ward of Development Associates

officials cut the ceremonial ribbon

officials cut the ceremonial ribbon

O’Leary Sullivan addresses those gathered at the ceremony

O’Leary Sullivan addresses those gathered at the ceremony




Partnering with the Sox

As part of its ongoing Worcester expansion, Country Bank is teaming up with the Worcester Red Sox as one of the team’s 21 founding partners in anticipation of its move to Worcester in 2021. The bank’s recent annual annual meeting in Worcester featured a keynote address that included a video of the site of Polar Park narrated by Worcester Red Sox President Charles Steinberg, along with remarks regarding the team’s decision to relocate to Worcester.

Pictured, from left, are Rob Crain, senior vice president of Marketing for the Worcester Red Sox; Shelley Regin, senior vice president of Marketing for Country Bank; Paul Scully, President and CEO of Country Bank, and Jack Verducci, vice president of Corporate Partnerships for the Worcester Red Sox.

Pictured, from left, are Rob Crain, senior vice president of Marketing for the Worcester Red Sox; Shelley Regin, senior vice president of Marketing for Country Bank; Paul Scully, President and CEO of Country Bank, and Jack Verducci, vice president of Corporate Partnerships for the Worcester Red Sox.




Show of Support

The YWCA of Greater Springfield recently hosted a somewhat unusual, but important gathering — a show of support for Cheryl Claprood, the recently named acting police commissioner in Springfield, a role she assumes at a time of considerable controversy within the department.

Claprood, center, with Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi and YWCA Executive Director Elizabeth Dineen, a former prosecutor in Hampden County. Behind them are some of the more than 30 women who attended the event

Claprood, center, with Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi and YWCA Executive Director Elizabeth Dineen, a former prosecutor in Hampden County. Behind them are some of the more than 30 women who attended the event

Dineen addresses the gathering

Dineen addresses the gathering




Visit from the Earl of St. Andrews

Elms College recently received a visit from the Earl of St. Andrews, a senior member of the House of Windsor, the reigning royal house of the United Kingdom.

George Philip Nicholas Windsor, Earl of St. Andrews, is the elder son of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and his wife Katharine, Duchess of Kent. He holds the title Earl of St Andrews as heir apparent to the Dukedom of Kent. The earl stopped by Elms College on his way through Springfield to attend a conference on the Middle East in Washington, D.C., later this week. The conference was co-sponsored by the Next Century Foundation, where he serves as a trustee with retired ambassador Mark Hambley, who is also a trustee of Elms College.

George Philip Nicholas Windsor, Earl of St. Andrews, is the elder son of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and his wife Katharine, Duchess of Kent. He holds the title Earl of St Andrews as heir apparent to the Dukedom of Kent. The earl stopped by Elms College on his way through Springfield to attend a conference on the Middle East in Washington, D.C., later this week. The conference was co-sponsored by the Next Century Foundation, where he serves as a trustee with retired ambassador Mark Hambley, who is also a trustee of Elms College.




Degrees of Progress

Elms College President Harry Dumay, left, and Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook shake hands after signing a partnership agreement to offer accelerated online degree-completion programs in Computer Science and Computer Information Technology and Security. The bachelor’s degree programs are completely online and accelerated, which means students can earn their degree in 14 months after obtaining an associate degree from STCC.

Elms College President Harry Dumay, left, and Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook

Elms College President Harry Dumay, left, and Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook




Berkshire Blueprint 2.0

1Berkshire recently launched the implementation phase of the Berkshire Blueprint 2.0 at ceremonies at the Colonial Theatre in downtown Pittsfield. The event was the culmination of more than 100 interviews, thousands of hours of work, and more than 20 months of planning and design. 1Berkshire President and CEO Jonathan Butler kicked off the primary outline during the launch by recognizing that $1 billion in regional investments have been made in the Berkshires in just the last three years, noting that investment in the Berkshires is “a good bet.” (Photos by Kara Thornton)

John Bissell, President and CEO of Greylock Federal Credit Union, addresses the large crowd

John Bissell, President and CEO of Greylock Federal Credit Union, addresses the large crowd

Butler, left, with Ben Lamb, director of Economic Development for 1Bershire

Butler, left, with Ben Lamb, director of Economic Development for 1Bershire

from left, Betsy Strickler, chief communications officer for Community Health Programs Inc.

from left, Betsy Strickler, chief communications officer for Community Health Programs Inc.Kevin Pink, Economic Development coordinator for 1Berkshire; and Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer




Safety Awards

Peter Pan Bus Lines recently hosted its annual Safety Awards presentation at the Student Prince and the Fort. A total of 175 drivers were recognized for completing 2018 with no accidents, and the company also recognized drivers, operations, and maintenance departments for outstanding customer service and performance.

Michael Drozd was honored as a 2 million-mile driver

Michael Drozd was honored as a 2 million-mile driver

Siyana Abdulbasir received the company’s Customer Excellence Award for outstanding customer service

Siyana Abdulbasir received the company’s Customer Excellence Award for outstanding customer service

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts / March 2019

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Vivid Vocal Visionary

The Women’s Fund of Western Mass. (WFWM) paid tribute to four of its pioneers at an event it called Vivid Vocal Visionary on March 18 at the Tower Square Hotel in Springfield. The event honored the group’s three founders, Dianne Fuller Doherty, the late Sally Livingston, and Martha Richards, as well as its founding executive director, Kristi Nelson.

From left, Donna Haghighat, CEO of the WFWM, Doherty, Richards, Nelson, Mimi Ginsberg (accepting for Sally Livingston’s family), and Haydee Lamberty-Rodriguez, board chair of the WFMA)

From left, Donna Haghighat, CEO of the WFWM, Doherty, Richards, Nelson, Mimi Ginsberg (accepting for Sally Livingston’s family), and Haydee Lamberty-Rodriguez, board chair of the WFMA)


Former board members Jane Sapp, left, and Brenda Lopez

Former board members Jane Sapp, left, and Brenda Lopez


From left, Eugenie Sills, Eleanor Lord, Shirley Edgerton (all former board members), Abbie von Schlegell, and Barbara Viniar

From left, Eugenie Sills, Eleanor Lord, Shirley Edgerton (all former board members), Abbie von Schlegell, and Barbara Viniar


Haghighat (left) with featured speaker Teresa Younger, president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women

Haghighat (left) with featured speaker Teresa Younger, president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women



New Name, Same Mission

Girls Inc. of Holyoke officially changed its name to Girls Inc. of the Valley last month to reflect its broader reach — it now serves girls in several communities across the region — and deeper impact. The name change was announced at a press conference at WGBY’s headquarters in Springfield that featured a number of speakers talking about the agency’s critical mission within the region.

From left, Luis Soria, principal of the Marcella R. Kelly School in Holyoke; Safiatu Sam, mother of a Girls Inc. Eureka scholar who lives in Chicopee; Suzanne Parker, executive director of Girls Inc. of the Valley; Roxanne Atterbury, a teacher at Rebecca Johnson Elementary School in Springfield; and Melyssa Brown-Porter, chair of the board for Girls Inc. of the Valley.

From left, Luis Soria, principal of the Marcella R. Kelly School in Holyoke; Safiatu Sam, mother of a Girls Inc. Eureka scholar who lives in Chicopee; Suzanne Parker, executive director of Girls Inc. of the Valley; Roxanne Atterbury, a teacher at Rebecca Johnson Elementary School in Springfield; and Melyssa Brown-Porter, chair of the board for Girls Inc. of the Valley.


A New Chapter

The Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation announced late last month that the Springfield City Library will assume management of the Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative launched by the foundation in 2009 and managed by Sally Fuller until her retirement last year. The new chapter for the initiative was announced at a press conference at the Mason Square branch of the library attended by a host of area civic and business leaders as well as third-graders from nearby DeBerry Elementary School.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno meets with several of those students.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno meets with several of those students.

Students from DeBerry pose with the book bags, filled with books, that they received

Students from DeBerry pose with the book bags, filled with books, that they received

From left, Sarno, state Rep. Bud Williamson, and Mary Walachy, executive director of the Davis Foundation

From left, Sarno, state Rep. Bud Williamson, and Mary Walachy, executive director of the Davis Foundation


Hometown Heroes

The Western Mass. Chapter of the American Red Cross staged its annual Hometown Heroes Breakfast on March 21 at MGM Springfield. The event recognized 10 heroes from across the region.

Columbia Gas was the presenting sponsor

Columbia Gas was the presenting sponsor for Matthew Turgeon and Michael Croteau of the Chicopee Fire Department (center), who saved a toddler and her father while ice fishing off duty

Brad Campbell, board chair of the Western Mass. chapter, and Holly Grant, regional CEO of Massachusetts

Brad Campbell, board chair of the Western Mass. chapter, and Holly Grant, regional CEO of Massachusetts

From left, Sheila Doiron, director of Communications & Community Relations for Columbia Gas, Hometown Hero Holly Holden, and Beverly Tangvik, president of the Arbella Insurance Charitable Foundation

From left, Sheila Doiron, director of Communications & Community Relations for Columbia Gas, Hometown Hero Holly Holden, and Beverly Tangvik, president of the Arbella Insurance Charitable Foundation

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Outlook 2019

The Springfield Regional Chamber staged its annual Outlook lunch on March 4 at the MassMutual Center. More than 600 area business leaders and elected officials heard from a number of speakers who presented the outlook for the region, the state, and the nation. At top, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal gives the federal outlook.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal gives the federal outlook

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal gives the federal outlook

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno offers some remarks

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno offers some remarks

Margaret Carlson, columnist for the Daily Beast, presents the view from the U.S. Capitol

Margaret Carlson, columnist for the Daily Beast, presents the view from the U.S. Capitol

 


 

Celebrity Readers

Jeb Balise, CEO of Balise Auto, right, and West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt, below, took a break from their respective duties recently to become celebrity readers at West Springfield’s Coburn Elementary School. They both read The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, written by Michelle Cuevas and illustrated by Erin Stead, to third-graders.

 
 

 
 

 


 
 

 

 

 


FSB Community Grants

Through its Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program, Florence Savings Bank (FSB) recently presented grants totaling $102,500 to 61 area nonprofits at an awards ceremony on March 5 at the Garden House at Look Park. At top, FSB President and CEO John Heaps presents Jessie Cooley, director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, with a $4,853 award. Below, Adena Calden, left, and Kate Agresto, both of the Leeds Elementary Parent Teacher Organization, read the brochure outlining the award recipients.

FSB President and CEO John Heaps presents Jessie Cooley, director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, with a $4,853 award

FSB President and CEO John Heaps presents Jessie Cooley, director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, with a $4,853 award


Adena Calden, left, and Kate Agresto, both of the Leeds Elementary Parent Teacher Organization, read the brochure outlining the award recipients

Adena Calden, left, and Kate Agresto, both of the Leeds Elementary Parent Teacher Organization, read the brochure outlining the award recipients

 

 


 
 

Gateway to College

Holyoke Community College recently staged graduation ceremonies for its Gateway to College program. Gateway at HCC is part of a national network of programs that put struggling high-school students and dropouts into college classes, where they work toward their high-school diplomas and also collect transferable college credits.

Biannca Colflesh of Holyoke, one of the 15 graduates, celebrates with her family after the graduation ceremony

Biannca Colflesh of Holyoke, one of the 15 graduates, celebrates with her family after the graduation ceremony

Jeysha Vega Colon of Springfield celebrates with her family

Jeysha Vega Colon of Springfield celebrates with her family

 

 


 
 

Dealer of the Year

Country Hyundai in Northampton recently earned the 2019 DealerRater Dealer of the Year Award and the 2019 Consumer Satisfaction Award, which recognizes auto dealerships across the U.S. and Canada who deliver outstanding customer service, based on consumer reviews written on DealerRater.com.

Carla Cosenzi, center, joins staff at the dealership in celebrating the honor.

Carla Cosenzi, center, joins staff at the dealership in celebrating the honor.

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Smile for the Camera

Sandra Costello, owner of Sandra Costello Photography, cuts the ribbon to the opening of her new photography studio in the Eastworks Building in Easthampton on Feb. 17. Surrounded by family, friends, and clients, Costello celebrated her new space for capturing portraits of women, families, high-school seniors, and professionals. (Photo by Ryan Williams)

Sandra Costello, owner of Sandra Costello Photography, cuts the ribbon to the opening of her new photography studio in the Eastworks Building in Easthampton on Feb. 17. Surrounded by family, friends, and clients, Costello celebrated her new space for capturing portraits of women, families, high-school seniors, and professionals. (Photo by Ryan Williams)



Image Conscious

Michael’s Party Rentals recently received a national accolade at the 2019 American Rental Assoc. (ARA) annual convention and trade show in Anaheim, Calif.  The company was acknowledged with a Presidents Image Award, given to a business facility or store celebrating its commitment to improving the rental-industry image through a remodeling, rebuilding, or renovation project. The award was in response to Michael’s Party Rentals’ new showroom, which opened in July 2016. Pictured: Melissa Sullivan (left) and Michael Linton accept the award.

Michael’s Party Rentals recently received a national accolade at the 2019 American Rental Assoc. (ARA) annual convention and trade show in Anaheim, Calif. The company was acknowledged with a Presidents Image Award, given to a business facility or store celebrating its commitment to improving the rental-industry image through a remodeling, rebuilding, or renovation project. The award was in response to Michael’s Party Rentals’ new showroom, which opened in July 2016. Pictured: Melissa Sullivan (left) and Michael Linton accept the award.


Supporting Seniors

Polish National Credit Union (PNCU) recently pledged to donate $25,000 to the Friends of River Mills Senior Center in Chicopee. The donation will be spread over the course of five years in $5,000 installments. The check was presented during the Financial Elder Abuse Workshop sponsored by the credit union on Feb. 7. This donation will be used for the addition of programs and activities for the seniors. Pictured, from left: Alfred Picard, president of Friends of River Mills Senior Center; Jim Kelly, President and CEO of PNCU; Sherry Manyak, executive director of Friends of River Mills Senior Center; Michael Sugrue, executive vice president of PNCU; and Kevin Kober, director of Retail at PNCU.

Polish National Credit Union (PNCU) recently pledged to donate $25,000 to the Friends of River Mills Senior Center in Chicopee. The donation will be spread over the course of five years in $5,000 installments. The check was presented during the Financial Elder Abuse Workshop sponsored by the credit union on Feb. 7. This donation will be used for the addition of programs and activities for the seniors. Pictured, from left: Alfred Picard, president of Friends of River Mills Senior Center; Jim Kelly, President and CEO of PNCU; Sherry Manyak, executive director of Friends of River Mills Senior Center; Michael Sugrue, executive vice president of PNCU; and Kevin Kober, director of Retail at PNCU.

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Business Community Photo Essay February 2019

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Family Fun Day

Link to Libraries recently staged its Family Fun Day at Mill 180 in Easthampton. The event was a celebration of reading and a fun way to engage children of all ages in that all-important activity.

Link to Libraries board member Tammy Trudeau welcomes guests

Link to Libraries board member Tammy Trudeau welcomes guests

Longmeadow High School Key Club volunteers, from left, Emily Ibrahimov, Meghan Desrosiers, Sara Creapo, Kate Gelinas, Shirley Yuan, Abby Chiz, Olivia Anderson, and Miranda Vellenga

Longmeadow High School Key Club volunteers, from left, Emily Ibrahimov, Meghan Desrosiers, Sara Creapo, Kate Gelinas, Shirley Yuan, Abby Chiz, Olivia Anderson, and Miranda Vellenga

Meghan Desrosiers with two attendees

Author Megan Dowd Lambert, from Amherst, reads aloud to children

Meghan Desrosiers with two attendees

Meghan Desrosiers with two attendees

the children’s musical group Little Roots performs at the event

the children’s musical group Little Roots performs at the event

State of Entrepreneurship

On Feb. 7, Valley Venture Mentors (VVM), in partnership with the Western Mass. Economic Development Council’s Entrepreneurship Committee, presented the annual “State of Entrepreneurship in the Valley.” Staged at the recently opened Valley Venture Hub on Bridge Street in Springfield, the event brought together a host of players that collectively comprise the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and featured a number of entrepreneurs speaking to the effectiveness of the ecosystem in helping them turn ideas into businesses.

A host of area leaders involved with VVM, the ecosystem, and entrepreneurship in general cut the ceremonial ribbon on the Valley Venture Hub

A host of area leaders involved with VVM, the ecosystem, and entrepreneurship in general cut the ceremonial ribbon on the Valley Venture Hub

Gregory Thomas, executive director of the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst, networks with Ray Berry, founder of White Lion Brewery

Gregory Thomas, executive director of the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst, networks with Ray Berry, founder of White Lion Brewery

Kristen Leutz, CEO of VVM, offers some remarks

Kristen Leutz, CEO of VVM, offers some remarks

Roy Chan, a student at UMass, campus director of the Hult Prize, and past Innovation Challenge participant

Roy Chan, a student at UMass, campus director of the Hult Prize, and past Innovation Challenge participant

Sheila Coon, founder of Hot Oven Cookies, tell the audience how the ecosystem has helped promote entrepreneurship in the region

Sheila Coon, founder of Hot Oven Cookies, tell the audience how the ecosystem has helped promote entrepreneurship in the region

The band Turgeon Quintet entertains after the formal program

The band Turgeon Quintet entertains after the formal program

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Black Tie Gala

The Assoc. of Black Business and Professionals (ABBP) hosted its third annual Black Tie Gala on Jan. 19 at the Aria Ballroom at the MGM hotel in Springfield. During the gala, the association recognized 10 businesses and professionals were that have contributed significantly to the growth and development of the local black business community. The keynote speaker was Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, ambassador of the Republic of Ghana to the U.S.

Attorney Alesia Days serves as master of ceremonies

Adjei-Barwuah addresses the crowd

Adjei-Barwuah addresses the crowd

Adjei-Barwuah (left) with Jasmine Green, ABBP executive board member

Adjei-Barwuah (left) with Jasmine Green, ABBP executive board member

From left, Jimmy and Toni Hendrix of Smokey Joe’s Cigar Lounge, Lamont Clemens of S-Cel-O Painting, Stefan Davis of I Found Light Against All Odds, Rosemary Tracy Woods of Art for the Soul Gallery, Justin Haynes of Jus10h, Vanessa Hall of Beaute Within, Clarence Thomas of Final Touch Barbershop, and Mychal Connoly of Stinky Cakes

From left, Clemons, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, mayoral aide and ABBP executive board member Darryl Moss, and Lordi Smith of Micro Scalp Clinic.

Open for Business

Florence Bank recently cut the ribbon on its second Hampden County branch, at 1444 Allen St. in Springfield. Bank staff, board members, and corporators were on hand at the ceremony, along with civic leaders.

In the front row, are, from left, Springfield City Councilor Michael Fenton, State Rep. Angelo Puppolo, Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Florence Bank President and CEO John Heaps, Vice President and Branch Manager Nikki Gleason, board member Mansour Ghalibaf, Area Manager/Vice President Elissa Langevin, corporator Tania Barber, Vice President/Director of Facilities Mark Cavanaugh, and Joanne Gould of the Outerbelt Service Assoc

The branch’s staff: from left, Carolyn Ware, community relations director; Candice Somar, assistant branch manager; Mario Nascimento, customer service representative/senior teller; Nikki Gleason, vice president/branch manager; Magdalis (Maggie) Sierra, customer service representative/senior teller; and Bianca Hyde, customer service representative/teller operations manager

 Sarno (left) greeting Heaps and welcoming Florence Bank into the city.

Sarno (left) greeting Heaps and welcoming Florence Bank into the city.

Model Congress at AIC

The 79th annual Model Congress at American International College, the longest-running continuous model congress of its type in the nation and one of the college’s oldest campus traditions, convened at AIC during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Eleven high schools throughout the Northeast came to campus to write, debate, and pass legislation in a weekend-long simulated congress.

The Best Delegation award was presented to (pictured, from left) Alexandria Barnard-Davignon, Rose McCaffrey, Bridget Bushy, and Michael Scoville from SABIS International Charter School. The Best Bill award was given to Chinaly Chanvong and Jada Ficarra, also from SABIS. McCaffrey was named this year’s top delegate, and will receive the Kathryn Mauke Scholarship, a full four-year tuition scholarship to AIC. Second- and third-place delegates were Althea Brennan and Pamela Mountain, respectively, from Chatham High School in New York, who receive a $10,000 and a $5,000 four-year scholarship to AIC.

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Asnuntuck Community College

Going Digital

In an effort to provide students with relevant skills for the workplace, Asnuntuck Community College has adopted eLABJournal, a software solution from Bio-ITech, a division of Eppendorf. eLABJournal is an intuitive and user-friendly application that is designed for laboratories in academic teaching and research labs as well as in commercial settings. Students using this platform in the classroom will gain valuable experience in electronic notebook and inventory/data management, which will better prepare them for their careers. Here, Asnuntuck student Samantha Fox is photographed in one of the college’s labs working with eLabJournal. Asnuntuck Community College’s Foundation provided the funding, through a mini-grant, for this software.





The West of the River Chamber of Commerce

Open for Business

The West of the River Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed Box Paper Scissors to the Agawam community. The store, which opened in late December and is owned by Bryant Whitsett, offers a wide variety of products and services, including key cutting, notary, DVD transfer, office supplies, conference-room rental, space to sell and promote local products and services, shipping, mailbox services, faxing, and more. A grand-opening celebration was staged Jan. 17. Here, Whitsett is seen with employee Delaney Tanzer.





North Brookfield Savings Bank

Meeting a Need

North Brookfield Savings Bank (NBSB) recently thanked the community for the overwhelming success of its annual toy drive, during which the bank accepted thousands of donations of new and unwrapped toys and collected monetary donations in jars at its branch locations. Pictured are the Cindy Fountain (left) and Patty Ostrout of NBSB with officers from the North Brookfield Police Department, whose Toys for Joy program was one of many partnering organizations in the drive.





Officials from Holyoke Community College and Westfield State University

Nursing Degree Partnership

Officials from Holyoke Community College and Westfield State University signed a dual-admission agreement that streamlines the process for students who want to continue their nursing educations at Westfield after earning an associate degree in nursing at HCC. The RN-to-BSN completion program partnership was announced during a ceremony at HCC’s Center for Health Education on Jarvis Avenue, home to the college’s RN (registered nurse) and LPN (licensed practical nursing) programs and medical simulation center. From left: Diane Prusank, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at Westfield State University; Ramon Torrecilha, president of Westfield State University; Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College; and Monica Perez, vice president of Academic Affairs at Holyoke Community College.

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Building New Lives

More than two dozen students were recently recognized for completing a five-month ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) program for Puerto Rican evacuees at Holyoke Community College. The Puerto Rican New Arrivals Program started July 23 and concluded Dec. 20 with a recognition ceremony and feast at HCC’s Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center (PAFEC) in downtown Holyoke. The HCC division of Business and Community Services offered the free ESOL program specifically for residents of Puerto Rico who left the island after Hurricane Maria and relocated to Western Mass.

Maria Crespo Santos and Yamilette Gonzalez Caceres share a moment at the ceremony

Students, faculty, and staff from HCC’s Puerto Rican New Arrivals Program celebrate the completion of the program

Investing in Students

An “Introduction to Fire Science” elective class offered at Ware High School and taught by Ware Fire Department Deputy Chief Edward Wloch — one example of project-based learning at the high school — led to an opportunity to take an EMT-B class at the Holyoke Community College satellite located at the Education to Employment (E2E) site in Ware. Students who finished the high-school elective are now exploring careers in fire science and emergency medicine. Area business partners included Baystate Wing Hospital Corp., which provided a matching grant of $640 that covered half the tuition and textbooks for the EMT course. From left: Michael Moran, president of Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital; students Valentina Towne, Morgan Orszulak, and Joe Gagnon; Wloch; students Seth Bourdeau, Felicity Dineen, and Jordan Trzpit; and Ware Superintendent of Schools Marlene DiLeo.

From left: Michael Moran, president of Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital; students Valentina Towne, Morgan Orszulak, and Joe Gagnon; Wloch; students Seth Bourdeau, Felicity Dineen, and Jordan Trzpit; and Ware Superintendent of Schools Marlene DiLeo.

From left: Michael Moran, president of Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital; students Valentina Towne, Morgan Orszulak, and Joe Gagnon; Wloch; students Seth Bourdeau, Felicity Dineen, and Jordan Trzpit; and Ware Superintendent of Schools Marlene DiLeo.

Another Act of Advocacy


The Advocacy Network, a local organization with a mission to promote and protect the health, human rights, and safety of people with developmental disabilities, recently donated $17,000 to Whole Children. The donation was one of the last acts of the group, which announced it is dissolving after more than 60 years of work. “We’re very pleased to support the programs and staff of Whole Children. We know we found the right place,” said Advocacy Network board member Ed Orzechowski. Whole Children was started in 2004 by a group of parents looking for after-school programs for their children with intellectual disabilities or autism. It joined with Springfield-based Pathlight in 2010 and has expanded to serve some 600 adults, teens, and children each year in a variety of recreation, performing-arts, and enrichment programs.

Launching a New Brand


Consolidated Health Plans (CHP), a Springfield-based accident- and health-insurance Berkshire Hathaway company, recently announced the launch of a new brand name and brand identity for three organizations: Consolidated Health Plans, Commercial Casualty Insurance Co., and Atlanta International Insurance Co. The organizations will be branded under the marketing name of Wellfleet, and the company names are changing to Wellfleet Group, Wellfleet Insurance Co., and Wellfleet New York Insurance Co., respectively.
Consolidated Health Plans President and CEO, Drew DiGiorgio, right, with company founder Kevin Saremi at CHP’s recent 25th anniversary celebration at the Basketball Hall of Fame. At left: from left, CHP employees Maureen Brunelle, Karen O’Connor, Susan Daley, and Amanda Noel.

Consolidated Health Plans President and CEO, Drew DiGiorgio, right, with company founder Kevin Saremi at CHP’s recent 25th anniversary celebration at the Basketball Hall of Fame. At left: from left, CHP employees Maureen Brunelle, Karen O’Connor, Susan Daley, and Amanda Noel.

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts December 25, 2018

Cutting the Ribbon

Hundreds of dignitaries, including Gov. Charlie Baker, joined Springfield Technical Community College administrators, faculty, students, and trustees (past and present) for a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the Ira H. Rubenzahl Student Learning Commons, otherwise known as Building 19 when it was part of the Springfield Armory complex. Actually, several speakers who took the podium joked that the $50 million facility should simply be called ‘the Ira’ for short. The renovated historic building will now serve as a one-stop hub for student services and activities.

Rubenzahl, president of the school from 2004 to 2016 and visionary for the Building 19 project, cuts the ribbon

Rubenzahl, president of the school from 2004 to 2016 and visionary for the Building 19 project, cuts the ribbon

Baker, right, with current STCC President John Cook

Baker, right, with current STCC President John Cook

Rubenzahl chats with students Karolyn Burgos-Toribio and Mohammed Gabriel

Rubenzahl chats with students Karolyn Burgos-Toribio and Mohammed Gabriel

Building 19 opened in the mid 1800s, and has served the college in a number of ways over the years

Building 19 opened in the mid 1800s, and has served the college in a number of ways over the years

Rubenzahl addresses those gathered for the ceremonies, with Cook and Baker to his right

Rubenzahl addresses those gathered for the ceremonies, with Cook and Baker to his right

 

Banking on Worthy Causes

The Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. (MBA) announced that the MBA Charitable Foundation set a new record in its annual year-end community grant season. The 45 grants in 2018 total $163,000. The foundation has now provided gifts totaling approximately $2.5 million over its 22-year history. Among the awards is $5,000 to United Way of Pioneer Valley’s Thrive Financial Success Program (below), $5,000 to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts (middle), and $5,000 to Girls Inc. of Holyoke (bottom).

 

‘Your Friends Are My Friends’

More than 200 women recently attended WillPower Foundation’s “Your Friends Are My Friends” holiday brunch at Hadley Meeting House. The annual fundraiser raised more than $12,000 for grants for families with loved ones with different abilities throughout Western Mass. An art auction with pieces created by supporters of WillPower was the highlight of the event.

Sharon Dufour of LUSO Federal Credit Union and Kim Anderson with art they won at the auction.

Sharon Dufour of LUSO Federal Credit Union and Kim Anderson with art they won at the auction.

 

Food for Thought

Arrha Credit Union President Michael Ostrowski (pictured at far left) recently recognized Ludlow High School honor students for collecting $7,159.50 in non-perishable food items and donations for Springfield Open Pantry. Arrha sponsors the School Challenge, through which area students raised $22,982.91 this year. To show appreciation, Arrha donated $1,000 to Ludlow High School community efforts. The Springfield Open Pantry is an emergency food kitchen that serves more than 30,000 people each year.