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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.

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts

Business Exchange

The Greater Northampton, Greater Easthampton and Amherst Area chambers of commerce recently came together for their annual Business Exchange at Lord Jeffery Inn. More than 225 business leaders from across the Pioneer Valley enjoyed music, tastings, and networking bingo. The event was sponsored by Duseau Trucking, Five College Realtors, and Kuhn Riddle Architects. Pictured below: from left, John Howland, President, Greenfield Savings Bank (far left) and his wife Phelicia (far right) with Regina Curtis of the Greenfield Community College Foundation. Bottom: Youssef Fadel of New England Promotional Marketing (left) and Jessye Deane of F45 Training of Hampshire Meadows & Community Action.

 

Pain into Purpose

The Springfield College Office of Multicultural Affairs recently presented Leon Ford, a community leader, social activist, and survivor of police brutality. Ford, author of Untold, shared his personal story about police brutality, racial profiling, discriminatory practices, victimization, and how he has used his experience as a tool to positively impact society. In 2012, Ford, then 19, was shot five times by a Pittsburgh police officer during a routine traffic stop, leaving paralyzed. Since that time, Ford has told his story all over the country, including delivering a TEDx Talk, “Turning Pain into Purpose,” about his experiences. Pictured: Ford (right) with Calvin Hill, Springfield College’s vice president for Inclusion and Community Engagement.

 

Engaging Efforts

Greater Springfield Senior Services recently awarded $5,000 Let’s Re-engAGE grants to three organizations — Glenmeadow Retirement Community of Longmeadow, Valley Eye Radio Inc. of Springfield, and the Indian Orchard Branch of the Springfield library — for projects designed to reach out to isolated senior citizens and engage the community in the effort. Pictured at below: from left, Valley Eye Radio Executive Director Barbara Loh and board members John Ptaszek and Ellen Berry. At bottom: from left, Stephen Crane, Longmeadow town manager;  the Rev. Pam McGrath, First Church of Christ, Longmeadow; Anne Thomas, president and CEO, Glenmeadow Retirement Community; and Erin Koebler, Community Outreach coordinator, Longmeadow Council on Aging.

 

Celebrating in Style

Mercedes Benz of Springfield celebrated its first year in business recently by throwing a party for customers, employees, and partners in the dealership’s many initiatives within the community. Donations were suggested to support Square One and the Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestra. Below, Peter and Michelle Wirth, co-owners of the dealership, with their children: Alexander, Christian, Benjamin, and Charlotte. Middle, magician Peter James entertains two young children. Bottom, there were Mercedes models for people of all ages.

 

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts November 2018

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Food Drive

The Springfield College Student Athlete Leadership Team partnered with the Department of Public Safety recently to lead a food drive in support of the Foodbank of Western Massachusetts. The campus community helped donate more than 1,698 pounds of nonperishable food items to the Foodbank. Students and staff delivered the food items on Nov. 15.


Andrus Award Winner

On Nov. 8, AARP Massachusetts presented its prestigious Andrus Award to Susan Jaye Kaplan, co-founder of Link to Libraries and founder of GoFIT. The award is given out annually to a volunteer in the state. Named after the organization’s founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, it recognizes outstanding individuals who are sharing their experience, talents, and skills to enrich the lives of others.

Kaplan with her husband, Steve, left, and Matt Bannister, first vice president of Marketing and Innovation with PeoplesBank. All three are members of the Link to Libraries Board of Directors


Awards Breakfast

Viability Inc. recently staged its annual Employer Recognition and Awards Breakfast at Springfield Country Club. Employer partners that were recognized include The Short Stop Bar & Grill for the Rookie Employer Award; Deerfield Packaging for Employer of the Year; and Walgreens for the National Employer Award. Also recognized was Joseph Wendover for the Armand Tourangeau Volunteer of the Year

Jeff Bowers and Kyle Hahn from Walgreens accept the National Employer Award, presented by Viability Senior Vice President of Corporate Inclusion Solutions, Carla Gaouette.

Viability Board Chair Timothy Marini, left, of Hub International New England, and Viability CEO Dick Venne.


New Bay Path Trustees

Bay Path University recently welcomed seven new members to its Board of Trustees.

From left: Michelle Wirth, co-owner of Mercedes Benz of Springfield; Laura Grondin, president and CEO of Virginia Industries Inc.; Wayne Webster, vice president of Commercial Lending for Westfield Bank; Andrea Hill-Cataldo, founder and president of Johnson & Hill Staffing; Kirk Arnold, technology executive; Lamont Clemons, senior vice president, Proton Energy, and executive vice president, S-Cel-O Painting; and Stefano Martini, chief information officer for MassMutual Financial Group.

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts November 2018

AIC Unveils Colaccino Center

American International College (AIC) celebrated the grand opening of the new Colaccino Center for Health Sciences

American International College (AIC) celebrated the grand opening of the new Colaccino Center for Health Sciences on Oct. 24. Located at 1020 State St., the center offers spacious classrooms and hands-on labs in exercise science, nursing, physical therapy, public health, and occupational therapy. The 20,000-square-foot facility includes simulation, rehabilitation, and human-performance laboratories, as well as smart classrooms, study areas, faculty offices, and conference space. Athletic training programs will be introduced beginning in 2021. Pictured at top: cutting the ribbon are, from left, state Sen. James Welch, state Rep. Thomas Petrolati; Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, AIC President Vince Maniaci, AIC board of trustees chair Frank Colaccino, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, AIC School of Health Sciences interim Dean Karen Rousseau, state Sen. Eric Lesser, and Springfield City Council President Orlando Ramos

Critical Links

Thanks to Big Y, Link to Libraries has recently made significant donations of books in the Berkshires. Pictured top: from left, Denise Dubreuil and Mike Messer of Big Y in Pittsfield; Laurie Flynn, president and CEO of Link to Libraries; and representatives from Silvio Conte Community School, Morningside Community School, and Crosby Elementary School in Pittsfield. Bottom: from left, Carolyn Wallace, principal of Brayton Elementary School in North Adams; Flynn; Becky Prenguber of Big Y in North Adams; Barbara Malkas, superintendent of North Adams Public Schools; and representatives from Brayton Elementary School, Greylock Elementary School, and Colegrove Park Elementary School in North Adams.

Super 60

On Oct. 26, the Springfield Regional Chamber’s Super 60 gala celebrated 60 area companies for their success in one of two categories — total revenue and revenue growth — and the wide range of honorees brought into focus the breadth and depth of the region’s business community. Lelaneia Dubay, founder of Hartford Flavor Co., distiller of Wild Moon liqueurs, was the keynote speaker for this year’s event at Chez Josef in Agawam. Pictured above: Dubay with representatives from presenting sponsor Health New England, from left, Brendaliz Torres, Maura Girouard, Tim Chrystal, Sandra Ruiz, Keith Jones, Peggy Garand, Eric Harlow, Christine Wershoven, Mike Wolnecki (Webber & Grinnell), Ashley Allen, and Glenda DeBarge. (Michael Epaul Photography)

HCC Opens Center for Life Sciences

Holyoke Community College (HCC) marked the official opening of its new Center for Life Sciences on Oct. 24 with a ribbon-cutting celebration featuring lab demonstrations and tours of the 13,000-square-foot, $4.55 million, state-of-the-art facility. The center, which opened for classes in September, features a suite of new science labs and classrooms and the only ISO-certified cleanroom at any community college in Massachusetts. Pictured at top: HCC president Christina Royal and state Secretary of Education Jim Peyser cut the ceremonial ribbon. Also pictured, from left to right, are state Rep. Angelo Puppolo; state Rep. Aaron Vega; Martha Waldron, vice president of Marketing & Communications for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center; U.S. Rep. Richard Neal; Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse; and several HCC students. Bottom: HCC Biology Professor James Knapp gives a microbiology demonstration to students and visitors during the grand opening celebration.

Changing Lives

Asnuntuck Community College’s November episode of Changing Lives focuses on recent growth at the college

Asnuntuck Community College’s November episode of Changing Lives focuses on recent growth at the college. James Lombella (left), president of Asnuntuck and Tunxis Community Colleges, hosted the show. His guests were Tim St. James, interim dean of Student Services, and Jennifer Brown, director of Workforce Development and Non-credit Programs. Produced by volunteers, the Changing Lives program airs on PATV 15 on Thursdays at 8 p.m. and Fridays at 11 a.m. (Photo by Ben Durant)

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A Pictorial Essay

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Continuing the Fight

The 25th Rays of Hope Walk & Run Toward the Cure of Breast Cancer drew about 25,000 people to Forest Park in Springfield on Oct. 21 to raise money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer, as well as supporting survivors and remembering loved ones they’ve lost. The program, launched in 1994 by Lucy Giuggio Carvalho has raised almost $15 million over its history for research, treatment, equipment, breast-health programs, outreach, and education — all of it local — as well as providing grants to various community programs throughout Western Mass.

‘Pink Day’

LUSO Federal Credit Union in Ludlow and Wilbraham celebrated a “Pink Day” recently to raise awareness for breast cancer. The local, nonprofit community credit union is raising money to benefit Rays of Hope and the Pink W.A.Y. through calendar raffles for the months of November and December. Suggested donation is $10 (for one) or $15 (for two). To learn more, visit www.lusofederal.com.

Bowl-a-thon Donation

Joe Phillips, right, president of Phillips Insurance Agency Inc., presents a $5,000 check to John Freedman, president of Joseph Freedman Company, for the seventh annual Joseph Freedman Bowl-a-thon being held Nov. 7 at AMF lanes in Chicopee. The proceeds go to Camphill Village, a community for adults with developmental disabilities who live together and work together caring for each other.

Getting College Experience

Brian Candido, professor and program chair for Springfield Technical Community College’s Computer Information Technologies program, leads a class involving students from Springfield’s Commerce High School. The college welcomed more than 40 students from Commerce this fall as part of a program, created in collaboration with the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership, to enable high-school students to take college-level classes. Students attending STCC can choose between courses in mobile app programming, computer basics, and airbrushing techniques.

Picture This

A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts
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Tee Party

Square One’s celebrated its 13th annual Tea Party on Oct. 4. This year’s party was a vintage golf-inspired event hosted by the Starting Gate at GreatHorse in Hampden. Pictured top to bottom: Lauri Doleva (left) and Kris Allard; Lynn Brown and Bill Sullivan; from left, Nina Cameron, Dawn DiStafano, Liz Lopez, and Shynel Hayes; and Jami Ouellette Morse winning a prize.

Michael Epaul Photography

Michael Epaul Photography

Deb Hanna Photography

Michael Epaul Photography

Earning Top Grades

On Oct. 4, 220 guests filled the UMass Student Ballroom for the eighth annual A+ Awards presented by the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, recognizing leaders in the community whose work and actions bring economic and social benefit to the region. Pictured top to bottom: honorees included, from left, Catalina Arrubla of Multi-Arts, Jen Loebel-Strong of CHD’s Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, former U.S. Rep. John Olver, Kim Alli of Greenfield Savings Bank, David Dann of Village Neighbors, and Amherst Cinema, represented by Carol Johnson. Tony Maroulis (left) and John Coull, both former Amherst Area Chamber executive directors.

Source to Sea Cleanup

On Sept. 28-29, an estimated 3,000 volunteers gathered at more than 100 locations along the Connecticut River and tributary streams in four states for the Connecticut River Conservancy’s (CRC) 22nd annual Source to Sea Cleanup. “We all have a responsibility to solve this problem — individuals, manufacturers, businesses, and government,” said Andrew Fisk, CRC executive director. “After cleaning up over 1,000 tons of trash over the course of 22 years, it’s clear that repeated cleaning is not the solution to our trash problem. We need to redesign our economy so there isn’t waste in the first place.” In addition to the tons of small litter picked up this year by volunteers, CRC uses the Source to Sea Cleanup as an opportunity to clean up large trash dump sites and remove large debris items from rivers. (Photo by Sam Masinter)

Something’s Cooking

The Chicopee Savings Bank Charitable Foundation recently donated $50,000 to Holyoke Community College for the benefit of students preparing for careers in the culinary arts and hospitality industry. Bill Wagner, president of the foundation, presented an oversized check for that amount to HCC president Christina Royal and officials from the nonprofit HCC Foundation during a brief ceremony Oct. 2 at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. From left, Teri Szlosek, administrator and director of the Chicopee Savings Bank Charitable Foundation; Royal; Wagner; Paul Boudreau ’67, HCC Foundation board chairman; and Amanda Sbriscia, HCC vice president of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the HCC Foundation.

Impact Award

The Polish National Credit Union (PNCU) recently received the Bronze CUSO Financial Services/Sorrento Pacific Financial 2017 Impact Award at the 2018 Annual Conference in San Diego. The award is given to a financial institution that demonstrates an excellent job of building awareness through branch marketing efforts. From left, Valorie Seyfert, president and CEO of CUSO Financial Services, L.P.; Kevin Kober, PNCU director of Retail; Christopher Casale, financial advisor, CUSO Financial Services, L.P.; and Amy Beattie, COO, CUSO Financial Services, L.P.

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts / October 1, 2018

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Cutting-edge Experiences

Kristen Boyle, a senior psychology and neuroscience major works in the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility at IALS.

This summer, the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) at UMass Amherst launched its first summer-intern program through its core facilities. This program creates hands-on experiences that prepare students for successful careers. Interns worked on tasks like 3D printing and laser cutting; human physiological, biomechanical, and behavioral studies; and cell testing. Many of the students are continuing on with their work throughout the current academic year. Pictured: Kristen Boyle, a senior psychology and neuroscience major works in the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility at IALS.

Day of Caring

The United Way’s Day of Caring brought together more than 1,000 people on Sept. 14

The United Way’s Day of Caring brought together more than 1,000 people on Sept. 14 to complete community-service work throughout the region. Many area companies use this day of service as an opportunity to engage employees in team-building and morale-boosting activities. The United Way connects local volunteers to nonprofit organizations and schools to complete tasks such as landscaping, painting, gardening, and other tasks. Pictured, top to bottom: a team from Collins Pipe volunteer at Birthday Wishes, representatives from Springfield College Americorps and BusinessWest volunteer at Gardening the Community, and employees from Belt Technologies spend the day working at the Chicopee Child Development Center.

Beyond the 9-to-5

Square One announced it is expanding access to child care to all hours of the day, to support working parents with second-shift, third-shift, and weekend jobs

Square One announced it is expanding access to child care to all hours of the day, to support working parents with second-shift, third-shift, and weekend jobs. Strategic funding partners include MGM Springfield, Baystate Health, Smith & Wesson, the Center for Human Development (CHD), FOCUS, and LENOX. Funds from these employers were matched by philanthropist Lyman Wood of Hampden. Collectively, more than $100,000 was raised to launch Square One: Next Level. “Square One has a long-standing reputation for strategically responding to the evolving needs of our community,” said Joan Kagan, Square One president and CEO. “We heard from our business leaders and from parents in our community that the lack of child care during evenings and weekends was making it difficult for employees to be successful in their careers and employers to be successful in running their businesses.” Pictured, from left: Lori Nesci of CHD; Annamarie Golden of Baystate Health; Wood; Kagan; Alex Dixon of MGM Springfield; Hannah Butler of LENOX; and Dan McDonough of Smith & Wesson.

Seeding the Future

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded two separate grants to Springfield Technical Community College

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded two separate grants to Springfield Technical Community College to enhance education in cutting-edge internet technology and advanced photonics, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal announced. The college received $599,388 to develop the Internet of Things Education Project and $551,202 to develop a program called Problem-Based Learning in Advanced Photonics Manufacturing Education. Both grants are designed to support three-year projects that will prepare and inspire students to enter careers in growing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. STCC has degree and certificate programs that prepare students for these careers. Pictured at the announcement, from left: Gary Mullett, co-chair of the Electronic Systems Engineering Technology Department at STCC; Neal; and Nicholas Massa, department chair for Optics and Photonics Technology at STCC.

Helping Kids Overcome

Springfield will be home to the first Educare early-education school in Massachusetts

Springfield will be home to the first Educare early-education school in Massachusetts. The groundbreaking for the $14 million school took place on Sept. 17 on Hickory Street, adjacent to Brookings School, on land provided by Springfield College. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito was joined by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno; Educare officials; Janis Santos, executive director of Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Head Start; local leaders in philanthropy and project funders; representatives of Springfield College and the Old Hill Neighborhood Council; elected officials; and other community members for the ceremony. The center is expected to open in late 2019, offering an early-education model designed to help narrow the achievement gap for children living in poverty. Funding for the project comes from a variety of local, state, and national sources. Pictured at top: state, local, and elected officials, as well as representatives of Educare, Head Start, the Davis Foundation, O’Connell Development Group, and others break ground on Educare Springfield. At above: Polito holds up signs made by Head Start children.

Linking the Community

Link to Libraries recently held an event at Mercedes-Benz of Springfield to recognize its Business Book Link sponsors

Link to Libraries recently held an event at Mercedes-Benz of Springfield to recognize its Business Book Link sponsors. Pictured top: From left, Michael Matty, president and director of St. Germain Investment Management, Peter Wirth, co-owner of Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, and William Trudeau, president and CEO of the Insurance Center of New England. Above: Amy Rediker and Andrew Anderlonis of Rediker Software, and Laurie Flynn, president and CEO of Link to Libraries. (Photos by Sarah Gallagher)

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Running for the Kids

More than 200 runners and walkers gathered in downtown Northampton on Aug. 26 for the Gándara Center’s fourth annual Frozen Yogurt 5K Run/Walk. The event raised more than $20,000 to build a universally accessible playground at Gándara’s Mooreland residential group home for children up to age 12. “This playground will provide the youngest individuals we serve with some joy during an incredibly stressful time in their lives,” said Lisa Brecher, director of Communications and Development at the Gándara Center. “Giving these children a safe and fun outlet in their backyard will help provide a positive light to their stay.” Pictured above are some of the top finishers. This year’s first-place winners by category included: men 13-54, Michael Giles (19:03); women 13-54, Laura Christof (20:35); boys 12 and under, Teddy Cyr (21:32); girls 12 and under, Sabrina Hopkins (28:17); men 55 and over, Alan Hunt (25:15); and women 55 and over, Candace Curran (27:48).

 


 


 

 

Shot of Support

Goodwin House, a CHD program offering substance-use treatment services for males between ages 13 and 17, recently commissioned a new outdoor basketball court. Pictured above: the facility’s namesake, Jim Goodwin, CEO of CHD. Below, Big Y Foods was among the donors who made the court possible. Pictured, from left, are Ben Craft, vice president, Community Engagement, CHD; Stacy Bissonette, aftercare coordinator, Goodwin House; Chantal Silloway, program director, Goodwin House; and Michael Matyszewski, store director, Chicopee Big Y. Other contributors to the new basketball court included Russell and Day Degenza, Mike Gram, Hathaway Construction Corp., HD Supply White Cap – A.H. Harris, Home Depot of Chicopee, JRT Landscaping, Marcelino Mendez, Pioneer Valley Concrete Service, Scott Santor, Craig Sypek, and Vermont Woods Studios.


 

Successful Start

Officials from Head Start, MGM Springfield, and the city of Springfield recently gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new MGM Head Start Child and Family Center on Union Street in the city’s South End. The $4 million, 10,000-square-foot preschool center features classroom space for 88 children under age 5. Pictured, from left: Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno; U.S. Rep. Richard Neal; Janis Santos, director, HCS Head Start Inc.; Alex Dixon, general manager, MGM Springfield; Marikate Murren, vice president, Human Resources, MGM Springfield; state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez; and Janet Steigmeyer, director, Human Resources, Facilities, and Maintenance, HCS Head Start Inc. (Photo by Ed Cohen)

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Investing in People

MHA’s Leadership Series

MHA’s Leadership Series, which is open to all members of management in the mental-health agency, delivers a leadership curriculum specialized for human-services professionals. The comprehensive training is designed to support supervisors and directors within their roles. Twenty-six supervisors recently graduated from MHA’s Leadership Series 2018. A second Leadership Series is scheduled for the winter of 2019. “Employee training is essential to the success of any organization. Supervisor training and development can have a profound effect on employee retention, as well as recruitment,” said Cheryl Fasano, MHA president and CEO. “The investment MHA has made in our Leadership Series will benefit the organization for the long run. Investing in our most important resources, our human resources, is a priority.”

 

 

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts / August 20, 2018

Swinging for a Good Cause

The 38th annual Brightside Golf Classic at Springfield Country Club

The 38th annual Brightside Golf Classic at Springfield Country Club raised $90,180 to help to continue the work of Brightside for Families and Children as a nonprofit child-welfare and family-support organization for at-risk children, adolescents, and their families. The support given through this year’s Golf Classic will help Brightside’s efforts to assist children, adolescents, and families in need through family outreach and stabilization, psychiatric and medication evaluation and management, special education, and therapeutic mentoring. Pictured, from left:  William Walthouse, St. Germain Investment Management; Maria Zygmont, Brightside; John Kendzierski, Professional Drywall Construction Inc.; Daniel Moriarty, Monson Savings Bank; Mark Paglia, Brightside; Jack Dowd, the Dowd Agencies; Madeline Johnson, Brightside; Hank Downey, Florence Bank; William Wagner, Westfield Bank; and Mark Fulco, President, Mercy Medical Center.


 

Building Leaders

The MHA Leadership Series

The MHA Leadership Series, which is open to all members of management at MHA and targeted at program supervisors and directors, recently graduated 26 participants. The program delivers a leadership curriculum specialized for human-services professionals. The comprehensive training is designed to support supervisors and directors within their roles. A second Leadership Series is scheduled for the winter of 2019. “Employee training is essential to the success of any organization. Supervisor training and development can have a profound effect on employee retention, as well as recruitment,” said Cheryl Fasano, MHA president and CEO. “The investment MHA has made in our Leadership Series will benefit the organization for the long run. Investing in our most important resources, our human resources, is a priority.”


 

Community Impact

The staff of Facial Cosmetic & Maxillofacial Surgery (FCMS) in East Longmeadow

The staff of Facial Cosmetic & Maxillofacial Surgery (FCMS) in East Longmeadow collected money over the past few months during dress-down Fridays, and chose to donate $500 in proceeds to East Longmeadow Fire Department for its Firefighters Assoc. Pictured, from left: Cheryl Grassetti of FCMS, Mike Minahan of the East Longmeadow Fire Department, FCMS owner Dr. Richard Fraziero, and Ashley Swift of FCMS.

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts

Winning Drive

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield recently awarded a new Mercedes-Benz to William Morrissey of Agawam, who won the car by hitting a hole in one on June 18 at the LETR Celebrity Golf Classic Tournament at Wilbraham Country Club, benefiting Special Olympics in coordination with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department. “We are thrilled to have been a part of the LETR golf outing and couldn’t be happier for Mr. Morrissey,” said Mercedes-Benz of Springfield co-owner Peter Wirth. “We are proud to sponsor local community events such as this, and we hope Mr. Morrissey enjoys his new car.” Pictured: Mercedes-Benz of Springfield co-owner Michelle Wirth, Morrissey, Peter Wirth, Special Olympics representative Al Tomlinson, Milton Torres of Wilbraham Country Club, and Jon Laporte of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department.

 

 

Farming the Future

Holyoke Community College students, staff, and alumni, along with community farmers and others, trained last month to grow produce inside two urban container farms set up in a lot off Race Street next to the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. The 40-foot-long Freight Farms shipping containers were delivered in April for a joint urban agriculture project that includes HCC, the city of Holyoke, and the community nonprofit Nuestras Raices. The two shipping containers use hydroponic methods (without soil) to grow leafy greens and herbs. Each of the container farms can grow as much produce in a year as an acre of farmland. Pictured: Francesca Mazzillio, head farm manager for Freight Farms, explains some of the equipment to Dylan Donicz, farm manager for Nuestras Raices and a 2015 graduate of HCC’s sustainable agriculture program. Behind them is Kate Maiolatesi, HCC professor of Sustainable Studies and Sustainable Agriculture.

 

 

Rink of Honor

The Environmental Business Council of New England (EBCNE) recognized the new $18 million Worcester Ice Center with the James D.P. Farrell Award for Brownfields Project of the Year during its annual meeting and celebration on June 27. Tighe & Bond oversaw the project’s environmental remediation prior to site redevelopment. Completed last year, the Worcester Ice Center features twin ice rinks, shops, restaurants, and a variety of recreational venues. Pictured, from left: Shawn Rising, Bryan Gammons, Jeffrey Arps, and Douglas Landry of Tighe & Bond, Paul Hoffman of GKN Sinter Metals, and Marc Richards, Matthew Abraham, Becky Bozadjian, Sue Courtemanche, and Fran Hoey of Tighe & Bond.

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Cooking for Life

More than a dozen city of Holyoke employees and their spouses recently took part in a two-part class on preparing healthy meals, presented by Training and Workforce Options and hosted by the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. Warren Leigh, chairman of the Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts programs at HCC, developed the two-part, hands-on class, which focused on the Mediterranean diet, which is abundant in fruits, vegetables, and olive oil. The class introduced participants to knife skills, food choices, portion control, gluten-free food, and cooking styles. Trainees cooked with locally grown produce and learned about sustainability.

Leigh demonstrates a technique for chopping greens

Enrique Melendez (left) of the Holyoke DPW and Jim Crowley of Holyoke Gas & Electric slice onions.

Enrique Melendez (left) of the Holyoke DPW and Jim Crowley of Holyoke Gas & Electric slice onions

 

Hands-on Learning

Springfield College recently hosted its 25th annual Athletic Training Student Workshop on campus. The four-day workshop, co-directed by Springfield College Athletic Trainer and Assistant Professor of Exercise Science and Sport Studies Wayne Rodrigues and Springfield College alumnus Bob Kuzmeski, is intended for high-school students interested in careers in athletic training and sports medicine. High-school students from throughout the country attend the workshop and focus on anatomy, injury prevention, and care of common lower-extremity athletic injuries. Lectures, demonstrations, and practice sessions about athletic-injury prevention and maintenance take place during the workshop. Students also have the opportunity to receive hands-on exploration of cadaver anatomy in the cadaver laboratory on campus. Presentations on career options also are part of the curriculum.
Springfield College Student Workshop

Banking on Their Future

Monson Savings Bank distributed more than $22,000 in scholarships to high-school seniors who graduated this year from Monson, Ware, and Wilbraham/Hampden high schools and Wilbraham & Monson Academy. Recipients included Isabela Ferraro, Grace Pettenqill, Bianca Pio, Lisa Cavanaugh, Serina Bowen, Hannah Hicks, Cienna Moriarty, Benjamin Pagliaro, Macauley Rouette, Ethan Hill, Kaitlyn Rousseau, and Nigel Opoku-Achampong, who were selected by their schools because they demonstrated academic success and have an interest in pursuing higher education.

Steve Lowell, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank, with some of the scholarship winners.

Steve Lowell, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank, with some of the scholarship winners.

 

Air Apparent

The Great New England Air & Space Show drew more than 63,000 visitors to Westover Air Reserve Base on July 14-15. In addition to dozens of static displays, aerial performances were provided by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, the Geico Skytypers, stunt pilot Bill Stein, and the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team, just to name a few of the many who took to the skies in aircraft both vintage and cutting-edge.

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds

5-year-old Evan LaShomb checks out one of the static displays at Westover

Connie Brown accepts a lithograph from the Golden Knights

Connie Brown, president of the Galaxy Community Council, which co-produces the airshow, accepts a lithograph from the Golden Knights

U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team

The Geico Skytypers

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PWC New Members Gathering

The Professional Women’s Chamber of Western MA, an affiliate of the Springfield Regional Chamber, hosted its first annual new-member event on June 28 at Glendale Ridge Vineyard in Southampton. This event brought together professional women from all specialties and backgrounds to network and learn more about the benefits of becoming a member of the Professional Women’s Chamber. Attendees also had the opportunity to sample wines and learn more about the vineyard from host Mary Hamel, co-owner of the Vineyard.

From left: Kate Vishnyakov of Kate Gray Boutique, Jenny MacKay of the Gaudreau Group, and Madeline Landrau from MassMutual Financial Group


From left: Diane Cordeiro of Louis & Clark Drug, Gillian Palmer of Eastern States Exposition, Jeannie Filomeno of Marcotte Ford, Caron LaCour of Burkhart, Pizzanelli, P.C., Margaret Perry of Wilson’s Department Store, Kathleen Plante of BusinessWest, Landreau, and Rachel Duda of Louis & Clark Drug

Cutting the Ribbon

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Paul Picknelly, president of Monarch Enterprises, and Jeff Lomma, member services director of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce joined members of the United Bank team for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the bank’s new location at Monarch Place in downtown Springfield on June 28. Earlier this year, the bank moved its branch from 115 State St. into the first floor of One Monarch Place. June 28 marked the ceremonial opening of the new branch location.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Paul Picknelly, president of Monarch Enterprises, and Jeff Lomma, member services director of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce (left to right at center)

All-Star Unveilings

On June 28, the American Hockey League and the Springfield Thunderbirds announced that Lexus, a division of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. will serve as the title corporate partner for the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield, which will take place on Jan. 27-28, 2019 at the MassMutual Center. Balise Lexus of West Springfield was an integral part of the partnership for the AHL All-Star Classic, in addition to being a Springfield Thunderbirds corporate sponsor. “Balise is proud to partner with Lexus, the Springfield Thunderbirds, and the AHL in this endeavor to make the city we call home a destination, for both entertainment and community,” said Jeb Balise, owner and CEO of Balise Motor Sales, at the announcement. “As an integral part of the city of Springfield since 1919, we are committed to its continuing growth and revitalization.”

Officials from the team, the AHL, and Balise Lexus pose behind the official All-Star logos


Thunderbirds President Nathan Costa addresses the gathering

Pilgrimage Tour

Two students from Elms College spent a week in France last month, practicing their French, learning about French history and culture, and — perhaps most importantly — making personal connections with the legacy of the college’s founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph. The week of June 16-23, Jane Dugan of Southwick and Monica Karriem of West Hartford, Conn. joined a pilgrimage to Le Puy, France, led by the Assoc. of Colleges of Sisters of St. Joseph (ACSSJ), of which Elms College is one of nine members. The group was led by Sr. Kitty Hanley and Sr. Joan Lescinski, along with Martha Malinski, executive director of the ACSSJ, and campus ministry representatives from some of the colleges.

Jane Dugan of Southwick (at right) and Monica Karriem


Dugan (left) and Karriem pose beside the statue of Mother St. John Fontbonne at the Sisters of St. Joseph Heritage Rooms in Lyon, France.

Supporting Square One

For the second consecutive year, customers of Pride Stores and store management are showing support for Square One in a very big way. Pride recently staged a campaign where customers were encouraged to purchase a Square One ‘square’ for $1 at all Pride locations. Pride owner Bob Bolduc, one of BusinessWest’s Difference Makers for 2018, agreed to match all the donations, in support of the children and families served by Square One. On July 3, surrounded by Square One preschoolers, Bolduc, along with his team, presented a check for $13,000 to the agency at its location at 255 King St. in Springfield.

Pride employees play games with some of the children


From left, Joan Kagan, president and CEO of Square One; Marsha DelMonte and Kyara Wiggins of Pride Stores; and Kristine Allard, Square One


Bolduc meets with one of the young students.

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Xtraordinary Efforts

Berkshire Bank closed all locations early on June 5 for its third annual Xtraordinary Day, which provides employees the opportunity to volunteer in communities the bank and its affiliates serve. This year’s Xtraordinary Day included almost 90 community projects with 92% of employees participating, contributing more than 7,000 hours of service. In Berkshire County, projects include a Habitat for Humanity multi-site build in partnership with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity; assembling of teacher-appreciation kits at Farmington River Elementary; landscaping and painting with Hillcrest Educational Centers; and cleanups with Housatonic River Walk, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires’ Camp Russell, and the West Stockbridge Historical Society.
In the Pioneer Valley, projects include:

Tree planting and park improvements with ReGreen Springfield


Gift wrapping at Birthday Wishes


Painting and landscaping at Lupa Zoo

Painting and landscaping at Lupa Zoo, Amelia Park Children’s Museum, Girls Club of Greenfield, and YMCA of Springfield; painting the West Springfield Boys & Girls Club; and shelving books and landscaping at the Westfield Anthaneum

Taste of Things to Come

The Boston Foundation recently awarded Holyoke Community College the 2018 Deval Patrick Prize for Community Colleges for expanding its culinary-arts and hospitality programs to address industry needs, and for the partnerships the college put together to construct the new HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute in Holyoke’s Innovation District. First awarded in 2015, the Deval Patrick Prize recognizes community colleges that do an outstanding job partnering with employers to build effective career pathways for their students. Part of the $50,000 prize money is allocated for a free line-cook training program for experienced kitchen workers that started on June 4. Pictured below: faculty and staff stand on the second-floor landing of the new HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. At bottom: Culinary Arts lab tech and HCC alumnus Tyler Carrier prepares mussels for a lunch event during the spring 2018 semester.

faculty and staff stand on the second-floor landing of the new HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute

faculty and staff stand on the second-floor landing of the new HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute


Culinary Arts lab tech and HCC alumnus Tyler Carrier

Culinary Arts lab tech and HCC alumnus Tyler Carrier prepares mussels for a lunch event during the spring 2018 semester

Community Spirit

Community Bank N.A. team members from the Springfield branch recently participated in Bowl for Kids’ Sake, an annual bowling event that raises funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County. The branch donated $2,500 in scholarships for the organization, contributing to a grand total of more than $40,000 in proceeds raised during the 2018 event. “Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County provides premier services in one-on-one mentoring that really makes a difference in a child’s life,” Community Bank N.A. Vice President, Commercial Banking Officer Michael Buckmaster said. “Our Springfield team is proud to support the organization and help them continue to make a significant impact in our community.”

Community Spirit

Pictured, from left: Diane Dunkerley, Michael Buckmaster, and Keith Nesbitt, commercial banking officers; Jackie Guenette, branch manager; and Natasha Miranda, customer service representative

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Finding Their Sparkle

Link to Libraries recently hosted local author Natasha Lowe at Kensington International School in Springfield

Link to Libraries recently hosted local author Natasha Lowe at Kensington International School in Springfield. Lowe spent more than an hour with the third grade, discussing life as an author and reading from her latest novel, Lucy Castor Finds Her Sparkle. “I’m just bowled over by the incredible work Link to Libraries does,” Lowe said. “Getting books into the hands of kids is a small thing that can make a big difference. A book can offer a child a magical world to escape into. They become like old friends, to be read over and over again. I had such a wonderful time visiting Kensington School this morning and sharing Lucy with all the third-graders.”

 

New Life on Main Street

Country Bank announced it has donated its former building, located at 65-71 Main St., Ware, to the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp. (QVCDC).

Country Bank announced it has donated its former building, located at 65-71 Main St., Ware, to the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp. (QVCDC). “The bank is looking forward to the development of this property as a creative, innovative space for artists and crafts people to practice and teach, as well as display their work,” said Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank. The retail space is currently being revitalized and will provide incubator space to three new small businesses to help them begin their journey. The plans for the retail space include a pottery studio that will work in conjunction with Workshop 13 on pottery classes for the public, an art gallery with a coffee shop, and an additional space for another artistic business. The QVCDC also received a $75,000 grant from the MassDevelopment Collaborative Workspace program to help with the renovations taking place in the new space. Pictured, from left: Alexandria Martinez, project specialist, QVCDC; Sheila Cuddy, executive director, QVDC; Scully; and Mary McGovern, CFO of Country Bank.

 

Future Teachers

The ​MassMutual Foundation has awarded Teach Western Mass (TWM) $150,000 to support two teacher-pipeline programs, Generation Teach and the Urban Education Pathway (UEP

The ​MassMutual Foundation has awarded Teach Western Mass (TWM) $150,000 to support two teacher-pipeline programs, Generation Teach and the Urban Education Pathway (UEP). Both programs are critical to TWM’s efforts to recruit, prepare, and retain effective teachers to provide access to a world-class education to every student in Western Mass. Launched in partnership with Smith College in the fall of 2017, the first cohort of undergraduate Urban Ed Scholars includes 23 students from Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College, Smith College, and UMass Amherst. Generation Teach is a summer fellowship for high-school and undergraduate students interested in exploring a teaching career.

 

Running for Their Lives

More than 2,500 girls, spectators, volunteers, and community members gathered on June 3 for the Girls on the Run Western Massachusetts 5K event at Springfield College, the culminating moment of the Girls on the Run season

More than 2,500 girls, spectators, volunteers, and community members gathered on June 3 for the Girls on the Run Western Massachusetts 5K event at Springfield College, the culminating moment of the Girls on the Run season. Girls on the Run is a national, physical activity-based, positive youth-development program that uses fun running games and dynamic discussions to teach life skills to girls in grades 3-8. During the 10-week program, girls participate in lessons that foster confidence, build peer connections, and encourage community service while they prepare for the end-of-season celebratory 5K event. In Western Mass., more than 190 trained volunteer coaches facilitated the curriculum to 54 teams of girls this spring season, helping equip them with the physical and emotional skills necessary to carry them over the 5K finish line. There were 740 girls in the program this spring from 52 school sites.

 

Engineering Inspiration

Holyoke Community College (HCC) recently hosted students from Putnam Vocational Technical High School and Springfield High School of Science and Technology for Engineering Exploration Day

Holyoke Community College (HCC) recently hosted students from Putnam Vocational Technical High School and Springfield High School of Science and Technology for Engineering Exploration Day. The students calculated the trajectory of projectiles, explored the computer science that enables 3-D printing, built bridges out of newspapers, plotted transit maps, solved logic puzzles, examined atomic structures, generated magnetic fields, and much more. “Engineering Exploration Day was not only about letting incoming students know about our STEM programs and classes; it also offered our STEM students the opportunity to share their personal experiences of how HCC has impacted their personal journeys,” said Melissa Paciulli, HCC’s STEM project administrator. Pictured: Alban Medina, 18 (right), gets ready to shock one of his classmates from Putnam during an exercise in electricity.

 

Alzheimer’s Awareness

On May 15, Alzheimer’s Assoc. officials, local state legislators, and citizens impacted by Alzheimer’s disease gathered at the Grand Staircase at the Massachusetts State House for a day of awareness and conversation around the disease

On May 15, Alzheimer’s Assoc. officials, local state legislators, and citizens impacted by Alzheimer’s disease gathered at the Grand Staircase at the Massachusetts State House for a day of awareness and conversation around the disease. The event, Alzheimer’s Advocacy Day, included a focus on pending legislation (H. 4116) that would support these individuals and their families while focusing on preparing various stakeholders on making the state more dementia-capable. H.4116 passed the House of Representatives on Jan. 31 and is expected to be in front of the Senate this summer. Attendees also met with their local legislators to share how Alzheimer’s has impacted their lives, thank their representatives for their support of H.4116, and urge senators to support the upcoming legislation. 

 

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Looking Sharp

The Light Microscopy Core Facility housed in the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) at UMass Amherst was designated as a Nikon Center of Excellence at a recent grand-opening event. It is one of eight Nikon Centers of Excellence in the U.S. The microscopes that make up the core facility have been purchased by UMass Amherst with funding from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Education Consortium and furnished by Nikon at a discount. They will allow the campus and the surrounding region access to cutting-edge technology and foster economic development, according to James Chambers, director of the IALS Light Microscopy Core Facility.

Jim Hamlin, vice president of sales for Nikon Instruments Inc., and Mike Malone, vice chancellor for Research and Engagement at UMass Amherst, cut the ribbon for the lab’s grand opening.

Jim Hamlin, vice president of sales for Nikon Instruments Inc., and Mike Malone, vice chancellor for Research and Engagement at UMass Amherst, cut the ribbon for the lab’s grand opening.


Chambers (left) and Hamlin survey some of the new equipment

Chambers (left) and Hamlin survey some of the new equipment

Tru Stories

The developers and owners of Tru by Hilton conducted a grand-opening event on May 15 at the chain’s new Chicopee location. The new hotel, the first of its brand in Massachusetts, represents an $11 million investment by BK Investments, which also owns Hampton Inn in Chicopee, and the creation of 30 full-time jobs. The four-story building on Memorial Avenue boasts 108 rooms.

From left, state Sen. James Welch; Chip Rodgers, AAHOA; state Rep. Angelo Puppolo Jr.; state Rep. Joseph Wagner; hotel owner Dennis Patel; James Montemayor, Florence Bank; hotel owner Hershal Patel (with his children, Shaan and Neeva); Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos; Jessica Roncarti-Howe, Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce; state Sen. Eric Lesser; Mary Kay Wydra, Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau; Alexandra Jaritz, Tru by Hilton; and state Rep. Michael Finn.

From left, state Sen. James Welch; Chip Rodgers, AAHOA; state Rep. Angelo Puppolo Jr.; state Rep. Joseph Wagner; hotel owner Dennis Patel; James Montemayor, Florence Bank; hotel owner Hershal Patel (with his children, Shaan and Neeva); Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos; Jessica Roncarti-Howe, Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce; state Sen. Eric Lesser; Mary Kay Wydra, Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau; Alexandra Jaritz, Tru by Hilton; and state Rep. Michael Finn.

Kos addresses the crowd at the grand opening. Top right: the hotel’s back terrace.

Kos addresses the crowd at the grand opening. Top right: the hotel’s back terrace.

Planting Roots

On May 16, Green Thumb Industries (GTI), a national cannabis cultivator and dispensary operator, welcomed the community to an open house and ribbon cutting at RISE Amherst, the town’s new medical-marijuana dispensary, located at 169 Meadow St. “This is a great day for the patients of Massachusetts and the state’s medical cannabis program,” said GTI CEO Pete Kadens. “Our goal at our RISE dispensaries is to provide the very best care to our patients while offering the the most effective and quality medical marijuana available. We are thrilled to join the Amherst community and look forward to serving our patients.”

Cutting the ribbon are, from left, Kadens; Matt Yee, GTI Massachusetts market president; and Peter Vickery, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce president.

Cutting the ribbon are, from left, Kadens; Matt Yee, GTI Massachusetts market president; and Peter Vickery, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce president.

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Breaking Ground

Caolo & Bieniek Architects of Chicopee and R.A.C. Builders Inc. of Agawam took part in the May 5 groundbreaking for West Boylston’s new senior center. R.A.C. Builders was awarded the $4.25 million contract to construct the new facility, which was designed by Caolo & Bieniek. The same two companies designed and built the new West Boylston police headquarters in 2017.

From left, Chris Rucho, West Boylston selectman; project manager Tony Dilusio; Curtis Edgin, principal with Caolo & Bieniek; Roland Ciocca, president of R.A.C.; and John Hadley, West Boylston selectman.

From left, Chris Rucho, West Boylston selectman; project manager Tony Dilusio; Curtis Edgin, principal with Caolo & Bieniek; Roland Ciocca, president of R.A.C.; and John Hadley, West Boylston selectman.

Members of the senior center building committee, plus state Senate President Harriette Chandler (second from right) and state Rep. James O’Day (fourth from left).

Members of the senior center building committee, plus state Senate President Harriette Chandler (second from right) and state Rep. James O’Day (fourth from left).

 

Meeting an Urgent Need

Country Bank recently donated $15,000 to the Ware River Valley Domestic Violence Task Force to support its continued commitment to helping those in need in the Quaboag Hills Region. “Country Bank’s donation has been the foundation of all local domestic-violence services at Valley Human Services of BHN Inc. in the Quaboag Hills,” said Jac Patrissi, director of Domestic Violence Services at Valley Human Services (pictured, left, with Jodie Gerulaitis, vice president, Community Relations with Country Bank. “Their funds have been the seed money and remain the match for programs now supported by municipal, state, and federal dollars. We literally would not have our team preventing and responding to domestic violence in our region without Country Bank.”

Jac Patrissi, director of Domestic Violence Services at Valley Human Services (pictured, left,) with Jodie Gerulaitis, vice president, Community Relations with Country Bank

Jac Patrissi, director of Domestic Violence Services at Valley Human Services (pictured, left,) with Jodie Gerulaitis, vice president, Community Relations with Country Bank

Down the Stretch…

More than 300 supporters of Square One turned out at Mercedes-Benz of Springfield for the nonprofit’s third annual Derby Party on May 5. The gathering, a networking and watch party centered on the Run for the Roses, netted more than $10,000 for Square One’s programs for children and families. Presenting sponsors were the Gaudreau Group and Northeast IT, the venue sponsor was Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, and the platinum sponsor was Alekman DiTusa. 
Photos by Michael Epaul Photography

From left, Amy Selvia Smith, Danielle Williams, Michelle Wirth, and Yvonne Williams

From left, Amy Selvia Smith, Danielle Williams, Michelle Wirth, and Yvonne Williams

from left, David Finn, Maureen McCollum, Ryan McCollum, Kristine Allard, and Kelli Moriarty Finn

from left, David Finn, Maureen McCollum, Ryan McCollum, Kristine Allard, and Kelli Moriarty Finn

Joan Kagan and her husband, Dr. Steve Levine

Joan Kagan and her husband, Dr. Steve Levine

Regina Burns (left) and Jenny MacKay display their winning tickets

Regina Burns (left) and Jenny MacKay display their winning tickets

From left, Alex Dixon, Peter Wirth, and Art Jasper

From left, Alex Dixon, Peter Wirth, and Art Jasper

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Breaking Ground

Caolo & Bieniek Architects of Chicopee and R.A.C. Builders Inc. of Agawam took part in the May 5 groundbreaking for West Boylston’s new senior center. R.A.C. Builders was awarded the $4.25 million contract to construct the new facility, which was designed by Caolo & Bieniek. The same two companies designed and built the new West Boylston police headquarters in 2017.

From left, Chris Rucho, West Boylston selectman; project manager Tony Dilusio; Curtis Edgin, principal with Caolo & Bieniek; Roland Ciocca, president of R.A.C.; and John Hadley, West Boylston selectman.

From left, Chris Rucho, West Boylston selectman; project manager Tony Dilusio; Curtis Edgin, principal with Caolo & Bieniek; Roland Ciocca, president of R.A.C.; and John Hadley, West Boylston selectman.

Members of the senior center building committee, plus state Senate President Harriette Chandler (second from right) and state Rep. James O’Day (fourth from left).

Members of the senior center building committee, plus state Senate President Harriette Chandler (second from right) and state Rep. James O’Day (fourth from left).

 

Meeting an Urgent Need

Country Bank recently donated $15,000 to the Ware River Valley Domestic Violence Task Force to support its continued commitment to helping those in need in the Quaboag Hills Region. “Country Bank’s donation has been the foundation of all local domestic-violence services at Valley Human Services of BHN Inc. in the Quaboag Hills,” said Jac Patrissi, director of Domestic Violence Services at Valley Human Services (pictured, left, with Jodie Gerulaitis, vice president, Community Relations with Country Bank. “Their funds have been the seed money and remain the match for programs now supported by municipal, state, and federal dollars. We literally would not have our team preventing and responding to domestic violence in our region without Country Bank.”

Jac Patrissi, director of Domestic Violence Services at Valley Human Services (pictured, left,) with Jodie Gerulaitis, vice president, Community Relations with Country Bank

Jac Patrissi, director of Domestic Violence Services at Valley Human Services (pictured, left,) with Jodie Gerulaitis, vice president, Community Relations with Country Bank

Down the Stretch…

More than 300 supporters of Square One turned out at Mercedes-Benz of Springfield for the nonprofit’s third annual Derby Party on May 5. The gathering, a networking and watch party centered on the Run for the Roses, netted more than $10,000 for Square One’s programs for children and families. Presenting sponsors were the Gaudreau Group and Northeast IT, the venue sponsor was Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, and the platinum sponsor was Alekman DiTusa. 
Photos by Michael Epaul Photography

From left, Amy Selvia Smith, Danielle Williams, Michelle Wirth, and Yvonne Williams

From left, Amy Selvia Smith, Danielle Williams, Michelle Wirth, and Yvonne Williams

from left, David Finn, Maureen McCollum, Ryan McCollum, Kristine Allard, and Kelli Moriarty Finn

from left, David Finn, Maureen McCollum, Ryan McCollum, Kristine Allard, and Kelli Moriarty Finn

Joan Kagan and her husband, Dr. Steve Levine

Joan Kagan and her husband, Dr. Steve Levine

Regina Burns (left) and Jenny MacKay display their winning tickets

Regina Burns (left) and Jenny MacKay display their winning tickets

From left, Alex Dixon, Peter Wirth, and Art Jasper

From left, Alex Dixon, Peter Wirth, and Art Jasper

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Healthy Beginnings

More than 100 community stakeholders, CHD staff, and well-wishers gathered to officially welcome the new CHD Greenfield Center for Wellness to 102 Main St. in downtown Greenfield on April 20. The center, a partnership of CHD and Community Health Center of Franklin County, officially opened for business on Monday, April 30. CHD invested nearly $6.5 million through a combination of private funds, MassDevelopment tax-exempt bonds, and historic tax credits to transform the historic Sears building into a state-of-the-art community health center. Pictured at top: Jim Goodwin, president and CEO of CHD, with Natalie Blias, executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. Bottom: Robert Babcock, market president with TD Bank, with Kimberley Lee, vice president of Development at CHD.
Healthy BeginningsHealthy Beginnings 2

Caritas Gala

Mercy Medical Center staged its annual Caritas Gala on April 21 at the MassMutual Center. The gala, with its Motown-inspired theme “Reach Out,” raised funds to support Mercy’s Pathway to Care: Addressing the Opioid Crisis through Intervention, Education, and Treatment. Gala organizers presented two Caritas awards at the event, named after Sister Mary Caritas, SP, vice president of Sisters of Providence congregation and long-time president of Mercy Medical Center. The first went to Gov. Charlie Baker for his vision and leadership around prevention and treatment efforts for those suffering from substance use disorder and his support of individuals and families in recovery. “Recognizing that the opioid crisis is one of the most significant public health issues facing America, Gov. Baker has mobilized efforts across the Commonwealth to tackle the issue through prevention and treatment services; he was a unanimous choice for this important award,” said Mark Fulco, President of Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates, as he presented the honor. The second Caritas Award was presented to Daniel Keenan, vice president of Advocacy and Government Relations for Trinity Health of New England, for his advocacy efforts on behalf of patients at Mercy Medical Center and Providence Behavioral Health Hospital. An attorney and former state representative, he is active in behavioral health advocacy including work with the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems. Below, from left, Fulco; Sister Caritas; Baker; Robert Roose, MD, MPH, FASAM, vice president of Behavioral Health, Mercy Medical Center; and Sister Kathleen Popko, SP, president, Sisters of Providence congregation. At bottom, from left, Fulco, Baker, and Keenan.Caritas GalaCaritas Gala 2

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Healthy Beginnings

More than 100 community stakeholders, CHD staff, and well-wishers gathered to officially welcome the new CHD Greenfield Center for Wellness to 102 Main St. in downtown Greenfield on April 20. The center, a partnership of CHD and Community Health Center of Franklin County, officially opened for business on Monday, April 30. CHD invested nearly $6.5 million through a combination of private funds, MassDevelopment tax-exempt bonds, and historic tax credits to transform the historic Sears building into a state-of-the-art community health center. Pictured at top: Jim Goodwin, president and CEO of CHD, with Natalie Blias, executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. Bottom: Robert Babcock, market president with TD Bank, with Kimberley Lee, vice president of Development at CHD.
Healthy BeginningsHealthy Beginnings 2

Caritas Gala

Mercy Medical Center staged its annual Caritas Gala on April 21 at the MassMutual Center. The gala, with its Motown-inspired theme “Reach Out,” raised funds to support Mercy’s Pathway to Care: Addressing the Opioid Crisis through Intervention, Education, and Treatment. Gala organizers presented two Caritas awards at the event, named after Sister Mary Caritas, SP, vice president of Sisters of Providence congregation and long-time president of Mercy Medical Center. The first went to Gov. Charlie Baker for his vision and leadership around prevention and treatment efforts for those suffering from substance use disorder and his support of individuals and families in recovery. “Recognizing that the opioid crisis is one of the most significant public health issues facing America, Gov. Baker has mobilized efforts across the Commonwealth to tackle the issue through prevention and treatment services; he was a unanimous choice for this important award,” said Mark Fulco, President of Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates, as he presented the honor. The second Caritas Award was presented to Daniel Keenan, vice president of Advocacy and Government Relations for Trinity Health of New England, for his advocacy efforts on behalf of patients at Mercy Medical Center and Providence Behavioral Health Hospital. An attorney and former state representative, he is active in behavioral health advocacy including work with the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems. Below, from left, Fulco; Sister Caritas; Baker; Robert Roose, MD, MPH, FASAM, vice president of Behavioral Health, Mercy Medical Center; and Sister Kathleen Popko, SP, president, Sisters of Providence congregation. At bottom, from left, Fulco, Baker, and Keenan.Caritas GalaCaritas Gala 2

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Be Curious

More than 1,400 men and women ventured to the MassMutual Center in Springfield on April 6 for Bay Path University’s annual Women’s Leadership Conference. The theme of the day-long conference was “Be Curious,” and the event featured two keynote speakers — social psychologist and author Amy Cuddy, and writer, producer, and actress Lena Waithe — as well as a number of focus sessions with topics ranging from “Curiosity at the Core: Cultivating Innovation” to “Reality-based Leadership: Ditching the Drama” and a women leaders panel.

Waithe, right, answers questions from Bay Path President Carol Leary

Waithe, right, answers questions from Bay Path President Carol Leary


From left, women leaders panel members

From left, women leaders panel members Kirk Arnold, a technology executive, Nancy Shendell-Falik, president of Baystate Medical Center, and Lisa Tanzer, president of Life Is Good, with moderator Yvette Frisby


attendees check in for the conference

Attendees check in for the conference


Guests listen at one of the focus sessions

Guests listen at one of the focus sessions




Transcultural Lessons

Puerto Rican author Esmeralda Santiago recently addressed a standing-room-only crowd at Holyoke Community College’s Leslie Phillips Theater, many clutching copies of her 1994 memoir, “When I Was Puerto Rican,” to be signed. Santiago grew up in Puerto Rico in a one-room shack with a dirt floor and tin roof, the eldest of 11 children. Her family moved to Brooklyn when she was 13. In her talk, titled “Writing a Life: A Transcultural Journey,” she described how she learned English from children’s books in the Brooklyn public library, and attended New York’s famous High School of Performing Arts and Manhattan Community College before transferring to Harvard University. She also talked about teachers and mentors and how meaningful they were to her as she adapted to life in the continental U.S.

Puerto Rican author Esmeralda Santiago

Puerto Rican author Esmeralda Santiago


copies of her 1994 memoir, “When I Was Puerto Rican,” to be signed

Copies of her 1994 memoir, “When I Was Puerto Rican,” to be signed

 

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Celebrate Springfield

DevelopSpringfield hosted its seventh annual Celebrate Springfield Dinner on March 21 at the MassMutual Center. Nick Fyntrilakis, DevelopSpringfield’s chairman, shared a presentation on highlights of DevelopSpringfield’s first 10 years. Proceeds will support DevelopSpringfield’s redevelopment initiatives, projects, and programs.

From left, Liz O’Gilvie of the Springfield Food Policy Council; Jay Ash, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development; and Laura Masulis of MassDevelopment

From left, Liz O’Gilvie of the Springfield Food Policy Council; Jay Ash, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development; and Laura Masulis of MassDevelopment

From left, Bob Bolduc, founder of Pride Stores, and Joan Kagan, president and CEO of Square One, received the Partners in Progress Award

From left, Bob Bolduc, founder of Pride Stores, and Joan Kagan, president and CEO of Square One, received the Partners in Progress Award, while Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno (represented by Sarno’s Chief of Staff Denise Jordan) received the first-ever Cornerstone Award. The awards recognized the honorees for their efforts to create a strong community and their commitment to economic development and revitalization in Springfield.

Will of the People

Florence Bank recently presented $100,000 in awards ranging from $500 to $5,000 to 57 area nonprofits through its 16th annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program during an event at the Garden House at Look Memorial Park. The funds will support libraries, schools, police, fire departments, hospitals and hospices, and other organizations that benefit people of all ages, as well as animals and the environment. The bank reached the $1.05 million mark in terms of grants made over nearly two decades to 144 community nonprofits. (Photos by Evan Fogarty)

Niki Lankowski and Michael Skillicorn of Grow Food Northampton celebrate the receipt of their Customers’ Choice Community Grant.

Niki Lankowski and Michael Skillicorn of Grow Food Northampton celebrate the receipt of their Customers’ Choice Community Grant.

Florence Bank President and CEO John Heaps Jr., right, shakes hands with Carmine DiCenso, executive director of Dakin Humane Society, the top program recipient with a $5,000 award.

Florence Bank President and CEO John Heaps Jr., right, shakes hands with Carmine DiCenso, executive director of Dakin Humane Society, the top program recipient with a $5,000 award.

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Outlook 2018

The Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce staged its annual Outlook luncheon on March 9 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. More than 650 attendees heard a host of speakers updating the regional, state, and national economic pictures. Keynote speakers were Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker, Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and Congressman Richard Neal.
Photos by Ed Cohen Photography

Neal gives his annual federal outlook

Neal gives his annual federal outlook


State Rep. Carlos Gonzales, right, talks with Michael Knapik

State Rep. Carlos Gonzales, right, talks with Michael Knapik, who recently left his position as head of Baker’s Western Mass. office to become Baystate Health’s lobbyist


From left, Gene Cassidy, president and CEO of Eastern States Exposition; Penni McLean-Conner, chief customer officer and senior vice president of Customer Group at Eversource; and Mike Mathis, president and COO of MGM Springfield

By the Book

 Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. is sponsoring the Anna E. Barry Elementary School in Chicopee

Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. is sponsoring the Anna E. Barry Elementary School in Chicopee through the Link to Libraries Business Book Link sponsorship program. The three-year, $1,500 annual contribution will provide 300 new books to the Barry School library each year. Five volunteer readers from Phillips Insurance will also visit school classrooms once a month, read to students, and give each child a new book to take home and keep. At the end of each school year, students will have a home library of seven books. Pictured, from left: Sarah Whiteley, employee benefits account executive, Phillips Insurance Agency; Christopher McMaster, account executive, Phillips Insurance Agency; Laurie Flynn, president and CEO, Link to Libraries; Abbie Meulemans, grade 4 teacher, Chicopee; Krystal DeJesus, grade 4 teacher, Chicopee; and Maria Cafaro, grade 4 teacher, Agawam.

Beaming with Pride

On Feb. 28, Holyoke Community College celebrated a topping-off ceremony in front of the HCC Campus Center, now in the middle of a two-year, $43.5 million, top-to-bottom renovation. The building is expected to reopen for the fall 2019 semester. Topping-off ceremonies are held before the last and highest beam is fixed to the frame of new buildings. Traditionally, the beam is painted white and signed by work crews and others involved in the project and adorned with a small evergreen tree and an American flag. By the time it was lifted, the 10-foot beam was covered with signatures from the HCC community, including current student Erin Burns (below), who signed the beam for herself and her sister, father, and mother, all of whom attended HCC. The renovation will add about 9,000 square feet to the 57,727-square-foot building.

 

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Room to Grow

Big Y’s distribution center on Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield, which now supports 70 supermarkets with more planned, will soon be expanded from its current, 189,000-square-foot space to 425,000 square feet, requiring an additional 32 full-time employees at the site. Big Y announced the project, expected to cost between $35 million and $40 million, on Feb. 23. Below (top to bottom): from left, Kevin Kennedy, Springfield’s chief Development officer; Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno; Claire D’Amour-Daley, Big Y’s vice president of Corporate Communications; and Big Y President Charlie D’Amour.  Middle: D’Amour speaks to the crowd gathered for the announcement. Bottom: Sarno, D’Amour, and D’Amour-Daley with Big Y employees.



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A Sneak Peek

MGM Springfield gave area officials and the press a sneak peek at the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute (MCCTI) Gaming School on Feb. 13. Located on the ninth floor of 95 State St., MGM Springfield’s headquarters, the facility was designed to develop and train individuals interested in applying for gaming positions with the resort casino slated to open this fall. MCCTI is operated by Training and Workforce Options, a collaboration between Holyoke Community College (HCC) and Springfield Technical Community College (STCC). Below, from top to bottom, MGM President and COO Mike Mathis talks with guests at one of the poker tables. Middle, MGM Springfield General Manager Alex Dixon is flanked by STCC President John Cook and HCC President Christina Royal. Bottom, below, Cook is one of the interested spectators as Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, right, is given some lessons in how to deal blackjack from Robert Westerfield, vice president of Table Games for MGM Springfield.   Photos by MGM/Springfield Mark Murray



Grand Tour

The West of the River Chamber of Commerce (WRC) board of directors and elected officials recently toured the OMG Inc. manufacturing facility in Agawam. Employing more than 350 people in the Agawam facility alone, OMG is a domestic manufacturer of specialty fasteners, adhesives, tools, and related products for the commercial and residential construction markets. Below, pictured top to bottom, from left: West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt, Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi, WRC Executive Director Robin Wozniak, Agawam Mayor Bill Sapelli, and state Rep. Nick Boldyga. Bottom, from left: Boldyga, Sapelli, and OMG CEO Hubert McGovern.

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Taking a Dip

the newly constructed Balise Riverdale Car Wash on Wayside Avenue

On Jan. 22, Richard Shields, co-owner of Donut Dip, joined Jeb Balise, CEO of Balise Motor Sales, at the newly constructed Balise Riverdale Car Wash on Wayside Avenue in West Springfield to celebrate its opening. Shields, in his Balise-purchased Lexus, received the first public car wash at the new facility. The Donut Dip van was second in line. For payment, Shields brought a dozen fresh, sugar-raised donuts — a value for value trade. Pictured at the ribbon cutting, from left: Tony Debarros, general manager of Balise Car Washes & Detail Centers; car-wash mascot Squeaky Balise; West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt; Jeb Balise; Richard Shields; and Paul Shields, co-owner of Donut Dip. (Photo by Market Mentors)

 

Financing the Future

Country Bank recently announced a $50,000 donation to the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp

Country Bank recently announced a $50,000 donation to the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp. to support its commitment to economic development. The QVCDC offers many programs to help small businesses, including training programs, individual consulting, and small-business loans. “We want to acknowledge and express our deep appreciation for this major donation,” QVCDC Executive Director Sheila Cuddy said. “Country Bank’s support of Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation reflects their deep commitment to the community, and support for activities that are designed to strengthen the business fabric of the region and improve the day-to-day lives of Quaboag region residents.” Pictured, from left: Alex Martinez, QVCDC; Jodie Gerulaitis, vice president, Community Relations, Country Bank; Cuddy; Gail Farnsworth-French, QVCDC; and Janice Hills, QVCDC.

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Meeting the Challenge

Ludlow High School honor students

Arrha Credit Union recently recognized Ludlow High School honor students for collecting $11,523.97 in non-perishable food items and donations. To show appreciation for their extra efforts, Arrha donated $1,000 to Ludlow High School community efforts. “It’s commendable how the members of the National Honor Society at Ludlow High School worked extra hard to make a positive difference for those in need at the Springfield Open Pantry,” said Michael Ostrowski, Arrha president and CEO. The donations were part of the Rock102 Mayflower Marathon challenge to benefit the Springfield Open Pantry, which raised $132,000 in food and monetary donations. Pictured, from left: Ostrowski; Ludlow High School Vice Principal Nancy Kurty; National Honor Society (NHS) students; Shannon Anderson and Brandi Stratton, NHS advisors; and Tony Sanches, assistant vice president of Retail Operations at Arrha.

 

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Shoot to Win

mercedes_9333mercedes-9217Nathan Vila became a Mercedes owner and overnight sensation with his dramatic shot in the Springfield Thunderbirds’ Shoot to Win contest just before Christmas. He ventured to Chicopee and the Mercedes-Benz of Springfield dealership on Dec. 28 to pick up the keys from owners Peter and Michelle Wirth, and it was quite the media event. Vila, who will ship out soon for Army basic training in Georgia (his mother will drive the car for the time being), is seen (at top) with, from left, Paul Picknelly, one of the Thunderbirds’ owners; Nathan Costa, the team’s president; and the Wirths.

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Bags of Cheer

Members of the Holyoke Community College (HCC) Military Club made a visit to the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home on Dec. 15 to deliver gifts purchased for the residents there as part of the college’s 18th annual Giving Tree campaign. This year, the HCC community fulfilled the holiday wishes of 343 individuals from four local nonprofit agencies: WestMass ElderCare, Homework House, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. Rather than have representatives from the Soldiers’ Home distribute the gifts to their residents this year, the HCC Military Club decided to do it themselves. “This event is so very meaningful to our community. It is a privilege to be able to support the wonderful work of our partners and friends,” HCC President Christina Royal said.

HCC student Ysabel Robles Ramos delivering holiday gift bags to Soldiers’ Home residents

HCC student Ysabel Robles Ramos delivering holiday gift bags to Soldiers’ Home residents

HCC students Jonathan Jasmin delivering holiday gift bags to Soldiers’ Home residents

HCC students Jonathan Jasmin delivering holiday gift bags to Soldiers’ Home residents

Worthy Cause

LUSO Federal Credit Union recently presented Dr. Steven Schonholz, Leonor Salvador, and Robyn Hersey of the Pink WAY and Michelle Graci of Baystate Health Foundation (for Rays of Hope) with a donation of $10,000 for breast-cancer community support and research. This donation was made possible due to generous business donors who helped provide calendar prize giveaways for 60 days, as well as the support of LUSO’s members. This year’s donations brings breast-cancer support and research donations to $40,000 over the last five years.picthispinkway

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A Truly Grand Opening

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield staged an elaborate open house for its new dealership just off Turnpike exit 6 in Chicopee on Dec. 1. The event attracted a wide range of business and civic leaders and Mercedes customers
(Photography by Robert Charles Photography)

A panoramic shot of the new dealership

A panoramic shot of the new dealership

Co-owner Rich Hesse, Todd Grieco, Peter Wirth, and Rainer Wirth

Co-owner Rich Hesse, Todd Grieco, Peter Wirth, and Rainer Wirth

From left, Mike Baxendale, Jennie Anderson, Kirsten and Todd Ondrick, and co-owners Peter and Michelle Wirth

From left, Mike Baxendale, Jennie Anderson, Kirsten and Todd Ondrick, and co-owners Peter and Michelle Wirth

Guests gather around a vintage SL Mercedes model

Guests gather around a vintage SL Mercedes model

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The Super 60

The Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce staged its annual Super 60 Luncheon at a packed Chez Josef in Agawam on Oct. 28. Now in its 28th year, the program recognizes high-performing companies in two categories: Total Revenue and Revenue Growth.

Bill Grinnell (center), president of Webber & Grinnell Insurance, a winner in the Total Revenue category, accepts his plaque from Ashley Allen, vice president of Sales & Marketing for Health New England, the presenting sponsor, and Don D’Amour, chairman of Big Y Foods, a platinum sponsor

Bill Grinnell (center), president of Webber & Grinnell Insurance, a winner in the Total Revenue category, accepts his plaque from Ashley Allen, vice president of Sales & Marketing for Health New England, the presenting sponsor, and Don D’Amour, chairman of Big Y Foods, a platinum sponsor

Ralph Crowley Jr., CEO of Polar Beverages in Worcester, delivers the keynote address

Ralph Crowley Jr., CEO of Polar Beverages in Worcester, delivers the keynote addres

Paul Whalley, vice president of Whalley Computer Associates, the top finisher in the Total Revenue category, accepts his plaque from Allen and D’Amour

Paul Whalley, vice president of Whalley Computer Associates, the top finisher in the Total Revenue category, accepts his plaque from Allen and D’Amour

Drive Time

A host of local and state officials were on hand on Nov. 1 for the ribbon cutting for Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, the $12 million dealership created at the site of the former Plantation Inn in Chicopee. First conceived nearly three years ago, the dealership marks the return of Mercedes-Benz to the Greater Springfield area after a decade-long absence.

Attendees mingle in the showroom prior to the ceremonies

Attendees mingle in the showroom prior to the ceremonies

Jay Ashe, state secretary of Housing & Economic Development, addresses the attendees

Jay Ashe, state secretary of Housing & Economic Development, addresses the attendees

Cutting the ribbon are

Cutting the ribbon are, from left, state Rep. Joseph Wagner, Ashe, Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos, partners Peter and Michelle Wirth, partner Richard Hesse, and his wife, Amy

Peter Wirth says a few words to the attendees

Peter Wirth says a few words to the attendees

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Hats Off to Square One

The 12th annual Square One Tea drew about 400 supporters who celebrated the work the provider of early-learning and family services does on behalf of thousands of families throughout the Greater Springfield region. “Year after year, we look forward to this wonderful opportunity to highlight the work we are doing and the impact that our programs and services have had on the thousands of children and parents who have been served by Square One,” President and CEO Joan Kagan said. “It is so gratifying to hear from our guests how much they enjoy being a part of this special day, and it’s always fun to see who is going to have the best hat.”

From left, Yvette Frisbee, Gladys Oyola, Joan Kagan, Denise Jordan, and Marian Sullivan.

From left, Yvette Frisbee, Gladys Oyola, Joan Kagan, Denise Jordan, and Marian Sullivan.

From left, Ashley Kohl, Lamont Clemons, Lauri Doleva, Christine Dingler, and John Doleva

From left, Ashley Kohl, Lamont Clemons, Lauri Doleva, Christine Dingler, and John Doleva

From left, Sam Edwards, Jennifer Sanchez, Justin Roberts, Lidya Rivera, and Angelo Puppolo

From left, Sam Edwards, Jennifer Sanchez, Justin Roberts, Lidya Rivera, and Angelo Puppolo

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Great Days Gala

Sunshine Village in Chicopee celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sept. 14 with a Great Days Gala. More than 250 guests enjoyed food stations and passed hors d’oeuvres under a tent, along with tours of the buildings on its main campus in Chicopee. As an industry leader in disability services, the organization serves more than 450 people and employs mre than 250 in its day programs and employment services for adults with developmental disabilities, including those on the autism spectrum. The event focused on the innovation surrounding the next 50 years of the organization, including finding new programs to serve the growing population of individuals with disabilities. Board President Ernest Laflamme Jr. and Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos cut the ribbon on the Davis Building that was recently renovated by A. Crane Construction and Caolo & Bieniek Associates to allow for future growth. The building houses administration offices and a new contemporary day-habilitation program geared toward younger adults. In addition, the board room was also dedicated to the leadership of Laflamme as a board member.

Mayor Kos, state Sen. Donald Humason, Executive Director Gina Kos, board Clerk Michael Siddall, A.J. Crane of A. Crane Construction, board President Ernest Laflamme Jr., board Vice President Stephen Melnyck Jr., board member Peter Benton, board Treasurer Clifford Bordeaux, Chicopee Treasurer and board member Marie Laflamme, board member Debra Schneeweis, board member Teri Szlosek, and Curtis Edgin of Caolo & Bieniek Associates. At

Mayor Kos, state Sen. Donald Humason, Executive Director Gina Kos, board Clerk Michael Siddall, A.J. Crane of A. Crane Construction, board President Ernest Laflamme Jr., board Vice President Stephen Melnyck Jr., board member Peter Benton, board Treasurer Clifford Bordeaux, Chicopee Treasurer and board member Marie Laflamme, board member Debra Schneeweis, board member Teri Szlosek, and Curtis Edgin of Caolo & Bieniek Associates.

from left: Ernest Laflamme Jr., Program Manager Jenny Galat, former Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe, and Marie Laflamme

From left: Ernest Laflamme Jr., Program Manager Jenny Galat, former Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe, and Marie Laflamme

Those gathered listen to a succession of speakers marking the occasion

Those gathered listen to a succession of speakers marking the occasion

Day of Caring

Sept. 15 marked United Way of Pioneer Valley’s 23rd annual Day of Caring. More than 700 volunteers from 25 different companies rolled up their sleeves and gave a helping hand to a non-profit in need. United Way’s Day of Caring is the largest day of volunteerism in Western Massachusetts, with 39 non-profit agencies participating and more than 70 projects happening on that day alone.

 A group of 15 volunteers from AAA of Pioneer Valley, led by Tammi Benson, sort through various donated food items at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield

A group of 15 volunteers from AAA of Pioneer Valley, led by Tammi Benson, sort through various donated food items at The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield

Three employees from MassMutual spent the day volunteering with Girls Inc. in Holyoke and washed down all over their transportation vehicles.

Three employees from MassMutual spent the day volunteering with Girls Inc. in Holyoke and washed down all over their transportation vehicles. From left, Jennifer Bolduc, Wendie Dilk, and Charlene Pafumi

Katie Martin, Kathy Dube, Christina Sousa (in camo hat), and Kare LaFleche are among those who volunteered at the Center for Human Development by cleaning up the Residential Center for Young Women—a transitional house for women who suffered trauma from abuse in Holyoke

Katie Martin, Kathy Dube, Christina Sousa (in camo hat), and Kare LaFleche are among those who volunteered at the Center for Human Development by cleaning up the Residential Center for Young Women—a transitional house for women who suffered trauma from abuse in Holyoke

A group of volunteers from Westfield Bank show off a hard day’s work spent doing landscaping projects at Highland Elementary School in Westfield; and Marco Gomes of MassMutual works diligently on a painting project at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke

A group of volunteers from Westfield Bank show off a hard day’s work spent doing landscaping projects at Highland Elementary School in Westfield; and Marco Gomes of MassMutual works diligently on a painting project at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke

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Chilling Out for a Causesp-icebucket-15

Chilling Out for a Cause Fort Street in Springfield played host on Aug. 29 to the Springfield Student Prince ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Event organizers raised $21,000 for the Massachusetts ALS Foundation and specifically to help people in the community who have been stricken with the disease. “When Governor Baker recently filed legislation making the first week in August each year the Ice Bucket Challenge Week, we took it as a special challenge to us here in Springfield, now, to help before the month of August ended. We did not want to wait until next year to begin this tradition,” said event organizer Bill Sampson. Event sponsors included BID Springfield, the Massachusetts Lottery, Peter Pan Bus Lines, Rondeau Ice, Snap Chef, the Springfield Thunderbirds, A.L. Cignoli Co., and the Student Prince and Fort. In addition, Rocky’s Ace Hardware donated 300 buckets.

Fort Street in Springfield played host on Aug. 29 to the Springfield Student Prince ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Event organizers raised $21,000 for the Massachusetts ALS Foundation and specifically to help people in the community who have been stricken with the disease. “When Governor Baker recently filed legislation making the first week in August each year the Ice Bucket Challenge Week, we took it as a special challenge to us here in Springfield, now, to help before the month of August ended. We did not want to wait until next year to begin this tradition,” said event organizer Bill Sampson. Event sponsors included BID Springfield, the Massachusetts Lottery, Peter Pan Bus Lines, Rondeau Ice, Snap Chef, the Springfield Thunderbirds, A.L. Cignoli Co., and the Student Prince and Fort. In addition, Rocky’s Ace Hardware donated 300 buckets.




Family Fun in Amherst

Local improv company Happier Valley Comedy has moved its interactive Happier FAMILY Comedy Show to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst. The move places the family-friendly comedy show in a prime location packed full of kid-centric creativity and imagination. The Happier FAMILY Comedy Show is held the third Saturday of every month.

Local improv company Happier Valley Comedy has moved its interactive Happier FAMILY Comedy Show to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst. The move places the family-friendly comedy show in a prime location packed full of kid-centric creativity and imagination. The Happier FAMILY Comedy Show is held the third Saturday of every month.




Banking on Growth

Florence Bank hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 14 at its new Hampden County Banking Center in West Springfield, the bank’s first office in Hampden County. All Florence Bank services will be offered through the new center, including deposits and loan products, mobile services to provide 24-hour access to accounts, mortgage-application services, debit-card issuance, commercial-loan capacity, and investment services. The center, which will also offer a drive-up ATM and night depository, will be staffed by eight employees. The bank occupies about 3,000 square feet of a new plaza, developed by the Colvest Group, at the intersection of Union Street and Memorial Avenue, where St. Ann Roman Catholic Church was once located.

Florence Bank hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 14 at its new Hampden County Banking Center in West Springfield, the bank’s first office in Hampden County. All Florence Bank services will be offered through the new center, including deposits and loan products, mobile services to provide 24-hour access to accounts, mortgage-application services, debit-card issuance, commercial-loan capacity, and investment services. The center, which will also offer a drive-up ATM and night depository, will be staffed by eight employees. The bank occupies about 3,000 square feet of a new plaza, developed by the Colvest Group, at the intersection of Union Street and Memorial Avenue, where St. Ann Roman Catholic Church was once located.




Staging Ground

 The Springfield College departments of Physical Therapy and Visual and Performing Arts recently hosted a cross-disciplinary collaboration that focused on effective communication skills that help build and maintain strong relationships between physical therapists and their patients and clients. Led by Department of Visual and Performing Arts Chair Martin Shell (pictured, right) and Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Salome Brooks, the one-day workshop helped more than 40 physical therapy students feel more comfortable in their settings by focusing on interpersonal rapport, non-verbal communication, and fundamental presence with others. Shell’s experiential methods, developed for acting classes from the traditions of theater technique, allow for fun and illuminating communication exercises for physical therapy students. “I’ve never had any doubt that the techniques we actors use for observation and training, in preparation to creatively express the complexities of human relationships in collaboration with others, are very useful in many areas of life and work,” he said.

The Springfield College departments of Physical Therapy and Visual and Performing Arts recently hosted a cross-disciplinary collaboration that focused on effective communication skills that help build and maintain strong relationships between physical therapists and their patients and clients. Led by Department of Visual and Performing Arts Chair Martin Shell (pictured, right) and Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Salome Brooks, the one-day workshop helped more than 40 physical therapy students feel more comfortable in their settings by focusing on interpersonal rapport, non-verbal communication, and fundamental presence with others. Shell’s experiential methods, developed for acting classes from the traditions of theater technique, allow for fun and illuminating communication exercises for physical therapy students. “I’ve never had any doubt that the techniques we actors use for observation and training, in preparation to creatively express the complexities of human relationships in collaboration with others, are very useful in many areas of life and work,” he said.

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Chilling Out for a Cause

sp-icebucket-15sp-icebucket-16

Springfield Student Prince ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Fort Street in Springfield played host on Aug. 29 to the Springfield Student Prince ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Event organizers planned the effort to raise funds for the Massachusetts ALS Foundation and specifically to help people in the community who have been stricken with the disease. “When Governor Baker recently filed legislation making the first week in August each year the Ice Bucket Challenge Week, we took it as a special challenge to us here in Springfield, now, to help before the month of August ended. We did not want to wait until next year to begin this tradition,” said event organizer Bill Sampson. Event sponsors included BID Springfield, the Massachusetts Lottery, Peter Pan Bus Lines, Rondeau Ice, Snap Chef, the Springfield Thunderbirds, A.L. Cignoli Co., and the Student Prince and Fort. In addition, Rocky’s Ace Hardware donated 300 buckets.

Family Fun in Amherst

Local improv company Happier Valley Comedy

Local improv company Happier Valley Comedy has moved its interactive Happier FAMILY Comedy Show to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst. The move places the family-friendly comedy show in a prime location packed full of kid-centric creativity and imagination. The Happier FAMILY Comedy Show is held the third Saturday of every month.

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts

Fore a Good Cause

Sunshine Village

Sunshine Village held its 28th annual fund-raising golf tournament on Aug. 2 at Chicopee Country Club. The event sold out, with 38 teams participating. A reception with awards, raffles, and a silent auction followed at the Castle of Knights in Chicopee. The winning team was from Kellco Products. Charter Oak Insurance and Financial Services came in second, and a team helmed by captain Todd Rubner placed third. As it celebrates its 50th anniversary, Sunshine Village will use the funds raised to create opportunities to live and learn, work and earn, and give and grow for the more than 450 people in the organization’s day-services programs. Pictured, from left: Carol Laflamme, Ernest Laflamme Jr., Sunshine Village board president; Gina Kos, Sunshine Village executive director; Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos; and Marie Laflamme.

A Community of Music

The fourth annual Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival

The fourth annual Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival drew 16 acts across two downtown stages on Aug. 12. The all-day festival offered a festive atmosphere featuring locally and internationally acclaimed musical artists, including Miles Mosley (pictured), Lizz Wright, Rebirth Brass Band, Sarah Elizabeth Charles, Christian Scott, Zaccai Curtis & Insight, Natalie Fernandez, Jeremy Turgeon Quintet, Community Grooves, and more. The Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival was developed by Blues to Green, led by the efforts of founder Kristin Neville, along with Evan Plotkin, president of NAI Plotkin and director of Springfield City Mosaic, with the hope that people of many different communities could unite in Springfield, the urban center of Western Mass., to share their love for music and art.

Tru Stories

Tru by Hilton

Work continues at the Tru by Hilton property set to open in the spring of 2018 at 440 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. The 108-room, four-story hotel is owned by BK Investments, which also owns and operates Residence Inn by Marriott (500 Memorial Dr., Chicopee) and Hampton Inn by Hilton (600 Memorial Dr., Chicopee). The new hotel will be the first Tru by Hilton in Massachusetts, and only the second in New England.

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On Track

aerial shot shows ongoing construction at the future Mercedes-Benz of Springfield

This aerial shot shows ongoing construction at the future Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, which is on schedule for mid- to late September opening. The $12 million dealership, to be operated by Peter and Michelle Wirth and Rich and Amy Hess of Springfield Automotive Partners, broke ground near exit 6 of the Mass Pike in Chicopee last September.

A Different Mayoral Race

Valley Blue Sox hosted the Running of the Mayors charity

On July 19, the Valley Blue Sox hosted the Running of the Mayors charity event during the Blue Sox vs. Winnipesaukee Muskrats game at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke. BusinessWest sponsored the event, which included, from left, Chicopee’s Richard Kos, Westfield’s Brian Sullivan, Holyoke’s Alex Morse, Springfield’s Domenic Sarno, and West Springfield’s Will Reichelt. At right is BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien, who dropped the hat to begin the race, which Morse won, edging out Reichelt. As part of the event, Polish National Credit Union contributed money to be distributed to each community’s Boys & Girls Club.

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Meeting the Need

Home Health Aide program at Springfield Technical Community College

Eighteen graduates were recently honored with certificates upon completing the Home Health Aide program at Springfield Technical Community College, which is administered by Training and Workforce Options (TWO), a collaboration between STCC and Holyoke Community College. The program was supported by a 2016 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Training Resources and Internship Networks (TRAIN) Program. Because the grant ended this year, Skinner’s class represented the fourth and final cohort of TRAIN home health aide graduates, although TWO hopes the state will revisit funding for the program. Fifty people have graduated from the four cohorts, and the majority of them have landed jobs. The graduates are highly sought after by employers, said Arlene Rodriguez, vice president of Academic Affairs at STCC. “It is one of the highest-demand occupations, not only in the Springfield area, but throughout the Commonwealth.”

Flipping Out
kids-eating-pancakes

The Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce held its 40th annual pancake breakfast

The Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce held its 40th annual pancake breakfast on July 13 at South Middle School. The community event featured music, a bounce house, face painting, bingo, and other activities in addition to the breakfast itself. BusinessWest was among the media sponsors. Top, students enjoy their meal. Above, Justin Klaubert helps serve up pancakes to attendees.

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Celebrating Union Station

More than 550 civic and business leaders turned out at Springfield’s Union Station on June 24 for a black-tie gala to celebrate the four-decade struggle to renovate the landmark and return it to its former glory. The gala was part of a weekend-long series of events that marked the reopening of the station, which was built in 1926 and sat mostly vacant and deteriorating since the late ’70s.

Students from American International College

Students from American International College, dressed in period (late ‘20s) outfits and standing in front of a 1930 Cadillac V-16 Sport Phaeton loaned by owner George Holman for the event, served as greeters for the gala.

Gov. Charlie Baker

Gov. Charlie Baker addresses those gathered in the restored grand concourse.

Cutting the ceremonial cake

Cutting the ceremonial cake are, from left: William Hornbuckle, president of MGM Resorts International, one of the gala’s sponsors, Baker; Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno; U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, who spearheaded efforts to renovate the station; Roger Crandall, chairman, president, and CEO of MassMutual, another of the gala’s sponsors; Maura McCaffrey, president and CEO of Health New England, another gala sponsor; and William Pepin, president and general manager of WWLP-22 News, another gala sponsor.

Neal makes his remarks, thanking a number of individuals and groups that made the restoration of the station possible.

Neal makes his remarks, thanking a number of individuals and groups that made the restoration of the station possible.