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STCC, United Way Open Financial Success Center

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) opened Springfield’s first Thrive Financial Success Center on Dec. 3, with a ceremony in the President’s Conference Room in Garvey Hall. Thrive is a collaborative effort between United Way of Pioneer Valley and STCC to provide financial education and support services to students and community residents. It is supported by PeoplesBank, MassMutual, the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation, the United Way of Pioneer Valley, and the STCC Foundation. “After the success of the Thrive Financial Success Centers at Holyoke Community College and in downtown Holyoke, we are thrilled to open a third Thrive Center at Springfield Technical Community College,” said United Way of Pioneer Valley President and CEO Dora Robinson. “At the United Way of Pioneer Valley, we believe basic financial literacy should be a key aspect of everyone’s education. No career goal or life’s ambition should be hindered because a person doesn’t know how to balance their checkbook or maintain a good credit rating.” Thrive @ STCC anticipates it will serve 400 individuals in its first year of operation. Program offerings include confidential benefits screening and enrollment, a money-skills class, individual financial coaching sessions, free income-tax prepatration through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, links to workforce-development and training workshops, and LifeBridge, MassMutual’s free life-insurance program. Thrive Centers currently operate in partnership with the United Way at Holyoke Community College and at the Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center in downtown Holyoke. “Building financial awareness and planning skills is essential to our students’ and our community’s economic prosperity,” said STCC President Ira Rubenzahl. “Many of our students are overburdened with outside financial struggles. Coupling career guidance with access to financial coaching will assist Thrive participants to make informed decisions that will make their lives easier, allow them to remain focused on their studies, and prepare them for future employment.”

Berkshire Bank Launches ‘Season of Giving’ Effort

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank has launched its fourth annual “Season of Giving” campaign, which runs through the end of the holiday season. Through the campaign, bank employees will complete a variety of community-service projects throughout cities and towns that Berkshire Bank serves. Berkshire Bank employees are also inviting the public to join with them to support local children and families in need during this holiday season to further expand the collective impact. More than 200 Berkshire Bank employees will participate in the effort, with all of the service projects benefiting nonprofit organizations and families across Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. In addition to these local efforts, Berkshire Bank has teamed up with the American Red Cross to participate in their annual Mail for Heroes program, through which bank employees will send holiday cards to service men, women, and veterans who cannot be with their families during the holidays. In the Pioneer Valley, all Berkshire Bank branches and Berkshire Insurance Group offices have teamed up with the state Department of Children & Families to collect gifts for local families in need. Donations are being accepted at any Berkshire Bank location in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. The public is invited to stop by their local office to see which items are needed from the ‘giving tree.’ Bank employees will also volunteer their time with a variety of local nonprofit organizations during the holiday season, including Wreathes Across America and the Salvation Army. Berkshire Bank Foundation, the charitable arm of Berkshire Bank, also plans to contribute grants to local nonprofit organizations.

WNEU Offers Free Small-business Legal Assistance

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University Small Business Legal Clinic is now accepting applications from entrepreneurs and small-business owners seeking legal assistance for the spring 2016 semester. Under faculty supervision, law students assist clients with legal issues including choice of entity, employment policies, contract drafting, regulatory compliance, and intellectual-property issues relating to trademark applications and copyright. This is a free service available to local businesses. The Small Business Clinic at Western New England School of Law has assisted more than 300 small businesses, and is a solid resource for entrepreneurs who lack the finances to retain an attorney. By using the clinic’s services, businesses can avoid problems by getting legal issues addressed early and correctly. It also provides students with an opportunity to gain real-world experience. The Small Business Legal Clinic asks small-business owners to submit their applications by Thursday, Dec. 31. Applications received after that date will be considered if additional resources are available. Students will begin providing services in mid-January. For more information, call the clinic at (413) 782-1469 or e-mail [email protected].

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