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Company Notebook

J. Polep Acquires Assets of Garber Bros. Inc.

CHICOPEE — J. Polep Distribution Services announced its recent acquisition of certain assets, including inventory, from Garber Bros. Inc., other than accounts receivable or its facilities in Stoughton. J. Polep is now New England’s largest family-owned convenience-store distributor, servicing over 6,000 customers weekly. To balance the continued leveraged growth, J. Polep was able to retain a majority of Garber’s sales force. J. Polep is excited about the opportunities this acquisition gives its employees and customers. Heavy concentration will be on the development and growth of customers’ in-store sales and improving their margin dollars. With the newly acquired assets, J. Polep will present newly obtained value-added services and food service programs to its customers. One of the new food-service offerings acquired from Garber Bros. is the popular branded coffee program, Beantown Coffee. J. Polep holds the exclusive rights to Beantown Coffee, allowing customers to have a coffee shop within their convenience stores featuring specialty roasted Beantown blend and flavored coffees, cappuccinos, iced coffee, and beans. Beantown Coffee is being added to the already extensive hot beverage category at J. Polep, which includes Keurig Green Mountain, Baronet, and New England Coffee. These assets and operation synergies will give J. Polep a stronger presence within the convenience-store industry throughout the Northeast and will further strengthen its business.

CHD Introduces Summer Program for Youth on Autism Spectrum

CHICOPEE — For typical youth in their high-school years, summer vacation provides a break from academic and social pressures. But for youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), this break in their normal school-year routine can lead to substantial regression. For summer 2017, the Center for Human Development (CHD) is providing an Extended School Year (ESY) Autism Coaching Program in support of select school districts in Hampden and Hampshire counties. The program, developed by Jennifer Bogin, coordinator of Autism Initiatives for CHD, is designed specifically for a higher-functioning population of youth with ASD. The program was designed for a specific population:

• Diagnosis or presumed diagnosis of ASD/asperger’s, non-verbal learning disability, social communication disorder, or any other disability that leads to social/emotional challenges;

• Co-occurring behavioral-health challenges (depression, anxiety disorder, OCD, ADHD);

• Age 16 to 22;

• Average IQ (either mild or no intellectual disability); and

• Skills deficit in relationship skills, communication, adaptive/life skills, employment/pre-employment, self-regulation, time management, community participation, and self-advocacy.

CHD’s ESY Autism Coaching Program runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from July 5 to Aug. 10. The program is located at Chicopee Comprehensive High School, 617 Montgomery St., Chicopee. The co-location with the other Chicopee Public Schools Extended School Year programs on site will allow students possible vocational or volunteer placements as well as access to full culinary-arts facilities. “CHD conducted a needs assessment from September 2016 to February 2017 and found there was a wide service gap in ESY programming for a higher-functioning population,” said Bogin. “While it’s not designed as a summer-camp experience, CHD’s ESY Autism Coaching Program does allow youth and families living with autism to participate in a fun, social learning program designed for their needs. It helps keep youth engaged academically and involved socially so their summer isn’t spent alone or glued to a video game. Some ESY programs exclude youth based on the need for a mental-health component, but CHD has built this program with that in mind.” ESY program participant will gain new and transferrable skills, such as time management, grooming and self-care, budgeting, using transportation, as well as soft skills, such as making small talk, taking a break, and making plans with a peer. “Some social-skills programs focus on the hard skills and lack intentional work on soft skills, but this program is combining both,” said Bogin. “Community inclusion is the goal, and independence, socialization, and transition readiness to adulthood are the objectives.” One intended outcome of the program is building a regional cohort of youth who share similar interests. “Naturally developing communities are based more on interest than geography,” Bogin explained. “So instead of forcing socialization based on a specific school district, we’re attracting youth from all over the region, and providing an engaging, supportive environment where similar interests will be whatever develops organically.” A typical program day starts with a brief small-group check-in and review of the daily schedule. Students are then brought to one of three different community sites to work on the skills targeted in their individualized education program and ESY plan. Following community time, students are transported back to the program site for a professionally facilitated lunchtime social-skills group followed by a half-hour of unstructured (though supported) generalization and recreation time. Students spend the final hour of their day in a small group facilitated by a clinician to focus on interpersonal relationships, dressing for success and grooming, self-regulation and cognitive behavior therapy, time and money management, or self-advocacy. A new topic is chosen each week and is repeated three times per week to allow students an opportunity to practice what they are learning in the group and report on how they are able to generalize skills. School-district and private-pay options are available. Space is limited. For more information, visit www.chd.org and search ‘autism’ or e-mail Bogin at [email protected].

Dowd Insurance Collects Cell Phones to Battle Domestic Violence

HOLYOKE — The Dowd Insurance Agencies announced the launch of a cell-phone-collection drive to benefit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). The organization, founded in 1978, works to end violence in the lives of women and men through education and advocacy efforts. The donated cell phones will be refurbished and sold or recycled, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the organization and its programs. Collection boxes will be placed at the reception desk of each Dowd branch location throughout the month of May. According to NCADV, every minute, as many as 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S.; during one year, this equates to more than 10 million victims. “With such staggering figures, we felt compelled to make a difference,” said Jon Lumbra, Dowd’s chief financial officer. Seeing multiple benefits to the drive — funding domestic-violence programs and, additionally, environmental benefits to reusing and recycling the electronics — it was unanimously agreed the cause was a noble one, and efforts to accelerate the program began. “We are honored to have the platform to raise awareness and funds for such a worthy cause,” Lumbra noted. Cellular Recycler, NCADV’s recycling partner, has received responsible-recycling certification, the highest designation from the Environmental Protection Agency and confirmation that donated materials are recycled safely and reliably. “There is no need to clean or wipe information from the cell phone you wish to donate,” Lumbra explained. “All donated electronics are either refurbished and resold or recycled for parts. If refurbished, all of the item’s software is replaced, which completely wipes all stored information on the device. If the item is recycled, it is crushed down during the process, making data retrieval impossible.” To date, an estimated 3 million cell phones have been kept out of waste sites due to the efforts of NCADV and cellular recyclers. Items donated fund programming that empowers domestic-violence victims, connects survivors to helpful and potentially life-saving resources, impacts legislation aimed at ending domestic violence, and gives support to organizations across the U.S. working to stop violence in the home. Those interested in donating a cell phone to the drive may do so through the month of May by visiting a Dowd location in Holyoke, Southampton, Hadley, Indian Orchard, or Ludlow.

Spirit Takes Flight from Bradley Airport to Orlando, Myrtle Beach

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — Spirit Airlines’ inaugural flights from Bradley International Airport to Orlando, Fla. and Myrtle Beach, S.C. launched on April 27. “We are thrilled to deliver this non-stop service to two of the country’s most popular summer destinations,” said Mark Kopczak, vice president of Network Planning for Spirit Airlines. “These news flights, with new service to Fort Lauderdale starting in June, give Hartford even more ultra-low-cost options for summer travel.” Spirit Airlines is currently Bradley Airport’s only ultra-low-cost airline. This airline business model, which is increasing in popularity among economy travelers and the college-student population, offers introductory service to a variety of destinations for competitive fares. “Spirit Airlines is a strong addition to Bradley’s growing menu of direct flights,” Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) Chairman Charles Gray said. “A continued mission of the Connecticut Airport Authority is for Bradley’s travelers to love the journey through the airport and beyond. One way of doing that is by continuing to diversify Bradley’s flight options, which is why we’re very pleased to be welcoming Spirit to the Bradley family.” All of Spirit’s operations at Bradley Airport will utilize either a 145-seat Airbus A319 or a 182-seat Airbus A320 aircraft. The Orlando route is offered daily, year-round, and the Myrtle Beach non-stop is a seasonal service offered four days per week. Spirit will commence non-stop service to Fort Lauderdale on June 15. “The key to successful route development is a loyal customer base,” CAA Executive Director Kevin Dillon said. “The Myrtle Beach service has been frequently requested by our travelers, and the additional frequencies between Bradley, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale will provide travelers with more options. It is our hope that these additions to our route structure will continue to encourage our travelers to come home to Bradley and choose our local airport over other airports.”

AIC Adopts Quality Matters

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) is committed to ensuring that its online courses and programs employ best practices based on the existing research literature. Course-development goals are focused on ensuring the highest levels of student learning, interaction, and engagement. To meet these goals, AIC has become a Quality Matters (QM) member. QM is a faculty-centered peer-review process designed to certify the quality of online courses. The QM Rubric and course-review process were developed from a grant provided by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. QM has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to quality assurance and continuous improvement in distance learning and has more than 1,000 subscribers in North American and around the world. The QM Rubric is research-based and promotes best practice-based quality standards. Alignment, a central concept of the QM Rubric, requires that critical course components — learning objectives, assessment and measurement, instructional materials, learner interaction, and engagement and course technology — work together to ensure that students achieve desired learning outcomes.

Puffer’s Salon & Day Spa Raises Funds to Support Boston Children’s Hospital

WESTFIELD — Salons throughout the U.S. will be participating in HAIRraising, a fund-raising event benefiting Boston Children’s Hospital’s Heart Center. Puffer’s Salon and Day Spa has joined this initiative with a month-long celebration including raffles, featured items, and promotions. Throughout the month of May, 100% of the proceeds from all children’s haircuts will go to Boston Children’s Hospital. Founded in 2010 by longtime business partners John Frieda and Gail Federici, HAIRraising brings together the salon and hair communities to help support the life-saving care and breakthrough cures, treatments, and innovations at Boston Children’s Hospital. “We’re so grateful to the salon community for their ongoing support of Boston Children’s Hospital,” said Frieda. “We’re consistently overwhelmed and amazed by the level of commitment this effort receives from salon owners and stylists.” Added Federici, “support for Boston Children’s Hospital is critical. We need everyone to understand the huge global impact that this hospital has, not only for children, but for adults as well. Together with this event, we can help save countless lives.” Judy Puffer, owner of Puffer’s Salon & Day Spa, said she is “thrilled to participate in HAIRraising this year to support Boston Children’s Hospital. It’s exciting to be a part of something that unifies our community and can make such a huge difference in the lives of sick children.” In the past seven years, salons have raised more than $1 million for Boston Children’s Hospital through HAIRraising and the generosity of the salon community. This year’s event is expected to raise more than $300,000 for the hospital.

Pioneer Valley Credit Union Awards Scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — Pioneer Valley Credit Union (PVCU) announced the recipients of its 2017 College Scholarship Awards. Each year, Pioneer Valley Credit Union selects four deserving students to receive a $1,000 scholarship to help with college expenses. Since the inception of the program in 2000, PVCU has awarded nearly $65,000 to local young adults continuing their education. The Pioneer Valley Credit Union 2017 College Scholarship recipients are a group of young adults who have proven themselves in the classroom, on the athletic fields, and in various activities and clubs. Dorilyn Castillo of Chicopee High School received the Maurice O’Shea Scholarship. Kaitlyn Feyre of Westfield High School received the Richard Borden Memorial Scholarship. Daniel Sexton of the Springfield Renaissance School received the Ignatius Collura Scholarship. Kamran Noori Shirazi of Springfield Central High School received the Ted Klekotka Memorial Scholarship. The 2017 recipients were honored at the credit union’s 94th annual meeting.

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