Bay Path Recognized for Supporting Students Throughout Pandemic
LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announce it was selected as a winner of the Virtual Innovation Awards: Excellence in Delivering Virtual Student Services hosted by NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Bay Path is among 10 schools recognized across the nation for exemplary virtual student support services, and one of only three schools to receive the top award of $50,000. The award highlights the effectiveness of the work being done to support both Bay Path’s traditional undergraduates and adult students enrolled in its online undergraduate degree program, the American Women’s College. These best practices will serve as case studies to inform the field at large. As Bay Path’s online program for adult women, the American Women’s College has been continually developing and enhancing its virtual support services since 2013. At the onset of the pandemic, university staff were able to put these supports into overdrive to ensure campus-based undergraduate students could easily access services despite the abrupt move to remote. Some of the virtual services that have allowed Bay Path University to be responsive to its diverse student body, whether in person or online, include a virtual career-services hub; UWill, a telecounseling service; and Tutor.com, which provides access to online tutoring services 24/7. Similarly, programming related to orientation, peer-to-peer engagement, community building, and multi-cultural affairs was provided by a support team that was able to quickly pivot to virtual platforms and social-media tools.
STCC to Reinstate Five Programs
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will restore five programs that were discontinued last year in response to projected budget shortfalls brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The STCC board of trustees voted to support biomedical engineering technology, biotechnology, civil engineering technology, dental assisting, and landscape design and management. STCC President John Cook said the college will work to reinstate programs after open, transparent, and public conversations with college stakeholders about needs and resources. In June, the college announced the discontinuation of seven programs as part of a broad set of cost-saving measures. Trustees established a committee to examine these programs, including costs, enrollment, facilities and equipment needs, and to consider questions of sustainability. Beyond the five programs, at a future time, trustees will continue the examination of two programs: automotive technology and cosmetology. STCC will work to relaunch the five programs in fall 2021, and the gross annual operating cost of these programs is approximately $500,000.
United Personnel Services Wins ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing Award
SPRINGFIELD — United Personnel Services was recently honored in the Best of Staffing Client, Employee, and Talent Awards from ClearlyRated, in recognition of high levels of satisfaction from customers, job seekers, and employees. Winners have proven to be industry leaders in service quality based entirely on ratings provided by their clients and staff. Focused on helping to connect people with the right job opportunities, United Personnel Services received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 90.9% of clients and 78% of placed job candidates, significantly higher than industry averages. These ratings led to United Personnel’s fourth consecutive year of recognition as a Best of Staffing company from ClearlyRated.
Holyoke-based Startup Aims to Spark Non-alcoholic Beer Revolution
HOLYOKE — New to the beer and brewing industry, Ezra Bleau is introducing his business, Na Brews, with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign, “Na Brews (Nah Brooz) – Craft Beer for All People, for All Occasions.” This campaign will raise money for his mobile de-alcoholization production plan, increasing access to social, healthy alternatives nationwide. The main draw of the campaign is a $20 pledge to be part of the “world’s largest non-alcoholic beer collaboration, which he intends to do during a livestreamed interactive event with his brewer. The company has been in contact with the Guinness Book of World Records and is working on certifying the event. Participants will be a part of this new craft beer every step of the way, selecting everything from style, grains, and hops to label design. With their $20 pledge, each participant’s name will be included in the collaboration can label for a future keepsake, and they will also be sent a can for their enjoyment and have exclusivity to purchase more before it is opened up to the general public. NA Brews currently is an e-commerce operation based in Holyoke, offering online retail sales of non-alcoholic beer, spirits, and wine selections, including specialty boxes and subscription services for others to enjoy in the comfort of their own home or any social setting. Bleau also has a manufacturing and full alcohol-free production plan, partnering with independent breweries in surrounding communities to produce quality craft non-alcoholic beer.
Berkshire Bank Foundation Supports MCLA’s Summer STEM Academy
NORTH ADAMS — The Berkshire Bank Foundation awarded Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) $20,000 to fund the Berkshire Bank STEM Academy, which accepts up to 20 incoming first-year students enrolled in a STEM major or who have expressed interest in STEM fields. Designed to introduce incoming students to careers in STEM, the residential, five-day academy includes opportunities to network with STEM faculty, students, and staff in the interest of developing a deeper relationship with those involved in STEM careers in the Berkshires. The program’s ultimate goal is to encourage more students to secure jobs in the Berkshires and remain here after graduation. This summer will mark the ninth year of the Berkshire Bank STEM Academy. Alumni of the program, which was developed to serve low-income and first-generation college students, have gone on to be leaders at MCLA as residential advisors, tutors, and supplemental instructors. Graduates have gone on to have careers at Raytheon, General Dynamics, Edge Pharma, and as public-school teachers. Students are selected based on their responses to surveys taken upon their acceptance to the college. Interested students should e-mail program director Dr. Sara Steele, assistant professor of Psychology, at [email protected] to have their name prioritized in the selection process.
Country Bank Reports $1.3 Million in Community Philanthropy in 2020
WARE — Country Bank reported that its donations and sponsorships for 2020 totaled $1.3 million. Through the bank’s philanthropic efforts, it provided support to local nonprofits throughout the communities it serves; in 2020, more than 400 of these organizations received donations. The pandemic has left businesses and individuals facing continued looming uncertainties. Many nonprofits struggled from the economic fallout, and they looked to community partners like Country Bank for assistance. Country Bank donated more than $500,000 to area hospitals and first-responder housing efforts to provide the financial and tangible emergency resources needed to support their mission during the pandemic. Organizations receiving support included the Baystate Health Foundation, Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., Christina’s House, Springfield Rescue Mission, Ronald McDonald House, and Behavioral Health Network Inc. Recognizing the importance and overwhelming need to help organizations that address hunger, Country Bank also provided monetary donations to food programs throughout the region that exceeded $100,000. The recipients of these funds included Friends of the Homeless, Rachel’s Table, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and many local food pantries.
Meyers Brothers Kalicka Unveils New Website
HOLYOKE — Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (MBK) announced a new website, mbkcpa.com, this week. The primary goal during the redesign process was to create a more user-friendly and valuable resource for clients and community alike. More specifically, the firm wanted users to easily locate information about accounting services, industries it serves, the firm’s story and team members, career opportunities, and community support. The website also features an active blog with articles about taxation, accounting, advisory, news, and community. Additionally, the firm offers free newsletters centered around taxation, business, not-for-profits, and healthcare. These newsletters help readers stay informed on recent provisions and guidance, access articles, get invitations to special webinars or podcasts, and gain industry knowledge. You can subscribe to any or all of these newsletters for free by adding your e-mail address into the ‘subscribe’ feature located in the footer of the new website.
Community Comes Through to Help Amherst Survival Center Families
AMHERST — Hannah Rechtschaffen, director of Placemaking for the Mill District, and Andy Haase of Cowls Building Supply recently delivered more than 400 games purchased by W.D. Cowls Inc. to the Amherst Survival Center, augmenting dozens of community donations already collected and delivered from North Amherst Motors, the Toy Box, North Square Apartments in the Mill District, and Cowls Building Supply. In December, Lev Ben-Ezra, executive director of the Amherst Survival Center, outlined to Cinda Jones, president of W.D. Cowls, how the community could help her cause this winter. Ben-Ezra explained that the center was looking for ways to brighten the winter for families stuck at home, including craft kits, valentines, and other fun activities. Her hope for February was to distribute more than 400 games and puzzles to local families, and she asked the Mill District for help generating donations. Now, with more than 500 games donated in January, the Amherst Survival Center is providing families with games and activities along with groceries in February. Community members who want to help the Amherst Survival Center serve more families can donate online at amherstsurvival.org/donate.
WNEU Offers Free Graduate Courses to Current Students
SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University announced that all current students (class of 2021 to class of 2024) will be offered two graduate courses free of charge with acceptance to a WNEU master’s-degree program upon completion of their bachelor’s degree. “As our undergraduates consider next steps, especially with the current economic climate, we want to help provide them with the opportunity to advance their credentials in what could prove to be a difficult time as the nation returns to post-COVID normalcy,” said Matt Fox, executive director of Graduate Admissions. According to the NACE Job Outlook Survey, 2021 hiring will be “more positive than expected given that the pandemic shut down the economy, plummeted the stock market, and raised the unemployment rate.” Nearly 17% of organizations responding to the NACE survey plan to increase their hiring levels of 2021 graduates, compared to 2020 graduates, and about 53% plan to maintain their level of hiring. Fox outlined the many benefits this opportunity offers, including improving employment and future advancement opportunities, deferred undergraduate loan payment, and what essentially equates to a 20% reduction in graduate tuition. For more information, visit www1.wne.edu/admissions/graduate/two-grad-courses.cfm.
Ludlow Elks Supports Program at Scantic Valley YMCA
LUDLOW — The Ludlow Elks awarded the Scantic Valley YMCA a $2,000 Beacon Grant from the Elks National Foundation to help the Y launch MOVE2Function, a movement-disorder fitness program. The Ludlow Elks have provided financial and in-person support for the Scantic Valley YMCA’s healthful-living programs. LIVESTRONG at the YMCA supports those impacted by cancer. The latest program to receive the Ludlow Elks support is MOVE2Function, offering those impacted by movement disorders evidence-based functional fitness programming to support them in making changes to support and improve all aspects of their health. Movement disorders include Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and essential tremor. In 2019 and 2020, the Ludlow Elks supported the Interactive Health Fair at the Scantic Valley YMCA, which was open to the public. With previous funding, the Ludlow Elks provided the food along with preparing and serving it. Attendees enjoyed a healthy meal while interacting with company representatives, YMCA staff, and college students to learn about such topics as nutrition, heart health, fitness, balance programming, blood pressure, and eye screenings.
UMassFive Directs $4,000 to Local Survival Centers
HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced it has directed $4,000 in donations to local survival centers in Amherst and Northampton. The donations were made possible thanks to UMassFive winning a Credit Union Give Back Sweepstakes held by its credit-card servicer, PSCU. This sweepstakes selected 25 credit unions from across the country to receive $4,000 to donate to local charitable organizations of their choice. UMassFive chose to direct donations of $2,000 each to the Amherst Survival Center and the Northampton Survival Center in support of the extra cost burden that 2020 placed on the organizations. Both organizations had to pivot operations quickly to meet the most pressing needs of their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and have seen more need than ever before.
Country Bank Supports Quaboag Valley CDC
WARE — Country Bank announced a $25,000 donation to the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp. (QVCDC) to support various programs to help local communities in the region. A portion of the donation will be used toward a matching grant for a senior-citizen outreach program. This project was funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development, Massachusetts CDBG Program. Projects are developed and administered by local officials with the assistance of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Services for the outreach program include grocery shopping and prescription pickups for low-income seniors in Ware, Hardwick, Belchertown, and Warren. The QVCDC also offers various programs to assist businesses in the region with navigating these unchartered times. One of the latest programs includes companies with up to five employees that could be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in grant funding through a Microenterprise Assistance Grant.