Country Bank, WooSox Announce Community Giving Campaign
WARE — Country Bank and the Worcester Red Sox have announced a community giving campaign to support nonprofit leaders throughout the region. To kick off the campaign, dubbed “WooStars,” Country Bank recognized 11 local nonprofits at Polar Park, including Springfield-based organizations Friends of the Homeless, Ronald McDonald House, Christina’s House, and Habitat for Humanity, along with Worcester-based organizations the United Way, Why Me, Sherry’s House, Provision Ministry, St. John’s Food Pantry for the Poor, the Boys and Girls Club, and Habitat for Humanity. Each nonprofit was presented with a $5,000 check from Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank. Representatives of the nonprofits also participated in a television commercial to support the campaign. Country Bank and the Worcester Red Sox Foundation will select nine additional nonprofit leaders who have stepped up to the plate to serve their community. The deadline for nominations is Aug. 15. Each winner will receive a $5,000 donation to their nonprofit and will be recognized at a presentation in Polar Park on Sept. 9. In addition, the bank has also launched a Most Valuable Teacher (MVT) campaign that recognizes the outstanding work teachers do every day to educate and support students. The public is invited to nominate a WooStar at www.countrybank.com/about-us/woostars or a Most Valuable Teacher at www.countrybank.com/personal/youth-accounts/most-valuable-teacher.
Fontaine Brothers to Tackle Court Square Project
SPRINGFIELD — Springfield-based Fontaine Brothers has been named the general contractor for the long-awaited rehabilitation of 31 Elm St. in Court Square in Springfield into a 74-unit apartment complex. Construction work on the $50 million project is expected to begin in the fourth quarter and take roughly two years to complete. The project represents a partnership between OPAL Development, WinnDevelopment, MGM Springfield, and MassMutual, with funding coming from a variety of sources, including $11.3 million in state and federal historic tax credits. In addition to the housing units, plans call for retail space and a restaurant on the ground level. The project is expected to employ 100 to 120 union construction workers.
Lee Bank Foundation Announces $64,500 in Community Funding
LEE — Lee Bank Foundation awarded $64,500 to eight Berkshire-area organizations in its second round of 2021 community grant awards. Recipients were awarded grants ranging from $2,000 to $12,500 to support their local programming. Organizations receiving funding include Berkshire Bounty, Berkshire County Historical Society, Berkshire South Regional Community Center, Elizabeth Freeman Center Inc., Flying Cloud Institute, Music in Common, New Stage Performing Arts Center Inc., and Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires. To be considered for grant awards, applicants must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on funding organizations that work to bridge income and opportunity gaps in the region. The next application deadline is Sept. 1. Funding requests should reflect one or more of Lee Bank Foundation’s primary focus areas, which include education and literacy; food security and nutrition; economic growth and development; health and human services; mentorship, internship, and school-to-work initiatives; and arts and culture. Applicants may submit only one application in a 12-month period. Online applications and information can be found at www.leebank.com/community-impact/donations-sponsorships.html.
Market Mentors Receives Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Certification
SPRINGFIELD — Market Mentors, the region’s largest marketing, advertising, and public-relations agency, announced it has received certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women-owned businesses thrive and grow. WBENC certification provides Market Mentors with access to a vast network of support, including targeted business opportunities and increased visibility in corporate and government supply chains, education, and development programs. It is also an approved third-party certifier for the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business federal contracting program. WBENC certification validates that a business is at least 51% owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women. One or more women must have unrestricted control of the business, a demonstrated management of day-to-day operations, and a proportionate investment of capital or expertise. To become certified, business owners undergo a thorough vetting process, including review of business documentation and a site visit. After working in media for more than a decade, Abdow founded Market Mentors in her home in 2003. Over the past 18 years, it has grown into a team of more than 20 professionals with multiple areas of expertise and breadth of experience across a range of industries.
WSU Receives $1.5M Grant to Increase Healthcare Access
WESTFIELD — Westfield State University’s (WSU) Department of Social Work received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for its Integrative Behavioral Health (IBH) Equity Project. The project builds a specialized workforce within rural, medically underserved areas as well as among diverse and historically marginalized populations to address barriers identified by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in social determinants of health. This HRSA award will be distributed over the next four years and will train 92 Westfield State graduate students in the master of social work (MSW) program in the following integrative behavioral-health specialties: child, youth, and family; health social work; substance use and addictions; and Latinx community health. These students will receive $920,000 in training stipends over the next four years. Westfield State President Linda Thompson, whose background is in nursing, health sciences, and public policy, noted that the IBH project continues the university’s growth in building important healthcare programs that meet the needs of the Commonwealth. The Field Education Team in Westfield State’s Department of Social Work established IBH/Integrated Primary Care and interprofessional training partnerships across Western and Central Mass. to train students to gain proficiency as they provide in-person and telehealth services to children, youth, and families as well as individuals living with addiction and mental-health issues. It is broadening to include organizations that serve the Spanish-speaking Latinx population. The IBH Equity Project will also increase linguistic and cultural access to social-work education by offering classes in Spanish to impact the structural health inequities that affect students and clients throughout the Pioneer Valley. WSU is the first institution in the area to offer social work courses in Spanish. The project advances the university’s progress toward an institutional goal of gaining the federal Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) designation. Achieving the designation is part of a larger commitment by Westfield State to address systemic racism and inequities on the campus, such as in its policies and practices.
Professional Drywall Construction Expands into New York State
SPRINGFIELD — Professional Drywall Construction Inc. (PDC), a commercial drywall company headquartered in Springfield, is expanding its footprint into New York State, having recently opened a new office in Malta on July 1. Leading the expansion is Randall Berkebile, who will serve as project executive and New York regional manager at the new branch. “We have been looking into expanding into New York for quite some time, and Malta is a great, centralized location to set up our new shop,” said Ron Perry, owner of PDC. “We brought Randall in to help establish our company in the capital district and beyond. His years of experience and deep contacts in the region will assist in us creating a strong foothold in the community.” Berkebile, a resident of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is a graduate of Ball State University. He has almost a decade of experience in construction-management roles and will be responsible for overseeing projects and growing the New York branch. PDC also has a branch office in Norwalk, Conn.
Public Art to Be Installed in Springfield’s Pynchon Plaza
SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums and Springfield Cultural Partnership announced the artists chosen to augment the newly renovated Pynchon Plaza. The SPark! Igniting Our Community call resulted in many quality applications. The chosen artists include Roberly Bell (Pelham), artful seating; Lauren Celini (Springfield), utility art; Michelle Falcón Fontánez (Boston) and Alvilda Sophia Anaya-Alegría (Springfield), mosaic art; RT Woods (Springfield), fencing art; Beth Crawford Haydenville), 3D sculptural art; Jeffrey Lara (Springfield), 3D sculptural art; Make-It Springfield, library box; and Outdoor Musical Instruments (United Kingdom), sound sculpture (to be embellished by a local artist). The call was open to all artists, and special consideration was given to installations that include Springfield artists, artists of color, LGBTQA+ artists, and female artists. Funding of these eight projects comes from a combination of public and private monies, including a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Program Grant and a City of Springfield Community Development Block Grant. The project is designed to engage city artists, residents, community stakeholders, and cultural institutions to actively participate to reimagine public art that celebrates Springfield’s citizens, culture, and historical legacies. Competitive proposals will be inspired by aspects of Springfield itself, including its historic and/or present-day people, cultures, places and landscapes, architecture, etc., and can be literal or creative, interpretive representations. The SPark! Art Committee included representation from the Springfield Cultural Council, Springfield Parks, the Apremont Quadrangle Civic Assoc., Skyview Downtown, and the Springfield Technical Community College Carberry Fine Arts Gallery.