Country Bank Gives Back with $1.1 Million in Donations in 2021
WARE — Country Bank reported that its community donations for 2021 totaled more than $1.1 million. The bank’s philanthropic efforts supported local nonprofits throughout the communities it serves, with more than 300 organizations receiving grants in 2021. In addition, the bank’s staff volunteered 478 hours of service. The bank’s annual meeting at Polar Park created a buzz when it surprised the executive directors of two regional food banks by pledging a total of $1 million to the Worcester County Food Bank and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The bank didn’t stop there; recognizing the need to address hunger throughout its markets, in addition to the $1 million pledge, it provided an additional $100,000 in donations to food programs throughout the region. Other organizations receiving donations included Behavioral Health Network, Hanover Theater, Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., Revitalize Community Development Corp., Springfield Rescue Mission, the Children’s Trust, Provision Ministry, United Way of Central Massachusetts, Ronald McDonald House, and YWCA. During its annual Season of Giving campaign, Country Bank supported more than 2,500 local individuals with gifts of meals, toys, winter hats, mittens, and other essential items for those in nursing homes, shelters, and local schools.
Berkshire Bank Foundation Gives $596,800 to 87 Nonprofits in Q4
PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced $596,800 in philanthropic investments from its foundation during the fourth quarter of 2021. The grants awarded cover a wide range of projects that help foster upward economic mobility, support overall well-being, and enhance opportunities for individual success in the communities the bank serves. The investments also support the company’s BEST Community Comeback, which includes a planned $15 million in community contributions by the end of 2024. Eighty-seven local nonprofit organizations received grants at the end of last year to assist with a wide range of critical projects in the areas of housing, education, economic revitalization, and health. The Berkshire Bank Foundation is committed to supporting programs that work toward providing equitable opportunity for economic prosperity.
Valley Vodka Supports Ukraine; Founder Paul Kozub Visits Border
HADLEY — Valley Vodka Inc., maker of V-One Vodka, announced it will donate $1 for every bottle sold in the month of March, according to founder Paul Kozub. Kozub also visited the V-One distillery located in Kamien, Poland on March 6 and brought $5,000 directly to the border to support refugees. The distillery is located about two hours from the Ukraine border. “My life was forever changed for the better when I made my first trip to Eastern Poland 17 years ago to start my craft-vodka business,” Kozub said. “In 2019, I purchased a distillery in Kamie, Poland. It is just a few hours from the Ukrainian border. I feel compelled to do something to help the people of Ukraine.” V-One Vodka has been crafting small-batch vodka in Eastern Poland since 2005, and in 2019, it purchased its own distillery in Kamien, about two hours southeast of Warsaw.
Three Western Mass. Firms Take Home Impact Awards
WATERTOWN — MassEcon, the state’s private-sector partner in promoting business growth in Massachusetts, recently announced its 18th annual Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Award winners, recognizing 14 companies for their outstanding contributions to the Massachusetts economy, including three based in Western Mass. The companies were selected for establishing new operations in Massachusetts or expanded existing operations. Each employer added new jobs and facility investment; pursued social impact through community involvement or philanthropic efforts; and embraced equity, diversity, and inclusion practices. The winners will be honored at Gillette Stadium on April 7. The winning companies from Western Mass. include Big Y Foods of Springfield (gold), which, since January 2020, has added 52 new jobs and invested $50.9 million in a 232,000-square-foot expansion in Springfield for its Fresh & Local Distribution Center; White Lion Brewing Co. of Springfield (silver), which reactivated 8,000 square feet of space that sat vacant for more than 15 years and on-boarded an additional 3,000 square feet of storage, marking a total expansion of 11,000 square feet in Springfield, as well as adding 13 new employees and donating close to $25,000 to the community; and United Aircraft Technologies of Pittsfield (bronze), which plans on investing in 7,000 square feet of vacant office space in Pittsfield and is looking to hire four new team members in 2021 in addition to the five already onboarded earlier this year.
Phillips Insurance Agency Named 2021 Elite Agent by Liberty Mutual
CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. was named a 2021 Elite agent by Liberty Mutual Insurance. The award recognizes the contributions of the top-performing agencies in the country. Phillips is the only agency in Massachusetts to win the award for 15 straight years, and was recognized at the President’s Club award ceremony at the Four Seasons in Kapolei, Hawaii in December. Phillips Insurance Agency, established in 1953, is a full-service risk-management firm with a staff of 31 professionals and the largest independently owned agency in Western Mass. The agency handles the personal and commercial insurance needs for thousands of individuals and businesses throughout the Northeast.
Pittsfield YMCA to Modernize, Expand Child Care
PITTSFIELD — MassDevelopment has partnered with Lee Bank, Adams Community Bank, and Greylock Credit Union to provide $6.5 million in loan financing to Berkshire Family YMCA, which is using the proceeds to renovate and expand its main facility at 292 North St. in downtown Pittsfield. Constructed in 1909, the historic building’s last major renovation took place in 1981. As part of this new renovation, Berkshire Family YMCA is building an accessible indoor track for exercise and rehabilitation purposes for use by people of all abilities, adding a youth basketball court, and upgrading its fitness center. The organization is also creating newly configured program spaces and updating restrooms, improvements that will increase capacity of its nationally accredited child-development program to serve an additional 25 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. MassDevelopment provided a $5 million loan, with Adams Community Bank, Greylock Credit Union, and Lee Bank each providing $500,000 loans. The project is also supported by a $1 million Massachusetts Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) grant. Berkshire Family YMCA consists of three branches serving Berkshire County and Southern Vermont: the Pittsfield branch at 292 North St., a Northern Berkshire branch located at 22 Brickyard Court in North Adams, and the Bennington Recreation Center branch located at 655 Gage St. in Bennington, Vt.
BFAIR, Greylock Federal Credit Union Promote Brain-injury Awareness
NORTH ADAMS — BFAIR and Greylock Federal Credit Union have partnered together to raise awareness during the month of March to promote brain-injury awareness. March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. In the U.S., more than 5.3 million children and adults have a brain injury, or about one in 60. Acquired brain injuries (ABI) are those that happen after birth and can result in physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive impairments. The primary causes of ABI are trauma, stroke, tumors, degenerative diseases, alcohol and other toxins, and lack of oxygen to the brain, according to the Brain Injury Assoc. of America. With support from presenting sponsor Greylock Federal Credit Union, BFAIR will be distributing bike helmets to promote brain health and safety. More information on distribution will be available on the BFAIR website at www.bfair.org/brain-injury-awareness-month.
Amherst College Music Department Donates Steinway Piano to the Drake
AMHERST — The Drake, the Downtown Amherst Foundation’s (DAF) soon-to-open arts and cultural venue, will be the permanent home of a Steinway & Sons piano, thanks to a gift from the Amherst College Department of Music. The department donated the instrument after the college made a $100,000 gift to the Drake project in January 2022. Steinway pianos are widely recognized as the best pianos made. The specific model the college is donating, the Steinway B, is considered the finest high-resolution piano in the world, and is generally used in mid-sized venues like the Drake, according to the Steinway & Sons website. The instrument will arrive after construction is complete in April. The Downtown Amherst Foundation is in the final stages of fundraising for the Drake, Amherst’s first dedicated live performance and music venue. In addition to the music-loving supporters who have donated to the Drake’s Patronicity page, Amherst College, the town of Amherst, and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Economic Development have offered support to the project.
Bradley International Airport Welcomes Back Air Canada
WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Air Canada will restore its non-stop service between Bradley International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport this summer. The airline last operated the flight in the spring of 2020, before international travel was disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting June 1, the flights will operate daily, year-round. “After nearly two years of international travel disruptions, we are thrilled to welcome back Air Canada to Bradley International Airport,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA. “Air Canada has been an important partner for many years at our airport, facilitating seamless connectivity between our regions. The resumption of the Toronto service is a major milestone on our road to recovery. Today, we extend our thanks to Air Canada for their continued commitment to Bradley International Airport and for underscoring the importance of this route with their return to Connecticut.”