Cooper’s Corner, State Street Fruit Store Change Hands
NORTHAMPTON — Richard ‘Rich’ Cooper, whose family built and nurtured the Cooper’s Corner and State Street Fruit Store markets, announced that he is selling the businesses to a dedicated, longtime employee who is committed to honoring the legacy. Cooper will retire this fall and sell the markets to Michael Natale, who has worked at State Street and Cooper’s since 2006 in various roles, steadily rising into management and most recently serving as general manager. His father, five siblings, a niece, and a nephew have also worked at the popular, hometown convenience stores. “Mike is a clone of me. He sees what I see. He knows what customer service really means, and he understands the importance of community,” Cooper said. “Mike has a great way with the employees and customers. He is enthusiastic, dedicated and has long-term commitment.” Cooper will work part-time alongside Natale for a few months after the sale as Natale takes over full ownership. “Mike is the ideal buyer. This choice feels right to me,” Cooper added. “It meets the obligation I feel toward employees and to the community to keep the stores locally owned and locally committed, the way we’ve been from day one. I didn’t want to sell to a chain or the highest bidder or someone from outside the community.” Between the two stores, there are 104 employees, most of whom live locally and work part time; roughly 40 work full time.
Hitchcock Center Receives Grant for SEEDS Program
AMHERST — The Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst was recently awarded a $222,076 Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) FY2022 Museums for America grant for its SEEDS (Schools Exploring Engineering, Design, and Sustainability) program in partnership with Springfield Public Schools. This grant requires a 1:1 match in funding and will rely upon community support to fully fund this new initiative. SEEDS is a new Hitchcock Center program that focuses on using an engineering design-challenge approach to build STEM capacity in third-grade classrooms in the Springfield school system. Project activities will include developing and implementing experiential learning in classrooms through school-based design challenges and creating professional training and mentoring support for each teacher participating in the program. The center will schedule field trips for participating classrooms to its certified Living Building, a net-zero energy facility that harvests and recycles its own water, uses composting toilets, and was constructed with responsibly sourced, non-toxic materials. The project will enhance materials and curriculum for participating schools and encourage students and teachers to explore the intersections of engineering, technology, and design and their role in addressing environmental challenges that confront society. “The Springfield Public Schools are very happy to be able to partner with the Hitchcock Center, who will work with our teachers to get our kids excited and inspired about science and nature,” said Ronald St. Amand, director of Science for Springfield Public Schools, adding that SEEDS “will provide our students with opportunities to learn about STEM careers and to see themselves in STEM. Through the program, kids will come to understand that climate change is urgent, but that we are not powerless against it. Our students can be hopeful about and be part of climate-change solutions.” The mission of the Hitchcock Center is to educate and to inspire action for a healthy planet. Instead of simply teaching about climate change, the Hitchcock Center is helping people develop the skills needed to create climate solutions and foster climate resilience by helping them reconnect to and learn from nature’s efficient and sustainable systems, develop a problem-solving mindset, and share a positive vision for the future.
Eversource Named Among State’s Most Charitable Companies
BOSTON — For the fifth year in a row, the Boston Business Journal has named Eversource an honoree in its annual 2022 Corporate Citizenship Awards, a recognition of the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. “Having the chance to make a positive difference in the lives of our customers is a privilege,” said Theresa Hopkins-Staten, Eversource Foundation president and vice president for Corporate Citizenship and Equity. “We have a responsibility to invest in organizations, initiatives, and services that provide broad, meaningful, and sustainable change in the communities we serve that are most at-risk, overburdened, and under-resourced. We look forward to that continued spirit of partnership as we all work together to create conditions for all of our communities to thrive.” The Boston Business Journal annually publishes this list to showcase companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities, a feat that is even more important during times of turmoil and crisis, such as those collectively experienced throughout 2021. In addition to financial support, Eversource also empowers employees to volunteer and give back to local organizations by providing regular volunteer opportunities and a program to match charitable contributions by individual employees. In 2021, Eversource’s volunteer programs engaged more than 4,900 employees and their families, who volunteered more than 23,700 hours at company-sponsored events.
Monson Savings Donates $5,000 to Healing Racism Institute
MONSON — Monson Savings Bank recently made a $5,000 donation to the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley, headquartered in Springfield, in support of its work in the region. The Healing Racism Institute aims to help create a better understanding of the root causes and effects of racism, while also explaining the institutional nature of racism. Its hallmark program is its two-day Healing Racism sessions, which provide a safe environment to learn about the impact of racism on our nation and community in an engaging and transformative process. “Monson Savings Bank supports the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley and the important work that they are doing for our communities,” said Dan Moriarty, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank. “We commend them for all of the work that they do to make the world a better place, specifically working to make the communities we live in a better place. Monson Savings is a local bank, meaning everyone who works at the bank lives here. We are working, raising our families, and living in the communities that the Healing Racism Institute serves. The organization holds a special place in our hearts because they are making the places we live a better, more equitable place.” A contribution from Monson Savings Bank will support Healing Racism Institute’s campaign to be self-sustaining within three years by building infrastructure and building capacity. Funds will be used to hire staff, create a training center, increase the number of trained facilitators, and provide scholarship support. “On behalf of the Healing Racism Institute, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Monson Savings Bank for their generous donation,” said Vanessa Otero, Healing Racism executive director. “This donation will help us in our mission to help build racism-free communities.”
bankESB Donates $5,000 to Easthampton Neighbors
EASTHAMPTON — bankESB recently made a $5,000 donation to Easthampton Neighbors to help provide services and programs to assist Easthampton seniors and to support the organization’s participation in the Pioneer Valley Memory Care Initiative. Easthampton Neighbors is a member-driven, nonprofit organization that provides volunteer services and programs to seniors who strive to live independent, engaged lives at home. Its ‘neighbors helping neighbors’ approach creates a local support network for area seniors. It are a partnering organization of the Pioneer Valley Memory Care Initiative, which is a coalition of healthcare and community providers, based out of the Cooley Dickinson Geriatrics program, dedicated to empowering and supporting older adults living with dementia and their family caregivers to improve their quality of life. “Seniors are the backbone of our community,” said Matthew Sosik, the bank’s president and CEO. “bankESB is proud to support Easthampton Neighbors as they work to keep seniors in our area engaged, connected, and thriving.” The donation was made as part of the bank’s charitable-giving program, the Giving Tree, which reflects the roots the bank has in its communities, its commitment to making a real difference in the neighborhoods it serves, and the belief that everyone’s quality of life is enhanced when parties work together to solve their communities’ biggest problems.
UMassFive Featured on ‘World’s Greatest!’ TV Series
HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union was featured in episode 326 of World’s Greatest!, a television series produced by How2Media. World’s Greatest! is a 30-minute show dedicated to highlighting the world’s greatest companies, products, places, and people. Each show is a fast-paced tour around the world featuring behind-the-scenes footage, informative interviews, and exciting visuals. The episode featuring UMassFive premiered on Bloomberg TV on Sept. 3 and re-ran on Sept. 10. In recent years, credit unions have become more and more popular as people transition away from for-profit banks and toward more customer and member-oriented institutions. With a history dating back to 1967, a focus on sustainability, and a commitment to keeping the local economy strong, UMassFive has continued to grow and innovate. “We think their story will be meaningful as well as educational to our viewers,” said Kyle Freeman, executive producer of World’s Greatest! As part of the show, How2Media sent a film crew to spend time at UMassFive’s headquarters in Hadley to discover the company’s story and to show viewers why the credit union was selected as the best in its category, and therefore featured on the show. “We are immensely thankful to How2Media for providing us this opportunity to amplify the mission of the credit union,” said Craig Boivin, vice president of Marketing at UMassFive.