MassMutual Foundation Awards $2 Million Grant to Way Finders
SPRINGFIELD — Way Finders and the MassMutual Foundation announced that Way Finders has been provided with a $2 million gift from the MassMutual Foundation to help fund its City of Homes (COH) initiative. This pilot program will address the need for quality, affordable homeownership opportunities in Springfield, the headquarters city of MassMutual and Way Finders. COH will create homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers by leveraging the receivership process to acquire and rehabilitate single-family homes or properties for sale at affordable prices in pilot neighborhoods in Springfield. To qualify for the applicant lottery, prospective homebuyers must have either attended a first-time-homebuyer seminar with Way Finders or another certified organization and secured mortgage funding with MassHousing or a private lender. By focusing on Springfield’s North End and Mason Square neighborhoods, where 75% or more of the residents are Black or Hispanic and 50% or more live below the poverty line, the project will provide much-needed access to homeownership opportunities traditionally unavailable to many residents in these communities. Since 2018, the MassMutual Foundation has supported Way Finders’ financial-capability programming, which lays the groundwork for homeownership with financial education and first-time homebuyer workshops. Through the COH pilot program, Way Finders will be able to help Springfield residents turn this education into action as they become first-time homebuyers. In 2022, Way Finders programs impacted the lives of more than 46,000 people through services including homelessness and foreclosure prevention, financial education and first-time homebuyer workshops, and small-business loans.
MassDevelopment, PeoplesBank Complete Financing Package for New Girls Inc. Facility
HOLYOKE — The new Girls Inc. of the Valley headquarters and program center is one big step closer to reality thanks to a new financing package developed by MassDevelopment and PeoplesBank. Girls Inc. recently announced the closing of financing on a $2,275,000 MassDevelopment revenue bond for the new program center in Holyoke. PeoplesBank was the purchaser of the bond, continuing the bank’s longtime support of Girls Inc. of the Valley. MassDevelopment enhanced the bond with a $455,000 mortgage insurance guarantee. The newly renovated, 16,000-square foot facility will allow the organization to consolidate its programs at one location. It will include a cutting-edge STEM makers’ space, a library, two multi-purpose rooms, a teen lounge, a kitchen and dining area, and administrative offices. “We are thrilled to be able to continue our support of Girls Inc. of the Valley and be a part of this exciting project,” said Vicky Crouse, senior vice president, Commercial Banking at PeoplesBank. “Their mission to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold by providing them the opportunity to develop and achieve their full potential is one that we embrace as well.” Dan Rivera, president and CEO of MassDevelopment, noted that “Girls Inc. has a proven track record of supporting girls in all their academic and social endeavors, while also empowering them to unlock the best version of themselves. We are pleased to partner with PeoplesBank to help this nonprofit purchase a new building in Holyoke to call home.”
Berkshire Agricultural Ventures Awards Grant to Gould Farm
GREAT BARRINGTON — Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) awarded Gould Farm a resilience grant of $5,000 to complete construction of a new hoop house that will enable the farm to extend its growing season. This grant was awarded in conjunction with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Services. Gould Farm will use this hoop house (also known as a ‘high tunnel system’) to cover and protect crops from sun, wind, excessive rainfall, and frost, and increase spring and fall crop production in an environmentally safe manner. Gould Farm produces crops as part of its mental-health programming, through which clients grow, cook, and consume vegetables from the farm. During the growing season, Gould Farm also supplies the multicultural BRIDGE food pantry. With the hoop-house addition, Gould Farm will be able to increase the amount and availability of fresh produce for the farm and pantry.
Rocky’s Raises Nearly $26,000 to Support Children’s Hospitals
SPRINGFIELD — Rocky’s Ace Hardware, one of the country’s largest family-owned Ace Hardware dealers with 47 locations in nine states, kicked off the season of giving in November with its semi-annual Round Up for Kids fundraiser, raising a grand total of $25,908 across all participating locations. Customers were asked to round up their purchase total to the next dollar, and the difference was donated to Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) hospitals. This was the third Round Up for Kids fundraiser Rocky’s has held this year, with 100% of the money raised going to benefit local CMN hospitals, including Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield. Participating Rocky’s locations included the Island Pond Road and Liberty Street stores in Springfield and the stores in Agawam, East Longmeadow, Westfield, Ludlow, Palmer, and South Hadley. Since 1983, CMN hospitals have helped fill funding gaps by raising more than $7 billion. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit’s mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible.
Country Bank Supports Nonprofits During ‘Season of Difference’
WARE — Children, seniors, and those who are most in need got a lot of care this holiday season from Country Bank, a full-service financial institution serving Central and Western Mass. The bank’s 210 team members gathered on Dec. 14 to write holiday greetings, wrap gifts, and pack homeless care bags in a show of support for the numerous nonprofits that serve the region. During the bank’s Season of Difference Campaign event, team members (also called Difference Makers) wrapped gifts for 400 children at the Worcester and Springfield YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs and the Ludlow Boys and Girls Club, along with 300 gifts for local nursing homes, including Quaboag Rehabilitation Center & Skilled Care and Brookhaven Assisted Care in West Brookfield, as well as Life Care Center in Wilbraham. They also packed 300 homeless care bags, which were delivered to Friends of the Homeless in Springfield and St. John’s Food for the Poor Program in Worcester. Team members volunteered at other local nonprofits, including the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Juniper Outreach, Wreaths Across America, Friends of the Homeless dinner service, St. John’s Food for the Poor breakfast service, and local senior-center holiday celebrations, as well as ringing the bell for the Salvation Army in Ware and Belchertown. Country Bank also announced donations to 21 senior centers throughout the region. A total of $42,000 in donations were made to local senior centers. These donations are made without restriction for those necessary items that may not be met within annual budgets. In addition to its annual monetary support, Country Bank also sends teams of its Difference Makers to volunteer at local senior centers on a monthly basis.