PeoplesBank Again Named a Top Corporate Charitable Contributor
HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank was honored by the Boston Business Journal with a “Top Corporate Charitable Contributor” award for the seventh year in a row. The bank was recognized along with other recipients at the publication’s annual Corporate Citizenship Summit on Sept. 10 at the Westin Copley Place hotel. The award was accepted by Douglas Bowen, president and CEO of PeoplesBank, on behalf of the bank’s more than 250 associates. Susan Wilson, first vice president of Corporate Responsibility at PeoplesBank, noted that, “through our Community Care Program, we have contributed millions of dollars to local nonprofit organizations that provide services to the residents of Hampden and Hampshire counties. Our bank associates are committed to the community through their own generosity as well. They enthusiastically volunteer their time to help local schools, teach financial-education classes, clean up parks, plant trees, and help revitalize neighborhoods.” Wilson added that the bank’s charitable-giving program focuses on academic excellence, community vibrancy, and environmental sustainability. She also noted that PeoplesBank associates devote an average of 6,000 hours to volunteer work each year, and that 48 of the bank’s officers serve on the boards of directors and committees of 115 area nonprofit organizations.
Southwick Forastiere Funeral Home Celebrates 30 Years in Business
SOUTHWICK — Forastiere Family Funeral & Cremation announced the 30th anniversary of Southwick Forastiere Funeral Home, which opened on College Highway in Southwick in 1984. “For three decades, we have had a professional and compassionate team caring for families in Southwick and surrounding communities,” said Frank Forastiere, president and funeral director of Forastiere Family Funeral & Cremation. “Building a connection within the community and earning the trust of the families we work with are important aspects of our longevity, and we hope to continue to provide the same quality of service for years to come.” Forastiere Family Funeral & Cremation has served the Greater Springfield area since 1905, when Frank M. and Carmela Forastiere opened the original storefront on Water Street (now Columbus Avenue) in Springfield. In 1911, Forastiere’s flagship facility moved to William Street in Springfield before finally settling on Locust Street in Springfield, where it still resides today. Colonial Forastiere Funeral Home, located in Agawam, opened its doors in 1980, followed by Southwick Forastiere Funeral Home in 1984. “We have a vested interest in this community. We care for its members during times of grief,” said Forastiere. “Our staff is dedicated to meeting the needs of each and every family that passes through our doors. That dedication means a lot to our clients.” For more information, visit www.forastiere.com.
Monson Savings Bank Wins Gold Community Champions Award
MONSON — For the second year in a row, Monson Savings Bank has won the Gold Community Champions Award given by the New England Financial Marketing Assoc. (NEFMA). This year, the award was based on the bank’s extraordinary measures to improve and increase financial literacy throughout its communities. While the award was given by NEFMA, in order to insure impartiality, the judging was done by members of the PennJerDel Bank Marketing Assoc. in Pennyslvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, so that there was no connection to any of the banks being reviewed. Efforts by banks and credit unions all over New England were considered. According to Vincent Valvo, the organizer of the competition, “we received a record number of submissions, yet we gave out a more limited number of awards this year. That’s a clear reflection that judges held the submissions to a high bar and only rewarded the best of the best.” Monson Savings was the only winner in the financial-literacy category in which up to nine awards could have been given (gold, silver, and bronze for large, medium, and small banks). “We were extremely pleased to receive this award,” said Steve Lowell, president of Monson Savings. “We have become increasingly concerned about financial literacy and the fact that many people lack the money-management knowledge and skills they need to ensure long-term stability for themselves. We’ve made this a strategic priority and are addressing the issue on many fronts, including teaching in the schools; holding complimentary workshops on important financial topics that are open to everyone in the community; partnering with MassSaves, a statewide effort to help people improve their financial knowledge and build wealth; and offering banking products and services specifically designed to help young people learn how to bank and save. Our people are working very hard at this, and I am so very proud of them.”
MassMutual Approves $1.6B Dividend Payout to Policy Holders
SPRINGFIELD — Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual) announced that its board of directors has approved an estimated dividend payout of $1.6 billion for 2015, marking the third consecutive year the company has paid a record dividend to eligible participating policy owners and members. The dividends to be paid in 2015 reflect a dividend interest rate of 7.10% — maintaining the same rate as 2014 — for eligible participating permanent life and annuity blocks of business. The approved estimated payout represents an increase of $92 million — or 6.2% — over 2014, and reflects updated investment, mortality, expense, and other experience, as well as the distribution of other business earnings from the company’s asset-management and non-participating businesses. The 2015 MassMutual dividend payout marks the 17th consecutive year that it exceeds $1 billion. MassMutual has paid more than $21 billion in dividends over the last two decades, and although dividends are not guaranteed, the company has paid dividends to eligible participating policyowners consistently since the 1860s.
HMC Receives $3.9M for Behavioral Health, ED Enhancements
HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) has been awarded $3.9 million by the Mass. Health Policy Commission (HPC) for a project to enhance behavioral healthcare services for patients. The two-year project has an aggressive completion deadline of January 2017. The funds awarded by HPC are Phase 2 of the Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization, and Transformation (CHART) investment program, dubbed “Driving System Transformation.” HPC awarded $60 million for projects throughout the Commonwealth, for which they received requests of more than $117 million. HMC’s award was the highest award for a single hospital and reflects the recognition of the need for improved conditions as well as the vital role HMC plays in the community. The award also came with the expressed support from many local and state officials, including state Reps. Aaron Vega, Joseph Wagner, and John Scibak and state Sen. Don Humason. “This funding will allow us to create significantly improved conditions for all our patients, especially those with behavioral-health needs. Programmatic changes and designated treatment space for behavioral-health patients in the Emergency Department will help to avoid unnecessary hospitalization and reduce re-hospitalization of behavioral-health patients,” said HMC President and CEO Spiros Hatiras. Approximately half of the funds awarded by HPC, nearly $2 million, are designated to assist in a designated treatment space in the ED for behavioral-health patients, of which the total cost is estimated to be between $6 million to $7 million. Holyoke Medical Center will organize a capital campaign and invest in the balance of funds needed to complete the Emergency Department redesign project. The HMC Emergency Department serves more than 45,000 patients per year and will continue to serve the community through the redesign and construction phase of the project. The renovations of the ED will provide a designated treatment area needed to deliver safe, comprehensive behavioral-health services to a wide range of patients. The renovations are expected to begin in early 2015 and be completed by the end of the same calendar year. This initiative will also introduce robust care navigation in partnership with community organizations to ensure that patients receive targeted interventions, are referred to the ‘right’ services, and successfully follow through on their care plans to achieve optimal short- and long-term health outcomes. “This project is an amazing opportunity to provide specialized emergency care for people with mental-health and substance-abuse issues,” said HMC Director of Behavioral Health Baxter Chandler. “Not only will we more effectively address a patient’s emergency behavioral-health needs, we will also enhance our ability to connect patients with appropriate treatment and community services, reducing the need to return to the ED.”
Springfield Museums Announce Major Grants to Fund Renovations
SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums have received two major grants to fund exterior renovations to the William Pynchon Memorial Building (formerly known as the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum). Through $120,000 from the Cultural Facilities Fund of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and another $50,000 from the Beveridge Family Foundation Inc., the Museums will be able to repair and restore the building’s slate roof, replace its gutters, rebuild its shutters and dormers, and paint the building in accordance with historical-preservation standards. Renovations to the building have already commenced, with completion targeted for the spring of 2015. The ultimate goal of the renovation is to reclaim the museum’s aesthetic appearance and prepare it for the installation of an exhibition honoring the life and work of Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss). Working in close collaboration with community leaders and educators, the museums plan to design and build a literacy-based, interactive exhibition titled “The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss” that will make his works come alive for children and their families, while also helping to boost Springfield’s profile as a regional and national destination. “The Pynchon Memorial Building is an integral component of the architectural landscape of the Quadrangle and cultural life of downtown Springfield, and we’re deeply indebted to the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Beveridge Family for their help in reviving this elegant building,” said Springfield Museums Vice President Kay Simpson. Named after the founder of Springfield, the William Pynchon Memorial Building was built in 1927 to house the extensive collections of the Connecticut Valley Historical Society. Designed by Springfield architect Max Westhoff, the building exemplifies the Georgian Colonial Revival style that was popular in the early 20th century and reflected the prevailing attitudes about the importance of preserving and interpreting America’s colonial past. The central doorway has a ‘broken scroll’ pediment, pineapple centerpiece, and flanking pilasters, all characteristic hallmarks of Connecticut Valley homes of the 18th century. The Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund is a program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, administered through a collaborative arrangement between MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Cooley Dickinson Recognized for Patient-safety Record
NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital was honored with an ‘A’ grade in the fall 2014 Hospital Safety Score, which rates how well hospitals protect patients from errors, injuries, and infections. The Hospital Safety Score is compiled under the guidance of the nation’s leading experts on patient safety and is administered by the Leapfrog Group, an independent industry watchdog. The first and only hospital-safety rating to be peer-reviewed in the Journal of Patient Safety, the score is free to the public and designed to give consumers information they can use to protect themselves and their families when facing a hospital stay. “Cooley Dickinson is fortunate to have a community of staff and providers who make delivering quality and safe care their daily priority,” said Joanne Marqusee, president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson. “But high quality and patient safety require not only skilled people with a commitment to great care, it also requires leadership at all levels to make safe systems and teamwork a priority.”
Visual Changes Announces Start of Construction Project
EAST LONGMEADOW — Visual Changes Inc. has announced its plans to build a premier day spa and salon at 100 Shaker Road in East Longmeadow. The company will partner with Craig Sweitzer & Co., LLC on the project. The site is a former post office and currently houses Atrium Dental Group, another Sweitzer construction project. With the addition of Visual Changes, the property is near full occupancy. “The design goal for Visual Changes is to create an environment that is simultaneously serene and high-tech with a cosmopolitan feel,” said founder Mark Maruca. The 2,300-square-foot facility will feature vaulted ceilings, state-of-the-art private spa spaces, and upscale stations for salon services.