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Labor and Employment Law Briefing

June 29: Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., a labor and employment law firm serving employers in the greater Springfield and Worcester areas, will stage a breakfast briefing on June 29 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel, One Monarch Place, Springfield. Attorneys John Gannon and Meaghan Murphy will discuss important decisions from the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court involving payment of wages and a new type of employment claim related to personnel files. They will also talk about several significant labor and employment law cases including:

• Cases that address mandatory vaccination and other COVID-related issues;

• Amazon and Starbucks unionization cases; and

• A few (not-so) fun cases that involve strange and unusual discrimination claims

“Due to the pandemic, it’s been two years since we last held one of our live breakfast briefings,” said Gannon, a partner at Skoler Abbott. “We are happy to be able to return to our regular format for this popular event designed to help business owners, managers and human resources professionals stay up-to-date with employment and labor law mandates.” The cost for the briefing is $35 per person, which includes a continental breakfast and parking. For more information or to register, email [email protected] with the attendee’s name and company, or register online at bit.ly/SAPJuneBreakfastBriefing.

 

Juneteenth Heritage Walking Tour

Ongoing: Starting this past Juneteenth weekend, a new walking tour of local historic homes and museums will showcase the unique history and contributions of generations of Black families in Amherst that ranged from music to manufacturing.

Ancestral Bridges, a local nonprofit organization, collaborated with the Amherst Historical Society & Museum, local organizations, and the descendants of local Black families to produce the Juneteenth Heritage Walking Tour, a 1.5-mile story-filled tour that invites visitors to immerse themselves in the day-to-day experiences of Black Amherst residents from 200 years ago to more modern times. “There is so much important Black history in Amherst that has been hidden from view for too many years,” said Anika Lopes, founder of Ancestral Bridges. “With this walking tour, we are pulling back the curtain, highlighting the way that my family and other Black and indigenous historic residents of Amherst lived and worked, what they hoped and fought for, so that Black youth and others can understand this part of our history and use it to grow.” The Juneteenth Heritage Walking Tour is the first descendant-led and curated walking tour of its kind in the area. A family-friendly event on June 18 will serve as a kick-off of the walking tour and encourage local residents and visitors to explore exhibits featuring historic photographs, artifacts, and millinery that bring to life the essence of Black neighborhoods in Amherst. The tour begins at the historic West Cemetery to honor the lives and contributions of the all-Black 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the famed 5th Cavalry, the soldiers who alerted Texas residents that the Civil War and slavery had ended. This event is the origin of the holiday celebrated as Juneteenth. Additional tour stops include special exhibits at the Amherst History Museum with artwork and images from the mid-18th century and on; The Emily Dickinson Museum, where stories of Charles Thompson and other Black residents familiar with the Dickinson Family are featured; Hope Church, the first Black church in Amherst; and Goodwin Memorial AME Zion Church. The event to be emceed by descendant William Harris, Jr., president and CEO of Space Center Houston. Neighborhoods featured on the tour include the Westside District (Hazel Avenue, Baker Street, Snell Street, Northampton Road), which was designated a National Historic District in 2000 thanks to the efforts of Dudley J. Bridges, Sr.; and the neighborhood of McCellan, Beston, and Paige Streets. Also featured on the walking tour will be a special art installation by local artist Dr. Shirley Jackson Whitaker that will highlight the Tote2Vote campaign, launched recently to raise awareness of voter suppression. Learn more at ancestral-bridges.org.

 

Art with Heart

July 20: Community members are invited to attend a free art exhibit and reception for the debut of Art with Heart, a collaboration between local grieving youth and caregivers and area artists. The exhibit will run the month of July with the reception on July 20 at 6 p.m. at the BOMBYX Center for Arts and Equity. Art with Heart, the vision of Shelly Bathe Lenn, program coordinator at The Garden: A Center for Grieving Children and Teens, paired local grieving youth and caregivers with artists to create art as an expression of grief. Children ages 5 to 17 participated in workshops that were held in May. Artists Barbara Neulinger, Christine Southworth, Frankie Borrero, and Omarthan Clarke each worked with one of four small groups of grieving youth and caregivers. In each of the groups, the participants learned the artist’s medium and made an art piece. The art piece that was created was designed to help participants express their feelings and/or remember those in their life who have died. The artwork will be on display throughout the Pioneer Valley each month through June 2023 and a culminating event will be timed with the 25th anniversary of The Garden in 2023. To learn more about the Art with Heart program, contact Shelly Bathe Lenn at (413) 727-5749.

Company Notebook

HNE, Peoplesbank Donate $20,000 to Gardening the Community

SPRINGFIELD — PeoplesBank and Health New England have partnered to donate $20,000 to Gardening the Community (GTC) of Springfield. The money will support the non-profit’s urban garden, farm store, youth leadership program, and other programs. The companies’ collaborative donation came about as representatives from each were discussing needs in the Springfield community and the non-profit organizations each supports. Both support GTC and, knowing that more than 15% percent of children in Hampden County are food insecure, the two companies agreed to help. “We believe that this donation from two of our most valued corporate partners is an investment in our organization, economically and spiritually. It is especially appreciated during this time of rising food costs, as we work to bring forth a just food system that works for all,” said Liz O’Gilvie of GTC. “We will use the funds to support our efforts to grow food that’s affordable while we help our young people to understand the inequities in our food. system.” Said Matthew Bannister, senior vice president of marketing and corporate responsibility for PeoplesBank, “PeoplesBank and Health New England are like-minded in our belief that companies have a responsibility to improve the communities in which they do business. In working with Health New England as our health plan, we found that we both supported several of the same area non-profits, including Gardening the Community. We decided to demonstrate our partnership with this combined donation.” Keith Ledoux, vice president Commercial Line of Business and Business Development for Health New England, agreed. “Both Health New England and PeoplesBank know that our companies are part of a larger ecosystem – our community – and when it thrives, we thrive. Together, our support of Gardening the Community will not only fight hunger and promote good health but will bring opportunity to the Mason Square neighborhood.” Gardening the Community (GTC) grows organic food on formerly empty lots increasing access to healthy food in food-insecure areas. They emphasize youth leadership development, racial justice, and intergenerational relationship building in all their work. GTC serves Springfield’s Mason Square neighborhood, a low income, predominantly Black and Latinx community as well as residents from across the city.

 

Florence Bank Donates $5,000 to Boys & Girls Club of West Springfield

Florence Bank has donated $5,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of West Springfield to help bolster the nonprofit’s 2022 Change a Child’s Future campaign. The club serves members ranging in age from 2.9 months to 18 years. This year’s $50,000 campaign goal will raise funds for financial aid to families in need and allow the club to enhance programming for before- and after-school programs, expand the Little Futures Preschool, purchase art and S.T.E.M. materials, and offer a variety of sports clinics. To learn more visit www.wsbgclub.org. “Florence Bank is committed to ensuring our local youth have the opportunity to become productive, caring, responsible citizens,” said Michael Moriarty, Florence Bank senior vice president, commercial team leader and chairman of the Boys & Girls Club. “The funds we provide to the West Springfield Boys & Girls Club help support a variety of programs as well as families in need of financial assistance.” Sarah G. Calabrese, the club’s resource development director, said, “Florence Bank’s support of our mission will help to enable all youth to reach their full potential. We are proud to call Florence Bank a partner in supporting us so that we can ensure all children and teens have the opportunity for a great future.”

 

Big Y Implements Pay Increases

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y Foods Inc. is investing in its store teams in order to show appreciation for their hard work, and customer service. This multi-million dollar investment will increase starting pay rates for all clerks, customer service, fresh food and center store specialists, and assistant department managers as of June 26. Almost three fourths of the company’s retail workforce will receive a pay increase which will assist them with the rising cost of living. These hourly store operations teams work in the Big Y Markets, Table & Vine, and Big Y Express Gas and Convenience Stores. Once implemented, all retail Big Y employees will be paid above minimum wage in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. Members of upper management are not included in this increase. “We are proud to be investing in our store teams who have been on the front lines these past two years to support our customers and our community,” said Charles L. D’Amour, Big Y president and CEO. “We know that household budgets are being squeezed by inflation- we hope that by boosting their hourly rates, we will help them to weather these tough times as we recognize and appreciate their efforts and their loyalty.”

 

TRE Olive Wins Gold at Competition

EAST LONGMEADOW — TRE Olive, located in East Longmeadow, is a Gold Award winner for a second time at this year’s 2022 New York International Olive Oil Competition. TRE Olive won the Gold Award for its TRE Olive Select. In 2020 TRE Olive won a gold and silver award for both its TRE Select & Campo Dieci brands. “It’s very humbling and rewarding to receive such a prestigious award from some of the top olive oil experts in the world. Our team in Italy and here in the U.S. are committed to producing a premium extra virgin olive oil for our customers and this validates all the hard work and commitment it takes.” said Joe Maruca, co-owner of TRE Olive. In addition to its award-winning extra virgin olive oil, TRE Olive also offers corporate gifts and a tree-adoption program. When an olive tree is adopted, the recipient will receive an adoption certificate, a gift box, a photo of their tree, a welcome brochure, and three tins of olive oil to get started. The tree is also tagged with the adoptee’s name for one year. TRE Olive has been featured on the TODAY Show, as well as in the Real Simple and Eating Well magazines as top gifts for the foodies in your life.

 

GCAi/New England Corporate Video Helps Nativity School Fund Free Tuition

Darcy Young and Mary Cate Mannion, producers for New England Corporate Video (NECV), recently completed a pro bono video series for the Nativity School of Worcester. The feature video was shown at a fundraising event that raised a record-setting $340,000 which will ensure that the school can continue to provide a tuition-free education. The Nativity School is an accredited, independent, Jesuit middle school that provides an education to underserved boys of all faiths. Young and Mannion are two of the most experienced female video producers in New England and experts in brand journalism and corporate video production. Young is an award-winning video producer and Mannion is a former award-winning news anchor and reporter. Their pro bono video work includes videos for The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Willie Ross School for the Deaf, where Mary Cate serves on the board of directors, The Children’s Study Home, where Darcy serves on the executive board, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Services. ECV is a recently launched division of Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi), which was co-founded by Young and Mannion. The NECV Nativity School video can be viewed at https://bit.ly/nativityvideo22.

 

Founders of Park Square Realty Celebrate 35th Anniversary

Carolyn Coughlen and Kate Cheever, two of the three founders of Park Square Realty are celebrating 35 years with the company. The two were recognized at the recent Park Square Realty Awards and Recognition Event held at Tucker’s Restaurant in Southwick. They are still actively practicing real estate. Natives of Westfield, the founding brokers desired to use their real estate experience to open what many called a “boutique” real estate firm in 1987, to serve the area with excellent service to clients and a local connection. Over the years Park Square Realty has stayed true to the vision that the founders had and has grown with 56 agents and two offices in Westfield and West Springfield.

 

United Way of Pioneer Valley Partners with Stop & Shop for Fundraiser

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley is partnering with local Stop & Shop stores to fight food insecurity by hosting a fundraiser the entire month of June in support of the Chicopee Community Cupboard (CCC). Stop & Shop shoppers can purchase a Bloomin’ for Good Bouquet at the local Stop & Shop. From the purchase price of each bouquet, $1 will go directly to the Chicopee Community Cupboard, a United Way owned and operated food pantry located at 32 Center Street in Chicopee. The Chicopee Community Cupboard opened in the spring of 2021 to help create food security for the residents of Chicopee and all those in need throughout Western Mass. Extensive community research into gaps of services in basic needs was done prior to its establishment to support impoverished persons. “We cannot thank Stop & Shop of Chicopee enough for their generous time and support of our Chicopee Community Cupboard,” said Paul Mina, president and CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley. “We service over 300 families in the City of Chicopee alone and these donations will greatly help combat the need.” Anyone facing food insecurity can visit the Chicopee Community Cupboard between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays or 4-6 p.m. on Wednesdays. Currently clients are requested to fill out an application and schedule a monthly appointment, but all those in need will be served.

 

Whittlesey Celebrates Community Day

HARTFORD — More than 90 Whittlesey team members across Connecticut and Western Mass. celebrated Community Day on June 17, an annual day of service representing the firm’s year-round commitment to giving back to local communities. For the past 12 years, hundreds of Whittlesey volunteers have put aside their daily work to partake in various projects ranging from painting classrooms to building homes.

This year, the firm focused on efforts related to environmental sustainability. Alongside ReGreen Springfield, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, and Springfield Forestry, team members planted a pollinator garden in Forest Park. Also, teams joined the Bushnell Park Foundation and the United Way of Greater New Haven to plant community gardens, weed, and lay mulch.

“As community members for more than 60 years, we care deeply about our neighbors and the environment where we live and work,” said Drew Andrews, CEO and managing partner at Whittlesey. “Our commitment to service is rooted deeply in the fabric of our firm, which is why we sponsor several community-driven events throughout the year. Working with many incredible nonprofit organizations across the region for the past several decades has been a privilege. I am proud of the impact our team has continued to make by working collectively to give back.”

 

Company Notebook

Monson Savings Bank Elects New Corporators

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank announced the election of five new corporators. At the bank’s recent annual meeting, it was announced that Nikki Burnett, Cesar Ruiz, John Zienowicz, Ciara Speller, and Christian D’Amour had been elected by existing corporators. Burnett is the executive director of Educare Springfield. She also sits on national committees for the Educare Learning Network, such as the Educare Policy Work Group, the Collaborative Fundraising Advisory Board, and the Red Nose Day Advisory Board. Additionally, she is a trustee for the Community Foundation of Western Mass., and serves on the Distribution Committee as co‐chair; the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion subcommittee; and the Executive Committee. She is also a member of the Baystate Community Benefits Advisory Council. Ruiz is the founder, president and CEO of Golden Years Home Services. He was the first Hispanic popularly elected official in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, serving on the Springfield School Committee from 1980-1986. Prior to founding Golden Years, he worked in banking at Region’s Bank. He was recently recognized as one of business’s most influential Latinos by Hispanic Executive magazine. Zienowicz is the executive director of the Ware Council on Aging. Furthermore, he sits on the board of directors for the Quaboag Hills Community Coalition, the Ware Cable Access Television, and the Advisory Board for BHN Carson Center. He is a member of the Bay State Eastern Region Community Benefits Advisory Board, the Quaboag Region Coordinating Council, and the Quaboag Hills Substance Use Alliance. Speller is a weeknight news anchor for Channel 22 WWLP. She serves as a board member for local nonprofit I Found Light Against All Odds, is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, volunteers for the Miss Western Massachusetts Scholarship Assoc., and is a panelist for Girls Inc. of the Valley. Additionally, she was the recipient of the “Leadership in Broadcasting Award” from Bay Path University in 2019 and a 2021 Boston/New England Regional Emmy Winner. D’Amour is the director of E-Commerce at Big Y World Class Market and a third-generation member of Big Y Foods’ founding D’Amour family. Prior to working at Big Y, he worked at Delta Dental of Rhode Island as a sales and marketing representative. Additionally, he holds a B.A. from Saint Michael College.

 

HNE Offers $100,000 in Grants for DEIB in Maternal/Infant Health

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England is offering $100,000 in grants for non-profit organizations that address inequities to improve maternal and infant health. The company’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) grants will award up to $10,000 per organization. The DEIB grants will fund non-profits whose programs address health equity and focus on engaging at least one social determinant of health (SDOH). SDOHs are conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age that affect health, quality of life, and life expectancy. These may include socioeconomic status, food insecurity, education, access to health care, safe housing, discrimination, violence, and trauma, etc. Registered 501(c)(3) non-profits focused on communities in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties are eligible. Eligible organizations can find out more and apply for the grant here. Submissions are due by midnight on May 30.

Mercy Medical Center Earns Fourth Consecutive ‘A’ Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade

SPRINGFIELD — Mercy Medical Center has received an “A” Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade for spring 2022. This national distinction recognizes Mercy Medical Center’s achievements in protecting patients from preventable harm and error in the hospital. This latest recognition marks Mercy’s fourth consecutive “A” safety grade. The Leapfrog Group, an independent national watchdog organization, assigns an “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F” grade to general hospitals across the country based on over thirty national performance measures reflecting errors, accidents, injuries, and infections, as well as systems hospitals have in place to prevent harm. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is the only hospital ratings program based exclusively on hospital prevention of medical errors and harms to patients. The grading system is peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public. Grades are updated twice annually, in the fall and spring.

 

Lee Bank Foundation Distributes $83,750 in First Grant Funding Round of 2022

LEE — Lee Bank Foundation has awarded $83,750 to 12 Berkshire area organizations and an additional grant to Pittsfield Public Schools in its first-round of 2022 community funding. Recipients were awarded grants ranging from $1,000 to $16,000 to support their local programming. Included in the awards are a series of Arts Access Grants for arts and culture organizations to expand access to programming for underserved audiences.

The following organizations received funding:

• Berkshire Center for Justice;
• Berkshire Community Diaper Project;
• Berkshire Concert Choir;
• Berkshire County Arc;
• Berkshire Historical Society;
• Berkshire Family YMCA;
• Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity;
• Community Access to the Arts;
• Great Barrington Public Theater;
• Greenagers;
• Roots Rising; and
• The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center

Arts Access Grants of $1,000 each were awarded to Berkshire Concert Choir, Berkshire Historical Society, and Great Barrington Public Theater. Additionally, Lee Bank Foundation announced a $16,000 grant to the Pittsfield Public Schools — $1,000 for each school serving children and adults in Pittsfield, to coincide with the groundbreaking of the new Lee Bank branch on South Street. The deadline for the next round of 2022 Foundation funding is June 1. The application and more information can be found on the Community Impact section of Lee Bank’s website (https://www.leebank.com/community-impact/donations-sponsorships.html). To be considered for grant awards, applicants must be a (501)(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Foundation is focused on funding programs that work to bridge income and opportunity gaps in our region. Funding requests should reflect one or more of Lee Bank Foundation’s primary focus areas: 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

 

Marriott Brand Restored on Downtown Springfield Hotel

SPRINGFIELD — The Marriott brand has been restored to a downtown Springfield hotel in preparation for a planned September opening. The Marriott ‘M’ logo was attached to the Tower Square Hotel recently, a milestone in a nearly four-year-long effort to restore a brand name that was lost in 2017. Extensive renovations of the property, projected to cost $40 million, are ongoing, with a grand reopening planned for this fall. The new Marriott will have 266 rooms.

 

North Brookfield Savings Named Among ‘Top Extraordinary Banks’

NORTH BROOKFIELD — North Brookfield Savings Bank, was recently named among the top extraordinary banks in the United States by The Institute for Extraordinary Banking. This award comes on the heels of the Community Choice Central Mass. Best Bank Award it received for 2021. North Brookfield Savings Bank was recognized with the institute’s Banky Award for its commitment to strong community banking. This recognition is given to top community banks across the country to help people find the best banks in their communities.

 

Massage Clinic to Open at Asnuntuck Community College

ENFIELD, Conn. — The public is invited to make a reservation for a massage through Asnuntuck Community College’s massage clinic. Massages can provide physical and mental benefits. Massage can loosen tight muscles, lower blood pressure, and assist in recovery from injuries and illness. Students enrolled in ACC’s Massage Therapy program provide the massages for the clinic. The appointments begin May 23, and run until August 16 on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Appointment times are 9 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Rates are $30 for 50 minutes, and $60 for 100 minutes. Gift certificates are available. Tipping is not allowed by state law. Reservations are required. Visit https://asnuntuck.edu/massage/ to learn more about the clinic.

 

Spectrum Home Health & Hospice Care Named to ‘Elite List’

LONGMEADOW — JGS Lifecare, a not-for-profit healthcare system serving seniors and their families in Western Mass. for more than 110 years, announced that Spectrum Home Health & Hospice Care, one of its subsidiary organizations, has made the 2022 Hospice Honors Elite list. Hospice Honors is a prestigious annual national program from HEALTHCAREfirst that recognized hospices that continuously provide the highest level of quality care as measured from the caregiver’s point of view. HEALTHCAREfirst is a leading provider of billing and coding services, CAHPS surveys, and advanced analytics. It acknowledges the highest performing agencies by analyzing the performance of the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) hospice survey satisfaction measures. Award criteria were based on Hospice CAHPS survey results for an evaluation period of October 2020 through September 2021. Award recipients were identified by evaluating performance on a set of 24 quality indicator measures. Performance scores were aggregated from all completed surveys and were compared on a question-by-question basis to a National Performance Score calculated from all hospices contained in the HEALTHCAREfirst’s Hospice CAHPS database. Hospice Honors recipients include those hospices scoring above the HEALTHCAREfirst national performance score on 20 of the 24 evaluated questions. HEALTHCAREfirst holds a special recognition, Hospice Honors Elite, to honor hospices scoring above the HEALTHCAREfirst National Performance Score on all 24 of the evaluated questions.

 

‘Together HCC’ Raises $192,000 for Scholarships, Student Aid

HOLYOKE — Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of Holyoke Community College led a historic day of giving last month, raising more than $192,000 for student support programs during its one-day ‘Together HCC: Drive to Change Lives’ campaign. Organizers had set a goal of 300 donors for the 24-hour, April 26, fund drive. The final tally was 418, a 41% increase from 2021. Auto dealer Gary Rome, an HCC Foundation board member, led the way with a $5,000 challenge when the campaign met its goals of securing 300 donors. Another alumni donor was Dylan Pilon, ’12, of Springfield, a former scholarship recipient who graduated from HCC debt free, which allowed him to start his own company, Cloud 9 Marketing in East Longmeadow. In addition to Rome and Pilon, Peg, ’58, and Gary Wendlandt, Jim Izatt, ’59, trustee Robert Gilbert, Foundation board member Carl Eger, ’56, and Shirley Eger, and HCC President Christina Royal all posed matching and challenge gifts for the campaign.

 

‘Parklets’ Come to Downtown Amherst

AMHERST — The Amherst Business Improvement District (BID) has received an $80,750 grant from the Regional Economic Development Organization (REDO) for outdoor seating accommodations on Amity Street and South Pleasant Street that have been dubbed ‘parklets.’

The grant is funded through the Massachusetts Office of Business Development and is being administered through the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council. It will cover the materials, labor, and insurance costs.

Each parklet will be located in front of a designated food-and-drink establishment for that establishment’s use, and the sidewalk next to each parklet location will be maintained as a pedestrian pathway. These ‘parklets’ will also be accessible to those with disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards for accessible design.

The Amherst BID is managing this project with support from the Amherst Planning Department staff. The parklets are being constructed by Keiter Corporation, a Florence-based construction company. Additionally, Evan Jones from Cowls Building Supply, located in Amherst, worked with the BID to procure the materials at a reduced cost.

“The main goal of this project is to help activate the downtown streetscape by providing extended sidewalks to serve as outdoor dining spaces, to attract residents and visitors and support local businesses. As the town explores urban design standards and streetscape designs for the downtown, this pilot project is an excellent opportunity for all stakeholders to learn from and enjoy,” said Maureen Pollock, Amherst planner.

The parklets are expected to be fully constructed by Saturday.

Company Notebook

PeoplesBank Announces New Banking Center in South Windsor, Conn.

Fresh off its successful launch in the center of West Hartford and the renovation of its Suffield Banking Center, PeoplesBank has announced that it will add to its Connecticut footprint by building a new 2,000-square-foot banking center at 50 Cedar Ave. in South Windsor. The banking center is expected to be the anchor for other adjacent development that may include a restaurant, coffee and retail shops, and a medical office building.Designed by Tecton Architects of Hartford, the banking center will feature many of the innovative technologies that PeoplesBank has rolled out at its other new and renovated locations, including two VideoBankerITMs and two EV charging stations. The new banking center will also utilize the bank’s Universal Banker approach, which allows its associates to provide a wide range of banking services to customers. The new South Windsor Banking Center is expected to be open in early December, 2022.

 

Florence Bank to Celebrate 20th Annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program

FLORENCE — For 20 years, Florence Bank has awarded grants of up to $5,000 each to dozens of nonprofits chosen by its customers, and at its annual gathering this year, it will once again offer up $100,000 to organizations that support young and old in the community. At its 20th Annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants gala, to be staged May 19 at 5 p.m. at Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, the bank will offer awards to 45 nonprofits and celebrate a total of $1.4 million in community giving through this one channel. Organizations like Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield and the Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Holyoke will receive awards for the first time this year thanks to customer voting. In addition to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield, the Therapeutic Equestrian Center and Dakin, the following organizations received enough votes to qualify for a grant and will receive an award at the celebration: Amherst Neighbors, Amherst Survival Center, Belchertown Animal Relief Committee Inc. (BARC), Belchertown K-9, Cancer Connection, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Cooley Dickinson Hospital VNA & Hospice, Easthampton Community Center, Easthampton Elementary Schools PTO, Edward Hopkins Educational Foundation, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Friends of Forbes Library, Friends of Lilly Library, Friends of M.N. Spear Memorial Library, Friends of Northampton Legion Baseball, Friends of the Williamsburg Library, Goshen Firefighters Assoc., Grow Food Northampton, Granby Senior Center, Habitat for Humanity Pioneer Valley, Historic Northampton, Hitchcock Center for the Environment, It Takes a Village, J.F.K. Middle School, Kestrel Land Trust, Leeds Elementary School PTO, Ludlow Boys & Girls Club, Manna Community Kitchen, Northampton Community Music Center, Northampton High School PTO, Northampton Neighbors, Northampton Survival Center, Our Lady of the Hills Parish, Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, Revitalize CDC, Riverside Industries, R.K. Finn Ryan Road School, Safe Passage, Smith Vocational High School PTO, The Parish Cupboard, Whole Children, and Williamsburg Firefighters Association.

 

Greater Springfield CVB Names 2022 Howdy Award Finalists

The Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (GSCVB) has announced 50 Finalists for the upcoming 2022 Howdy Awards for Hospitality Excellence. The Howdy Awards, as they are also known, celebrate workers in visitor-facing roles across Western Mass who deliver outstanding guest service, create loyal customers for their businesses and help make a positive impact upon the region’s hospitality economy.The 2022 Howdy Awards will be celebrated on May 16 at 6 p.m. at the MassMutual Center, and will also include the presentation of the Spotlight Award to Nate Costa and the Springfield Thunderbirds ownership group for keeping professional hockey in Western Mass.

The 50 finalists are:

Accommodations
FeliciaFernandez, front desk clerk, Hampton Inn and Suites, Hadley;
AustinGinman, front desk agent, MGM Hotel, Springfield;
GenesisRamos, front desk clerk, Residence Inn, Chicopee; and
FeliciaLaurin, housekeeping supervisor, The Inn on Boltwood,Amherst.

Attractions
David Dunston, show staff, Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield;
Laura Litterer, owner,Full of Grace Farm, Hadley;
Steve Ferraro, director of Operations, Eastern States Exposition, West Springfield;
Sabrina Brizzolari, director of Event Services, Mass Mutual Center, Springfield;
Gary Laprade, tour host,Sports Travel and Tours, Hatfield;
Pearl Wesley, ranger, Springfield Armory, Springfield;and
Sharon Ferrara, Welcome Center manager,Springfield Museums, Springfield.

Banquets
Shanique Fair, catering sales manager,MGM Springfield;
Will Diaz, event planner, Log Cabin, Holyoke; and
Brenda Lee Glanville, director of Sales & Marketing, Summit View Banquet House, Holyoke.

Beverage
Terry Ryan, bartender, Collins Tavern, West Springfield;
Rob Dullea, bar manager,Fitzwilly’s, Northampton;
Jessica Santinello, bartender, Maple Leaf, Westfield;
Matthew Jerzyk, bartender,Max’s Tavern, Springfield; and
Amanda Reed, bartender,the Ranch Pub House, Southwick

Food Casual
June Leduc, general manager, Delaney’s Market, Longmeadow;
Silvana Cardaropoli, customer service, Palazzo’s, Springfield;
Humberto Caro, manager, Starbuck’s, Monarch Place, Springfield; and
Erica Rosado, breakfast attendant, Tru by Hilton, Chicopee.

Food Tableside
Kelsi Donohue, server, Bnapoli Italian, West Springfield;
Donna Nardi, server,Cal’s Restaurant, West Springfield;
Matthew Canata, counter clerk,EB’s, Agawam;
Darlene Robinson, server,Gregory’s Pizza, Wilbraham;
Bernadette Beaudry, server,Johnny’s Roadside Diner, Hadley;
Benny Beans, server,Lattitude, West Springfield;
Amy Silvestri,general manager,UNO’s Pizzeria & Grill,Springfield; and
Michael Moriarty, server,Villa Napoletana, East Longmeadow.

Public Service
Serena Curley, concierge,Baystate Medical Center, Springfield;
Latrina Haynie, phlebotomist, Baystate Lab, Springfield;
January Russell, insurance agent,Bluestone Insurance/Horace Mann, Agawam;
Heather Wyman, office manager,Cordes Orthodontics, Westfield;
Paul Barden, Meals on Wheels,Greater Springfield Senior Services, Springfield;
Tricia Zoly, nurse, Holyoke Council on Aging, Holyoke; and
Harold Anderson, program director, Valley Eye Radio, Springfield.

Retail
Yates Greenhalgh, cashier, Big Y, Wilbraham;
Kerri O’Connor, manager,Athleta, Longmeadow;
Patrick Hamel, service advisor, Gary Rome Hyundai, Holyoke;
Tiarra Henderson, framing specialist, Michael’s, West Springfield;
Maria Lepage, sales and leasing consultant,Gary Rome Hyundai, Holyoke;
Sabrina Pretti, customer service,Insa Inc., Easthampton;
Carolyn Owens, cashier,Walgreen’s, Springfield;
Janet Graves, retail sales associate, Yankee Candle Village, South Deerfield;and
Stephen Ross, sales associate, Yankee Candle Village, South Deerfield

Transportation
Jose Guzman, valet parker,Baystate Medical Center, Springfield;
Barbara Eckert, booth attendant, Civic Center Garage, Springfield; and
Tom McLeer, PVTA bus driver,PVTA, Springfield

The Howdy Awards for Hospitality Excellence are sponsored by Eastern States Exposition, Aladco Linen Services, Mass. Convention Center Authority, Freedom Credit Union, Performance Foodservice, People’s United Bank, MGM Springfield, MassMutual Center, Baystate Health, Yankee Candle Village, Modelo Especial, The Republican, MassLive, WWLP TV-22 and IHeart Media.

The GSCVB, an affiliate of the Economic Development Council of Western Mass, is a private non-profit destination marketing organization dedicated to promoting Western Mass for meetings and conventions, group tours, sports and leisure travel.

 

Whalley Computer Associates Named One of The 2022 Tech Elite 250

SOUTHWICK — Whalley Computer Associates (WCA) has again been named to the Tech Elite 250 list comprised of solution providers in the U.S. and Canada that have made the investments necessary to earn the highest level of certifications from the largest and most prestigious manufacturers of technology products and services. CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, named WCA to the Tech Elite 250 in 2016, 2019, 2020, and 2021 as well. WCA’s engineering team has earned about 125 certifications with nearly 30 different manufacturers by numerous dedicated engineers. Founded in 1979, WCA has been providing IT solutions and services to customers throughout New England and upstate New York for 43 years.

 

UMass Amherst Dining to Measure Carbon Footprint for Individual Dishes

AMHERST — Bolstering UMass Amherst’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2032, UMass Amherst Dining Services has made the commitment to measure the carbon impact of their menu. In doing so they will be the first college or university dining program in the country to include carbon footprint for individual dishes.

The initiative will help students reduce their carbon footprint with their everyday food choices by including a carbon rating on the menu identifiers. In a fall survey of over 800 people, 88% of students indicated the climate crisis informs their decisions at least some of the time. In addition, 75% indicated they believe their food choices impact the environment and 76% said reducing their carbon footprint is important to them. Launching during Earth Week, the first phase of this project will feature an A-E carbon rating for all menu items at Hampshire Dining Commons on the menu identifiers, online and on the UMass Dining App. Determining the carbon footprint of a dish is a multi-faceted process that incorporates things like water consumption as well as storage and transport. To create a clear,concise way to communicate thesevalues fortheir customers, UMass Dining is working withMy Emissions, a leading provider of food carbon labelling. My Emissions’ standardized process makes it easy to calculate the carbon footprint from a recipe and demonstrates the impact of a customer’s food choices using a rating scale.Factoring in all the contributing elements, My Emissions has developed an A-E rating scale based on the carbon intensity (“A” signals Low impact and “E” signals Very High).

 

Big Y Donates $100,000 to Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Relief

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y World Class Markets added to the collected donations from customers and employees from March 17 to March 30 through their traditional registers, online and myExpress check out for Ukraine Humanitarian Relief. Community and employee donations along with additional support from Big Y resulted in a donation of $100,000, which will be donated to the global Red Cross network response to provide humanitarian relief to people affected by the crisis in Ukraine. As the conflict continues, the Red Cross continues to help families impacted by this devastating conflict. International Red Cross teams are currently on the ground in the region distributing food, delivering medicine and medical supplies, assisting with evacuations, and providing shelter.

 

JGS Lifecare Welcomes Northeast Rehab Associates

LONGMEADOW — JGS Lifecare, a not-for-profit healthcare system serving seniors and their families in Western Mass. for more than 110 years, announced the addition of Northeast Rehab Associates Inc. to services offered at its Longmeadow campus. Northeast Rehab, a specialized sub-acute rehab service operated by Registered Physical Therapist Cherie Stack for the past 25 years, most of those years spent in Agawam, will operate out of The Sosin Center for Rehabilitation, located at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home at 770 Converse Street in Longmeadow. “JGS Lifecare, an affiliate of Legacy Lifecare since 2018, is always seeking ways to enhance the services we offer to our residents, families and the local community,” said Mary-Anne Schelb, director of Business Development for Legacy Lifecare’s Western Mass. market. “We have a full continuum of eldercare services located on 23 acres on Converse Street that the community knows well and has confidence in. The addition of Northeast Rehab to our family of services is a mutually enhancing partnership that will benefit not only our residents, but their families as well as our local community.” Northeast Rehab has specialized in orthopedic rehab for more than two decades. Over the past five years, care has expanded to include cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. Stack’s longtime staff will come with her, offering continuity of care and a seamless recovery for all of their patients. “We’re very excited to welcome Northeast Rehab Associates Inc. to our campus of care,” said Rob Whitten, LHNA, administrator of the Leavitt Family Jewish Home at JGS Lifecare. “It was clear from the start that we share a similar commitment to providing the highest quality of rehab services, and that our environment and how we deliver care is a great match.

Company Notebook

State Awards $30 Million to STCC to Relocate Health Programs

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College has received $30 million in state funding to move healthcare programs out of an aging building on campus that has outlived its usefulness. Gov. Charlie Baker announced the award on Wednesday. College officials in December asked the state for the maximum amount of $30 million to vacate Building 20, which houses 18 degree and certificate allied health programs as well as the acclaimedSIMS Medical Center. STCC has secured $11.5 million from other sources for the $41.5 million project. The award announced by the governor comes from the state Division of Capital Management and Maintenance (DCAMM). Constructed in 1941, Building 20 is past its useful life and has a history of expensive emergency repairs. The healthcare programs in the School of Health and Patient Simulation educate more than 700 students per semester and employ more than 120 faculty and staff. The STCC Board of Trustees committed $6 million from the college’s budget to the project. Trustees Chair Marikate Murren said, “We’re thrilled and grateful to Gov. Baker and DCAMM for their support to make this move possible. The relocation of the programs in the School of Health and Patient Simulation will allow STCC to continue to prepare students for healthcare careers. The investment in this project represents an investment in the City of Springfield and the region. To best summarize the outlook for the College, Cook said, “I am delighted for our students and faculty as this ensures that STCC stays on the leading edge of healthcare education; the future of STCC is bright.”

 

Monson Savings Launches 150 Build-a-Bike Campaign

MONSON — The celebratory planning for Monson Savings Bank’s 150thanniversary continues, with the bank pledging to show extra support to nonprofits and have an extra level of community participation throughout the year. A large and very fun part of that support comes in the form of theMonson Savings Bank 150 Build-a-Bike Campaign. For this campaign, MSB will be purchasing more than $20,000 worth of children’s bicycles and helmets from the Family Bicycle Shop in East Longmeadow, with guidance from the shop’s owner Ray Plouffe. To gear up for the campaign, Monson Savings Bank has also teamed up with five local non-profits to identify children who are in need of a bicycle: the YMCA of Greater Springfield; the YWCAof Western Massachusetts; I Found Light Against All Odds; Educare Springfield; and the South End Community Center. Beginning this spring, MSB will be planning events hosted with each nonprofit. The bank’s team members will assemble the bikes, when possible alongside the very children who will be receiving them. Nonprofit employees will be welcomed to join the activity, and representatives from the Family Bicycle Shop will be on site to assist and ensure children are properly fitted with helmets and training wheels. Monson Savings Bank will provide and share a meal for attendees. “When exploring the various ways we could celebrate Monson Savings Bank’s 150thAnniversary, there were so many ideas,” said Dan Moriarty, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank.“We wanted to be sure to do something that would make a difference on many fronts and spread some joy. With the 150 Build-a-Bike campaign, we are able to connect with the vital community nonprofits and their leaders. Our team gets to work together on hands-on projects to further foster our culture of teamwork and community support. Plus, we are able to provide the children with the experience of building and riding a bike, a joy-filled activity, and something they otherwise might not have had the opportunity to experience. I could not think of a better way to commemorate our 150thAnniversary.” To see a full schedule of events for MSB’s 150th anniversary, visit www.monsonsavings.bank/anniversary.

 

Big Y Express Launches New Downtown Format

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y has announced plans to build a new concept Big Y Express Fresh Market at 1500 Main St. as part of Tower Square in Springfield. The new, 10,000-square-foot Big Y Express Fresh Market will be tailored to fit the needs of the city’s downtown community. Currently, there are workers and area residents who are eager to have access to delicious, nutritious and affordable offerings that are not currently available in a convenient way, said Colin D’Amour, senior director of Big Y Express. “Between the UMass classrooms, YMCA daycare, area office workers and downtown residents, many are looking for an option to meet their food needs.” While not a complete supermarket due to its size, this location will have a full assortment of items from each department, he said. The offerings will include prepared meals and sandwiches along with natural and organic products and everyday necessities. In addition, there will be an inhouse sushi chef preparing fresh sushi daily. “We are excited to bring an entirely new concept to downtown Springfield,” said D’Amour. “We know that there has been an appetite for Big Y’s fresh and local foods for many years now. We are confident that customers will enjoy our many offerings. We are working diligently with our contractors to establish a timeline for opening and are excited to be a part of the downtown community.”

 

Rocky’s Ace Hardware Purchases Nine New Stores in Ohio

SPRINGFIELD –Rocky’s Ace Hardware, one of the country’s largest family-owned Ace Hardware dealers, has purchased the nine Ohio-based Handyman Ace Hardware stores, which have been family-owned and operated since 1939. The new Ohio stores are located in Dayton, Fairborn, Xenia, Centerville, New Carlisle, Kettering, Springfield, and Miamisburg. Rocky’s Ace Hardware now has 47 locations in nine states. “It is very exciting for us to be expanding into a new state and continuing the family-owned values and service Handyman customers have come to expect,” said Rocky’s Ace Hardware President Rocco Falcone. “We are also family-owned and share many of the same values as Handyman, including putting the customer first in all business actions.”alcone noted that customers will see the same faces from Handyman at Rocky’s, and former owner David Grimes, who is retiring, will be integral in the transition. Falcone also said customers will benefit from some exciting changes over the next few months including expanded Ace Rewards features, product selection and online capabilities. “We plant roots in each of our neighborhood locations and intend to maintain this community focus in our Ohio stores,” he said. “We’re excited to be a part of the greater Dayton community.”

 

Baystate Health Awards $1 Million in Better Together Grants

SPRINGFIELD —Baystate Healthhas awarded $1 million in Better Together Grants to five community initiatives with partner organizations as part of itsCommunity Benefits Program. “Baystate Health is proud to invest our Determination of Need (DoN) Community Health Initiative (CHI) funding in the communities served by our four hospitals. It is an honor to partner with these very deserving local non-profit organizations over the next three years,” said Annamarie Golden, director, Community Relations for Baystate Health

This year’s recipients, who submitted requests for proposals in January 2022 include: Quaboag Valley Community Development Corporation in partnership with the Town of Ware, The Care Center in partnership with Greenfield Technical Community College, Westfield State University in partnership with Springfield Technical Community College, Montague Catholic Social Ministries in partnership with The Brick House Community Resource Center, and the Western Mass. Training Consortium in partnership with the Bridge Program community organizations — The Recover Project, The Salasin Project and The Wildflower Alliance. “Baystate’s Community Benefits Program, in partnership with our hospital Community Benefits Advisory Councils (CBACs) and Grant Review Teams, is making investments through Better Together grants that will have lasting and meaningful impacts on health outcomes, health equity, and social determinants of health throughout the Pioneer Valley,” said Golden. Funding for the Better Together grants is made possible through the Mass. Department of Public Health’s (MDPH) Determination of Need (DoN) requirements related to the replacement of Baystate Medical Center’s Operating Rooms approved in November 2020. Although this project was unique to the hospital, Baystate Health’s goal is to equitably distribute the Community Health Initiative funds for grant making to all four Baystate Health hospitals. This was an intentional step toward health equity, recognizing that Baystate’s community hospitals historically have lower likelihood of accessing DoN CHI funds. The aim of the Better Together grant opportunity is to develop approaches that by targeting the social determinants of health, will improve people’s overall well-being and make our communities healthier places to live in, while complementing the health care system’s current offerings. In addition to funding the grantees, Baystate Health has also contracted with the Public Health Institute of Western Mass. to provide technical assistance and evaluation support to the grantee cohort over the next three years.

 

OneZo Opens in the Holyoke Mall

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Mall has welcomed, OneZo, with its unique house-made boba, to the shopping center. Boba tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink with sweet balls or “pearls,” made from tapioca starch and can be made from milk tea, green tea or fruit tea. Established in Taiwan in 2015, OneZo was the first café in the world to make their own boba in-store.Their goal is to serve the freshest boba drinks and use their creativity to develop new boba flavors. Some of the more popular flavors include Brown Sugar Bubble Latte, Hong Kong Style Milk Tea, Strawberry Slush Milk Tea, Grapefruit Green Tea, and Thai Tea.

OneZo tea can be found in 17 countries and has several locations in Massachusetts including Quincy and Worcester.Holyoke Mall guests can experience freshly made bubble tea in their new location in Café Square.

 

CDK Global Named Presenting Sponsor for Tom Cosenzi Driving for The Cure Golf Tournament

HADLEY — The 14th Annual Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament will take place Sept. 27 at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow, and will be joined by presenting sponsor, CDK Global. The 14th Annual Driving for the Cure Charity Golf supports neuro-oncology research in honor of Tom Cosenzi, a successful businessman and father of four who succumbed to brain cancer in 2009 at 52. Since its inception, this annual golf tournament has raised more than $1.3 million with its partnership with the Jimmy Fund, one of the largest organized golf programs in the U.S. All proceeds support Dr. Patrick Wen and his team of researchers in the Neuro-Oncology Department at Dana Farber Cancer Institute “My brother Tom and I started this charity golf tournament to honor the legacy of our dad,” said TommyCar co-owner, Carla Cosenzi. “His vision was that no other family would experience the pain that he and his family endured. It was Tom’s wish that his family and friends continue to raise money for Neuro Oncology Research so the burden of Cancer can be eliminated for patients and their families. We’re so thankful to CDK Global for their partnership and we are proud to be able to support the world class research that is ongoing at Dana-Farber.” The scramble style tournament features a “Tee off against Cancer” shotgun start. Players will enjoy 18 holes of golf at one of the area’s top private golf courses, lunch, on-course activities, an evening cocktail reception with live entertainment, a gourmet dinner, raffle prizes, and silent and live auctions. For more information on the Tom Cosenzi Driving For The Cure Charity Golf Tournament visit www.TomCosenziDrivingForTheCure.com.

 

Leadership Pioneer Valley Accepting Applications for LEAP Class of 2023

SPRINGFIELD — Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) is now accepting applications for enrollment in the LEAP class of 2023, a regional leadership-development program. This year’s class is expected to have a fully in-person experience. Applicants are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The LEAP program engages the Pioneer Valley’s most promising emerging leaders through learning, exploration, and connecting. Participants are trained in applied leadership skills by experts. They also explore critical community issues by connecting with local leaders and visiting businesses and local towns across the region. The upcoming program runs from September through May. In its 12th year, more than 350 individuals representing more than 125 companies, organizations, and municipalities have participated. The program has filled a critical need for a leadership program that builds a network of emerging leaders to address the challenges and opportunities of the region. Fifty-three percent of alumni have a new leadership role at work, 64% have joined a new board of directors, and 99% made new, meaningful connections. LPV is seeking applicants from all over the Pioneer Valley, including Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties, representing different employment sectors. The program is made for those in nonprofits, businesses, and government who are eager to increase their leadership skills and take action to better the region. Applicants are considered in a competitive application process that prioritizes diversity by employment sector, geography, race, gender, and sexual orientation. Emerging leaders, mid-career professionals with leadership potential, and those looking to better the Pioneer Valley should consider applying. The deadline for LPV class of 2023 applications is July 1. Applications and further information can be found at www.leadershippv.org.

 

Veritas Prep Charter School Establishes Teacher Diversification Fellowship Fund

SPRINGFIELD — Veritas Prep Charter School(VPCS) has been awarded $53,883from theMass. Teacher Diversification Pilot Program, a state-funded grant program that provides approximately $2 million in competitive funding to support local school and district efforts to strengthen and diversify existing teacher recruitment and retention programs. VPCS is using this grant to establish the Veritas Prep Teacher Diversification Fellowship Fund to help educators and aspiring educators who identify as people of color enter or remain in education by removing common financial barriers. Candidates can apply for access to funding for education, MTEL test fees, relocation assistance and tuition and loan reimbursement. New and current associate teachers and lead teachers are eligible to apply, and Teach Western Mass (TWM) residents can also apply for TWM tuition coverage. Recipients must commit to working at Veritas Prep middle or high school for three years. All recipients will receive access to free MTEL test preparation, if applicable. Launched in April 2019, the Massachusetts Teacher Diversification Pilot Program provides tuition assistance to support enrollment into an approved-educator preparation program and MTEL preparation and examination. Schools and districts may also use grant funds to enhance teacher recruitment and retention efforts. Educators and aspiring educators who identify as people of color can learn more about the Veritas Teacher Diversification Fellowship Fund and apply for support here: veritasprepma.org/teacher-diversification-fund/.

 

Former Landsdowne Dormitories Renovated into Apartments

WESTFIELD — Shawna Gutowski and Maritza Zavala, of the Slope to Shore Team of William Raveis Real Estate, announced that the former Landsdowne Dorms in Westfield have been fully renovated and are officially on the market for lease under the name Landsdowne Place. “We’re excited to make these beautifully-renovated apartments available in downtown Westfield, where residents can shop, experience downtown events, and enjoy quick access to the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail right outside their door,” said Project Manager Anthony Leroux. The newly renovated apartments are a mixture of one bedroom/one bath and two bedroom/two bath units, which were formerly used as housing for Westfield State College students. The complex also features gym and laundry facilities on-site, as well as access to the bike trail. Apartment leases start at $1,400 per month and will require first, last, security, and credit check.

Agenda

Free Community Shred Day

April 16: Monson Savings Bank’s Monson branch will host a free Community Shred Day from 9 a.m. to noon. As in past years, Monson Savings Bank is partnering with PROSHRED of Wilbraham for this event. The bank will welcome the public to safely and securely dispose of their private documents on site. Storing documents that contain personal information in the home can pose a serious security risk. Monson Savings Bank is encouraging local residents to shred any documents they no longer need, especially those that contain private information. The bank’s free Community Shred Day is a chance to do some spring cleaning and properly discard unwanted documents, such as tax returns, bank or credit-card statements, bills, medical records, and more. Prepackaged refreshments and giveaways will be available at the event, while supplies last.

 

Eggstravaganza at the Zoo in Forest Park

April 16: The Zoo in Forest Park will host its annual Eggstravaganza from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will include grab-and-go stations for children with take-and-make activities, prize-filled Easter eggs, books, and candy while supplies last. There will also be animal encounters and enrichment to allow guests an up-close look at some of the animals, as well as free face painting and visits from Felix the Fox and Andy the Armadillo. Pre-registration is required to attend. No additional tickets will be sold at the door. Registration closes April 11 or when all tickets are sold. To purchase tickets, visit www.forestparkzoo.org/eggs.

 

Program on Building Resilience for Self-care and Caregivers

April 18: From 11:45 to 12:45 p.m., Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts will present mindfulness educator and trauma-informed coach Reina Goldberg, who will discuss simple and enjoyable ways to shift habituated patterns of holding stress in one’s body while also practicing tuning into one’s innate body wisdom. Attendees of the virtual session will engage in a fluid unfolding of body-based practices to allow for deeper unwinding and integration. Some practices include mindful body scans, body-led movement, gentle-release practices, brain and body balancing and strengthening exercises, Qigong, and tapping to boost the immune system. Attendees will learn new patterns of resilience, rejuvenation, and relaxation while walking away with new practices and perspectives. All ages are welcome, and all exercises can be done seated or standing. The program is free and open to the public and will be held on Zoom. Registration is required. RSVP online at www.jfswm.org or call (413) 737-2601.

 

Springfield Symphony Orchestra Spring Concerts

April 22, May 13: The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) Board announced two spring concerts will be hosted at Springfield Symphony Hall with former SSO Music Director Mark Russell Smith serving as guest conductor. Smith is music director and conductor of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. He previously served as music director for the SSO from 1995 through 2000. He has worked as director of New Music Projects for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and artistic director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Minnesota, and has also served as music director for the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra. Details about the concerts, program, and availability of tickets will be forthcoming and available at springfieldsymphony.org.

 

Social Justice Awards

April 23: Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services (MLKFS) announced that this year’s Social Justice Awards will honor the organization’s former President and CEO Ronn Johnson, who passed away in January. The organization also announced that the Justice Resource Institute has stepped forward as the first event sponsor. The 2022 Social Justice Awards will continue to be a virtual event this year and will begin at 11 a.m. Michael Weeks, president and CEO of the Providers Council, will be the keynote speaker. This year’s honorees are Barbara Gresham (education), Bishop Bryant Robinson Jr. (lifetime achievement), Bishop Talbert Swan II (race relations), CMSS and Eileen McCaffery (arts and culture), Doris Harris (health advocacy), First Church of Christ in Longmeadow UCC (faith-based initiative), MassHire Springfield and Kevin Lynn (economic development), and Thomas Morrow and Julius Lewis (entrepreneurship). Individuals and organizations interested in supporting Johnson’s work at MLKFS through sponsorship or a donation should contact Lenise Williams at (413) 736-3655 or [email protected], or visit mlkjrfamilyservices.org/donate.

 

Great Golf Escape

April 25: The Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield (YPS) will host its annual Great Golf Escape tournament at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow. YPS aims to engage the younger demographic in career development, networking, community involvement, recreational and social activities, and more. The cost for this event is $125 for YPS members, $500 for a YPS member foursome team captain, $135 for non-members, and $540 for a non-member foursome team captain. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. There will be prizes and a poker challenge throughout the event. The first-place team will also be able to select a charitable organization to receive a donation from YPS. Registration includes lunch, post-golf dinner, and giveaways. Members can register for the event at www.springfieldyps.com/events. This event is open to the public. However, YPS members will receive a free mulligan, entry into the door-prize raffle, and more. They’ll be offering golfers on-course hospitality, including ice-cream samples from Batch Ice Cream, sponsored by LiftTruck Parts & Service, and craft beer samples from Leadfoot Brewing. Foursomes and sponsorships are still available by visiting springfieldyps.com/golf or e-mailing [email protected].

 

‘Rewire: Finding Purpose and Fulfillment After Retirement’

April 27: Holyoke Community College (HCC) will present a three-hour, in-person workshop focusing on life after retirement. “Rewire: Finding Purpose and Fulfillment After Retirement” will meet from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development on HCC’s main campus, 303 Homestead Ave. The workshop will be facilitated by former career counselor Barbara Foster. The workshop will offer a series of exercises and self-assessments, as well as time to reflect, brainstorm with others, and develop goals and a vision for this new chapter of life. Participants will also leave with an extensive list of resources to explore. Space is limited, so advance registration is required. To register, visit hcc.edu/rewire, or call (413) 552-2500 for more information. The cost is $39. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for all workshop participants, and masks must be worn in all HCC campus buildings.

 

Homework House Adult Spelling Bee

April 28: Homework House announced that its annual Adult Spelling Bee is back in person this year. Teams of three will gather at Open Square at 5:30 p.m. to demonstrate their spelling aptitude in this entertaining, and often comical, community event. Former state Rep. Aaron Vega will once again emcee the evening’s activities. Homework House, a not-for-profit, after-school program, offers free tutoring and mentoring services to children in kindergarten through grade 6. Homework House sites are located in Holyoke’s most economically challenged neighborhoods, and more than 98% of its budget comes from charitable contributions. Popular radio announcer Monte Belmonte will once again serve as the word reader. Virginia Dillon, executive director of Homework House, announced that this year’s judges will include Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia and City Councilor Tessa Murphy-Romboletti. Team registrations can be completed online. Tickets to the event cost $25 in advance and $30 at the door and can be purchased online or from any board member or staff member of Homework House. For more information, to register a team, or to purchase tickets, visit www.homeworkhousebee.com.

Get Hired Job Fair

May 5: Holyoke Mall will host an in-person job fair from 3 to 6 p.m. on the lower level near Macy’s. Sponsored by Valley Opportunity Council, the Get Hired Job Fair is a convenient opportunity for Western Mass. employers to interview and hire workers, and to help job seekers connect with businesses who need their skills. Employers from a variety of industries will be in attendance looking for candidates at all skill levels. Several stores and venues at Holyoke Mall will also be in attendance to fill open positions. The event is free to attend for all job seekers. Employers that have already signed up to staff a table include MGM Springfield, Holyoke Medical Center, Springfield College, Trinity Senior Communities, and Valley Opportunity Council. Employers interested in participating in the upcoming job fair should contact Jim Geraghty, advertising representative for Holyoke Mall, at (617) 840-2998 or [email protected]. For full details regarding the job fair, visit www.holyokemall.com/event/get-hired-job-fair.

Annual Shred Day

May 7: The Wealth Transition Collective of Holyoke is partnering with Cooley Dickinson VNA & Hospice for their annual shred day. Anyone who has financial or sensitive documents that need shredding may bring them to the VNA & Hospice of Cooley Dickinson, 168 Industrial Dr., Northampton from 9 to 11 a.m. A donation of $5 per paper box will directly benefit the VNA & Hospice. Shredding will be conducted on a first-come, first-served basis until the truck is full or 11 a.m., whichever comes first. Only paper items will be accepted. For more information, visit www.twealthtc.com.

sheLEADS Conference

May 20: The Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce will host sheLEADS, a woman’s conference aimed at building a bold, brave community of women in the 413 with an eye on professional development and beyond. The day begins at the Boylston Room in Easthampton at noon and ends with networking at Abandoned Building Brewery. In between, attendees can look forward to “Activating Your Leadership Strengths,” facilitated by Colleen DelVecchio of Colleen DelVecchio Consultants; “The Language of Leadership,” a panel discussion featuring Pia Kumar, chief strategy officer at Universal Plastics, Lynnette Watkins, president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Health Care, and Waleska Lugo-DeJesus, CEO of Inclusive Strategies; and “Be Great Where Your Feet Are,” featuring keynote speaker Robyn Glaser Sr., vice president, Business Affairs for the Kraft Group. For tickets and details, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org.

 

Chamber Corners

1BERKSHIRE
(413) 499-1600; 1berkshire.com

• April 19: Berkshire Economic Recovery Project Kickoff Workshop: “Get Ready to Get Funded,” 4-6 p.m. Robin Helfand is a small-business owner and consultant and an alumna of Mckinsey & Co. and Procter & Gamble, with more than 20 years experience developing strategies to successfully help client businesses receive funding approval, whether seeking first-time loans, increasing existing funding, or applying for grants, micro-loans, debt modification, inventory, or equity financing. She will share some proprietary ‘hacks’ to get your specific application moved to the top of the pile … and likely to be approved. If you have been turned down in the past, don’t miss this opportunity. Register at https://bit.ly/3qZPhJz.

• April 26: 1Berkshire Entrepreneurial Meetup, 9-10:30 a.m., hosted by Juice N’ Java, 661 Main St., Dalton. Enjoy coffee and conversation with your fellow innovators and hear from Isa Ali about his journey as a third-generation entrepreneur. 1Berkshire Entrepreneurial Meetups are free to attend and made possible through the support of Pittsfield Cooperative Bank. Registration is required. To register, visit 1berkshirestrategicalliancemacoc.weblinkconnect.com/events.

FRANKLIN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
(413) 773-5463; franklincc.org

• April 22: Breakfast, 7:30-9 a.m. Join us for a “The Economic Impact of Tourism on Franklin County,” with speakers Keiko Orrall, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, and Tony D’Agostino, research director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.Visit franklincc.org for registration and location.

• April 28: Business After Hours, 5-7 p.m., Deerfield Inn. Join us for networking, refreshments, and a chance to visit and preview our new Visitor Information Center right next door. Visit franklincc.org for registration details.

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER
(413) 534-3376; holyokechamber.com

• May 18: Spring Fling at Westfield Bank, 4:30-7 p.m. Join us for an lawn party at Westfield Bank, enjoy the feel of spring, and make new connections. Hearty hors d’oeuvres, open bar, raffles, and more. Cost: $10 for members, $20 for non-members. Registration to open April 1.

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
(413) 568-1618; westfieldbiz.org

• April 28: Morning Brew, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Shaker Farms Country Club. Visit www.westfieldbiz.org for details.

• May 11: After 5 Connections, 5-7 p.m.., hosted by Shaker Farms Country Club. Visit www.westfieldbiz.org for details.

• May 16: 61st annual Golf Tournament, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., hosted by Shaker Farms Country Club, sponsored by Westfield Gas & Electric and Whip City Fiber. Visit www.westfieldbiz.org for details.

• May 26: Morning Brew, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Shaker Farms Country Club. Visit www.westfieldbiz.org for details.

People on the Move

Lora Wondolowski, the founding executive director of Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV), and the organization’s leader since 2011, will leave her post on April 1. Her leadership has been integral to all aspects of LPV’s operations, with notable successes including the growth of the core LEAP program, the Leaders on Board initiative, building strategic partnerships, and improving and stabilizing operations and organizational processes. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the first graduating class. Upon her departure, the board plans to appoint an interim executive director until finding a permanent executive director. Wondolowski and the LPV board of directors are working with staff and stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition for LEAP participants, partners, and supporters.

•••••

Tech Foundry, with a mission to support the region’s growing need for a qualified technology workforce and elevate underrepresented groups into sustainable careers in information technology, announced the appointment of Tricia Canavan as its CEO effective March 21. Canavan will succeed Bruce Dixon, who resigned to pursue new opportunities. Founded in 2014, Tech Foundry has offered internships, networking opportunities, and instruction to traditionally low-income, underserved populations, preparing graduates for entry-level IT work in the Pioneer Valley. These programs are offered free of charge to participants through donations from area businesses and members of the local community. With a background in nonprofit and business management, workforce development, and adult education, Canavan currently serves as executive vice president of corporate relations and advocacy for Masis Staffing Solutions. Previously, she served as CEO of United Personnel, which was acquired by Masis in May 2021. She chairs the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, co-chairs Springfield Business Leaders for Education, and serves on the boards of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, MassHire Hampden County, and the Springfield Public Forum.

•••••

Mount Holyoke College President Sonya Stephens announced that she will step down in August to become president of the American University of Paris. Stephens joined Mount Holyoke in 2013 and served as vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of faculty before being appointed acting president in 2016 to replace Lynn Pasquerella. In 2018, the board of trustees voted to remove the ‘acting’ title. In a letter to the Mount Holyoke community, Stephens said her new role in Paris is a “unique opportunity to advance a contemporary expression of the liberal arts in France — one that brings together so many of my intellectual and administrative interests and commitments.” She added that “it has been an extraordinary honor and a privilege to serve you and Mount Holyoke since 2013 and to work in concert with brilliant and exacting students, with a faculty that is as devoted to outstanding scholarship as it is to cultivating inquiry in others and with a leadership team and staff so exceedingly devoted to our mission. It has been inspiring and motivating to work with such an engaged, thoughtful, generous, and dedicated board of trustees, and to come to know, admire, and deeply appreciate the wider alum community. While I have held different roles over these nine years, I see our work together as a continuum — one focused resolutely on the future strength of the college, on enhancing the exceptional educational experience it offers, and on the community that makes this possible, here on campus, across the nation, and worldwide.”

•••••

Jaclyn Stevenson

Jaclyn Stevenson

Jaclyn Stevenson has been appointed director of Marketing and Communications at Shakespeare & Company, a nonprofit theater performance, education, and actor-training organization based in Lenox. In her position, Stevenson directs all marketing and communications efforts for the company and supervises the Graphic Design and Patron Services departments, including in the areas of audience engagement, retail operations, and concessions. She also serves as co-chair of the communications subcommittee of the IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility) committee, and as liaison to the Lenox Cultural District steering committee. Stevenson brings more than 20 years of communications experience to the position, having worked with a wide range of clients, including Toyota Motor Corp., CIGNA Healthcare, Disney World Sports, Spalding, and many others. Most recently, she served as director of Marketing and Communications for Columbia-Greene Community College, part of the State University of New York system. A BusinessWest 40 Under Forty honoree in 2012, she holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Bridgewater State University and a master’s degree in organization development from American International College, as well as several certifications relative to web accessibility, social-media management, and risk management.

•••••

Susan Henrichon

Susan Henrichon

American International College (AIC) has appointed Susan Henrichon dean of the School of Education. Henrichon joined American International College in 2018, bringing more than 30 years of experience in PK-12 public education, with more than 15 years spent in senior leadership roles. Most recently, she served as the associate dean of academic programs while teaching extensively in the School of Education, and additionally serving as a senior instructor and program supervisor for graduate students. Prior to coming to AIC, Henrichon was an assistant superintendent of schools in Oxford and director of Special Education and Student Services for the Oxford Public Schools system. Before that, she was the director of Pupil Personnel Services in Monson, director of Special Education in Easthampton, director of Student Services for the Southwick-Tolland-Granville school district; special-education team leader in the Holyoke Public Schools; and assistant department head of Quality Assurance at the Monson Developmental Center. Henrichon has been recognized by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for her work. Her professional affiliations include the Massachusetts Assoc. of School Superintendents, the Worcester County Superintendents Assoc., Massachusetts Administrators for Special Education, the Western Massachusetts Special Education Directors Assoc., the Assoc. for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and the Council for Exceptional Children. She received a doctor of education degree in educational administration at Northcentral University in Phoenix; her certificate of advanced graduate studies in educational administration from the University of Massachusetts; a master’s degree in education, special education, from Westfield State University; and a bachelor’s degree from Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N.H.

•••••

Michelle Jarvis-Lettman joined Elms College as director of Financial Aid in January. She has 15 years of experience within student financial services with positions at Worcester State University, Springfield Technical Community College, Wesleyan University, University of Hartford, and Ironbridge Resources, LLC. She has presented on the topic of financial aid to many audiences, including the Massachusetts Assoc. of Student Financial Aid Administrators in 2019. Jarvis-Lettman received her master’s degree in higher education administration from Bay Path University after completing her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Worcester State. She was recently appointed to Worcester State’s Athletic Hall of Fame Committee. She also coaches basketball. In addition, the Elms College Graduate Admission Office recently announced the promotion of Stefany Scliopou to director of Graduate and Continuing Education Admission. She is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. After working in the hotel industry for nine years, she transitioned into higher education, where she completed her MBA degree with Elms College. For the last six years, Scliopou has worked in a graduate admission role helping non-traditional adult students embrace their next-level education endeavors. She has worked alongside students and program directors to ensure exceptional student support. In addition, she is the academic coordinator for the Elms-HCC business-degree-completion programs as well as a part-time adjunct. She serves on the board of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce events committee, and the parish council board for St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Springfield.

•••••

Tahirah Amatul-Wadud

Tahirah Amatul-Wadud

The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR Massachusetts) announced that Tahirah Amatul-Wadud has been chosen to serve as its new executive director. Amatul-Wadud is an attorney based in Springfield with more than 16 years of experience in corporate, family, and civil-rights law. A former staff attorney with Western Massachusetts Community Legal Aid before entering private practice, she served as a commissioner with the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women from 2014 to 2020. In 2016, she rose to national prominence serving as the principal attorney on behalf of the residents of Islamberg, N.Y. against Robert Doggart, an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist who had planned a violent attack against the community. In 2018, she ran for Congress in Massachusetts’ first district, securing 30% of the vote. She served as vice president of the board of directors at CAIR Massachusetts from 2016 to 2018 and its president since 2018, and during her tenure has overseen the organization’s restructuring and rapid growth. CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

•••••

Darcy Young

Darcy Young

The Irish Echo, the premier news title in Irish America since 1928, presented Darcy Young with a Top 40 Under 40 award at its 15th annual event at Rosie O’Grady’s in New York City on Feb. 25. The popular event is a celebration of the Irish and Irish Americans who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields of work before reaching age 40. Young was selected for her service to Irish community. A former Colleen, she currently serves as the communications chair for the Springfield St. Patrick’s Parade Committee and has served on the board and many of the subcommittees. The Springfield St. Patrick’s Parade Committee promotes and celebrates Irish heritage in Western Mass. through enriching experiences for its members, yearly honorees, and scholarships for students. One of her favorite volunteer efforts is chaperoning the Colleen and her court every year as they travel to a variety of public presentations to share their Irish heritage. She is also a member of the John Boyle O’Reilly Club. Young has served as a media professional for more than a decade, first at ABC and FOX news affiliates and most recently as director of Digital Public Relations at Garvey Communication Associates Inc. and a video producer at New England Corporate Video. She also serves on the executive board of the Children’s Study Home.

•••••

ArchitectureEL Inc. (AEL) recently welcomed a new member, Marco Crescentini, to its team as senior project architect. ArchitectureEL Inc. provides professional design services on a wide range of projects, including both new buildings and renovations to existing structures. The firm boasts significant experience in accessibility, historic preservation, educational and commercial design, as well as extensive experience in both private and multi-family residential development. “I am thrilled to hold a position on the AEL team, as they are a group of creative and hardworking individuals,” Crescentini said. “I hope to contribute to the success of the company and to collaborate on some of the intriguing and influential jobs we have before us.”

•••••

Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) announced new campaign co-chairs for the LEAP 2023 campaign, Jason Randall and Ayanna Crawford. Both are alumni of the class of 2013. They will be leading the effort to connect with businesses and potential applicants about the benefits of LPV’s LEAP program. Randall is director of Human Resources at MGM Springfield and a current LPV board member. He is involved with Springfield Works and Springfield Business Leaders for Education. Crawford is president of AC Consulting and Media Services and specializes in communications workshops in the New England area. She currently leads an after-school program for girls, positions herself as an educator in the Springfield Public Schools, and works for state Rep. Orlando Ramos. In its 11 years, more than 300 individuals representing more than 100 companies, organizations, and municipalities have participated in LEAP. The program has filled a critical need for a leadership program that builds a network of emerging leaders to address the challenges and opportunities of the region. LPV will begin accepting LEAP applications in April, with an application deadline of July 1.

Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]

 


 

 

211 Day

 

The United Way of Pioneer Valley hosted the grand opening of its new Springfield Community Service Center, sponsored by Balise Auto Group, on Feb. 11, a day declared as ‘211 Day’ in the Commonwealth. Municipal and business leaders gathered at ceremonies at 1441 Main St., the location of the new center, for a ribbon cutting that followed comments from several speakers on the services provided by Mass211 and the importance of this program to the region. Ceremonies were held simultaneously in Framingham and the Mass211 headquarters there. Among those speaking were Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito; Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno (pictured at the podium); Paul Mina, president and CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley; and many others.

 


 

Recognizing Support for Community Colleges

 

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal was awarded the 2022 National Education Service Award during the Assoc. of Community College Trustees’ (ACCT) Community College National Legislative Summit. Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal was on hand to make the presentation. Pictured, from left: Richard Rhodes, American Assoc. of Community Colleges board chair; Neal; Royal; James Cooksey, ACCT board chair; and Jee Hang Lee, ACCT president and CEO.

 


 

Home Sweeter Home

 

In September, Purple Heart Homes (PHH), a veterans-services agency that focuses on housing solutions, and Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity collaborated on a home-preservation project for Peter, a retired Army National Guard staff sergeant, and his wife, Beth. They purchased a duplex in Monson three years ago and live in one unit, while Beth’s daughter and young son live in the other residence. The project fixed a moss-spotted roof, a broken water heater in the daughter’s unit, and damaged exterior doors at both dwellings.

 

 


 

Chamber Corners

AMHERST AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 253-0700; www.amherstarea.com

 

March 9: Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce 2022 Annual Meeting, noon to 2 p.m., hosted by the Red Barn at Hampshire College. Join us for lunch as we reflect on our impact, salute our outgoing board members, welcome our new board members, elect a slate of officers, and launch our New Year, New Vision for 2022. Presented by Encharter Insurance, supported by bankESB, and honoring the work of Amherst Cinema, our featured nonprofit. See COVID guidelines and register at business.amherstarea.com/events.

 

SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER

(413) 787-1555; www.springfieldregionalchamber.com

 

March 11: Outlook 2022, 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Hear from top policymakers and influencers on the outlook for 2022, hosted by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. This virtual event is presented by Baystate Health and MassMutual, with sponsorship support from Comcast, Eversource, the Republican, and WWLP-TV22. Cost: $24.95 for SRC members; $110, enterprise-level SRC members (six seats); $29.95 for future members; $140, enterprise-level future members (six seats).

 

March 24: Fire & Ice, 5:30-8 p.m., Springfield Country Club, 1375 Elm St., West Springfield. Join us for our annual craft cocktail competition featuring area establishments mixing up creative fire- and ice-themed cocktails. Sample the concoctions and vote for your favorite. Cost: $50 for SRC members ($60 at the door); $60 for future members ($70 at the door).

 

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

(413) 426-3880; www.ourwrc.com

 

March 3: Networking Coffee Hour, 8-9 a.m. Join us as we meet fellow members, non-members, and local business people to network virtually on Zoom. Introductions will be followed by breakout rooms to learn about your business peers and network. Register at business.ourwrc.com/events.

 

March 23: Job Fair 2022, 4:30-7:30 p.m., Storrowton Tavern/Carriage House, West Springfield. The West of the River Chamber will be hosting a local job fair. West Springfield and Agawam businesses, along with other employment opportunities from around Western Mass., will be showcased for the public. High-school students, college students, and adults will be attending this event looking to begin or advance their careers. This event is free and open to the public. To be a participating vendor, register at business.ourwrc.com/events.

Agenda

Horace Smith Fund Scholarship, Fellowship Applications

Through March 15: The Horace Smith Fund has scholarship and fellowship money available for residents of Hampden County graduating from eligible public and private high schools. This year, a total of $247,000 will be awarded in the form of 16 scholarships given to students working toward an undergraduate degree, three fellowships given to students enrolled in a graduate-degree program, and one award given to a high-school senior with special needs who is about to enter college. Scholarship awards of $12,000 are distributed as $3,000 annually, renewable each year until graduation. Fellowship awards of $15,000 are distributed as $5,000 annually, renewable for two additional years. All recipients must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 each semester. Recipients are selected on a variety of criteria, including merit, financial need, recommendations, and community involvement. Of greatest importance is the applicant’s personal written account of why they feel deserving of the award. All recipients must be full-time students and residents of Hampden County. Completed applications must be received no later than Tuesday, March 15, either electronically or by mail to the Horace Smith Fund, 16 Union Ave., Suite 2K, Westfield, MA 01085. Applications are available at local high-school guidance offices, college financial-aid offices, online at www.horacesmithfund.org, or by calling (413) 739-4222.

 

Pynchon Award Nominations

Through March 31: The Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts is seeking nominations from throughout Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties for the Pynchon Award, which recognizes Western Mass. citizens who have rendered outstanding service to the community. To nominate an individual, submit a letter explaining why the nominee should be considered, including biographical information, outstanding accomplishments, examples of service to the community, organizations he or she is or has been active in, and the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of at least three people who can further attest to the nominee’s eligibility for induction into the Order of William Pynchon. The Pynchon trustees reserve the right to eliminate nominations from consideration due to insufficient information. Qualifying nominees will be considered and researched by the Pynchon trustees, composed of the current and five past presidents of the Advertising Club. Nominations must be submitted by March 31 to William Pynchon Trustees, Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts, P.O. Box 1022, West Springfield, MA 01090-1022 or by e-mail to [email protected] Pynchon medalists are chosen by unanimous decision of the Pynchon trustees. The 2022 recipients will be announced in June, with an awards ceremony tentatively scheduled for the fall.

 

Nominations for 2022 Ubora and Ahadi Awards

Through March 31: The Springfield Museums announced a call for nominations for the 31th annual Ubora Award and the 12th annual Ahadi Youth Award. These prestigious awards, conferred by the African Hall Subcommittee, honor African-American people from Greater Springfield who have — above and beyond — demonstrated commitment to the fields of community service, education, science, humanities, and/or the arts. The African Hall Subcommittee is a volunteer group comprised of educators, business people, and community leaders from the African-American community. The nomination deadline for both awards is Thursday, March 31. True to the Swahili word that comprises its name, the Ubora Award recognizes an adult of African heritage who exemplifies excellence in their commitment to creating a better community through service. Named for the Swahili word for promise, the Ahadi Youth Award is presented to a young African-American who excels in academics and performs admirable service to the Greater Springfield community. Eligible candidates must be age 19 or younger, live in or have strong ties to the Greater Springfield area, and be currently enrolled in grades 10, 11, or 12. The Ubora and Ahadi awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Springfield Museums in September. Nominations forms can be downloaded by visiting springfieldmuseums.org/ubora. Nominations may be e-mailed to [email protected] or mailed to African Hall Subcommittee, c/o Karen Fisk, Springfield Museums, 21 Edwards St., Springfield, MA 01103.

 

Monson Savings Bank Scholarship Applications

Through April 5: Monson Savings Bank provides $28,000 in scholarships to local graduating high-school seniors annually. The bank’s 2022 scholarships are now available to graduating seniors in the Monson, Ware, Hampden-Wilbraham, and East Longmeadow school districts. The purpose of the Monson Savings Bank scholarship is to promote the attainment of higher education for graduating seniors who reside within the communities the bank serves. To qualify, graduating seniors must be planning to attend an accredited college, technical school, or certification program. Scholarship awards will be based on the applicant’s financial need, academic performance, and extracurricular activities. A candidate for this scholarship should have also demonstrated a commitment to their community. In addition to an application, applicants should include an essay outlining the service that they have generously given to their community and the impact achieved through this contribution. If students are interested in applying for the Monson Savings Bank scholarship, they should contact their high-school guidance department for an application. The deadline for application acceptance is April 5.

 

Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame Banquet

March 10: The Valley Blue Sox will host the ninth annual Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, presented by Westfield Bank at Twin Hills Country Club, 700 Wolf Swamp Road, Longmeadow. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the program beginning at 6:30 p.m. The class of 2022 inductees include William Bathel, Western MA High School Fall Baseball League co-founder (2004); Brian Collins, who revived the Springfield Post 21 baseball program (2010) and was Hampden County commissioner of Legion Baseball from 2016 to 2018; Mark DiFranco, Western MA High School Fall Baseball League co-founder (2004); Charles Roys, baseball coach at Springfield College (1979-96); Patrick Strange, MLB pitcher, New York Mets (2002-03); Mark Wohlers, MLB relief pitcher, Atlanta Braves (1991-99), Cincinnati Reds (2000-01), New York Yankees (2001), and Cleveland Indians (2002); and Westfield High School’s 1967 state champion baseball team. The Ryan Doyle Courage Award will be presented by the Doyle family to Jake Goodreau. Each year, this award honors an athlete who has displayed similar courage and perseverance as Ryan Doyle did as they face a difficult time in their lives. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno will serve as master of ceremonies for the night’s event. Individual tickets are $55 per person, or a table of eight can be purchased for $400. Dinner, coffee, and dessert will be served at the banquet. There will also be a cash bar. Tickets to this year’s event can be purchased at valley-blue-sox.ticketleap.com/2022-western-ma-baseball-hall-of-fame-induction-ceremony.

 

94.7 WMAS Radiothon to Benefit Baystate Children’s Hospital

March 8-9: Hattie Avigliano spent the first months of her life in the NICU at Baystate Children’s Hospital, arriving in the world three and a half months early and fighting for her life. Seven-year-old Zachary Roy was admitted to Baystate Children’s Hospital to treat multi-system inflammatory syndrome after battling COVID-19. Four-month-old triplets Paul, Brandon, and Jackson Dube entered the world 10 and a half weeks before they were expected. These children and their families will share their miraculous stories of surviving and thriving during the 21st annual 94.7 WMAS Radiothon to benefit Baystate Children’s Hospital. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will not be held at the hospital this year, but broadcast live from the WMAS studios for two days from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. WMAS on-air personalities, led by the Kellogg Krew of Chris, Dina, and Lopez, will fill both days with encouraging stories, and listeners will get to know the professional team from Baystate Children’s Hospital who care for their kids, their grandkids, and their neighbors’ kids. The public is encouraged to call, text, or go online to donate. Listeners can call to donate via the Lia Auto Group Phone Bank at (413) 794-1111, visit wmaskids.com, or text WMASKIDS to 36413.

 

Difference Makers

March 24: Since 2009, BusinessWest has been recognizing the work of individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions through a program called Difference Makers. The 14th annual Difference Makers celebration will be held at the Log Cabin in Holyoke from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $75 and can be ordered at BusinessWest.com/difference-makers/difference-makers-tickets. The 2022 Difference Makers include Tara Brewster, vice president of Business Development at Greenfield Savings Bank; the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts; Heriberto Flores, president of the New England Farm Workers’ Council; John Greaney, retired State Supreme Court justice and senior counsel at Bulkley Richardson; Ruth Griggs, president of the Northampton Jazz Festival and principal at RC Communications; Ted Hebert, owner of Teddy Bear Pools and Spas; I Found Light Against All Odds and Its Founder and CEO, Stefan Davis; and Roca Holyoke and Springfield. Their stories are told in the Feb. 16 issue of BusinessWest and HERE. The sponsors for this year’s program are Burkhart Pizzanelli, the New England Farm Workers’ Council, the Royal Law Firm, TommyCar Auto Group, and Westfield Bank.

 

 

Springfield Symphony Orchestra Spring Concerts

April 22, May 13: The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) Board announced two spring concerts will be hosted at Springfield Symphony Hall with former SSO Music Director Mark Russell Smith serving as guest conductor. Smith is music director and conductor of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra. He previously served as music director for the SSO from 1995 through 2000. He has worked as director of New Music Projects for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and artistic director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Minnesota, and has also served as music director for the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra. Details about the concerts, program, and availability of tickets will be forthcoming and available at springfieldsymphony.org.

 

Company Notebook

Valley Venture Mentors Joins Forces with Western Massachusetts EDC

SPRINGFIELD — The Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council (EDC) announced it has welcomed Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) into the EDC ranks as a regional leader in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. With a shared vision in stimulating and facilitating a vigorous regional economy, the EDC is committed to supporting local entrepreneurship, which ultimately leads to the acceleration of economic development and community vitalization. EDC and VVM leadership have been in discussion on the future of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and have decided to join forces. “The leadership at the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts recognizes the unique value of VVM, its impactful programming, and diverse pool of mentors,” the VVM board of directors noted in a statement. “We are excited to hand over the reins to the EDC and watch VVM and the EDC work more closely together to fulfill the mission of helping all entrepreneurs in Western Mass. not just succeed, but thrive.” With this new transition, the EDC has appointed Hope Ross Gibaldi as executive director of VVM.

 

Mellon Foundation Awards Five Colleges $1.6 Million Faculty-development Grant

AMHERST — The Five College Consortium has been awarded a $1.6 million grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create programming that will develop faculty members’ administrative leadership skills. Titled “Building Academic Leaders in the Humanities,” the grant will fund a three-and-a-half-year program to prepare humanities faculty to take on leadership roles at Five Colleges’ member institutions — Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith colleges and UMass Amherst — and elsewhere. The program builds on a seminar one held at Amherst College in 2020 for 24 faculty members interested in taking on or already occupying administrative roles. The success of the Amherst model led the chief academic officers of the Five College campuses to propose a collaborative leadership-development effort across all five institutions. Amherst College Associate Provost and Associate Dean of Faculty Pawan Dhingra will lead the grant team, along with UMass Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Professor of Sociology Michelle Budig, Mount Holyoke College Associate Dean of Faculty Elizabeth Markovits, Smith College Dean for Academic Development Hélène Visentin, and Hampshire College Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Yaniris Fernandez. The Mellon Foundation funding will support two annual institutes, one designed for early- to mid-career faculty who are planning to take on their first administrative responsibilities, and another for current faculty administrators looking to move into higher leadership roles. Facilitated by experienced campus leaders, these institutes will cover subjects ranging from managing budgets to maintaining work-life balance. Developing participants’ capacity to support diversity, equity, and inclusion will be an overall theme of both institutes.

 

 

Manning Family Foundation Gives $3 Million to UMass Amherst

AMHERST — Alumnus Paul Manning and his wife, Diane, have committed $3 million through their family foundation to expand the Manning Innovation Program at UMass Amherst. The gift provides three years of support in advancing a robust and sustainable commercialization pipeline of applied and translational research projects from the university. The Manning Innovation Program, based in the university’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS), provides grants to advance applied research and development efforts in the sciences and engineering through the creation of startup companies and the licensing of intellectual property. Since its inception, 14 faculty members have received a Manning Innovation Award, including one research professor who has used these new funds to make strides toward new, life-saving liver-disease treatments. The program has also fostered a stronger culture of entrepreneurship in the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) and greater collaboration among Isenberg School of Management advisors, science and technology researchers, and industry experts as they work to translate research into field-disrupting products. The Manning Innovation Program was originally established in 2019 with $1 million in seed funding from the Mannings and was initially open only to CNS faculty. “When we established the Manning Innovation Program almost three years ago, our goal was to fund brilliant minds as they tackled some of the world’s biggest problems,” Paul Manning said. “But the program’s success has surpassed our expectations, which is why we are investing in its expansion. We look forward to seeing many more innovative solutions that are sure to make a global impact.”

 

Upright Education Partners with GCC on Technology Career Training

GREENFIELD — Upright Education and Greenfield Community College (GCC) are partnering to provide award-winning career-enhancement programs in technology in Western Mass. and beyond. The new partnership is being provided through GCC’s Workforce Development Office and will give learners a unique chance to participate in boot camps that help them quickly learn marketable skills in technology, including software development and user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. Participants will be able to attend the programs virtually and can complete them in as few as 10 weeks. With Upright’s national partner network and suite of curriculum offerings and GCC’s access to the area’s working population and robust higher-education system, this partnership aims to significantly augment efforts to develop the technology workforce in the region. All courses are fully accessible to online participants and offered with a variety of pricing models. For more information on available Upright offerings, visit bootcamp.gcc.mass.edu, or attend an upcoming information session on Wednesday, March 9.

 

WNE College of Engineering to Offer Hands-on Integrated Photonics Training

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University’s (WNE) College of Engineering Laboratory for Education and Application Prototypes ([email protected]) in Springfield is the first to offer the latest hands-on integrated photonics training in collaboration with Spark Photonics to enhance the Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) Department’s optics/photonics bachelor of science in electrical engineering degree sequence. Spark Photonics, an independent commercial photonic integrated circuit-design house based in Waltham, recently delivered its first commercially available education and workforce development (EWD) photonic integrated circuit (PIC) kit to the Western New England University College of Engineering Laboratory for Education and Application Prototypes. [email protected] is a state-of-the-art optics/photonics training center established through the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Manufacturing to advance innovation and job growth throughout the state. Steve Adamshick, associate professor and director of [email protected], said there will definitely be a shift in the program as a result of the EWD PIC kit. Unlike other established industries, few education and workforce-development programs focus specifically on the integrated photonics industry in the U.S., and only a handful of those offer students the type of hands-on experience that they will face in a real-world manufacturing environment. The hands-on difference at WNE has resulted in the ECE department placing 99% of its students in jobs with a median salary of $103,390 or full-tuition scholarships at prestigious R1 institutions (those with very high research activity).

 

Berkshire Bank Earns Gold Community Champion Award

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank was recently presented the Gold Community Champion Award from Banking Northeast magazine in the economic-development category. This award recognized the bank’s comprehensive efforts to foster economic resilience in its communities. Banking Northeast established the Community Champion Awards to honor the banks and credit unions who went beyond the call to aid their community in a special time of need or whose cumulative effort has made a substantial, positive impact. Winners were presented at the magazine’s Gala Awards last month at Mohegan Sun. Berkshire Bank’s Gold Community Champion Award recognized its efforts to harness its core business activities, pandemic response, community involvement, philanthropic programs, and innovative financial solutions such as MyFreedom Checking and the Futures Fund to strengthen its neighborhoods. Berkshire helped deploy nearly $1 billion in PPP funding to assist small businesses during the pandemic and helped more than 180,000 individuals with financial-wellness programming. According to an independent third party, Berkshire reinvests at a rate nearly 70% higher than the industry average. Through its BEST Community Comeback program, the company expects to lend and invest $5 billion over the next three years to lift up its communities across four key areas: fueling small businesses, community financing and philanthropy, financial access and empowerment, and funding environmental sustainability. The plan is expected to result in more businesses and jobs being created, more families achieving the dream of owning a home, more quality housing in neighborhoods, and investments in activities that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

 

Company Notebook

Pride Stores Sold to ArcLight Capital Partners

SPRINGFIELD — Eight months after announcing plans to sell the chain, Pride Stores CEO Bob Bolduc announced a sale to ArcLight Capital Partners. The 31 stores — with several more in development — will keep the Pride name, and the company’s customers and 525 employees will see little change in day-to-day operations, Bolduc told local news outlets, which is one of the reasons ArcLight won out over several other interested parties. In 1976, Bolduc bought a self-serve gas station in Indian Orchard and gradually expanded his business over the years, creating the chain of stores known today as Pride. He also developed a reputation as an industry innovator by marrying the self-service station with another emerging phenomenon, the convenience store. Other innovations would follow; Pride would eventually become the first chain in Western Mass. to put a Dunkin’ Donuts in the stores, and the first to incorporate a Subway. But where the company has really made a name, in recent years, is with its own fresh-food production, supported by the Pride Kitchen, located at the company’s headquarters on Cottage Street in Springfield.

 

TD Bank Center Sold to New Real-estate Partnership

SPRINGFIELD — The 240,000-square-foot, class-A office complex located at 1441 Main St. in Springfield, known as the TD Bank Center, has been sold. The property, located at the corner of Main Street and Harrison Avenue, was sold by an affiliate of TD Bank to a limited-liability company comprised of the principals of Colebrook Realty Services and a company controlled by Jeb Balise, CEO of Balise Auto Group. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed. Originally known as Center Square, the property was developed in the early 1980s by a subsidiary of SIS Bank in a project led by Colebrook CEO Jack Dill. Colebrook has managed and leased the building since its opening in January 1982. Most recently, Colebrook partners Mitch Bolotin and Kevin Morin have had responsibility for leasing and managing TD Bank Center. Balise and Colebrook have worked together for nearly two decades on Balise real-estate projects, represented by Bolotin.

 

 

Western New England University Cited Among Top Online Programs

SPRINGFIELD — In newly released rankings by U.S. News & World Report, Western New England University (WNE) was again recognized among the 2022 Best Online Programs. Among online MBA Programs, WNE made significant gains, jumping 71 places and ranking 153rd (up from 224th in 2021); among Online Graduate Business Programs (Non-MBA), the university ranked 110th (up from 129th in 2021); and among Online Master’s in Engineering Programs, it ranked 79th, up from 104th. The rankings place Western New England University in the top 10 in Massachusetts for accredited online MBA and graduate business programs and in the top three in Massachusetts for accredited master’s in engineering programs. For the 2022 edition, U.S. News & World Report assessed 1,728 online degree programs and ranked 1,646, both all-time highs. Best Online Programs rankings credit schools for long-term investments in designing and scaling their student services, technologies, curricula, and instructor training toward distance learners. The Western New England University College of Engineering continues to be top-ranked in the Online Master’s in Engineering Programs category. For the 2022 Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs rankings, U.S. News ranked ABET-accredited schools using five categories: engagement, faculty credentials, and training; expert opinion, services, and technologies; and student excellence. The College of Engineering offers several full master’s programs online: MS in industrial engineering, MS in engineering management, and MS in electrical engineering. The colleges of Engineering and Business offer a dual-degree master of science in engineering management and an MBA that can be completed entirely online.

 

Holyoke Community College to Introduce Free Child-watch Service

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) will soon introduce a free, drop-in child-watch program for parents who need safe and affordable supervision for their children while they tend to their college studies. When the Itsy Bitsy Child Watch opens in March, HCC will be just the second community college in the state — and the only one in Western Mass. — to offer a child-watch service for its students. The Itsy Bitsy Child Watch will offer free, short-term care to children 6 weeks to 12 years old, provided their parents sign up in advance and remain inside on the Homestead Avenue campus. Parents will be given a restaurant-style pager to alert them to return if necessary. The pilot phase is being funded through a $100,000 allocation in the 2022 Massachusetts budget secured by state Sen. John Velis. HCC is in the process of hiring an interim director to get the child-watch program up and running. Many of the details still need to be worked out, such as days and hours of operation.

 

Forest Park Zoo Again Honored for Education Programming

SPRINGFIELD — For the second time in six months, the Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center is being recognized for its innovative education programming. Most recently, the zoo received the 2021 Educational Award of Excellence, presented by the Zoological Assoc. of America for its Kids Go Wild programming. Kids Go Wild provides a fun, interactive way for school-aged children to learn about various animal species while exploring diets, habitats, adaptations, daily zoo life, and more through cross-hatched science, literacy, and art lessons. Each lesson also meets state education standards set forth by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in at least one or more of the aforementioned disciplines. These lessons were created, developed, and ultimately implemented by the zoo’s director of education, Caroline Cay Adams. The one-on-one, hands-on interactions offered as part of Kids Go Wild bring the typical textbook science lessons right off the page. Kids Go Wild goes beyond single-program learning objectives by encouraging groups to book multiple programs that are implemented over a longer period of time. This ensures that the educator can scaffold lessons to incorporate themes, vocabulary, and topics from previous lesson plans, as well as offer plenty of opportunities for participants to engage with ambassador animals. Examples of lessons include Animal Adaptations; the Food Web; Living Dinosaurs; and Herbivores, Carnivores, and Omnivores. In August 2021, Adams also received the Janet McCoy Excellence in Public Education Award from the American Assoc. of Zookeepers for her work on Kids Go Wild.

 

Berkshire Bank Earns Top Marks in Corporate Equality Index

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced that it received a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality. Berkshire joins the ranks of more than 840 major U.S. businesses that also earned top marks this year. “We are honored to be recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation,” said Gary Levante, senior vice president, Corporate Responsibility. “Our goal at Berkshire is always to be a shining example of how a purpose-driven organization can be successful while lifting up everyone in our community. Our Pride Employee Resource Group has been steadfast in their work to create a more equitable workplace, and this honor is a testament to their tireless efforts. We hope that this recognition and our culture will inspire more members of our LGBTQIA+ family to join the Berkshire team as customers and employees.”

 

MCLA, Habitat for Humanity Partner to Offer Free Tax Assistance

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and its Department of Business Administration will once again partner with Habitat for Humanity to offer free tax-preparation services to local residents in need through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Habitat for Humanity administers VITA, a program of the IRS, to assist taxpayers with disabilities or limited English-speaking skills, those 60 years of age or older, and individuals who make $57,000 or less per year. MCLA students will be available to complete both basic and advanced returns, including those with itemized deductions. The students who participate in this program undergo a rigorous training, become IRS-certified, and will work under the supervision of MCLA Professor of Accounting Tara Barboza, an enrolled agent with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and a certified public accountant (CPA). In addition to meeting a significant need in Northern Berkshire County, participating in the VITA program is an opportunity for students to gain valuable, hands-on preparation experience. They will earn college credit, and accounting students can use this credit toward the requirements for the CPA exam. Interested individuals should call Habitat for Humanity offices at (413) 442-0002 or (413) 442-3181 to find out if they qualify and schedule an appointment. Hours will be Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. in Murdock Hall on the MCLA campus in North Adams. The program will continue through April 13.

 

Company Notebook

Webber & Grinnell Insurance Joins Alera Group

NORTHAMPTON — Webber & Grinnell Insurance announced that it has joined a national network of insurance agencies called the Alera Group. The Alera Group was formed by 24 agencies similar to Webber & Grinnell in 2017. Since then, it has added many others across the country and is now one of the largest independent insurance agencies in the U.S. Joining Alera allows Webber & Grinnell to tap into a wealth of best practices and insurance resources, enabling the company to better serve its diverse clientele. Examples include more insurance-carrier choices, the ability to converse with subject-matter experts, and having more resources to help hire and train employees. Joining Alera also provides a perpetuation plan for the agency. The agency’s staff and their roles are staying exactly the same, so clients will continue being serviced the same way they have been all along. Grinnell will also continue to lead the agency at the local level.

 

Dietz & Co. Architects Designated as Emerging Professional Friendly Firm

SPRINGFIELD — Dietz & Co. Architects Inc. has been designated by AIA New England as a 2021 Emerging Professional (EP) Friendly Firm. This program recognizes architecture firms that promote the advancement of emerging professionals through professional development and personal-growth opportunities. “Here at Dietz & Company, investing in the professional growth of our staff is the foundation of our firm culture,” Principal Jason Newman said. “We want our people to achieve their personal and professional goals, and we want them to feel supported and encouraged as they pursue them. This philosophy not only builds the confidence and the skills of our team, it helps us keep them as well.” Dietz & Co. Architects has been awarded this designation each year since 2019.

 

Hoops Star Marcus Camby Partners with White Lion

SPRINGFIELD — UMass and NBA star Marcus Camby has joined White Lion Brewing Co. in a strategic partnership. White Lion currently distributes a small independent portfolio of artisan brands in Massachusetts, primarily in the western part of the state. Camby’s goal is to help open new markets throughout New England and beyond, as well as release his own portfolio of beer brewed by White Lion. “White Lion continues to expand its community reach,” President Ray Berry said. “We have a proven track record and incredible community partners like the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds, and MGM Springfield, to name a few. I remember when Marcus electrified the region — just thinking about it brings back so many great memories. He loves our brand and what it represents. We are very excited and think we have a game winner.” Added Camby, “I am extremely impressed by the brewery’s commitment to the community and its approach to diversifying the craft-beer trade. I look forward to being a part of expanding the brand throughout the New England and Tri-State region. This is my home, and to be able to have a quality beer named after me, and be able to tell its story, is something I’m truly excited about.”

 

MassDevelopment Bond Boosts Springfield College Projects

SPRINGFIELD — MassDevelopment has issued a $106,675,000 tax-exempt bond on behalf of Springfield College, which will use proceeds to fund several capital projects.

The college will use $45,095,000 to build and equip a new environmentally friendly and sustainable, 76,000-square-foot health sciences building; this portion of the financing received the Green Bond designation by Kestrel Verifiers, which are approved verifiers accredited by the Climate Bonds Initiative. The college will use the remaining proceeds to build an academic quad and campus pavilion; renovate classrooms, residence halls, administrative buildings, and the existing health sciences building; improve a steam-plant facility; upgrade walking and running paths and outdoor seating; and refinance previously issued debt. The bond was sold through a public offering underwritten by Hilltop Securities Inc. “This major investment represents Springfield College’s commitment to its students, staff, and the entire Greater Springfield community,” MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera said. “MassDevelopment is proud to lend a helping hand to support construction of a new health sciences building and significant upgrades to the college’s campus and academic facilities.”

 

Bradley International Airport Earns COVID-19 Health Reaccreditation

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — In recognition of its continued health and safety response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bradley International Airport has achieved reaccreditation from the Airports Council International (ACI) World Health Accreditation program. During the extensive accreditation process, ACI assesses the airport’s response and safety measures throughout the entire passenger journey in line with industry best practices. This includes evaluation of the airport’s cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing (where feasible and practical), staff protection, physical-layout modifications, passenger communications, and passenger-facility enhancements. The Connecticut Airport Authority voluntary initiated the reassessment after receiving its initial health accreditation from ACI in December 2020. In addition to surpassing these high industry safety standards, Bradley International Airport offers contactless access to the parking garage and surfaces lots through the airport’s free parking-rewards program; an opportunity to apply for TSA PreCheck at the airport’s enrollment site, which speeds up the screening process and also helps reduce touchpoints; and contactless meal ordering, allowing passengers to easily purchase food online for pickup on their journey through the airport. Additionally, the airport is continuing to offer voluntary COVID testing for passengers and airport employees in the main terminal’s baggage claim. Free COVID vaccinations and boosters are also available on certain days in the same location. A federal face-covering mandate is also in place for everyone, regardless of their vaccination status.

 

NIH Grant Will Support Research in UMass Amherst Lab

AMHERST — Jianhan Chen, a UMass Amherst chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology professor, has received a five-year, $2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to support research in his computational biophysics lab aimed at better understanding the role of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) in biology and human disease. The grant falls under the National Institute of General Medical Sciences MIRA program, which stands for Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award. It’s designed to give highly talented researchers more flexibility and stability to achieve important scientific advances in their labs. “The MIRA award enables us to continue working on several central problems regarding the study of disordered proteins and dynamic interactions. The flexibility of this funding mechanism also allows us to follow new research directions as they emerge,” Chen said. Until relatively recently, it was thought that proteins needed to adopt a well-defined structure to perform their biological function. But about two decades ago, he explained, IDPs were recognized as a new class of proteins that rely on a lack of stable structures to function. They make up about one-third of proteins that human bodies make, and two-thirds of cancer-associated proteins contain large, disordered segments or domains. “This disorder seems to provide some unique functional advantage, and that’s why we have so much disorder in certain kinds of proteins,” Chen said. “These IDPs play really important roles in biology, and when something breaks down, they lead to very serious diseases, like cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.”

 

Happier Valley Comedy Offering Free Events to Local Nonprofits

HADLEY — After the year nonprofit organizations have had, who couldn’t use more happiness? Happier Valley Comedy offers the Free Happiness Program, through which nonprofits serving underrepresented, marginalized communities can apply for a free Happier Valley Comedy event, such as an improv show, a personal- or professional-development training session, a keynote, or a workplace-wellness event to be held either online or in person at a venue selected by the organization or Happier Valley Comedy’s theater and lounge in Hadley. The Free Happiness Program is one part of the comedy theater and training program’s ‘green-lining’ efforts, which aim to provide some balance for the historic, grossly unjust ‘red-lining’ of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) communities in the greater worlds of comedy, personal and professional development, wellness, and beyond. Preference is given to local organizations serving underrepresented, marginalized, and/or BIPOC individuals and communities. Organizations must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to qualify. The next round of applications are being awarded by Happier Valley Comedy’s board of directors in late February. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis at www.happiervalley.com/free-happiness.html.

Company Notebook

Legacy Counsellors, P.C., Gove Law Office Merge

EASTHAMPTON — Legacy Counsellors, P.C. and Gove Law Office announced the merger of their firms in order to expand the estate- and tax-planning and real-estate services they offer to clients. The Gove Law Office team will complete the transition to join the existing Legacy Counsellors, P.C. firm in January. This merger also creates the new division of Legacy Title & Escrow, to handle residential and commercial real-estate transactions. Legacy Counsellors, P.C., founded in 1994, focuses on helping clients protect and perpetuate their savings and assets. Its mission is to empower clients to preserve their legacy through services including trust, estate, and asset-protection planning, elder law and Medicaid planning, and probate administration. Gove Law Office has provided practical, solutions-oriented guidance to clients in the areas of residential and commercial real estate, estate planning, business representation, and family law since 2013. The expanded firm of Legacy Counsellors, P.C. and Legacy Title & Escrow includes four attorneys, along with paralegals and client-services coordinators. Attorney and Legacy founder Kevin Quinn will remain president, with attorney and Gove Law Office founder Michael Gove joining as vice president and partner. The merged firm has five office locations throughout Hampshire, Hampden, Worcester, and Hartford counties.

 

Original Car Detailing Open for Business in Agawam

AGAWAM — Original Car Detailing and its mobile auto-detailing operation recently pulled into shop space at 71 South Ramah Circle in Agawam. The move has allowed owner Nick Riccitelli and his team to expand their operation and provide more services this winter. Original Car Detailing (OCD) has an expanded menu that includes ceramic coatings, remote starters, heated seats, winter prep packages, and vehicle cleaning and sanitizing, along with its continued mobile detailing services. A shortage of new cars and trucks has put an emphasis on vehicle maintenance, as people are now keeping their cars longer than ever. Protecting and enhancing the appearance of customers’ vehicles, including commercial fleets and equipment, allows for a much longer service life, reducing overall costs to the owner substantially, Riccitelli noted. Original Car Detailing offers trade-in reconditioning packages to provide more leverage for its customers when selling or trading in their cars or trucks. The packages also minimize any additional condition fees when turning in leased vehicles.

 

Boston Bud Factory Questions Springfield’s Cannabis Process

SPRINGFIELD — Boston Bud Factory has filed a Freedom of Information request with the city of Springfield Procurement Department, specifically requesting documents related to phase 2 of adult-use applications and Cannabis RFP/Q No. 21-107. Boston Bud Factory submitted a proposal for a retail store in East Forest Park, along with all the required documentation related to RFP/Q No. 21-107. Boston Bud Factory would like to better understand the ranking process and the scoring system for each submission, as well as which proposal was improperly scored. Boston Bud Factory is a participant in the state’s social-equity program and was the first social-equity establishment to open in Western Mass. Boston Bud Factory co-owners Frank Dailey and Carlo Sarno live in Western Mass., and the business has no outside investors or startup financing. Dailey was born in Springfield, is an economic-empowerment applicant, and previously served on the East Forest Park Civic Assoc. board. He is also an active volunteer at several local charities, including the Springfield Rescue Mission. In addition, Boston Bud Factory has been very active educating the community and the city of Springfield, holding the first cannabis educational event in East Forest Park in 2017 and then going on to host four local and successful Pioneer Valley Cannabis Industry Summits.

 

Hazen Paper Captures International Holography Award

HOLYOKE — The International Hologram Manufacturers Assoc. (IHMA) honored Hazen Paper for the second year in a row for Best Applied Decorative/Packaging Product at the 2021 Excellence in Holography Awards. The awards, presented at the Holography Conference Online, recognize “outstanding achievement … in holographic products or techniques which represent the best in the industry for innovation and commercial potential.” Hazen captured the judge’s attention with the 2020 enshrinement yearbook produced for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. The award-winning yearbook employed holography to create a dynamic, three-dimensional image of the Hall of Fame’s iconic dome and spire and its panoramic interior, which was overprinted with a collage of the year’s inductees in action. The combination of two contrasting yet complementary techniques served to amplify the engaging power of holography, as well as to draw attention to the honorees in the foreground. The back cover featured eye-catching holographic treatment of Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun, the location of the enshrinement ceremony. Hazen produced the unique cover holography wholly within its vertically integrated facility. The custom hologram was originated in Hazen’s holographic laser lab, micro-embossed and transfer-metallized onto 12-point WestRock Tango C2S using Hazen’s environmentally friendly Envirofoil process. Envirofoil is manufactured with less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate, reuses the film carrier multiple times, and is recyclable as paper. Agency GO of Hartford, Conn. designed the limited-edition yearbook cover, which was printed and individually numbered for authenticity on an HP Indigo 5500 digital press by Starburst Printing of Holliston.

 

Bousquet Mountain Opens First Floor of New Base Lodge

PITTSFIELD — Bousquet Mountain is opening the first floor of its new base lodge today, Jan. 7, for ski operations. Tickets, rentals, bootup and warmup areas, and restrooms will be available in the lodge from noon to 9 p.m. today. Food trucks will be available at the mountain until food and beverage service in the building launches. The 17,500-square-foot building features a multi-purpose area for comfortable breaks from the slopes, a quick-service dining option in addition to the full-service restaurant, a rental shop with full-service ski-tuning operation, and retail space. Multiple high-definition screens are featured throughout the lodge, enabling live streaming of on-mountain races along with viewing of high-profile sporting events. Heated walkways, firepits, and a large patio area provide numerous options for outdoor enjoyment of the base area in addition to the second-floor outdoor deck. Bousquet will launch Lift Bistropub, a full-service bar and restaurant, on the second floor of the lodge in early February. Open year-round, Lift Bistropub expects to provide service to both indoor and outdoor seating, with the second-floor deck providing panoramic views of the mountain. The lodge is part of a substantial investment in the nearly 100-year-old ski area by Mill Town, the owner of the mountain. Other new features this year include new terrain, added tubing lanes, upgraded lighting, and a full overhaul to the mountain’s snow-making system.

 

Thunderbirds, Peoples United Bank Continue Community Partnership

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds, AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, have carried on their mission of being pillars of the Springfield community, with continued support from People’s United Bank. Since the start of the 2021-22 regular season, the Thunderbirds have made more than 60 appearances in the community, in addition to charitable initiatives such as Hockey Fights Cancer, Toys for Tots toy drives, and Teddy Bear Toss donations. Many of these events have featured interaction in the community from the team mascot, Boomer. In the month of November, the Thunderbirds went lavender across their platforms to spotlight the NHL and AHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative. Proceeds raised throughout the month went on to benefit a wide array of local cancer-based charities, including the Sister Caritas Cancer Center, CHD’s Cancer House of Hope, Baystate Children’s Hospital, and the Hockey Fights Cancer charity itself. Highlighting a busy month of December, the Thunderbirds collected more than 5,000 stuffed animals in the club’s annual Teddy Bear Toss on Dec. 11. In a showing of holiday spirit, Thunderbirds staff and Boomer delivered donations of those bears to a wide range of area charities, including the Springfield Boys & Girls Club, Ronald McDonald House, YMCA of Greater Springfield, CHD, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, and the Boys & Girls Club Family Center. Furthering the team’s heartfelt gestures, Thunderbirds captain Tommy Cross, together with teammates Michael Kim and Drew Callin, also provided a meaningful gesture at holiday time when the trio purchased a plethora of presents for three local families who were recently displaced from their homes. This marked the second time in his two Thunderbirds seasons that Cross has led such a mission. Boomer and the team were active in numerous other charitable affairs throughout the fall and early winter. The T-Birds partnered with local elementary schools for yet another successful kickoff to the team’s Stick to Reading program, with support from MassMutual. The initiative promotes literacy among elementary-school students in the Western Mass. community. Schools participate in a six-week reading program during the Thunderbirds’ regular season, with a reward of tickets to a game for students who complete their reading goals.

 

Greater Northampton Chamber Announces New Gift-card Kiosk

NORTHAMPTON — The Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce has installed a new, state-of-the-art gift-card kiosk on the second floor of Thornes Marketplace in downtown Northampton. The kiosk allows shoppers to buy a Northampton Gift Card or check the balance on an existing card any time Thornes is open to the public. The Northampton Gift Card program, which has been celebrating its 15th anniversary all year long, enables card holders to redeem their cards at more than 70 participating restaurants, retailers, salons, and other services throughout the Great Northampton area. Since its inception, the program has infused almost $5 million into the local economy. The new self-service kiosk at Thornes is the latest investment and replaced the previous machine, which was at least 12 years old. Another big investment in the program earlier this year was Keiter Corporation’s $10,000 donation and the ‘Keiter Card’ promotion that allowed shoppers to buy a $50 gift card for just $25.

 

Jewish Family Service, Yad Chessed Partner to Help Jewish Households

SPRINGFIELD — Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts (JFS) is partnering with Yad Chessed to expand its offerings to Jewish individuals and families in Western Mass. struggling with financial insecurity. As a social-services agency rooted in the Jewish values of kindness (chessed) and charity (tzedakah), Yad Chessed is committed to helping those in need navigate a path toward financial stability while preserving their privacy and dignity. This partnership will bring new resources to the Western Mass. community, including emergency financial aid, monthly food cards, and ongoing support. In 2020, JFS was the recipient of a Jewish Poverty Challenge grant from the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, and has been working to build a sustainable response to Jewish poverty in Western Mass., including food insecurity, unemployment, childcare and health crises. With the goal of raising awareness and building partnerships, JFS is excited to be partnering with Yad Chessed. Individuals or families in need of assistance should contact Rosalind Torrey at [email protected] or (413) 737-2601.

 

Agenda

Wintersession Classes at HCC

Jan. 3-14: Registration is open for Wintersession classes at Holyoke Community College (HCC), offering new and returning students — as well as students from other colleges home on holiday break — the opportunity to earn a semester’s worth of credits for one class in just 10 days. Students can earn up to four credits by taking Wintersession classes in a wide variety of academic areas: anthropology, communication, criminal justice, economics, engineering, environmental science, geography, law, management, marketing, mathematics, radiology, social science, and sociology. Courses are being offered both on campus and online. Starting Jan. 3, students must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend classes on campus. Students must submit proof of their vaccination status before being allowed to register for on-campus classes. Students who plan to register only for online or remote classes do not have to submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination. To enroll for a Wintersession class, visit hcc.edu/wintersession. The registration deadline is Dec. 31.

 

ArtsHub Virtual Summit

Jan. 10-14: The ArtsHub Virtual Summit: “How to Recover and Thrive” welcomes emerging and established artists, performers, arts managers, and those in creative fields to join in a week-long series of virtual interactive workshops, training, and networking sessions. The summit, designed to provide tools to help those working in creative fields recover from the disruption created by the pandemic and learn how to position their business to thrive as the economy recovers, will present daily sessions with guest speakers at 10 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. A full schedule of events, session descriptions, presenter bios, and links to register can be found at www.umass.edu/aes/artshub. The fee for the ArtsHub Virtual Summit is $35 for the early-bird registration (before Jan. 4), and $55 thereafter. The fee provides access to all sessions and online access through January. The ArtsHub was made possible by an initial grant from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development and additional support from the Community Foundation of Western Mass.

 

‘Addressing Conflict in Schools Using Non-violent Strategies’

Jan. 17: Western New England University (WNE) School of Law’s Center for Social Justice will present “Addressing Conflict in Schools Using Non-violent Strategies” in conjunction with the Greater Springfield Campaign at 7 p.m. Executive Director of Nonviolent Schools RI Robin Wildman will lead this discussion. Visit bit.ly/WNEMLKDAY2021 to register for this virtual Zoom event. Wildman has been a senior-level Kingian Nonviolence practitioner and teacher for 20 years and a public-school teacher for 28 years (recently retired). Her current role with Nonviolent Schools RI is a result of her desire to train those who work in the field of education in Kingian Nonviolence so that they can work towards institutionalizing the philosophy and conflict-reconciliation strategies, thus transforming the climate and culture of their schools. She has conducted workshops, given lectures, and trained hundreds of adults and children in methods to address and reconcile conflict used by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She is the author of a Kingian Nonviolence curriculum used nationally and internationally, as well as a post-training reflection journal. Wildman has worked closely for 20 years with her mentor and the honorary board chair of Nonviolent Schools RI, noted civil-rights leader Bernard LaFayette Jr., who worked with King. She believes giving students and school staff the tools to understand and address conflict will significantly reduce school violence in all its forms and lead to a more just environment in which students can thrive and achieve their full potential.

 

YPS, Ad Club Mix & Mingle

Jan. 20: The Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield (YPS) and the Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts will host an annual Mix & Mingle membership event to support young professionals and encourage them to become more involved and invested in their local communities. The Mix & Mingle membership event will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Paper City Bar & Grill, 241 Whiting Farms Road, Holyoke. The Springfield YPS is an organization built to exchange ideas, share common interests, and cultivate its membership to serve as the Pioneer Valley’s leaders of tomorrow. YPS aims to engage the younger demographic in distinct areas such as business and career development, networking, cultural involvement, community involvement, educational opportunities, volunteerism, recreational and social activities, and more. The Ad Club of Western Massachusetts is the premier organization for all marketing and communications professionals in Western Mass. and Northern Connecticut. The club offers its members the ability to advance and enrich the advertising community by acting as a catalyst for idea exchange, professional development, and creative energy. Members can register for the event at www.eventbrite.com/e/mix-mingle-registration-219246591457.

People on the Move

Kevin DeRosa

Greenfield Savings Bank (GSB) announced the hiring of Kevin DeRosa as vice president for its Retail Distribution Network. He will be responsible for overseeing the retail operations of all GSB offices and the bank’s contact center, which includes teller and customer service in the lobbies, the call center, and the teller services offered through the bank’s network of Teller Connect ATMs, which provide GSB teller service via video. DeRosa earned a bachelor’s degree in business finance and an MBA from the University of New Hampshire. He graduated from the CUNA Management School as a certified credit union executive and has also earned the designation of credit union compliance expert. He has recently received a National Excellence Award from the Credit Union National Assoc. for developing a solutions-based sales program. He is also an adjunct professor at Vermont State Colleges and at the Community College System of New Hampshire, where he has taught since 2014. He is very active volunteering in the Claremont, N.H. area at Riverstone Church and has been a past board member and treasurer of the Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce. He is also a past member of the Norwich, Vt. Business Council.

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Collins Electric announced a change in leadership, with Larry Eagan taking the reins as company president and CEO, Patrick Egan assuming the role of vice president of Finance, and Andrew Collins, the son of the company’s recently retired co-president, assuming the role of vice president of Operations and beginning the fifth generation of family company ownership. Established in 1906, Collins Electric serves commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities across Western Mass. Eagan was co-president with Joseph Collins until Collins’ retirement in late 2020. Eagan has been with the company for more than 30 years, representing the fourth generation of family ownership. He and Joseph are the great-grandsons of the company co-founder, Timothy Collins. Another great-grandson, Egan, joined the company in 2019, previously serving as the CFO and COO of the YWCA of Western Massachusetts. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and an MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. Andrew Collins first joined Collins Electric in 2011. He is a graduate of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 7 apprenticeship program and Johnson & Wales University. He has been working as an estimator and project manager for the company for the last several years. He is a great-great-grandson of Timothy Collins.

•••••

Sue Drumm

April Healey

The Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley (RAPV) announced its annual award winners at the association’s Holiday Celebration meeting on Dec. 8 at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel. The Realtor of the Year is Sue Drumm of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. The Affiliate of the Year is April Healey of Norcom Mortgage. The Realtor of the Year Award is the highest form of recognition the association can bestow on a Realtor member. It is given to a member based on association activity, community activity outside the association, and business activity. A Realtor since 2009, Drumm has served on the RAPV board of directors since 2013. She has also served on the community service, education fair and expo, finance, government affairs, and member engagement committees. Drumm has given back to the community through her active involvement with the community service committee, including conducting toy drives and assisting with the Shriners Hospitals for Children blanket drive to benefit the committee’s effort. She has also coordinated RAPV new-member orientation and participated in the Mayoral Minute with Agawam Mayor William Sapelli. The Affiliate of the Year Award is the highest form of recognition the association can bestow on an affiliate member. It is given based on affiliate membership activities related to the association, community service in activities outside the association, and business activity. A member of RAPV since 2002, Healey is the loan officer at Norcom Mortgage and has served on the community service and affiliate-Realtor committees. She has demonstrated a tremendous amount of support to the association and community outreach and volunteered in RAPV’s community-service efforts by helping and taking the lead in serving neighbors in the Franklin County Community Meals Program and getting involved with her local Rotary Club. She has also conducted financial-management workshops for teens and single moms in Franklin County.

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The Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) board announced that interim Executive Director John Anz, who formerly served as Development director, will be accepting another position outside of the SSO. Concurrently, the board has begun the process of identifying and hiring a new interim leader for the organization. The SSO management committee will serve as the committee to conduct the search process. Anz said the announcement about his new position will be shared at a later date in order to allow the hiring organization to inform internal staff and related constituencies. “It has been my great pleasure and privilege to be a part of this important cultural partner in our community these past few years,” he said. “Despite the many recent challenges we have faced, I have complete confidence in the current leadership of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. I look forward to the SSO’s triumphant return to the concert stage and continuing to be a patron and supporter now and in the years to come.”

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The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) announced the promotion of Colleen Kucinski to director of Education Impact and Partnerships, and the appointments of Meredith Lewis as director of Community Impact and Partnerships and Bandhana Sinha as business analyst. Kucinski, who celebrated her sixth anniversary at CFWM in September, will now direct post-secondary programs, Western Mass Completes, and other initiatives, including a forthcoming focus on supporting a strong start for all children. Prior to administering CFWM’s $2 million scholarship and interest-free loan program as a senior program officer at the foundation, Kucinski spent more than 20 years working directly with students at area colleges, including Greenfield Community College, where she served as director of Career Services and later as director of Admission. She earned a master of education degree at Springfield College. In her new role, Lewis has oversight of all aspects of community investments, including the design, implementation, and monitoring of grant-making activities to direct the foundation’s community-impact goals. She previously served as director of Content, Education, and Family Experience for PJ Library, a global literacy program, as well as in a variety of roles, including managing editor and chief operating officer, at 70 Faces Media. She received her master of public administration degree and a master’s degree in Hebrew and Judaic studies from New York University, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. In a newly developed position, Sinha is responsible for leveraging technology and data to drive productivity and innovation. In recent work, she served as an IT business analyst for Equinix and a business initiatives consultant for Wells Fargo in the San Francisco Bay area. Sinha received her post-graduate diploma in management from New Delhi Institute of Management and her bachelor’s degree in business management from Bangalore University.

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Zhaojun ‘Steven’ Li of the Western New England University (WNE) College of Engineering has been elected to serve as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Reliability Society’s 2022 president. Li is an associate professor with the Department of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management at WNE. He currently serves on the editorial board for IEEE Transactions on Reliability and is the lead editor of IEEE Access Reliability Society Section. He served as the vice president for publications of the IEEE Reliability Society in 2019 and has been the treasurer since 2020. He also served as a board member of the IISE Quality Control and Reliability Engineering Division. He is an ASQ-certified reliability engineer and Caterpillar Six Sigma Black Belt. His research interests include data analytics, applied statistics, operations research, and reliability engineering. He is a senior member of IEEE and IISE. Li was named Engineer of the Year by IEEE Reliability Society in 2020. He received his PhD in industrial engineering from the University of Washington. Established in 1884, the IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. The IEEE Reliability Society promotes recognition of the reliability profession, develops and disseminates reliability best practices, and is a resource for collaboration among reliability professionals.

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Care Coordinate, a statewide network that provides access to high-quality and cost-effective home- and community-based services, of which LifePath is a partner, named Sean Rogers its managing director. A senior-level executive with extensive home-care and community-based experience, Rogers most recently served as vice president of Strategy and Development at Amedisys, a leading provider of in-home healthcare for older adults. Additionally, he has held state government leadership positions at the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, where he served as director of Operations, and with the Department of Mental Health as director of Budget and Core Services for the metro-suburban region. In this new position, Rogers will leverage the strength of Care Coordinate’s network of aging-services access points (ASAPs) to offer a single, statewide entity for insurance plans, accountable-care organizations, and other providers and payers to manage and administer long-term services and supports that drive quality care and improved outcomes for its partners. Services offered include in-home case management, care transitions, provider-network management, third-party billing and claim operations, and consultative solutions. Rogers received his education and training in human-resource management, financial systems, administration, and leadership from the U.S. Coast Guard. He is currently on the board of directors of the Home Care Aide Council and serves as president of the board of the Home Care Aide Foundation.

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Valley Community Development announced Alexis Breiteneicher has been named executive director. She comes to Valley after almost eight years at Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), where she served as director of Development. Before that, she was the Development manager for the Trustees of Reservations and worked for the Melville Charitable Trust in Boston. She also has considerable experience working with nonprofit organizations that support low-income communities, with an emphasis on finding solutions to homelessness. Board President Peter Jessop had been serving as interim executive director prior to Breiteneicher’s hire.

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HCC Foundation Inc., the nonprofit fundraising arm of Holyoke Community College, has added four new members to its board of directors, including three alumni. Wendy Fox (’16) is director of Curriculum Development for Onramp Invest, a crypto-asset management company. A graduate of HCC and the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, Fox worked with the UMass Foundation board and UMass alumni board as an administrative fellow for corporate engagement at the university. Maura Greaney (’93) is director of Philanthropy, Development Communications, and Special Events for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. Greaney has an extensive background in nonprofit fundraising, grant writing, event planning, and development. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College and a master’s degree from UMass Boston. Erin Godfrey is director of Odyssey House, a program of Viability, a Holyoke nonprofit that supports individuals with disabilities and other societal advantages. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College whose husband, Chris Godfrey, attended HCC through the support of the college’s veterans programs, and both were involved with the HCC Military Club while he was a student. Camille Theriaque (’12) is a licensed clinical social worker with MiraVista Behavioral Health Center in Holyoke. As a student at HCC searching for a second career, Theriaque, a retired Holyoke firefighter, received a 29 Who Shine award from the state Department of Higher Education as well as a prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Mount Holyoke College and a master’s degree at Smith College.

Company Notebook

The Big E Ranked Third-largest Fair of 2021

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The 2021 numbers are in, and the Big E is officially the third-largest fair in North America, based on attendance measured during the 17-day fair and compared with that of hundreds of fairs in the U.S. and Canada. “Astoundingly, we beat Minnesota this year,” Eastern States Exposition President and CEO Gene Cassidy said. “The Minnesota State Fair is a benchmark in our industry and attracts visitors from all over the state and beyond. We have waited 105 years for this.” The Big E’s ranking among the largest fairs in the nation is surpassed only by the State Fair of Texas, located in Dallas; and the Arizona State Fair, located in Phoenix. A total of 1,498,774 people visited the 2021 Big E, held Sept. 17 to Oct. 3 in West Springfield, establishing the ranking, according to Carnival Warehouse’s annual Top 50 Fairs list. The 2019 Big E ranked fifth. The Big E set four daily attendance records over the course of 2021’s 17-day event, including an all-time single-day attendance of 177,238 on the final Saturday. The 2022 Big E takes place Sept. 16 to Oct. 2.

 

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives $1 Million Pledge

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley has received a generous $1 million gift from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation in support of its Eureka! program and as part of the Girls Inc. of the Valley campaign, “Her Future, Our Future.” This $1 million commitment will provide approximately two-thirds of the total cost of Eureka! programming over the next five years. The next five years are important for Eureka! because the program will be taken from its pilot status into a full-fledged model with strong longitudinal outcome data and long-term professional evaluation. With this data and evaluation, the program will have opportunities to attract national-level institutional support, including through the national Girls Inc. network and Girls Inc. of the Valley’s Eureka! partner, UMass Amherst. In order to continue to build opportunities for girls in the region, Girls Inc. is conducting its first major capital campaign. The “Her Future, Our Future” campaign is a bold initiative designed to significantly increase tangible opportunities for girls to develop confidence and interest in achieving academic and personal success. With STEM careers from nursing to engineering to lab sciences to computer programming playing an ever-more important role in the workforce, Eureka! provides a major opportunity to open up those career pathways to more than 120 girls per year and to position those girls for success in gaining access to higher education. Overall, “Her Future, Our Future” will support significant expansion at Girls Inc., to the point that it will serve approximately 5% of all girls in the Holyoke, Springfield, and Chicopee public-school systems. The campaign seeks to raise $5 million to accomplish three critical strategic goals: building a permanent home in downtown Holyoke; expanding school-based programming in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield; and advancing and sustaining Eureka! by securing the program and solidifying its role as an important regional pipeline to higher education and STEM careers.

 

PeoplesBank Commits $125,000 to Behavioral Health Network

SPRINGFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) announced it has received a $25,000 donation from PeoplesBank to benefit the Katherine B. Wilson Staff Excellence Fund. It is the first installment of a $125,000 commitment over the next five years. BHN established the Katherine B. Wilson Staff Excellence Fund to support the career and professional development of the organization’s workforce and assist in achieving social-justice objectives. Through community partnerships, valuable in-kind services, and generous donations, BHN seeks to address a variety of staff professional-development opportunities. The fund will provide support for scholarship funds and forgivable loans for staff to further their education at local colleges, along with licensure support.

 

UMass Decarbonization Collaboration Wins Award

AMHERST — A collaboration among UMass Amherst, UMass Dartmouth, UMass Lowell, and Salem State University to work together to decarbonize each campus has been recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources with a Leading by Example (LBE) Award, which was presented to representatives from each campus at a ceremony last month. The LBE Awards recognize Commonwealth agencies, public colleges and universities and municipalities, and public-sector staff and volunteers for outstanding efforts related to clean energy and the environment that have resulted in measurable impacts. The four-campus collaboration began during fiscal year 2020-21, when all four campuses decided to undertake a collaborative strategic planning process to decarbonize their campuses. Representatives from each campus held a series of meetings to allow for a free exchange of ideas, challenges, and lessons learned so that others might get a better result. The group kept various state agencies abreast of their discussions and how the work may affect formulating new policy. The group is also committed to sharing their information with similar institutions and agencies across the commonwealth. To qualify for the award, the campuses had to meet various criteria, including sustainable practices, environmental benefits, cost savings, and education and outreach efforts.

 

Springfield College Earns Green Bond Designation

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College announced it has partnered with MassDevelopment to issue $106,675,000 in bonds, of which $50 million has received the Green Bond designation by Kestrel Verifiers, approved verifiers accredited by the Climate Bonds Initiative. Sustainability remains a key strategic focus for Springfield College, and pursuing a Green Bond was an intentional decision to demonstrate that commitment. The bond offerings highlight a commitment to both climate and sustainability designations, and will be used to finance campus construction and renovation projects, including the new Springfield College Health Sciences Center, which will empower transformative approaches to education, career enhancement, service, research, and leadership in healthcare. The new Health Sciences Center will be architecturally designed by SLAM, based in Glastonbury, Conn., and constructed by Consigli Construction, based in Hartford, Conn.

 

Food Bank Receives $5 Million for Food-distribution Center

SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Eric Lesser recently joined Chicopee Mayor John Vieau, members of Chicopee’s legislative delegation, and Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, to announce $5 million in funding secured to build a food-distribution center and headquarters in the city of Chicopee. Lesser acted as lead sponsor in the Senate, securing this state funding in the ARPA spending bill signed into law on Dec. 13. “The Food Bank of Western Mass. provides vital services to those in need in our region. With this funding, we have put them in striking distance of their new building capital campaign, which will be located at the heart of the need,” Lesser said. “There has never been a time where the work of the Food Bank has been more important, and we remain committed to working with them to address food insecurity in Western Mass. until it exists no more.” Morehouse expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Food Bank’s board of directors and employees, as well as households across the four counties of Western Mass. who struggle to put food on the table. “This tremendous investment in the Food Bank’s future food-distribution center and headquarters in Chicopee will enable us to carry out our mission for decades to come,” he said. “I would like to thank Senator Lesser for leading the charge with his fellow Chicopee state legislators and for the support of the entire Western Massachusetts legislative delegation and Governor Baker. Together, this public-private partnership will achieve our vision of a Western Massachusetts where no one goes hungry and everyone has access to healthy food.”

 

Bova, Harrington & Associates Welcomed into Whittlesey

HARTFORD, Conn. — Whittlesey, one of New England’s largest accounting, advisory, and technology firms, announced that Bova, Harrington & Associates has joined the firm. The merger expands Whittlesey’s footprint in Western Mass. “Our shared values and common industries, services, and culture will bring outstanding value to our clients and community,” said Drew Andrews, Whittlesey’s CEO and managing partner. “The addition of Bova, Harrington & Associates will reinforce our growth strategy and extend our region’s reach. Together, we look forward to expanding our New England presence and new partnership.” Bova, Harrington & Associates is a full-service CPA firm that provides tax, assurance, and business-advisory services. “Joining the Whittlesey team is a perfect blend of common values and a commitment to the highest standards of client service,” said Joe Bova and Steve Harrington of Bova, Harrington & Associates. “Whittlesey’s extensive resources offer an opportunity to greatly expand our offerings to serve our clients better and create opportunities for our team. We are excited about our next chapter.”

 

Holyoke Community College Delivers $3.77 Million in Relief Aid to Students

HOLYOKE — Just when they might need it most, students at Holyoke Community College (HCC) are getting a holiday gift from the college totaling $3.77 million. The money is part of CARES Act pandemic-relief funds provided by the federal government. More than 3,500 eligible HCC students have each received, or will soon receive, block grants of $600 to $2,500, depending on their enrollment status and expected family contribution as determined by their financial-aid eligibility. The average grant is about $1,000. The cash grants are unrestricted, meaning students can use them however they want, and the money does not need to be repaid. Accepting the money also will not reduce a student’s financial-aid award. This is the fourth semester in a row that HCC has provided pandemic-relief funds directly to students. The federal CARES (Conavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act provides funding to students to offset the expenses they might have incurred when colleges switched from face-to-face to remote learning. That could mean having to buy a computer, buying or upgrading internet access, or paying increased utility costs from being home, among other expenses.

 

Upscale Socks Donates Socks to Friends of the Homeless

SPRINGFIELD — As winter began, Upscale Socks made a presentation of warm socks to Friends of the Homeless on Dec. 23. For every pair of socks purchased between Nov. 23 and Dec. 19, Upscale Socks owner Lenny Underwood made a sock donation to the organization. “As a nonprofit behavioral-health agency, we very much value our local community partnerships,” Clinical & Support Options President and CEO Karin Jeffers said. “Upscale Socks is helping our Friends of the Homeless shelter guests stay warm and cared for this winter — and helping them do it with style and dignity.” Underwood added that “we are thrilled to partner with Friends of the Homeless. Hopefully our socks will bring warmth and happiness to those in need.”

 

Frontier Launches Non-stop Service From Bradley to Cancun, San Juan

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the debut of new, non-stop service from Bradley International Airport to Cancun, Mexico and San Juan, Puerto Rico on Frontier Airlines. The service to Cancun International Airport will commence on Feb. 17 and will operate seasonally, three times a week. The service to San Juan Airport will commence on Feb. 18 and will operate year-round, three times a week. To view flight times and booking options, visit www.flyfrontier.com. In addition to the service to Cancun and San Juan, Frontier offers non-stop service from Bradley to Atlanta, Denver, Miami, Orlando, and Raleigh-Durham. The airline has been operating at Bradley since 2018.

 

Agenda

Winter Farmers’ Market

Every Saturday: Hampshire Mall has welcomed back the Winter Farmers’ Market this season. It will run every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Target wing, through April 2. The market will be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day. All winter long, fresh vegetables and fruit, meat, cheese, bread, crafts, and more will be available from local farmers and artisans. Some of the vendors participating this season include Atlas Farm, Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Chase Hill Farm, Quabbin Hill Farm, and many more. EBT/SNAP and HIP benefits are accepted. A list of participating vendors will be updated at wfmhm.com/our-vendors.

 

 

The Fort Carolers

Through Dec. 24: The famous Fort Carolers have returned to the Student Prince and the Fort Restaurant, where Christmas caroling will take place every night in the dining area through Christmas Eve. For more than eight decades, Christmas caroling has been part of the holiday festivities at 8 Fort St. For many families, friends, and companies, it has become an annual tradition to visit the Student Prince and the Fort this time of year to hear the Fort Carolers sing the classics while enjoying the restaurant’s authentic German and American fare, along with lots of good cheer. This year they are back with ‘snow’ bubbles and lights. The Student Prince and the Fort Restaurant has hosted Christmas caroling for more than 80 years. What once started out as a few carolers at the door has turned into an annual nightly performance of Christmas caroling for the many generations of customers who visit Springfield’s landmark restaurant for the holidays. Reservations are necessary, and can be made by calling (413) 734-7475.

 

Asnuntuck Wintersession

Dec. 27 to Jan. 14: Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) is once again offering a three-week wintersession. Registration is currently underway for 15 online accelerated courses that will be taught during the college’s winter break. The courses include Art Appreciation, Art History II, Introduction to Nutrition, Principles of Genetics, Principles of Management, Introduction to Software Applications, Spreadsheet Applications, Leadership in Early Childhood Programs, Introduction to Human Services, Massage Theory & Practice, Medical Terminology, Law and Ethics for Health Careers, General Psychology I, General Psychology II, and Principles of Sociology. Art History II and Principles of Sociology require either no or a low-cost ($40 or less) textbook. Phlebotomy Externship is also being offered. Visit the website www.asnuntuck.edu for more information. Current non-students can click ‘Become a Student’ at the top of the page to begin. The session provides a way for students at other colleges to earn credit to be transferred back to their home institution. Students are advised to check with their college regarding transferability of courses.

 

Company Notebook

STCC Receives $55,000 from Community Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) received two grants worth $55,000 from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. A $30,000 Flexible Funding Grant awarded to the STCC Foundation will be used to boost the student-empowerment fund, which was created as a resource for students facing a variety of barriers standing in the way of their ability to complete their education. Students in need of support for short-term housing, transportation, childcare, academic program resources, and nutritious meals can apply for the help they need through the empowerment fund, freeing them to focus on their studies and complete their programs. A separate $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation will be used to fund the STCC’s COVID-19 vaccine video. STCC has created a video to promote vaccinations. All community colleges in the Commonwealth are requiring students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated by the start of the spring semester in January. This vaccine requirement is aimed at ensuring the safest learning and working environment possible for all members of the STCC community. The STCC Foundation, a nonprofit organization, helps STCC meet its goals and commitment to provide superior educational opportunities to the community.

 

U.S. Tsubaki Supports Innovation, Entrepreneurship at WNE

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) announced that Chicopee-based U.S. Tsubaki Automotive (USTA) made a gift of $12,500 to support the university’s colleges of Business and Engineering’s Product Development and Innovation (PDI) course over the next five years. Taught in the fall semester, PDI is comprised of business and engineering students who develop an idea at the onset of class and grow the concept into a limited, functional prototype supported by a business plan. Student teams demonstrate their project innovations at the annual PDI Showcase held the first week of December. Attending the event are members of the university’s board of trustees and several area economic-development leaders and investors. The attendees invest ‘Golden Bear investment dollars’ into the innovations they believe have the most commercial potential. Some of the innovations continue as senior design projects, while others compete in the Grinspoon Spirit Awards and the Draper Competition. The university patents select innovations that have the most potential.

 

Springfield WORKS Wins $100,000 Grant in Partnership with Home City Development

SPRINGFIELD — A $100,000 Urban Agenda Grant was recently awarded to Springfield WORKS, the lead applicant in a team including Home City Development Inc. as the primary partner. The funds will be used to facilitate a community-wide collaboration, with the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council to manage, coordinate, and support the work of numerous participating program partner organizations, in efforts to help families in Springfield achieve economic stability. The funds will go toward the 2Generation/Whole Family Approach to Pathways to Careers and Home Ownership Program, which is a holistic, creative, and collaborative approach that helps low-income families access career-development tools and training to successfully position individuals on a positive career trajectory. This program will focus on adults and children, addressing the gaps and barriers within multiple systems, including the ‘cliff effect,’ which makes transitioning out of state assistance programs challenging. This project also brings a gender- and racial-equity lens to workforce strategies. Home City Development is the main partner in this project, which means all program participants are Home City Development residents. The program will incorporate the Springfield WORKS’ 2Generation/Whole Family Approach with Home City Development’s HUD Family Self Sufficiency program. Other partners include Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts, HCS Head Start, EforAll, Families First, Springfield Partners for Community Action, and MassHire Springfield. Springfield WORKS leverages employer partners including Baystate Health, MGM Springfield, United Personnel/Masis, Springfield Public Schools, and others for career pathway opportunities.

 

MCLA Department of Business Administration Earns ACBSP Accreditation

NORTH ADAMS — MCLA’s Department of Business Administration has earned accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). This accreditation covers all the department’s business-degree paths, as well as the college’s MBA program. A global accreditation agency, ACBSP focuses on recognizing teaching excellence, determining student learning outcomes, and a continuous improvement model. ACBSP’s student-centered teaching and learning approach, which is measured and analyzed for quality, ensures that students gain the right skills from their educational investment. Institutions with programs accredited by ACBSP are committed to continuous improvement that ensures their business program will give students the skills employers want. MCLA’s Department of Business Administration already has an excellent track record for job placement. Recent graduates have secured full-time work at major national companies like BDO Consulting, General Dynamics, and Google. MCLA accounting majors who sit for the certified public accountant exam currently have a 100% pass rate.

 

Hancock Associates Acquires Sherman & Frydryk

DANVERS — Hancock Associates, a leading provider of land-surveying, civil-engineering, and wetland-science services, recently announced it has acquired Sherman & Frydryk, LLC, a land-surveying and civil-engineering firm located in Palmer. With roots dating back to 1950, Sherman & Frydryk’s long list of clients includes residential and commercial developers, municipalities, service utilities, MassDOT, hospitals, and more throughout Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties and the surrounding areas. Sherman & Frydryk will operate as a division of Hancock Associates. Don Frydryk will serve as regional office manager, and the current staff will continue to be part of the Sherman & Frydryk team. The acquisition assists Hancock in expanding services to Central and Western Massachusetts. It also adds historical survey records from W.H. and H.W. Brainerd, John Casey, Nathaniel Clapp, Charles Dingman, R.O. and G.F. Dingman, Kenneth Sherman, Sherman and Woods, Sherman & Frydryk, Richard Stowe, and Arthur Sullivan to Hancock’s collection of land-surveying and civil-engineering resources.

 

Junior Achievement Gets Support from Balise Auto Group

SPRINGFIELD — Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts is getting assistance from a local auto dealer for one of its educational programs about car ownership. Balise Auto Group volunteers will present JA All About Cars, a Junior Achievement program that explores the personal-finance considerations that go into purchasing a vehicle, to nearly 200 students in six area high schools during December. JA All About Cars programs are funded by a grant from American Honda Finance Corp. Through the program, students make a real-world connection to the car-buying experience, motivating them to make good financial decisions when buying or leasing. Following participation in the program, students will be able to consider whether a dream car is a realistic purchase for most people, explore their driving needs and things to consider when choosing a car, identify a car that meets their needs, and research the cost and understand the pros and cons of financing or leasing a car.

 

Frontier Launches Non-stop Service From Bradley to Cancun, San Juan

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the debut of new, non-stop service from Bradley International Airport to Cancun, Mexico and San Juan, Puerto Rico on Frontier Airlines. The service to Cancun International Airport will commence on Feb. 17 and will operate seasonally, three times a week. The service to San Juan Airport will commence on Feb. 18 and will operate year-round, three times a week. To view flight times and booking options, visit www.flyfrontier.com. In addition to the service to Cancun and San Juan, Frontier offers non-stop service from Bradley to Atlanta, Denver, Miami, Orlando, and Raleigh-Durham. The airline has been operating at Bradley since 2018.

 

Company Notebook

HCC Culinary Arts Program Ranked Among Best in U.S.

HOLYOKE — The Culinary Arts program at Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been ranked among the best in the U.S., according to Best Choice Schools, an online college resource guide. HCC placed 50th among the Best Culinary Schools in America for 2021, a list that also includes such esteemed institutions as the Culinary Institute of America, which has branches in New York, California, and Texas. HCC’s culinary program ranked third in New England after Johnson & Wales in Providence, R.I., and Southern Maine Community College in Portland. In particular, HCC was cited for the quality of its one-year certificate and two-year associate-degree programs in culinary arts, as well as its 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, which opened in downtown Holyoke in 2018. The program summary notes that the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute is equipped with four modern kitchens, a bakery, a hotel lab, and a student-run dining room. Since it opened, the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute on Race Street has become a favorite host site for college, community, and regional events. Best Choice Schools also notes that HCC is the only public college or university in Massachusetts with a culinary-arts program accredited by the American Culinary Federation.

 

Polish National Credit Union to Merge with Premier Source Credit Union

CHICOPEE — Polish National Credit Union (PNCU), headquartered in Chicopee, and Premier Source Federal Credit Union (PSFCU), headquartered in East Longmeadow, have signed a definitive merger agreement. PNCU will be the continuing credit union and acquire PSFCU’s 4,526 members and nearly $70 million in assets. The PSFCU headquarters will become the East Longmeadow branch of PNCU. This year, PNCU celebrates 100 years of service and has approximately $700 million in assets. Upon completion of the merger, PSFCU members will enjoy full use of PNCU’s seven full-service branches and access to business banking services, investment services, and insurance products. Having negotiated a definitive merger agreement, both credit unions will now seek regulatory approval from the Massachusetts Division of Banks, the National Credit Union Administration, the Mass. Credit Union Share Insurance Corp., and their memberships. The merger is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022.

 

UMass Dining Services Awarded $319,000 to Support Use of Kelp

AMHERST — UMass Dining Services has been awarded $319,000 by the Henry P. Kendall Foundation for its “Strategies to Onboard Kelp into College Dining Programs” project. Between 2013 and 2020, the Kendall Foundation’s gift of $1,395,000 supported UMass Dining’s commitment to local, healthy and sustainable sourcing. As an example, the Real Food Challenge initiative of 20% ‘real food’ by 2020 — a goal UMass Dining exceeded, achieving 29% — was supported by this funding. In addition, the grant supported infrastructure improvements, relationship building, promotional campaigns, local partnerships, innovative programs, and regional convening for key stakeholders. This two-year project will introduce nutrient-dense, regeneratively grown New England kelp into the UMass Dining program as a choice for students and an opportunity for climate action. UMass Dining is partnering with New England-based Atlantic Sea Farms on the project as an innovative leader in the kelp industry on the East Coast. Atlantic Sea Farms offers not only kelp products, but expertise in the climate impact of growing and eating kelp, as well as the volume necessary for a large campus dining program. This partnership with Atlantic Sea Farms will drive normalization and inclusion of kelp on university menus. Along with recipe and concept development, UMass Dining plans to engage students by integrating kelp into its Low Carbon Dining campaign and its Diet for a Cooler Planet campaign. This project aims to lay the path for replication so that kelp can be introduced to menus in college and university dining programs across the country.

 

WNEU Offers New MS Program in Pharmacogenomics

SPRINGFIELD — The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Western New England University (WNE) announced a new master of science degree in pharmacogenomics degree starting in the fall of 2022. Pharmacogenomics is a fast-growing field that helps medical practitioners prescribe personalized treatment plans to patients based on how they may respond to medications due to their DNA sequence. Pharmacogenomics supports personalized or precision medicine, which explores a patient’s genetics, environment, and lifestyle as a way to craft a treatment plan that will best suit the patient. The goal of this modern approach to medication therapy is to limit adverse effects while optimizing response and beneficial outcomes. The master of science in pharmacogenomics degree from WNE — the only degree of this type in New England — prepares graduates for careers that will revolutionize the delivery of healthcare and make the most of emerging opportunities from basic laboratory research to clinical implementation of personalized healthcare.

 

HCC Jump Start Program Earns National Recognition

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been named a finalist for a national Bellwether Award in recognition of Jump Start, the college’s job-training and placement program for people who receive public assistance. HCC was one of 10 U.S. colleges selected as a finalist by the Bellwether College Consortium in its Workforce Development category, which identifies strategic alliances that promote community and economic development. Bellwether finalists represent leading community colleges whose programs and practices are considered outstanding and innovative. The Bellwether Awards are widely regarded as one of the nation’s most competitive and prestigious recognitions for community colleges. HCC was the only community college in Massachusetts selected as a 2022 Bellwether finalist. This is the second year in a row HCC has been named a Bellwether finalist. HCC’s “Together HCC” fundraising and social-media campaign was selected as a finalist for 2021. For more than 20 years, HCC’s Jump Start program has been creating sustainable career pathways for individuals who were previously unemployed or had limited education and work experience. Jump Start offers workforce training for jobs as culinary workers, nursing assistants, pharmacy technicians, customer-service representatives, preschool workers, production technicians, and bus and truck drivers. Finalists for Bellwether Awards are invited to join the consortium and take part in workshops, events, and other activities. Award finalists will undergo a rigorous second and final round of review before the winners are announced in January.

 

Comcast Acquires Russell Municipal Cable TV

RUSSELL — The town of Russell has a new broadband, video, and voice services provider, as Comcast announced it has acquired Russell Municipal Cable TV. Comcast plans to transition residents and businesses to its Xfinity and Comcast Business suite of services through the end of the year. Comcast is now available in 248 communities across Massachusetts and employs local residents at its Xfinity Stores in Springfield and Holyoke, and in several business and technical operations centers across the state, which serve residential customers and businesses.

Agenda

Women of Impact

Dec. 9: BusinessWest will honor its fourth annual class of Women of Impact at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel. This year’s class, like the first three, demonstrates the sheer diversity of the ways women leaders in our region are making an impact on the worlds of business, nonprofits, health, and the community. Profiled the Oct. 27 issue of BusinessWest, they are: Jessica Collins, executive director of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts; Elizabeth Dineen, CEO of the YWCA of Western Masachusetts; Charlene Elvers, director of the Center for Service and Leadership at Springfield College; Karin Jeffers, president and CEO of Clinical and Support Options; Elizabeth Keen, owner of Indian Line Farm; Madeline Landrau, Program Engagement manager at MassMutual; Shannon Mumblo, executive director of Christina’s House; and Tracye Whitfield, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer for the town of West Springfield and Springfield city councilor. The event is sponsored by Country Bank and TommyCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors) and Comcast Business and Health New England (supporting sponsors). Tickets cost $65 per person (tables of 10 are available). For more information, visit www.businesswest.com or call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100.

 

Difference Makers Nominations

Through Dec. 9: Do you know someone who is truly making a difference in the Western Mass. region? BusinessWest invites you to nominate an individual or group for its 14th annual Difference Makers program. Nominations for the class of 2022 must be received by the end of the business day (5 p.m.) on Thursday, Dec. 9. Difference Makers was launched in 2009 as a way to recognize the contributions of agencies and individuals who are contributing to quality of life in this region. Past honorees have come from dozens of business and nonprofit sectors, proving there’s no limit to the ways people can impact their communities. So, let us know who you think deserves to be recognized as a Difference Maker in our upcoming class by visiting businesswest.com/difference-makers-nomination-form to complete the nomination form. Honorees will be profiled in an upcoming issue of BusinessWest and celebrated at a gala in the spring.

 

Holiday Brass Concert

Dec. 14: The Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MOSSO) will present a family-friendly performance, “MOSSO and Friends Holiday Brass Concert,” at 7 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Church on 335 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow. According to Stephen Perry, MOSSO’s co-founder and concert organizer, the program will include the “Carol of the Bells,” traditional holiday songs from Russia and France, holiday music from Hollywood to Springfield, the “Hanukkah Suite,” and jazz interpretations of traditional holiday songs. The concert will feature the Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s principal trombonist Brian Diehl, French hornist Robert Hoyle, and principal tubist Stephen Perry. They also happen to be members of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (HSO), and will be joined by their HSO colleagues, trumpeters John Charles Thomas and Scott McIntosh, in this performance. General-admission tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for children of high-school age and younger. Tickets must be purchased in advance at springfieldsymphonymusicians.com. No door sales will be available. Only a limited number of tickets will be sold to permit social distancing. All ticket holders will be required to wear masks, and all ticket holders over age 12 must show proof of vaccination.

Agenda

Art Pop-up Shop

Nov. 29 to Dec. 4: Laura Bundesen, an artist-entrepreneur from Huntington, will exhibit and sell her mixed-media ‘brain artwork’ at a one-of-a-kind, neuro-themed pop-up shop at ReevX Labs in Springfield. Bundesen is one of 10 entrepreneurs chosen for the inaugural experience at the community hub at 270 Bridge St., which is funded by Berkshire Bank and supported by Valley Venture Mentors. She is excited to have the opportunity to use the space for her solo display and sale. Her neuro-art pop-up shop will be open Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Dec. 4 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Community members are invited. Bundesen calls herself a ‘neuro-artist,’ and said her work, which ranges from $14 enamel lapel pins to $3,600 embroidered paintings, especially resonates with people with neurological disorders, their loved ones, and with scientists, neurologists, psychologists, and others in healthcare. At the heart of most of her work is painstaking hand embroidery. A canvas might feature a whimsical rendering of a brain, in handiwork at the center, with paint on a work’s periphery. Each piece is unique and colorful and offers what Bundesen calls “fantastical, imaginary brains.” Her work includes mixed-media originals, prints, earrings, coloring books, and brain-shaped lapel pins. A large selection will be available at the pop-up shop for in-person shopping. Anyone interested in learning more about her wares can visit her website and shop at www.laurabundesen.com.

 

OnBoard Matching Event

Dec. 7: United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) has merged with the Springfield-based nonprofit OnBoard. Continuing under the same name as a UWPV program, OnBoard will continue hosting biennial conferences to increase diversity on the boards of local and regional nonprofits, and work more closely with nonprofits to build diversity through trainings and other tools. Leadership Pioneer Valley, which provides training and support for rising nonprofit professionals in the region, will work with UWPV to support the program. An OnBoard matching event is scheduled for Dec. 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Valley Venture Mentors, 276 Bridge St., Springfield. Registration information can be found at uwpv.org/onboard, and donations can be made at uwpv.org/donate.

 

Women of Impact

Dec. 9: BusinessWest will honor its fourth annual class of Women of Impact at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel. This year’s class, like the first three, demonstrates the sheer diversity of the ways women leaders in our region are making an impact on the worlds of business, nonprofits, health, and the community. Profiled the Oct. 27 issue of BusinessWest, they are: Jessica Collins, executive director of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts; Elizabeth Dineen, CEO of the YWCA of Western Masachusetts; Charlene Elvers, director of the Center for Service and Leadership at Springfield College; Karin Jeffers, president and CEO of Clinical and Support Options; Elizabeth Keen, owner of Indian Line Farm; Madeline Landrau, Program Engagement manager at MassMutual; Shannon Mumblo, executive director of Christina’s House; and Tracye Whitfield, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer for the town of West Springfield and Springfield city councilor. The event is sponsored by Country Bank and TommyCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors) and Comcast Business and Health New England (supporting sponsors). Tickets cost $65 per person (tables of 10 are available). For more information, visit www.businesswest.com or call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100.

 

Difference Makers Nominations

Through Dec. 9: Do you know someone who is truly making a difference in the Western Mass. region? BusinessWest invites you to nominate an individual or group for its 14th annual Difference Makers program. Nominations for the class of 2022 must be received by the end of the business day (5 p.m.) on Thursday, Dec. 9. Difference Makers was launched in 2009 as a way to recognize the contributions of agencies and individuals who are contributing to quality of life in this region. Past honorees have come from dozens of business and nonprofit sectors, proving there’s no limit to the ways people can impact their communities. So, let us know who you think deserves to be recognized as a Difference Maker in our upcoming class by visiting businesswest.com/difference-makers-nomination-form to complete the nomination form. Honorees will be profiled in an upcoming issue of BusinessWest and celebrated at a gala in the spring.

 

Company Notebook

UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences Nets $93 Million

AMHERST — UMass Amherst announced that, as part of Robert and Donna Manning’s recent historic $50 million gift to the University of Massachusetts, $18 million will endow the newly named Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences. At the same time, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a $75 million commitment that will enhance and expand the college’s facilities. The state grant, which will be allocated over the course of multiple future capital plans, is backed by a $30 million commitment from the campus for the expanded physical footprint of the college. These combined investments will allow the college to continue to grow and fuel new discoveries in computing research. It will attract top faculty, increase access to its nationally ranked program, and offer scholarships, bridge programs, and peer mentoring to foster a diverse and ethical future workforce. Since 2018, the college has committed to doubling the amount of undergraduate and graduate students, and the gift and grant will help accelerate that goal. The Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences ranks among the top 20 computer science programs in North America and boasts the 11th-ranked artificial intelligence (AI) program. United around a revolutionary vision for computing research and education, known as Computing for the Common Good, the college is driving scientific discovery in key areas such as healthcare, sustainability, cybersecurity, quantum information systems, and human-centered technology. Its research is focused on some of the most demanding challenges of today, including ensuring that AI is equitable, safe, and applied in positive ways, creating technologies that protect personal privacy and safeguard children from online predators.

 

Eastern States Exposition Receives Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Eastern States Exposition (ESE) President and CEO Eugene Cassidy was joined by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Robert Nelson, director of the Small Business Assoc. (SBA) Massachusetts District Office, on Oct. 25 to announce that ESE is the recipient of a Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG). These federal grants are given to venues in the entertainment realm such as concert halls, theaters, and other attractions that suffered significant losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Big E, North America’s fifth-largest fair in 2019, did not take place in 2020. “For more than 100 years, the Eastern States Exposition, home of The Big E, has welcomed millions of visitors to enjoy exhibits, entertainment, and agriculture,” said Neal, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “Due to the pandemic, the Big E was forced to close its gates for the 2020 season, resulting in extensive loss. I advocated fiercely on their behalf to the Small Business Administration for swift approval of the Big E’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application. Today, just weeks after almost 1.5 million people visited the 2021 fair, we celebrate the authorization of $9 million to the Big E. Congratulations to Gene Cassidy and his team for this tremendous award.”

 

Country Bank Opens New Office in Tower Square

SPRINGFIELD — Country Bank opened a business office on the 17th floor of Tower Square in Springfield at the end of October to support its continued growth in the markets it serves. The new business office will support local businesses and allow the Country Bank team to become ingrained with the companies and nonprofits in Springfield. Bringing more than 20 years of commercial banking experience, Senior Vice President Ben Leonard will lead the Springfield team. He has spent more than a decade fostering relationships in Western Mass. with both community and business leaders while he was with Wells Fargo. Leonard serves on the board for Revitalize CDC in Springfield. In 2018, he was a BusinessWest 40 Under Forty honoree and is a graduate of Wells Fargo’s Credit Management Training Program. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Texas.

 

Level Two Studios, LLC Opens in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Level Two Studios, LLC a new all-inclusive production facility, recently opened in Springfield, offering an optimal environment for professional, full-scale video production and photography. Located on the second level of 155 Brookdale Dr., the studio’s expansive, 2,000-square-foot space accommodates creative media production with numerous amenities. The many features of Level Two Studios include a 25-by-11-foot white or green screen corner cyclorama wall — the only one available in the region — as well as blackout walls for seamless filming. The studio also boasts flexible standing sets that provide endless customization options, sound suppression, full lighting, a state-of-the-art video-editing suite and audio studio for post-production, a green room, and ample accommodations for private wardrobe, makeup, meetings, and other preparation. The facility can accommodate production crews of all sizes and is available for both full- and half-day rentals.

 

Barron & Jacobs to Move Office Location

NORTHAMPTON — Barron & Jacobs Associates will move its offices in November from Old South Street in Northampton to 420 North Main St. in Leeds. After 17 years in its current location, the company has decided to move to a new spot. The existing building was purchased by the company’s prior owner from Historic Northampton, and Barron & Jacobs restored the home to its original glory. Company owner Chris Jacobs said the new site offers a great location, is well-suited for the business, and is more energy-efficient. Barron & Jacobs is a full-service design/build remodeler. In business since 1986, the company’s projects include kitchens, baths, porches and decks, attic and basement conversions, whole-house renovations, exterior work, and more. For more information or to schedule a design consultation, visit barronandjacobs.com.

 

Angels in Adoption Honors Friends of Children

HADLEY — U.S. Sen. Edward Markey is celebrating Friends of Children as a 2021 Angels in Adoption honoree for its outstanding advocacy for foster-care issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which coordinates the Angels in Adoption program, honored Friends of Children on Oct. 20 in a virtual gala. According to Markey, Friends of Children was nominated as an honoree this year due to its relentless advocacy for children despite the challenges of the COVID pandemic. “Even in our nation’s darkest hour, as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, you have fought tirelessly for the children and families impacted by foster care and involvement in the juvenile justice system and have shown great fortitude in the face of adversity,” Markey said. Jane Lyons, executive director of Friends of Children, said accepting the nomination shines an important light on the invaluable work the organization provides. “To be recognized by the CCAI with this award is really exciting and underscores the value placed on our independent child advocacy for kids in the foster-care system.”

 

Lesser Presents $1,000 Earmark to Springfield Science Museum

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums welcomed state Sen. Eric Lesser on Oct. 25 to announce a $100,000 earmark from the Commonwealth to help fund the International Space Station exhibit in the Springfield Science Museum. The Springfield Museums is constructing a fully immersive representation of the International Space Station module Destiny. The gallery will have an ‘airlock’ entrance and dynamic view of Earth from the exhibit’s bay-window cupola. The vestibule is nearing completion and will include a facsimile astronaut suit as well as interactive features that help visitors better understand the science of space exploration. Plans are also underway for a facilitated, roving ‘space cart,’ which will include items from an astronaut’s gear that visitors can touch. A facilitator will be available to answer questions and share information about space travel. Currently on view outside the gallery is an interactive screen donated by NASA. Visitors can touch the image of the International Space Station to find out more information about its function.

 

Country Bank Supports Ride to Remember

WARE — Country Bank recently supported the Ride to Remember, the 100-mile bicycle ride in tribute to fallen police officers and firefighters. This year, the event was rerouted to include a round-trip ride from Springfield to Worcester to pay tribute to the lives lost by the Worcester Police and Fire departments. Country Bank President and CEO Paul Scully, who previously participated in the ride, presented a $10,000 donation to the Ride to Remember with funds directed to the Manny 267 Foundation in Worcester. The Manny 267 Foundation was established after the city of Worcester suffered the loss of officer Manny Familia, a five-year veteran who responded to the 911 call of a 14-year-old boy in distress at Green Hill Pond. Unfortunately, neither Familia nor the boy survived. The goal of the foundation is to raise funds to provide rescue tubes for every police cruiser and, with the collaboration of the YMCA, provide proper training for police to perform water rescues. In addition, they want to offer swimming lessons and water-survival skills for kids and teenagers in the Worcester community. Finally, their goal is to donate a ‘Manny tube’ to every police department in the U.S. and to prevent this type of tragedy from ever happening again.

 

Excel Dryer Renews Support for Square One Program

SPRINGFIELD — For the fifth consecutive year, Excel Dryer is lending its support to Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom initiative, donating $5,000 to provide supplies and meals to the agency’s preschoolers. “We are proud to support Square One and their ongoing efforts to provide early-education services to children in our area,” said Denis Gagnon, president of Excel Dryer. “This organization is a vital part of our community, providing a safe and educational space for young children. We hope our donation can help provide much-needed meals and resources for these students.” Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom program is part of the agency’s Campaign for Healthy Kids, a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment.

MSB Asks Community to Vote for Their Favorite Nonprofits

MONSON — With the season of giving right around the corner, Monson Savings Bank (MSB) is reaching out to the public and requesting they submit their votes for the bank’s 2022 Community Giving Initiative. For more than a decade, MSB has been seeking the help of the community to plan the bank’s community-giving activities by inviting members of the community to vote for the organizations they would like the bank to support during the upcoming year. Everyone is welcome to participate and can cast their vote at www.monsonsavings.bank/connect/community-giving.html. Voters may provide the names of up to three organizations they would like the bank to donate to in 2022. The only requirements are that the organizations be designated a nonprofit and that the organizations provide services within the bank’s geography. Voting ends on Friday, Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. Monson Savings Bank pledges to support the top 10 organizations that receive the most votes. The 10 organizations will be announced by mid-January, and donations will then be distributed.

American Eagle Supports Asnuntuck Food Pantry

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — American Eagle Financial Credit Union (AEFCU) revealed the recipients of $25,842 in total donations from the latest round of the credit union’s popular Cash Back to the Community program. The third quarter’s winners — three nonprofit organizations from AEFCU’s service area that earned the most community votes — will each receive $8,614 from American Eagle. The latest winners are the Asnuntuck Community College Food Pantry in Enfield, the Southington Girls Softball League, and Our Piece of the Pie in Hartford. Through the Cash Back to the Community program, American Eagle has donated $76,571 to local organizations in 2021 alone, and $162,996 since the program first launched in January 2020. AEFCU donates 1% of its credit- and debit-card interchange income to three nonprofit and/or 501(c)(3) organizations each quarter through the Cash Back to the Community program. In addition to American Eagle’s donations through the Cash Back to the Community program, AEFCU employees donated $3,461 to the United Way and $8,339 to the American Eagle Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. AEFCU employees have provided $33,827 in total donations in 2021. Funds are generated through voluntary payroll deductions throughout the year and distributed to local organizations that American Eagle and its employees support on a quarterly basis.

 

BHN’s Kamp for Kids Receives $5,000 Grant from Westfield Bank

WESTFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) announced it has received a grant of $5,000 from Westfield Bank’s Future Fund Program to benefit Kamp for Kids, the organization’s summer day camp for children and young adults with and without disabilities. Westfield Bank, a longtime supporter of BHN’s Kamp for Kids, established the Future Fund in 2002 as a response to overwhelming community needs and the shrinking sources of corporate philanthropy. It prioritizes funding to 501(c)(3) educational, recreational, cultural, and social-service programs that serve Westfield Bank’s market area. Grants made to Kamp for Kids provide camperships to youth with or without disabilities to ensure that all children, regardless of family income, are able to attend camp.

 

Company Notebook

Amherst Couple Gives $1 Million to Cooley Dickinson Hospital ED

NORTHAMPTON — Dr. Lynnette Watkins, the new president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Health Care, announced the receipt of a $1 million gift from John and Elizabeth Armstrong of Amherst to support the hospital’s Emergency Department. The Armstrong’s gift will support Transforming Emergency Care: Campaign for the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department, a $15.5 million expansion, reconfiguration, and renovation which will allow the hospital to meet the ever-evolving emergency medical needs of community members, from infants to older adults. Cooley Dickinson’s Emergency Department is 40% undersized to meet the community’s needs and cares for many patients who require critical medical attention. The number of patients visiting the department has grown from 17,000 annually in the 1970s to nearly 34,000 in recent years. For those patients, Emergency Department teams treat approximately 300 traumatic injuries per year; last year alone, over 6,000 patients needed to be admitted for further care. Gifts to the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department will support more and better designed spaces and increased privacy for patient care, faster access to computerized tomography (CT) scans, improved coordination of care to allow face-to-face communication between providers and nurses, and more patient rooms. Other planned improvements include enhanced geriatric care, a larger behavioral-health pod, a pediatric observation unit, and a streamlined admission process. The groundbreaking for these renovations is expected to occur at the end of 2022.

 

Balagan Cannabis Opens Doors in Downtown Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Balagan Cannabis, a boutique, adult-use cannabis dispensary located at 235 Main St. in downtown Northampton, officially opened on Oct. 16. The enterprise is owned by a team of four partners, including native Northamptonite Rachael Workman, daughter of Danny Workman, the former long-time owner of Jake’s. Her partners are veteran cannabis retailer Adi Nagli, New York-based financier Itamar Alpert, and Gil Sasson, who has been running operations next door at Cafe Balagan, the dispensary’s sister outfit, which opened six months ago. The name Balagan (pronounced bah-lah-gone) is a Hebrew slang term translating loosely to ‘a beautiful chaos’ and pays tribute to the partnership’s strong Israeli roots. In the three years since Mayor David Narkewicz signed Balagan’s host agreement, the team took on a hefty gut renovation of the former Sam’s Pizza space and relocated two of the partners’ families to the area (one from as far away as Israel). The last year has been dedicated to designing a signature retail space with the help of interiors expert Sarah Zashin-Jacobson. Sweitzer Construction provided design-build general contracting services.

 

Belt Technologies Recognized at Manufacturing Awards Ceremony

AGAWAM — Belt Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of custom metal belt conveyor solutions for more than 50 years, was honored at the sixth annual Manufacturing Awards Ceremony hosted by the Massachusetts Legislative Manufacturing Caucus at the Massachusetts Manufacturing Mash-Up event. More than 600 people attended the event, which was organized by Mass Tech Collaborative and held at Polar Park in Worcester on Sept. 28. “We were honored to be recognized as a leading manufacturer in Massachusetts,” said Denis Gagnon, CEO of Belt Technologies. “We have been innovating for more than five decades and fortunate to have grown, adding several jobs here in Massachusetts over the past year. Thank you to Senator John Velis for seeing the great work we do and nominating us for this award.”

 

State-of-the-art [email protected] Training Center Established

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNE) College of Engineering Laboratory for Education and Application Prototypes (LEAP), a state-of-the-art optics/photonics training center, has been established through a grant of $2,581,109 from the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM). [email protected] is part of a national effort to advance state-of-the-art manufacturing with the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics consortium. With the support of the grant funding, WNE partnered with Convergent Photonics in Chicopee and Springfield Technical Community College for the development of the new advanced-manufacturing center, located at Convergent Photonics. The LEAP lab, only the fourth of its kind in the state, will focus on product development, educational training, and collaborative research in the field of integrated photonics. The [email protected] facility features six instrumentation and prototyping workstations with capabilities including tunable lasers and optical power meters, polarimeters, and polarization controllers; optical-spectrum analyzers and free-space optics; electronic signal generators, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and power supplies; and PCB fabrication using subtractive and additive techniques. The grant was part of the CAM Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M212), which has made a $100 million commitment to manufacturing innovation.

 

Legislators Announce Funding Secured for Zoo in Forest Park

SPRINGFIELD — On Oct. 1, state Sen. Eric Lesser and state Rep. Carlos González were joined by members of the Springfield legislative delegation, and Sarah Tsitso, executive director of the Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center, to announce $50,000 in funding secured for annual operations. Lesser acted as lead budget sponsor in the Senate in securing this earmark in the FY22 budget along with House sponsor González. The FY22 budget was passed by the Senate and House and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker in July. These funds will help sustain the annual operations of the Zoo in Forest Park, which includes daily care of more than 240 animals 365 days per year, including several endangered species; educational opportunities for youth and adults across Western Mass.; camps during summer and school vacation weeks; collaborations with other local nonprofits, including Square One in Springfield and Girls Inc. of the Valley in Holyoke; job training and internships in the fields of biology, veterinary medicine, and animal care; tourism and marketing initiatives that encourage visitors to spend time and money in the city and our region; and opportunities for individuals and local businesses to get involved in their community through volunteer projects.

 

Jewish Family Service Receives Multi-year Grant to Promote Refugee Economic Independence

SPRINGFIELD — Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts (JFS), in partnership with HIAS, has been awarded a four-year, $250,000-per-year Individual Development Accounts (IDA) program grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The IDA program is a matched-savings program that assists individuals and families to save toward an asset that will increase financial independence. Refugees can save for one of four assets — to start or support a business, to purchase a vehicle to obtain and maintain employment and education, to increase capital to purchase a home, or to invest in post-secondary education or training. Individuals can save up to $2,000, and households can save up to $4,000, and have their savings matched dollar for dollar. The IDA program provides asset-specific training, financial-literacy classes, and technical assistance to increase participants’ capacity to increase self-sufficiency, become financially stable, and achieve their savings goals. By enrolling participants in IDA, HIAS and JFS will help refugees establish savings accounts; create regular saving habits; promote participation in the financial banking system; increase knowledge of financial topics, including developing a household budget, building and maintaining credit, and saving; acquire assets to build individual, family, and community resources; advance education opportunities; purchase homes; gain access to capital for microenterprise development; and foster community economic development by which the historically marginalized are now accessing resources and opportunities.

 

YMCA Golf Classic Raises More Than $70,000 for Programs

SPRINGFIELD — The YMCA of Greater Springfield held its 2021 Golf Classic on Sept. 20 at the Longmeadow Country Club, with local businesses coming together in a round of golf to support the mission of the YMCA. Dexter Johnson, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, said the event raised more than $70,000, which will support before- and after-school programs, child care, early-learning opportunities, summer camp, swim lessons, and health and wellness programs. Wellfleet Insurance sponsored this year’s Golf Classic.

 

KC Law Celebrates Five-year Anniversary

WESTFIELD — Attorney Kevin Chrisanthopoulos is celebrating the five-year anniversary of KC Law, which specializes in personal injury and medical malpractice. Since leaving a large Springfield firm in 2016 to start out on his own, Attorney Chrisanthopoulos has been named to the Massachusetts Super Lawyers list and included in America’s Top 100 Medical Malpractice Litigators. He has guided numerous families through the loss of a loved one and advocated for those dealing with significant injuries. He is a graduate of Western New England University and Roger Williams School of Law. His bar admissions include Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, and the U.S. Court of Appeals First Circuit. In addition, he is a member of the Hampden County Bar Assoc., Massachusetts Bar Assoc., and Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys. Over the past five years, he has litigated numerous complex medical-malpractice and wrongful-death cases while providing countless hours of pro bono services to individuals who cannot afford legal representation. Chrisanthopoulos’ community involvement includes assisting in the creation a foundation to raise money for the Clarke School, which specializes in educating children who are deaf or hard of hearing. He also serves as president of the board of trustees for Amelia Park Arena & Memorial Garden and has spent significant time coaching hockey.

 

Company Notebook

Girls Inc. Unveils Plans for New Home in Holyoke

HOLYOKE — After a four-year search, Girls Inc. of the Valley unveiled what will become its new home — the former ‘O’Connell building’ on Hampden Street in Holyoke. At a press conference, Girls Inc. leaders announced that the nonprofit had acquired the property and has mapped out extensive renovation efforts and plans to open the new facility perhaps as early as a year from now. Girls Inc. Executive Director Suzanne Parker told those assembled that, as part of a strategic plan created more than four years ago, the nonprofit has sought a new home that will bring all its programs together under one roof and facilitate growth that will enable it to serve more girls in the Pioneer Valley. The search for such a facility has been a long and sometimes difficult undertaking, she noted, one that eventually brought Girls Inc. to the Hampden Street property, which was the longtime home to the O’Connell Companies, and later law offices after O’Connell built a new headquarters on Kelly Way in Holyoke. Girls Inc. closed on the property late last month, acquiring it for $790,000 with financing from PeoplesBank, said Parker, noting that extensive renovations to many portions of the property will bring the price tag for the project to roughly $3.5 million. A capital campaign — the Her Future, Our Future campaign, which has an overall goal of $5 million — was launched more than a year ago, she said, adding that funds raised through that campaign will be used to cover those costs. The site brings a number of benefits, said Parker, listing a 55-space parking lot and ample room — 16,000 square feet over two floors — for facilities that will include a cutting-edge STEM makers’ space, library, two multi-purpose rooms, a teen lounge, a kitchen and dining area, administrative offices, and more.

 

HCC Receives $1 Million Grant to Build New Engineering Program

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a new engineering pathways program to help boost the numbers of Latinx and women engineers working in the field. The grant — $956,458 over four years — will allow HCC to design an accelerated, one-year engineering certificate program that will culminate in paid internships with high-tech research organizations such as the renowned Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. The money comes from the NSF’s program for Hispanic Serving Institutions and is intended to improve undergraduate education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. HCC has been a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, or HSI, since 2016. Colleges and universities are recognized as HSIs when their Hispanic/Latinx enrollment exceeds 25%. HCC’s partners in the grant include Holyoke High School, Westfield High School, Western New England University, UMass Amherst, the Northampton-based Collaborative for Educational Services, a national association called the 50K Coalition, and the Society for Women Engineers. The main goals of HCC’s new Western Massachusetts Engineering Pathways Program are to increase participation in engineering by members of groups historically underrepresented in the field, to revitalize HCC’s engineering programs to be more responsive to a diverse student body, and to ensure the program meets the needs of regional employers. Through the grant, HCC will hire an Engineering Pathways coordinator to recruit high-school students for the program. After students complete their coursework, they will be placed in paid internships. As a further incentive, each student in their final program course will receive a $1,000 stipend. The grant also calls for a review of HCC’s associate-degree program in engineering in consultation with HCC’s partners to increase employer engagement and improve transfer pathways to four-year institutions. In addition, the grant will facilitate the creation of a chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at HCC. Also in conjunction with the grant, HCC has joined the 50K Coalition, a national consortium of professional engineering societies whose goal is graduate 50,000 women engineers and engineers of color by 2025.

 

Big E Sets Single-day Attendance Record

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Big E closed out its 17-day fair with a bang on its final weekend, drawing 177,238 patrons on Saturday, Oct. 2 — the largest single-day attendance in the event’s history. The total 17-day attendance was 1,498,774, short of the record of 1,629,527 set in 2019. This year’s fair set attendance records on three other days as well; Sept. 21 drew the best first-Tuesday crowd ever (56,769), Sept. 26 was the best-ever second Sunday (136,512), and Oct. 1 was the best-ever third Friday (113,827).

 

Western MA Food Processing Center Named Manufacturer of the Year

GREENFIELD — The Franklin County Community Development Corp.’s Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center (FPC) was named Manufacturer of the Year in the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester state Senate district. The FPC was nominated to receive this award by state Sen. Jo Comerford through the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus, of which she is a member. Located in Greenfield, the FPC was established in 2001 and will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in October. The center serves as an incubator space for new and growing specialty food businesses to manufacture their products. The FPC team has helped local businesses prototype and launch a wide variety of different products, including sauces, toppings, salsas, dips, syrups, and frozen meals. It has a wide variety of specialized equipment to help local farms add value to their produce. Additionally, the FPC provides one-on-one counseling and technical assistance to support business planning, product development, regulatory compliance, and more. Currently, the FPC has 50 clients and employs eight full-time staff. During the busy harvest season, it employs several part-time staff, including individuals through the re-entry program of Hampshire County House of Corrections. This harvest season, the FPC team made value-added products, like pickles, pestos, and salsas, for 18 farms and offered dry and cold storage services to another eight farms. The FPC is also home to Valley Veggies, as well as the only individual quick-freeze machine in New England, which processes local vegetables for schools, institutions, and retail. The Food Processing Center is continuously improving its manufacturing capabilities by investing in specialized food-processing equipment, much of which is funded by state and federal grant programs.

 

Uvitron International Receives ISO 9001 Certification

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Uvitron International Inc., a designer and manufacturer of high-performance UV light-curing systems and accessories, recently received ISO 9001 certification after demonstrating it met international standards of quality management and quality assurance. “Since we were founded in 1993, we have earned a reputation for manufacturing and selling a quality product supported by a high degree of product knowledge,” said Eugene Mikhaylichenko, Uvitron’s Sales and Marketing director. “This certification underscores our efforts to continue to build on this strong foundation.” Uvitron was established as a developer and manufacturer of switch-mode power supplies for light-curing systems, developing the first electronic arc lamp power supply. The company has since evolved into a total solutions provider of light-curing systems and accessories. ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an independent, non-governmental, international organization that develops standards to ensure the quality, safety, and efficiency of products, services, and systems. ISO 9001 standards are based on seven quality management principles: customer focus, leadership, engagement of people, process approach, improvement, evidence-based decision making, and relationship management.

 

Country Bank Recognized by Boston Business Journal for Charitable Giving

WARE — The Boston Business Journal has once again named Country Bank an honoree in its annual 2021 Corporate Citizenship Awards, recognizing the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. The magazine annually publishes this list to highlight companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities. During this year’s virtual celebration held on Sept. 9, 98 companies qualified for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities and social-service nonprofits last year. This year, the honorees include companies from healthcare, technology, financial and professional services, retail, professional sports, and more. Country Bank, which ranked 55th, employs 215 staff members within Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties. Staff members actively promoted the bank’s mission of giving back to the communities they serve by volunteering to a variety of nonprofits. Paul Scully, president and CEO at Country Bank, added that “we are honored to be recognized by the Boston Business Journal for Country Bank’s philanthropic efforts. As a community bank, it is our mission to help make a difference in the lives of others.”

 

Renaissance Investment Group to Open New Downtown Office

LENOX — Renaissance Investment Group, LLC is joining the growing business community in downtown Lenox with a new office at 45 Walker St. The group will leave its current building in the Lenox Commons and plans to move into the Walker Street space in November. Mill Town Capital is the new owner of the building. Renaissance and Mill Town have agreed on a 10-year lease during which Mill Town will serve as the landlord for the building and will fund property improvements. Mill Town also owns and operates the Gateways Inn and Restaurant at 51 Walker St. Mill Town, an impact-investment firm based in Pittsfield, owns and operates numerous properties in the Berkshires as part of its efforts to expand and improve quality of life in the area. The firm focuses on making impactful business investments and community-development efforts.

 

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Awards Five $1,000 Scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — Five area students were each awarded a $1,000 Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship to advance their education by the law firm that bears his name. The Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship is awarded annually to a union member affiliated with the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation or their spouse or dependent. Applicants are asked to submit their high-school or college transcripts, written recommendations, a recital of recent community service, and an essay detailing the importance of the labor movement to their family. Winners of this year’s awards are Emma Cowles of Wilbraham, Samantha Franciosa of Granby, Emma Hayward of Pittsfield, Antonia Perakis of West Springfield, and Elizabeth Sarnacki of East Otis.

 

STCC Receives $7.35 Million to Enhance STEM Education

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) has been awarded two grants worth more than $7 million from the U.S. Department of Education to boost student success among Latinx and low-income students in STEM fields, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal announced during a visit to STCC. The first grant, titled “Project Acceleration: Re-engineering Pathways to Student Success in STEM,” will run for five years for a total of $3 million. It will allow STCC to create a STEM studies program and develop support services to increase access to STEM careers. The grant is designed to increase enrollment and improve the graduation rates of Latinx and low-income students in STEM majors and help them continue with their studies instead of withdrawing from school. In addition, the grant will allow STCC to help reduce the time it takes male students of color, particularly Latinx, to complete studies. The grant falls under the federal Title V program, which was created to improve higher education of Hispanic students. The second grant announced by Neal is titled “STEM Access and Retention Strategies.” The five-year grant, totaling $4,352,559, will allow STCC to create and enhance support services for Latinx and low-income students. Services and programs supported by the grant include creation of STEM-focused first-year experience courses; utilization of proactive STEM advisors, which would involves bringing services to students rather than waiting for them to ask; and implementation of additional mental-health services. In recent years, STCC created a STEM Center that offers opportunities for tutoring and group study for all students. The college also provides mentoring and coaching. The new federal grant also will allow STCC to enhance professional development for faculty. STCC, the only technical community college in Massachusetts, is federally designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution, with 30% of the students identifying as Hispanic. The city of Springfield suffers high unemployment and poverty. Fifty-six percent of STCC students receive federal Pell grants, which are awarded to students who display exceptional financial need. Hispanic and low-income students enter college with greater developmental math needs and lower retention and graduation rates, on average, than non-Hispanic and higher-income students. Only 11.4% of Hispanic and 14% of low-income students major in STEM. As part of the grant focusing on access and retention strategies, STCC will partner with UMass Amherst and Central Connecticut State University to expand transfer opportunities for students.

 

Springfield Museums Receive Shuttered Venue Operator Grant

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums welcomed U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Small Business Alliance Massachusetts District Office Director Robert Nelson to the Quadrangle green on Oct. 7 to announce a $1,200,000 Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As part of the American Rescue Plan, the SVOG program provided more than $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues and was administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Springfield Museums shut its doors for four months, the first time this has happened in its 164-year history. “As a beloved community anchor and an important informal-learning hub, we were overjoyed to reopen in July 2020,” Springfield Museums President Kay Simpson said. “Our visitors make our museums alive with energy and potential, and we are so glad to have them back in our buildings. We are deeply grateful for the funds provided by the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant, which will help us make up for the lost time during that four-month period.”

 

Springfield College, UMass Launch Accelerated Law Degree Program

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College and the University of Massachusetts Law School – Dartmouth have finalized a 3+3 agreement that will create new, accelerated opportunities for Springfield College students to attain a law degree. As part of the agreement, Springfield College pre-law students will spend three years working toward their undergraduate degree before enrolling at UMass Law, where they will begin taking law courses that fulfill their remaining undergraduate requirements while beginning their legal education. Springfield College Professor of History and Pre-Law Advisor Thomas Carty was instrumental in forging this pathway for Springfield College students with UMass Law. Students will earn their bachelor’s and juris doctorate degrees in six years rather than the traditional seven. These accelerated degree programs allow students to apply credits earned during their first year of law school to their final year of college, saving students thousands of dollars in tuition payments and living expenses. Over the past five years, UMass Law ranks second in the nation, among nearly 200 ABA-accredited law schools, for enrollment growth, while maintaining the smallest first-year doctrinal course sizes among all Massachusetts law schools. UMass Law’s most recent ABA Standard 316 ‘ultimate’ (two-year) bar pass rate is 92% across all jurisdictions. UMass Law has twice been ranked among the best law schools in the country for its program of practical training. The law school also ranks second among all 15 law schools in New England for the percentage of students entering public service.

 

Jewish Family Service Receives Citizenship and Integration Grant

SPRINGFIELD — Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts (JFS) has been awarded a competitive two-year $250,000 Citizenship and Integration Grant from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This grant enables JFS to continue its work helping legal permanent residents become U.S. citizens. The fiscal year 2021 grants, which run through September 2023, will fund legal services for citizenship applicants and educational programs designed to deepen an applicant’s knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics. Since it began in 2009, the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program has awarded more than $112 million through 513 competitive grants to immigrant-serving organizations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Now in its 13th year, the program has helped more than 290,500 lawful permanent residents prepare for citizenship. JFS is one of 40 organizations in 25 states to receive nearly $10 million in funding to support citizenship-preparation services. Now in its 13th year, the USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant Program has helped more than 290,500 lawful permanent residents prepare for citizenship. A ‘permanent resident’ is a person authorized by the U.S. government to live and work in the country on a permanent basis. Jewish Family Service is a nonprofit social service agency that has developed both substantive legal and programmatic expertise during its 10 years of experience in citizenship and naturalization services.

 

 

State-of-the-art [email protected] Training Center Established

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNE) College of Engineering Laboratory for Education and Application Prototypes (LEAP), a state-of-the-art optics/photonics training center, has been established through a grant of $2,581,109 from the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM). [email protected] is part of a national effort to advance state-of-the-art manufacturing with the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics consortium. With the support of the grant funding, WNE partnered with Convergent Photonics in Chicopee and Springfield Technical Community College for the development of the new advanced-manufacturing center, located at Convergent Photonics. The LEAP lab, only the fourth of its kind in the state, will focus on product development, educational training, and collaborative research in the field of integrated photonics. The [email protected] facility features six instrumentation and prototyping workstations with capabilities including tunable lasers and optical power meters, polarimeters, and polarization controllers; optical-spectrum analyzers and free-space optics; electronic signal generators, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and power supplies; and PCB fabrication using subtractive and additive techniques. The grant was part of the CAM Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M212), which has made a $100 million commitment to manufacturing innovation through its capital grant program and is collaborating on more than 60 projects connecting manufacturers with universities and companies. According to CAM, Massachusetts has made a substantial commitment to developing the Manufacturing USA infrastructure within the state’s academic, research, and manufacturing industry. Through the creation of sector-specific Manufacturing USA Centers, M212 will advance innovations and job growth within the state through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic and training institutions. Funded through the M212 program, LEAP is designed to support AIM Photonics, an industry-driven, public-private partnership that focuses the nation’s capabilities and expertise to capture critical global manufacturing leadership in a technology that is both essential to national security and positioned to provide a compelling return on investment to the American economy.

 

Company Notebook

Area Colleges, Univerties Recognized in U.S. News & World Report Listings

WESTERN MASS. — Several area colleges and universities were recognized recently in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings.

• Elms College was named to the list of Best Regional Universities – North. The college moved to 85th out of 171 other northern regional colleges and universities, up from 93rd in 2021. On a new list of Undergraduate Nursing Programs, Elms College School of Nursing ranked 288th out of 694 schools. On the Top Performers on Social Mobility list, Elms ranked 11th among 86 northern regional colleges and universities. This category measures the extent to which schools enrolled and graduated students who received federal Pell Grants (those typically coming from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually).

• For the seventh consecutive year, Springfield College is ranked in the top 30 in the Best Regional Universities – North category. The college is also ranked 16th in the Best Value category of the report, up 10 spots from last year. The consistent ranking in the top tier is spurred by improved graduation rates and improved retention of first-year students.

• Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts rose to seventh on the list of Top Public Colleges, and to 21st as a Top Performer on Social Mobility, first in Massachusetts. MCLA also continues to appear on the list of Top National Liberal Arts Colleges, and has appeared on the list of Top Public Colleges for nine of the past 11 years.

• Western New England University has been ranked fourth in Top Performers on Social Mobility among National Universities in Massachusetts. The university improved its overall ranking to 213th in the nation this year, moving up 14 places from last year. Western New England University College of Engineering continues to be top-ranked in the Undergraduate Engineering (no doctorate) program category.

• Finally, Bay Path University is ranked 26th in Social Mobility, increasing its standing by 42 spots from last year. Bay Path also ranks ninth, moving up three spots, on the list of Most Innovative Universities in the North Region. In 2020, 58.3% of Bay Path’s traditional undergraduate students were identified as Pell-eligible.

 

The Dowd Agencies Acquires Wilcox Insurance Agency

HOLYOKE — The Dowd Agencies, a leading insurance provider serving New England for more than 120 years, has acquired the Wilcox Insurance Agency, founded in 1923. The two organizations have merged their operations and will now be known as Wilcox-Dowd Insurance. This acquisition adds two more branches in Westfield and Feeding Hills, expanding Dowd’s locations throughout the Pioneer Valley to eight offices. Wilcox Insurance Agency was founded as Westfield Mutual Insurance Agency in 1923 by Raymond Wilcox, who was eventually joined by son Malcolm, grandson Scott, and great-grandson Robert, who now leads the agency under the Dowd Agencies umbrella. The offices in Westfield and Feeding Hills are full-service insurance agencies providing personal, commercial, wealth-management, and employee-benefits products and services.

 

Hampden Papers Building Sold to Green Thumb Industries Inc.

HOLYOKE — Colebrook Realty Services Inc. announced the sale of the 326,664-square-foot industrial mill building at 100 Water St. in Holyoke from Hampden Glazed Paper + Card Co. to Green Thumb Industries Inc., a cannabis grower and retailer. Green Thumb Industries (GTI) is a national marijuana producer headquartered in Chicago with various brands and business units to its name. The company, which has 13 manufacturing locations and 97 retail sites across the U.S., is growing its footprint in Holyoke. The company was established in 2014 and boasts more than 2,300 employees. The acquisition of 100 Water St. reflects its continued plans for expansion and the positive environment the city of Holyoke has created for cannabis growers, manufacturers, and retailers. The 100 Water St. property was the headquarters of Hampden Papers, a 140-year-old family business that sold in 2020. The company specialized in specialty coated, laminated, printed, and embossed paper products. The mill complex is comprised of five interconnected industrial buildings, some multi-level and others single-story warehouses with high ceilings and several loading docks. The property features convenient access to major interstates, including the Mass Pike and I-91. Mitch Bolotin, vice president of Colebrook Realty Services, represented the seller, and Kevin Jennings of Jennings Real Estate represented the buyer.

 

Western New England University to Launch Women’s Wrestling Team

SPRINGFIELD — The Department of Athletics at Western New England University (WNE) recently announced the addition of women’s wrestling to its athletics program. This will be the University’s 21st varsity sport and the first NCAA DIII women’s wrestling team in New England. The women’s wrestling program is planned to begin its inaugural season in the fall of the 2022-23 academic year with Mike Sugermeyer, head coach for men’s wrestling, tasked with recruiting the first official class. The university will hire a women’s head coach prior to the start of the season. There are currently only 25 women’s wrestling programs at the NCAA DIII level. WNE will be the first in Massachusetts, compared to the 140 high-school programs in the state.

 

Hazen Holography Brings to Life Basketball Hall of Fame Dome

HOLYOKE — The cover of the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony yearbook appears electrified, the projection-LED-illuminated nine-story dome lit three-dimensionally on the page. To distinguish its ninth time producing the yearbook cover, Hazen Paper Co. used custom holography to illuminate the iconic symbol of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Hazen’s edgeless Hazen-Lens technology was used to create the pulsating play of light in front of a brilliant radial burst of two-channel holography, which refracts ambient light to generate the impression of movement as the book is opened. In front of the dome, the Basketball Hall of Fame logo is rendered three-dimensional with holography that emphasizes the basketball’s pebbled texture, juxtaposed with the sleek, reflective sphere of the dome. The back cover also features a custom hologram to telegraph the excitement of the Mohegan Sun Arena, mimicking the strobe-like effect of lighting washing over the audience in color from the concert stage. Detailed custom holography requires precise registration to deliver a crisp final product through the printing process. The unique Hazen Holography for both sides was registered to a tolerance of 1/16” for near-perfect alignment during printing. Hazen originated the holography completely within its vertically integrated facility. The custom holograms were created in Hazen’s holographic laser lab, then micro-embossed and transfer-metallized onto smooth, 12-point WestRock Crescendo C2S using Hazen’s environmentally friendly Envirofoil process. The yearbook cover was designed by agency GO of Hartford, Conn., and printed and individually numbered for authenticity on an HP Indigo digital press by Starburst Printing of Holliston.

 

PeoplesBank Recognize in Reader’s Choice Survey

HOLYOKE — Thousands of voters chimed in recently for the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Readers’ Choice consumer polls, and PeoplesBank was named a winner in several categories, including Best Local Bank, Best Local Online Banking, Best Mortgage/Home Loan Provider, Best Green Business, and Best Place to Work. PeoplesBank has made significant investments in customer service in recent years, adding new digital and contactless banking opportunities such as VideoBankerITMs as well as expanding its banking-center network in Northern and Central Connecticut. In each market it serves, the bank is well-known for its charitable and civic support. Meanwhile, at the other end of Massachusetts, the Boston Business Journal named PeoplesBank a Top Corporate Charitable Contributor again in 2021.

 

Rachel’s Table, Food Bank Join Forces to Fight Hunger

SPRINGFIELD — Rachel’s Table, the food rescue and redistribution program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts are joining forces to fight hunger. Rachel’s Table, with its 200 volunteer drivers, will transport food directly from designated grocery stores to Food Bank agencies, filling the gap where agencies lacked transportation or when its volunteers were needed elsewhere. Rachel’s Table’s partnership with the Food Bank began pre-pandemic in Westfield and has become revitalized during the past several months. Together, Rachel’s Table and the Food Bank are serving seven agencies, with 13 volunteer drivers from Rachel’s Table rescuing nutritious food from eight donors in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Starting slowly but deliberately, more than 15,000 pounds of healthy meat, produce, and dairy have been delivered since the program began, and there is more to come. People interested in driving for Rachel’s Table, or who know of food from a local restaurant, bakery, or grocery store that is going to waste, can contact the organization at www.rachelstablepv.org.

 

American Eagle Donates $5,000 to Hampden County Organizations

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — American Eagle Financial Credit Union (AEFCU) announced $5,000 in total donations for two organizations based in Hampden County. The Ronald McDonald House of Springfield and Springfield Partners for Community Action have each been selected to receive $2,500 grants from American Eagle’s donor-advised fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. “The Ronald McDonald House of Springfield and Springfield Partners for Community Action provide tremendous assistance, care, and resources to Hampden County families,” said Dean Marchessault, president and CEO of AEFCU. “It’s our hope these grants will bolster their efforts and serve as a reminder of our team’s admiration for the organizations.”

 

Agenda

Venture X Grand Opening

Sept. 9: Venture X, a membership-based workspace community, will celebrate the opening of its newest location in Holyoke. The 16,000-square-foot co-working space is located at 98 Lower Westfield Road. Venture X Holyoke invites the community to stop by from 4 to 7 p.m. to tour the business center and connect with other professionals. Venture X Holyoke provides flexible workspace solutions, IT security, and amenities. The space was built out during the pandemic, so special attention was given to the installation of a high-tech air filtration system, touchless bathrooms, and keyless door-entry systems. The facility features 65 private offices ranging from one-person spaces up to 10-person offices with dedicated desks and shared desks. The location also offers a community space, where members may mingle and network in the lounge area or around the coffee bar café. Members will have access to high-tech conference rooms, mailboxes, a copy center, a shredding service, and other business-related amenities. The facility offers ample free parking. Venture X is a brand of the United Franchise Group.

 

RVCC Golf Tournament

Sept. 10: River Valley Counseling Center (RVCC), a multi-faceted mental-health agency, will hold its sixth annual golf tournament fundraiser at East Mountain Country Club in Westfield. The event is presented by Action Ambulance Service Inc. Funds raised will support the programs RVCC provides to children and teens in the community, in schools, and through local partnerships. The cost per golfer is $100 and includes greens fees, a golf cart, a gift bag, lunch, and dinner. Golfers will also be able to participate in course contests and a raffle. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. with a 10:30 a.m. shotgun start. Sponsorship opportunities are available. Visit rvccinc.org/golf for more information and to register or sponsor online.

 

HCC Foundation Golf Classic

Sept. 13: Registration is open for the Holyoke Community College (HCC) Foundation’s annual fundraising golf tournament at Springfield Country Club in West Springfield. Last year’s golf tournament, the 33rd, was cancelled due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s tournament will recognize the 75th anniversary of Holyoke Community College. Proceeds will go toward student scholarships managed by the HCC Foundation, the college’s nonprofit fundraising arm. The golf outing begins with an 11 a.m. buffet lunch followed by a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. After golf, participants can enjoy cocktails on the clubhouse porch, followed by a dinner and celebration recognizing the 75th anniversary of Holyoke Community College. Participants can arrange their own foursomes or sign up as singles. The $185 individual fee includes greens fees, golf cart, lunch, dinner, and refreshments on the course. The cost is $740 per foursome. To register or sponsor the golf tournament, visit www.hcc.edu/golf.

 

‘Managing Healthcare Costs in Retirement’

Sept. 14: American Eagle Investment Services invites the public to explore their options for healthcare in retirement during a free virtual seminar from 6 to 7 p.m. Understanding healthcare costs is essential to retirement planning. While medical advances allow people to enjoy longer life expectancies, the challenge is how to pay for the rising costs of one’s physical well-being. Attendees of this free seminar will learn about the financial options of healthcare at age 65 and beyond. “Managing Healthcare Costs in Retirement” will feature an industry expert from Prudential Insurance, who will discuss and take questions on financial options related to healthcare for those age 65 and older. Discussion topics will include Medicare (Part A, B, C, and D), Medigap, long-term care, and health savings accounts. American Eagle Financial Credit Union members and non-members who are looking ahead to retirement, already retired, or helping a loved one with their retirement planning are encouraged to attend. Registration is open at americaneagle.org/seminar.

 

MHA Wellness Classic Golf Tournament

Sept. 17: MHA will hold its Wellness Classic golf benefit at Wilbraham Country Club for what will be the 23th year. “This year by far is the most successful golf tournament in MHA’s history. We raised over $100,000, and Real Living Realty Professionals as the title sponsor is a very real part of that,” said Kimberley Lee, MHA’s vice president of Resource Development and Branding. “As a first-time corporate donor, Real Living Realty Professionals did not make just one donation, but two significant expressions of their belief in the value of MHA’s work. Community support like this greatly enhances MHA’s ability to directly serve the individuals in our care, helping them to achieve their individuals goals.” For more details and to register, visit www.mhainc.org/wellness-classic.

 

Community Shred Day

Sept. 18: Freedom Credit Union will once again to offer the opportunity for Western Mass. residents to securely purge unwanted paperwork. In cooperation with PROSHRED Springfield, Freedom is offering a free community shred day at two of its branches in Springfield and West Springfield. The event is slated for 9 to 10 a.m. at 296 Cooley St. in Springfield, and 11 a.m. to noon at 58 Union St. in West Springfield. The public is invited to bring old bills, bank statements, tax returns, and other sensitive documents for free, quick, and secure on-site shredding. Members and non-members alike may bring up to five file boxes or paper bags (per vehicle) to the events. Masks are not required for those who are vaccinated.

 

YMCA of Greater Springfield Golf Tournament

Sept. 21: The YMCA of Greater Springfield announced it will hold a golf tournament at the Longmeadow Country Club. The funds raised will support youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility through access to the YMCA. In addition to a round of golf, golfers will enjoy a grilled lunch at 11 a.m. and a dinner following the tournament. To learn more about registration and sponsorship opportunities, e-mail Donna Sittard, Development director at the YMCA, at [email protected], call (413) 739-6951, ext. 3110, or visit www.springfieldy.org.

 

40 Under Forty Gala

Sept. 23: BusinessWest’s 15th annual 40 Under Forty gala will take place at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. The class of 2021 was introduced to the region in the magazine’s May 12 issue, and the profiles may be read online at BusinessWest.com. Tickets cost $80 per person. An extremely limited number of tickets are still available. To reserve a spot, call (413) 781-8600, or e-mail [email protected]

 

Leadership Training Program

Sept. 28-30: Giombetti Associates, a leadership institute providing behaviorally based talent-development and acquisition services, will host the second of three three-day leadership training programs for 2021 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. This intensive course covers the power of Performance Dynamics and how it can help participants know themselves better; different leadership styles and what makes them effective or ineffective; the importance of being vulnerable and transparent; how to build interpersonal relationships; what effective onboarding is and how it will help participants’ organizations and employees; how to be an efficient communicator; the best way to deliver developmental feedback; building teamwork and the value of team building; and trust, integrity, and more. Prior to training, each participant goes through Performance Dynamics, an assessment that consists of three personality inventories designed to identify 17 different traits that drive personality and behavior. Then, in an interactive, one-on-one feedback session, the participant develops a newfound self-awareness of their behavioral strengths, learns how to manage their personality more effectively, and gains an understanding of how their personality impacts others. Throughout the three-day training, the participant is encouraged to constantly refer to and link their personality to the leadership issue being discussed. All the subject matter is wrapped around individual personality and how it affects behavior in different situations, yielding a unique experience of self-exploration. To learn more about the three-day leadership program, which has an additional session scheduled in November, visit giombettiassoc.com/three-day-leadership-training-program. Registration is now open for both sessions.

 

HCC Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series

Sept. 29, Oct. 27, Nov. 24: Holyoke Community College (HCC) will continue its monthly Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series this fall. During each session, participants will join prominent women leaders for discussions on relevant topics and ideas to help their leadership development. They will also have the opportunity to form a supportive network to help navigate their own careers. The fall dates and topics are:

• Sept. 29: “Do Something Every Day that Scares You” with Pattie Hallberg, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts;

• Oct. 27: “Just Go for It,” with Helen Gomez Andrews, co-founder and CEO of the High End; and

• Nov. 24: “Journey to and from Exit Zero,” with Sharale Mathis, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at HCC.

The cost of each session is $25, with the exception of the three-part Vision Board class with Turner, which costs $99. The cost for the full, six-session series is $120. Cost, however, will not be a barrier to participation. If pricing is an issue, contact Michele Cabral, HCC’s executive director of Business, Corporate and Professional Development, at [email protected] Space is limited, and advance registration is required. To register, visit hcc.edu/womens-leadership.

 

Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]


 

 

Brewing Up Business

 

 

 

 

 

One Way Brewing opened its doors at 807 Maple Road in Longmeadow on May 22, marking the launch of Longmeadow’s first brewery. One Way Brewing released a flagship beer, Kickstarter, a New England IPA. Pictured at top: two of the many customers who showed up at the event, which featured lines stretched around the building for much of the day. Above, Jason Tsitso, partner and head brewer, loads up six-packs of beer for sale at the kickoff event

 

 


 

 

Honoring a Legacy

Springfield’s Sinai Temple and the Jerome S. Gurland Human Relations Award Committee recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) as the 2021 award recipient. GSHFH Executive Director Aimee Giroux (pictured, right) met with Rabbi Jeremy Master (left) on May 26 to accept the honor. Award namesake Rabbi Gurland of Longmeadow, who passed away on May 20, had been an advocate for community service and interfaith relations. Giroux said the funds will be used to promote community involvement, primarily with youth volunteers through construction on its Bay Street project.

 


 

 

Customers’ Choice Community Grants

During a May 18 celebration at Look Park, Florence Bank awarded $100,500 to 32 community organizations through its 19th annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program. Each year, Florence Bank customers are invited to vote for their favorite local nonprofit; to qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes. In 2020, almost 7,000 votes were cast. Pictured: Monica Curhan, senior vice president and Marketing director, joins President and CEO Kevin Day in leading the awards presentation.

 


 

Company Notebook

Bulkley Richardson Launches Blockchain, Cryptocurrency Group

SPRINGFIELD — Bulkley Richardson recently launched a Blockchain and Cryptocurrency practice group to provide solutions for businesses adopting blockchain technology in a complex and changing regulatory landscape. The group’s attorneys have broad-based experience in key areas affecting blockchain technologies, including financial services and banking, intellectual property, securities regulation, emerging businesses, corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, taxation, and digital privacy and cybersecurity. Blockchain technologies like cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are changing the way businesses operate. The rise of the blockchain has spurred a wave of innovation that is disrupting the market and spawning new areas of the digital economy. As blockchain innovation continues to grow and evolve, so do the legal, regulatory, and business challenges. The Blockchain and Cryptocurrency practice group includes attorneys Mark Cress, Dan Finnegan, Scott Foster, Bart Galvin, Lauren Ostberg, Ron Weiss, and Sarah Willey. With a cross-disciplinary approach, Bulkley Richardson aims to assist clients in capitalizing on new business opportunities and meeting the challenges in this rapidly evolving industry.

 

Whalley Computer Associates Named One of Tech Elite 250

SOUTHWICK — Whalley Computer Associates (WCA) has once again been named to the Tech Elite 250 list comprised of solution providers in the U.S. and Canada that have made the investments necessary to earn the highest level of certifications from the largest and most prestigious manufacturers of technology products and services, such as Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell, IBM, Microsoft, Nutanix, VMware, HPI, and HPE, to name a few. CRN, a brand of the Channel Company, named WCA to the Tech Elite 250 in 2016 and 2019 as well. WCA’s engineering team has earned about 125 certifications with nearly 30 different manufacturers by numerous dedicated engineers. Founded in 1979, WCA has been providing IT solutions and services to customers throughout New England and upstate New York for 42 years. While it boasts a diverse customer base from small customers to numerous Fortune 100 companies in a wide array of industries, WCA is one of North America’s leading technology solution providers to healthcare, retail, finance, K-12, higher education, and government agencies on both the state and local levels.

 

Darby O’Brien Advertising Launches Catch & Keep Initiative

SOUTH HADLEY — For more than 40 years, Darby O’Brien Advertising has created and executed innovative branding, advertising, and political campaigns. In recent years, clients have increasingly asked the agency to bring its same out-of-step approach to another important area of business: recruiting. Many businesses, especially in technology and manufacturing, are facing unique challenges in today’s job market. Many have plenty of well-paid positions open but are unable to find the right candidates to fill them. Then, when they find the right people, it can be a challenge to keep them. Traditional headhunters and online hiring services often fall short, offering boilerplate approaches to a problem that needs customized solutions — and offering no follow-up. The agency decided to launch Catch & Keep after developing successful recruiting campaigns for clients including VSS CNC Machining, the Mental Health Assoc., Paragus IT, and Berkshire Real Estate. Case studies and more information on Catch & Keep can be found at darbyobrien.com/recruiting.

 

National Science Foundation Grants $649,000 to WNEU

SPRINGFIELD — The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Western New England University (WNEU) $649,111 for a five-year grant to offer scholarships to students. The target populations are students who are high achievers in high school whose family demonstrates they will benefit from financial aid. The grant will create a community-outreach program to increase the number of high-school and middle-school students entering and succeeding in STEM fields. The grant, titled Sustainable Pathways to Success for Low-income STEM Students Emphasizing Research and Innovation, was awarded to Jingru Benner, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and a team of educators from the university including Dean Hossein Cheraghi, Michael Rust, and Anthony Santamaria from the College of Engineering; Raymond Ostendorf from the College of Arts and Sciences; and Bryan Gross, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing. Benner will serve as principal investigator and project director. The project will increase the number of high-school students who have access to enroll in the WNEU Mechanical Engineering program. The grant provides funding for an annual need-based scholarship that will be added on top of each student’s WNEU merit scholarship and can be combined with the university’s Women in Engineering or FIRST Robotics Scholarships. In addition, the grant will fund critical resources for students in the program to receive targeted support to help them successfully graduate.

 

Elms College Athletics to Join GNAC This Fall

CHICOPEE — Elms College and the Great Northeast Athletic Conference announced that the Blazers’ GNAC core membership will begin this fall with the upcoming 2021-22 academic year. Last October, both the institution and the league office issued a joint announcement indicating Elms would join the GNAC with the 2022-23 academic year; however, that timeline has since been adjusted. Elms had been a member of the New England College Conference since 2007, claiming 19 league championships while leading the way in All-Academic selections. The Blazers’ swimming and diving programs have been associate members of GNAC since 2006, last competing at the 2020 GNAC championships just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Now all 17 sport programs will compete in the same conference, including baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, as well as men’s and women’s volleyball. GNAC Commissioner Joe Walsh, the conference office, and current members are working diligently to make scheduling adjustments to accommodate the Blazers’ programs, as Elms will now begin its GNAC journey this fall with men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s golf, and women’s volleyball.

 

MCLA Receives $28,000 Grant from Massachusetts DHE

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has received a $28,720 Higher Education Innovation Fund Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE), which recently announced a slate of $1.7 million in grants for the state’s public colleges. These grants fund initiatives that help colleges work toward racial equity in Massachusetts public higher education. The grant will allow the MCLA Department of Public Safety to work with a consulting firm specializing in improving police departments’ relationships with their communities. The consultant will work with MCLA to develop an interactive training module for the Department of Public Safety with the goal of increasing cultural competency and engagement of its officers and staff with the MCLA community. Most of the grant proposals funded by DHE seek to provide faculty and staff equity training for transforming campus pedagogy, syllabi, curriculum, and campus life, with the goal of making the institution a truly nurturing environment for students of color.

 

UMass Board of Trustees Approves In-state Tuition Freeze for 2021-22

BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts board of trustees voted to approve UMass President Marty Meehan’s proposal to freeze tuition for all in-state undergraduate and graduate students at UMass Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell for the 2021-22 academic year. The vote marks the second consecutive year of tuition and mandatory fee freezes at UMass for in-state undergraduate and graduate students. The Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell campuses also froze out-of-state student tuition. The net price of a UMass education — price minus financial aid — remains consistent with other New England public land-grant universities and 31% below peer private institutions. In addition to a tuition freeze, the university increased its institutionally funded financial aid to a record high of $352 million this fiscal year. This aid, which is funded directly by the university, accounts for 40% of the total aid UMass students receive and is comprised primarily of scholarships and grants. Since 2015, institutional aid has increased by $116 million, or 49%. At least 25% of UMass students at each campus receive Pell Grants. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund is projected to provide $23 million to UMass to further support students, and last year’s CARES Act provided $23 million in direct aid to students. These grants are not considered or included as financial aid.

 

Brenda Cuoco & Associates to Open Second Branch in Longmeadow Shops

LONGMEADOW — Brenda Cuoco & Associates Real Estate Brokerage announced the addition of a new flagship office location opening soon in the Longmeadow Shops. The office is currently under construction, with a target opening date of May 1, and will be located at 714 Bliss Road, adjacent to Starbucks. The addition will support the steady and sustained growth that the brokerage has seen in the last several years and will complement the existing office located at 2442 Boston Road in Wilbraham. The brokerage will also actively recruit top-performing agents to help serve this new community. The firm sold 164 properties last year with a volume of $46.8 million.

 

AIC to Name Renovated Basketball Locker Room in Honor of Frank Oppedisano

SPRINGFIELD — The American International College (AIC) men’s basketball locker room will enjoy a much-needed makeover with help from friends in the community. Earlier this year, a group of alumni expressed an interest in doing something meaningful to help AIC men’s basketball in memory of their friend and former teammate, Frank Oppedisano, class of 1967. In addition to their fundraising effort, AIC Athletics engaged alumni and supporters during Athletics Giving Week last month. Donors were asked to consider giving to a general fund or team of their choice, with proceeds from the campaign earmarked to benefit student-athletes and athletic programs at the college. The new locker room will offer additional locker space, new flooring, and Yellow Jacket branding throughout, and will be named in honor of the Springfield native who was a four-year member of the basketball program. Before his passing in March 2020, Oppedisano was a regular at AIC men’s basketball home games and routinely provided congratulations after a win or unconditional support in defeat.

 

Bradley Debut Non-stop Service to Atlanta on Frontier Airlines

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the debut of non-stop service from Bradley International Airport (BDL) to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) on Frontier Airlines. The service will commence on June 11 and will operate four times per week. To view flight times and booking information, visit www.flyfrontier.com. With the debut of non-stop service to Atlanta, Frontier Airlines will now offer five non-stop destinations from Bradley International Airport this summer. The airline’s other destinations include Denver, Miami, Orlando, and Raleigh-Durham.

 

Company Notebook

West Springfield Drive-In to Open on Big E Fairgrounds

WEST SPRINGFIELD — West Springfield Drive-In, in partnership with Eastern States Exposition, will open on Friday, April 23 on the Big E Fairgrounds. The drive-in will feature two 45’ by 60’ screens and be able to accommodate 300 cars each, in a safe and socially distant family experience. The drive-in, to be located in the Gate 9 parking area, is authorized to show new-release content, once available, as well as special livestream concerts and other events. The drive-in will be open on weekends through the springtime and then seven days a week during the summer season through Labor Day. Movies will begin at a time consistent with sunset. Closing for the Big E, scheduled for Sept. 17 to Oct. 3, the drive-in will then reopen October through December for holiday-themed experiences. Movies will be announced weekly, and ticket sales will be available at the time of the announcement. In addition, a full concession stand will also be available for guests to enjoy not only popcorn, but popular fair foods such as fried dough, fried Oreos, and cotton candy. Hiring for the West Springfield Drive-In is underway. Visit www.wsdrivein.com for details, or connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/westspringfielddrivein.

 

Home City Breaks Ground on Elias Brookings Apartments

SPRINGFIELD — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI) broke ground on the Elias Brookings Apartments, at 367 Hancock St. in Springfield, on March 26. Home City Development has begun construction to adapt and reuse the former Elias Brookings School into 42 mixed-income rental apartments. Elias Brookings Apartments will contain a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments and on-site parking for 61 vehicles. The property will have an elevator, laundry room, and management office. The 4,000-square-foot former gymnasium will be used as a multi-purpose resource center and community room for athletics, theater, youth and adult training and education, supportive services for residents, and other events. Funding for the redevelopment is provided by TD Bank, National Equity Fund, Community Economic Development Assistance Corp., the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, MassHousing, the Springfield Community Preservation Committee, the Springfield Office of Housing, and Dorfman Capital. Davis Square Architects is the project architect, and Allegrone Construction Co. is the general contractor. Construction is scheduled for completion in March 2022. The completed property will be managed by Housing Management Resources.

 

Springfield Strain LLC Proposes Recreational Marijuana Dispensary

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Strain LLC, a minority-led corporation, has proposed a 2,500-square-foot adult recreational marijuana dispensary at 711 Boston Road (lower level) in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood. Springfield Strain has met all the criteria set forth by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission for a social/equity empowerment program dispensary with 100% minority investors. The dispensary will be locally owned and operated. According to the company, the dispensary will offer sales of high-quality cannabis products as well as product consultation and education in a safe, secure environment. Eddie Corbin, president of the Springfield Strain board of directors and former chief Procurement officer for the city of Springfield, noted that investors, the board of directors, and construction contractors are all minorities. In addition, all but one of the board members are Springfield residents. As part of a host-community agreement, Springfield Strain will give 30% of its net profits to the city of Springfield and 3% to the Pine Point Citizens Council. The organization also plans to establish educational trade programs for local students. The city of Springfield plans to announce the marijuana companies selected for negotiations on April 12.

 

Cooley Dickinson Hospital Receives $30,000 Gift for Childbirth Center

NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital received a $30,000 gift from Thomson Financial Management to support the Childbirth Center project, which, when completed, will offer expanded services in a newly renovated space that includes an upgraded nursery, birthing tubs, and more home-like surroundings for moms and babies. The renovation of the Childbirth Center includes refurbishing patient-care areas and support areas to make the space more comfortable for moms and babies, as well as creating a warmer, more home-like environment. In addition, the nursery will be upgraded to a Level 1B nursery to provide special newborns with extra care and attention. Once renovations are complete, Cooley Dickinson will be the only Level 1B nursery in Western Mass.

 

Lee Bank Establishes Foundation to Amplify Community Reinvestment

LEE — Lee Bank is amplifying its longstanding community-reinvestment efforts with the creation of the Lee Bank Foundation, after a record year of contributions to the Berkshire nonprofit community. In 2021, Lee Bank projects it will distribute $250,000 through the foundation, a more formal entity for community donations. In 2020, Lee Bank awarded $179,000 to community organizations, following several years of steady growth in funding. In recent years, Lee Bank has typically set aside at least 5% of its annual net income for the support of area nonprofits. This giving has been on the rise: in 2020, the bank contributed nearly $179,000 to community nonprofits; in 2019, $145,000; and in 2018, $120,000. Last year, Lee Bank’s distributions included $50,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County. The bank has supported more than 200 programs and organizations in recent years, including Greenagers, Community Access to the Arts, Berkshire Humane Society, Berkshire Immigrant Center, and others. The foundation will be funded at $5 million by Berkshire Financial Services (Lee Bank’s parent company), with the goal of providing $250,000 in grants annually to nonprofits. In addition to a 2021 grant goal of $250,000, Lee Bank’s employee-driven, branch-based sponsorships will continue as in the past, with a $70,000 projection this year.

 

Laurel Road, KeyBank Introduce New Digital Bank Tailored to Physicians, Dentists

NEW YORK — Laurel Road, a brand of KeyBank, unveiled Laurel Road for Doctors, a digital bank tailored to physicians and dentists with products and services designed to provide the financial help and peace of mind they need through each career stage. The goal of the new digital bank is to help ease the burden for doctors of paying down student debt, finding more balance between work and life, and planning for the future. With Laurel Road for Doctors, Laurel Road and KeyBank expand on an existing suite of tailored digital banking and lending products and extensive experience, working directly with doctors to create a platform that meets the distinct challenges of this community. Laurel Road for Doctors is launching at the right time for many, as two-thirds of doctors plan to be more financially focused in 2021 to benefit their career and personal financial security compared to 2020, according to a new survey of 750 U.S. physicians and dentists conducted by Laurel Road and the White Coat Investor, an online community for doctors. Physicians and dentists can find more information about Laurel Road for Doctors at www.laurelroad.com/doctors.

 

Viability Introduces Program to Better Serve Participants

NORTHAMPTON — Viability Inc., a human-service provider, recently announced Project (VR)², a virtual-reality program dedicated to enhancing access to employment for all and inclusion and empowerment for people with disabilities and other disadvantages. According to its creators, Project (VR)² is where vocational rehabilitation meets virtual reality (VR)². This first-of-its-kind project, deployed in the midst of COVID-19, will help people who are chronically underserved and marginalized build the vital skills required to advance their ability to gain and maintain employment. (VR)² makes it possible for individuals to acquire essential interactive soft skills that make or break job success — communication, interviewing, adapting, and problem-solving — in a controlled, safe, and self-reflective virtual work environment. Partners of the virtual collaborative include Link To VR, Bodyswaps, Cleanbox Technology, and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Viability’s vision for Project (VR)² expanded significantly when the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission provided assisted funding. Together, they are pioneering a new training initiative and encouraging states to bring about technological changes to their current rehabilitation efforts. To help manage the deployment, Viability called on Link To VR, a leading spatial computing company with offices in Boston.

 

DopaFit Announces New Initiative to Help People with Parkinson’s Disease

SOUTHAMPTON — DopaFit Inc., a Parkinson’s disease movement center, is known for helping people with Parkinson’s slow the progression of their disease with exercise and other non-pharmacological treatments. Those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease are often forced to stop doing the things they love. Many give up their passions, hobbies, and lose their sense of self. Limitless by DopaFit has been created to empower people with Parkinson’s disease to redefine their lives by giving them a chance to do something they once loved. For example, on April 5, Rick Burkhart, a current DopaFit fighter, flew a plane with the help of Fly LUGU flight school at the Westfield Barnes Airport. Burkhart had not flown an airplane in more than 10 years since he was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Prior to his diagnosis, he was an avid pilot and owned a flight school at Westfield Barnes Airport. He often took cross-country flights, and even donated his time and planes to drop off much-needed supplies to remote areas of impoverished countries. DopaFit Inc. plans to offer the Limitless program on a quarterly basis. For more information, visit www.dopafit.com or call (203) 828-7189.

 

Company Notebook

STCC Named Fourth-best Community College in U.S.

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) was ranked as the fourth-best community college in the nation and second-best in Massachusetts, according to Academic Influence, a college ranking system. On March 4, the website released its first-ever ranking of the 50 best community colleges in America. STCC is one of six Massachusetts community colleges listed in the top 20. STCC, the Commonwealth’s only technical community college, offers comprehensive workforce and technical education in fields that include manufacturing; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); healthcare; business; human services; and the liberal arts. The college is federally designated as a Hispanic-serving institution, with more than 30% of students identifying at Latinx. Academic Influence considered 839 community colleges in the U.S. that were fully accredited, enrolled at least 1,000 students, and provided primarily two-year associate-degree programs along with certificate credentials in most cases. In a separate recognition, STCC’s online business degree program was recently ranked as the second-most-popular in the New England region, according to Business Degree Central, an online resource for students. The website ranked STCC’s program second out of 11 colleges in New England. The business program was also ranked second-most-popular in Massachusetts.

 

HCC Ranked Among Best Community Colleges in U.S.

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) ranks among the best community colleges in the U.S. for 2021, according to Academic Influence, a technology-driven education-evaluation group. HCC was listed 20th out of 839 community colleges nationwide. In particular, HCC was noted for the strength of its academic programs in criminal justice, nursing, computer science, business, education, and engineering. “In rankings on other sites, students typically see only the largest community colleges. We believe we take a smarter and more comprehensive approach,” said Jed Macosko, academic director of Academic Influence and professor of physics at Wake Forest University. Criteria for the schools in this ranking include a minimum of 1,000 enrolled students, full accreditation, and exclusively two-year (or associate) degree programs. “We look at how influential the school’s faculty is and then factor in the student-body size. We call this metric ‘concentrated influence,’” Macosko said. “Those community colleges with a strong faculty but comparatively fewer students, schools that might otherwise get lost in the shadows of their larger competitors, now have an opportunity to shine. Because students often choose to attend a school nearby, this kind of illumination provides a truer view of how influential their neighborhood community college may actually be, regardless of its size.”

 

Serve Food Opens Shared Kitchen to Aspiring Restaurateurs

HOLYOKE — Serve Food, a new business in Holyoke, recently hosted its grand opening at its 112 High St. location. Serve Food, a shared-use kitchen, is a certified commercial kitchen in which individuals or businesses prepare value-added food products and meals using a monthly membership. Because expenses are shared, the costs are significantly lower than if an entrepreneur started a kitchen on his or her own. All utilities, maintenance expenses, equipment repairs, sanitation, and cleaning supplies are included in the membership fees, allowing members to focus on their product. With membership in the Serve Food kitchen, members can get access to a kitchen almost immediately at little to no risk or extra expense, and have an opportunity to learn and collaborate with other local chefs and food makers. Serve Food’s website, servema.com, also plans to sell members’ products on its website.

 

Turning Leaf Centers Opens Dispensary Doors to Public

NORTHAMPTON — Turning Leaf Centers opened its doors on 261 King St. in Northampton on March 15. The dispensary features a ‘craft bar,’ experience, which will allow patrons to be educated on everything marijuana, have rolling parties, and participate in flower talk. “We believe the large, curated space will allow people to have an experience nobody has seen with the craft bar, live music days, and seating areas,” co-owner Stephanie McNair said. “Supporting our local community is something that is very important to us as a company. We are looking to display and promote local artists and have event demonstrations and educational seminars in our space.” Turning Leaf Centers Northampton has cultivated an eclectic menu from every product category and price point for every type of cannabis consumer.

 

UMass President to Again Recommend Tuition Freeze

BOSTON — University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan announced he will recommend that the university’s board of trustees freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates for the academic year beginning in September. If approved by the UMass board, this would be the second straight year of a tuition freeze at the Commonwealth’s 75,000-student national public research university system. The average pre-financial-aid in-state undergraduate tuition at UMass was $14,722 for academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21. UMass has the fifth-lowest tuition among the six New England public universities — University of Vermont ($19,062), University of New Hampshire ($18,938), University of Connecticut ($17,834), University of Rhode Island ($15,004), and the University of Maine ($11,712) — this academic year. UMass awarded $971 million in federal, state, institutional and other financial aid in FY20. Since FY15, institutional aid — funds set aside by the university to decrease actual student costs — has increased 49% to $351 million per year.

 

Florence Bank Opens Third Hampden County Branch

CHICOPEE — Florence Bank opened its third Hampden County branch at 705 Memorial Dr. in Chicopee on March 22, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated for Wednesday, May 5. The Chicopee branch has an open floor plan with two teller pods and innovative technology for quick cash handling. The location will also feature a drive-up ATM with SMART technology for easy depositing. Kimberly Downing will serve as assistant vice president and branch manager for the new location. Other employees who will staff the new location are Diane Afonso, assistant branch manager; Tracy Keefe, customer service representative and senior teller; Kiara Sonoda, teller operations manager; and Karen Willemain, senior teller.

Jake’s Barber Shop Celebrates Five Years with Community Contribution

GREAT BARRINGTON — As Jake’s Barber Shop commemorates the start of its fifth year in the community, owner Jake Hunker is marking the moment by supporting Railroad Street Youth Project, a local organization that encourages focus and commitment for others. RYSP is a Great Barrington not-for-profit organization that encourages community teenagers to meet, learn, talk, and focus on the future. For the week of Tuesday, March 30 through Saturday, April 3, the barber shop will donate $5 from each haircut to RSYP. Appointments for RSYP-benefiting haircuts from Hunker can be made online through booksy.com, and customers can also call (413) 717-4238 for an appointment. Railroad Street Youth Project is a nonprofit organization helping young people bring their ideas and inspirations to fruition and discover their place in the world. Its Youth Operational Board continues to fund youth-inspired projects, run ongoing mentoring and apprenticeship programs, provide sexual-health programming through local schools, offer job training and career counseling, and staff an active drop-in center that provides counseling, mediation, referrals, and advocacy services for young people in need.

 

Springfield College Recognized for Community-college Transfer

SPRINGFIELD — For the sixth consecutive year, Springfield College has been named to Phi Theta Kappa’s Transfer Honor Roll, which identifies the top four-year colleges and universities for creating dynamic pathways to support community-college transfer. Springfield College is one of only 150 colleges and universities in the country to be recognized for this honor, including one of only six colleges and universities in Massachusetts. “We are very honored once again to be among a small, select group of colleges recognized nationally by Phi Theta Kappa for our high level of commitment to the success of transfer students,” said Stuart Jones, vice president for Enrollment Management at Springfield College. “Educating students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others is the hallmark of who we are and what we do best.”

 

Bradley Airport Launches Non-stop Service to Nashville, Miami

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the launch of non-stop flights from Bradley International Airport (BDL) to Nashville International Airport (BNA) in Tennessee on Southwest Airlines, and non-stop flights from Bradley to Miami International Airport (MIA) on JetBlue. “We are excited to launch Southwest Airlines’ non-stop service to Nashville from Bradley International Airport,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA. “Nashville is a popular destination that also offers key connectivity to major destinations across Southwest’s West Coast network. The launch of this service significantly enhances our non-stop offering for our travelers, and, with its introduction, we are pleased to strengthen our long-standing partnership with Southwest Airlines.” In addition, “we welcome JetBlue’s expansion at Bradley International Airport and the addition of new, non-stop service to Miami,” Dillon said. “This new route, which follows JetBlue’s other recent route launches, is a significant vote of confidence in our airport and the market we serve.”

Company Notebook

WNEU Center for Social Justice Receives HNE Mini-grant

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law’s Center for Social Justice was awarded a $6,000 DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) mini-grant from Health New England (HNE). The grant provides funding to local nonprofit organizations that are actively addressing racial health equity and disparities, and at least one of the CDC’s social determinants of health (SDOH). These are conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes; these include healthcare access and quality, education access and quality, social and community context, economic stability, and neighborhood and built environment. The grant seeks to dismantle systemic racism in two ways. The project will first educate the WNEU community about the connection between racism and health disparities and the structural barriers to equity that exist across society, and then will work to facilitate racial healing and relationship building between the institution and the local community through healing-circle conversations. Since its launch in 2019, the Center for Social Justice has been a key stakeholder in the pursuit of social justice in its community and beyond. In the last year, the center has sponsored or hosted more than a dozen events, including various know-your-rights trainings and programming, panel discussions addressing the racial disparities of COVID-19, and lawyering in the time of Black Lives Matter, as well as speakers like Evan Wolfson, who is considered an architect of the marriage-equality movement. Its work is entirely grant-funded from supporters like HNE and MassMutual, as well as individual donors.

 

Visiting Angels West Springfield Wins Provider of Choice Award

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Visiting Angels West Springfield received the 2021 Best of Home Care Provider of Choice Award, which is granted to the top-ranking home-care providers in North America according to Home Care Pulse. The Provider of Choice Award recognizes Visiting Angels’ dedication to client satisfaction and commitment to offering quality, affordable in-home care services. Visiting Angels West Springfield was established in 1999 and has served the elder population of Western Mass. for more than 20 years. It has grown to provide more than 70,000 hours of care annually by helping seniors to maintain a sense of independence, dignity, and quality of life in their own home. Visiting Angels strives to foster lasting client-caregiver relationships by offering family-like compassionate care and dependability.

AIC Named to 2021-22 Military Friendly Schools List

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) announced it has earned the 2021-22 Military Friendly School designation. Institutions earning this designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,200 schools participated in the 2021-22 survey, with 747 earning the designation. The 2021-22 Military Friendly Schools list will be published in the May issue of G.I. Jobs magazine and can be found at www.militaryfriendly.com. Methodology and criteria were determined by VIQTORY with input from the Military Friendly​ ​Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher-education and military-recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey response set and government/agency public data sources within a logic-based scoring assessment. The institution’s ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer), and loan-default rates for all students are measured.

 

Team 413 Moves to William Raveis Real Estate

EAST LONGMEADOW — Shawna Gutowski and Heidi Pafumi, founders of Team 413, announced their move to the East Longmeadow office of William Raveis Real Estate. Team 413 finished 2020 top five in sales volume for all real-estate transactions in Hampden County. When asked why they decided to move their team, Gutowski noted that, “as we quickly grew from two to 16 agents, we realized a partnership with a name and reputation like William Raveis was the next step. Using their structure, technology, and years of experience, we plan to continue to exponentially grow.” In the previous four years, Team 413 has consistently ranked in the top 1% of Hampden County teams, with more than 500 transactions and $100 million in closed volume. The team has sold homes in more than 30 towns across Western Mass. and Northern Conn. Team 413 prides itself on its cultural diversity, as well as its extensive resources, spanning from contractors to interior designers.

 

ACC Designated as 2021-22 Military Friendly School

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College announced that, for the 14th year, the college has earned the 2021-22 Military Friendly School designation. Institutions earning this designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,200 schools participated in the 2021-22 survey, with 747 earning the designation. Asnuntuck has had nearly 300 active-duty and/or veteran students enrolled during the last three years. The college offers a multitude of services to these students. Asnuntuck and other campuses in the North-West Region worked with Resilience Grows Here to each offer a “No Wrong Door” training at the campuses last year. Asnuntuck, in partnership with Tunxis Community College, has done community outreach by sponsoring the Hartford Yard Goats Military Family of the Game for each of the baseball team’s home games.

 

Holyoke Hummus Food Truck Comes to Resinate Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Holyoke Hummus and Resinate Northampton recently announced a new partnership. The Holyoke Hummus food truck is now serving in the parking lot of Resinate at 110 Pleasant St. in Northampton and is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. Holyoke Hummus serves falafel, hummus, and other Middle Eastern treats. Delivery and online ordering are available at holyokehummus.com. The truck is also available for special events and catering.

 

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives Amelia Peabody Grant

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley received a $145,000 grant from the Amelia Peabody Foundation, which will enable the organization to further develop its virtual programming, help prepare for the time when in-person programs may resume, continue its Learning Pod collaboration with Holyoke Public Schools, and ultimately bring staff together in one building, fostering even greater creative and collaborative synergies. The foundation awarded $25,000 to Girls Inc.’s general program and $120,000 to its comprehensive campaign, “Her Future, Our Future.” This commitment will help Girls Inc. to establish a new, permanent home and provide the space, resources, and opportunities needed to enable more girls to participate in the transformative Girls Inc. experience. The grant will support both program planning and implementation; funds will be used for staffing, expanded outreach, and program supplies. Additionally, the grant will facilitate bringing all Girls Inc. staff together under one roof to create greater collaborative and economic efficiencies.

 

Christina’s House Gets a Hand with Giving a Hand Up

SPRINGFIELD — The Davis Foundation recently awarded Christina’s House with a $15,000 grant to do what it does best — giving a hand up to homeless and near-homeless women and their children. A largely underserved population, these women and their families will stay with Christina’s House for 18 months to two years while they establish healthy living habits, become employed, and earn a GED or job training for upward mobility in the workforce. Paul Belsito, executive director at the Davis Foundation, and Magnus Monroe, grants and project manager, met with the organization in early fall to better understand how the foundation could support Christina’s House. The Davis Foundation, long known in the community for its educational agenda, found a fit, and the board voted to approve and provide much-needed funds to help the organization through a tough year. Christina’s House provides transitional housing and social services for homeless or near-homeless mothers and children. It educates, embraces, and encourages families in the program with the life skills needed to become self-sufficient as they transition from homelessness to stable environments. The organization also helps each mother seek, obtain, and maintain employment once accepted into the program, and promotes occupational advancement through résumé writing and job-skills training.

 

Bradley International Airport Named in USA Today Readers’ Choice Awards

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that USA Today has named Bradley International Airport a winner in its 2021 10Best Readers’ Choice travel contest in the “Best Small Airport” category. Bradley placed seventh out of 15 airports that were selected by industry experts as the best across the nation. In response to COVID-19, the CAA has continued to enhance services at Bradley International Airport over the past year, aimed at providing a safe, clean, and comfortable travel experience. More information about the safety measures undertaken and what travelers can expect can be found at www.bdlcares.com. On its website, USA Today noted that Bradley International Airport “ranks as the second-busiest airport after Boston Logan, yet it remains a convenient option with on-site parking, lots of charging stations, free wi-fi, and proximity to both New York and Boston.” Bradley was chosen by a panel of industry experts for inclusion in the USA Today contest, which was followed by four weeks of public voting nationwide. This is the airport’s second national recognition within the year after placing as a top-10 airport in the 2020 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice survey.

 

Agenda

Virtual Town Hall to Discuss Baystate Mary Lane Closure

Feb. 23: Baystate Health will hold a virtual town hall at 5 p.m. to discuss the closure of the Baystate Mary Lane Outpatient Center in Ware and future plans for patient care. All are welcome to attend. Baystate Health’s goal over the next several months is to work collaboratively with the Baystate Mary Lane team and engage with the community in developing an orderly transition plan for programs and services to Baystate Wing. In June, the emergency facility will close, and cancer care services will be transitioned to the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care. Over the next two years, imaging/3D mammography and rehabilitation services, as well as ob/gyn and pediatric medical practices, will relocate to Baystate Wing. Cancer patients who receive care at Baystate Mary Lane will be offered transportation at no charge following the transition of care to Springfield. To support access to outpatient appointments at Baystate Wing Hospital when the two Baystate medical practices at Baystate Mary Lane transition over the next two years, Baystate will look to the foundation it has built with the Quaboag Connector and, if feasible, will further invest in this resource. More information will be forthcoming as needs, services, and transportation options are evaluated. To register for the virtual town hall, visit baystatehealth.org/easternregion.

 

40 Under Forty Nominations

Through Feb. 26: BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty class of 2021. The deadline for nominations is Friday, Feb. 26. Launched in 2007, the program recognizes rising stars in the four counties of Western Mass. Nominations, which should be as detailed and thorough as possible, should list an individual’s accomplishments within their profession as well as their work within the community. Nominations can be completed online at businesswest.com/40-under-forty-nomination-form. Nominations will be weighed by a panel of judges, and the selected individuals will be profiled in BusinessWest in May and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala in late June. Event sponsorship opportunities are available.

 

Institute for Trustees

Starting April 7: Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (BTCF) announced it is partnering with the Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) in presenting the 2021 Institute for Trustees, an annual conference inviting nonprofit leaders to gather together for educational workshops and networking opportunities. Building on the success of BTCF’s 2018 Board Leadership Forum and designed for board leaders and executive directors, the event features 24 virtual workshops from leading nonprofit experts and opportunities to connect with hundreds of peers equally committed to their leadership roles. This partnership is part of a broader effort between BTCF and ECCF to leverage resources in support of building capacity and leadership within the nonprofit sector, given the challenges facing organizations due to the pandemic and its economic consequences. The Institute for Trustees kicks off on April 7 with a keynote address by Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, titled “Leading for Nonprofit Impact Amid Unprecedented Challenge.” Beginning April 9, workshops and opportunities to connect with fellow attendees through topic-driven, informal peer discussions will be spread over the course of four weeks. Workshop topics include racial equity, endowment building, crisis planning, governance, advocacy, finance, and much more. To register for the program, visit eccf.org/ift. Registrations will be accepted at a discounted early-bird rate of $110 until March 7. After that, registration will cost $130 and will close April 7.

 

Springfield Partners for Community Action Scholarships

Through April 23: Springfield Partners for Community Action announced it will award a number of $1,000 scholarships that can help recipients with tuition and alleviate the cost of going back to school and investing in bettering themselves. All applicants must be Springfield residents, and income-eligibility guidelines may apply. Scholarships will be awarded to those attending accredited/licensed schools in Massachusetts. Applications must be received by April 23. Late entries will not be considered. If selected, recipients must be available to attend an awards event (most likely virtual) in June. Visit www.springfieldpartnersinc.com/whatwedo/scholarshipsprogram for the application form and information on how to apply.

 

Company Notebook

Bay Path Recognized for Supporting Students Throughout Pandemic

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announce it was selected as a winner of the Virtual Innovation Awards: Excellence in Delivering Virtual Student Services hosted by NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Bay Path is among 10 schools recognized across the nation for exemplary virtual student support services, and one of only three schools to receive the top award of $50,000. The award highlights the effectiveness of the work being done to support both Bay Path’s traditional undergraduates and adult students enrolled in its online undergraduate degree program, the American Women’s College. These best practices will serve as case studies to inform the field at large. As Bay Path’s online program for adult women, the American Women’s College has been continually developing and enhancing its virtual support services since 2013. At the onset of the pandemic, university staff were able to put these supports into overdrive to ensure campus-based undergraduate students could easily access services despite the abrupt move to remote. Some of the virtual services that have allowed Bay Path University to be responsive to its diverse student body, whether in person or online, include a virtual career-services hub; UWill, a telecounseling service; and Tutor.com, which provides access to online tutoring services 24/7. Similarly, programming related to orientation, peer-to-peer engagement, community building, and multi-cultural affairs was provided by a support team that was able to quickly pivot to virtual platforms and social-media tools.

 

 

STCC to Reinstate Five Programs

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will restore five programs that were discontinued last year in response to projected budget shortfalls brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The STCC board of trustees voted to support biomedical engineering technology, biotechnology, civil engineering technology, dental assisting, and landscape design and management. STCC President John Cook said the college will work to reinstate programs after open, transparent, and public conversations with college stakeholders about needs and resources. In June, the college announced the discontinuation of seven programs as part of a broad set of cost-saving measures. Trustees established a committee to examine these programs, including costs, enrollment, facilities and equipment needs, and to consider questions of sustainability. Beyond the five programs, at a future time, trustees will continue the examination of two programs: automotive technology and cosmetology. STCC will work to relaunch the five programs in fall 2021, and the gross annual operating cost of these programs is approximately $500,000.

 

United Personnel Services Wins ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing Award

SPRINGFIELD — United Personnel Services was recently honored in the Best of Staffing Client, Employee, and Talent Awards from ClearlyRated, in recognition of high levels of satisfaction from customers, job seekers, and employees. Winners have proven to be industry leaders in service quality based entirely on ratings provided by their clients and staff. Focused on helping to connect people with the right job opportunities, United Personnel Services received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 90.9% of clients and 78% of placed job candidates, significantly higher than industry averages. These ratings led to United Personnel’s fourth consecutive year of recognition as a Best of Staffing company from ClearlyRated.

 

Holyoke-based Startup Aims to Spark Non-alcoholic Beer Revolution

HOLYOKE — New to the beer and brewing industry, Ezra Bleau is introducing his business, Na Brews, with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign, “Na Brews (Nah Brooz) – Craft Beer for All People, for All Occasions.” This campaign will raise money for his mobile de-alcoholization production plan, increasing access to social, healthy alternatives nationwide. The main draw of the campaign is a $20 pledge to be part of the “world’s largest non-alcoholic beer collaboration, which he intends to do during a livestreamed interactive event with his brewer. The company has been in contact with the Guinness Book of World Records and is working on certifying the event. Participants will be a part of this new craft beer every step of the way, selecting everything from style, grains, and hops to label design. With their $20 pledge, each participant’s name will be included in the collaboration can label for a future keepsake, and they will also be sent a can for their enjoyment and have exclusivity to purchase more before it is opened up to the general public. NA Brews currently is an e-commerce operation based in Holyoke, offering online retail sales of non-alcoholic beer, spirits, and wine selections, including specialty boxes and subscription services for others to enjoy in the comfort of their own home or any social setting. Bleau also has a manufacturing and full alcohol-free production plan, partnering with independent breweries in surrounding communities to produce quality craft non-alcoholic beer.

 

Berkshire Bank Foundation Supports MCLA’s Summer STEM Academy

NORTH ADAMS — The Berkshire Bank Foundation awarded Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) $20,000 to fund the Berkshire Bank STEM Academy, which accepts up to 20 incoming first-year students enrolled in a STEM major or who have expressed interest in STEM fields. Designed to introduce incoming students to careers in STEM, the residential, five-day academy includes opportunities to network with STEM faculty, students, and staff in the interest of developing a deeper relationship with those involved in STEM careers in the Berkshires. The program’s ultimate goal is to encourage more students to secure jobs in the Berkshires and remain here after graduation. This summer will mark the ninth year of the Berkshire Bank STEM Academy. Alumni of the program, which was developed to serve low-income and first-generation college students, have gone on to be leaders at MCLA as residential advisors, tutors, and supplemental instructors. Graduates have gone on to have careers at Raytheon, General Dynamics, Edge Pharma, and as public-school teachers. Students are selected based on their responses to surveys taken upon their acceptance to the college. Interested students should e-mail program director Dr. Sara Steele, assistant professor of Psychology, at [email protected] to have their name prioritized in the selection process.

 

Country Bank Reports $1.3 Million in Community Philanthropy in 2020

WARE — Country Bank reported that its donations and sponsorships for 2020 totaled $1.3 million. Through the bank’s philanthropic efforts, it provided support to local nonprofits throughout the communities it serves; in 2020, more than 400 of these organizations received donations. The pandemic has left businesses and individuals facing continued looming uncertainties. Many nonprofits struggled from the economic fallout, and they looked to community partners like Country Bank for assistance. Country Bank donated more than $500,000 to area hospitals and first-responder housing efforts to provide the financial and tangible emergency resources needed to support their mission during the pandemic. Organizations receiving support included the Baystate Health Foundation, Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., Christina’s House, Springfield Rescue Mission, Ronald McDonald House, and Behavioral Health Network Inc. Recognizing the importance and overwhelming need to help organizations that address hunger, Country Bank also provided monetary donations to food programs throughout the region that exceeded $100,000. The recipients of these funds included Friends of the Homeless, Rachel’s Table, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and many local food pantries.

 

Meyers Brothers Kalicka Unveils New Website

HOLYOKE — Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (MBK) announced a new website, mbkcpa.com, this week. The primary goal during the redesign process was to create a more user-friendly and valuable resource for clients and community alike. More specifically, the firm wanted users to easily locate information about accounting services, industries it serves, the firm’s story and team members, career opportunities, and community support. The website also features an active blog with articles about taxation, accounting, advisory, news, and community. Additionally, the firm offers free newsletters centered around taxation, business, not-for-profits, and healthcare. These newsletters help readers stay informed on recent provisions and guidance, access articles, get invitations to special webinars or podcasts, and gain industry knowledge. You can subscribe to any or all of these newsletters for free by adding your e-mail address into the ‘subscribe’ feature located in the footer of the new website.

 

Community Comes Through to Help Amherst Survival Center Families

AMHERST — Hannah Rechtschaffen, director of Placemaking for the Mill District, and Andy Haase of Cowls Building Supply recently delivered more than 400 games purchased by W.D. Cowls Inc. to the Amherst Survival Center, augmenting dozens of community donations already collected and delivered from North Amherst Motors, the Toy Box, North Square Apartments in the Mill District, and Cowls Building Supply. In December, Lev Ben-Ezra, executive director of the Amherst Survival Center, outlined to Cinda Jones, president of W.D. Cowls, how the community could help her cause this winter. Ben-Ezra explained that the center was looking for ways to brighten the winter for families stuck at home, including craft kits, valentines, and other fun activities. Her hope for February was to distribute more than 400 games and puzzles to local families, and she asked the Mill District for help generating donations. Now, with more than 500 games donated in January, the Amherst Survival Center is providing families with games and activities along with groceries in February. Community members who want to help the Amherst Survival Center serve more families can donate online at amherstsurvival.org/donate.

 

WNEU Offers Free Graduate Courses to Current Students

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University announced that all current students (class of 2021 to class of 2024) will be offered two graduate courses free of charge with acceptance to a WNEU master’s-degree program upon completion of their bachelor’s degree. “As our undergraduates consider next steps, especially with the current economic climate, we want to help provide them with the opportunity to advance their credentials in what could prove to be a difficult time as the nation returns to post-COVID normalcy,” said Matt Fox, executive director of Graduate Admissions. According to the NACE Job Outlook Survey, 2021 hiring will be “more positive than expected given that the pandemic shut down the economy, plummeted the stock market, and raised the unemployment rate.” Nearly 17% of organizations responding to the NACE survey plan to increase their hiring levels of 2021 graduates, compared to 2020 graduates, and about 53% plan to maintain their level of hiring. Fox outlined the many benefits this opportunity offers, including improving employment and future advancement opportunities, deferred undergraduate loan payment, and what essentially equates to a 20% reduction in graduate tuition. For more information, visit www1.wne.edu/admissions/graduate/two-grad-courses.cfm.

 

Ludlow Elks Supports Program at Scantic Valley YMCA

LUDLOW — The Ludlow Elks awarded the Scantic Valley YMCA a $2,000 Beacon Grant from the Elks National Foundation to help the Y launch MOVE2Function, a movement-disorder fitness program. The Ludlow Elks have provided financial and in-person support for the Scantic Valley YMCA’s healthful-living programs. LIVESTRONG at the YMCA supports those impacted by cancer. The latest program to receive the Ludlow Elks support is MOVE2Function, offering those impacted by movement disorders evidence-based functional fitness programming to support them in making changes to support and improve all aspects of their health. Movement disorders include Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and essential tremor. In 2019 and 2020, the Ludlow Elks supported the Interactive Health Fair at the Scantic Valley YMCA, which was open to the public. With previous funding, the Ludlow Elks provided the food along with preparing and serving it. Attendees enjoyed a healthy meal while interacting with company representatives, YMCA staff, and college students to learn about such topics as nutrition, heart health, fitness, balance programming, blood pressure, and eye screenings.

 

UMassFive Directs $4,000 to Local Survival Centers

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced it has directed $4,000 in donations to local survival centers in Amherst and Northampton. The donations were made possible thanks to UMassFive winning a Credit Union Give Back Sweepstakes held by its credit-card servicer, PSCU. This sweepstakes selected 25 credit unions from across the country to receive $4,000 to donate to local charitable organizations of their choice. UMassFive chose to direct donations of $2,000 each to the Amherst Survival Center and the Northampton Survival Center in support of the extra cost burden that 2020 placed on the organizations. Both organizations had to pivot operations quickly to meet the most pressing needs of their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and have seen more need than ever before.

 

Country Bank Supports Quaboag Valley CDC

WARE — Country Bank announced a $25,000 donation to the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp. (QVCDC) to support various programs to help local communities in the region. A portion of the donation will be used toward a matching grant for a senior-citizen outreach program. This project was funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development, Massachusetts CDBG Program. Projects are developed and administered by local officials with the assistance of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Services for the outreach program include grocery shopping and prescription pickups for low-income seniors in Ware, Hardwick, Belchertown, and Warren. The QVCDC also offers various programs to assist businesses in the region with navigating these unchartered times. One of the latest programs includes companies with up to five employees that could be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in grant funding through a Microenterprise Assistance Grant.

 

Company Notebook

Princeton Review Recognizes UMass Amherst for Graduate Entrepreneurship Studies

AMHERST — For the first time, UMass Amherst has earned recognition in Princeton Review’s annual selection of Best Graduate Entrepreneurship Programs. In the publication’s 2021 list, the university ranks 40th among 50 colleges and universities. Based on survey data from more than 300 schools, the rankings encompass a broad range of entrepreneurial activities inside and outside the classroom. The catalyst for student entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst is the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship. The center serves the entire campus through a wealth of activities and resources. Gregory Thomas, executive director of the Berthiaume Center, noted that entrepreneurship courses and scholarships, faculty who focus on entrepreneurship, student competitions, student mentorship by entrepreneurs, and ventures by alumni and non-alumni all fall within the center’s purview. Its annual Innovation Challenge propels student startups through pitch contests and a final competition judged by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Last year, the finals awarded $65,000 in seed money to student startups. The center brings student innovators together from different disciplines for entrepreneurial collaborations and offers networking and mentorship with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and academics, as well as an incubator space for student startups.

 

Furnari Jewelers Opens at Holyoke Mall

HOLYOKE — In time for holiday shopping, Furnari Jewelers recently opened its doors at Holyoke Mall at Ingleside. Furnari carries fine gold and silver jewelry, wedding sets, gemstones, pearls, watches, and more, and has a gold and silversmith on premises who can do repairs while customers wait. Furnari also offers customers the ability to design their own ring for a special touch. Known in the region for decades, Anthony Furnari opened his first store 40 years ago and says it was built on the foundation of customer service. Anthony’s son, Joey Furnari, decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. Starting with an undergraduate degree from Kenyon College in Ohio, Joey went on to become a certified bench jeweler at the American School of Jewelry, and opened his first store in May 2012 in Enfield, Conn. The 1,400-square-foot Furnari Jewelers is located on the upper level of the mall, near Apple. The store was formerly occupied by Kay Jewelers until Kay relocated its store earlier this year to the lower level, next to Round1 Bowling & Amusement. Furnari has hired seven employees for this location. Furnari joins a list of new tenants at Holyoke Mall over the last five months, including Cinnabon, which opened in June; EA Teriyaki, which opened in October; and Wings Express, which opened in November.

 

Tighe & Bond Receives ACEC/CT Engineering Excellence Award

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond was recently recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Connecticut (ACEC/CT) with an Engineering Excellence Award. The project team received the award for the design of phosphorous-removal upgrades at the Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) in Plainville, Conn. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection set new phosphorous limits after it was determined the nutrient was negatively affecting water quality in the state’s freshwater rivers and streams. While phosphorus is a naturally occurring element that is an essential nutrient to support plant growth, excessive amounts contribute to dense growth of algae and suffocation of marine life. This meant the Plainville WPCF needed to reduce the amount of phosphorous leaving the facility by 88%. In anticipation of these changes, Tighe & Bond prepared a phosphorus-removal plan to determine how best to meet the new phosphorus limits. The plan recommended the addition of a filter building that would house new, multi-point chemical-addition and disc-filtration processes to reduce the amount of phosphorous from the facility’s water. The design also included cost-effective improvements to the existing WPCF, including a larger sludge-processing system, raising the facility’s existing UV disinfection system for improved flood resiliency; new flow-equalization tanks to stabilize the effluent from the facility’s sequencing batch reactors (SBRs); and filter influent pumps to lift the flow up to the disc filters. The project was completed four months ahead of schedule and $1 million under budget. The upgrades have enabled the town of Plainville to meet its phosphorous limits. The new system continues to remove phosphorus from the treated water the facility discharges daily into the Pequabuck River, which joins the Quinnipiac River and Long Island Sound. The renovations to the WPCF also meets all state and federal environmental regulations and ensures the protection of surrounding bodies of water. Tighe & Bond and its project partners will be honored at the ACEC/CT Engineering Excellence Awards Gala in June.

 

Big Y Announces Additional Bonus Pay for Employees

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y announced it will pay additional holiday bonuses to its front-line and distribution-center associates, including full-time, part-time, and casual employees. This holiday bonus is part of the company’s ongoing recognition and appreciation for the efforts and sacrifices of employees, which was instituted last March. Thank-you bonuses are expected to continue during the first part of 2021. “We continue to be grateful to all of our employees for their valiant efforts throughout this pandemic,” said Charles D’Amour, president and CEO. “They have all taken their role as essential workers both nobly and carefully in order to continue to provide for and support our friends and neighbors in our communities. I am so very proud of their resilience and dedication to serving our customers during this past year. This bonus pay is just one way that we show our appreciation to our team of 12,000 who work so hard and tirelessly every day.”

 

Bay Path University Community Donates to Christina’s House

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s annual holiday party and employee-recognition event has been a long-standing tradition for faculty and staff. The pandemic prevented the normal gathering, but technology came to the rescue and provided a platform to connect remotely. Highlights of the event include naming a charity to be the recipient of Bay Path’s generosity, as well as employee recognition for years of service at the university. For 2020, the designated charity is Christina’s House, a Springfield-based nonprofit and Christ-centered ministry that provides transitional housing to meet the needs of mothers and their children who are homeless or near-homeless. More important, Christina’s House provides emotional, spiritual, physical, and education support as families transition from homelessness to permanent, stable living environments.

 

Grants Will Provide 100,000 Meals for People Across Western Mass.

HATFIELD — Wheeler & Taylor Insurance of Great Barrington and Canary Blomstrom Insurance Agency of Agawam are providing major support to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Two rounds of funding, one now and a second round in the spring, will pay for about 100,000 meals. The Food Bank provides food to 165 food pantries, shelters, and meal sites in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. Wheeler & Taylor and Canary Blomstrom are members of GoodWorks Financial Group, a network of common-ownership insurance, real-estate, and financial firms. With the pandemic, demand for food has grown exponentially. The Food Bank is serving 109,500 people a month in 2020, up 16% from 2019. The organization distributed 11.1 million pounds of food from March through October, a 30% increase. It estimates that about one in six residents in the region, including 40,000 children, or one in four, are food-insecure.

 

Springfield Museums Distributing 495 Literacy Activity Kits to Children

SPRINGFIELD — Thanks to funding from MEFA and the U.Fund College Investing Plan, Springfield Museums are distributing 495 literacy activity kits to children throughout Springfield and beyond. Ten programs — including the Gray House, Home City Families, Raising a Reader, and Head Start — will benefit. The literacy activity kits contain a consumable activity, a reusable building toy, colored pencils, a Dr. Seuss clipboard, and an early-reader book: Dr. Seuss’s ABC. Springfield Museums are committed to helping children and their caregivers explore literacy in its many forms — literary, science, historical, art — while also having fun. The museums have also tripled their hands-on learning spaces over the past few years. The Art Discovery Center, the Cat’s Corner, and Spark!Lab are all spaces for people to engage in hands-on learning to gain skills and build competency in a variety of subjects. Since the onset of the pandemic, the museums also worked to share activity kits so that those unable to visit in person could still have access to learning.

 

Bradley International Airport Earns COVID-19 Health Accreditation

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Bradley International Airport has received the Airport Health Accreditation from Airports Council International (ACI) World. The organization’s Airport Health Accreditation program evaluates new health and safety measures and procedures introduced at airports worldwide in response to COVID-19. During the comprehensive accreditation process, ACI assesses the airport’s response and safety measures in the context of the entire passenger journey, including terminal access, check-in areas, security screening, boarding gates, lounges, retail, food and beverages, gate equipment such as boarding bridges, escalators and elevators, border-control areas and facilities, the baggage-claim area and the arrivals exit. Among other things, ACI recognizes Bradley for cleaning and disinfection, physical distancing (where feasible and practical), staff protection, physical layout modifications, passenger communications, and passenger facility enhancements. In addition to these safety measures, Bradley International Airport has also prioritized other initiatives to enhance the passenger journey, including contactless parking check-in/check-out availability (pre-registration required); renovated restrooms with touchless faucets, hand dryers, and light signals to indicate stall availability as well as added privacy and surfaces that promote more effective cleaning; terminal-wide air-purification technology, which will be in place in early 2021; and expanded mobile ordering in partnership with our restaurants, also to be introduced in 2021.

 

Thunderbirds Foundation Donates More Than 1,000 Stuffed Animals

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds Foundation announced a donation of more than 1,000 teddy bears and stuffed animals to local charitable partners, the culmination of a successful drive-thru Teddy Bear Toss presented by Teddy Bear Pools & Spas and held on Dec. 12 outside the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield. The Thunderbirds’ mascot, Boomer, along with staff members, then made deliveries of hundreds of stuffed animals to Square One, the Center for Human Development (CHD), the Boys & Girls Club of Springfield, and the Boys & Girls Club Family Center in Springfield. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Teddy Bear Toss event was much different than in previous years. Instead of tossing the bears onto the ice after the T-Birds’ first goal during a home game in December, fans brought their new teddy bears or stuffed animals and ‘tossed’ them out of their vehicles as part of the drive-thru Teddy Bear Toss at the MassMutual Center. Boomer, the Nicebox Icebox, and front-office staff were present to collect donations and properly package and sanitize them. Those that couldn’t make it that day also donated at the Thunderbirds office, Teddy Bear Pools & Spas in Chicopee, the Springfield Visitor Center, or at New Valley Bank’s headquarters in Monarch Place in downtown Springfield. The Thunderbirds thank their partners that stepped up and were able to make this event a reality, including Teddy Bear Pools & Spas, Balise Auto Group, Western Mass News, the Springfield Business Improvement District and downtown Visitor Center, New Valley Bank & Trust, and Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as their tedd- bear delivery partner, BMW of West Springfield.

 

American Eagle Donates $3,000 to Diaper Banks

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — In the spirit of the holidays and to reinforce its long-term commitment to assisting families in need, American Eagle Financial Credit Union awarded $3,000 in grants from its donor-advised fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to three nonprofit diaper banks in Connecticut and Western Mass. Square One Diaper Bank in Springfield, the Diaper Bank of Connecticut, and Gentle Love Diaper Pantry, a youth-led nonprofit organization at Manchester (Conn.) High School, each received $1,000 to purchase and distribute diapers to needy families in their respective communities this holiday season. “More than ever, our families are struggling to meet their basic needs. The cost of diapers can be as high as $100 per month for some families,” said Dawn DiStefano, executive vice president of Square One. “Thanks to the generosity of American Eagle Financial Credit Union and other community partners, we can continue to lessen this burden by supplying emergency diapers to those in need.”

 

Company Notebook

‘Together HCC’ Campaign Earns National Recognition

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been named a finalist for a national Bellwether Award in recognition of its “Together HCC” fundraising and social-media campaign. HCC was one of 10 U.S. colleges selected as a finalist by the Bellwether College Consortium in its Workforce Development category, which identifies strategic alliances that promote community and economic development. Bellwether finalists represent leading community colleges whose programs and practices are considered outstanding and innovative. The college launched “Together HCC: A Campaign for Caring” at the end of March in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign sought to raise money for students facing economic hardships and collect stories to motivate and inspire them during a period of extreme disruption. The Bellwether College Consortium is a group charged with addressing the critical issues facing community colleges. The consortium honors community colleges with awards in three categories: instructional programs and services; planning, governance, and finance; and workforce development. The Bellwether Awards are widely regarded as one of the nation’s most competitive and prestigious recognitions for community colleges. HCC was the only community college in Massachusetts selected as a 2021 Bellwether finalist. After COVID-19 broke, HCC saw a dramatic rise in the number of applications to its Student Emergency Fund. In three months, the “Together HCC” campaign raised about $40,000 from nearly 200 private donors for the emergency fund, which also received a lift of $75,000 in COVID-19 relief funds from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Since March, the HCC Foundation has distributed almost $90,000 from the emergency fund to 130 students. For another key component of the campaign, HCC solicited uplifting anecdotes and images from alumni, faculty, staff, students, family members, and friends that were shared on HCC’s social-media channels using the hashtag #TogetherHCC.

 

Robinson Donovan, P.C. Makes Food Donation to Gray House

SPRINGFIELD — Robinson Donovan, P.C. made a donation of 100 pounds of side dishes to the Gray House to help ensure food on the table for local families this Thanksgiving. “We’ve partnered with the Gray House for several years for the Adopt-a-Family Christmas program, and wanted to do something extra this year, knowing how many people have been deeply impacted by the pandemic,” Partner Jim Martin said. “The Gray House is an invaluable community institution that we are proud to support.” Through the help of individuals and businesses like Robinson Donovan, the Gray House is able to provide turkeys and accompanying food for families in need on Thanksgiving.

 

Country Bank Supports Communities in Need

WARE — Country Bank announced a series of initiatives to help support local communities during the 2020 holiday season, especially those affected by the economic fallout from the ongoing pandemic. As part of these initiatives, Country Bank teamed up with Old Sturbridge Village to offer 750 free meals to families in need this Thanksgiving. Meals were delivered to St. John’s Food for the Poor, the YWCA, Abby’s House, Veterans Inc., and Elm Street Congregational Church. On Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28, the Country Bank retail banking team will support local small businesses by purchasing 400 gift cards from businesses throughout its markets. These gift cards were distributed in Country Bank branch locations on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1. The corporate-office team will also partner with Provision Ministry and assemble 250 backpacks filled with essential care items to be delivered to the Springfield Rescue Mission. Throughout the month of December, the famous red kettles will be visible at several Country Bank branch locations to help fill the void the Salvation Army will experience this year, in part due to the pandemic. Country Bank has donated $10,000 toward this meaningful cause. Finally, as part of its Community Cares program, the staff participated in its own Boston Marathon by ‘walking the distance’ via a downloadable app. This virtual challenge brought people together while supporting charities of their choice with a $500 donation. A total of $30,000 will be granted to charities.

 

Demore’s Automotive Owner Makes Holidays Brighter

PALMER — Jay Demore, owner of Demore’s Automotive in Palmer, believes in supporting the community. This week, more than 300 people in Palmer will have Thanksgiving meals thanks to the efforts of Demore; his sister JoAnn, operations manager at the auto shop; and a few customers who have come to the shop with checks for as much as $200 and $300. Demore, who has operated the auto-repair shop since 1997, will provide prepared meals from Palmer restaurants, 80 of which will go to elderly residents in town. For families that prefer to make Thanksgiving dinner, he’ll make sure they have a turkey and the ingredients for stuffing, side dishes, and desserts. Anyone in need was encouraged to message Demore privately through social media; customers and local residents who knew of a family in need reached out to let him know. The plan to help began last Easter, as restaurants and families began to be affected financially by the pandemic. That’s when Demore began purchasing gift cards for Palmer restaurants and giving them to town residents in need. Demore has taken his support of Palmer restaurants on the road with the Stand Out Truck, a mobile digital billboard. He purchased ads on the truck for his own business and, after seeing results, began purchasing ad space and sponsoring restaurants. He is also offering to help any families in need at Christmas — and not just with meals. Demore and his sister have already purchased some big-ticket toys, such as a remote-control Jeep, which he says will be decked out with the Demore Automotive logo, as well as boys’ and girls’ bikes, a play kitchen, and a Nintendo Switch.

 

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Donates 250 Turkeys to Gray House

SPRINGFIELD — The law firm Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley donated and helped distribute 250 frozen turkeys to aid the Gray House in its efforts to feed families in Springfield. “The mission of the Gray House is critical to our community,” Partner Earl Seeley III said. “We wanted to do what we could to further their efforts and help make Thanksgiving brighter for the people they serve.” Partner Charlie Casartello added that “the need to help people overcome food insecurity is more acute now than ever. Everyone deserves a great Thanksgiving dinner, and we were happy to have the opportunity to pass out the turkeys to our neighbors and wish everyone a happy holiday.” Attorneys from the firm were on hand to personally distribute the turkeys to individuals who had signed up with the charity to receive one. Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley is a law firm of more than 15 lawyers who devote their practice to protecting the rights of injured individuals.

 

Wheeler & Taylor Insurance, Claire Teague Senior Center Team Up on Thanksgiving Meals

GREAT BARRINGTON — Wheeler & Taylor Insurance in Great Barrington teamed up with the Claire Teague Senior Center to give local seniors a complete Thanksgiving dinner they could easily prepare at home. J. Scott Rote, president of the insurance agency, bought oven-ready turkey breast with gravy kits at a local supermarket. He and his staff added vegetables, cranberry sauce, mashed-potato mix, dessert, and four KN95 face masks to each package. In all, the packages will yield about 300 to 350 meals. Polly Mann-Salenovich, director of the Clare Teague Senior Center in Great Barrington, delivered them to a local senior-housing complex and individual seniors. Separately, Kimberly Briggs, account manager at Wheeler & Taylor, who is also the secretary of the Junior League of Berkshire County, spearheaded employee fundraising for the People’s Pantry in Great Barrington. In total, Wheeler & Taylor employees donated 10 boxes of groceries that were delivered to the pantry by Briggs and Rote.

 

Asnuntuck Accredited as American Welding Society Accredited Test Facility

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College recently became the first American Welding Society (AWS) accredited test facility (ATF) in Connecticut. Students enrolled in Asnuntuck’s welding program will have an opportunity to earn certifications. According to Richard Munroe, one of two certified instructors at Asnuntuck, the program establishes minimum requirements for test facilities, their personnel, and equipment to qualify for accreditation to test and qualify welders. AWS’ website explains that entrusting welder certification to ATF specialists makes good business sense for contractors and fabricators. Companies are increasingly realizing the shortcomings of self-qualification and are switching to AWS accredited test facilities to test and qualify their welders. ATFs help them save money, improve productivity, and reduce liability by entrusting their welder certification to experts. The Asnuntuck Community College welding program began in 2004 at Windsor High School and was moved to the Asnuntuck campus in 2008. Now known as the welding and fabrication program, it has graduated approximately 1,000 students since its inception. The college has dedicated 10,000 square feet to welding instruction in a state-of-the-art facility on the Enfield campus, which includes 75 welding booths.

 

Golden Years Home Care Services Gives Care Packages to Veterans

EAST LONGMEADOW — Golden Years Home Care Services partnered with Veterans Outreach Centers of Massachusetts Inc., Commonwealth Care Alliance, and Springfield Pharmacy to deliver “Appreciation for Your Service” care packages to veterans in Springfield on Nov. 24. Thanksgiving is a time when most people think about what they are thankful for. Staff at Golden Years say they are thankful to veterans for all the work they have done for this country, but, while providing home-care services to veterans, they noticed that not all veterans have the basic necessities most take for granted. The partnership among the organizations supplied veterans with toothbrushes, gloves, hats, socks, shampoo, hand sanitizers, masks, deodorant, soap, razors, and more supplies. They also received a turkey provided by Golden Years Home Care.

 

FutureHealth to Combine Forces with Insurance for Students

SPRINGFIELD — FutureHealth announced it has entered into an agreement with Insurance for Students, located in Delray Beach, Fla., to combine their expertise as one company. They have developed and will be distributing the next generation of student insurance products and services. Pat White, president and founder of Insurance for Students, has been designing, marketing, and administering comprehensive student accident and health plans for colleges and universities for more than 40 years. Kevin Saremi, president and founder of FutureHealth, has been providing online health-education programs that address mental health and other health-related issues within the student market. Prior to starting FutureHealth, he founded Consolidated Health Plans (now Wellfleet), a third-party administrator for student health-insurance products for more than 20 years, before selling the company to Berkshire Hathaway.

 

Resinate Inc. Opens Second Dispensary in Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Resinate Inc. — a locally owned and operated, vertically integrated cannabis company — opened its second retail location at 110 Pleasant St. in Northampton on Nov. 20. Resinate, which also has a facility in Worcester, is opening its second location during an unprecedented period with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and will strictly adhere to CDC and Commonwealth guidelines to keep its staff and patrons healthy. Resinate Northampton offers online pre-ordering, in-store pickup, and limited parking. Additional parking is available at the E.J. Gare parking garage and the Armory lot. Metered on-street parking is also available. For more information about Resinate, product offerings, and dispensary hours and locations, visit www.iresinate.com or e-mail [email protected]

 

TommyCar Collision Opens in Northampton

HADLEY — TommyCar Auto Group, which operates five car dealerships in Hampshire County, is expanding into the auto-body business with the opening of its new TommyCar Collision Center in Northampton. The center, which is now open, is located at 32 Damon Road, next door to the auto group’s Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley dealership. TommyCar Collision will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers free estimates. Services will include, but are not limited to, automotive glass replacement; body and bumper repair; detailing; frame straightening; full-service mechanical services; painting; paintless dent repair; repair after hail damage; repairs for scratches, dents, and door dings; and windshield repair and replacement. To learn more or schedule service, call (413) 517-3855 or visit tommycarcollision.com.

 

Liberty Mutual Lends Support to Square One Campaign for Healthy Kids

SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Mutual Insurance is the latest corporation to lend its support to Square One’s Campaign for Healthy Kids — a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. The $3,000 gift comes at a critical time as Square One recently expanded its early-education program to include full-day remote learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms, family childcare offerings, and family-support services.

“The vital services the Square One team provide to the community on a daily basis have taken on a whole new level of importance during this unprecedented time,” said Beth Green, Liberty Mutual Insurance Contact Center Operations associate. “Early education is one of the most effective ways to improve a child’s long-term security and well-being, and the services offered by Square One are core to Liberty Mutual’s values of being there for people when they need us most. We are honored to help them fulfill their commitment to provide high-quality early education and a safe and healthy community for Springfield’s children.”

 

Contribution Clothing Supports Nonprofits with Holiday Gift Guide

LUDLOW — Kelly Partridge, Founder of Contribution Clothing LLC, launched the mission-driven online boutique, www.contributionclothing.com, in June 2019. The boutique, which retails new women’s apparel and accessories, provides quarterly monetary donations to Western Mass. nonprofit organizations that share a vision of empowering women and girls. The woman-led boutique is currently working to gift 15% of its net profits to Dress for Success Western Massachusetts. This holiday season, Contribution Clothing is promoting Gifts That Give Back, a holiday gift-guide collection featuring select items each week leading up to Christmas. The collection will include pre-sale items not typically available at the boutique, with price points of $50 and under to keep holiday shopping affordable. Since the launch of the website, Contribution Clothing has provided monetary donations to a variety of organizations, such as Empty Arms Bereavement Support, Ovations a Cure for Ovarian Cancer, Shriners, Girls Inc. of the Valley, Girls on the Run, Christina’s House, the Care Center, Bay Path University, and Safe Passage. The ambitious clothing line hasn’t stopped there, also supporting many community-based events and fundraisers, such as the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage, the Women Empowered calendars for Girls Inc. and Girls on the Run, and the Unify Against Bullying Fashion show, and Partridge even created her own volunteer event in support of Christina’s House this past quarter.

 

Local College Students Compete in Online Grinspoon Pitch Contest

AGAWAM — The Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative’s first online, fully remote regional pitch competition took place on Nov. 17. Twenty-one students from area colleges delivered 60-second pitches to an audience of their peers in Zoom breakout rooms. After a popular vote, four finalists were selected to receive $50 each. Next came the final competition. Winning the grand prize and a total of $150 was Jenny Jung, a junior at Amherst College. Her idea is PressBeta, a beta-testing platform for independent game developers to be connected to beta testers for $59 per month. Passionate gamers can test out interesting, pre-launch games and give feedback in exchange for limited, early access.

 

Bradley Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler Readers as Eighth-best U.S. Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Condé Nast Traveler released the results of its annual Readers’ Choice Awards, with Bradley International Airport recognized as the eighth-best airport in the U.S. The awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. Bradley International Airport was recognized as a top-10 airport for the fourth consecutive year. “This award is a tremendous honor during a challenging year for the travel industry, and we are proud to once again be recognized among our nation’s best airports,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. “We thank the travel community for their continued vote of confidence in Bradley International Airport and for underscoring the value of traveling through a smaller airport. Now more than ever, Bradley Airport stands out by always offering a clean, safe, and convenient travel experience.”

 

Company Notebook

Country Bank Donates $75,000 as Part of ‘Neighbors in Need’ Program

WARE — As the pandemic continues to disrupt business activities both nationally and in Massachusetts, Country Bank announced a $75,000 series of donations designed to assist organizations on the front lines. As the latest installment in a string of recent financial support, the bank will be facilitating donations to select organizations throughout its market from Springfield to Worcester. The Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts will each receive $25,000 to provide additional grant funding for critical-needs programs. These programs offer support for vulnerable seniors, those without stable housing, with limited English proficiency, and with compromised health conditions, including mental health and drug addiction. Other programs receiving a contribution include: Springfield Rescue Mission and Friends of the Homeless in Springfield; and Abby’s House, Saint John’s Food Pantry, and the Boys and Girls Club in Worcester. These donations will assist in continuing to meet the ever-changing needs in their communities. Many nonprofit organizations are not only combating reduced financial support as many businesses are closed, but also face a lack of volunteers, and have to continually evolve how they support their clients while keeping everyone safe on a limited budget and with limited resources. “This is an uncharted time for our bank, our customers, and our local business community. As part of our effort to assist those most affected by COVID-19, Country Bank has already donated $400,000 to help local hospitals, first-responder recovery centers, food pantries, homeless shelters, veterans, children, and community foundations,” said Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank. “We continually look for opportunities where we can help make a difference in the health and well-being of the people in our communities.”

Westfield Bank Future Fund Announces 2019 Giving Totals

WESTFIELD — Westfield Bank announced that the Future Fund, a philanthropic endeavor dedicated to supporting local 501(c)(3) organizations that have a positive impact on the region’s educational, recreational, cultural, and social well-being, awarded more than $300,000 to more than 40 organizations in Western Mass. and Northern Conn. in 2019. Grant recipients included the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield, Domus Inc., Farmington Valley YMCA, Friends of the Holyoke Soldiers Home, Girls Inc. of the Valley, the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, Junior Achievement of Southwest New England, Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Spirit of Springfield, and the YMCA of Greater Westfield. According to James Hagan, and CEO of Westfield Bank, the Future Fund awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants each year to qualifying organizations whose applications are accepted. “There are so many people and groups in our communities that have devoted themselves to making life better for all of us, and especially the young people who represent our future, and we know that supplying needed services presents financial and logistical challenges that grow with each passing year,” he said. “The Future Fund, and Westfield Bank, are dedicated to providing needed support to worthy organizations that enrich and define life in the towns and cities we serve.” In addition to the Future Fund grants, Westfield Bank contributed more than $400,000 to help sponsor community and performing-arts events, youth sports teams, fundraisers, and more. The bank also donated more than $500,000 to local organizations via the Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation, an affiliate of Westfield Bank. In total, Westfield Bank provided more than $1.2 million in local and regional philanthropic support in 2019.

Springfield College AmeriCorps, Parent Villages Begin Mask Project

SPRINGFIELD — Members of the Springfield College AmeriCorps program are partnering with Parent Villages Inc. and other local nonprofits to lead the Village Engagement Matters initiative, a program committed to providing community members with face masks at no cost to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The initial distribution of protective facemasks took place on May 12 at three meal-distribution sites located at Springfield elementary schools. Springfield College AmeriCorps members have been assisting with the production of the masks, and also helping with the planning of the distribution efforts. “Giving back to our community is always something we have done in our family, and we are committed to helping with this project,” said Springfield College AmeriCorps member and social-work student Molly Glynn. “My mom and I started making masks for our family members, but that quickly has turned into helping our community as well. What I like about the Olson mask pattern we are using is, it provides a pattern to make masks for both adults and kids, and the pattern also allows for a pocket on the inside for a micron filter to help those individuals who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.” Added Parent Villages Inc. CEO Lakisha Coppedge, “the Parent Villages organization always tries to stay in touch and learn about items that community members really need, and obviously right now the masks are at a high demand. Springfield College stepped up to the plate to help, and we can’t thank the college enough to make this project a reality, and always being there to help our community members.” During these challenging times of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, Springfield College AmeriCorps members continue to seek opportunities to serve the Greater Springfield area, including volunteering their time making sure the Village Engagement Matters initiative is a success. “It really means a lot to have AmeriCorps members finding ways to support others,” said Springfield College AmeriCorps Director LaTonia Naylor. “We continue to live our Humanics mission at Springfield College of educating students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership and service to others. It brings me so much joy to watch people step up and show love and support for our community members.”

United Way of Pioneer Valley Announces EFSP Grant Funding

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) has been appointed administrator for Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) grant funding from FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, which appropriated supplemental funding in the amount of $194,555 for Phase 37 and $277,380 for CARES grants. With a board comprised of local community leaders, UWPV will determine funding allocation through a competitive application process. These funds will be used to supplement existing food and shelter services, and cannot be given to start new programs. Funding for Phase 37 and CARES-funded grants is now available. Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations that serve Hampden County, South Hadley, or Granby may apply. Allocations are to be applied toward supplementing existing food and shelter services. Applications are due by Friday, May 22 at noon. For information or to apply, contact Nicole Young, manager of Community Investments, at [email protected]

Vann Group Becomes Licensed Practioner of Predictable Success

SPRINGFIELD — The Vann Group, LLC announced that Michael Vann has recently become a licensed practioner of the Predictable Success, a business-growth methodology that over the last 30 years has been used to scale hundreds of businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Widely recognized as one of the most powerful organizational growth models available, Predictable Success was developed by Les McKeown, a successful entrepreneur and business-growth advisor. McKeown is the author of the bestselling book Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track and Keeping It There, as well as the companion book, The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success. Until recently, access to the full model was available only through McKeown. Michael Vann is part of the first cohort of licensed practioners. “I’ve been working with growth models for the past 20 years but have never come across one as powerful as Predictable Success. It isn’t an academic model or a hypothetical theory; it’s a proven, real-world process that enables any organization to scale successfully,” Vann said. “What I find really valuable about Predictable Success is its ability to get to the root cause of an organization’s issues rather than trying to solve symptoms. It integrates very well with our core methodology and tool set. It has been a great addition for our clients that are looking to grow and build value.” Les McKeown, the founder and CEO of Predictable Success, noted that “I’m absolutely delighted to have Michael join our growing group of licensed practitioners. Michael’s background as a trusted advisor and consultant makes him a stellar addition to our group, and I know his existing client base will benefit enormously from his access to the Predictable Success growth model, especially in these precarious times.” The Predictable Success model is intuitive and non-complex and can easily be implemented with the completion of a workshop. In conjunction with the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund, the Vann Group has several Predictable Success workshops approved under the Express Grant Program. The program will reimburse eligible businesses for up to 50% of the actual cost of training. Contact the Vann Group for additional information.

Pioneer Valley College Students Recognized for Entrepreneurship

AGAWAM — Eighty-six students from 14 local colleges and universities recently received awards for their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, with 55 unique businesses and business concepts represented. News of the 2020 Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards came at about the same time as participating students’ semesters were disrupted by COVID-19. Soon thereafter, the annual entrepreneurship banquet, where more than 450 people were scheduled to attend to celebrate these students, was canceled. The Grinspoon EI class of 2020 received their award checks of up to $1,000 by mail, and they and continue to be mentored by their Grinspoon EI faculty advisors. This year’s entrepreneurial class represents many diverse concepts and businesses. Some examples include:

• Bac-Be-Gone, bacteriocin-based cleaning products (Hadley Beauregard, Hailey Charest, and Bryanna Lexus Freitas, UMass Amherst);

• Keifer Games, a clever tabletop game for creative thinkers (Matthew Kiefer, UMass Amherst);

• Nashion, a new material for salon gel nails (Sona Kim, Amherst College);

• PAL, a prosthetic airliner medical device (Courtney Carlson, Kelsey Hastings, and Olivia Truenow, Western New England University); and

• Slacktyde, eco-art and eco-friendly clothing (Camila Mirow, Mount Holyoke College).

Mary Schoonmaker, Grinspoon EI faculty advisor and assistant professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Western New England University, noted that “the Grinspoon Foundation Spirit Awards are foundational to building entrepreneurial self-efficacy. Past and present recipients have appreciated the confidence building and encouragement to advance their innovations.” This year’s Grinspoon, Garvey & Young Alumni Award went to Justin Park, founder and CEO of QL Gaming Group, a direct-to-consumer sports-betting data and iGaming affiliate platform. This annual award is given to a former Entrepreneurial Spirit Award winner who has advanced their entrepreneurial endeavors. It is named after Grinspoon’s original business partners, Tom Garvey and Bill Young. “The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation has provided me with encouragement since 2012 to pursue my passion in entrepreneurship,” Park said.

Company Notebook

Bacon Wilson to Donate $25,000 for Firm’s 125th Anniversary

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson announced that, in honor of its 125th anniversary year, the firm will donate $25,000 to various community organizations throughout the Pioneer Valley. Bacon Wilson will make five contributions of $1,250 for each quarter of 2020. After gathering suggestions from members of the firm, first-quarter contributions of $1,250 were awarded to:

• Michael J. Dias Foundation, which provides aid and education for individuals and families on substance abuse, and help for those battling the disease of addiction;

• All Out Adventures, which promotes health, community, and independence for people with disabilities, seniors, veterans, and their families and friends through outdoor recreation;

• Amherst Survival Center, which connects people to food, clothing, healthcare, wellness, and community, primarily through volunteer efforts;

• Our Community Table: Westfield Soup Kitchen, a 100% volunteer organization dependent upon donations to provide a clean and safe environment to serve those in need; and

• Treehouse Foundation, an intergenerational community neighborhood where adoptive families and their children, older youth, and elders invest in one another’s health, dreams, and futures.

Bacon Wilson will announce recipients for the firm’s remaining quarterly giving in June, September, and December.

Eversource Energy to Purchase Columbia Gas of Massachusetts

BOSTON — Eversource Energy announced it has reached an agreement to purchase the Massachusetts natural-gas assets of Columbia Gas for $1.1 billion from NiSource. The acquisition will bring Columbia Gas operations in Massachusetts under local ownership by the largest energy company in New England. Columbia Gas currently serves 330,000 natural-gas customers in more than 60 communities in Massachusetts. Eversource has 300,000 natural-gas customers and 1.5 million electric customers in 51 communities across the Commonwealth. Many communities that Columbia Gas serves with natural gas already receive electric service from Eversource. Under the asset-purchase agreement, liabilities related to the September 2018 gas distribution incidents in the Merrimack Valley will remain the responsibility of Columbia Gas’s current parent company, NiSource. Eversource plans to finance the transaction with a balance of new equity and debt that maintains its credit profile. The parties expect to close the transaction by the end of the third quarter 2020.

Isenberg Again Ranks First for MBA Online Education

AMHERST — For the fourth year in a row, the online MBA offered by the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst topped the rankings of U.S. programs — and came out number three in the world — in the Financial Times survey. Isenberg has offered an AACSB-accredited MBA degree program entirely online since 2001, making it one of the most well-established and robust online degrees in the country. Currently, more than 1,100 students are enrolled in the program. In addition to its overall position in the 2020 Financial Times ranking, the Isenberg online MBA also stood out in a number of data areas, based on information collected by the publication from members of the 2016 graduating class. It ranked first in the world for salary increase, with alumni reporting that they earn 46% more now than they did when they graduated from the Isenberg MBA program; second in the U.S. for average current salary ($168,046); and first in the U.S. for value.

American International College Named To Military Friendly Schools List

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has again been named a Military Friendly School. VIQTORY, a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business that connects the military community to civilian employment and educational and entrepreneurial opportunities, has released the 2020-21 Military Friendly​​ Schools list, providing a comprehensive guide for veterans and their families using data sources from federal agencies, veteran students, and proprietary survey information from participating organizations in order to help them select the best college, university, or trade school to receive the education and training needed to pursue a civilian career. Institutions earning the Military Friendly​ School designation are evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey completed by the school. This year, fewer than 800 schools nationwide earned this prestigious designation. Methodology and criteria were determined by VIQTORY with input from the Military Friendly​ ​Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher-education and military-recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the individual institution’s survey scores with the assessment of its ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer), and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives $500,000 Grant

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley announced plans for major expansion and the launch of its new campaign. The organization is in the early stages of an ambitious, comprehensive campaign, “Her Future, Our Future,” with three primary goals: to develop a permanent Girls Inc. home in downtown Holyoke; to expand school-based programming in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield; and to extend the Eureka! STEM education program. To that end, it has received $500,000 in support from the Kendeda Fund, a private grantmaker based in Atlanta. This transformative gift will support the expansion of Girls Inc. of the Valley’s programs and create a stronger network that encourages girls to achieve. Girls Inc. of the Valley is launching this campaign to offer more girls fundamental support and research-based programming. These programs are designed to empower girls and present them with opportunities to navigate barriers they face in school and beyond.

Women’s Fund to Award $45,000 to Groups Addressing Sexual Violence

SPRINGFIELD — The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) announced a spring grant cycle to fund organizations that are working to fight sexual violence in the Western Mass. region. Funding for this grant cycle is made possible by a grant the WFWM received from the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies (the Me Too Fund), housed at the New York Women’s Foundation. Joining the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Foundation of California, and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota in this work, WFWM will carry out the Me Too Fund’s goal of ensuring ongoing philanthropic investments toward transforming the oppressive systems that produce structural inequalities of power that result in harassment and violence by making grants from this fund in and for the local community. Applications will be accepted from women- and girl-serving organizations in all four counties of Western Mass. through March 31. Projects funded by this grant from WFWM must focus on prevention and/or intervention of sexual violence and harassment. Visit mywomensfund.org for additional information or to apply.

GCAi Launches Videos for Peter Pan’s App Marketing and Perks Rewards Program

SPRINGFIELD — Riders on any Peter Pan bus right now will not only view a new app-marketing video but also a new Perks Rewards program video. In between the two marketing videos is a brief welcome message by company Chairman and CEO Peter Picknelly. Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi) produced the three videos, which are already being shown on all routes in the Northeast Corridor. Each of them was produced by award-winning video producer Darcy Young, one of the only female video producers in the market. The concepts and scripts were developed by GCAi founder John Garvey. The app and rewards videos will be disseminated through digital marketing campaigns in specific markets on the East Coast in the near future. These videos are the third in a series of passenger videos produced by GCAi that began when Peter Pan Bus Lines separated from Greyhound Bus Lines in 2017. The videos can be viewed at gcaionline.com/video.

Webber & Grinnell Acquires Roger Menard Insurance Agency

NORTHAMPTON — Webber & Grinnell Insurance announced the acquisition of Roger Menard Insurance Agency at 241 King St., Northampton. “Roger and I have been talking about this for a long time, and we are fortunate to be able to continue his legacy of great customer service to his clients,” said Webber and Grinnell President Bill Grinnell. “Our office is only a quarter-mile down the street, so it will be an easy adjustment for his clients. We also represent the same insurance carriers as Roger Menard Insurance, which will make the transition go very smoothly. Menard added that “Webber and Grinnell is the premier insurance agency in Northampton, and I know my clients will be treated very well. I’ve truly enjoyed this business and the relationships I have developed along the way. But after 36 years, it’s time to do something different. I will still be available to answer any questions during the transition.”

DAISA Enterprises to Facilitate Healthy Children and Families Event

SOUTH HADLEY — DAISA Enterprises, a food-systems and community health strategy firm based in South Hadley, was selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to design and facilitate a convening of Healthy Children and Families grantees for 2020. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), based in Princeton, N.J., is the largest philanthropic foundation in the U.S. focused solely on health, striving to advance policy, system, and environmental changes that create the conditions to foster families’ opportunities to promote healthy child development. The Healthy Children and Families convening will be a forum for sharing lessons and leveraging insights among grantees, partners, stakeholders, and RWJF staff around strategies to achieve this goal and prioritize health equity. More than 100 health leaders are expected to attend this event this spring or summer.

Health New England a Finalist in Healthiest Employers Program

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England has been recognized as one of the 2019 finalists of the Healthiest Employers of Massachusetts, a nationally recognized awards program powered by the Springbuk Health Intelligence Platform. Applicants to the Healthiest Employers awards program were evaluated across six key categories, representing a holistic view of employee well-being: culture and leadership commitment, foundational components, strategic planning, communication and marketing, programming and interventions, and reporting and analytics. All companies that applied to the awards program were ranked according to the proprietary Healthiest Employers Index, a 1-100 rubric for employee well-being programming. Ranked second in the 100- to 499-employee size category in Massachusetts, Health New England was honored for its commitment to employee health and corporate health programming. As an award finalist, Health New England has demonstrated a strong commitment to the health and well-being of its team members.

Bay Path Earns ‘A’ Grade for Early Reading Courses

LONGMEADOW — The National Council on Teacher Quality released its scores for the 2020 Teacher Prep Review, ranking Bay Path University’s Early Reading course content in undergraduate, traditional, elementary-education programs with an ‘A’ designation. Reading ability is a key predictor of future educational gains and life success, and more than one-third of American children are not able to read by the fourth grade, with black and Hispanic children being disproportionately affected. Successful reading instruction is essential to achieving educational equity, yet only seven programs in Massachusetts received an ‘A’ ranking. After reviewing course syllabi and required textbooks, programs were ranked based on the following criteria: the availability of explicit instruction on each of the five components of reading instruction — phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies; support for instruction with high-quality textbooks that accurately detail established principles of scientifically based reading practices; and evidence that teacher candidates must demonstrate mastery through in-class assignments, tests, and field work.

Scout Curated Wears Supports Dress for Success

SPRINGFIELD — Scout Curated Wears started out as a local business and quickly turned into a nationwide sensation with its signature item, which converts from a wrap bracelet to a necklace. But the company is equally proud of its commitment to give back 10% of its net proceeds to support women’s organizations. Dress for Success Western Massachusetts is one of the nonprofits that benefits from the generosity of Scout Curated Wears and owner Lora Fischer-DeWitt. Women in the Greater Springfield community benefit from both a network of support and programs developed by Dress for Success. These programs, which are designed to be responsive to both women and employers, include the Foot in the Door workforce-readiness program; the Boutique, which provides women with professional attire for interviews and employment; the Margaret Fitzgerald One-on-One mentor program; and the Professional Women’s Group, designed to promote employment retention and career advancement. Fischer-DeWitt changes the lives of women who come through these programs by providing an annual contribution and by sponsoring Common Threads, an annual event celebrating of the accomplishments of women who have come through Dress for Success Western Massachusetts programs. This year’s event is scheduled for Thursday, April 16 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Springfield Sheraton.

Elms School of Nursing Ranks in Top 10 in State

CHICOPEE — The School of Nursing at Elms College ranks in the top 10 of “Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts,” according to a recent ranking by registerednursing.org. To determine this year’s rankings, registerednursing.org researched the 40 nursing programs across the state and analyzed their students’ performance on the NCLEX-RN exam over the past five years. In 2019, Elms College nurses achieved a 97% pass rate on the exam, while the national pass rate was 91%. This is the third top-10 ranking for Elms College’s School of Nursing over the past year. It has been ranked in the top 10 of nursing schools in Massachusetts according to both nurse.org and niche.com.

Agenda

40 Under Forty Nominations

Through Feb. 14: BusinessWest is currently accepting nominations for the 40 Under Forty class of 2020. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 14. Launched in 2007, the program recognizes rising stars in the four counties of Western Mass. Nominations, which should be detailed in nature, should list an individual’s accomplishments within their profession as well as their work within the community. Nominations can be completed online  HERE. Nominations will be weighed by a panel of judges. The selected individuals will be profiled in the April 27 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala on June 25 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The event’s presenting sponsor is PeoplesBank, and other sponsorship opportunities are available.

Micro-emerging Markets: Cannabis Certificate Program

Jan. 13 to May 5: American International College (AIC) is announcing a new undergraduate initiative in the School of Business, Arts and Sciences titled Micro-Emerging Markets: Cannabis Certificate Program. Three business courses are offered in rotation beginning with the spring 2020 semester. The first course of the series will run on Wednesdays, 3:50 p.m. to 6:20 p.m., starting Jan. 13, 2020 and continuing through May 5, 2020. There are no prerequisites to enroll other than a high-school diploma or GED equivalency. Non-matriculated students can enter the program at any time in the sequence. The first course, “Cannabis Entrepreneurship,” will examine customer groups, products, and services in the recreational market. The effect of price, quality, and competitors will be explored relative to competing effectively. This will involve key components of the industry, including legal aspects, business models, financing, and marketing. In “Cannabis Business Operations,” students will analyze the evolving cannabis marketplace and investigate the complexities and challenges of this sector. This course will conduct an in-depth look at the key components of different business types, how the sector is evolving, starting and operating a cannabis business, in addition to financial constraints, investments, and strategic marketing in the industry. The final course, “The Law and Ethics of Cannabis,” will examine the legalization of cannabis. Discussion around the legal and ethical implications of cannabis use, its legalization, criminal activity, and marketing will be explored in addition to perspectives of law enforcement, business owners, and recreational uses. For more information about the Micro-Emerging Market: Cannabis Certificate Program, visit aic.edu/mem.

Cannabis Education Center

Jan. 16, 23; Feb. 6: The Cannabis Education Center, a joint venture between Holyoke Community College (HCC) and C3RN – the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network – has scheduled three standalone courses for people working in the cannabis industry or those who want to get started. The first, “Professional Cannabis Business Plan Development,” will run on Thursday, Jan. 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, 164 Race St., Holyoke. This $199 course is for experienced cannabis entrepreneurs who need assistance developing a business plan. The second, “Medical Cannabis 101,” is geared toward dispensary agents and healthcare providers. That will run on Thursday, Jan. 23 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the HCC Kittredge Center. The cost is $99. The third, “How to Start a Cannabis Business,” — a comprehensive, introductory session about starting a cannabis business — is slated for Thursday, Feb. 6 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the HCC Kittredge Center. The cost is $99. Space is limited, so advance registration and pre-payment are required for all courses. No walk-ins will be allowed. To register, visit hcc.edu/bcs and click on ‘Cannabis Education.’

‘Stress Less in 2020’

Jan. 17: The free monthly Lunch and Learn program at Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence at JGS Lifecare has announced its next topic. Dr. Bill Bazin, a chiropractor for more than 30 years, will present “Stress Less in 2020 with Time and Energy Efficiency,” offering strategies to better manage stress and increase quality of life. Almost 60% of Americans consider themselves stressed and depressed, and stress can play a major factor in heart attacks. Bazin will talk about stress and offer strategies on what to do to deal with it. Topics will include why we have stress; different types of stress; signs and symptoms of an overstressed life; how to get exponential growth from one’s time and energy; strategic planning for one’s life and family; eliminating fear, panic, and anxiety; the five factors of health; solutions for stress that can be done at home, and when to take the next step to deal with stress. The lunch at noon will be followed by the presentation from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The Ruth’s House Lunch and Learn program is free and open to the public. Tours of independent and memory-care neighborhoods will be available. RSVP to Lori Payson at (413) 567-3949, ext. 3105, or [email protected] For more information, visit jgslifecare.org/events.

Free Workshop on Wage and Hour Laws

Jan. 28: MassHire Holyoke Career Center will present a free workshop on the laws enforced by the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division, including the payment of wages, minimum wage, overtime, and earned sick time. At the event — slated for 8 to 10 a.m. at 850 High St., Holyoke — guest speaker Barbara Dillon DeSouza will also discuss the broad powers of the Fair Labor Division to investigate and enforce violations of these laws and explain the various ways a company can become the subject of an investigation. Finally, she will note some resources available to companies to keep informed of the laws. DeSouza is an assistant attorney general in the Fair Labor Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. She focuses on enforcing Massachusetts wage and hour laws, including prevailing-wage laws. She has been with the office since March 2010. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided. Seating is limited, so attendees are encouraged to reserve a seat early. Register by contacting Yolanda Rodriguez at (413) 322-7186 or [email protected].

All Ideas Pitch Contest

Feb. 5: Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Berkshire County is holding an All Ideas Pitch Contest from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Green at 85 Main St., Suite 105, North Adams. EforAll’s first Pitch Contest at the Berkshire Museum in October created a lot of community buzz, with more than 100 attendees and 11 companies competing. The big winner that night was Kaitlyn Pierce of Binka Bear. Described as “Shark Tank without the teeth,” EforAll’s friendly, free event features a business showcase and then pitches from six pre-selected contestants and two more that are added the night of the event. Each participant is given two and a half minutes to pitch a business or nonprofit idea to a panel of judges and the audience. At the end of it, EforAll gives away seed money to help launch these ideas. The first-place finisher wins $1,000, second place gets $750, third place wins $500, and the audience favorite also wins $500. Applications and audience registration information are both available online at www.eforall.org/berkshire-county.

Women’s Leadership Conference

March 27: Bay Path University’s division of Strategic Alliances announced that producer, author, entrepreneur, educator, and, of course, top model Tyra Banks will bring her bold attitude, unique style, and well-honed business acumen to Springfield as the keynote speaker at the 25th annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC). This year’s theme, “Own Your Now,” will encourage conference guests to examine the forces that have shaped their careers, relationships, and aspirations; recognize what drives them and what holds them back; and empower them to confidently move forward. Banks is the creator of America’s Next Top Model, the reality show and modeling competition that has been replicated in 47 international markets and viewed in 150 countries. This year’s conference also will feature breakout sessions focused on navigating the complicated relationships, personalities, and dynamics of the workplace and the impact those have on our careers and opportunities. Sessions will be led by bestselling authors and researchers including Laura Huang, Harvard Business School professor and author of Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage; Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning; Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author of Don’t You Know Who I Am: How to Stay Sane in the Era of Narcissism, Entitlement and Incivility; and Jennifer Romolini, author of Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits. For further information on the conference and to register, visit www.baypathconference.com.

Hooplandia

June 26-28: Hooplandia, the largest 3-on-3 basketball competition and celebration on the East Coast, will take place on June 26-28, 2020, hosted by Eastern States Exposition and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The event will feature hundreds of games for thousands of players of all ages and playing abilities, with divisions for young girls, boys, women, men, high-school elite, college elite, pro-am, ‘over the hill,’ wheelchair, wounded warrior, Special Olympians, veterans, first responders, and more. More than 100 outdoor blacktop courts will be placed throughout the roadway and parking-lot network of the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds in West Springfield. Slam-dunk, 3-point, free-throw, dribble-course, vertical-jump, and full-court-shot skills competitions will be spotlighted. Themed state courts will be mobilized along the Exposition’s famed Avenue of States. Featured ‘showcase games’ will be held on new court surfaces in the historic Eastern States Coliseum and on the Court of Dreams, the center court of the Basketball Hall of Fame. A year-long community outreach effort will begin immediately. Registration will open on March 1, 2020. Information and engagement is available now through www.hooplandia.com or on Instagram: @hooplandia.

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