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Agenda

Nominations for Humane Awards

Through July 31: Dakin Humane Society is accepting nominations from the public for its Dakin Humane Awards until July 31. Nominees should be people who go out of their way to care for animals in need, people who volunteer to help animals, or people and/or animals who have provided significant public service or shown courage in a crisis. Finalists in each of the award categories will be picked from among the nominees and notified of their selection in August. The award ceremony will be livestreamed at a later date in the fall, and one winner in each of the categories will be announced. There are five awards to be bestowed: the Frances M. Wells Award, given to an individual recognized for notable contributions to the health and welfare of animals; the Youth Award, honoring a hero, age 16 or younger, whose extraordinary care and compassion makes a difference in the life of an animal, and makes the world a kinder and gentler place; the Champion Award, given to a public servant who makes life better for tens of thousands of animals and people in their community, and recognizing their dedication and compassion on behalf of animals and people in need; the Richard and Nathalie Woodbury Philanthropy Award, paying homage to an individual who displays a remarkable sense of stewardship in sharing time, talent, and financial resources to improve the lives of animals and people who love them; and the Animal Hero Award, recognizing an exceptional animal and handler (when applicable) whose valor and extraordinary devotion to people proved life-saving in disastrous or challenging heath circumstances. Nominations are being accepted online only at bit.ly/2NOcgps. Mail-in nominations will not be accepted. Nominees should be residents of Central or Western Mass. or Northern Connecticut.

MCLA Gallery 51 Virtual Artist Series

Through Aug. 8: MCLA Gallery 51 will continue its online program, the G51 Virtual Artist Series, live via Zoom at noon on alternating Saturdays. Local, regional, national, and international artists will give virtual tours of their studios and discuss their practices. Discussions with the artists will also be recorded for later viewing. The series kicked off on May 16. The gallery’s full spring programming schedule is available on its website. Upcoming artists include Kim Faler (July 25), a local, multi-disciplinary artist working in painting, drawing, installation, sculpture, and photography, whose art practice unpacks the emotional weight found within everyday objects and architecture; and Anina Major (Aug. 8), who works with topics of identity, slavery, the female body, Bahamian culture, and more. She considers her creative practice to be a response to continuous erasure and a culture that is constantly being oversimplified.

Submission Period for Virtual Art Show

Through Aug. 13: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NAMI Western Massachusetts will present a virtual art show this year, and is now accepting artwork for the show. Submissions are limited to individuals living with a mental-health diagnosis, and the artwork will be displayed on the organization’s website and social-media pages for a limited time, then switched out for new artwork. To submit, e-mail a picture of the art to [email protected]. Note the size of the piece, the medium, and the price if it is for sale. The artist should also specify if they want their name used. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 13.

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Celebrating 40 Years

Robert MacDonald, executive director of Work Opportunity Center Inc. (WOC) was recently honored with a Zoom anniversary celebration for his 40 years of leadership. WOC provides services to individuals with developmental challenges, including community integration, work skills, and community employment. Agawam Mayor William Sapelli, Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno, and West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt all offered proclamations. Pictured, from left: Mary Akers, assistant executive director; Dale Lapointe, board secretary; Joanne Roberts, board member; MacDonald; Steve Robinson, board president; and Rick Hanchett, vice president.

 


 

Sharing and Caring

Cooley Dickinson Health Care employees recently donated hundreds of personal-hygiene products ranging from hair brushes and razors to deodorant, soap, and toothpaste to the Amherst and Northampton Survival Centers and the Easthampton Community Center. Pictured, from left: Jeff Harness, Cooley Dickinson’s director of Community Health and Government Relations; Robin Bialecki, executive director of the Easthampton Community Center; and Angela Belmont, chief Nursing officer at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

 


 

Service Above Self

Last month, John Doleva, president and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; and Frank Colaccino, Hall of Fame governor, CEO of the Colvest Group, and chair of the Westfield Bank 2019 Service Above Self luncheon committee, presented a check for $6,500 to the Rotary Club of Springfield, which is planning to award $10,000 in grants to Springfield-based nonprofit organizations that benefit the Greater Springfield community, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured from left: Paul Lambert, Rotarian and vice president of Enshrinement Services & Community Engagement at the Hall of Fame; Doleva; Colaccino; and Sue Mastroianni and Jack Toner, past presidents of the Rotary Club of Springfield.

 


 

Special Delivery

Amid COVID-19, the need for organizations such as Open Pantry Community Services has grown. Matt Ogrodowicz of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. led a charge to collect food and donations at MBK over a two-week period. He shared Open Pantry’s mission as well as its high-demand items, including cereal, pasta, canned goods, peanut butter, and spaghetti sauce. Staff at MBK donated food and/or money, which Ogrodowicz used to shop for additional items on the high-demand list. With the combined efforts, MBK was able to donate 279 pounds of food to Open Pantry.

Agenda

‘Interrupting Racism’ Training

June 25, 29: Learning to be an active bystander and interrupting racism before it escalates is critical to creating cultural change in the workplace, schools, and communities. Human in Common is poised and ready to help. This innovative business teaches individuals to effectively interrupt bias and discrimination and create policies and practices that amplify racial equity. The Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce has invited Human in Common to offer its timely training, “Interrupting Racism: Policies, Practices, and Everyday Acts of Solidarity for Businesses and Nonprofits.” This two-part Zoom training will occur on Thursday, June 25 from 1 to 4 p.m., and Monday, June 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. This training begins with a timeline of the history of racism in the U.S. to bring awareness to the conditions that have led to systemic racism. Participants will develop a diversity mission statement, practice six ‘ethical upstander’ methods for interrupting racism in the workplace, explore policies and practices to amplify racial equity, and engage in small breakout groups to practice anti-racism skills using real-life scenarios. The event webpage is bit.ly/2MMrNmr, or visit www.facebook.com/events/193655011884223.

Small-business Resource Series

June 25, July 2: Holyoke Community College (HCC) and Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will continue its series of online workshops for area employers who want to explore programs, services, and grant-funded workforce-training opportunities to boost their small businesses. The 45-minute remote sessions will meet from 9 to 9:45 a.m. and focus on a different government funding source. On June 25, Oreste Varela, branch manager for the U.S. Small Business Administration office in Springfield, will talk about SBA programs and services available to prospective and current entrepreneurs who need assistance starting or expanding their businesses. On July 2, Melissa Scibelli, director of Workforce Development Programs for MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board, will discuss the Registered Apprenticeship program, an innovative, work-based learning model for new hires and incumbent employees that provides funds to assist businesses in closing critical workforce-gap shortages through on-the-job learning and related technical industry training. The Small Business Resource Series is being offered by HCC and STCC through their Training and Workforce Options (TWO) partnership. Advance registration is required for all sessions. To register, visit hcc.edu/business-series. Log-in information for each remote session will be supplied after registration is complete.

Healthcare Heroes Nominations

Through July 1: Since the phrase COVID-19 came into our lexicon, those working in the broad healthcare field have emerged as the true heroes during a pandemic that has changed every facet of life as we know it. And over the past several months, the world has paid tribute to these heroes, and in all kinds of ways — from applauding in unison from apartment-complex windows to bringing hot meals to hospital and nursing-home workers; from donating much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to people putting hearts on their front lawns and mailboxes to thank first responders, healthcare workers, postal workers, and others. BusinessWest and its sister publication, the Healthcare News, will pay tribute in their own way, by dedicating their annual Healthcare Heroes program in 2020 to those who are have emerged as true heroes during this crisis. Healthcare Heroes was launched by the two publications in 2017 to recognize those working in this all-important sector of the region’s economy, many of whom are overlooked when it comes to traditional recognition programs. Over the years, the program has recognized providers, administrators, emerging leaders, innovators, and collaborators. For 2020, the program will shift its focus somewhat to the COVID-19 pandemic and all those who are working in the healthcare field or helping to assist it at this trying time. All manner of heroes have emerged this year, and we invite you to nominate one — or several — for what has become a very prestigious honor in Western Mass.: the Healthcare Heroes award. To assist those thinking of nominating someone for this honor, we are simplifying the process. All we desire is a 400- to 500-word essay and/or two-minute video entry explaining why the group or individual stands out as an inspiration, and a truly bright star in a galaxy of healthcare heroes. These nominations will be carefully considered by a panel of independent judges, who will select the class of 2020. The deadline for nominations is July 1. For more information on how to nominate someone for the Healthcare Heroes class of 2020, visit businesswest.com/healthcare-heroes/nomination-form. Videos can be sent via dropbox to [email protected]. Healthcare Heroes is sponsored by Comcast Business and Elms College.

Estate Planning Conference

June 30: Mark Esposito, an attorney at Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C., will speak at the 21st Annual Estate Planning Conference of Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Inc. (MCLE) on Tuesday, June 30. He will contribute to an expert panel discussion titled “What’s Up in the World of Fiduciary Litigation?” at the 2020 conference, which will take place as a live webcast from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The recorded webcast will be shown during that timeframe on Tuesday, July 14. Esposito joined Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin in 2017 and concentrates his practice in general litigation, with particular emphasis on commercial, trust and estate, and employment and labor litigation. He has counseled various public-sector labor unions and employees in collective bargaining, negotiations, arbitration, and litigation, representing clients in state and federal court as well as before administrative agencies.

Nominations for Humane Awards

Through July 31: Dakin Humane Society is accepting nominations from the public for its Dakin Humane Awards until July 31. Nominees should be people who go out of their way to care for animals in need, people who volunteer to help animals, or people and/or animals who have provided significant public service or shown courage in a crisis. Finalists in each of the award categories will be picked from among the nominees and notified of their selection in August. The award ceremony will be livestreamed at a later date in the fall, and one winner in each of the categories will be announced. There are five awards to be bestowed: the Frances M. Wells Award, given to an individual recognized for notable contributions to the health and welfare of animals; the Youth Award, honoring a hero, age 16 or younger, whose extraordinary care and compassion makes a difference in the life of an animal, and makes the world a kinder and gentler place; the Champion Award, given to a public servant who makes life better for tens of thousands of animals and people in their community, and recognizing their dedication and compassion on behalf of animals and people in need; the Richard and Nathalie Woodbury Philanthropy Award, paying homage to an individual who displays a remarkable sense of stewardship in sharing time, talent, and financial resources to improve the lives of animals and people who love them; and the Animal Hero Award, recognizing an exceptional animal and handler (when applicable) whose valor and extraordinary devotion to people proved life-saving in disastrous or challenging heath circumstances. Nominations are being accepted online only at bit.ly/2NOcgps. Mail-in nominations will not be accepted.

Submission Period for Virtual Art Show

Through Aug. 13: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NAMI Western Massachusetts will present a virtual art show this year, and is now accepting artwork for the show. Submissions are limited to individuals living with a mental-health diagnosis, and the artwork will be displayed on the organization’s website and social-media pages for a limited time, then switched out for new artwork. To submit, e-mail a picture of the art to [email protected] Note the size of the piece, the medium, and the price if it is for sale. The artist should also specify if they want their name used. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 13.

MCLA Gallery 51 Virtual Artist Series

June 27 to Aug. 8: MCLA Gallery 51 announced that its new online program, the G51 Virtual Artist Series, will be held live on Zoom, at noon on alternating Saturdays. Local, regional, national, and international artists will give virtual tours of their studios and discuss their practices. Discussions with the artists will also be recorded for later viewing. The series kicked off on May 16. The gallery’s full spring programming schedule is available on its website. Upcoming artists include Gladys Kalichini (June 13), who is known for paintings, digital work, and installations that explore history and the marginalization of certain groups; Todd Elliott (June 27), a multi-disciplinary artist whose work is inspired by shapes and forms used in architectural motifs, transpiration design, typography, and logos; Sula Bermudez-Silverman (July 11), whose conceptual work intertwines multiple issues, investigating and critiquing the issues of race, gender, and economics; Kim Faler (July 25), a local, multi-disciplinary artist working in painting, drawing, installation, sculpture, and photography, whose art practice unpacks the emotional weight found within everyday objects and architecture; and Anina Major (Aug. 8), who works with topics of identity, slavery, the female body, Bahamian culture, and more. She considers her creative practice to be a response to continuous erasure and a culture that is constantly being oversimplified.

Elms College Executive Leadership Breakfast

Sept. 22: Elms College has rescheduled its third annual Executive Leadership Breakfast due to state-mandated caution regarding large crowds and coronavirus. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal is still slated to be the keynote speaker for the event, which was originally scheduled for April 9. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, the college will announce more details as necessary. This annual event features talks by the region’s leaders on topics of relevance that impact all sectors of business and the economy in Western Mass. Speakers at past events have included Dennis Duquette, head of Community Responsibility at MassMutual and president of the MassMutual Foundation, and Regina Noonan Hitchery, retired vice president of Human Resources at Alcoa.

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Summer Fun

The law firm Pellegrini, Seeley Ryan & Blakesley donated $3,000 and employees’ time to provide and distribute summer-activity backpacks to 300 children for the Boys & Girls club of Greater Westfield. The backpacks were stuffed with art supplies, puzzles, games, soccer and gym balls, and other items for children.

Attorney Patrick McHugh stuffs a backpack

Attorney Patrick McHugh stuffs a backpack

 

Ayame Anthony is pleased with her haul

Ayame Anthony is pleased with her haul

 

 


Feed the Fight

Peter Pan Bus Lines and the Bean Restaurant Group recently teamed up with U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to show appreciation for first responders. On May 26, as part of the “Feed the Fight” project, Neal helped deliver more than 300 meals to Mercy Medical Center in Springfield. Supported by a donation from Neal’s campaign and organized by Peter Pan and the Bean Group, the project rewards the hard work of frontline healthcare workers while also supporting local Western Mass. restaurants.

 

 


Bridging the Gap

bankESB recently donated $5,000 to the Easthampton Community Center to support the Kid’s Bag Pantry program, which typically provides each child up to age 18 with a bag of food monthly during the school year and weekly during the summer months. This year, the weekly program began in March due to school closures, contributing to a shortfall in funding. Pictured: Easthampton Community Center Executive Director Robin Bialecki (left) receives the donation from Natalie Didonna, assistant vice president and branch officer at bankESB’s Easthampton office.

 

 


 

 

 

Agenda

Difference Makers

Sept. 10: BusinessWest will present its 12th annual Difference Makers event on Sept. 10 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The class of 2020 was profiled in the Feb. 3 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. Tickets cost $75. To reserve a spot, e-mail [email protected] or visit businesswest.com. Event sponsors include Burkhart Pizzanelli, Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health Of New England, Royal, P.C., and TommyCar Auto Group, while the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, MHA, and United Way of Pioneer Valley are partners.

Elms College Executive Leadership Breakfast

Sept. 22: Elms College has rescheduled its third annual Executive Leadership Breakfast due to state-mandated caution regarding large crowds and coronavirus. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal is still slated to be the keynote speaker for the event, which was originally scheduled for April 9. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, the college will announce more details as necessary. This annual event features talks by the region’s leaders on topics of relevance that impact all sectors of business and the economy in Western Mass. Speakers at past events have included Dennis Duquette, head of Community Responsibility at MassMutual and president of the MassMutual Foundation, and Regina Noonan Hitchery, retired vice president of Human Resources at Alcoa.

Hooplandia

June 25-27, 2021: Organizers of Hooplandia, the planned 3-on-3 basketball tournament and festival scheduled for this June, announced that the event has been postponed to 2021, with games hosted by the Big E Fairgrounds and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Boys and Girls Clubs in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut will remain the lead philanthropic recipient of the event, which was slated to host 2,500 teams and 10,000 players. To help build a bridge to the 2021 Hooplandia, a number of smaller events are being planned, with details forthcoming. Those include Hooplandia at the Hall of Fame Enshrinement, a series of 3-on-3 games in the parking lot of the Hall during Springfield Celebration Day on Sunday, Aug. 30, as part of Enshrinement Weekend activities; the Hooplandia World Slam Dunk Championship at the Big E in September, featuring slam-dunk artists from around the world competing for the title of Hooplandia World Slam Dunk Champ; and Hooplandia Showcase Games on the Court of Dreams at the Basketball Hall of Fame, a series of high-profile 3-on-3 games to be scheduled for competition this winter on the legendary hardwood. Details of all events will be announced as they emerge. All teams that have registered and paid for Hooplandia will be issued full refunds. Teams of players age 8 and under were slated for free registration in 2020, honoring the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant — Bryant wore #8 during a portion of his Los Angeles Lakers career in the NBA. The free under-8 registration will be extended to the 2021 event. Hooplandia’s Instagram account (@hooplandia) and website (www.hooplandia.com) will provide ongoing information and plans for the event and its transition.

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A photo essay of business happenings in Western Mass.

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Elevating the Brand

Valley Vodka Inc., maker of V-One Vodka, announced a new partnership with Julious Grant and Ty Law. Grant brings 29 years of executive-level experience in the spirits industry, having held senior leadership roles in sales and marketing in some of the most successful companies in the world. Law, an NFL Hall of Famer, won three Super Bowls as a cornerback with the New England Patriots. This partnership comes on the heels of Valley Vodka Inc. completing a multi-million-dollar purchase and renovation of its own ‘farm to glass’ distillery in Kamien, Poland. “With our new distillery, expanded production, and new packaging, this is the perfect time to introduce more people to our clean-drinking vodka,” V-One creator Paul Kozub said. “Julious and Ty are tremendous assets to help us expand distribution and increase brand awareness.” Pictured, from left, are Grant, Kozub, and Law.

 


Supporting the Community

Florence Bank recently pledged $50,000

Florence Bank recently pledged $50,000 to the YMCA of Greater Springfield to help fund the new wellness and childcare center that opened at Springfield’s Tower Square on Dec. 5. The new, state-of-the-art facility includes a 15,000-square-foot education center that serves infants through elementary-school students. Additionally, the facility includes a new, 12,000-square-foot wellness center with premium strength and conditioning equipment in a space that overlooks the city. Pictured, from left: Jeffrey Poindexter, YMCA of Greater Springfield board chair; Dexter Johnson, YMCA of Greater Springfield president and CEO; and Nicole Gleason, Springfield branch manager and vice president of Florence Bank.

 


Highest Honors

For the third consecutive year, the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter at Western New England University

For the third consecutive year, the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter at Western New England University earned the “highest honors” designation for its campus engagement and programming for the 2018-19 academic year. One indicator of the chapter’s engagement is participation at the annual Global Leadership Summit (GLS), which chapter President Tessa Wood and Secretary Kathryn Wells attended last year. The GLS enables delegates to participate in professional-development workshops and share best practices with student leaders from other BGS chapters worldwide. Pictured, from left: chapter members Wood, Finance Chair Emily Sajdak, Service Chair Krystyna Germano, and Vice President Teddy Doyle.

 


Record Donation

Holyoke Community College (HCC) has received the largest donation

Holyoke Community College (HCC) has received the largest donation in the college’s 74-year history — $7.5 million — from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Foundation, established by the late Elaine Marieb, a longtime HCC faculty member, alumna, best-selling textbook author, and Northampton native. The donation includes $5 million outright and a $2.5 million matching gift that will go toward future renovations of HCC’s main science facility, the Marieb Building, as part of a multi-phase plan to expand the recently opened Center for Life Sciences to encompass the entire three-story structure. Pictured: HCC Biology Professor Emily Rabinsky (center) teaches a biotechnology lab in the Center for Life Sciences.

 


Advocating for Girls

Executives from Girls Inc. of the Valley recently joined executives

Executives from Girls Inc. of the Valley recently joined executives from Girls Inc. of Lynn, Worcester, and Berkshires on the State House floor to highlight the Eureka! program — which prepares teenage girls to participate and excel in cutting-edge, dynamic STEM careers — and advocate for its inclusion in the state budget. Pictured, from left: Ruth Roy, campaign director, Girls Inc. of the Valley; Kelly Marion, CEO, Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, home of Girls Inc. of the Berkshires; Victoria Waterman, CEO, Girls Inc. of Worcester; Agnes Nkansah, Girls Inc. of Worcester Eureka! alumna and student at Brandeis University; Suzanne Parker, executive director, Girls Inc. of the Valley; Deb Ansourlian, executive director, Girls Inc. of Lynn; Brenda Nikas-Hayes, director of Eureka!, Girls Inc. of Worcester; Sidney Hamilton, outreach and site coordinator, Girls Inc. of the Berkshires; Lena Crowley, director, Teen and Middle School Program, Girls Inc. of Lynn; and Alexandra DeFronzo, supervisor of STEM Programs, Girls Inc.

 


Read Across America Day

First American Insurance Agency recently took part in Read Across America Day

First American Insurance Agency recently took part in Read Across America Day by reading to students at Saint Stanislaus School as part of its Kids First campaign. The campaign is an ongoing effort to support children and teens in Western Mass. through education and play. The staff volunteers time and resources through several activities and fundraisers throughout the year. Pictured, from left: Theresa Kelly, Kristie Learned, Ginger Marszalek, and Meghan Harnois from First American Insurance Agency.

 


 

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Accessible Design Award

At its annual awards gala, the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) presented Caolo & Bieniek Associates Inc. with the 2019 Accessible Design Award for its work at Westfield State University’s Davis Hall. The award honors design excellence in buildings that are accessible for people of all abilities, with an emphasis on projects that exceed the legal accessibility requirements in anticipation of diverse user needs and benefits. The residence-hall addition and renovation, designed in coordination with the university and Stegman+Associates Inc., includes new private and multi-user restrooms, providing access to all students.

Pictured, from left: Janet Stegman, owner, Stegman+Associates; Janet Chrisos, deputy director, Massachusetts State College Building Authority; Steven Taksar, vice president, Administration & Finance, Westfield State University; Curtis Edgin, president, Caolo & Bieniek Associates.


Grand Opening

The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated the ribbon cutting and grand opening of Hadley Dental Care on Jan. 31. More than 50 community and business leaders stopped by to see the state-of-the-art technology and hear about the client-centric care offered by Dr. Tapan Pujara, DDS and Dr. Chaitalee Ganatra, DDS (pictured). The practice is located at 1 Mill Valley Road, Unit D, Hadley. A celebration followed the ribbon cutting next door at the Taproom, featuring networking, food, and prizes.

 


Charitable Champions List

Pioneer Valley Financial Group is one of 20 financial-advisory firms selected for the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation’s 2019 Charitable Champions List, which recognizes advisory firms for their exemplary efforts to give back to their communities by promoting a culture of philanthropy among employees and financial advisors. Invest in Others received dozens of applications, which were evaluated blindly by a judging panel made up of financial advisors. Applications were evaluated on criteria including employee benefits, company contributions, and philanthropic events and programs offered by the firms.

 


Getting a Boost

Led by state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, the Springfield legislative delegation was able to secure a $250,000 appropriation for the UMass Center at Springfield. On Feb. 10, a ceremonial check was presented by the delegation at the center, located in Tower Square in downtown Springfield. At that event, UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy introduced Jamina Scippio-McFadden as the new director of the center, which opened its doors in 2014. Pictured below: Scippio-McFadden and Gonzalez address those gathered for the check presentation.

From left, state Sen. James Welch, state Rep. Angelo Puppolo, McFadden, Gonzalez, state Rep. Bud Williams, and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno gather around the ceremonial check.


 

Springfield Partners for Community Action is celebrating 55 years in action with a celebration to recognize the work being done by individuals and organizations within their community.

Springfield Partners for Community Action is hosting the Community Action Awards on June 13th, 2019 at 6:00 PM at the Springfield Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. This year’s event will hold a silent auction to raise funds to help keep programs and services free to the community. There will be keynote speakers that have witnessed the change and growth in Hampden County, and awards presented to individuals working hard for a future to better their lives and that of their community. We will also be awarding scholarships to our Community Scholarship recipients and rolling out a new project that we have been in the works.

Please join us for this night of celebration by registering at https://communityactionevent.eventbrite.com.

Company Notebook

Girls Inc. of Holyoke Is Now Girls Inc. of the Valley

HOLYOKE — Poised to boost its reach three-fold over the next five years, Girls Inc. of Holyoke has chosen a new name — Girls Inc. of the Valley — to embody its bigger, wider impact across Western Mass. The agency will keep its headquarters in Holyoke, said Executive Director Suzanne Parker at a press conference this morning at WGBY’s headquarters in downtown Springfield, and stay as committed as ever to the city of its origin. But with Girls Inc. members now hailing from Springfield, Chicopee, South Hadley, and other surrounding communities, a name change was certainly needed. Girls from area communities will continue to benefit from Girls Inc. of the Valley programs held at the Holyoke center headquarters on everything from literacy to leadership, said Parker, but the agency is also expanding into surrounding communities and has partnered to work inside 10 schools, including Springfield’s Chestnut Academy Middle School and Chicopee’s Bellamy Middle School and Dupont Middle School.

CommunicateHealth Celebrates 10th Anniversary

NORTHAMPTON — CommunicateHealth announced its 10th anniversary as a national consulting firm specializing in health information design. CommunicateHealth started as a consulting practice focusing on translating health information into plain language. Co-founders Xanthi Scrimgeour and Stacy Robison started the business in their Northampton attic. The couple quickly outgrew that space, eventually establishing an office on nearby Market Street. Over the past 10 years, the company has been successfully evolving into a full-service communications shop. The mission-based company works for some of the biggest names in healthcare and public health, including health-insurance companies, health systems, patient-advocacy groups, and government. They also take on projects for local hospitals and community organizations. CommunicateHealth is headquartered in Northampton with a second office in the Washington, D.C. area. It employs more than 65 employees across both offices. In 2018, the company recorded more than $12 million in sales.

Hazen Paper Co. Wins AIMCAL Product of the Year

HOLYOKE — Turning a simple box into an unusual ‘beauty and the beast’ packaging statement, Hazen Paper Co. was honored for the second year in a row with Product of the Year honors at the annual meeting of the Assoc. of International Metallizers, Coaters, and Laminators (AIMCAL), held recently in Palm Beach, Calif. The winning entry was a folding carton titled “The Spirit of Innovation” for prestige luxury box maker Autajon Packaging USA, which featured a three-dimensional, jewel-toned snake and a female model whose face transformed from flawless to gorgeously reptilian when the box is tilted. The folding carton was made with precisely registered custom color-motion holography that reflects and refracts light to bring the snake’s sinuous curves to life and allows the woman’s face and eye to blaze with unexpected snake-like gleam. The box is embossed with a snakeskin pattern and finished with a soft-touch coating. Inside, a sea-green coating contrasts with the rich black exterior. Hazen also received a “Product Excellence” award for Benefit Cosmetics’ Hoola Quickie Contour Stick packaging, created with silver Ultracure acrylic-coated metallized polyester laminated to paperboard, offset-printed in transparent and opaque colors, and embossed. Judges rewarded the package for its extensive use of embossing, halftone reproduction, tight registration, and vivid green interior.

Complete Payroll Solutions Reports Record Growth

SPRINGFIELD — Complete Payroll Solutions announced it saw more than 100% year-over-year revenue growth compared to a year ago, setting a record pace of new customer acquisitions. The momentum reflects the company’s investment in its people and processes to better serve clients. This momentum is evidenced by several highlights from 2018, including four location openings in Wakefield, Mass., White Plains, N.Y., West Warwick, R.I., and Portsmouth, N.H.; 35 new employees across all offices and an expanded sales force with 10 additional salespeople, providing enhanced resources in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Connecticut; a new HR consulting division that delivers local, personalized HR solutions to clients; partnerships with industry leaders like BankRI, Brookline Bank, and First Ipswich Bank, along with the company’s continued relationship with Webster Bank; and the addition of iSolved, an HCM technology, to complement its existing platform, Kronos. Together, the solutions help clients with their workforce-management processes, including payroll, time and attendance, benefits, and HR to recruit, onboard, and manage employees. Founded in 2003 as a startup venture by owners with a long tradition in the industry, Complete Payroll Solutions now has 14 locations throughout the Northeast with 150 employees, and services over 6,000 clients across all 50 states.

Financial Times Ranks Isenberg’s Online MBA First among U.S. Programs

AMHERST — The online MBA offered by the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst has been ranked first in the U.S. and third in the world by the Financial Times. With one of the largest and most established accredited online MBA programs in the country, the Isenberg School of Management has provided online education opportunities for nearly 16 years. More than 1,100 students are currently enrolled in the program. The Isenberg School stood out in the Financial Times’ 2019 rankings in a number of areas. The online MBA program ranked first for increase in salary after earning an MBA, with a 39% increase; first in the U.S. for total salary; and first for percentage of female faculty, with 45%. Furthermore, the program ranked fifth in online interaction, which measures how well alumni rate interactions between students, teamwork, and availability of faculty. Isenberg’s online MBA program offers an expansive course of study, from business analytics, finance, and healthcare administration to marketing and sports management. Isenberg students come from all 50 states and around the globe, and include physicians, attorneys, entrepreneurs, C-suite executives, and scientists.

Bay Path University Receives Grant for Student Internship Experiences

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University has been awarded $5,000 in grant funding support from the Charles H. Hall Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., trustee, for its project, “Impacting the Community: Fostering Social Justice Through Student Internships.” The foundation’s support will benefit Bay Path undergraduate students who are performing internships at nonprofits in Hampden County, including Square One, the Jewish Community Center, and Girls Inc., all of whom service at-risk children and youth. Bay Path requires its traditional undergraduate students to complete a three- or six-credit internship, research project, or field-work experience, depending on their major, to ensure they have the opportunities to develop the skills and competencies that will help them launch their careers. This funding, which will cover four internships, will help relieve the financial worry that unpaid internships can bring for students. Many Bay Path students hold part-time jobs to make ends meet, and adding an unpaid internship to the mix can be stressful.

BFMC Receives Grants for Community Film Fund

PITTSFIELD — The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative (BFMC) received two grant awards for its newly established Community Film Fund, which is a matching fund to help local nonprofit organizations create videos for their branding, marketing, fundraising, and social media. The grants were received from the Berkshire Bank Foundation and the Feigenbaum Foundation, each in the amount of $2,500. In today’s world, video messaging is becoming increasingly important. Wordstream, an online advertising company, states that the average user spends 88% more time on a website with video. Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text, and an initial e-mail with a video receives an click-through rate increase of 96%. BFMC is in the process of raising $50,000 for this new initiative, which it expects to launch later this spring. BFMC is partnering with the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires to provide information to local organizations about this opportunity.

Springfield College Students Volunteer in Trinidad and Tobago

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College Physical Therapy Professor Kim Nowakowski led a group of graduate students in the health sciences at Springfield College on a global health service trip during spring break. For the third consecutive year, Nowakowski’s group, together with healthcare professionals from Trinidad and Tobago, provided a National Fall Prevention Program in Trinidad and Tobago. The National Fall Prevention program in Trinidad and Tobago was developed based on a needs assessment conducted with physiotherapists from Total Rehabilitation Centre Limited and the Physiotherapy Assoc. of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT). PATT is the sole professional body that represents all physiotherapists in Trinidad and Tobago. Total Rehabilitation Centre Limited was established in 2007 to provide quality healthcare in a friendly, compassionate environment that is geared towards facilitating healing and return to the function of living. Carla Rauseo, a 2005 alumna of the Springfield College physical therapy program who is a physical therapist and co-owner of Total Rehabilitation and a member of PATT, initiated the collaborative effort with Springfield College’s physical therapy program. Since the initiation of the program, the Stay Steady Foundation, a non-governmental organization, has been created to promote sustainability of the Stay Steady Fall Prevention Program, and the involvement of Springfield College has been instrumental to provide the screenings, Rauseo said.

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Smile for the Camera

Sandra Costello, owner of Sandra Costello Photography, cuts the ribbon to the opening of her new photography studio in the Eastworks Building in Easthampton on Feb. 17. Surrounded by family, friends, and clients, Costello celebrated her new space for capturing portraits of women, families, high-school seniors, and professionals. (Photo by Ryan Williams)

Sandra Costello, owner of Sandra Costello Photography, cuts the ribbon to the opening of her new photography studio in the Eastworks Building in Easthampton on Feb. 17. Surrounded by family, friends, and clients, Costello celebrated her new space for capturing portraits of women, families, high-school seniors, and professionals. (Photo by Ryan Williams)



Image Conscious

Michael’s Party Rentals recently received a national accolade at the 2019 American Rental Assoc. (ARA) annual convention and trade show in Anaheim, Calif.  The company was acknowledged with a Presidents Image Award, given to a business facility or store celebrating its commitment to improving the rental-industry image through a remodeling, rebuilding, or renovation project. The award was in response to Michael’s Party Rentals’ new showroom, which opened in July 2016. Pictured: Melissa Sullivan (left) and Michael Linton accept the award.

Michael’s Party Rentals recently received a national accolade at the 2019 American Rental Assoc. (ARA) annual convention and trade show in Anaheim, Calif. The company was acknowledged with a Presidents Image Award, given to a business facility or store celebrating its commitment to improving the rental-industry image through a remodeling, rebuilding, or renovation project. The award was in response to Michael’s Party Rentals’ new showroom, which opened in July 2016. Pictured: Melissa Sullivan (left) and Michael Linton accept the award.


Supporting Seniors

Polish National Credit Union (PNCU) recently pledged to donate $25,000 to the Friends of River Mills Senior Center in Chicopee. The donation will be spread over the course of five years in $5,000 installments. The check was presented during the Financial Elder Abuse Workshop sponsored by the credit union on Feb. 7. This donation will be used for the addition of programs and activities for the seniors. Pictured, from left: Alfred Picard, president of Friends of River Mills Senior Center; Jim Kelly, President and CEO of PNCU; Sherry Manyak, executive director of Friends of River Mills Senior Center; Michael Sugrue, executive vice president of PNCU; and Kevin Kober, director of Retail at PNCU.

Polish National Credit Union (PNCU) recently pledged to donate $25,000 to the Friends of River Mills Senior Center in Chicopee. The donation will be spread over the course of five years in $5,000 installments. The check was presented during the Financial Elder Abuse Workshop sponsored by the credit union on Feb. 7. This donation will be used for the addition of programs and activities for the seniors. Pictured, from left: Alfred Picard, president of Friends of River Mills Senior Center; Jim Kelly, President and CEO of PNCU; Sherry Manyak, executive director of Friends of River Mills Senior Center; Michael Sugrue, executive vice president of PNCU; and Kevin Kober, director of Retail at PNCU.

Picture This

Business Community Photo Essay February 2019

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Family Fun Day

Link to Libraries recently staged its Family Fun Day at Mill 180 in Easthampton. The event was a celebration of reading and a fun way to engage children of all ages in that all-important activity.

Link to Libraries board member Tammy Trudeau welcomes guests

Link to Libraries board member Tammy Trudeau welcomes guests

Longmeadow High School Key Club volunteers, from left, Emily Ibrahimov, Meghan Desrosiers, Sara Creapo, Kate Gelinas, Shirley Yuan, Abby Chiz, Olivia Anderson, and Miranda Vellenga

Longmeadow High School Key Club volunteers, from left, Emily Ibrahimov, Meghan Desrosiers, Sara Creapo, Kate Gelinas, Shirley Yuan, Abby Chiz, Olivia Anderson, and Miranda Vellenga

Meghan Desrosiers with two attendees

Author Megan Dowd Lambert, from Amherst, reads aloud to children

Meghan Desrosiers with two attendees

Meghan Desrosiers with two attendees

the children’s musical group Little Roots performs at the event

the children’s musical group Little Roots performs at the event

State of Entrepreneurship

On Feb. 7, Valley Venture Mentors (VVM), in partnership with the Western Mass. Economic Development Council’s Entrepreneurship Committee, presented the annual “State of Entrepreneurship in the Valley.” Staged at the recently opened Valley Venture Hub on Bridge Street in Springfield, the event brought together a host of players that collectively comprise the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and featured a number of entrepreneurs speaking to the effectiveness of the ecosystem in helping them turn ideas into businesses.

A host of area leaders involved with VVM, the ecosystem, and entrepreneurship in general cut the ceremonial ribbon on the Valley Venture Hub

A host of area leaders involved with VVM, the ecosystem, and entrepreneurship in general cut the ceremonial ribbon on the Valley Venture Hub

Gregory Thomas, executive director of the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst, networks with Ray Berry, founder of White Lion Brewery

Gregory Thomas, executive director of the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst, networks with Ray Berry, founder of White Lion Brewery

Kristen Leutz, CEO of VVM, offers some remarks

Kristen Leutz, CEO of VVM, offers some remarks

Roy Chan, a student at UMass, campus director of the Hult Prize, and past Innovation Challenge participant

Roy Chan, a student at UMass, campus director of the Hult Prize, and past Innovation Challenge participant

Sheila Coon, founder of Hot Oven Cookies, tell the audience how the ecosystem has helped promote entrepreneurship in the region

Sheila Coon, founder of Hot Oven Cookies, tell the audience how the ecosystem has helped promote entrepreneurship in the region

The band Turgeon Quintet entertains after the formal program

The band Turgeon Quintet entertains after the formal program

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Asnuntuck Community College

Going Digital

In an effort to provide students with relevant skills for the workplace, Asnuntuck Community College has adopted eLABJournal, a software solution from Bio-ITech, a division of Eppendorf. eLABJournal is an intuitive and user-friendly application that is designed for laboratories in academic teaching and research labs as well as in commercial settings. Students using this platform in the classroom will gain valuable experience in electronic notebook and inventory/data management, which will better prepare them for their careers. Here, Asnuntuck student Samantha Fox is photographed in one of the college’s labs working with eLabJournal. Asnuntuck Community College’s Foundation provided the funding, through a mini-grant, for this software.





The West of the River Chamber of Commerce

Open for Business

The West of the River Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed Box Paper Scissors to the Agawam community. The store, which opened in late December and is owned by Bryant Whitsett, offers a wide variety of products and services, including key cutting, notary, DVD transfer, office supplies, conference-room rental, space to sell and promote local products and services, shipping, mailbox services, faxing, and more. A grand-opening celebration was staged Jan. 17. Here, Whitsett is seen with employee Delaney Tanzer.





North Brookfield Savings Bank

Meeting a Need

North Brookfield Savings Bank (NBSB) recently thanked the community for the overwhelming success of its annual toy drive, during which the bank accepted thousands of donations of new and unwrapped toys and collected monetary donations in jars at its branch locations. Pictured are the Cindy Fountain (left) and Patty Ostrout of NBSB with officers from the North Brookfield Police Department, whose Toys for Joy program was one of many partnering organizations in the drive.





Officials from Holyoke Community College and Westfield State University

Nursing Degree Partnership

Officials from Holyoke Community College and Westfield State University signed a dual-admission agreement that streamlines the process for students who want to continue their nursing educations at Westfield after earning an associate degree in nursing at HCC. The RN-to-BSN completion program partnership was announced during a ceremony at HCC’s Center for Health Education on Jarvis Avenue, home to the college’s RN (registered nurse) and LPN (licensed practical nursing) programs and medical simulation center. From left: Diane Prusank, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at Westfield State University; Ramon Torrecilha, president of Westfield State University; Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College; and Monica Perez, vice president of Academic Affairs at Holyoke Community College.

Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight

Margaret Kerswill (left) and Laureen Vizza

Margaret Kerswill (left) and Laureen Vizza in front of their Main Street shop, Mutability in Motion.

Margaret Kerswill has a couple of good views of Stockbridge’s business community. One is as president of the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce. The other is from her storefront window on Main Street.

“I think there’s a real appeal that’s well-defined in our town’s tagline, which is ‘a quintessential New England town.’ It feels small; it feels intimate,” said Kerswill, co-owner with her wife, Laureen Vizza, of Mutability in Motion, a downtown store that sells crafts handmade by artisans from across the U.S., many of them local.

“There’s a connection between people in town,” she went on. ‘When you walk through town in the morning, just about everyone says ‘good morning’ to you. There’s a very nice atmosphere about Stockbridge.”

Still, outsiders often peg the community as a tourist destination — which is certainly is — and not much else, and are surprised to find a bustling local economy that doesn’t shut down during slow tourism seasons.

“I know being in my shop, a lot of the visitors who come, who have never been here, are often surprised to see businesses stay open year-round,” Kerswill said. “When they visit other tourist areas at the beginning and end of the season, a lot of those restaurants and shops close down. We’re a small town, so most of our foot traffic is in the summer season, but we’re still here year-round, serving local regulars.”

Still, Stockbridge relies heavily on tourism and visitorship for economic development. With a population of just under 2,000 — ranking it in the bottom sixth in the Commonwealth — the community doesn’t have a deep well of residents or businesses from which to draw tax revenue, but it does boast a widely noted series of destination attractions, from Tanglewood to the Norman Rockwell Museum; from the Berkshire Theatre Festival to Berkshire Botanical Garden.

Other attractions continue to emerge as well, including the oft-delayed Elm Court project by Travaasa Berkshire County, which will turn the historic Elm Court Estate into a resort featuring 112 hotel rooms, a 60-seat restaurant, and a 15,000-square-foot spa.

The property, which sits on the border of Stockbridge and Lenox on Old Stockbridge Road, was constructed in 1886 as a summer cottage for William Douglas Stone and Emily Vanderbilt, completed a series of renovations in 1919, and evolved into an inn in the ’40s and ’50s, hosting dinners, events, and overnight accommodations. It was eventually placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The project to renovate it began six years ago when Front Yard purchased the estate from the Berle family, who had run a boutique, wedding-oriented hotel there from 2002 to 2009. Eight neighbors appealed the 2015 approval of the resort by the Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals, but the Massachusetts Land Court eventually ruled in favor of the developer, Front Yard LLC. This past summer, Front Yard asked the Stockbridge Select Board for — and received — an extension of the permit which would have expired last month. Construction is expected to begin in the spring.

Meanwhile, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is developing a $33 million construction project at Tanglewood, a four-building complex that will house rehearsal and performance space for the Tanglewood Music Center as well as a new education venture known as the Tanglewood Learning Institute — the first weatherized, all-season structure at Tanglewood, which the BSO plans to make available for events beyond the summer months.

“We really are an amazing cultural center here, between the visual arts and handcrafted arts and crafts,” Kerswill said. “We’ve got music, dance, and theater with amazing summer-stock casts. On one hand, we have the feel of country living, but we have the convenience of Manhattan two hours away, Albany 45 minutes away, Boston two hours away, and all the culture in our immediate area. It’s remarkable. That’s why I’m here — the culture and the arts.”

Community Ties

As chamber president, Kerswill leads a member base that’s smaller than most chambers, but “strong and loyal,” as she called it.

“We do some chamber-related functions to connect,” she said, “and we also have tri-town chamber mixers with people from Lenox and Lee, where we get together and share experiences in an informal setting over cocktails for a couple hours.”

Margaret Kerswill

Margaret Kerswill

“We really are an amazing cultural center here, between the visual arts and handcrafted arts and crafts. We’ve got music, dance, and theater with amazing summer-stock casts.”

The chamber also presents an annual event to honor members and businesses, alternating between an individual one year and a company the next. On top of that, it puts on two major events. One is the three-day Main Street at Christmas festival — slated this year for Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 — which brings thousands of people into town with activities for families and children, concerts, caroling at the Red Lion Inn, and self-guided house tours. On Sunday, Main Street closes down for several hours, antique cars are brought in, and the strip transforms into a scene straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

That follows a summer arts and crafts fair each August, a weekend-long event that always sells out its vendor capacity, she said. “There’s no entry fee for patrons, and people freely walk around and come and go as they please. That brings a lot of people to town, at a time when summer is winding down and there’s less traffic.”

Stockbridge at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1739
Population: 1,947 (2010)
Area: 23.7 square miles
County: Berkshire
Residential Tax Rate: $9.76
Commercial Tax Rate: $9.76
Median Household Income: $48,571
Median Family Income: $59,556
Type of government: Town Administrator; Open Town Meeting
Largest Employers: Austen Riggs Center; Tanglewood; Red Lion Inn
* Latest information available

Not wanting to rest on its laurels when it comes to its status as a desirable town for tourists and residents alike, a visionary project committee was formed by Stockbridge officials several years ago to develop recommendations that could be implemented over the next 20 years. The committee issued a report in 2016 titled “Planning a Way Forward.”

That report noted that residents value the town’s cultural institutions and historic buildings; its open space, recreation sites, and walking trails; and its downtown (although many would like to see additional shops and services, as well as more parking). Meanwhile, they want to see smart housing growth that takes into account the community’s aging population, as well as additional transportation options and better accommodation of walkers and bicyclists.

As a result, the document envisioned a Stockbridge in 2036 that mixes the traditional strengths of tourism, culture, and creative economy with green- and technology-based businesses, food production from local farmers, and agri-tourism. The ideal community would also be less auto-reliant, expanding pedestrian networks, bicycle infrastructure, and regional bus and ride-sharing services.

The report also predicts a socially and economically diverse population that provides equally diverse housing options, from apartments and condominiums to smaller single-family homes, co-housing projects, and historic ‘Berkshire cottages.’ These include a mix of sustainable new construction and repurposed buildings, including the preservation of older homes, along with an increase of people living close to the town center, including mixed-use buildings with apartments over shops to support downtown businesses.

While the overall vision may be ambitious, it encompasses the sorts of goals a town of Stockbridge’s size can reasonably set when looking to move into its next era.

Blast from the Past

Kerswill, for one, is happy she and Vizza set up shop in Stockbridge — right next to the Red Lion Inn, in fact, which is in many ways the heart of the downtown business culture.

“It’s a great experience being in downtown in Stockbridge,” she told BusinessWest. “We don’t have any chain stores or restaurant franchises. We are all independently owned, and the chances are good, when you pop into one of our stores, that you’re going to be meeting the owner. It becomes a very personal experience because of that.”

As for the Red Lion itself, “it’s cozy and intimate,” she went on, “and they’ve modernized with things that people expect, like wi-fi, but you still get a real, old-fashioned experience, and I think people really crave that. I know I do.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]