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Class of 2021 Cover Story Difference Makers

For more than a dozen years now, BusinessWest has been recognizing the work of individuals, groups, businesses, and institutions through a program called Difference Makers.
Since the inception of this initiative, one of the goals in selecting our honorees has been to show the many ways one can, in fact, make a difference within their community, and over the years, we have been quite successful in that mission.
And this pattern continues with the class of 2021. The stories are all different, but the common thread is a passion exhibited by each honoree to improve quality of life for those in this region and make it a better place to live, work, and conduct business.
The stories below and in this PDF Flipbook are sure to enlighten and also inspire others to find their own ways to make a difference.
The 13th annual Difference Makers celebration will be a virtual event taking place on April 1 starting at 6 p.m. This event, to be presented using the REMO platform, will feature networking, videos of the event sponsors, introductions of the honorees, and comments from the Difference Makers themselves.
The sponsors for this year’s program are Burkhart Pizzanelli, the Royal Law Firm, TommyCar Auto Group, and United Way of Pioneer Valley. The Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament is a non-profit partner.

View the BusinessWest 2021 Difference Makers Section HERE

Photos Leah Martin Photography

The 2021 Difference Makers

Kristin Carlson
President, Peerless Precision

EforAll Holyoke

Janine Fondon
Founder, UnityFirst.com; Professor, Bay Path University

Harold Grinspoon
Philanthropist; Founder, Aspen Square Management

 

Chad Moir
Founder and Owner, DopaFit Parkinson’s Movement Center

Bill Parks
CEO, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield

Pete Westover
Founder and Partner, Conservation Works, LLC

Presented by:

Non-profit Partner:

Media Partner:

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.

 

Opinion

They’re All Making a Difference

Since BusinessWest started its Difference Makers recognition program in 2009, we’ve told dozens of stories involving individuals, groups, and institutions that are positively impacting life in the 413.
Each one is different, although there are some common threads, and each one is inspiring. And this is the point of this exercise, if you will — to tell these amazing stories, because they need to be told, and to inspire others to find their own way to make a difference in their community.
The Difference Makers class of 2021 certainly continues this tradition. The stories beginning on page 22 convey, in a single word, the passion that these individuals and groups have for helping those in their communities and improving quality of life here. And they all go about it in a different way:

• Kristin Carlson, by becoming the face, or the new face, of manufacturing in this region. And a new voice as well, one that works overtime (that’s an industry phrase) to educate people, and especially young people, about the many opportunities in this field. Her efforts are already reaping dividends, as evidenced by her own shop floor, which now boasts a number of women in machining positions;

• EforAll Holyoke, by becoming another powerful force in the region’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Through its accelerator programs, mentorship initiatives, and other ongoing forms of support, this nonprofit is helping many people, especially those in the minority community, realize their dreams of owning their own business;

• Janine Fondon, by being a constant source of energy and ideas, through initiatives ranging from UnityFirst.com, a national distributor of diversity-related e-news, to programs like On the Move, which bring women, and especially women of color, together for forums that are designed to engage, educate, and inspire;

• Harold Grinspoon, by being a successful business person, but especially by being a philanthropist who has never stopped asking about how he can help. Over the years, he has launched initiatives to support entrepreneurship at area colleges and universities, assist the region’s farmers, celebrate excellent teachers, and improve Jewish life and culture;

• Chad Moir, by creating the DopaFit Parkinson’s Movement Center, inspired by the experience of his late mother, to help those suffering from this dreaded disease live healthier, more confident lives through various forms of exercise that have proven to slow the progression of symptoms;

• Bill Parks, by not only helping young people and their families access critical programs through the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield, but by using his own experiences to show them that their dreams and goals really are possible. His club’s programs not only impact young people’s lives today, but help them take charge of their future; and

• Pete Westover, for working tirelessly to help preserve and protect this region’s open spaces through a remarkable, decades-long career that featured a lengthy stint as conservation director in Amherst and ongoing work as managing partner of Conservation Works, which is involved in a wide range of preservation, trail-building, and other types of projects across the Northeast.

We salute these members of the class of 2021, and encourage others to read their stories and become inspired to find new and different ways to make a difference here in Western Massachusetts.

Opinion

An Appreciation for Chris Thibault

Filmmakers are storytellers. That’s what they do. They tell stories, and they help others tell their stories.

That’s what Chris Thibault did, and he was very good at it. He started Chris Teebo Films, and he worked with businesses and institutions across this area — from Spirit of Springfield to BusinessWest and its many award recipients and program sponsors Mercedes-Benz of Springfield — to help them communicate and get their messages across.

In recent years, though, the most compelling story Chris told was his own — specifically his long and difficult battle with cancer, which ended this week when he died at age 38. Starting from when he was first diagnosed with breast cancer, Chris used his talents and his desire to help others to take his battle public, through short films, blog posts — including one titled “How to Run a Production Company While Living (or Dying) of Stage 4 Cancer” — and more.

In the course of doing so, he became an inspiration to many, and in a number of ways. It was more than Jim Valvano’s famous ‘don’t give up, don’t ever give up’ messaging — although there was some of that. His message was more along the lines of never letting cancer run his life or tell him what he could or couldn’t do.

And there was still more to this story. Indeed, even though he was dealt a very bad hand and had every reason to say ‘why me?’ or bemoan his fate, he didn’t. He accepted what was happening to his body, and he never stopped trying to be upbeat, optimistic, and even humorous.

Indeed, when he talked with BusinessWest about that aforementioned blog post and the subject matter involved, he said simply, “I haven’t figured that one out yet … and to be honest, I wrote the title to get your attention so you would actually start reading the thing.”

Like all good filmmakers, he did grab your attention, and he held it.

His story certainly did not end the way he or all those who loved and admired him wanted, but it was one that left us even more thankful for the time we had with him — and more appreciative of the time we have on this planet. Period.

We thank him for that, and we thank him for the way he inspired us to live life to the fullest, even when serious roadblocks are put in front of us.

The best story he told was his own.

Class of 2021

She Has in Many Ways Become the Face of Manufacturing Locally

Leah Martin Photography

Kristin Carlson calls it the ‘Boston Marathon bomber story.’

Because … it’s about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two brothers who perpetrated those heinous crimes almost eight years ago now. More to the point, though, it’s about the role her company played in eventually apprehending him.

Indeed, Tsarnaev was found hiding in a boat in a backyard in Watertown, and he was discovered through the use of a thermal-imaging camera in a police helicopter flying over the area. Carlson’s company, Westfield-based Peerless Precision, makes several components for that camera, including one for the cryogenic cooling system that ensures that the camera doesn’t overheat during use.

As she held one up for BusinessWest to see, she said just showing people the part isn’t nearly as impactful as trying to explain what it’s used for — or, in this case, how it can play a significant role in writing history.

That’s why she tells the Boston Marathon bomber story often, although she admits that its days might soon be numbered. That’s because she usually tells it to young people in the hopes that they might be intrigued enough by it to perhaps pursue a career in precision manufacturing. And by young, she means high-school age, and preferably middle-school age. And those in that latter category are now, or soon will be, too young to really remember the 2013 bombing and its aftermath.

“I want to make sure that kids, and adults who are looking for another career option, are aware of what we do in Western Mass., and they know about the viability of a career in manufacturing and what it has to offer.”

But Carlson has other stories — perhaps not as dramatic or crystalizing. All of them are designed to show what precision manufacturing is all about, and also how companies in this area provide parts for helicopters, fighter jets and bombers, the Space Shuttle, medical devices, automobiles, submarines, and so much more. She often borrows the line used often by Rick Sullivan, now the president and CEO of the Western Mass. Economic Development Council but formerly mayor of Westfield, who would say that, if you saw a plane flying over the city, there’s a good chance that tens of thousands of dollars worth of its parts were made in the city.

Other stories talk about how someone manufacturing these parts can make a very good living and have a job with real security — yes, even in the wake of a global pandemic. And she tells them often, too.

Kristin Carlson holds up one of the parts her company

Kristin Carlson holds up one of the parts her company, Peerless Precision, makes for thermal-imaging cameras, like the one used to locate one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

And then there’s her story — a 38-year-old woman now managing this precision manufacturer. We’ll get to that one in a minute. These stories help explain why Carlson has been named a Difference Maker for 2021. Indeed, while she has helped grow the company since she took over for her father, Larry Maier, as he battled and eventually succumbed to cancer, she has made an even bigger mark — on a regional and now national stage — in the ongoing effort to educate people about what gets made here and also about careers in manufacturing, thus addressing ongoing issues involving workforce and a skills gap.

“I want to make sure that kids, and adults who are looking for another career option, are aware of what we do in Western Mass.,” she said, “and they know about the viability of a career in manufacturing and what it has to offer.”

In a field where complaints about these issues have been going on for decades involving generations of shop owners and managers, she has distinguished herself by going beyond complaining. Well beyond. In fact, in many ways, she has become the face of manufacturing in Western Mass. — a much different face than has ever been associated with this sector locally.

“Instead of sitting idly by and talking and complaining, I wanted to do something about it,” said Carlson, who was recently appointed to the state’s Workforce Training Advisory Board and also sits on the National Tooling and Machining Association’s AMPED (Advanced Manufacturing Practices and Educational Development) Board.

And while there’s still much work to be done, she has, indeed, done something about it, and that’s why she’s a Difference Maker for 2021.

 

Making Her Mark

Despite everything you’ve read already in this piece about manufacturing, what a good career it is, and how Carlson has thrived in it, she readily admits she had to be talked into coming back to this this region and Peerless Precision after her father got sick.

And it took a lot of talk.

She was living in San Diego at the time, working for a fire-alarm contractor, handling everything from inside sales to building websites to being the runner to go to City Hall and get the fire-alarm building permits for new construction.

In 2009, her father was diagnosed with colon cancer. “At the time, he asked me … if something ever happened, would I come home from California and help my mom either decide to keep the company or sell it,” she recalled. “My dad always wanted me to be doing what I’m doing now, and I was pretty much in a place at that point in my life where I needed to decide what my path was going to be on my own; I didn’t want someone else to define that for me.

“Because he was stubborn and I’m just as stubborn as he was, I fought what he wanted tooth and nail until it came time for me to make that decision,” she went on. “So when he asked me if I would come home if something happened, I said ‘yes.’”

Kristin Carlson, seen here with Peerless Precision machinist Kaitlyn Fricke

Kristin Carlson, seen here with Peerless Precision machinist Kaitlyn Fricke, says progress has been made to inspire women to enter the manufacturing field, but more work must be done.

Something did happen. After undergoing surgery and chemotherapy and eventually earning a clean bill of health, her father’s cancer not only returned but spread to other parts of his body. And Carlson kept her promise to her dad, even if he didn’t remember her making that promise.

That was in 2012. Since that time, Carlson has verified the faith her father had her, establishing herself not only at the company — transitions such as these are rarely seamless — but also in the industry, and especially in the broad realm of helping to educate people (and especially young people) about precision manufacturing as a career path.

Such efforts have been going on for decades, and Carlson notes that, in many respects, she is simply carrying on the work of her father, who was extremely active with workforce initiatives in this sector. Indeed, the two of them share what could only be called a passion for such work.

Much of her work involves debunking myths, or at least long-standing beliefs. There are many of them, and they range from those concerning the death of manufacturing in this region (it’s not what it was 30 or 40 years ago, to be sure, but it’s not dead) to the presumption that women can’t or shouldn’t get into this field, to the opinion that one has to go to college to succeed in life.

“I was pretty much in a place at that point in my life where I needed to decide what my path was going to be on my own; I didn’t want someone else to define that for me.”

Carlson, who went to college because she was told she needed to, is working on all these fronts simultaneously. She confronts the problem with statistics, with stories — like the one about the Boston Marathon bomber — and sometimes just by showing up in a room.

Indeed, as a woman not just in this industry, but one leading a company and sitting on regional and national boards, she has become an effective role model, or ‘exhibit A,’ if you will, when it comes to everything she talks about. As in everything.

“For a kid whose father had bought a machine shop and was pushed to go to college when I’m better at hands-on things … I wish I had been given different options,” she told BusinessWest. “My parents told me that I couldn’t make anything of myself if I didn’t have a college degree; that’s not a good message, but it’s also the message that was being pushed across the board back then — and still, today.”

Like her father, Larry Maier, before her, Kristin Carlson has made workforce development a passion and a big part of her life and work.

While the pandemic is keeping people from touring the facilities at Peerless Precision in person, there are still virtual visits, where young people can meet not only Carlson, but her pit bull, Bruno. They can also see six women on the manufacturing floor (years ago, they would only have seen them in the front office or shipping and receiving). And they can see parts like the one that goes into the thermal-imaging camera that captured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in that boat.

“My parents told me that I couldn’t make anything of myself if I didn’t have a college degree; that’s not a good message, but it’s also the message that was being pushed across the board back then — and still, today.”

And they can hear Carlson talk about other things made in this region — from toys at LEGO and Cartamundi to ketchup bottles at Meredith Springfield to coolers at Pelican Products. Overall, it’s a powerful message, she said, but one that needs to be reinforced and told to new audiences every year, several times a year, if possible. That’s because those old myths, those old perceptions, die hard.

 

Parts of the Whole

Before ever telling the Boston Marathon bomber story, Carlson wanted to make sure she had her facts straight.

“When I saw our customer’s logo on that camera shot, I called him right away and said, ‘do you think there’s a possibility that that part in the camera that found the bomber is from our shop?’ — and he said ‘absolutely,’” she recalled, adding that additional research verified what she suspected.

She’s told the story many times since, because it conveys what many people don’t know, but should — that the precision-machining sector in this region is making a difference in the lives of people across the country.

Likewise, Carlson is making a difference as well, carrying on the work of her father in so many ways, and, as noted, becoming the face — or at least one important, perhaps unexpected face — in a sector with a rich history and, thanks to her efforts, perhaps an equally rich future.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Class of 2021

This Nonprofit Ensures That Entrepreneurs Won’t Have to Go It Alone

Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, executive director of EforAll Holyoke.  (Leah Martin Photography)

“If your dreams don’t scare you … they are not big enough.”

That’s the quote, attributed to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian president, economist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, that is stenciled onto one of the walls at EforAll Holyoke’s headquarters on High Street, in the heart of the city’s downtown.

Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, executive director of this nonprofit since its inception, chose it for many reasons, but mostly because it resonates with her and also because it accurately sums up entrepreneurship in general, as well as the work that goes on in that facility.

In short, she said, dreams of running a business should scare someone, because there is nothing — as in nothing — easy about getting a venture off the ground … and keeping it airborne.

“Entrepreneurship is so terrifying,” she said. “And when our entrepreneurs come to us, they often don’t have the support of friends or families or big networks telling them to go for these dreams. That’s why we’re here — to tell them that they’re not alone … and that you have to be a little crazy to be an entrepreneur.”

Helping turn dreams into reality is essentially what EforAll is all about. This is a statewide nonprofit with offices in a number of cities with large minority populations and high unemployment rates — like Holyoke. Its MO is to blend education in the many facets of business with mentorship to help entrepreneurs navigate the whitewater they will encounter while getting a venture off the ground, to the next level, or even through a global pandemic (more on that last one later).

It will be many years, perhaps, before a city or a region can accurately gauge the impact of an agency focused on inspiring entrepreneurship and guiding entrepreneurs, but Murphy-Romboletti believes EforAll is already making a difference, especially with the minority population.

“The difference we make is very tangible for people who are seeking new sources of income for their families and themselves, and when you’re an entrepreneur who’s just getting started, it’s really hard to navigate where to go, who to talk to.”

“The difference we make is very tangible for people who are seeking new sources of income for their families and themselves, and when you’re an entrepreneur who’s just getting started, it’s really hard to navigate where to go, who to talk to,” she told BusinessWest. “The model that we use, providing really close mentorship, makes such a difference — you don’t have to go through the process alone.”

Her sentiments are backed up by some of those who have found their way to EforAll and been part of one of its many accelerator cohorts. People like Sandra Rubio.

Years ago, she started baking cakes for family members because she wasn’t happy with the quality and price of what she found in area stores. Soon, she was making cakes and other items for friends, neighbors, and even total strangers who had been exposed to her work. And her success promoted her to launch Totally Baked 413, which will soon open a location in the Holyoke Transit Center on Maple Street.

Sandra Rubio credits EforAll and its director, Tessa Murphy-Romboletti

Sandra Rubio credits EforAll and its director, Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, with helping her get her venture, Totally Baked 413, off the ground.

She credits EforAll with helping her make the leap from part-time activity to full-time enterprise — but not leap until she was ready and not make too big a leap too soon. She also credits her mentors and Murphy-Romboletti with getting her through those times when she was tempted to let the dream die.

“There were times when I just wanted to give up, say ‘forget it,’ and go back to work,” she recalled. “But then, I would meet with my mentors, meet with my class, and it got me right back on track — it gave me the push I needed to press on.”

And people like Jailyne Torres, who launched Shyguns, a creative clothing brand and seller of vintage clothing. She said she took part in the Spanish-speaking accelerator, called EsparaTodos, and credited EforAll with helping her gain consistency and take a concept she conceived when she was only 16 years old and make it into a business.

“I always had the idea, the concept, but I never really knew how to make it actually make it a brand,” she said. “But EsparaTodos helped me with all that.”

Such comments explain why EforAll, while still small and emerging, if you will, like the businesses it mentors, is already a Difference Maker in the community it serves.

 

Dream Weavers

As she talked with BusinessWest at EforAll’s facility, Murphy Romboletti said being there elicited a number of different emotions.

Indeed, while she said it always feels good to be in that space, COVID-19 has made the visits far more infrequent, and it has brought what is often an eerie quiet to a place that was always full of people and energy. The co-working space is now unused for safety reasons, and there are far fewer meetings and activities taking place there, with most programs carried out virtually. All this is made more frustrating by the fact that it took more than a year of hard work to secure the space and get it ready for its opening in the fall of 2019, only to have the world change and the space go mostly dark just a few months later.

“For those first couple of weeks when I would come back, it was like, ‘oh, man, this is tortuous — this is a hard pill to swallow,’” she noted before quickly taking the conversation in a different, more poignant direction. “The irony is that’s exactly what so many of my entrepreneurs were feeling; a lot of them, especially those in the cohort that we graduated that March, were just coming into the world as new entrepreneurs, and the world said, ‘hold on … we’ve got some other plans.’

“So, during the pandemic, we kind of became therapists for a while, listening to people’s concerns and what they needed help with, and trying to connect them with all the resources that were out there,” she went on. “But at the end of the day, there was so much that was out of our control; we tried to be as supportive as we could and continue to provide a community for them so they could survive this.”

COVID has changed some things, certainly, but when you get right down to it, EforAll Holyoke has always been about providing a community and helping entrepreneurs not only survive, but thrive.

Jailyne Torres says EforAll has been instrumental

Jailyne Torres says EforAll has been instrumental in helping her take Shyguns to the next level.

Launched five years ago as SPARK, the agency quickly became an important part of the region’s growing entrepreneurship ecosystem. In 2018, it affiliated with EforAll, short for Entrepreneurship for All, a network that now boasts eight offices across the state, including the most recent, in the Berkshires.

Like many of the other offices, the one in Holyoke now conducts accelerator programs in both English and Spanish (EsparaTodos), and graduates four cohorts of entrepreneurs each year, two in the spring and two in the fall.

Like most accelerators, these XX-week programs are designed to educate participants on the many aspects of starting and operating a business — everything from writing and updating a business plan to working with the media — while also connecting them with mentors who can impart their wisdom and first-hand experiences.

When asked what it’s like, Rubio said simply, “intense.” By that, she was referring to everything from the classwork to the back and forth with her mentors. And that intensity helped her persevere through the challenges of getting a plan in place, finding and readying the site for her bakery and café, and getting the doors open.

“So, during the pandemic, we kind of became therapists for a while, listening to people’s concerns and what they needed help with, and trying to connect them with all the resources that were out there. But at the end of the day, there was so much that was out of our control; we tried to be as supportive as we could and continue to provide a community for them so they could survive this.”

“Every time I was close to saying, ‘I’m done,’ they would say, ‘you’re on the right track; keep going,’” she recalled. “And we would keep going.”

Likewise, Carlos Rosario kept going with his venture, Rosario Asphalt, which specializes in residential driveways and repairs.

Rosario, speaking in English that is, like his bottom line, improving consistently from year to year, said EforAll has helped him make the big leap from working for someone else to working for himself.

He told BusinessWest that those at EforAll helped connect him with sources of capital, including banks and Common Capital, to secure loans that have enabled him to buy the equipment needed to handle more — and larger — jobs, including a trailer and a truck. And he’s hired his first employee, a truck driver.

“If it wasn’t for EforAll, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said, adding that the agency and the mentors assigned to him have helped with all facets of running a business, but especially with making those all-important connections to professionals, capital, and potential clients.

Torres agreed. She said EforAll has helped her with aspects of her business that people don’t think about when they’re focused on an idea and maybe a brand. Things like data entry, pricing, marketing, and “allowing transformation to happen.”

“When I started the project, it was based on the creative clothing part,” she explained. “And then, I was able to add second-hand clothing, and not limit what the future might bring.”

That’s certainly another colorful and poignant way of summing up what EforAll does for those who participate in its programs.

 

Scare Tactics

Here’s the full quote attributed to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.”

Most people have the capacity to dream as big as Johnson Sirleaf believes they should. But not everyone has what it takes to make those dreams become reality. Those who have entrepreneurial ambitions and spirit are among those who can.

But even such driven individuals can’t go it alone. EforAll exists to make sure they don’t have to. And that’s why it’s a true Difference Maker in Holyoke — and beyond.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Class of 2021

By Highlighting and Supporting the Under-recognized, He’s Changing Lives

Leah Martin Photography

For almost three decades, Harold Grinspoon has built an impressive network of philanthropic endeavors by asking a key question: who deserves more help and recognition than they’re currently receiving?

The most recent major piece of that network, the Local Farmer Awards, are a perfect example.

“Farmers have a really hard time making a living, and they work so hard,” he told BusinessWest, citing, as an example, a farmstand he frequents in the Berkshires, whose proprietor once told him about her difficulties getting water from a nearby mountain to her farm.

“Selling corn at fifty cents an ear doesn’t leave too much extra for a pipeline,” he said. “She gave me an idea — what can we do for the farmers? Farmers need help. Farmers never ask for help. They’re the most humble, hardworking people in the world. And this idea came to me to help them with capital improvements.”

Since the 2015 launch of the Local Farmer Awards, the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation (HGCF) has given 375 awards — of up to $2,500 — to about 200 farmers in Western Mass. to aid with capital projects. In doing so, the foundation and its team of corporate partners has invested more than $885,000 in local farming.

“Farmers need help. Farmers never ask for help. They’re the most humble, hardworking people in the world. And this idea came to me to help them with capital improvements.”

“We don’t do anything alone,” said Cari Carpenter, director of the Local Farmer Awards and the Entrepreneurship Initiative, two key programs of the HGCF. “Big Y came on board right at the start because they’re such advocates for local products and wanted to support the local farmers.”

Other program partners — Baystate Health, Ann and Steve Davis, Farm Credit East, HP Hood, and PeoplesBank — have signed on over the years as well, making the Local Farmer Awards an ideal representation of what Grinspoon tries to accomplish with each of his charitable programs (and we’ll talk about several of them in a bit). That is, partnering with like-minded individuals, foundations, and businesses to not only support worthy causes, but stimulate philanthropy across the region.

In other words, making a difference shouldn’t be a solo performance.

“From my point of view, if you made the money in the Valley, you’d better give it back to the Valley,” he said. “You have to give back. This is where you made your living, and these are the people you need to support.”

In the case of farmers, that support is more critical now than ever.

“To show you just how significant the need is, we just closed out our application cycle on January 31, and we had 170 applications,” Carpenter said. “These are 170 unique projects in our region, and when you read through them, the words ‘COVID’ and ‘pandemic’ were repeatedly mentioned, and how they’ve really had to change their whole strategy of ‘how do I even deliver products to customers?’

“We just feel we’ve met a need in good times, and it’s even more of a need now during this pandemic,” she went on. “We really want to help the farmers reach their full potential. It’s a hard business, and by giving them these awards to help them purchase a tractor implement or netting to cover their blueberry bushes so birds won’t get at them, or whatever the project is, it’s to help the farm reach their full potential.”

Harold Grinspoon congratulates honorees at the Local Farmer Awards (top) and the Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Harold Grinspoon, now 91 years old, has been helping people — and communities — reach their potential in myriad ways for decades now. He’s a Difference Maker not only for where he directs his money, but for the thought and passion he puts behind each initiative — and for planting the seed for others to get involved, too.

 

Giving Back

Grinspoon made his fortune as a real-estate entrepreneur, founding Aspen Square Management almost 60 years ago and watching the company bloom into a nationally recognized housing group managing more than 15,000 properties across the country.

In 1991, he established the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, focused on enhancing and improving Jewish life and culture. The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for a number of educational and entrepreneurial activities in the Western Mass. region, followed soon after.

As he worked his way up in real estate, he told BusinessWest in a 2008 interview, he developed a great sense of appreciation for the average blue-collar worker, and for the opportunities this country has afforded him, and felt a real responsibility to give back.

“I always knew, if I made it, I was going to give it away. I didn’t want to spend the entirety of my life making money,” he said at the time. “Philanthropy has, in many respects, set me free.”

Perhaps the best way to examine his collective impact is through his foundations’ individual programs, such as the Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative, a collaboration among 14 area colleges and universities.

Behind Harold Grinspoon are photos

Behind Harold Grinspoon are photos of his large, colorful sculptures created from dead trees, many of which can be seen around the region.

Since 2003, the program has recognized and awarded more than 1,000 students for their entrepreneurial spirit and business ideas, while its entrepreneurship education, competition, and celebration events have reached well over 10,000 students and members of the community.

“That’s very close to my heart,” he noted. “Every college and university in the Valley is involved with that.”

The program actually offers four awards each year, each aimed at a different stage of the startup experience: elevator-pitch awards for compelling ideas, concept awards for startups in the pre-revenue stage, Entrepreneurial Spirit awards for companies that have begun to generate revenue, and alumni awards for later-stage successes.

“Elevating the stature of entrepreneurs has been incredibly impactful among these college students,” Carpenter said. “It gives them the sense this could be a viable career option. On top of that, it recognizes the importance of creative thinking — one of Harold’s beliefs — to help people realize the importance of being curious and using their creativity, and that’s what these entrepreneurs are doing.”

The Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Awards debuted the same year, and with the same idea: to recognize, inspire, and help a critically important group of people.

“Financially, because I’m a businessman, I can afford to financially give. But I know people who are very humble financially, but are very giving of their time and energy and their spirit, and their legacy is so important to them.”

“To be a great teacher is amazing,” Grinspoon said. “They’re molding children at a very impressionable age, and we’re recognizing them for the outstanding work they do. I think someone should stand up and applaud the teachers.”

Applaud he does, at three separate banquets each year, to accommodate all the winners and the friends, families, and colleagues who come out to support them.

“If you know anything about Harold, he wants to recognize under-recognized people,” said Sue Kline, who spearheaded the Excellence in Teaching Awards for many years. “He thinks of his own path and the difference that teachers made in his own life, and he saw an opportunity where not enough was being done.”

These days, the program recognizes more than 100 teachers each year from about 45 school districts. “Like everything he does, it has evolved over time,” Kline said, noting that, in addition to the $250 cash prize, each honoree has the opportunity to apply for a Classroom Innovator Prize to bring some form of project-based learning into the classroom.

Harold Grinspoon in his art workshop

Harold Grinspoon in his art workshop with fellow artist Alicia Renadette.

“This isn’t really intended for teachers about to retire, although districts can nominate anyone they feel is outstanding,” Kline said. “It’s meant to encourage mid-level teachers who want to do more. That’s what the project-based learning part does — to help them do something they’ve always wanted to try.”

It’s an extra touch that separates these awards from other recognition programs, just as the Local Farmer Awards ceremony invites each winner to bring $50 worth of products, to create ‘harvest swap bags’ that all guests receive at the end.

“These things represent his own creative thinking, his own energy — the way he cares about children and teachers, or about farmers not being well-supported,” Kline said. “That depth doesn’t come from every ordinary philanthropist, but it is reflected in everything his foundation and his charitable foundation do.”

 

Global Impact

Though Grinspoon, understandably, wanted to focus his recent interview with BusinessWest on the local efforts of the charitable foundation, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation — the arm that focuses on Jewish life — has quietly become a powerhouse across the country and around the world. For example:

• JCamp 180, launched in 2004, helps build the capacity of nonprofit Jewish camps through mentorship, professional-development opportunities, and challenge grants;

• PJ Library (2005) connects people to a colorful world of Jewish history, tradition, and values by delivering Jewish-themed books to hundreds of thousands of children and their families around the world each month;

• Voices & Visions (2010) is a poster series eliciting the power of art to interpret the words of great Jewish thinkers;

• Life & Legacy (2010) helps Jewish day schools, synagogues, social-service organizations, and other Jewish entities across North America build endowments that will provide financial stability; and

• PJ Our Way (2014), the ‘next chapter’ of PJ Library, provides tweens (ages 9-12) the gift of Jewish chapter books and graphic novels.

Several years ago, Grinspoon’s vast array of work attracted the attention of Warren Buffett, who invited Grinspoon and his wife, Diane Troderman, to join the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest indivduals to dedicate at least half their wealth to philanthropy.

“I met some fantastic people through the Giving Pledge,” he said, and reiterated why he was already well on his way to fulfilling the pledge even before joining it. “I don’t understand how people with wealth don’t give it back. It’s foreign to me. And I’m not just talking about giving serious dollars; I’m talking about giving your time and energy.”

These days, Grinspoon has more time to work on his art — his large, colorful sculptures created from dead, reassembled trees can be seen throughout the region — while he enjoys seeing decades of work in philanthropy take root in other, very real ways.

“For me, it’s about developing your legacy,” he said. “Who do you want to be known as? Financially, because I’m a businessman, I can afford to financially give. But I know people who are very humble financially, but are very giving of their time and energy and their spirit, and their legacy is so important to them.”

In other words, anyone can be a Difference Maker — just look to Harold Grinspoon for inspiration, and get to work.

 

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

 

Class of 2021

He Helps People with Parkinson’s Disease Live Healthier, More Confident Lives

Leah Martin Photography

Chad Moir calls his mother his greatest teacher.

“She really, truly lived by the mantra that you never look down on someone, and that you always stick your hand out to help them,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be put in a position where I can help people while honoring my mother, and I can do it in a fun and exciting way.”

He’s referring to DopaFit Parkinson’s Movement Center, the business he started six years ago as the culmination of a tragic event — the premature passing of his greatest teacher, who was stricken with an aggressive form of Parkinson’s and was gone five years after her diagnosis.

Moir took his mother’s death hard. “I fell into a bit of a depression,” he told BusinessWest when we first spoke with him two years ago. “I hated Parkinson’s disease and everything to do with it. I didn’t even want to hear the word ‘Parkinson’s.’ But one day, something clicked, and I decided I was going to use my resentment toward Parkinson’s in a positive way and start to fight back.”

Today, DopaFit members, all of whom are at various stages of the disease, engage in numerous forms of exercise, from cardio work to yoga; from spinning to punching bags, and much more. On one level, activities are designed to help Parkinson’s patients live a more active life by improving their mobility, gait, balance, and motor skills.

“It has been proven through science that, when you do vigorous exercise while living with Parkinson’s disease, your symptoms won’t progress as quickly, and sometimes they are halted for a while as well. We have seen people whose symptoms have regressed.”

But research has shown, Moir said, that it does more than that: exercise releases the neurotransmitter dopamine into the brain, slowing the progress of Parkinson’s symptoms.

“Exercise is the only proven method to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease,” he told BusinessWest. “It has been proven through science that, when you do vigorous exercise while living with Parkinson’s disease, your symptoms won’t progress as quickly, and sometimes they are halted for a while as well. We have seen people whose symptoms have regressed. The goal is for people not to progress, or progress slowly, but if we can reverse some of those symptoms, that’s a big win.”

Members are typically referred to Moir from their movement-disorder specialist, neurologist, or physical therapist. “A lot of times, for our older members, it can be one of their kids who finds us; their parent was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, they want to do anything they can to help, and they come across us online.”

Whatever the case, Moir and his team will meet with the individual and often a family member and discuss symptoms, their story, and how DopaFit might help.

“We have about a 99% success rate of people who try it and stay,” he said. But getting in the door — or online, as the case may be in this challenging time — is only the beginning.

 

Recognizing a Need

Moir’s own beginnings in a career focused on this deadly disease was a half-marathon in New York City to raise some money for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. He ended up collecting about $6,000, and started to think about what else he could do for the Parkinson’s community.

Chad Moir says membership was climbing

Chad Moir says membership was climbing steadily before the pandemic, and it has been a challenge to keep everyone engaged, whether in person or virtually, over the past year.

While attending classes at American International College, he saw a need for a Parkinson’s exercise group in the area. “There is a lack of Parkinson’s services in general. I really, truly believed that if I built it, they would come. That was our motto, and I stuck to that motto through the hard times, and it certainly has brought us here. We thought there was a need, and we’ve proven there was a need.”

He started working with individuals in their homes, then opened the first DopaFit gym in Feeding Hills in 2015. He moved to the Eastworks building in Easthampton a year later, and then to the current location, at the Red Rock Plaza in Southampton, in 2018 — a site with more space, ample parking, and a handicapped-accessible entrance. He also launched a second, smaller DopaFit location in West Boylston.

When they first arrive at DopaFit, members undergo an assessment of where they are physically and where they would like to be in six months. Then they’re assigned to one of two exercise groups. One includes people who don’t need assistance getting in and out of chairs and can move about freely with no assistive equipment, like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs. The second group requires a little more assistance.

“With the group-exercise portion, that’s where we have to be very imaginative and come up with fun and different ways to work with you because there are different levels of disease progression,” he explained.

Programming has continued to expand. “Our goal is to provide every non-pharmalogical therapy that you can in one place for people with Parkinson’s disease,” Moir said. “So we have yoga, tai chi, our exercise classes and movement program, and the Art Cart.”

That latter piece, a nationally recognized creativity and movement program for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, was launched by Moir’s wife, Saba Shahid, who nominated him for the Difference Makers award.

The Southampton center is DopaFit’s third Western Mass. location, but Chad Moir envisions a larger space down the line, with more Parkinson’s treatment services in house.

“Chad is truly the definition of a Difference Maker,” Shahid wrote. “He has provided countless hours of free educational services for patients and assisted-living and nursing centers that provide support to people with Parkinson’s, and has spoken at a variety of seminars with the simple goal of spreading awareness about Parkinson’s and the importance of exercising for disease management. His dedication and love for others is seen in his daily efforts.”

Moir is always open to new modalities as well, such as a recent addition, ‘laughter yoga.’ A member brought the idea to him, and it turned out one of the practice’s leading instructors lives in East Longmeadow, and was happy to teach a class.

“Everybody loved it,” Moir said. “People said it made a difference that day, and in the days after, to be able to laugh again.”

Indeed, the past year has brought unforeseen stress to the lives of everyone, including business owners like Moir and the folks with Parkinson’s disease he serves.

“We had been growing exponentially prior to the pandemic; we had a little over 100 members, and we’d see about 80 of those members every week, at different sessions,” he recalled. And when COVID-19 shut down the economy, including DopaFit’s facilities, Moir had to pivot — fast.

“Yes, we do exercise, but we also educate, and then we empower. So we had to move the education online as well. Even though we couldn’t be in the space, we were able to support them physically and mentally.”

He quickly moved to an online model, starting with prerecorded exercise videos, daily e-mails, and phone calls. Zoom classes followed, which were more engaging and interactive than the videos, and trainers could work with members to make sure they were doing everything correctly.

“We did our best to keep our members engaged,” he added, through efforts like webinars with movement-disorder specialists to make sure members stayed current with the latest information. “Yes, we do exercise, but we also educate, and then we empower. So we had to move the education online as well. Even though we couldn’t be in the space, we were able to support them physically and mentally.”

While the West Boylston facility remains shuttered and programs are run completely virtually, DopaFit’s Easthampton site opened about four months ago to small, scaled-down classes — two groups of no more than four people each — who work out separated by distance and dividers, and all surfaces and equipment are sanitized between each use.

“People who come say they feel 10 times safer here than they do going to the grocery store,” Moir said.

Through it all, he had his worries about surviving such a difficult time.

“The rent didn’t stop. The space was closed, but the bills were still here. But we’re blessed with a tremendous community,” he said, noting that local groups ran fundraisers to support DopaFit, and he was able to keep the business in operation and pay employees through the pandemic. “You truly see the impact when it’s taken away. Even people who don’t come here but know what we do wanted this service to stay available to the people in this community.”

 

Moving Ahead

Through it all — the expanded membership, and then the obstacles posed by COVID-19 — DopaFit’s outreach in the community has only grown, Moir said. “We’ve made some great connections with the local physical therapists and neurologists in the area, which has helped tremendously. We are now well-known as a very viable and necessary option for someone with Parkinson’s disease.

“When it comes to being innovative and trying new things, that is something we will always do,” he added. “The world is ever-changing, and there are so many great people who do so many great things that can help someone with Parkinson’s disease.”

With that in mind, the next goal is a larger, standalone building that offers not just a big exercise room, but plenty of rooms for other services, from education to support groups to social work. In short, Moir wants to take what he’s learned in the past six years and build a truly one-stop destination for people with Parkinson’s disease to access the resources they need.

Some things he’s learned have been unexpected — like mastering Zoom.

“I helped so many people navigate Zoom, many of them older people,” he said. “I figure, if this doesn’t work out, I can go to Zoom and work for their technical support. I’ve got that down.”

Fortunately for so many, his day job seems to be working out just fine, despite the recent challenges. And he’s grateful his members have a place where they can come and, well, just be themselves.

“It pains me to hear someone stopped talking to their friends because ‘I don’t want them to pity me.’ Or, ‘we used to go out to dinner every Thursday, but I stopped going because I shake too much and don’t want people looking at me.’

“But after spending time here with other people with Parkinson’s disease, they come back and say, ‘you know what? I felt confident to go out and have dinner with my friends, and I felt better than I’ve felt in 10 years,’” he said. “So the exercise is a beneficial part of this; it can physically make someone better. But being able to feel better and be more confident gives them so much empowerment in other ways.”

That’s yet another difference Moir wants to make in people’s lives, as he continues to honor the legacy of one great teacher.

“Knowing that I can make a difference in someone’s life, just a little bit of difference, means the world to me,” he said. “It’s the fuel that keeps me going through the day. And that we’ve been able to figure out how to do it on a bigger scale is just very exciting.”

 

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Class of 2021

When It Comes to Land Preservation, He’s Been a Trailblazer

Leah Martin Photography

Pete Westover says his appreciation of, and passion for, outdoor spaces traces back to a family vacation trip to, among other places, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, or Rocky, as it’s called, when he was 12.

The park, which spans the Continental Divide, is famous for its grand vistas, high alpine meadows, and dramatic walking trails, some of them at elevations of 10,000 feet or more. And, suffice to say, the park made quite an impression on the young middle-school student.

“There’s bighorn sheep and mountain goats and all kinds of great wildlife and flora,” he noted, adding that he’s been back several times since. “The road goes well over 11,000 feet, so you’re up there among the peaks.”

It was this trip that pretty much convinced Westover he wanted to spend his working life outdoors. And if he needed any more convincing, he got it while working in a hospital just after high school, at a time when he was still thinking about going to medical school and following in the footsteps of his father, who became a doctor.

“I realized, there’s no way I want to spend my time in time in a hospital or a clinic,” he told BusinessWest, adding that he instead pursued a master’s degree in forest ecology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

“Pete has dedicated his entire career to conserving land and creating trails — the Valley’s forests and farms simply would not be as intact as they are today if Pete Westover hadn’t been a prime champion for their protection.”

Thus, as they might say in what has become his line of work, he took a different trail than the one he originally envisioned. Actually, those who know him would say he’s blazed his own trail — in every aspect of that phrase.

It has led to an intriguing and highly rewarding career that has included everything from work on a helicopter forest-fire crew in Northern California when he was in college to a 30-year stint as conservation director for the town of Amherst, to his current role as founder and partner of Conservation Works, a conservation firm involved with open space and agricultural land protection; ecological and land-stewardship assistance to land trusts, towns, colleges, and other entities; and other services.

Described as a “legend” by one of those who nominated him for the Difference Maker award, Dianne Fuller Doherty, retired executive director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network’s Western Mass. office (and a Difference Maker herself in 2020), Westover has earned a number of accolades over the years.

These include the Valley Eco Award for Distinguished Service to Our Environment, in his case for ‘lifetime dedication and achievement’; the Governor’s Award for Open Space Protection; the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission’s Regional Service Award; the Massachusetts Assoc. of Conservation Commissions’ Environmental Service Award; and even the Millicent A. Kaufman Distinguished Service Award as Amherst Area Citizen of the Year.

Pete Westover, center, with fellow Conservation Works partners Chris Curtis and Elizabeth Wroblicka

Pete Westover, center, with fellow Conservation Works partners Chris Curtis and Elizabeth Wroblicka in Springfield’s Forest Park, where the company is currently working on several projects.

And now, he can add Difference Maker to that list, a title that certainly befits an individual who has preserved thousands of acres of land, created hundreds of miles of trails, and even helped innumerable parks and other open spaces identify and hopefully eradicate invasive species.

“Pete has dedicated his entire career to conserving land and creating trails — the Valley’s forests and farms simply would not be as intact as they are today if Pete Westover hadn’t been a prime champion for their protection,” wrote Kristin DeBoer, executive director of the Kestrel Land Trust, a partner and client of Conservation Works on many of its projects, in her nomination of Westover. “The number of conservation areas and protected farms that Pete has been involved with are too many to name.”

While justifiably proud of what’s been accomplished in these realms over the past several decades, Westover stressed repeatedly that this work has never been a one-man show. Instead, it’s always been accomplished through partnerships and teamwork, especially when it comes to Conservation Works.

“This is such a great valley to work in,” he told BusinessWest. “There are so many dedicated people in our field; we’re just lucky to be in a place where there are so many forward-looking people.”

Westover is certainly one of them, and his work (that’s a broad term, to be sure) to not only protect and preserve land, but educate others and serve as a role model, has earned him a place among the Difference Makers class of 2021.

 

Changing the Landscape — Or Not

It’s called the Robert Frost Trail, and it’s actually one of several trails in the Northeast named after the poet, who lived and taught in this region for many years.

This one stretches 47 miles through the eastern Connecticut River Valley, from the Connecticut River in South Hadley to Ruggles Pond in Wendell State Forest. Blazed with orange triangles, the trail winds through both Hampshire and Franklin counties, and includes a number of scenic features, including the Holyoke Range, Mount Orient, Puffer’s Pond, and Mount Toby.

And while there are literally thousands of projects in Westover’s portfolio from five decades of work in this realm, this one would have to be considered his signature work, first undertaken while he was conservation director in Amherst, but a lifelong project in many respects.

Indeed, those at Conservation Works are working with Kestrel on an ongoing project to improve the trail. But the Robert Frost Trail is just one of countless initiatives to which Westover has contributed his time, energy, and considerable talents over the years. You might say he’s changed the landscape in Western Mass., but it would be even more accurate to say his work has been focused on not changing the landscape, and preserving farmland and other spaces as they are.

And even that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. Indeed, Westover said, through his decades of work, he hasn’t been focused on halting or even controlling development, but instead on creating a balance.

“When I worked with the town of Amherst, our philosophy was, ‘we’re not trying to prevent development; we’re trying to keep up with it,’” he explained, adding that this mindset persists to this day. “For every time you see a new subdivision go up, it makes sense to address the other side of the coin and make sure there are protected lands that people can have for various purposes.

“When you see real-estate ads that say ‘near conservation area,’ or ‘next to the Robert Frost Trail’ … that’s important to the well-being of a town or the region to have that balance,” he went on, adding that it has essentially been his life’s work to create it.

Top, Conversation Works partner Dick O’Brien supervises volunteers at Lathrop Community in Northampton in bridge building on the Lathrop Trail off Cooke Avenue. Above, several of the company’s partners: from left, Fred Morrison, Dick O’Brien, Molly Hale, Chris Curtis, and Laurie Sanders.

Tracing his career working outdoors, Westover said he started at an environmental-education center in Kentucky, where he worked for three years. Later, after returning to Yale for a few more classes, he came to Amherst as its conservation director, a role he kept from 1974 to 2004. In 2005, he would partner with Peter Blunt, former executive director of the Connecticut River Watershed Council (now the Connecticut River Conservancy) to create Conservation Works. Blunt passed away in 2010, but a team of professionals carries on his work and his legacy, and has broadened the company’s mission and taken its work to the four corners of New England and well beyond.

But over the years, Westover has worn many other hats as well. He’s been an adjunct professor of Natural Science, principally at Hampshire College, where he has taught, among other courses, “Conservation Land Protection and Management,” “The Ecology and Politics of New England Natural Areas,” “Ecology and Culture of Costa Rica,” “Geography, Ecology, and Indigenous Americans in the Pacific Northwest, 1800 to Present,” and, most recently, “Land Conservation, Indigenous Land Rights, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge.”

He’s also penned books, including Managing Conservation Land: The Stewardship of Conservation Areas, Wildlife Sanctuaries, and Other Open Spaces in Massachusetts, and served on boards ranging from the Conservation Law Foundation of New England to the Whately Open Space Committee.

“When I worked with the town of Amherst, our philosophy was, ‘we’re not trying to prevent development; we’re trying to keep up with it. For every time you see a new subdivision go up, it makes sense to address the other side of the coin and make sure there are protected lands that people can have for various purposes.”

But while he spends some time behind the keyboard, in the lecture hall, or in the boardroom, mostly he’s where he always wants to be — outdoors — especially as he works with his partners at Conservation Works on projects across New England and beyond.

The group, which now includes seven partners, handles everything from conservation of open space and farmland to the development and maintenance of trails; from invasive-plant-management plans to what are known as municipal vulnerability-preparedness plans that address climate change and the dangers it presents to communities.

And, as Westover noted, teamwork is the watchword for this company.

“One of the things that attracted me to Conservation Works is that all of the professionals have very unique skills, and we all complement one another,” said Elizabeth Wroblicka, a lawyer and former director of Wildlife Lands for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. “Land conservation is multi-faceted, from the acquisition to the long-term ownership to the stewardship, and with the wildlife biologists we have, the trail constructors, boundary markings … I do the contracts, but we all have a piece that we excel in.”

Chris Curtis, who came to Conservation Works after a lengthy career with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission as chief planner and now focuses extensively on climate-change issues, agreed. He noted that, in addition to land preservation, trail-building and improvement, and other initiatives, the group is doing more work in the emerging realm of climate resiliency — out of necessity.

“We’ve been working with the town of Deerfield for four years,” he said, citing just one example of this work. “We’ve helped it win grants for more than $1.2 million worth of work that includes a municipal vulnerability-preparedness plan, flood-evacuation plans, a land-conservation plan for the Deerfield River floodplain area, and education programs, including a townwide climate forum that was attended by 200 to 300 people.”

Such efforts to address climate change are an example of how the group’s mission continues to expand and evolve, and how Westover’s broad impact on this region, its open spaces, and its endangered spaces grows ever deeper.

 

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Reflecting back on that trip to Rocky, Westover said that, in many ways, it changed not only his perspective, but his life.

It helped convince him that he not only wanted to work outdoors, but wanted to protect the outdoors and create spaces that could be enjoyed by this generation and those to come. As noted, he’s both changed the landscape and helped ensure that it won’t be changed.

He’s not comfortable with being called a legend, but Difference Maker works, and it certainly fits someone whose footprints can be seen all across the region — literally and figuratively.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Cover Story Top Entrepreneur

Golden Opportunities Maintains a Torrid Pace of Growth, Diversification

From left, Golden Years principals Brian Santaniello, Mary Flahive-Dickson, and Cesar Ruiz Jr.

From left, Golden Years principals Brian Santaniello, Mary Flahive-Dickson, and Cesar Ruiz Jr.

Cesar Ruiz Jr. describes the business plan for Golden Years Homecare Services as “a living, breathing document.”

That intriguing phrase was chosen to convey many things all at once — especially movement, flexibility, seemingly constant change, and a certain ambitious tone.

Indeed, while every business plan is fluid and most are written in pencil — figuratively speaking, anyway — this one has been altered countless times since it was first drafted more than eight years ago, and the new lines on the page reflect why Ruiz, the company’s president, and the entire leadership team at this East Longmeadow-based venture have been named Top Entrepreneur for 2020 by BusinessWest.

Indeed, since being launched in 2016, this company, which started with home-care services, has expanded in every way imaginable. That includes its geographic footprint — it has moved well beyond its Greater Springfield roots and into Central Mass. and Northern Conn., with a new satellite office in downtown Boston set to open later this year. It also includes services; sensing opportunities, the company has expanded into behavioral health and will soon open a staffing component as well. And with a planned acquisition that Ruiz said is now “on the 2-yard line” — which means he can’t talk about it in any real detail, as much as he would like to — Golden Years will expand the portfolio to skilled care in the home.

There’s also been seemingly constant expansion of the facilities in East Longmeadow, with a buildout now in progress for the staffing and behavioral-health pieces of this ever-changing puzzle. And, looking ahead, plans are taking shape to franchise some of the services, expand into many more states, and perhaps take the company public to raise the capital to fuel all this expansion.

“The exciting thing is that we’ve only scratched the surface.”

Like an artist’s canvas, Golden Years is taking shape — and changing shape — quickly and dramatically, with those holding the brushes not exactly sure what the picture will look like when they’re done — or what ‘done’ will mean.

“We’re beginning our fifth year of operation, and it’s said that when you hit that fifth year, that’s when you really lay down that foundation,” said Ruiz. “We have grown by leaps and bounds in terms of our census, not only with our clients, but also with our caregivers; overall, we’re an organization that’s now managing more than 1,000 people, including administrative, caregiver staff, and clients.

“And the exciting thing,” he went on, “is that we’ve only scratched the surface.”

Not even a global pandemic has been able to slow this company down.

The sign on the property in East Longmeadow’s center announced the arrival of the Golden Years Behavioral Health Group, one of many indicators of growth at this company.

The sign on the property in East Longmeadow’s center announced the arrival of the Golden Years Behavioral Health Group, one of many indicators of growth at this company.

OK, it did slow it down a little. Last spring, as the virus invaded the region, some of the company’s home-care clients became understandably concerned about bringing people into the home and canceled or suspended services, and some caregivers decided they no longer wanted to be in that line of work, said Mary Flahive-Dickson, the company’s chief operating officer and a 30-year healthcare veteran, adding that the virus also slowed the pace of expansion into the Central Mass. market.

But, ultimately, opinions concerning homecare during this pandemic changed, she said, adding that many came to view that option as being far more attractive than a nursing home or other types of long-term-care facility, places that saw outbreaks of the pandemic and, in some cases, large numbers of deaths.

This change in attitude is reflected in the growing numbers of clients in the Greater Springfield area, she said, adding that the census is now approaching and perhaps over the 500 mark, representing roughly 20% growth over the past year — again, in the middle of a pandemic.

“Having been in home care for more than two decades, and in healthcare for more than three, the home is far less of a risk, with the pandemic protocols that are going on now, than a facility,” she said, adding there is growing sentiment within the healthcare profession that this trend, or movement, if it can be called either, could have a degree of permanence, especially at a time when some are warning that COVID-19 will certainly not be the last deadly virus to threaten the world’s population.

Meanwhile, the pandemic and its impact on the overall mental health of area residents certainly played a role in propelling the company into the behavioral-health realm, said Ruiz.

Cesar Ruiz Jr. projects that Golden Years could again double in size

Cesar Ruiz Jr. projects that Golden Years could again double in size over the next five years as the venture expands into new markets and new service areas.

That division of the company, if you will, was launched roughly a year ago, but the pandemic has certainly elevated the level of need and validated the decision to again rewrite that business plan and move into this field.

“Even though there’s a lot of agencies in the behavioral-health realm, we still felt there was an opportunity for us,” said Ruiz, noting that this division provides an array of services, including alcohol- and drug-addiction services and counseling to frontline workers such as police and firefighters.

For this issue, BusinessWest talked with the principals of Golden Years about how far this company has come in five short years, and just what Ruiz meant when he said they had barely scratched the surface.

 

Shining Examples

“We don’t look at ourselves as competitors — that’s a word that we don’t use here. We’re creators — we create our niche. And we do that by telling our story and emphasizing our services.”

That’s what Ruiz told BusinessWest when we talked with him roughly 14 months ago. That was his answer to a question concerning the home-care market in the Greater Boston region (and this one, as well), the many players already on that field, if you will, and his thoughts on why he thought there was room for one more.

His reply speaks to the confident operating tone at this venture, and offers, all by itself, some insight into why the company’s principals have been chosen for the prestigious Top Entrepreneur award, launched in 1996, and join an elite group of honorees (see chart, page 19) that includes college and hospital presidents, tech-startup founders, and many others.

“Over dinner, we realized that we had the same thoughts of creating a company that would satisfy a recognized need. We thought we could do better; we knew we could do better.”

Indeed, at Golden Years, they do look for niches, they really enjoy telling their story (we’ll get to it in a minute), and they put the emphasis on services. And, as Ruiz said, they don’t view themselves as merely another competitor in whatever field they happen to be entering, but as creators … of opportunities and, yes, niches.

That was true in homecare and in staffing, and it’s also true in behavioral healthcare, as Tracy Mineo, executive vice president of Golden Years Behavioral Health Services, explained when she was asked essentially the same question Ruiz was asked — about the playing field and why Golden Years saw opportunity within it.

“There are a lot of fine agencies operating in this region,” she said, noting that she worked for many years at one of them — Behavioral Health Network. “But even the bigger agencies … there is only so much that they can handle, especially during this time of COVID, when people are isolating; the agencies can only take on so many clients.

“So I think there’s more than enough room for these services,” she went on, adding, again, in the same fashion that Ruiz and others talk about the home-care side, that it is not merely about which services are being provided, but how.

And this brings us back to the Golden Years story. There are several, but this one is about Ruiz and his grandmother, who became the real inspiration for this venture. She needed home care in Florida more than 15 years ago, and Ruiz recalled for BusinessWest not only how poor that care was (he said family members generally provided the care for her), but also his resolve to create something much better.

That something better would eventually become Golden Years. That’s eventually. The timing and the setting were not exactly right for a new venture back then, he recalled, adding quickly that, after he relocated to this region, and especially after his father died in late 2016, he picked up the dream where he had left off.

Partnering with Lisa and Vincent Santaniello, who had similar experiences with caring for loved ones in the home, he launched Golden Years in early 2017.

“Over dinner, we realized that we had the same thoughts of creating a company that would satisfy a recognized need,” he explained. “We thought we could do better; we knew we could do better.”

Lisa Santaniello, executive vice president of Golden Years Homecare Services, agreed, noting that, from her first-hand knowledge, she understands the importance of home-care services to those suffering from a chronic condition, a devastating injury, a debilitating illness, or even loneliness, and that such individuals would certainly benefit from companion services.

Mary Flahive-Dickson says the pandemic initially forced many to cancel or suspend home-care services.

Mary Flahive-Dickson says the pandemic initially forced many to cancel or suspend home-care services. But as time went on, many came to see the home as a safer alternative to nursing homes and other facilities.

“When chronic care is needed or a medical crisis occurs, I am very aware the entire extended family is affected along with the patient,” she told BusinessWest. “Lives are turned upside-down; schedules are disrupted. Sometimes, needed care is short-term; the patient will recover, and normalcy will be restored. Other times, health conditions are far more long-lasting, and improvement does not occur.

“My own mother suffered from a debilitating and chronic disease. She had the benefit of a large, extended family who could assist in coordinating care and provide the services she needed,” Santaniello went on. “Many people aren’t that fortunate; that’s where Golden Years comes in. We provide necessary home-care services to the patient, while also providing respite for their weary caretakers.”

Business was slow to start — Ruiz recalls that it was weeks after opening before the phone really started ringing — but it picked up quickly.

Flahive-Dickson, a long-time healthcare consultant and educator focusing on healthcare management, joined the company in 2019 to essentially take the home-care component to the next stage — or stages. These include expansion within this market and also into other regions, starting with Central Mass. She said her role has evolved over time and now includes elements of operations, development, and strategic planning.

Her comments about why she joined the venture speak volumes about the ambitious mindset that prevails and the entrepreneurial nature of the company.

“I saw a wonderful vision and a throwback to the way care was provided,” she explained. “My dad was a physician in the Springfield area, and his care was real and positive and forward-thinking care, and I felt that same feeling when I first came here.”

 

Showing Their Metal

While the home-care operation has become a regional success story, to be sure, there have been some growing pains, and the pandemic certainly created a number of challenges.

As for the growing pains, they involve everything from finding adequate numbers of caregivers — a challenge for every player in this business — to breaking into established markets with large numbers of competitors, like Worcester and Boston, and, to a lesser extent, Northern Connecticut.

Finding adequate numbers of caregivers has been a constant challenge, said all those we spoke with, but an array of factors, from what had been historically low unemployment rates to the pandemic-induced anxiety about going into others’ homes, to the company’s torrid pace of growth, has only exacerbated the problem.

And the company has responded in what can only be called an entrepreneurial way, with creation of its own education program and a collaborative initiative with the city of Springfield to help train young, homeless individuals and bring them into this profession.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has created more hurdles, said Ruiz, listing everything from those initial fears about bringing people into the home — he estimates that between 60 and 80 clients suspended service for some period of time last spring — to what to do with caregivers sidelined by those suspensions of services (they kept them on the payroll); from the need to secure PPE for staff and train them in how to use it, to paying what became exorbitantly high prices for that PPE.

Brian Santaniello, chief of staff at Golden Years

Brian Santaniello, chief of staff at Golden Years, says the pandemic, and its broad, negative impact on mental health, validated the company’s expansion into behavioral-health services.

“We were experiencing the same problem everyone else was encountering — where to buy it,” he recalled. “And if we could find it … it was a terrible experience; things that we were paying 30 cents for were now costing us $1.25 or $1.50. The N-95s that were costing us 95 cents or a dollar … we were now paying $4.50 to $6 per mask.”

Flahive-Dickson agreed, and said procuring the needed supplies became a “24-hour mission” that involved all those at the company. But elements of that experience were rewarding, and even uplifting, she went on, citing volunteer efforts to not only make masks for some of the home-care providers, but also donate supplies to other institutions that were having issues, as well as gift bags to seniors and veterans.

But despite the pandemic, and in some ways because of it, the company has been able to maintain its strong pace of growth.

As Flahive-Dickson noted, attitudes about bringing people into the home — at least when viewed through the lens of a nursing home or similar facility being the most logical alternative — have certainly changed.

“We were getting calls all the time — the phone was ringing off the hook,” she said. “People were taking their loved ones out of facilities and saying, ‘now I need help.’

“There are many reasons why the home is now a safer haven than a facility, with the most obvious being that, if you’re having someone being taken care in the home, you have less than a handful of people taking care of that person,” she went on. “It’s the same person or the same team, and they are fully equipped with PPE. And they see only that one person, rather than going from room to room to room.”

These changing perceptions, along with a contract with the Commonwealth Care Alliance, one if its largest providers, and a growing relationship with the Veterans Administration, should help the company as it now moves forward with its expansion into Central Mass. — it now has a small number of clients in the Worcester area and a satellite office in Marlboro — and also into Boston, with another satellite office to open soon on Cambridge Street, said Brian Santaniello, the company’s chief of staff and a stakeholder.

“One of our primary goals for 2021 is to expand in those markets,” he said, adding that the company has a toehold in Worcester and Northern Connecticut, and is still in the infancy stages of its push into Boston, but expects the market share to grow steadily in all three regions over the next few years.

 

Forward Thinking

Moving forward, Golden Years is advancing plans to provide home care in multiple states, and that’s just one component of a larger expansion strategy.

Indeed, Ruiz and his team are preparing to unveil a staffing component, and it has already launched its behavioral-health division, one that was, as noted, partly inspired by the pandemic and the dramatically rising need for behavioral- and mental-health services, and likewise driven by recognized need for such services among the home-care clientele.

Indeed, Ruiz estimated that at least 15% to 20% of the company’s 500 clients are receiving some type of counseling service. With their entrepreneurial mindset, the company’s leaders began asking the question, ‘are these services that we can and should provide ourselves?’

The answer that came back was a resounding ‘yes,’ he went on. “We didn’t want to leave anything on the table; this was an opportunity for us to provide these kinds of services to our existing clients.”

Previous Top Entrepreneurs

2019: Cinda Jones, president of W.D. Cowls Inc.
2018: Antonacci Family, owners of USA Hauling, GreatHorse, and Sonny’s Place
2017: Owners and managers of the Springfield Thunderbirds
2016: Paul Kozub, founder and president of V-One Vodka
2015: The D’Amour Family, founders of Big Y
2014: Delcie Bean, president of Paragus Strategic IT
2013: Tim Van Epps, president and CEO of Sandri LLC
2012: Rick Crews and Jim Brennan, franchisees of Doctors Express
2011: Heriberto Flores, director of the New England Farm Workers’ Council and Partners for Community
2010: Bob Bolduc, founder and CEO of Pride
• 2009: Holyoke Gas & Electric
• 2008: Arlene Kelly and Kim Sanborn, founders of Human Resource Solutions and Convergent Solutions Inc.
• 2007: John Maybury, president of Maybury Material Handling
• 2006: Rocco, Jim, and Jayson Falcone, principals of Rocky’s Hardware Stores and Falcone Retail Properties
• 2005: James (Jeb) Balise, president of Balise Motor Sales
2004: Craig Melin, then-president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Hospital
• 2003: Tony Dolphin, president of Springboard Technologies
• 2002: Timm Tobin, then-president of Tobin Systems Inc.
• 2001: Dan Kelley, then-president of Equal Access Partners
• 2000: Jim Ross, Doug Brown, and Richard DiGeronimo, then-principals of Concourse Communications
• 1999: Andrew Scibelli, then-president of Springfield Technical Community College
• 1998: Eric Suher, president of E.S. Sports
• 1997: Peter Rosskothen and Larry Perreault, then-co-owners of the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House
• 1996: David Epstein, president and co-founder of JavaNet and the JavaNet Café

Santaniello agreed. “This pandemic is having a tremendous negative impact on mental health and drug addiction, and we see the need,” he said. “And we’re going to meet that need.”

The company hired Mineo and also Deborah Rodrigues, now the clinical director, and gave them equity stakes in the venture.

Mineo, as noted earlier, said there is clearly unmet need in the region that this new division will meet. And the division is starting with outpatient services, including addiction, mental-health, and behavioral-health services for those 18 and over, with priority populations being seniors, pregnant and postpartum women, IV drug users, and first responders, a constituency that has been traditionally been underserved, in her view.

“We had identified that there are so many services going on in the community, including our local police departments, but no one is really providing services for our first responders,” she explained. “This includes the police officers, the EMTs, the fire departments that are right on the front line.

“With this pandemic, the civil unrest that’s going on, and everything else … all this is traumatizing and retraumatizing people on a daily basis,” she went on. “This is an unmet need in the community.”

As for that acquisition that was on the 2-yard line and that the team couldn’t talk much about, Flahive-Dickson, who likened it to a VNA, said it will broaden the client portfolio by 150 or so, add to the staff, obviously, and broaden the roster of services provided in the home.

“It’s home healthcare, not home care,” she explained, adding that this will be an important addition to the portfolio, one that provides both synergies and growth opportunities.

Looking further out, Ruiz, when asked where he expects this company to be in five years, said he expects to continue the current pace and effectively double in size. He also expects to be in many more states and possibly have franchises of the Golden Years operation — or operations, to be more exact.

That expansion will come in a number of forms, he went on, listing both organic growth and additional acquisitions, with the latter becoming more feasible, and practical, as many smaller ventures, many of them operated by Baby Boomers approaching retirement, face succession issues and other challenges.

“On the home-care front, some of the individuals that have started now want to step back,” he explained. “And because of our vision, we have a larger appetite.”

Meanwhile, Ruiz and other company leaders are in the exploratory phases of perhaps franchising the concept and even going public, to provide the capital for such steps.

“Franchising is part of our thought process; it’s part of our business plan,” he noted. “And there’s also a public initiative. Those conversations have been ongoing, and now, in 2021, they will escalate, because those things take time to structure.”

Elaborating, he said the company has hired a CPA firm and a legal team with those plans in mind and with the goal of being ready when the time and opportunity are right to move quickly and decisively.

And, in many important ways, that has been the MO from the very start.

 

Good as Gold

When asked to sum up what has enabled Golden Years to get off to such a fast and dramatic start, Ruiz said it comes down to two words: culture and teamwork.

The culture rests in an attitude Ruiz has instilled, one where he treats each client as if the individual was his mother or father — a culture that has resonated with Flahive-Dickson, Mineo, and others who have joined the company.

“We’ve communicated that throughout the system — we’ve built it in,” he explained. “And I think that makes a big difference. We’re hands-on, and every caregiver knows, every admin, every director here knows, how passionate I am and how serious I am; this is the collaboration of a team.”

It’s also the byproduct of an ambitious, ever-changing business plan, one that really is a living, breathing document.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Cover Story Economic Outlook

Question Marks Dominate the Horizon

Entering a new year, there are always question marks about the economy and speculation about the factors that will determine just what kind of year it will be. For 2021, there are far more questions — and fewer definitive answers — and the speculation comes in layers. A great many of them. Much of this speculation involves the pandemic and, with vaccines becoming available to ever-greater numbers of people, whether we are truly seeing light at the end of the tunnel, the beginning of the end (of the pandemic), or any of those other phrases now being used so frequently. But there are other things to speculate about as well, including what the landscape will look like when and if things to return to normal, or a ‘new normal,’ another phrase one hears a lot these days. Will the jobs that have been lost come back? Will people pick up old habits regarding going to restaurants, the movies, the doctor’s office, or sporting events? Will businesses return to their offices? And will their offices be the same size and in the same community? Another phrase you’re hearing — and will read in the stories that follow — is ‘pent-up demand.’ Many businesses, from eateries to colleges and universities to medical practices, are counting on it, but will it actually materialize? These are all good questions, and for some answers, we turned to a panel of experts for a roundtable discussion, without the roundtable. Collectively, they address the question on everyone’s minds: what is the outlook for 2021?

The Big Picture >>

Economist says pent-up demand will be the key to any recovery

Education >>

School presidents project multi-year emergence from pandemic

Banking >>

This CEO says some habits are changing, but are they permanent?

Accounting >>

This CPA is advising clients to keep the seat belt buckled

Healthcare >>

A Q&A with Baystate Health President and CEO Dr. Mark Keroack

Fitness >>

Business owners grapple with an industry battered by restrictions

Restaurants >>

Owner of large, regional group says it’s survival of the fittest

Technology >>

IT expert says it’s time for businesses to move from survival to growth

Retail >>

Big Y’s Charlie D’Amour reflects on 2020 — and the year to come

Business Talk Podcast Special Coverage

We are excited to announce that BusinessWest, in partnership with Living Local, has launched a new podcast series, BusinessTalk. Each episode will feature in-depth interviews and discussions with local industry leaders, providing thoughtful perspectives on the Western Massachuetts economy and the many business ventures that keep it running during these challenging times.

Episode 44: Dec. 21, 2020

George O’Brien talks with Sheila Coon, co-owner, with her husband, Dan, of Hot Oven Cookies

BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien talks with Sheila Coon, co-owner, with her husband, Dan, of Hot Oven Cookies, one of the more intriguing stories of entrepreneurship playing out in the region.  The two discuss how, in the middle of a pandemic, the company has greatly expanded its footprint and has even more ambitious plans for the future. They also talk about the constant challenges confronting entrepreneurs, and how they have multiplied during these difficult times. It’s must listening, so join us on BusinessTalk.

Also Available On

Cover Story Healthcare Heroes

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Since BusinessWest and its sister publication, Healthcare News, launched the new recognition program known as Healthcare Heroes in 2017, the initiative has more than succeeded in its quest to identify true leaders — not to mention inspiring stories — within this region’s large and very important healthcare sector.

The award was created to recognize those whose contributions to the health and well-being of this region, while known to some, needed to become known to all. And this is certainly true in this year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several months ago, the decision makers at the two publications knew that, during this very difficult time, our healthcare community was challenged as perhaps never before, and had to summon its collective strength, imagination, and dedication to clear a seemingly endless list of hurdles and continue to provide needed services to the residents of this region.

We knew that a sector already heavily populated with heroes would have even more individuals worthy of that term. So we invited people to nominate these heroes for the award we created, and the judges tasked with scoring them were impressed and, in some ways, overwhelmed by the stories generated by these nominations.

Overall, everyone who was nominated this year is a hero, but in the minds of our judges, 10 of these stories stood out among the others. The Healthcare Heroes for 2020 are:

The 2020 Healthcare Heroes

Meet the Judges

Harry Dumay

Harry Dumay

Harry Dumay is president of Elms College in Chicopee. Prior to becoming the 11th president of Elms in 2017, Dumay was senior vice president for Finance and chief financial officer for Saint Anselm College from 2012 to 2017. He formerly served as chief financial officer and associate dean at Harvard University’s Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, associate dean at Boston College’s Graduate School of Social Work, and director of Finance for Boston University’s School of Engineering.

 

Cristina Huebner Torres

Cristina Huebner Torres

Cristina Huebner Torres is director of Research and Wellness at Caring Health Center in Springfield and a winner of the Healthcare Heroes award in 2019 in the category ‘Innovation in Healthcare.’ With more than 15 years of experience in public-health research, her work is guided by theoretical frameworks from social epidemiology and medical anthropology focused primarily on social determinants of health, health disparities, and health equity as they shape chronic illness prevention and management among ethnically diverse, urban, low-income populations.

Kathy Wilson

Kathy Wilson

Kathy Wilson is the retired president and CEO of Behavioral Health Network (BHN) and winner of the Healthcare Heroes award in 2019 in the category of ‘Lifetime Achievement.’ She served in her role at BHN for more than 30 years, growing it into a $115 million network of behavioral-health programs with more than 2,000 locations and more than 40 locations, ranging from detox centers and step-down facilities to 24-hour crisis-intervention centers and developmental- and intellectual-disability services.

Cover Story

A Turnaround Story

Nick Morin, founder of Iron Duke Brewing

Nick Morin, founder of Iron Duke Brewing, in the old stockhouse at Ludlow Mills that will remain home to his venture.

Nick Morin says he and his team are looking forward to the day when they can devote all their time and energy to just brewing beer and working on the business plan.

They’re getting closer all the time.

Indeed, after several years of court battles involving their lease at the Ludlow Mills complex and another legal fight Morin is trying to avoid involving Duke University and the name currently over the brewery — Iron Duke — there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.

“We’re looking forward to taking all that money we were spending on lawyers and putting it back into the business and creating an experience here that’s unlike anything else in Western Mass.”

And it is certainly a welcome sight.

“We’re looking forward to being less legal-focused and doing all the fun things for our business here and out in the world that we’ve been wanting to do for years,” he told BusinessWest. “We’re looking forward to taking all that money we were spending on lawyers and putting it back into the business and creating an experience here that’s unlike anything else in Western Mass.”

It’s been more than eight years since Morin, a mechanical engineer by trade who made brewing beer his hobby and then decided to make it his vocation, started walking along the banks of the Chicopee River with his wife after relocating to Ludlow and remarking how the mostly vacant Ludlow Mills would be the ideal place to start and then grow his business.

The Iron Duke name

The Iron Duke name will have to change soon in an effort to avoid another legal battle — this one with Duke University — but the bootprint, and the mailing address, won’t.

He’s now there, expansion plans are on the table and on his computer, and the brewery is positioned to be a permanent, and important, part of the landscape. But getting to this point didn’t exactly go according to plan.

Not even close.

Instead, as mentioned, what seemed like a good story on every level turned dark in many ways as Iron Duke and landlord Westmass Area Development Corp. first had a disagreement over terms in the lease, and then fought for 18 months in court over just what the language in the contract meant.

When a judge eventually ruled that Iron Duke could finish out its lease, which expired earlier this month, what that did was eventually buy everyone some time and allow them to write what two years ago would have seemed like a very unlikely story.

Long story shorter, the two sides came to an agreement whereby Iron Duke would not only stay, but be a vital cog in the ongoing efforts by those at Westmass to make the mills not simply a home for small businesses — and residents as well — but a destination of sorts.

How did this stunning turnaround happen? Morin sums it up this way.

“We found that, although the lawyers served their purpose, just having a person-to-person conversation and understanding where each party was coming from was huge; we found some common ground,” he explained. “It was a kind of a Hail Mary, and it was a tough negotiation because there was a lot of bad blood between the two organizations at that point. But we actually had more in common with our visions than we thought.”

Jeff Daley, who was named executive director of Westmass roughly a year ago and picked up these negotiations from Bryan Nicholas, who served as interim director after the sudden passing of Eric Nelson in the spring of 2019, agreed.

“There were some bitter feelings, but Nick and I quickly agreed to operate without rear-view mirrors,” Daley explained. “We put the seatbelts on, moved forward rapidly to get them in there long term, and have an understanding that we’re going to work together to get the best for the tenant and the landlord.”

As he talked with BusinessWest, Morin grabbed his laptop and clicked his way to an architect’s images of a two-story, permanent structure that will reside where a tented beer garden, erected last summer, now sits. He expects work to start soon and be completed by next spring or summer.

As for Duke University, Morin is in the final stages of changing the company’s name to avoid another expensive court fight, this one with a university with very deep pockets and the willingness to protect its brand — that word ‘Duke’ — from any and all infringement (more on that later).

About the only thing standing in the way of Iron Duke now is COVID-19. And while it poses a series of challenges and has reduced draft sales of the company’s products by roughly 70% because bars and restaurants are not open or have cut hours way back, Morin believes the company can ride out that storm as well.

For this issue, BusinessWest takes a look back at what has been a rough ride for Iron Duke — and ahead to what promises to be, as they say in this business, a smoother pour.

 

Ale’s Well That’s Ends Well

As he talked with BusinessWest at the bar in Iron Duke’s taproom on a quiet Wednesday, Morin, a safe six feet away, referenced the one place at that end, officially outlined with blue tape, at which one could sit because of social-distancing measures forced by COVID-19.

“That space over there is too close to those tables,” he said, gesturing with his hand to another portion of the bar. “And this space here is too close to people sitting over there; it’s a no-fly zone. This is only place you can sit at. It can be a little lonely, I guess, but people still like it.”

The fact that this conversation was taking place where it was — and that there were lines of blue tape all over the bar — could be considered remarkable. And maybe 18 months ago, it would have been, well, pretty much unthinkable.

Back then, it seemed as if what started as a good marriage was going to end up in a messy, very public divorce, with Iron Duke brewing beer in Wilbraham, and Westmass looking to fill a vacancy and move on from what had become a public-relations problem.

And then … things changed.

As we retell the story of how we got here, and where we go from here, we need to go back a little further, to those walks Morin had with his wife along the river.

“My wife and I started a family about a half-mile from here,” he noted. “We used to walk our dog back here and talk about — as most in Ludlow did at the time — how it was a shame that this whole property was in the shape it was. When we put together our business plan, it just made sense to grow it here, in the town where we lived and close to our house.”

Iron Duke Brewing has added a food truck

Iron Duke Brewing has added a food truck and tented beer garden at its Ludlow location, and soon will commence work on a permanent, two-tiered beer garden that will overlook the Chicopee River.

He initiated talks with the previous owner of the sprawling complex in late 2012, and discussions accelerated after Westmass acquired the property, because with that purchase came ambitious talk of redeveloping the mills into a multi-purpose destination that would include residential, business, healthcare, and other uses.

“We wanted to be part of it because we had big plans for our small business,” said Morin, adding that what would eventually become a highly scrutinized and much-debated seven-year lease agreement was inked in late 2013.

What followed was a year and a half of construction in one of the many so-called stockhouses on the property, the century-old, high-ceilinged, 6,000-square-foot facilities in which raw materials — jute plants — were hung and dried for production in the mill complex.

The brewery officially opened on Thanksgiving Eve in 2014.

“We hit the ground running — that first year is a bit of a blur,” he recalled, noting that he quit his job that month as a mechanical engineer and made brewing his vocation — and his passion. The company steadily grew, drawing customers to its taproom in the mill and also putting its various products in cans and bottles, which were available at bars, restaurants, and some package stores.

Things were going pretty much according to the script laid out in the business plan until 2015, when the company started hitting some speed bumps, as Morin called them.

They came in for the form of differences of opinion regarding just what the lease allowed at the premises.

“We found ourselves being backed into a corner regarding our business and a disagreement over what we could do here and what we were doing here at our Ludlow location,” said Morin. “That’s how lawyers got involved — the interpretation of the lease itself.”

Elaborating, he said it all came down to one paragraph and its two sentences regarding the use of the premises and consumption of beer on and off the property. Cutting to the chase, he said Westmass held the view that such consumption would be limited — or at least more limited than what Iron Duke had in mind and needed for its venture to succeed.

“It was a kind of a Hail Mary, and it was a tough negotiation because there was a lot of bad blood between the two organizations at that point. But we actually had more in common with our visions than we thought.”

“That escalated from a conversation to litigation once the lawyers got involved,” he went on, adding that the court fight lasted from January 2016 to the summer of 2017. Westmass wanted Iron Duke evicted from the property, a fate that would have effectively scuttled the business, Morin said.

“We had already leveraged everything we had to open here in Ludlow the first time around,” he told BusinessWest. “We’re self-financed; myself and my family, we put everything we had into this. To build a brewery once was everything we had — to build it twice was something we couldn’t afford.

“We were only left with closing or fighting this thing out to save our business, so that’s what we did — we fought for a good chunk of time,” he went on, adding that the protracted and very expensive legal fight pushed Iron Duke to the very brink financially, and it only survived because of the strong and constant support from its customers.

 

Lager Than Life

That fight ended with a judge ruling that Iron Duke could essentially ride out its lease operating as it was, Morin recalled, adding that, not long after that decision, he bought property in Wilbraham with the intention of moving the company there when the lease expired — right around now, actually.

Instead, the company is staying put in Ludlow. After the passing of Nelson in the spring of 2019, discussions ensued with his immediate successor, Nicholas, who was with Westmass when Iron Duke originally signed its lease in 2013 and played a role in those negotiations. And those talks continued with Daley.

They weren’t easy negotiations, Morin said, noting that there was still considerable baggage to contend with. But, as noted above, both sides concluded they had more to gain by coming together on another lease than they did by parting ways and letting the next chapters of this story develop in Wilbraham.

“We came to common ground realizing that we’re better off with each other than we are apart,” Daley said. “It’s a great relationship now, and I think it’s going to be an even better relationship going forward; I’m excited for their future, and I’m glad they stayed at the Ludlow Mills.”

Morin agreed. From the beginning, he noted, the company wanted to be an integral part of the growth and development of the Ludlow Mills complex, and this mission, if it can be called that, had been somehow lost in the midst of the protracted legal battle.

“We always had envisioned ourselves as a showcase of what they could do with the old property here, and a lot of that, through the litigation and the filtering of what we do through other parties, just got lost,” he explained. “And once we had the opportunity to show them the plans that we had — we were going to spend millions of dollars in Wilbraham to build a showcase facility — both sides started asking, ‘why not just stay where we are?’”

So now, the company is just about at the point where it always wanted to be — focused entirely on business and its expansion plans.

“We always had envisioned ourselves as a showcase of what they could do with the old property here, and a lot of that, through the litigation and the filtering of what we do through other parties, just got lost.”

There is still the matter of Duke University and its demands that the brewery change its name. Morin has decided that, even though he has a good amount invested in ‘Iron Duke’ — literally and figuratively — this is not a fight he’s willing to wage at this time.

“It’s a common thing among these universities that they protect their mark,” he said with some resignation in his voice. “So there’s not a lot of negotiation on that front.”

So instead, he will rebrand. He’s working with a firm to come up with new name, and expects to announce it within the next several weeks. While offering no other hints, he did say the word ‘Duke’ could not be part of the equation, but he expects to be able to work the company’s very recognizable bootprint logo into what comes next.

Meanwhile, since the start of this year, the company has essentially doubled its space within its stockhouse by taking down a wall and expanding into square footage that had been unused since the mid-’90s — something it has long desired to do but couldn’t because of the litigation.

Ongoing changes at the site

Ongoing changes at the site will essentially transform it from a tasting room to more of a full-service brewpub and restaurant.

It also erected the tented beer garden and added a food truck, said Morin, noting that construction of the permanent, two-tiered beer garden, which will overlook the river, is set to commence this coming winter.

“There will be a nice concrete patio, along with the food truck we purchased in June,” he noted. “All this will enable us to essentially transform from just a tasting room to more of a full-service brewpub and restaurant.”

COVID-19 has certainly thrown the brewery some curve balls — the business was closed to on-premise business during the shutdown last March and relied entirely on distribution, delivery, and curbside purchases of its canned products until July — but Morin believes that, after all the hard fights this company has been through, it can handle a pandemic as well.

“We’ve found that, because we’ve been through so much in the past six years, we’re able to handle these larger problems pretty effectively,” he said. “We’ve got a nice, hard callus around us, and we’re pretty flexible about our business.”

 

What’s on Tap?

At the height of the legal battle that ensued between Iron Duke and Westmass, the brewer put out a product called Eviction Notice IPA (India Pale Ale).

It became an immediate hit and one of its best sellers — in part because it was a quality ale with good flavor, but also because drinking it became a way to show support for the company in its quest to stay where it always wanted to be.

“We bring it back every now and then because it is a crowd favorite, but it’s not as bitter of a beer as it once was,” he explained. “It’s a fun beer to tell our story, but we always try to finish off the story on a positive note, rather than a negative one.”

Only 18 months ago, few would have thought this story could possibly sound a positive note, but things changed quickly and profoundly — and both sides seem poised to benefit from this collective change of heart.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Business Talk Podcast Special Coverage

We are excited to announce that BusinessWest, in partnership with Living Local, has launched a new podcast series, BusinessTalk. Each episode will feature in-depth interviews and discussions with local industry leaders, providing thoughtful perspectives on the Western Massachuetts economy and the many business ventures that keep it running during these challenging times.

Episode 40: Nov. 23, 2020

George Interviews Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition

Eugene Cassidy

BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien talks with Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition. The two discuss the pandemic and its impact not only on the Big E, but the region’s large and very important tourism and hospitality sector. They also discuss ways businesses like the Big E have pivoted and created new revenue streams, such as the Big E’s hugely successful Golden Ticket campaign. It’s must listening, so join us on BusinessTalk.

 

Also Available On

Opinion

A Chain Reaction of Impact

Back in 2007, BusinessWest launched its 40 Under Forty recognition program to celebrate the achievements of the region’s rising stars. A couple years later, it created Difference Makers, which recognizes individuals who are, well, making a difference in their communities. The Healthcare Heroes awards followed three years ago, recognizing high achievers in that important sector.

Clearly, we love identifying and writing about people and organizations that deserve the attention; we’re as inspired writing those stories as you (hopefully) are when you read them.

Plenty of women have been honored by all three programs — in many years, in fact, women comprise a majority of winners. So why did we launch the Women of Impact program in 2018? Is it really necessary?

In a word, yes. First of all, while there are many women of achievement in this region — and have been for a long time — not enough of them have received the recognition they are due.

But another reason, one that has become more clear over the first three cohorts of Women of Impact, is that this program spotlights ways in which honorees not only shine on their own, but help other women do the same.

In this year’s class alone, you can read about Carol Campbell, president of Chicopee Industrial Contractors, who has not only personally mentored many women over the years, but cultivated a management team entirely made up of women — in an industry still dominated by men.

And Pattie Hallberg, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts, who has devoted her professional life to understanding the issues and challenges facing women and girls, and finding proactive ways to address them.

And Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College, who understands how critical an affordable college education is to women, including low-income women, women of color, and working mothers, many of whom have been thrown for a loop by the pandemic and recession, and rely on HCC’s support to stay on their degree path.

The stories go on, in many cases echoing the honorees’ desire not only to succeed in life, but to make sure women following behind them have the tools they need to do the same and, in turn, inspire the next generation.

This is not the easiest time for women in the workforce. In fact, in September, about 617,000 women stopped working — about eight women for every man who dropped out, in fact — partly due to competing demands from home, especially young kids who need support with remote learning.

Even during more, well, normal times, BusinessWest has long told the stories of not only women who are helping their peers navigate challenges, but organizations like the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, Girls Inc. of the Valley, and so many more who’ve made it their mission to help women succeed, now and in the future.

In short, women in this region are making an impact every day. We’re honored to be able to tell some of their stories.

 

Company Notebook

UMass Donahue Institute Receives $32.5 Million from Head Start

HADLEY — The UMass Donahue Institute has been awarded a new five-year, $6.5 million per year cooperative agreement to direct the Head Start National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations (NCPMFO), a role it has filled for the past five years under an earlier award. Under the new cooperative agreement, the institute will continue to work in collaboration with its partners: Family Health International 360, Zero to Three, and the UCLA Anderson School of Management. NCPMFO will continue to disseminate clear, consistent guidance, materials, and trainings on Office of Head Start priorities for the development and implementation of sound management systems and strong internal controls in Head Start programs across the country. NCPMFO’s work addresses topics such as risk management, governance, data collection and analysis, budgeting, management of multiple funding sources, and leadership, including the annual Head Start Management Fellows Program conducted at UCLA. NCPMFO’s work reaches approximately 1,700 grantees of Early Head Start and Head Start programs located in all states, including those programs serving American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and migrant and seasonal workers. NCPMFO is one of four national center cooperative agreements recently awarded. The others address early childhood development, teaching, and learning; early childhood health; behavioral health and safety; and parent, family, and community engagement.

 

Thunderbirds Foundation Donates $15,000 to Rays of Hope

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Thunderbirds President Nathan Costa presented a check for $15,000 to the Baystate Health Foundation for Rays of Hope from proceeds raised by the sale of specialty pink jerseys worn at the 2020 Pink in the Rink night in March. Each year since the team’s inception, the Thunderbirds have held a Pink in the Rink night to benefit Rays of Hope, complete with participation by breast-cancer survivors, pink ice, and pink specialty jerseys. The event has sold out each of the past four seasons, and has become a signature event in the area to raise awareness. This past season’s event took place on March 7, and was again sold out, with a capacity crowd of 6,793. The Thunderbirds Foundation has contributed more than $80,000 to the Baystate Health Foundation and the Rays of Hope through the proceeds of specialty jersey auctions from the annual Pink in the Rink night.

 

Davis Family Establishes New Scholarship Fund in Honor of Mary Walachy

SPRINGFIELD — The Davis family has established the Joseph F. and Helen C. McGovern Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts in honor of the Irene E. & George A Davis Foundation’s recently retired Executive Director Mary Walachy. Walachy retired in June after serving 23 years as executive director of the family foundation, and the fund is named after Walachy’s parents, both strong advocates for education. Walachy’s father, Joseph McGovern, was an entrepreneur who owned and operated Notion Thread, a manufacturing company in West Springfield. Walachy’s mother, Helen, also worked with her husband at the company. The scholarship fund will provide resources for successful applicants studying education or social work. It will be awarded through the Community Foundation’s scholarship program, which awards approximately 1,000 scholarships to 800 students annually. The program considers academic merit and financial need in its applicant reviews. Walachy earned a master’s degree in social work and, prior to joining the Davis Foundation, served as CEO of the Mental Health Assoc. Walachy was hired in 1997 as the first executive director of the foundation. Under her leadership, the foundation created several signature programs, including Cherish Every Child, the nationally-recognized Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative, and the Funder Collaborative for Reading Success, as well as the establishment of Springfield Business Leaders for Education and the launch of Educare Springfield.

 

Berkshire Theatre Group Awarded $1 Million Gift

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Theatre Group and Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire announced a generous gift of just over $1 million from the family of the late Mary Anne Gross in honor of her lifetime love of both theatre and the Berkshires. This award also recognizes the tireless efforts of Berkshire Theatre Group in producing the first live Actors’ Equity-approved musical in the U.S. this past summer, following the shutdown of live performing arts due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. The Gross family will also award just over $1 million to Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company. The Gross family gift will support payroll and basic operating costs for the next six months in order to ensure there are no furloughs or layoffs while the theater continues to raise funds in support of future artistic programming. A portion of the gift is structured as a matching grant to leverage additional donations for 2021. In July, Berkshire Theatre Group’s musical, Godspell, the first musical in the U.S. approved by the Actors’ Equity Assoc. (AEA) during the COVID-19 pandemic, opened a five-week run under a tent outside of the Colonial Theatre. Due to popular demand and critical acclaim, the run was extended for two weeks. The musical ran from Aug. 6 to Sept. 20. Berkshire Theatre Group has just been approved once again by AEA and will present Truman Capote’s Holiday Memories outdoors at its Stockbridge campus from Nov. 20 to Dec. 20.

 

Home City Development Wins Funding for Elias Brookings Apartments

SPRINGFIELD — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI), a Springfield-based affordable-housing development organization, was awarded resources from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to adapt and rehabilitate the former Elias Brookings School into 42 affordable rental housing units, to be known as Elias Brookings Apartments. The award includes $1 million in low-income housing tax credits (to generate more than $9 million in equity), $4.4 million of soft debt, and project-based rental vouchers. Other funds for the project include state and federal historic tax credits, city of Springfield HOME and Community Preservation Act funds, and construction and permanent loans. MassHousing will provide the permanent first mortgage loan and a subordinate workforce-housing loan. HCDI plans to begin construction in early 2021 and complete the work in 12 months. The project will serve a range of incomes, including extremely low-income households, low-income households, and workforce housing. Select apartments are reserved for clients of the Department of Mental Health, people with disabilities, and homeless households. HCDI will offer a variety of supportive services to all residents. The property will be managed by Housing Management Resources, an organization with extensive experience managing comparable properties. Built as the Elias Brookings School in 1925, the building was severely damaged in the June 2011 tornado and was closed. This redevelopment aims to contribute significantly to the revitalization of the of the Maple Hill, Six Corners, and Old Hill neighborhoods, which were heavily impacted by the tornado. HCDI is working with Davis Square Architects, development consultant Gerry Joseph, Allegrone Construction, Klein-Hornig LLP, and Shatz, Schwartz, and Fentin, P.C., as well as many other partners on this project.

 

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield Wins Community Service Award

CHICOPEE — The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce announced that Mercedes-Benz of Springfield was chosen as its Community Service Award recipient. This award honors a business, nonprofit, or individual which has benefited the lives of the Amherst-area community through their work and outreach. The Driven by Community platform officially launched in March, although it has been implemented at the dealership since the doors opened three years ago. Since then, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield has partnered with more than 250 local organizations, raised more than $20,000 when COVID-19 impacted local businesses, and hosted numerous fundraising and charity events at the dealership — most recently, a drive-in movie night with proceeds donated to the Urban League of Springfield to support its mission. The virtual A+ Awards Show will be livestreamed from Hadley Farms Meeting House on Thursday, Nov. 12.

 

Wellfleet Partners with binx health to Keep College Students Safe

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet Insurance has teamed up with binx health to offer college clients access to easy at-home/in-dorm sample collection for COVID-19 testing using binx’s enterprise solutions for population health screening. The ‘binx boxes’ are showing up in dorm rooms of thousands of students on Wellfleet’s college client campuses, offering school officials a quick, easy way to test a campus population, with oversight and test ordering by on-site university clinicians. The model amplifies the power and reach of university administration in their efforts to test, track, and trace the COVID-19 infection status among students, faculty, staff, and vendors. Students ‘activate’ binx boxes online, complete sample collection in their dorms or at home, then drop off completed kits at centralized locations for lab processing. Results are rapid, often under 24 hours from sample receipt. Wellfleet, one of the nation’s leading student health-insurance carriers, worked with binx on behalf of client colleges and universities to deliver a first-of-its-kind platform that makes population testing a reality for the nation’s college campuses. The testing platform offers a unique, modular approach enabling tailored rollout and customized deployment based on university population needs. Serving as a ‘digital hub,’ binx enables seamless linking of patients to university administration via clinician ordering tools, global logistics, at-home/in-dorm sample collection, viral trend analysis and reporting, rapid lab testing, contact tracing, and live customer service and support, all offered at an affordable, per-test fee by university. In addition to introducing clients to tailored COVID-19 testing solutions, Wellfleet has also adapted policies to help members, including helping to ensure student members aren’t saddled with out-of-pocket costs related to COVID-19, and enhanced coverage for telemedicine visits.

 

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.”

 

MCLA Adopts Test-blind Policy Through Fall 2022

NORTH ADAMS — In support of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and in recognition of the public health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the MCLA Office of Admission will be waiving the SAT/ACT testing requirement for students who apply for fall 2021 and fall 2022. MCLA will also pilot a test-blind/test-free policy for fall 2021 applicants. National and institutional data point to high-school work being indicative of student success in college and a more equitable means of assessment than standardized-test scores. For many years, research studies have found that wealthy students have significant advantages through the college-application process. A 2013 study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Southern California, for example, found that the difference in SAT scores between high- and low-income students was twice as large among black students compared to white students. MCLA’s application is free, and students are considered for merit-based scholarships at the same time as they submit their application. MCLA has an early-action deadline of Dec. 1. Those who apply must submit their official high-school transcript, including first-quarter senior grades and any transcripts for college-level courses taken, as well as a personal statement/essay. To find out more, visit mcla.edu/apply.

 

AIC Hosts Mural Honoring Mason Square Resident

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) recently honored a Springfield individual known to residents in Mason Square as Preacherman with a mural on the college’s maintenance building located at the corner of State and Reed streets. Born Randolph Lester, he was a well-known community member who was given the Preacherman moniker as he was often seen walking around the Mason Square area carrying a Bible. Collaborating on the construction of the mural was Britt Ruhe, the founder of Fresh Paint Springfield, a creative initiative in 2019 that invited artists to paint building walls downtown. Ruhe is the director of Commonwealth Murals and manages the Community Muralist Institute, featuring individual mural installations that meaningfully engage and uplift communities. AIC alumnus Andrew Cade, president of the Springfield Cultural Council and senior vice president of the Urban League of Springfield, supported the project with a grant from the Springfield Cultural Council and other resources to assist with the mural. The artist, Greta McLain, has has extensive mural-making experience and created the “Home, Here” mural on the Chestnut Towers parking garage on Dwight Street.

 

Summerlin Floors Awarded Woman-owned Business Certificate

AMHERST — Summerlin Floors has been awarded the official woman-owned business certificate from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. and a leading advocate for women business owners and entrepreneurs. Summerlin Floors has been busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, completing the certification process and reaching its goal of achieving the woman-owned business certificate, along with announcing a new scholarship that will be awarded to a woman of color. To achieve WBENC certification, woman-owned businesses complete a formal documentation and site-visit process administered by one of WBENC’s 14 regional partner organizations. The WBENC certification gives woman-owned businesses the ability to compete for real-time business opportunities provided by WBENC corporate members and government agencies. To give back to the community and future generations, the company launched a new scholarship last month, awarding a $2,500 scholarship to a woman of color pursuing a degree in business at Greenfield Community College (GCC). For more information and to apply for this scholarship, contact the GCC Admissions Office at www.gcc.mass.edu/admissions or (413) 775-1801.

 

Excel Dryer Supports Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom Initiative

SPRINGFIELD — For the fourth consecutive year, Excel Dryer has committed an annual gift of $5,000 to support Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom initiative. The 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 and family childcare offerings. The funds will be used to offset expenses associated with classroom supplies, meals, and professional development. 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. Square One currently provides early-learning services to more than 500 infants, toddlers, and school-age children each day, and family support services to 1,500 families each year, as they work to overcome the significant challenges in their lives.

 

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

BRIMFIELD

Infinite Granite Inc., 116 Little Alum Road, Brimfield, MA 01010. Cody Langlitz, same. Granite construction.

CHICOPEE

Save Our Youth, Inc., 6 Ralph Circle, Chicopee, MA 01020. Luiz Nevarez, same. Said organization is organized exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, and scientific purposed, including, for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under 50 1(C)(3) of the internal revenue code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code. Specific purpose is to provide assistance and resources to inner city/underprivileged youth, so they have a safe after-school program and better opportunities for the future.

YAAD Food Bar and Grill Inc., 66 Cabot St., Chicopee, MA 01013. Orlando Roberts, 199 Fargo St. Springfield, MA 01119. Restaurant and bar business.

EAST LONGMEADOW

Visit Madhesh Nepal, Inc., 7 High Meadow Circle, East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Pramod Sarraf, same. Travel and business promotion.

GRANBY

Mandolin New England, Inc., 117 Amherst St., Granby, MA 01033. Adam Sweet, same. We are a musical organization that puts on free concerts for the needy throughout New England, but specifically in Western Massachusetts and Rhode Island where our principals are based.

GILL

Renaissance Repair Inc., 390 Main Road, Gill, MA 01354. Douglas A. Edson, same. Maintenance/repair of commercial vehicles and equip.

HOLYOKE

Crossover Corporation, 522 Maple St. Holyoke, MA 01040. Elisandro Cuevas, same. Holding company.

LONGMEADOW

Nubeco, Corp., 82 Canterbury Lane, Longmeadow, MA 01106. Brian Newburn, same. Restoration.

Trusted Caregivers Inc., 123 Dwight Road, Longmeadow, MA 01106. Tonia Giggs, 931 North St. Suffield, CT 06078. Home care.

NORTHAMPTON

Organization of Biological Field Stations, 5 Chapin Dr., Northampton, MA 01063. Christopher N. Lorentz, Ohio River Biology Field Station 8309 Mary Ingles High California, KY 41007. The purposes of Organization of Biological Field Stations Inc. include the following: to facilitate the highest quality environment for scientists, students, teachers and the public to pursue research and education, and to enhance biological and environmental understanding.

PALMER

Lowmat, Inc., 3012 Thorndike St., Palmer, MA 01069. Gary Buelow, same. Develop and operate software app.

San Mac Medical Inc., 1199 South Main St., Palmer, MA 01069. Mark Borsari, 2 Sutton Place East Granby, CT 06026. Manufacturing of medical supplies.

PITTSFIELD

Kanoa, Inc., 11 Westview Circle, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Cristina Oncken Cook Dubin, same. Consulting services.

SPRINGFIELD

Ekmalian Tools Inc., 355 Trafton Road, Springfield, MA 01108. James G. Ekmalian Jr., same. Retail sale of tools and equipment.

Ken G Transport Inc., 37 Tiffany St. Springfield, MA 01108. Edith Nunez, same. Transport.

WESTFIELD

McCabe and Son Home Improvement Inc., 15 May St., Westfield, MA 01085. Samantha Galvin, same. Home remodeling.

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Blackhorse Transportation Inc., 425 Union St., Room 16 West Springfield, MA 01089. Ruvim Rakhubenko, 41 Irving St. West Springfield, MA 01089. Trucking.

DBA Certificates

The following business certificates and/or trade names were issued or renewed during the month of October 2020. (Filings are limited due to closures or reduced staffing hours at municipal offices due to COVID-19 restrictions).

DEERFIELD

Fiddlehead Farm
717 Greenfield Road
Danielle Marie

Green Insurance
55 North Main St.
Rick Green

Penelope Tarasuk, Ph.D. Psychoanalyst
8 Mountain Road
Penelope Tarasuk

HADLEY

Five College Farms
319 River Dr.
Ted Crooker

Sweet Meadow Farm
319 River Dr.
Ted Crooker

Trans World Food Market
50 Russell St.
David Tran

LONGMEADOW

Arch Promotions
60 Tecumseh Dr.
Donna Fein

Jane E. Crosby, Attorney at Law
734 Longmeadow St., Suite 301
Jane Crosby

Longmeadow High School Class of 2020
36 Brittany Road
Eleni Kollias

A Mold Man, LLC
785 Williams St., #175
Michael Guardione

Platinum Consulting
52 Laurel Lane
Philip Frogameni

SOUTHWICK

Kim Hartman House Cleaning
26 Fernwood Road
Kim Hartman

Thompson Transportation
719 College Highway
Shane Thompson

WESTFIELD

A.R. Deliveries
49 Klondike Ave.
Anatolie Reznicenco

Complete Lawn & Landscape
273 Prospect St. Ext.
Kyle Patrick

Fox Eye Photography
1925 East Mountain Road
Jessica Beaupre

GTK Sales
26 Lady Slipper Circle
Telman Galustov

Javo Publication
125 Ridgecrest Dr.
Jeff Vanoudenhove

Maura Bonavita Skin Care
154 Wild Flower Circle
Maura Bonavita

Sabai Jai Market
32 Jessie Lane
Jeffrey Rusin

Westfield Big Y Express #122
330 East Main St.
Big Y Express

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Business Solutions Inc.
64 Bacon Ave.
Taveon Crump

Cardinal Classics NE/AR
33 Heywood Ave.
Fran Cardinal

The Crest Room
706 Westfield St.
Kenneth Maryea

Dixon Orthodontics
232 Park St.
Jeffrey Dixon

Elegant Décor and Rental
189 Dewey St.
Anna Aseyeva

JX Hair
33 Westfield St.
Julia Mailloux

Keltic Fire
70 Windsor St.
John Crean

Kidwell Electric
100 Front St.
Dirk Kidwell

Krizvnu
257 River St.
Krizia Valentino

Schandorf Enterprise
12 Royce Court
Donald Schandorf

Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes
47 Roanoke Ave.
Daniel Clark

Bankruptcies

The following bankruptcy petitions were recently filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Readers should confirm all information with the court.

Baez, Marilyn
14 Pembroke Circle
Springfield, MA 01104
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/06/2020

Baez, Martha
62 Waverly St.
Springfield, MA 01107
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/06/2020

Chapin, David S
Chapin, Hillary K.
a/k/a King, Hillary
P.O. Box 264
Wales, MA 01081
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/13/2020

Cheney, Anthony W.
46 Ludlow Road
South Hadley, MA 01075
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/09/2020

Cipolla, Charles Anthony
93 Pine Grove St.
Springfield, MA 01119
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/08/2020

Citlak, Ahmet
81 Bluebird Circle
Ludlow, MA 01056
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/08/2020

Cusson, Jody L.
100 North St.
Granby, MA 01033
Chapter: 7
Date: 09/30/2020

Drihmi, Abdel Jalil
170 Mayflower Road
Springfield, MA 01118
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/08/2020

Fernet, Shirley Ann
PO Box 965
Orange, MA 01364
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/07/2020

Henry-Smith, Hyacinth C.
62 Olmsted Dr.
Springfield, MA 01108
Chapter: 7
Date: 09/30/2020

Johnson, Christine G.
a/k/a Labonte, Christine
5 Converse St.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Chapter: 7
Date: 09/30/2020

Kibodya, Issihaka A.
50 Middlesex St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/08/2020

LeFebvre, Robert S.
43 Laurel St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/08/2020

Mancini, Gina A.
2 Still Brook Lane
Feeding Hills, MA 01030
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/07/2020

Marshall, Michael C.
84 Byers St., Apt. 101
Springfield, MA 01105
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/08/2020

McPherson, Bruce A.
135 Polaski Ave.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/01/2020

Pringle, Joyce A.
67 Edgewood St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/08/2020

Rickett, Amy Leigh
163 Stafford Hollow Road
Monson, MA 01057
Chapter: 7
Date: 09/30/2020

Rivas, Jose
62 Craig Dr., Apt 2A
West Springfield, MA 01089
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/07/2020

Scibelli, Jordan P.
48 Rutledge Ave., 3rd Fl.
Springfield, MA 01105
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/01/2020

Tarquini, Adam M.
52 Castle St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/13/2020

Torres, Carlos M.
382 Allen Park Road
Springfield, MA 01118
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/05/2020

Trapanese III, Francis P.
40 Stetson Dr.
Greenfield, MA 01301-9726
Chapter: 7
Date: 10/05/2020

Real Estate

The following real estate transactions (latest available) were compiled by Banker & Tradesman and are published as they were received. Only transactions exceeding $115,000 are listed. Buyer and seller fields contain only the first name listed on the deed.

FRANKLIN COUNTY

BERNARDSTON

222 Brattleboro Road
Bernardston, MA 01337
Amount: $260,555
Buyer: Steven A. Barscz
Seller: Don J. Powell
Date: 10/09/20

120 Northfield Road
Bernardston, MA 01337
Amount: $192,800
Buyer: Jack E. Wilder
Seller: Eugene A. Dwight
Date: 10/08/20

BUCKLAND

26 Conway St.
Buckland, MA 01338
Amount: $236,000
Buyer: Brian Koshinsky
Seller: Conway Street Realty LLC
Date: 10/09/20

CHARLEMONT

55 Burrington Road
Charlemont, MA 01339
Amount: $203,000
Buyer: Alexandra N. Kamyk
Seller: Martha R. Roman
Date: 10/14/20

COLRAIN

13 Church St.
Colrain, MA 01340
Amount: $160,000
Buyer: Andrew Lincoln
Seller: Deerfield Avenue Realty Inc.
Date: 10/16/20

135 East Colrain Road
Colrain, MA 01340
Amount: $227,000
Buyer: Zoe Lindstom-Ruhf
Seller: Chris P. Trewhella
Date: 10/09/20

GILL

179 Main Road
Gill, MA 01354
Amount: $242,000
Buyer: Timothy P. Meyer
Seller: Gary E. Parzych
Date: 10/09/20

GREENFIELD

1357 Bernardston Road
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $260,000
Buyer: Alysandra Zagame
Seller: Fernand A. Zagame
Date: 10/15/20

37 Brookside Ave.
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $270,000
Buyer: Louisa J. Edwards
Seller: Patrick J. Merrigan
Date: 10/13/20

216 Green River Road
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $350,000
Buyer: Patrick J. Merrigan
Seller: Carole A. Lemay
Date: 10/13/20

36 Leyden Road
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $280,000
Buyer: Adom C. Balcom
Seller: Jaimye S. Ingraham
Date: 10/07/20

130 Leyden Road
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $210,000
Buyer: Samuel D. Howe
Seller: Matthew Brown
Date: 10/15/20

114 Lovers Lane
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $265,000
Buyer: Jo-Ann A. Helbig
Seller: Alfred W. Myslicki
Date: 10/16/20

33 Newell Pond Road
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Devon Lucier
Seller: Glen A. Stratton
Date: 10/07/20

6-8 Park Ave.
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $288,500
Buyer: Brady P. McCloud
Seller: Mihail Iavorschi
Date: 10/07/20

119 Shelburne Road
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $212,000
Buyer: Shawn S. Fitzherbert
Seller: Matthew McCarthy
Date: 10/15/20

9 Sunset Square
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $267,000
Buyer: Robert Murray
Seller: Alexander V. Siano
Date: 10/14/20

107 Verde Dr.
Greenfield, MA 01301
Amount: $395,000
Buyer: Alexander V. Siano
Seller: Greenfield KMW LLC
Date: 10/14/20

LEYDEN

60 Glen Road
Leyden, MA 01301
Amount: $429,000
Buyer: Joshua Ziter
Seller: John W. Helbig
Date: 10/16/20

MONTAGUE

74 Dry Hill Road
Montague, MA 01351
Amount: $250,000
Buyer: Tegin L. Teich
Seller: Bryna R. Ziobro
Date: 10/08/20

90 Turners Falls Road
Montague, MA 01376
Amount: $306,000
Buyer: Alan P. Meyer
Seller: Layne V. Floyd
Date: 10/16/20

71 Turnpike Road
Montague, MA 01376
Amount: $375,000
Buyer: Amie M. Keddy
Seller: Abdias Garcia
Date: 10/09/20

NORTHFIELD

177 Main St.
Northfield, MA 01360
Amount: $327,500
Buyer: Jill Price-Marshall
Seller: Amy K. Hildenbrand
Date: 10/09/20

ORANGE

681 East Main St.
Orange, MA 01364
Amount: $218,000
Buyer: Jorge L. Nieves
Seller: Orange Properties LLC
Date: 10/16/20

340 Holtshire Road
Orange, MA 01364
Amount: $242,000
Buyer: Lisa A. Korpiewski
Seller: Normand R. Poirier
Date: 10/14/20

225 Walnut Hill Road
Orange, MA 01364
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Nancy J. Cody
Seller: Patrick J. Cody
Date: 10/09/20

171 West River St.
Orange, MA 01364
Amount: $165,000
Buyer: Christopher J. Garcia
Seller: Aaron J. Thibeault
Date: 10/09/20

123 Winter St.
Orange, MA 01364
Amount: $191,000
Buyer: Derek P. Dirienzo
Seller: Wetherby, Carol A., (Estate)
Date: 10/15/20

SHUTESBURY

15 Hawks View Road
Shutesbury, MA 01072
Amount: $649,000
Buyer: Elena M. Vazey
Seller: Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin
Date: 10/16/20

SUNDERLAND

180 Hadley Road
Sunderland, MA 01375
Amount: $342,500
Buyer: Todd E. Fruth
Seller: Kevin B. Kohler
Date: 10/09/20

491 Hadley Road
Sunderland, MA 01375
Amount: $437,500
Buyer: Michael A. Case
Seller: Timothy F. Markowski
Date: 10/13/20

369 Montague Road
Sunderland, MA 01375
Amount: $245,000
Buyer: Thomas Adair
Seller: Boulden, Gilbert A., (Estate)
Date: 10/15/20

248 South Silver Lane
Sunderland, MA 01375
Amount: $220,000
Buyer: Daniel Salls
Seller: James J. Toth
Date: 10/08/20

WARWICK

40 Dusty Lane
Warwick, MA 01364
Amount: $125,000
Buyer: Stephen A. Martin
Seller: Mary J. Fay
Date: 10/16/20

 

HAMPDEN COUNTY

AGAWAM

201 Adams St.
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $293,000
Buyer: Adam Vanbuskirk
Seller: Nicholas R. Jerard
Date: 10/07/20

82 Albert St.
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Michael G. Piccin
Seller: Michael E. Piccin
Date: 10/09/20

471 Barry St.
Agawam, MA 01030
Amount: $240,000
Buyer: Denis E. Doroshenko
Seller: Marilyn Foley
Date: 10/16/20

33 Dartmouth St.
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $219,900
Buyer: Ardian Ademi
Seller: Thomas K. Dickinson
Date: 10/09/20

19 Highland Ave.
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $212,000
Buyer: Thong Nguyen
Seller: Guerrin, Susan G., (Estate)
Date: 10/16/20

50 Kensington St.
Agawam, MA 01030
Amount: $210,000
Buyer: John P. Elias
Seller: Sara E. Chaffee
Date: 10/06/20

54 Kensington St.
Agawam, MA 01030
Amount: $240,000
Buyer: Cennet M. Kilic
Seller: William R. Lyne
Date: 10/09/20

274 Meadow St.
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $175,000
Buyer: Thomas E. Cascio
Seller: Blackak, Lucille H., (Estate)
Date: 10/07/20

472 Meadow St.
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $223,000
Buyer: Shorty Billups
Seller: Sergey Abramov
Date: 10/14/20

90 North Alhambra Circle
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $209,000
Buyer: Brenda L. Parent
Seller: Michael J. Wood
Date: 10/05/20

62 Northwood St.
Agawam, MA 01030
Amount: $317,500
Buyer: Timothy A. Potito
Seller: Alex Vilkhovoy
Date: 10/05/20

27 Pheasant Run Court
Agawam, MA 01030
Amount: $249,900
Buyer: Nicholas E. Clark
Seller: Richard S. Jackson
Date: 10/08/20

150 Pineview Circle
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $325,000
Buyer: Richard C. Messenger
Seller: Peter T. Lepper
Date: 10/13/20

74 Ramah Circle South
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: CHG Realty LLC
Seller: Chlastawa LLC
Date: 10/15/20

South Bridge Dr.
Agawam, MA 01001
Amount: $1,200,000
Buyer: JPGCO LLC
Seller: Garra LLC
Date: 10/14/20

102 White Fox Road
Agawam, MA 01030
Amount: $330,000
Buyer: Thomas Dickinson
Seller: Bryan Cote
Date: 10/09/20

BRIMFIELD

3 Shaw Road
Brimfield, MA 01010
Amount: $705,000
Buyer: Glenn S. Welch
Seller: James M. Hurley
Date: 10/08/20

CHICOPEE

186 Arcade St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $320,000
Buyer: Damaris Carmona
Seller: Luz A. Eichstaedt
Date: 10/16/20

6 Barbara St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $267,000
Buyer: Mariana Acosta
Seller: Douglas P. Allard
Date: 10/09/20

32 Boutin St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $226,000
Buyer: Michael P. Michon
Seller: Juan F. Monsalve
Date: 10/08/20

66 Bray St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $282,500
Buyer: Tara M. Muhlhausen
Seller: John W. Walz
Date: 10/15/20

115 Broadway St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $185,000
Buyer: Gary Lopuk
Seller: Thomas R. Nowak
Date: 10/05/20

75 Catherine St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $368,000
Buyer: Hector F. Torres-Alvarado
Seller: Ganna Boyko
Date: 10/14/20

93 Clairmont Ave.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $227,000
Buyer: Aaron Beaulieu
Seller: Brianna L. Kring
Date: 10/16/20

24 Cyran St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $240,000
Buyer: Roland G. Provost
Seller: Clayton, Sandra J., (Estate)
Date: 10/14/20

322 Dale St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $320,000
Buyer: Daniel Burgos
Seller: MA Home Buyers LLC
Date: 10/07/20

105 Fairview Ave.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $220,000
Buyer: Lymari Albelo
Seller: Sisters Of Saint Joseph
Date: 10/07/20

11 Hearthstone Ter.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $235,000
Buyer: Ryan F. Nelson
Seller: Robert D. Yergeau 2018 RET
Date: 10/09/20

36 Irene St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Colleen A. Larochelle
Seller: Anthony J. Zepko
Date: 10/06/20

49 Irene St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $235,000
Buyer: Kassandra M. Pedraza
Seller: Richard Ethier
Date: 10/15/20

160 Jacob St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $271,000
Buyer: Suzanne Valcheva
Seller: Stephen G. Young
Date: 10/09/20

15 Leonard St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $230,000
Buyer: Ryan J. Manning
Seller: Ashley M. Gallagher
Date: 10/07/20

29 Linden St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $250,000
Buyer: Michael C. Sugrue
Seller: James Despres
Date: 10/07/20

115 Ludlow Road
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $340,600
Buyer: Angela M. Perez
Seller: Premier Home Builders Inc.
Date: 10/13/20

56 Marble Ave.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Caitlyn A. McGibbon
Seller: Seamus P. Cullen
Date: 10/09/20

23 Marten St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $250,000
Buyer: Milton C. Bird
Seller: Jerod R. Laflamme
Date: 10/13/20

68 Mary St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $525,000
Buyer: MDDO LLC
Seller: Margaret M. Twarowski
Date: 10/07/20

72 Mary St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $525,000
Buyer: MDDO LLC
Seller: Margaret M. Twarowski
Date: 10/07/20

29 Narragansett Blvd.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $185,000
Buyer: Charles F. Bisson
Seller: Nubile, Rosalia, (Estate)
Date: 10/09/20

45 Narragansett Blvd.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $237,000
Buyer: Jacob Colon
Seller: Westside Housing Inc.
Date: 10/05/20

49 Prospect St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $525,000
Buyer: MDDO LLC
Seller: Margaret M. Twarowski
Date: 10/07/20

147 School St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Zahraa Abdullah
Seller: Joel I. Roach
Date: 10/16/20

36 Schorr St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $212,000
Buyer: Angel Rivera
Seller: Dennis J. Stoltz
Date: 10/13/20

73 Stedman St.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $185,500
Buyer: Spencer Lockhart
Seller: Jean G. Ouimette
Date: 10/09/20

97 Szetela Dr.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $255,000
Buyer: Brian H. Jones
Seller: Matthew G. Costa
Date: 10/05/20

185 Szetela Dr.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $286,500
Buyer: Matthew A. Jayko
Seller: Brian H. Jones
Date: 10/05/20

71 Wilson Ave.
Chicopee, MA 01013
Amount: $170,000
Buyer: Travis A. Brooks
Seller: Madeline Cornwell
Date: 10/07/20

34 Windsor St.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Theodore Chagnon
Seller: Joseph C. Nowak
Date: 10/15/20

EAST LONGMEADOW

170 Canterbury Circle
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $504,900
Buyer: Robert T. Whiteley
Seller: David M. Fugler
Date: 10/16/20

41 Helen Circle
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $130,000
Buyer: David Chapdelaine
Seller: Clifford P. Ahern
Date: 10/07/20

230 Kibbe Road
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $314,000
Buyer: Denise M. Moore
Seller: Brian McClelland
Date: 10/05/20

58 Mapleshade Ave.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $257,000
Buyer: Alicia A. Laterreur
Seller: Deborah A. Elgers
Date: 10/13/20

159 North Main St.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $239,900
Buyer: Megan E. Popp
Seller: Salvatore Napolitano
Date: 10/06/20

140 Patterson Ave.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $372,000
Buyer: Jeremy J. Kele
Seller: Heather R. Magnus
Date: 10/09/20

94 Porter Road
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $155,000
Buyer: Patriot Living LLC
Seller: O’Neill, Thomas N., (Estate)
Date: 10/08/20

18 Redstone Dr.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $279,000
Buyer: Jose A. Santiago
Seller: Osvaldo Almodovar
Date: 10/05/20

109 Vineland Ave.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $333,000
Buyer: Przemyslaw P. Szura
Seller: Anthony M. Neffinger
Date: 10/08/20

203 Westwood Ave.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $339,900
Buyer: Cheng-Hao Shih
Seller: Martin J. Manning
Date: 10/13/20

320 Westwood Ave.
East Longmeadow, MA 01028
Amount: $240,000
Buyer: Hajar R. Aldouri
Seller: Edward J. Buckley
Date: 10/15/20

GRANVILLE

521 South Lane
Granville, MA 01034
Amount: $345,000
Buyer: Justin Monfette
Seller: Donald F. Canfield
Date: 10/05/20

HAMPDEN

521-525 Main St.
Hampden, MA 01036
Amount: $249,000
Buyer: Norman Charest
Seller: Raymond C. Bartolucci
Date: 10/07/20

40-A Oak Knoll Dr.
Hampden, MA 01036
Amount: $271,000
Buyer: Robert W. Feliton
Seller: Bruce J. Strange
Date: 10/08/20

25 Potash Hill Lane
Hampden, MA 01036
Amount: $300,000
Buyer: Deon Smith
Seller: Ana M. Dagostino
Date: 10/15/20

92 Raymond Dr.
Hampden, MA 01036
Amount: $256,000
Buyer: KC 290 Main Street LLC
Seller: Fortier, Robert B., (Estate)
Date: 10/08/20

67 Stony Hill Road
Hampden, MA 01036
Amount: $209,000
Buyer: Katherine L. Eliza
Seller: Nicholas Torretti
Date: 10/09/20

HOLLAND

227 Brimfield Road
Holland, MA 01521
Amount: $277,000
Buyer: Shaina C. Kolakowski
Seller: John P. Galarneau
Date: 10/09/20

HOLYOKE

18 Bray Park Dr.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $170,000
Buyer: James M. Hogan
Seller: Mark R. Collins
Date: 10/15/20

14 Francis Ave.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $215,000
Buyer: Israel Blanco
Seller: Luis E. Roldan
Date: 10/14/20

1155 Hampden St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $280,000
Buyer: George Oquendo
Seller: Amer F. Ahmed
Date: 10/08/20

16 Hitchcock St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $223,900
Buyer: Joshua Jimenez
Seller: Brian J. Lepine
Date: 10/16/20

877 Homestead Ave.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $242,400
Buyer: Robert Fisette
Seller: Fisette Realty Corp.
Date: 10/16/20

10 Laurel St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $205,000
Buyer: Arelis Diaz
Seller: Fernando Aponte
Date: 10/14/20

227 Michigan Ave.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Andrew J. Herbert
Seller: Eric H. & Frances R. Dugroo TR
Date: 10/16/20

111 Mosher St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $3,000,000
Buyer: EGH W. LLC
Seller: Sonoco Products Co.
Date: 10/16/20

70 Pinehurst Road
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $287,500
Buyer: Nadia Tafreshi
Seller: Sydney A. Plum
Date: 10/07/20

58 Waldo St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $230,000
Buyer: Jonathan Mills
Seller: Jessica L. Appleby
Date: 10/13/20

187 Walnut St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $205,000
Buyer: Reina L. Cruz
Seller: Federico A. Taveras
Date: 10/09/20

661 West Cherry St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $500,000
Buyer: Timothy R. Deshaies
Seller: Bellamy H. Schmidt
Date: 10/14/20

348 West Franklin St.
Holyoke, MA 01040
Amount: $144,000
Buyer: US Bank
Seller: Martin J. Contant
Date: 10/15/20

LONGMEADOW

103 Birchwood Ave.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $295,000
Buyer: Jeremy Desjardins-Smith
Seller: Therese Tjimis
Date: 10/09/20

198 Burbank Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $210,000
Buyer: Noreen Greenman
Seller: Thomas R. Aylesbury
Date: 10/16/20

141 Cedar Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $316,000
Buyer: Angelina K. Rinaldi
Seller: Frank A. Amato
Date: 10/15/20

90 Colony Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $467,000
Buyer: Jonathan A. Goldman
Seller: Mark R. Wojcik
Date: 10/15/20

117 Crescent Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $380,000
Buyer: Stanislav Rukhman
Seller: Heidi D. Davis
Date: 10/05/20

49 Drury Lane
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $390,000
Buyer: Rose A. Hill
Seller: Stephen D. Hoyt
Date: 10/14/20

176 Dunn Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $580,000
Buyer: Kately Smithling-Kopcsay
Seller: Joanne Hetherington
Date: 10/09/20

28 Edgemont St.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $240,000
Buyer: Linda B. Edelson-Slocum
Seller: Andrew D. Appleby
Date: 10/16/20

69 Edgewood Ave.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $424,900
Buyer: Vera M. Denyko
Seller: Paul Huijing
Date: 10/06/20

178 Edgewood Ave.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $299,500
Buyer: David S. Hutchins
Seller: Lisa Dailey
Date: 10/05/20

29 Elmwood Ave.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $250,000
Buyer: Sophie Stevenson
Seller: Lori A. Snyder
Date: 10/08/20

17 Glenwood Circle
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $185,000
Buyer: Nola Management LLC
Seller: Stephen G. Haramut
Date: 10/05/20

12 Hillcrest Ave.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $465,000
Buyer: Joseph R. Dion
Seller: Brian R. Curran
Date: 10/05/20

671 Maple Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $263,000
Buyer: Kevin J. Quinn
Seller: Debra A. Judson
Date: 10/16/20

568 Pinewood Dr.
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $505,000
Buyer: Oswald J. Obando
Seller: Helen E. Santaniello
Date: 10/09/20

41 Shaker Road
Longmeadow, MA 01106
Amount: $225,000
Buyer: Nathan A. Nadeau
Seller: Diane B. Nadeau
Date: 10/15/20

LUDLOW

209 Autumn Ridge Road
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $498,000
Buyer: Derek Chandonnet
Seller: Hemlock Ridge LLC
Date: 10/14/20

49 Crest St.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $199,000
Buyer: Trevor J. Lewicki
Seller: Craig J. McKay
Date: 10/15/20

299 Fuller St.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $265,000
Buyer: Joseph M. Scurti
Seller: Source 9 Development LLC
Date: 10/05/20

186 Highland Ave.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $160,000
Buyer: Dominic L. Seguro
Seller: Domingos A. Seguro
Date: 10/05/20

6 Miller St.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $1,002,186
Buyer: Hopkinton LNG Corp.
Seller: Bay State Gas Co.
Date: 10/16/20

27 Stanley St.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $150,000
Buyer: Ryan D. Boucher
Seller: Roger W. Boucher
Date: 10/16/20

24 Voltage Ave.
Ludlow, MA 01056
Amount: $226,000
Buyer: Fallon M. St.Aubin
Seller: Philip M. Harrington
Date: 10/09/20

MONSON

13 Green St.
Monson, MA 01057
Amount: $199,900
Buyer: Luke Paull
Seller: Ruby Realty LLC
Date: 10/16/20

4 Hampden Court
Monson, MA 01057
Amount: $171,000
Buyer: Timothy West
Seller: Bruce D. Murphy
Date: 10/15/20

156 Hovey Road
Monson, MA 01057
Amount: $479,000
Buyer: James Talbot
Seller: Gary A. Wandmacher
Date: 10/09/20

MONTGOMERY

332 Main Road
Montgomery, MA 01085
Amount: $300,000
Buyer: Taylor Derrig
Seller: Denis G. Senecal
Date: 10/08/20

PALMER

2055 Main St.
Palmer, MA 01080
Amount: $150,000
Buyer: Juan Larronde
Seller: Daniel H. Roy
Date: 10/14/20

1010 Park St.
Palmer, MA 01069
Amount: $615,000
Buyer: VPR Cap Partners 2 LLC
Seller: Bank Of America
Date: 10/15/20

SPRINGFIELD

14 Adams St.
Springfield, MA 01105
Amount: $125,000
Buyer: Shkeya Brittle
Seller: Amaan Realty LLC
Date: 10/09/20

Adams St.
Springfield, MA 01101
Amount: $207,000
Buyer: Greg Gardener
Seller: Amat Victoria Curam LLC
Date: 10/07/20

78 Agnes St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $191,000
Buyer: Kircys E. Canela-Santos
Seller: Darlene A. Tait
Date: 10/09/20

49 Albemarle St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Tyrah R. Browne
Seller: Value Properties LLC
Date: 10/16/20

173 Albemarle St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $217,000
Buyer: Johanne Theodat
Seller: Bretta Construction LLC
Date: 10/06/20

69-71 Alden St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Charlie Vargas
Seller: R. M. Blerman LLC
Date: 10/06/20

54 Aldrew Ter.
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $133,400
Buyer: Short4u RT
Seller: Roundpoint Mortgage Servicing
Date: 10/13/20

30 Armory St.
Springfield, MA 01105
Amount: $260,000
Buyer: Jose R. Vargas-Gonzalez
Seller: Luz P. Rios-Garcia
Date: 10/14/20

33 Ashley St.
Springfield, MA 01105
Amount: $160,000
Buyer: Belgica Cordero
Seller: Carlos M. Alicea
Date: 10/16/20

122 Barrington Dr.
Springfield, MA 01129
Amount: $405,000
Buyer: Marvin M. Sinzore
Seller: Bretta Construction LLC
Date: 10/16/20

156 Barrington Dr.
Springfield, MA 01129
Amount: $450,000
Buyer: Dwayne Early
Seller: Bretta Construction LLC
Date: 10/06/20

11-13 Baywood St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $222,000
Buyer: Francheska M. Melendez
Seller: Olmsted Realty LLC
Date: 10/09/20

43 Berard Circle
Springfield, MA 01128
Amount: $224,000
Buyer: Pedro Montanez-Charriez
Seller: IB Investments
Date: 10/07/20

24 Bissell St.
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $222,500
Buyer: Bretta Construction LLC
Seller: Dwayne Early
Date: 10/06/20

114 Briggs St.
Springfield, MA 01151
Amount: $285,000
Buyer: John B. Borrero
Seller: Diana R. Bannon
Date: 10/16/20

25 Burke St.
Springfield, MA 01151
Amount: $258,000
Buyer: Veronica M. Reyes
Seller: Ruby Realty LLC
Date: 10/14/20

125 Cambridge St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $222,000
Buyer: Shaundell Diaz
Seller: Alycar Investments LLC
Date: 10/15/20

31 Canterbury Road
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $180,000
Buyer: Venia Noel
Seller: Michelle L. Somerville
Date: 10/15/20

399 Central St.
Springfield, MA 01105
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Chantal Louis
Seller: Danichia J. Vega
Date: 10/05/20

64 Chilson St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $230,000
Buyer: Isiz V. Rivas
Seller: Michael L. O’Connor
Date: 10/14/20

40 Connecticut Ave.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $156,000
Buyer: John P. Sullivan RET
Seller: Mary A. Dean
Date: 10/15/20

40 Cooper St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $212,000
Buyer: Gina Mickiewicz
Seller: Daniel J. Fenton
Date: 10/06/20

56 Copeland St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $201,000
Buyer: Jennifer Goodyear
Seller: Paige N. Derry
Date: 10/09/20

19 Craig St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $210,000
Buyer: Stacia C. Bryant
Seller: Brian W. Vaudrin
Date: 10/07/20

34 Croyden St.
Springfield, MA 01107
Amount: $165,000
Buyer: Gabriela Aviles-Sanchez
Seller: Marisol Guevara
Date: 10/14/20

24 Delaware Ave.
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $330,000
Buyer: Ramon Burgos
Seller: Bretta Construction LLC
Date: 10/09/20

296 Dickinson St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $125,000
Buyer: Omar Abeed
Seller: US Bank
Date: 10/05/20

28 Drury St.
Springfield, MA 01129
Amount: $234,900
Buyer: Christopher Kochanek
Seller: Yvonne Grondin
Date: 10/09/20

80 East St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $205,000
Buyer: Dana Mitchell-Peterson
Seller: Rose A. Hill
Date: 10/14/20

176 Eddy St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $175,000
Buyer: Keysha Burgos
Seller: Elizabeth Lopez
Date: 10/09/20

100 Edgemont St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $166,000
Buyer: Alfonso Jimenez-Jimenez
Seller: Dorothy Smith
Date: 10/09/20

133 Ellsworth Ave.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $172,500
Buyer: Charlotte E. Hines
Seller: Jamianne Turner
Date: 10/16/20

7 Fordham St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $168,000
Buyer: Yesseni Irizarry-Morales
Seller: Michael E. Rogers
Date: 10/09/20

17 Frontenac St.
Springfield, MA 01151
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Orlando A. Lopez
Seller: Property Keys LLC
Date: 10/09/20

19 Fullerton St.
Springfield, MA 01151
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Helen J. Pino
Seller: Anthony Bourget
Date: 10/13/20

75 Garland St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Nicholas Stahovish
Seller: Michael Tranghese
Date: 10/14/20

25 George St.
Springfield, MA 01105
Amount: $280,000
Buyer: Xiaomao B. Wang
Seller: KPD Properties LLC
Date: 10/15/20

526 Gifford St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $191,000
Buyer: Juan Caraballo
Seller: Kelnate Realty LLC
Date: 10/14/20

210 Gresham St.
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $330,000
Buyer: Treyvontae R. Goodman
Seller: Bretta Construction LLC
Date: 10/16/20

33 Greenwich St.
Springfield, MA 01107
Amount: $300,000
Buyer: Wytas Properties LLC
Seller: Peter E. Sares
Date: 10/09/20

132 Grover St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $125,000
Buyer: Sullane LLC
Seller: Carol M. Tamkovich
Date: 10/15/20

123 Hadley St.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $260,000
Buyer: Tesia M. Pollock
Seller: Megliola, Elizabeth A., (Estate)
Date: 10/15/20

38 Hatch St.
Springfield, MA 01129
Amount: $215,000
Buyer: Reyes M. Vazquez
Seller: Deena A. Polom
Date: 10/14/20

14 Irvington St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $270,000
Buyer: Abdikadir S. Mohamed
Seller: Mashawn Jones
Date: 10/15/20

92 Jardine St.
Springfield, MA 01107
Amount: $188,000
Buyer: G. M. Paneto-Almodovar
Seller: CIG 4 LLC
Date: 10/09/20

79 Jeffrey Road
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $219,000
Buyer: Ricky E. Bowens
Seller: Laurence A. Trupe
Date: 10/15/20

61 Johnson St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $277,000
Buyer: Anthony F. Almodovar
Seller: Jaime J. Melendez
Date: 10/08/20

89 Juniper Dr.
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $236,000
Buyer: A. R. Dones-Schipper
Seller: Brital 1987 LLC
Date: 10/16/20

69 Keddy St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $180,000
Buyer: Preciouse Oise
Seller: Cornelius Brouder
Date: 10/14/20

20 Labelle Dr.
Springfield, MA 01129
Amount: $210,000
Buyer: Anthony Girard
Seller: John F. Long
Date: 10/14/20

33 Littleton St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $210,000
Buyer: Erica Pagan
Seller: Jonathan Ortiz
Date: 10/09/20

283 Longhill St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $475,000
Buyer: Johnnie Asencio
Seller: Michael A. Gulish
Date: 10/09/20

146 Lumae St.
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $245,000
Buyer: Amaralyss L. Negron
Seller: Equity Trust Co.
Date: 10/05/20

145-151 Main St.
Springfield, MA 01105
Amount: $730,000
Buyer: Lachenauer LLC
Seller: BP LLC
Date: 10/09/20

31 Manchester Ter.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Maria C. Salmeron
Seller: Filomena M. Vivenzio
Date: 10/09/20

128 Newfield Road
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $171,500
Buyer: Amanda C. Mills
Seller: Janisette Silveira
Date: 10/15/20

38-40 Oak St.
Springfield, MA 01151
Amount: $730,000
Buyer: Lachenauer LLC
Seller: BP LLC
Date: 10/09/20

60 Old Brook Road
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Jaimarie G. Ely
Seller: Kelly A. Partridge
Date: 10/14/20

72 Old Farm Road
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $201,000
Buyer: Ter.esa A. Wesley
Seller: Randy D. Degray
Date: 10/07/20

115 Packard Ave.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $292,000
Buyer: Michael Tranghese
Seller: Robert J. Gossman
Date: 10/14/20

66 Palo Alto Road
Springfield, MA 01128
Amount: $315,000
Buyer: Carmen Rivera
Seller: John E. Balesky
Date: 10/13/20

104-106 Pasadena St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $149,200
Buyer: AAD LLC
Seller: K&S Holdings LLC
Date: 10/08/20

120 Patricia Circle
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $227,000
Buyer: Joseph T. Cardaropoli
Seller: Rehab Home Buyers LLC
Date: 10/07/20

343 Plumtree Road
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $227,000
Buyer: Timothy Riordan
Seller: Clifford P. Jensen
Date: 10/09/20

173 Powell Ave.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $205,000
Buyer: Michael A. Bartolo
Seller: Ute A. Schmidt
Date: 10/06/20

104 Rollins St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $162,000
Buyer: Lisa A. Kirby
Seller: Ryan F. Nelson
Date: 10/09/20

735 Saint James Ave.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $170,000
Buyer: Andrew A. Lopriore
Seller: John H. Fortune
Date: 10/16/20

53 Silver St.
Springfield, MA 01107
Amount: $160,000
Buyer: Erykya Rivera
Seller: Juan Santana
Date: 10/13/20

100 South Branch Pkwy.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $320,000
Buyer: Guidewire Inc.
Seller: Sheila A. Gilligan
Date: 10/09/20

138 Spear Road
Springfield, MA 01119
Amount: $155,000
Buyer: Jose A. Muniz
Seller: Andy W. Pacheco
Date: 10/16/20

27 Stocker St.
Springfield, MA 01129
Amount: $160,000
Buyer: Anne F. Brady
Seller: Charlene Bermudez
Date: 10/16/20

999 Sumner Ave.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $249,000
Buyer: Dia L. Green
Seller: Joseph Sullivan
Date: 10/05/20

33 Surrey Road
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $202,000
Buyer: Gloria Jimenez
Seller: Springhouse Properties LLC
Date: 10/08/20

146 Talmadge Dr.
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $183,500
Buyer: Jennifer R. Small
Seller: Eunice W. Wegge
Date: 10/07/20

438 Tinkham Road
Springfield, MA 01129
Amount: $140,000
Buyer: Cornerstone Homebuying LLC
Seller: Woodworth, David A., (Estate)
Date: 10/16/20

35 Trillium St.
Springfield, MA 01108
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Jessica J. Jenkins
Seller: Tamara Cruz
Date: 10/16/20

52 Undine Circle
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $262,000
Buyer: Natalie Dunn
Seller: Michele Giles-Romero
Date: 10/06/20

52 Walsh St.
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $192,500
Buyer: Tia A. Brown
Seller: Brown, Evelyn, (Estate)
Date: 10/13/20

65 Washburn St.
Springfield, MA 01107
Amount: $155,000
Buyer: Alex X. Pirela
Seller: Franklin Housey
Date: 10/15/20

15 Welcome Place
Springfield, MA 01109
Amount: $229,900
Buyer: Michelle Melendez
Seller: Valley Castle Holding LLC
Date: 10/06/20

Wexford St.
Springfield, MA 01101
Amount: $146,000
Buyer: William Raleigh
Seller: Ulrick, Linda I., (Estate)
Date: 10/15/20

108 Wilber St.
Springfield, MA 01104
Amount: $135,200
Buyer: Kiomarie Santiago
Seller: Patrick L. Plourde
Date: 10/06/20

26 Winding Lane
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $177,500
Buyer: Justin Preman
Seller: Mark A. Kornacki
Date: 10/16/20

18 Yamaska Road
Springfield, MA 01118
Amount: $320,000
Buyer: Katherine Carrasquillo
Seller: Kirk Weingarten
Date: 10/08/20

SOUTHWICK

14 Bungalow St.
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $205,000
Buyer: Stephen M. Gelgut
Seller: Douglas W. Bradshaw
Date: 10/06/20

325 College Hwy.
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $335,500
Buyer: Christin E. Gingras
Seller: Daniel Warriner
Date: 10/07/20

473 College Hwy.
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $195,000
Buyer: Jacob D. Parker
Seller: Norman H. Storey
Date: 10/16/20

140 Feeding Hills Road
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Christopher Lapan
Seller: Susan R. Laroche
Date: 10/08/20

162 Feeding Hills Road
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $240,000
Buyer: Christian Prosper
Seller: Tomas Kielasinski
Date: 10/14/20

155 Fred Jackson Road
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $475,000
Buyer: Albert J. Rusilowicz
Seller: Michele V. Urban
Date: 10/09/20

24 Knollwood Road
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $181,000
Buyer: Anthony Gaudino
Seller: Russell J. Mercier
Date: 10/09/20

Overlook Lane #34
Southwick, MA 01077
Amount: $205,000
Buyer: Todd Richards
Seller: Joseph F. Baltronis
Date: 10/15/20

WALES

41 Stafford Road
Wales, MA 01081
Amount: $390,000
Buyer: Alan J. Towle
Seller: Serge P. Arel
Date: 10/06/20

37 Union Road
Wales, MA 01081
Amount: $325,000
Buyer: Brian K. Potter
Seller: William J. Matchett
Date: 10/07/20

7 Woodland Heights
Wales, MA 01081
Amount: $165,000
Buyer: Bonnie Kerness
Seller: Cornerstone Homebuying LLC
Date: 10/13/20

WEST SPRINGFIELD

65 Althea St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $217,000
Buyer: Susan Vecchio
Seller: Joyce T. Manchino
Date: 10/13/20

70 Armstrong St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $200,500
Buyer: Joshua L. Lane
Seller: Keith Ondras
Date: 10/14/20

204 Ashley St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $234,000
Buyer: Ter.rell Williams
Seller: Sally S. Amaral
Date: 10/09/20

20 Brightwater St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $255,000
Buyer: Jami D. Filiault
Seller: Cynthia M. Depalma
Date: 10/16/20

38 Cass Ave.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $220,000
Buyer: Vincent Costanzi
Seller: Patrick J. Hourihan
Date: 10/16/20

33 Chapin St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $193,000
Buyer: Jorym Millete-Mercedes
Seller: Liliya Petrovna-Anipko
Date: 10/06/20

208 City View Ave.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $310,000
Buyer: Daniel W. Adams
Seller: Joseph M. Messer
Date: 10/07/20

74-80 Doty Circle
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $260,000
Buyer: John & Lorraine LLC
Seller: Ralph D. Cleveland
Date: 10/09/20

16 Exposition Ter.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $150,000
Buyer: 1312 Memorial Avenue LLC
Seller: Expo Realty LLC
Date: 10/07/20

47 Hampden St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $178,000
Buyer: Anthony M. Podmore
Seller: Shauna N. Seligman
Date: 10/09/20

97 Hampden St.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $265,000
Buyer: William A. Ulasewich
Seller: Linda M. Page
Date: 10/09/20

7 High Meadow Dr.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $330,000
Buyer: Jaclyn Magee
Seller: Mark A. Tokarz
Date: 10/16/20

175 Jeffrey Lane
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $455,000
Buyer: Marco G. Amato
Seller: Ronald P. Campurciani
Date: 10/16/20

107 Lancaster Ave.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $235,000
Buyer: Ricardo T. Wright
Seller: Nancy E. Lane
Date: 10/13/20

88 Old Barn Road
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $300,000
Buyer: Jeanne S. Goodsell
Seller: James J. Flowers
Date: 10/16/20

88 Partridge Lane
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $400,000
Buyer: Maksim Loboda
Seller: Andrey Korniyenko
Date: 10/16/20

118 Pease Ave.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $276,000
Buyer: Emma C. Lewin-Opitz
Seller: Donald B. Berry
Date: 10/09/20

125 South Blvd.
West Springfield, MA 01089
Amount: $139,000
Buyer: Ievgenii Gusiev
Seller: John P. Targonski
Date: 10/05/20

WESTFIELD

32 Allen Ave.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $173,400
Buyer: James Jylkka
Seller: McConnell, Constance M., (Estate)
Date: 10/06/20

188 Apple Blossom Lane
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $188,500
Buyer: Jeffrey Keating
Seller: Deutsche Bank
Date: 10/05/20

8 Birch Bluffs Dr.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $220,000
Buyer: Charles N. Parker
Seller: Roman Radetskyi
Date: 10/16/20

62 Birch Bluffs Dr.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $230,000
Buyer: Daniel H. Estee
Seller: Glenn P. Duperrault
Date: 10/05/20

110 Christopher Dr.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $445,000
Buyer: Bryan Cote
Seller: Christopher Robare
Date: 10/09/20

38 Church St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $230,000
Buyer: Morizio Brothers Mgmt. LLC
Seller: Richard K. Adams
Date: 10/05/20

286 Falley Dr.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $157,183
Buyer: William C. Butcher
Seller: Butcher, Richard H. Sr., (Estate)
Date: 10/06/20

5 Franklin Ave.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $210,000
Buyer: Carlos E. Batlle
Seller: David F. Kellner
Date: 10/07/20

12 Mallard Lane
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $400,000
Buyer: Bento Fernandes
Seller: MaryMargaret Burke
Date: 10/09/20

154 Glenwood Dr.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $600,000
Buyer: Andrey Korniyenko
Seller: Cui X. Lin
Date: 10/15/20

4 King St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $175,000
Buyer: Kelnate Realty LLC
Seller: Assemblies Of God
Date: 10/16/20

85 Larchly Ave.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $236,500
Buyer: Holly Goulet
Seller: Arena, Mary C., (Estate)
Date: 10/13/20

16 Lozier Ave.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Konstantin A. Belyakov
Seller: Gennadiy A. Lisitsin
Date: 10/16/20

410 Montgomery Road
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $477,000
Buyer: Mary M. Burke
Seller: Andrey Rudin
Date: 10/09/20

46 Mountain View St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $305,000
Buyer: Jared M. Hague
Seller: Laurence D. Hunt
Date: 10/05/20

259 Notre Dame St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $217,000
Buyer: Alan Powers
Seller: David M. O’Connell
Date: 10/15/20

48 Orange St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $143,500
Buyer: Backlot Industries LLC
Seller: Mark Sears
Date: 10/08/20

35 Skyline Dr.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $391,000
Buyer: Ronald D. Mack
Seller: Yevgeniy Yunikov
Date: 10/16/20

13 West School St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $219,000
Buyer: Jada M. Wiggins
Seller: Barbara A. Soto
Date: 10/16/20

39 West School St.
Westfield, MA 01085
Amount: $320,000
Buyer: Daniel Malancea
Seller: Mohammad Saleem
Date: 10/16/20

WILBRAHAM

35 Brookside Dr.
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $439,900
Buyer: Kerryann M. Serju
Seller: Wendy S. Coffey
Date: 10/16/20

30 Delmor Ave.
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $259,000
Buyer: John E. Cutler
Seller: Plumtree Real Estate LLC
Date: 10/06/20

159 Main St.
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $217,000
Buyer: Shauneen Coutu
Seller: Jason A. Grondin
Date: 10/16/20

2 Merrill Road
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $290,000
Buyer: Francis Federico
Seller: Lori A. Tetrault
Date: 10/09/20

102 Mountain Road
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $213,000
Buyer: Joshua R. Blanchard
Seller: Ferne Andre
Date: 10/05/20

12 Ruth Dr.
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $380,000
Buyer: Kevin T. Burke
Seller: Lawrence M. Borysyk
Date: 10/16/20

408 Springfield St.
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $273,000
Buyer: Joseph E. Selva
Seller: Scott A. Richard
Date: 10/09/20

648 Stony Hill Road
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Karisa N. Syner
Seller: Chase, Dorothy M., (Estate)
Date: 10/14/20

903 Stony Hill Road
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $200,000
Buyer: Hilario G. Tucker
Seller: Robert L. Page
Date: 10/06/20

1022 Stony Hill Road
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $375,000
Buyer: Clifford Jensen
Seller: Rebecca S. Hurt
Date: 10/09/20

2 Vista Road
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $370,000
Buyer: Daniel Fenton
Seller: James Henriques
Date: 10/06/20

7 Whitford Place
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $550,000
Buyer: Darrin Dwight-Ray
Seller: John Barghout
Date: 10/13/20

9 Woodsley Road
Wilbraham, MA 01095
Amount: $521,000
Buyer: Michael R. Chechile
Seller: Jeanne M. Schmidt
Date: 10/15/20

HAMPSHIRE COUNTY

AMHERST

104 Belchertown Road
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $367,000
Buyer: Nora Junaid
Seller: Dana Corson
Date: 10/16/20

99 Chestnut St.
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $420,000
Buyer: Jessica J. Somers
Seller: Owen Shufeldt
Date: 10/16/20

156 Columbia Dr.
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $422,000
Buyer: Raj K. Shahi
Seller: Ranju Shahi
Date: 10/06/20

50 East Leverett Road
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $335,700
Buyer: Mehran Pouresmail
Seller: Patricia A. Leitch
Date: 10/15/20

19 Glendale Road
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $285,000
Buyer: Lori S. Colliander
Seller: Nghia H. Le
Date: 10/13/20

87 Harlow Dr.
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $300,000
Buyer: Mariano C. Carmona
Seller: David D. Hixon
Date: 10/14/20

18 Hickory Lane
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $395,000
Buyer: Daniel Lawren
Seller: Nina C. Bonazzi
Date: 10/15/20

590 Middle St.
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $465,000
Buyer: Julian M. Marinus
Seller: Richard L. Last
Date: 10/15/20

169 Northampton Road
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $350,000
Buyer: Michael M. MacDonald
Seller: Whaples, Miriam K., (Estate)
Date: 10/05/20

826 South East St.
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $434,000
Buyer: Abraham Marder
Seller: Jie Liang
Date: 10/15/20

Trillium Way
Amherst, MA 01002
Amount: $151,000
Buyer: Amir Mikhchi
Seller: Marion A. Waskiewicz RET
Date: 10/07/20

BELCHERTOWN

310 Bardwell St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $385,000
Buyer: Jacob W. Walker
Seller: Gary A. Bosselait
Date: 10/15/20

301 Boardman St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $385,000
Buyer: Geremias P. Encarnacion
Seller: Sergey Savonin
Date: 10/06/20

4 Daniel Square Ext.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $255,000
Buyer: Timothy Merchant
Seller: Nepus, Paul James, (Estate)
Date: 10/06/20

81 Gulf Road
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $424,000
Buyer: Khiran M. Raj
Seller: Leslie J. Franks
Date: 10/07/20

170 Jackson St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $435,000
Buyer: Carmen S. Wallace
Seller: David M. Clegg
Date: 10/16/20

491 Michael Sears Road
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $240,000
Buyer: Benjamin S. Duby
Seller: Richard E. Duby
Date: 10/13/20

115 North Main St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $195,000
Buyer: James Bachand
Seller: Barbara W. Freed RET
Date: 10/07/20

19 Robin Lane
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $328,500
Buyer: Richard S. Ethier
Seller: Joydell Cebula
Date: 10/15/20

24 Rockrimmon St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $570,000
Buyer: Nicholas J. Moynihan
Seller: Jeffrey D. Odom
Date: 10/15/20

442 Warren Wright Road
Belchertown, MA 01007
Amount: $235,000
Buyer: Sara E. Laplante
Seller: G. E&M N. Lobenstine LT
Date: 10/16/20

CUMMINGTON

17 West Main St.
Cummington, MA 01026
Amount: $208,200
Buyer: Chelsea A. Lepak
Seller: Kaitlyn M. Myers
Date: 10/16/20

EASTHAMPTON

Colonial Ave.
Easthampton, MA 01027
Amount: $135,000
Buyer: W. Marek Inc.
Seller: Donna L. Wain
Date: 10/09/20

27 Drury Lane
Easthampton, MA 01027
Amount: $150,000
Buyer: Elizabeth Jackson
Seller: Cheryle A. Campbell
Date: 10/05/20

204 Loudville Road
Easthampton, MA 01027
Amount: $315,000
Buyer: Alice Lee
Seller: Erin Wheeler-Zimbler
Date: 10/15/20

420 Main St.
Easthampton, MA 01027
Amount: $270,000
Buyer: Brahm Alaaiod
Seller: Steven J. Fickert
Date: 10/15/20

24 Morin Dr.
Easthampton, MA 01027
Amount: $273,000
Buyer: Jacquelyn Claver
Seller: Mark A. Dean
Date: 10/13/20

GRANBY

17 Easton St.
Granby, MA 01033
Amount: $277,000
Buyer: Robert W. Driscoll
Seller: Susan T. Pratt
Date: 10/06/20

65 West St.
Granby, MA 01033
Amount: $190,000
Buyer: Benjamin A. Surner
Seller: Barbara A. Laramie
Date: 10/16/20

HADLEY

198 River Dr.
Hadley, MA 01035
Amount: $218,000
Buyer: Matthew D. Kushi
Seller: Mary R. Kushi
Date: 10/05/20

Stockbridge St.
Hadley, MA 01035
Amount: $300,000
Buyer: Walter J. Czajkowski
Seller: Henry & Linda Fil LT
Date: 10/13/20

5 Sunrise Dr.
Hadley, MA 01035
Amount: $405,000
Buyer: Maiya L. Otsuka
Seller: Jody E. Devine
Date: 10/15/20

HUNTINGTON

24 Allen Coit Road
Huntington, MA 01050
Amount: $150,000
Buyer: Andrea A. Jordan-Amberg
Seller: USA HUD
Date: 10/05/20

253 Goss Hill Road
Huntington, MA 01050
Amount: $136,000
Buyer: Sue A. Fopiano
Seller: Frederick R. Fopiano
Date: 10/06/20

NORTHAMPTON

115 Audubon Road
Northampton, MA 01053
Amount: $675,000
Buyer: Rachel M. Koppelman
Seller: Dikinson, Nancy W., (Estate)
Date: 10/14/20

42 Bliss St.
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $258,000
Buyer: Michele L. Ruschhaupt
Seller: Bliss Hampshire TR
Date: 10/06/20

174 Bridge Road
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $325,000
Buyer: Angela M. Ditaranto
Seller: Kathleen Poklewski
Date: 10/07/20

294 Cardinal Way
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $535,000
Buyer: Andrea Agliati
Seller: Thomas A. Miranda
Date: 10/09/20

226 Emerson Way
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $739,077
Buyer: Richard L. Last
Seller: Sunwood Development Corp.
Date: 10/15/20

238 Emerson Way
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $147,000
Buyer: Ann-Marie Starck
Seller: Rosemund LLC
Date: 10/09/20

526 Florence Road
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $607,000
Buyer: Suri B. Roth-Katz
Seller: Darien Mcfadden
Date: 10/14/20

717 Florence Road
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $228,965
Buyer: Great Barrington Sunoco
Seller: David S. Smokler
Date: 10/15/20

Hockanum Road
Northampton, MA 01060
Amount: $605,000
Buyer: Steven J. Niedbala
Seller: Grygorcewicz, Joseph P., (Estate)
Date: 10/16/20

59 Ice Pond Dr.
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $579,000
Buyer: Elizabeth D. Simpson
Seller: Nu-Way Homes Inc.
Date: 10/16/20

20 Pine St.
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $400,000
Buyer: Jane E. Dalton
Seller: James J. Cronin
Date: 10/05/20

398 Pleasant St.
Northampton, MA 01060
Amount: $605,000
Buyer: Steven J. Niedbala
Seller: Grygorcewicz, Joseph P., (Estate)
Date: 10/16/20

408 Pleasant St.
Northampton, MA 01060
Amount: $605,000
Buyer: Steven J. Niedbala
Seller: Grygorcewicz, Joseph P., (Estate)
Date: 10/16/20

91 Round Hill Road
Northampton, MA 01060
Amount: $1,372,500
Buyer: Shanthi Thomas
Seller: A. Kim Saal
Date: 10/09/20

129 Sandy Hill Road
Northampton, MA 01062
Amount: $261,000
Buyer: Jennifer Brunton
Seller: Peter J. Clogston
Date: 10/07/20

112 Washington Ave.
Northampton, MA 01060
Amount: $1,110,000
Buyer: D. A&J Westcott 2012 FT
Seller: Sanford Bloomberg RET
Date: 10/14/20

PLAINFIELD

1 Pleasant St.
Plainfield, MA 01070
Amount: $250,000
Buyer: Jamie M. Wooldridge
Seller: Thatcher, Arthur C., (Estate)
Date: 10/09/20

63 South Central St.
Plainfield, MA 01070
Amount: $260,000
Buyer: Samantha J. Tomao
Seller: Jamie M. Wooldridge
Date: 10/07/20

SOUTH HADLEY

19 Foch Ave.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $240,000
Buyer: Joseph A. Roxo
Seller: Robert J. Poirier
Date: 10/09/20

36 Lathrop St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $243,000
Buyer: Brittany L. Caouette
Seller: Robert A. Methot
Date: 10/16/20

11 Laurie Ave.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $259,000
Buyer: Kyle J. Callahan
Seller: Marissa Montemagni
Date: 10/08/20

298 Newton St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $790,000
Buyer: Joseph A. Marois
Seller: Careys Flowers Inc.
Date: 10/09/20

300 Newton St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $790,000
Buyer: Joseph A. Marois
Seller: Careys Flowers Inc.
Date: 10/09/20

302 Newton St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $790,000
Buyer: Joseph A. Marois
Seller: Careys Flowers Inc.
Date: 10/09/20

33 North Main St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $290,000
Buyer: Linda Taylor
Seller: Michal P. Kosciolek
Date: 10/09/20

50 Prospect St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $316,000
Buyer: Samuel T. Clarke
Seller: Scot M. Duguay
Date: 10/15/20

11 Queen Circle
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $177,500
Buyer: Laurabeth Parent
Seller: Consolini, Laura P., (Estate)
Date: 10/16/20

11 Saybrook Circle
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $263,000
Buyer: Frederick C. Kielbasa
Seller: Robert C. Wallace
Date: 10/15/20

15 Sycamore Knolls
South Hadley, MA 01075
Amount: $290,000
Buyer: Alexandria Moriarty
Seller: June M. Beattie
Date: 10/16/20

SOUTHAMPTON

45 Gilbert Road
Southampton, MA 01073
Amount: $449,900
Buyer: Jacob E. Gold
Seller: Michael J. Trusas
Date: 10/16/20

62 Gilbert Road
Southampton, MA 01073
Amount: $350,000
Buyer: Peter M. Gregg
Seller: Mary A. Jasinski
Date: 10/06/20

Quigley Road
Southampton, MA 01073
Amount: $120,000
Buyer: Harold A. Butson
Seller: Pellegrini Development LLC
Date: 10/08/20

WARE

4 Crescent St.
Ware, MA 01082
Amount: $219,000
Buyer: Wendy Howes
Seller: Judy A. Cerrone
Date: 10/09/20

5-A&B Mirabile Dr.
Ware, MA 01082
Amount: $299,900
Buyer: Sultana Anton
Seller: Carrie A. Alley
Date: 10/06/20

256 Greenwich Road
Ware, MA 01082
Amount: $375,000
Buyer: Jonathan T. Orzech
Seller: Douglas R. Koczur
Date: 10/15/20

24 Pleasant St.
Ware, MA 01082
Amount: $218,000
Buyer: Steven A. Click
Seller: Rafael Capellan-Polanco
Date: 10/16/20

23 Shoreline Dr.
Ware, MA 01082
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Jeremiah Blankenbaker
Seller: Rebecca A. Berg
Date: 10/15/20

WESTHAMPTON

Blueberry Hill Road #7
Westhampton, MA 01027
Amount: $122,500
Buyer: Martin M. Downey
Seller: Patrick Properties LLC
Date: 10/14/20

WILLIAMSBURG

5 Deer Haven Dr.
Williamsburg, MA 01039
Amount: $675,900
Buyer: Peter F. Falco
Seller: Jihong Tang
Date: 10/05/20

WORTHINGTON

23 Sam Hill Road
Worthington, MA 01098
Amount: $275,000
Buyer: Seamus P. Cullen
Seller: Dustin Donovan
Date: 10/09/20

Building Permits

The following building permits were issued during the month of October 2020. (Filings are limited due to closures or reduced staffing hours at municipal offices due to COVID-19 restrictions).

AMHERST

Arbors at Amherst, LP
130 University Dr.
$172,500 — Roofing

Winter Light Properties, LLC
264 North Pleasant St.
$5,000 — Repairs to cupola

CHICOPEE

1890 Chicopee, LLC
154 School St.
$8,000 — Roofing

Chicopee Provision Co.
19 Sitarz Ave.
$93,200 — Roofing

Dhanya Real Estate Holdings, LLC
21 Bay State Road
$100,000 — Finish previously started elevator shaft and finish second-floor office space

Zhen Yun Dong
108 West St.
$65,000 — Remodel retail space for new restaurant, remodel women’s restroom, install new fixtures, sushi bar, update plumbing and electrical

Dorothy Krawiec
2 Valier Ave.
$25,000 — Remove and replace three antennas and six remote radio heads

Mike Laser Enterprises, LLC
675 Fuller Road
$11,200 — Install fire alarm

LEE

Town of Lee
385 Pleasant St.
$48,500 — Roofing on salt shed

LENOX

Boston Symphony Orchestra
30 Richmond Mountain Road
$40,000 — Replace north foundation wall

GL&V USA Inc.
175 Crystal St.
$48,000 — Roof repair

Craig Switzer
2 Holmes Road
$12,500 — Roofing

NORTHAMPTON

Cosenzi Automotive Realty, LP
48 Damon Road
$1,500 — Non-illuminated front wall sign

City of Northampton
33 Hockanum Road
Upgrades and repairs to multiple wastewater-treatment plant systems

City of Northampton
212 Main St.
$3,682 — Form alcove for bottle-filling station

Maura Glennon
17 Main St.
$4,300 — Add service/pickup window with overhanging room and steps

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
99 King St.
$275,000 — Add parking lot, replace concrete stairs and ramp, and add lighting

PITTSFIELD

195 South St.
Edwin Helitzer
$81,178 — Roofing

395 North, LLC
391 North St.
$2,500 — Spot repoint mortar on building exterior as needed

Cafua Realty Trust CXXVI, LLC
18 First St.
$5,500 — Remove and replace drive-thru menu-board footing

Four Industrial Drive, LLC
4 Industrial Dr.
$152,254 — Add paint booth and paint-mixing room to interior of building

Macfarlane Family Partners, LP
190 South St.
$66,113 — Remodel interior finishes

One Hundred One South Street
101 South St.
$227,132 — Demolish existing first-floor HVAC system, install new HVAC system

SPRINGFIELD

401 Liberty Street, LLC
10 Heywood St.
$41,800 — Alter space for new Friends of the Homeless emergency shelter for men, alter another space for supervision area and two toilets

1780 HCHQ Inc.
1780 Main St.
$175,000 — Install fire-alarm system at Way Finders

Gogri Inc.
740 Boston Road
$225,000 — Repair fire-damaged gas station, build addition, install new roof system

Francisco Gonzalez
2924 Main St.
$3,500 — Repair block wall

MGM Springfield Redevelopment, LLC
1028 Main St.
$354,917 — Install fire-alarm system for Walhburgers

Northgate Center, LLC
1985 Main St.
$150,000 — Alter tenant space for Center for Human Development training center

Miguel Pedrosa
2530 Main St.
$15,000 — Roofing

Solutia Inc.
730 Worcester St.
$1,110,000 — Repair commercial roof covering on Building 89, Eastman Co.

WILBRAHAM

2034-2040 Boston Road, LLP
2034 Boston Road
$3,845 — Sign for Garvey’s Nutrition, Energy, Lifestyle

Stony Hill Road Realty, LLC
805 Stony Hill Road
$20,000 — Remove and replace six antennas, remove additional three antennas

Agenda

A+ Awards Show

Nov. 12: The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce 2020 A+ Awards Show will be held virtually and broadcast live from Hadley Farms Meeting House, with PeoplesBank serving as presenting sponsor. Each year, the chamber gives A+ Awards to individuals and organizations that enrich the life of the community through their work in education, business, and civic engagement in Amherst, Belchertown, Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, Sunderland, and the Pioneer Valley as a whole. This year’s honorees include Betsey McInnis (Lifetime Achievement Award), Phoenix Fruit Farm of Belchertown (Leader in Innovation Award), Kestrel Land Trust of Amherst (Leader in Sustainability Award), Ash Crawford, director of Operations at Amherst Coffee (Young Professional Award), Mercedes-Benz of Springfield (Community Service Award), and Lisa Eugin of Encharter Insurance (Chamber MVP). New this year is the COVID Hero, a nonprofit or individual who provided essential support services, went above and beyond, and took initiative to put others before self to benefit the greater good. Live voting will take place to choose a winner from the following organizations and individuals: Amherst Survival Center, Arizona Pizza, Bistro 63, Mary Beth Ogulewicz of the Amherst Senior Center, Rebekah Demling of ARPS PGO, and Wheelhouse Catering. Also new this year, David Jeffway, owner of Sharper Vision, will create video tributes for each awardee. A virtual access pass to the view the live awards show costs $20, or a $50 VIP package includes the virtual access pass, a $25 Amherst-area gift certificate, a hard copy of the 2020 A+ Awards Journal, and sponsor gifts. Registration is open, and A+ Award dinner sponsorships and ads are still available for the virtual extravaganza; for more information, visit amherstarea.com. E-mail Pazmany at [email protected] with any inquiries.

 

Bright Nights at Forest Park

Nov. 25 to Jan. 3: Bright Nights at Forest Park will take place this year. Spirit of Springfield and the city of Springfield have developed protocols to provide a safe and festive event that has been a holiday tradition since 1995. They will be instituted during setup, breakdown, and during the event, and include masks, regular cleaning, online ticketing, and more. Restrooms will be for emergency use only, and the usual bustling gift shop, amusement rides, horse-drawn wagon and carriage rides, and visits and supper with Santa will not be available. This will help keep all visitors safe and socially distanced in their vehicles during the experience. Bright Nights at Forest Park is three miles of a unique holiday experience featuring more than 675,000 lights and iconic displays like Seuss Land, Everett Barney Mansion, Toy Land, Happy Holidays, Springfield, and so many more. It generates $15 million in economic impact annually and has created a lifetime of family memories in its 25-year history. It also promises to be one of the safest events, with families contained in their cars. Admission will be $23 per car weeknights, weekdays, and holidays. Discounted tickets will be available at participating Big Y World Class Markets for $16.50. Due to bus-capacity limitations in Massachusetts, admission for buses has been reduced to $100 for buses with capacity of more than 30 people. Vehicles with seating from 17 to 30 people will be charged $50 for admission.

 

Healthcare Heroes

Nov. 18: 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. 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 have emerged as true heroes during this crisis. The gala celebrating the winners will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel in two separate events because of state restrictions on crowd size. The first event will honor the staff at Holyoke Medical Center; Christopher Savino, Emeline Bean, and Lydia Brisson, clinical liaisons for Berkshire Healthcare Systems; Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, director of Spiritual Life at JGS Lifecare; the Nutrition Department at Greater Springfield Senior Services Inc.; and Friends of the Homeless. The second cohort includes Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health; the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst; Maggie Eboso, Infection Control and Prevention coordinator at Mercy Medical Center; Jennifer Graham, home health aide at O’Connell Care at Home; and Helen Gobeil, staffing supervisor at Visiting Angels West Springfield. Tickets cost $90 per person. To make a reservation, contact Jennifer Godaire at (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or [email protected]. The Healthcare Heroes program is sponsored by Elms College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health and Health New England (presenting sponsor), and partner sponsors Bulkley Richardson, Comcast Business, and Trinity Health New England/Mercy Medical Center.

 

Business Talk Podcast Special Coverage

We are excited to announce that BusinessWest, in partnership with Living Local, has launched a new podcast series, BusinessTalk. Each episode will feature in-depth interviews and discussions with local industry leaders, providing thoughtful perspectives on the Western Massachuetts economy and the many business ventures that keep it running during these challenging times.

Episode 36: Oct. 26, 2020

George talks with Nate Costa, president of the Springfield Thunderbirds

Nate Costa

BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien talks with Nate Costa, president of the Springfield Thunderbirds. The two discuss the fate of the upcoming season and the factors that will determine if, when, and under what circumstances games might again be played. They also discuss the importance of the team to the ongoing efforts to revitalize Springfield, and how the Thunderbirds stay relevant during this ultra-challenging time. It’s must listening, so join us on BusinessTalk.

 

Also Available On

Business Talk Podcast Special Coverage

We are excited to announce that BusinessWest, in partnership with Living Local, has launched a new podcast series, BusinessTalk. Each episode will feature in-depth interviews and discussions with local industry leaders, providing thoughtful perspectives on the Western Massachuetts economy and the many business ventures that keep it running during these challenging times.

Episode 34: Oct. 12, 2020

George O’Brien talks with Pam Victor, founder of Happier Valley Comedy

George O’Brien talks with Pam Victor, founder of Happier Valley Comedy, about her unique business, which focuses on improvisation and resilience training to help with professional development, how she’s had to pivot during the pandemic …. and also about how to stay positive, as difficult as that is, during these difficult times for all those in business. It’s must listening, so join us on BusinessTalk.

 

Also Available On

Business Talk Podcast

We are excited to announce that BusinessWest, in partnership with Living Local, has launched a new podcast series, BusinessTalk. Each episode will feature in-depth interviews and discussions with local industry leaders, providing thoughtful perspectives on the Western Massachuetts economy and the many business ventures that keep it running during these challenging times.

Episode 32: Oct. 5, 2020

George Interviews Sandra Doran, President of Bay Path University

In this episode of BusinessTalk, BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien talks with Sandra Doran, president of Bay Path University. In a wide-ranging interview, the two discuss everything from COVID and its impact on campus life, to the many challenges already facing higher education before the pandemic, to the many ways in which COVID may ultimately change the higher education ‘experience.’

Also Available On

Cover Story Special Coverage

The Business of Pivoting

Nicole Ortiz, founder and president of Crave Food Truck

Nicole Ortiz, founder and president of Crave Food Truck

Nicole Ortiz remembers a lot of people having some serious doubts about whether she should go forward with her plans to put a food truck into operation late last spring.

After all, it was the middle of a pandemic, people were staying home, the economy was tanking, and the restaurant business, perhaps more than any other, was suffering mightily.

But Ortiz, a graduate of the Culinary Arts program at Holyoke Community College, was determined to make her dream, which she would call Crave, become reality — pandemic or not.

She had already acquired the vehicle itself, and her experience in the accelerator program operated by EforAll Holyoke had given her the confidence (and technical know-how) to get her show — a food truck specializing in Puerto Rican cuisine — on the road … literally.

Problem was, it was not business as usual when it came to securing the needed approvals and permits from city officials.

“It was even difficult to speak with officials from cities because people weren’t working as much, and you couldn’t even get into city halls,” she said. “Everything has to be mailed in, which takes … as long as that takes. Meanwhile, a lot of cities don’t have ways to do this online; you can’t e-mail them or submit a form online. You have to mail it in, and that took a while.”

But Ortiz persevered, and opened for business just over a month ago. Her truck, usually parked on Race Street, not far from the Cubit Building and just a few blocks from the computing center, is actually exceeding goals set higher than most everyone she knows thought were reasonable.

Successful launches in the middle of COVID-19 are certainly rare, and for most area entrepreneurs, especially those trying to get a concept off the ground or to the next level, these are challenging times, when the focus is on pivoting and adjusting to meet changing needs and changing ways of doing things.

Juan and Elsie Vasquez, owners of 413 Family Fitness

Juan and Elsie Vasquez, owners of 413 Family Fitness, are like many small-business owners in that they have had to pivot during the pandemic and create new revenue streams.

In most all ways, the same can be said of the region’s entrepreneurship ecosystem itself, which specializes mostly on programs focused on people gathering in large numbers or sitting across a table from one another — things that can’t be done during a pandemic. Agencies within the ecosystem have been pivoting and adjusting as well.

This is especially true of Valley Venture Mentors (VVM), the nonprofit based in Springfield’s Innovation Center, which is in the midst of what interim Director Chris Bignelli, a partner with the Alchemy Fund, calls a ‘reset.’

That’s the word he chose to describe a retrenching after most of the agency’s staff members left within a week of each other last spring, and after COVID prevented it from staging any of the large gatherings for which it became known — not only here, but across the state and beyond.

“Our mentors advise entrepreneurs about the importance of pivoting and changing directions when needed, and we’re doing the same,” he said, adding that the pandemic and other forces are compelling the agency to look inward and find new and perhaps different ways to provide value to entrepreneurs while also providing support to other agencies and initiatives within the ecosystem.

“For a while there, it really felt like we were kind of providing therapy to small-business owners.”

As VVM resets and reinvents, though, work within the ecosystem goes on during these trying times — despite COVID, and in many cases in an effort to help business owners survive it.

People like Juan and Elsie Vasquez. They operate 413 Family Fitness in Holyoke, a business that, like most all gyms, was devastated by the pandemic. With help from those at EforAll Holyoke, the couple has pivoted to everything from outdoor classes to staging quinceañeras, or sweet-15 birthdays (a tradition among Hispanics), and leasing out their space to third parties (more on that later).

Meanwhile, another initiative within the ecosystem, WIT — Women Innovators and Trailblazers — is continuing its mentoring program despite COVID, and is preparing to embark on its third cohort of matches.

Leah Kent

Leah Kent says the mentor she’s been matched with through the WIT program, Melissa Paciulli, has helped her set firm goals for her business and move out of her comfort zone.

The second cohort, featuring 45 teams, up from 20 in the first, was started just before the pandemic shut things down, noted Ann Burke, vice president of the the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts and one of the architects of the program, adding that she had some concerns about whether those matches could withstand COVID and its highly disruptive nature.

But for the most part, the partnerships persevered, and many have the legs to continue even after the formal program is over.

“We were really trying to see what would happen with the cohort and how they would respond with all that was happening,” said Burke. “I thought most of them would just throw up their hands and say, ‘we can’t do this’ amid all the business issues, personal issues, and issues at home. But for the most part, that’s not what happened.”

For this issue, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at the local entrepreneurship ecosystem and how it is carrying on through the pandemic, providing more evidence of its importance to the region.

Keep on Trucking

Flashing back several months and then fast-forwarding to today, Ortiz described the process of opening with a single word — ‘crazy.’

That sentiment applied to everything from getting her truck outfitted for the road — meaning wrapped with her logo and fully equipped — to buying all the supplies she needed (which meant going to the grocery store a number of times), to getting those aforementioned permits and approvals. Work started later than she wanted, and everything was made more difficult by the pandemic.

“Most of March and half of April, I called a halt to everything,” she said, noting that she bought the truck in February, but, because of the pandemic — and also the fact that she was still in school, which was also more complicated — she wasn’t able to advance her plans. “And then I started to feel more comfortable, and by the end of the April, I was going full speed.”

Or at least the speed at which City Hall would allow her to travel.

Now that she’s open, all that craziness seems like a distant memory, and business is, as she noted, exceeding expectations.

“We’ve been busy every day, and we usually sell out by the end of the day,” she said, noting that Craze features tacos, rice bowls, vegetarian and vegan dishes, and more, and uses social media to connect with potential customers. “COVID might actually be helping because people don’t want to go to restaurants.”

She credits EforAll — she was the first-place winner in its recent winter accelerator — with helping her get the doors open, especially with such matters as insurance and accounting, but also focusing on the model she wanted and the service she wanted to provide.

And such work is carrying on in the COVID-19 era, although it’s somewhat different and also in some ways more challenging, said Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, executive director of EforAll.

“We’ve been really fortunate that we can continue to offer a lot of the services that we provided before the pandemic in a virtual format,” she explained. “And we made that pivot very quickly, out of necessity.”

Elaborating, she said the agency was in the final stages of its winter cohort when the pandemic hit, and quickly shifted to not only a virtual platform, but a somewhat different purpose as it helped both those cohort members and other small businesses cope with everything that was happening.

“For a while there, it really felt like we were kind of providing therapy to small-business owners,” she explained. “We felt like there were a lot of things out of our control, but what we did want to do was support them, whether it was with help navigating PPP loans or even just applying for unemployment. We were doing a lot of one-on-one support and just helping people however we could.”

“It gives people a place to come and brainstorm as a group and impose that accountability that can sometimes be missing when you’re running your own venture.”

And such help was certainly needed, she said, adding that, in the case of PPP, many small businesses didn’t know if they were eligible, and if they were, they certainly needed assistance with paperwork that most established businesses turned over to a seasoned accountant. Meanwhile, a number of local, state, and federal grant programs emerged, and small businesses needed help identifying which ones might be appropriate and then navigating the application process.

Beyond that, EforAll also helped some businesses identify ways to pivot and find new revenue streams in the middle of a pandemic, Murphy-Romboletti said, adding that such assistance was provided to restaurants — helping them move beyond takeout and Grubhub, for example — and to other kinds of ventures, like 413 Family Fitness, which is one of those businesses that just ‘graduated’ from the most recent accelerator.

Like all fitness centers across the state, this operation had to shut down back in the spring, said Elsie Vasquez, forcing the company to pivot. It did so by offering classes online, then a shift to outdoor classes, more one-on-one personal training, and finally a reopening of the studio in July, with a host of restrictions.

“We’ve even done some space rental to bring in some revenue,” she told BusinessWest, adding that EforAll has been invaluable in helping to not only identify ways to generate business, but make them reality.

“The biggest thing we learned is that we have to pivot our business,” she explained. “We came in with an idea of what we wanted to do, and it’s been working out OK, but EforAll really opened our eyes to the fact that we have to think differently, and that your beginning result may not be your end result.”

In Good Company

While companies are pivoting, so too are some of the agencies within the ecosystem that serves them. And VVM is probably the best example.

Hope Gibaldi, who was serving the agency in a part-time role when the pandemic hit and is now full-time, serving as engagement manager, told BusinessWest that the agency has had to readjust as a result of the pandemic and its inability to stage the large gatherings it became known for.

Meanwhile, is doing what its mentors advise entrepreneurs to do — assess needs within the community and go about meeting them.

“There were listening sessions prior to the pandemic,” she noted, “and we’ve been taking the priorities identified during those sessions with an eye toward addressing them, while also trying to figure out how we can continue to provide value to entrepreneurs during COVID and what programming might look like when we come out of COVID.”

Elaborating, she said hybrid models blending in-person and remote programming are being considered, while, in the meantime, the agency is creating ways to bring people together on a remote basis to share ideas and work through common problems.

One such program is the introduction — or reintroduction, to be more precise — of ‘Entrepreneurial Roundtables,’ a peer-led “accountability group,” as she called it, that meets via Zoom.

“It’s a place where mentors and entrepreneurs can come and address their challenges,” Gibaldi explained. “It gives people a place to come and brainstorm as a group and impose that accountability that can sometimes be missing when you’re running your own venture.”

Other initiatives already in place or in the planning stages, she said, include everything from the agency’s once-thriving Community Nights (now handled remotely) to expert-in-industry mentorship, to a book club, to be launched in January, focusing on offerings in entrepreneurship, marketing, personal and professional growth, and more.

Overall, VVM looks a little different, but its mission hasn’t changed, Gibaldi said, adding that it is working to partner with other agencies and initiatives within the ecosystem to help them succeed.

One example is WIT, and helping to recruit mentors for that program, which has thus far created dozens of effective matches.

Leah Kent and Melissa Paciulli comprise one such match. The former is a writer and book designer who also helps other writers with the process of getting published, while the latter is director of the STEM Starter Academy at Holyoke Community College. Kent described the relationship as an intriguing, and effective, collision of science and creativity.

“We can understand each other quite well, but we bring different strengths,” she explained. “That complementary pairing has been so fantastic. In my work, she’s really honed in on the way that I help readers finish their manuscripts and get their work published.”

The two were part of the cohort that launched last March; the kickoff gathering was on March 12, and the next day, schools were shut down, and much of the business world ground to a halt. Kent’s original mentor was not able to continue participating because of the pandemic, so she was reassigned, if that’s the right word, to Paciulli, whom she credits with taking her outside her comfort zone and helping her set the bar higher professionally and personally.

Paciulli said Kent is her second match through WIT, and one of many business owners and students she has mentored over the years. She finds the work invigorating and rewarding, especially when the mentee is coachable and open-minded — like Kent.

“When you’re working with entrepreneurs and they’re coachable, and they take action on your direction, because it’s an iterative process of finding your product, getting it to market, and pivoting when you need to … it’s a super-cool experience to be part of one’s journey in that way,” she said. “When they’re coachable and they’re action-oriented — and she is — it’s awesome.”

Where There’s a Will…

Summing up what the past seven months or so have been like for entrepreneurs and small businesses, Murphy-Romboletti said it’s been a continuous run of challenges that have tested them — and her agency — in every way imaginable.

In many ways, COVID-19 and everything it has thrown at these businesses only reinforces what she pretty much already knew.

“What always inspires me about entrepreneurs is that, if you tell them ‘no,’ they just say, ‘OK, let me find out a way to make this work,’” she said.

Many have been doing just that, providing more evidence of their resiliency and more reminders of the importance of the entrepreneurship ecosystem to this region and its future.

The pandemic has slowed some things down and added to the already-long list of hurdles entrepreneurs have to clear, but it certainly hasn’t stopped people like Nicole Ortiz — and countless others — from getting down to business.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Class of 2020 Event Galleries Special Coverage

It was a different kind of event, to be sure, but BusinessWest’s Difference Makers class of 2020 was celebrated in style on Sept. 24 at the Upper Vista at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. Honorees, their guests, and sponsors were in attendance at an event where safety and social distancing were paramount, while hundreds more took in the ceremonies remotely. Download the Program Guide HERE

Difference Makers is sponsored by Burkhart Pizzanelli, Mercy Medical Center, The Royal Law Firm, and TommyCar Auto Group, while the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, MHA, and United Way of Pioneer Valley are partners.

The 2020 Virtual Event

Scenes from the 2020 Event

2020 Difference Makers

Christopher ‘Monte’ Belmonte

DJ at WRSI the River Radio

His March is Changing
The Conversation
on Food Insecurity

Ira Bryck

Consultant and Former Executive Director of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley

He’s Helped Create
Fun, Imaginative
Learning Experiences

Sandy Cassanelli

CEO of Greeno Supply

She’s Fighting to Find a Cure for Metastatic Breast Cancer

Dianne
Fuller Doherty

Retired Director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center

She’s Retired … but Not from Her Role as a Difference Maker

Ronn Johnson

President and CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Inc.

This Community Leader
Has Tackled Many Roles
With a Sense of Purpose

Steve Lowell

President and CEO of
Monson Savings Bank

Giving Back Has Always Been a Big Part of His Life — and His Work

Rick’s Place

This Unique Nonprofit Provides Support, Light in the Darkest of Times

2020 Sponsor Videos

2020 Sponsors

Pay it Forward Non-Profit Partners


Photography for this special section by Leah Martin Photography

Opinion

Editorial

Over the years, we’ve written a number of times about the importance of promoting entrepreneurship and mentoring those trying to start and grow their own businesses.

This component of economic development, one that is often overlooked amid efforts to attract large businesses, open new industrial parks, and grow new business sectors like biotech, is vital because small businesses have always been the key to the growth and vitality of individual communities and regions like Western Mass.

Just as important, these small businesses — everything from restaurants to dry-cleaning establishments; from dance studios to clothing stores — help give these communities their identity and make them more livable.

And that’s why we’ve been a strong supporter of what has become a movement of sorts in this region to encourage entrepreneurship and help those who have made the decision to put their name over the door — figuratively if not, in many cases, literally. Within this movement has been the creation and development of what’s been called the entrepreneurship ecosystem, which has many moving parts, from agencies that support entrepreneurs to colleges with programs in this subject, to venture-capital firms that provide the vital fuel to help businesses get to the next stage.

This ecosystem has always been important, but it’s perhaps even more important now in the middle of this pandemic. That’s because — and you know this already, but we need to remind you — a large number of small businesses are imperiled by this crisis. Their survival is not assured by any means, and as the calendar turns to fall — with winter not far behind and no relief in sight from this pandemic — uncertainty about the fate of many businesses only grows.

As the story on page 6 reveals, agencies and individuals that are part of the ecosystem have been working to help businesses navigate their way through this whitewater, be it with help securing a grant from the local chamber of commerce or a Paycheck Protection Program loan, or making a successful pivot to a different kind of service or a new twist on an old one that would help with all-important cash flow.

Meanwhile, the work of mentoring those in business or trying to get into business goes on, often with powerful results, as that same story recounts. Initiatives such as WIT (Women Innovators and Trailblazers) creates matches that provide rewards to both parties, but especially the young (and, in some cases, not so young) women working to turn ideas into businesses and smaller businesses into larger, more established ventures.

It would have been easy to put such initiatives on the shelf for several months until the pandemic passes, but we don’t know when it’s going to pass, and the business, if we want to call it that, of supporting people like Nicole Ortiz, who recently put her food truck on the road in Holyoke, and Leah Kent, who wants to grow her business that supports writers and helps them get works published, must go on.

And it does, because, as we said, the creation and development of small businesses isn’t just one component of economic-development activity in this region; it is perhaps the most important component of all. v

Picture This

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


 

First Responders Luncheon

The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce recently hosted its annual First Responders Luncheon. Pictured below, from top to bottom: chamber board members and event organizers (from left) Hannah Rechtschaffen of the Mill District, Beth Pearson of Pearson Wallace Insurance, and Heidi Flanders of Integrity Development and Construction, gather outside Pasta E Basta to receive fresh lunches to deliver to first responders in seven communities the chamber serves; Amherst firefighters and EMTs gather for lunch at North Station, flanked by Rechtschaffen and Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber; Pearson (left) delivers meals to the Leverett Police and Fire departments.

 

 

 


 

Strike Out Hunger

KFC was the presenting sponsor of the Westfield Starfires Strike Out Hunger Campaign, donating $10 for every strikeout at Bullens Field during the 2020 season. $1,500 was presented at the Starfires season finale to benefit the Westfield Boys & Girls Club summer meals program. Pictured: Starfires Manager Tony Deshler, Director of Baseball Operations Evan Moorhouse, Westfield Boys and Girls Club Chief Advancement Officer Bo Sullivan, Starfires co-owner Christopher Thompson, Westfield Boys & Girls Club CEO Bill Parks, and Starfires pitcher of the year and strikeout leader Chase Jeter.

 

 

 

 


 

Wealth Management

Shared Expertise

Empower Retirement and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual) announced they have entered into a definitive agreement for Empower to acquire the MassMutual retirement-plan business. The acquisition will capitalize on both firms’ expertise, provide technological excellence and deep product capabilities, and create scale to the benefit of retirement-plan participants and their employers.

Based on the terms of the agreement and subject to regulatory approvals, Empower will acquire the retirement-plan business of MassMutual in a reinsurance transaction for a ceding commission of $2.35 billion. In addition, the balance sheet of the transferred business would be supported by $1 billion of required capital when combined with Empower’s existing U.S. business.

The MassMutual retirement-plan business comprises 26,000 workplace savings plans through which approximately 2.5 million participants have saved $167 billion in assets. It also includes approximately 2,000 employees affiliated with MassMutual’s retirement-plan business who provide a full range of support services for financial professionals, plan sponsors, and participants.

“Empower is taking the next step toward addressing the complex and evolving needs of millions of workers and retirees through the combination of expertise, talent, and business scale being created,” said Edmund Murphy III, president and CEO of Empower Retirement. “Together, Empower and MassMutual connect a broad spectrum of strength and experience with a shared focus on the customer. We are excited about the opportunity to reach new customers and serve even more Americans on their journey toward creating a secure retirement.”

“We believe this transaction will greatly benefit our policy owners and customers as we invest in our future growth and accelerate progress on our strategy.”

The transaction, expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020 pending customary regulatory approvals, will increase Empower’s participant base to more than 12.2 million and retirement-services record-keeping assets to approximately $834 billion administered in approximately 67,000 workplace savings plans.

“In Empower, we are pleased to have found a strong, long-term home for MassMutual’s retirement-plan business, and we believe this transaction will greatly benefit our policy owners and customers as we invest in our future growth and accelerate progress on our strategy,” said Roger Crandall, MassMutual chairman, president, and CEO. “This includes strengthening our leading position in the U.S. protection and accumulation industry by expanding our wealth-management and distribution capabilities; investing in our global asset-management, insurance, and institutional businesses; and delivering a seamless digital experience — all to help millions more secure their future and protect the ones they love.”

The MassMutual retirement-plan business has grown substantially over the past decade, with the number of participants served doubling to more than 2.5 million and assets under management more than quadrupling from $34 billion to more than $160 billion.

The combined firm will serve retirement plans sponsored by a broad spectrum of employers. These include mega, large, mid-size, and small corporate 401(k) plans; government plans ranging in scale from state-level plans to municipal agencies; not-for-profits such as hospital and religious-organization 403(b) plans; and collectively bargained Taft-Hartley plans. The transaction will also bring MassMutual’s defined-benefit business under the umbrella of plans Empower serves.

Empower and MassMutual intend to enter into a strategic partnership through which digital insurance products offered by Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC3, and MassMutual’s voluntary insurance and lifetime income products will be made available to customers of Empower Retirement and Personal Capital.

Empower today administers $667 billion in assets on behalf of 9.7 million American workers and retirees through approximately 41,000 workplace savings plans. Empower provides retirement services, managed accounts, financial wellness, and investment solutions to plans of all types and sizes, including private-label record-keeping clients.

In August, Empower announced it had completed the acquisition of Personal Capital, a registered investment adviser and wealth manager. The Personal Capital platform offers personalized financial advice, financial planning, and goal setting, providing insights and tools for plan participants and individual investors. In addition, Empower’s retail business provides a suite of products and services to individual retirement-account and brokerage customers.

Features

This Nonprofit Is Finding New Ways to Provide a ‘Safe Place’

Kelsey Andrews (third from left, with Therese Ross, program director; Bill Scatolini, board president; and Diane Murray, executive director) calls Rick’s Place “a wonderful support system” — and much more.

Diane Murray says that, like most nonprofits, Rick’s Place is responding to the pandemic in a proactive fashion.

In other words, this agency, founded to provide peer support to grieving families, and especially children, has, out of necessity, changed, pivoted, and in some ways reinvented itself, said Murray, its executive director, noting that much of this involves carrying out its mission in a virtual manner.

“As soon as we became aware that it wasn’t safe to have in-person meetings, we moved to a virtual format for all our peer-support groups,” she told BusinessWest. And that was very successful. We were surprised at how well children made that transition; it’s hard enough to be grieving and talk about it in person with your peers, but looking at a screen can be tricky. But we sent them activities, and they would complete them and bring them to the meeting. It’s worked quite well.”

As she noted, grieving and talking about loss among a group of peers is hard, but it has become a proven method for helping children and families cope with the loss of a loved one. And Rick’s Place has been bringing people together in this way and providing what many call a ‘safe place’ since 2007.

Its mission, and its success in carrying it out — which made the agency the latest of several nonprofits to be named Difference Makers by BusinessWest — was summed up succinctly and effectively by Program Director Therese Ross when we spoke with her back in February.

“It’s a unique grief journey, but it’s also a universal experience,” she noted. “To hear from other people how they manage when their child says this or does that, it’s real boots on the ground, people living it, and it’s really helpful.”

Providing such help was the overarching goal for the many friends of Rick Thorpe, the former football star and 1984 graduate at Minnechaug High School who was among the more than 1,100 people who died in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. He left behind his wife, Linda, and newborn daughter, Alexis. Searching for ways to memorialize Rick, friends and family members eventually turned to Alexis for inspiration and created a bereavement center in her honor.

In 2020, the work of this agency goes on, but obviously many things have changed, and in the meantime, new and different needs have emerged, said Murray, noting, as just one example, the restrictions placed on funeral services for the first several months of the pandemic.

“Deaths during the COVID era are so much more complicated for kids,” she explained. “Losing a grandparent or parent — and not being able to have the usual services you would have and seeing a large number of family and friends — has impacted the grief and made it more complicated. Also, in many cases, they didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, and that makes the process so much more difficult. We’re focusing on these COVID-era issues with families and giving them information on how to start that grief journey.”

Overall, though, a movement to virtual services has been the biggest change brought about by COVID-19, Murray noted, adding that, in addition to virtual peer sessions, the agency is also conducting virtual training sessions with local school systems on the impact of grief on students. Meanwhile, she and others at the agency are talking with area schools about taking the popular eight-week ‘grief groups’ it had been offering to a virtual format now that school has started up again.

“The schools are where we see our most diverse population and students with the greatest economic need,” she explained. “Finding a way to continue those virtually is very important to us. We’re talking to some school counselors who are very invested in getting our programs into the schools virtually.”

Since 2007, Rick’s Place and its loyal supporters — and there are many of them — have been invested in providing much-needed support to those who are grieving. In the COVID-19 era, the word ‘place’ has taken on new meeting. Now, in many cases, it’s not an actual, physical place, but rather … well, a computer screen where people can still gather. And where they can share, cope, and learn together.

As Murray said, the agency has had to pivot and in some cases reinvent. But its vital mission, one that has made it a Difference Maker, remains unchanged.

—George O’Brien

Features

This Advocate and Cheerleader Remains Active on Many Fronts

Photo by Leah Martin Photography

When we first introduced Dianne Fuller Doherty back in February, we used the term ‘semi-retired’ to describe her status — and it’s the appropriate phrase to use.

Indeed, while she has stepped down from her role as director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network’s Western Mass. office, she remains heavily involved in this region, and on a number of fronts — everything from mentoring young people, especially women, to serving on several boards and being part of a few prominent search committees, such as the one that eventually chose Robert Johnson to be the sixth president of Western New England University (see story, page 29).

And most, if not all, of her work has been in some way impacted by COVID-19, including that search at WNEU, and another at Tech Foundry.

“We never met any of the candidates — only the winner after he had been given the position,” she said of the WNEU search, noting that all interviews were conducted remotely, a process she didn’t think would be very effective, but ultimately proved to be. “When we started both these searches, I said, ‘how can we not meet these people?’ It turned out it was incredibly effective — you really got to know these candidates.”

Fuller Doherty’s commitment to remain involved in this region and be, in some respects, a cheerleader for it comes naturally. She’s been doing this she came to Western Mass. in the early ’70s after marrying attorney Paul Doherty, a community leader himself, who passed away several years ago. And she become involved with everything from the creation of the Women’s Fund — she was one of the original founders — to the growth and maturation and the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Over the course of her lengthy career, she was a business owner — she and partner Marsha Tzoumas started a marketing firm that bore their last names — and, as director of the Small Business Development Center, one who helped countless small businesses get off the ground and to that proverbial next level.

She has a great deal of experience in all matters of launching and operating a business, and she’s never been shy about sharing it with others.

As she told us in February, her MO has always been to provide a kind of tough love to entrepreneurs — in other words, be supportive whenever possible, but also honest and realistic, telling people what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear.

“The best advice I give to people is to ask enough questions so that they can come to the right conclusion on whether this is the right time, or the right place, or the right financial backing to go forward,” she said when we first spoke with her. “You let them come to the decision about whether it’s a ‘no.’ And if it’s a ‘yes,’ then you just try to be as supportive as possible and it them know that there are going to be highs and lows in any business, and the challenges will come. But the rewards will come also.”

For Fuller Doherty, the biggest reward has been to see the region continue to grow, prosper, and meet the enormous potential she has always thought it possessed. Progress has come on a number of fronts, she said, listing everything from the advancement of women, thanks to groups like the Women’s Fund, to that entrepreneurial ecosystem, to the capital of the region, the city of Springfield.

She told BusinessWest she has always been focused on ‘what’s next’ for the region, and especially Springfield, and believes the answer may lie in housing.

“Education requirements dictate housing investment,” she explained. “And I think we can do a lot with housing; Springfield used to be the City of Homes, and I think it can come back to that.”

But there is work still to do on all these fronts, she acknowledged, and she wants to continue playing a meaningful role in all of it.

In other words, she has no intention of slowing down, even in the era of COVID-19, and this attitude, this mindset, certainly explains why she is a member of the Difference Makers class of 2020.

—George O’Brien

Features

COVID Has Brought New Challenges to an Already-intense Cancer Fight

Photo by Leah Martin Photography

Sandy Cassanelli has always been a fighter.

Which is good, because these first nine months of 2020, the year of COVID, have tested her in every way imaginable.

Let’s start with her health. As most know, she was diagnosed with stage-4 breast cancer four years ago, and has been not only fighting that fight, but helping others fight it as well through the Breast Friends Fund, a charity that raises funds that go directly to metastatic breast-cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Having a terminal illness in the middle of a pandemic, though, brings even more challenges to the fore.

“There was the realization that this virus could kill me,” she said, noting that, for obvious reasons, she began working at home back in March. “And my husband, Craig, had to be careful to make sure he wasn’t bringing anything home to me; he would take off his clothes in the garage and run up to the shower every day. He jokes that I would spray Lysol on him before I would let him in the house.”

Meanwhile, as she started a new treatment regimen and underwent tests and biopsies, the protocols were much different.

“At Dana-Farber, my husband always comes with me — he’s never missed an appointment,” she explained. “But once everyone started locking down, only the patients could go, so I had to go from my first scans to see if my new treatment was working by myself. And since March, I’ve had to go to every appointment by myself. It’s been very challenging not to have the support of my husband.”

Let’s move on to her business that she manages with Craig — Greeno Supply. Near the top of the list of the products it supplies to a wide range of customers are a number of items in high demand but short supply during the pandemic — paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies … all those things. Getting them — and meeting the needs of customers — has been daunting, to say the least.

“It was very challenging — it was hard to get these things from our suppliers,” she said of products that ranged from those paper goods to gloves, masks, and other PPE. “We had to reinvent the wheel and go out to different suppliers just to get these items. And we’re still struggling — we’re still reinventing the wheel.”

And then, there’s family, or life at home, a phrase that has certainly taken on new meaning during this pandemic.

Cassanelli, like many parents, and especially many women, has been working at home and helping her children with school at home. In this case, the children were in eighth and 12th grade, respectively — big years, graduation years. Not a year one would want to spend confined at home.

“I’ve been battling for seven years, so my daughters are used to adversity and things not going the way normal life goes,” she explained. “They’ve been dealing with a lot, and they actually did really well because they know how to deal with adversity. But I’d have to say that when the final announcement came that they wouldn’t be going back to school and there was no graduation — that was probably the only time that tears flowed in my house.

“When I was first diagnosed with stage-4 cancer, the doctor set a goal for me and my older daughter Samantha — that I would get to see her graduate and walk across the stage” she went on. “So it was a double whammy — but we moved on.”

Overall, Cassanelli’s ability to meet all these challenges head on helps explain why she’s a Difference Maker in this memorable year.

It’s a mindset summed up perfectly by something she said to BusinessWest back in February while discussing her diagnosis and her approach to life.

“Does it suck? Yeah, it totally sucks. But me crawling up in a ball and putting the sheets up over my head is not going to fix anything, so I might as well just get up and go,” she said. “I try not to sweat the small stuff. I believe that every day is a gift, and I’m going to make the best of that day, and I’m going to be positive, because if I’m positive, then everyone around me is going to be positive.”

COVID-19 — and all that has thrown at her — isn’t small stuff. But she doesn’t seem to be sweating it, either.

—George O’Brien

Features

Former Family Business Center Leader Is Still Delivering Frank Talk

Ira Bryck spent 25 years as the executive director of the Family Business Center of the Pioneer Valley. And over that quarter-century, he left an indelible mark on those he helped through his rather unique style and ability to create impactful learning experiences.

These included plays he authored, dinner meetings with provocative speakers, and, quite often, frank talks about family businesses and whether people should be part of them or not.

And he continues to make a mark, even though he’s retired from the FBC, as it was called, and the center itself has gone out of business. He does it through a radio show with WHMP called The Western Mass. Business Show a variety of consulting work, and even his work in the COVID-19 era to help keep the residents of Amherst, where he has lived for some time, safe as college students return to campuses.

In all these settings and circumstances, Bryck speaks his mind, creates dialogue, and helps to generate progress in many forms. And that, in a nutshell — and he wrote a play called A Tough Nut to Crack — is why he is a member of the Difference Makers class of 2020.

He has decided not to join his fellow classmates for the ceremony on Sept. 24 due to a strong desire to help keep his family safe during this pandemic — two adult children and their families with New York addresses have moved in with him as they seek what amounts to higher ground during the pandemic — but he has definitely earned his place on the podium, even if he’ll be addressing his audience remotely.

That’s because, since being named director of the fledgling FBC in 1994, he has done things his way — and in an ultimately effective way. And he has helped educate and inspire an important, if often unrecognized, segment of the local economy — its family businesses.

They come in various shapes and sizes and cross a variety of sectors, but they share common issues and challenges. When we talked with Bryck in February, he compared small businesses to snowflakes in that no two are alike, and summoned that famous opening line from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Bryck has addressed these issues and challenges in a manner that had members of the FBC describe him, alternately, as ‘communicator,’ ‘connector,’ ‘facilitator,’ and even ‘entertainer.’

One long-time member described his style and his approach this way: “He can take things that are very theoretical and make them realistic. It’s one thing to read a paper from a professor who deals in theory, but it that reality? Can that be applied to the everyday businessperson? Ira was able to translate those kinds of things.”

And he’s still doing all that, just in different settings and with different audiences. With his radio show, he just passed a milestone — his 300th interview.

“It’s a nice exercise to meet and interview someone every week,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun and a tremendous learning experience.”

Meanwhile, he’s also working with Giombetti Associates as a senior advisor working on personality assessments, coaching, and organizational development. He’s involved in several projects, including one with a private school in Springfield that is undergoing a change in leadership.

“We’re restructuring and creating much more of an idea system within their leadership team,” he explained, adding that he’s working on another project involving a Connecticut grower of plants and trees that is seeking to make structural changes and increase self-awareness and self-management.

He’s also coordinating a roundtable for area business owners. “We meet monthly and just explore people’s challenges and help each other think things through, and that also involves coaching,” he said, adding that he’s also involved with the family business center at Cornell University, participating in what he called a “speed-dating event involving mentors and mentees.”

“All this keeps me busy, but I’m only working about half as much as I used to,” he explained. “Which leaves me plenty of time of walk five to 10 miles a day, so I’ve lost 45 pounds.”

Overall, he’s still finding ways to educate — and also entertain, in some cases — while also making a mark on those he’s working with.

In short, he’s still very much making a difference in this region — and well beyond it.

—George O’Brien

Features

His March Will Go On … but with Fewer Marchers

Monte Belmonte says the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about some changes in what he does on the radio each day.

Like helping his listeners know what day it is — a simple assignment that has become a good deal more difficult as the days blend together and the things that make them different are increasingly removed from the equation.

“I would come in and do my show the same way I’d been doing it, except I introduced what I call ‘quaran-themes’ — a different musical theme for each day of the week,” explained Belmonte, a DJ with WRSI the River Radio in Northampton. “Wednesday, for example, is wanderlust Wednesday, where I take people musically to places they couldn’t otherwise go — like the ukulele version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ to make them feel like they could go on that trip to Hawaii they were supposed to go on but couldn’t.”

Like everyone else, Belmonte is making needed adjustments because of the pandemic — at home, at work, on the air — and especially with the fundraiser to combat food insecurity that now bears his name: Monte’s March.

Indeed, the march, which takes place in November and has grown exponentially — in every way — since he started it back in 2010, has, in recent years, attracted hundreds of marchers who have joined Belmonte on his two-day trek from Springfield to Greenfield. This year, in the name of social distancing, those marchers will be encouraged to stay home and support the effort virtually, something many supporters have already been doing.

“It’s such a long walk that people have participated virtually over the years — where they create a fundraising team and set up a fundraising page — so at least there some institutional knowledge,” he explained, noting that specific details of this year’s march are coming together and will be announced soon. “But now, with everyone doing almost everything virtually, I think people will want to participate.”

And they certainly need to participate, he went on, because need has never been greater. That’s because the pandemic is leaving many in this area unemployed and in need of help — bringing the broad issue of food insecurity to the forefront as perhaps never before.

Nightly newscasts show long lines of cars at designated locations to pick up donations of food. Many of those being interviewed say this is the first time they’ve ever needed such help and that they never imagined they would be in such a situation. It’s a scenario playing itself out in California, Florida, Texas — and the Pioneer Valley.

“Because of the pandemic, hunger has been in the forefront of people’s minds in a different way,” Belmonte told BusinessWest. “I’ve talked with some of the survival centers, and the need has definitely grown.”

Getting back to his day … Belmonte said the pandemic has certainly impacted that as well — in ways beyond his song to signal what day it is.

Indeed, he noted that, in many ways, radio, and his work on the air, have more become more important and more appreciated in the era of COVID-19 as people look for some normalcy and comfort in their lives.

“Especially in the beginning, the pandemic reinforced how important radio is to people at a time like this,” he noted. “It’s a medium that feels more personal and intimate than some others; maybe the commuting times have changed, but people are still going places in their car, so most of the time it’s just you and your radio in your car together. When people needed a listening ear and a voice and some kind of sense of normalcy that might have been lost, they turned to radio in a different way.”

Meanwhile, he has used his show, his platform, to provide needed information and also try to help the businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic, especially restaurants.

“We offered to the restaurant community what amounted to public-service announcements,” he explained. “We said, ‘let us know what you’re doing, whether it’s takeout or whatever,’ and we called it the ‘takeout menu.’ It let people know what different restaurants were doing at different times.”

Overall, Belmonte said some things are starting to feel a least a little more like normal. But the pandemic is still impacting lives in all kinds of ways — which is why he’s still helping people understand what day it is.

And also why he’s hoping his next march will be among his most successful — even if supporters are not actually on the road with him.

—George O’Brien

Incorporations

The following business incorporations were recorded in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties and are the latest available. They are listed by community.

AGAWAM

Gourmet to Go Inc., 26 Perry Lane, Agawam, MA 01001. Stephen A. Amato, same. On-site catering and food preparation.

ATHOL

King’s Memorials Inc., 1265 South Main St., Athol, MA 01331. Peter D. King, 5 Sanders Street, Apt. B, Athol, MA 01331. Design, carve, and sell public memorials.

CHICOPEE

Hidden Tradition Distilling Company, 185 Frontenac St., Chicopee, MA 01020. Michael Alan Styckiewicz, same. Alcoholic beverages and distilled spirits.

CUMMINGTON

Hilltown Vision Fund Inc., 17 Packard Road, Cummington, MA 01026. Kathryn Regina Eiseman, same. To support activities that further a common vision for an ecologically and financially sustainable rural economy and culture in the Hampshire County.

EAST LONGMEADOW

KM Corporate Services, 82 Birch Ave., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Alfred Adegboyegun, same. Provide physician support services and innovation.

GRANBY

Kingston Estates Inc., 83 Harris St., Granby, MA 01033. Nolan R. Hodgins, same. Purchase, sell, improve, manage, rent real estate.

GREAT BARRINGTON

Jetstream Support Services Inc., 777 Main St., Great Barrington, MA 01230. Rebecca Shoval, 407 East 12th St., New York, NY 10009. Provision of payroll, benefits and other support.

LENOX

Holborn Foundation Limited, 14 Pine Knoll Road, Lenox, MA 01240. Yuko Torigoe, 27 Langley Road, Newton Center, MA 02459. Promotes experimentation in cultural design, supports discovery, and seeks to support and document important conclusions about the crossroads of technology, philanthropy, and creative culture.

PITTSFIELD

Honey Am Home Corp., 82 Wendell Ave., Ste 100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Yeyson Pimentel, same. Sale of honey and organic products.

JI Mei Inc., 26 Dunham Mall, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Kang Chen, same. Limited-service restaurant.

Kessler Alair Insurance Services Inc., 82 Wendell Ave., Suite100, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Charles Kessler, same. Insurance sales.

Krupa Realty Inc., 31 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield, MA 01201. Rakeshkumar Vyas, 12 West Dr., Edison, N.J. 08820. Gas station.

SHELBURNE FALLS

Guaranteed Power International Inc., 398 Mohawk Trail, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370. Calvin M., Clarak, 745 Williamsburg Road, Ashfield, MA 01330. Make, buy, market, and sell automobile and truck component parts.

SPRINGFIELD

GreenGrab Inc., 172 Birchland Ave., Springfield, MA 01119. Odaliz Breton, same. On demand delivery platform.

Hancock Used Tires Inc., 556 St. James Ave., Springfield, MA 01109. Jose Vardes, same. Operating of an auto tire service business.

Hipress Corp., 432 Belmont Ave., Springfield, MA 01108. Ramon E. Espinal, 23 Tulsa St., Springfield, MA 01118. Retail sales.

WESTFIELD

K&K Services Inc., 16 Hunters Slope, Westfield, MA 01085. Kirill Katalnikov, same. Plumbing and HVAC services.

WILLIAMSTOWN

Growth Generation Inc., 228 Main St., Apt. 129, Williamstown, MA 01267. Arthur Aronov, same. Retail sales.

Features

He Has Plans to Retire, but No Plans to Scale Back His Involvement

Photo by Leah Martin Photography

When we talked with Steve Lowell back in January, he related just how familiar he became with the commute from Cape Cod to Upton in the middle of the state, where he lived, earlier in his career.

That’s because, while he was working for a bank on the Cape, he also became heavily involved in the community there — as part of his work, but mostly because giving back is his MO. He recalled that he was on the Cape so much, many people thought he lived there.

When we reconnected several days ago, Lowell was again talking about this commute, but from a different perspective.

Indeed, only days after he was introduced as a member of the Difference Makers class of 2020 in February, Lowell announced he would be retiring as president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank, effective early next year, and stepping into a role new for this institution — chairman of the board. He and his wife, Anne, are in the process of relocating to the Cape, but he now keeps a small apartment in Brookfield and is there three or four nights a week, because he’s not only neck-deep in the transition of leadership at the bank (Dan Moriarty, the long-time CFO at the bank, has been named his successor), he’s still active in this region. Make that very active.

And he intends to remain involved with a number of organizations in this region, which means he’ll doing that commuting thing again.

“I’ll be around,” he said with conviction, he said, noting that’s not certain how long he will continue those living arrangements in Brookfield. “One way or another, I’ll be around.”

And while his work and that of his team at MSB has been somewhat different because of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as handling PPP loan applications, the basic formula hasn’t changed, he said, meaning Monson continues to fill the many roles of a community bank — and continues to search for new growth opportunities in a heavily banked region.

“In spite of COVID, we’ve moving forward, and we’re looking to the future,” he told BusinessWest, noting that the institution recently opened a new branch in East Longmeadow. “We’re trying to build an organization that is resilient enough to withstand not only this but anything else that might happen.”

While working to build this organization, Lowell is transitioning into his new role as chairman, one that will translate into a good deal of mentoring and also helping to guide the bank through a period that will likely be much more difficult than the one it just went through.

“I think 2021 is going to be an extremely challenging year, so I’m happy to stay involved and lend whatever expertise I can to them to make sure we keep things going in a really positive way,” he said. “I’m excited about that; I’m honored that they thought that this would be helpful, and I’m looking forward to it; I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Meanwhile, as noted earlier, he will continue a career-long pattern of being heavily involved in the community, work that has involved nonprofits and institutions ranging from the United Way of Pioneer Valley to Link to Libraries; Baystate Health’s Eastern Region (Wing Memorial and Mary Lane hospitals) to the Western Mass. Economic Development Council (EDC).

“They’ve asked me to stay on for another year as chairman of the board of the Baystate Health Eastern Region,” he said. “And I just got asked by Rick Sullivan [president and CEO of the EDC] to continue on as treasurer — he said, ‘even though you’re going to be down on the Cape, can you stay on as treasurer?’ And I said, ‘as long as you’ll have me.’”

That request, and his answer in the affirmative, both speak to why Lowell is a member of this Difference Makers class of 2020. He’s almost always said ‘yes’ when asked to serve, and, more importantly, he usually didn’t wait to be asked.

He noted that, as he was arriving in this region in the late spring of 2011, the region — and Main Street in Monson — were hit, and hit hard, by a tornado. And as he’s retiring — at least from his role as president and CEO — the world, and Main Street in Monson, are being hit, and hit hard, by a pandemic.

“People might be happy to see me go,” he joked.

That’s certainly not the case. Even more to the point, he won’t be going anywhere soon, except for that commute he knows all too well.

—George O’Brien

Features

Meeting Community Needs Has Become Even More Critical During a Difficult Year

Ronn Johnson has spent a lifetime improving the neighborhood of his youth — and impacting lives far beyond it.
(Photo by Leah Martin Photography)

When times got tougher for struggling families back in March, they appreciated any resources they could access, from emergency food supplies to educational assistance to … lotion?

“With children being home every day, parents were super stressed, and they needed a way to manage it all,” said Ronn Johnson, president and CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Inc. in Springfield.

“We said, ‘let’s deliver pampering products to these women — lotions, bath oils, shower gels, facial scrubs — things they can use to pamper themselves with on occasion, once the children are down,” he told BusinessWest earlier this month. “With the response we got, it was like we’d given them a pot of gold — they said, ‘these are things I’ve never been able to get for myself.’”

Those items were complemented by deliveries of hard-to-find cleaning supplies and paper products. But they certainly didn’t replace the bread-and-butter services of the organization, from educational resources to healthy-food access.

The pandemic, in fact, only laid bare a growing need for such services — and new ways of delivering them.

“It was a tremendous challenge to pivot on a dime. We’ve had to restructure ourselves from being an after-school resource to being a remote-learning center,” Johnson said, noting that the organization serves many economically disadvantaged families that need extracurricular support and don’t want to have to choose between their kids and making a living. “Work is important to them, but their child’s education is also important. We’re one of the resources in the community trying to be responsive to the needs of children.”

The center has also expanded its emergency-food program, serving up to 400 people weekly. Even so, pantry volunteers weren’t seeing some of the faces they expected to see — mainly older people — and learned these regulars were staying at home because of fears for their health.

So Johnson talked to community partners, in particular Baystate Health, which helped procure a cargo van to deliver food to homes. The volunteer-driven delivery program began with about 10 recipients and now visits some 65 elderly, sick, and shut-in individuals every week.

Johnson’s work with MLK Family Services — the latest stop in a career dedicated to his community — is one reason he was chosen as a Difference Maker, along with his work with the Brianna Fund, named for his daughter, which has raised more than $750,000 over 22 years and helped 50 children with physical limitations access tools to improve their lives.

But he stresses that he can’t do his job alone. To serve 750 different people each week with after-school programs, college courses, family support, public-health outreach, sports programs, cultural activities, and more — with only about $1.6 million in annual funding — he relies not only on his team, but more than 100 volunteers.

They worked together to open summer camp this year, he noted. “That was well-thought-out; we assured we had all the safe distancing and PPE, and we made it work, with no incidents of the virus spreading. It was a real benefit to both children and their parents, to provide meaningful activities for them eight hours a day.”

Community members stepped up this spring and summer in other ways as well. For example, a woman came by in late March to donate a new laptop to the center, along with funds to distribute items like coloring books, flash cards, notebooks, crayons, and markers so kids could occupy themselves when holing up at home became the new normal.

Johnson also credited the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts for its financial support of the center, as well as donations that came in after Common Wealth Murals and Art for the Soul Gallery drew attention to the center in June with a mural, called “Say Their Names,” honoring individuals killed by police violence.

He’s equally gratified that people are talking.

“It’s been heartwarming and affirming that our white neighbors and other community members have extended their support to us, not only financially, but they’re looking to be engaged in conversations,” he said. “So many families from the suburbs and the hilltowns came to Mason Square to show their children this mural.”

It’s a conversation being held back on the national level by leaders who refuse to engage in these issues and create positive momentum, he added. Yet, he’s encouraged by young people of all races who are energized by fighting for social justice.

“That is very encouraging,” he said. “We need to build bridges to understanding and have it happen in a more global way than just these pockets of support.”

In the meantime, he’ll keep building bridges locally, and making a difference for families whose needs go much deeper than lotion.

But a little pampering never hurt.

—Joseph Bednar

Alumni Achievement Award Cover Story

Finalists for Award Are Leaders in Business — and in the Community

Launched in 2015, and known then as the Continued Excellence Award, BusinessWest’s Alumni Achievement Award recognizes a previous 40 Under Forty honoree who has continued to build on his or résumé as a rising star in this region and leader both in business and within the community. The five finalists for 2020 — Carla Cosenzi, Peter DePergola, Mike Fenton, Paul Kozub, and James Leahy — epitomize what this award, sponsored by Health New England, is all about, and why it is among the most coveted of BusinessWest’s many awards.

 

Carla Cosenzi

She’s driven to succeed — in business and in the community

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Peter Depergola

This pioneer remains on the leading edge in the field of bioethics

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Mike Fenton

He has a passion for the law, and for serving his constituents

>>Read More


Paul Kozub

This entrepreneur — and his label — have come a long way in 15 years

>>Read More


James Leahy

This city leader has always been an ambassador — and a connector

>>Read More