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Reaching the Summit

Tonia Butler Perez

The Community College National Legislative Summit on Feb. 5-8 offered Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook and STCC trustees Jynai McDonald and Tonia Butler Perez (pictured at top left) an opportunity to speak with lawmakers about federal priorities, including reducing barriers to receive Pell Grants that help low-income students access higher education. Massachusetts featured a delegation of close to 40 people, including other community-college presidents and trustees as well as staff from the Massachusetts Assoc. of Community Colleges. Pictured at top right, from left: Cook, Butler Perez, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, and McDonald.



Brainstorming Visit

American International College (AIC) welcomed representatives from Holyoke Community College (HCC) to its Springfield campus on March 2 to celebrate a transfer agreement they signed last summer and brainstorm ideas for future partnerships. HCC President Christina Royal and AIC President Hubert Benitez (pictured at left) and a cadre of faculty and staff from both colleges toured the AIC campus and then sat down to talk over lunch. Last June, the two colleges signed an articulation agreement to make it easier and less expensive for HCC students to transfer to AIC through the latter’s Direct Connect program.








Closer to the Goal

Last week, Girls Inc. of the Valley hosted a milestone event to provide campaign fundraising updates for its new location at 480 Hampden St. in Holyoke. Mayor Joshua Garcia, state Rep. Patricia Duffy, and (pictured, from left) campaign co-chairs Bernadette Harrigan and Cynthia Medina-Carson made remarks, and the fundraising thermometer sign was updated as the campaign has now reached 90% of its $5 million goal. PeoplesBank will be financing the project through a loan to Girls Inc. of the Valley, in addition to a tax-exempt bond from MassDevelopment. This campaign launched in 2018 with a mission to expand the physical footprint of Girls Inc. of the Valley and establish a permanent headquarters in Holyoke, allowing it to serve a larger community. 





Meeting Basic Needs

In partnership with Holyoke Community College (HCC), United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) recently opened a pantry providing shelf-stable food for Holyoke residents in the Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center (PAFEC) at 206 Maple St. The PAFEC Cupboard is open on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. by appointment. In a geographic area with significant need for food, this pantry opened just as extra COVID-19 SNAP benefits came to an end on March 2. UWPV also operates the Chicopee Cupboard at 226 Exchange St. in Chicopee, as well as the Springfield Cupboard at 1441 Main St. in Springfield.