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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — In cooperation with PROSHRED Springfield, Freedom Credit Union will offer a free Community Shred Day on Saturday, June 8 at two branches. The event will take place from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at 1976 Main St., Springfield; and 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 296 Cooley St., Springfield.

The public is invited to bring old bills, bank statements, tax returns, and other sensitive documents for free, quick, and secure on-site shredding. Credit union members and non-members alike may bring up to five file boxes or paper bags per vehicle. There is no charge for this service.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Committed to supporting local nonprofits that help its members and community, Freedom Credit Union raised $2,925 during its Month of Giving campaigns during the first three months of 2024.

Funds were split between four organizations: Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless (January), the Foundation for TJO Animals and Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter (February), and Griffin’s Friends (March).

“All of these organizations have been included in our monthly giving campaigns for years because they are causes that are important to our members, staff, and community,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “They each provide essential services that make our region a better place for all.”

The mission of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless is “to create lasting solutions to housing, income, health, education, and racial inequalities in all parts of the Commonwealth.”

The Foundation for TJO Animals supports the Thomas J. O’Connor Adoption Center, which provides animal shelter and adoption services for the cities of Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke.

The Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter is a volunteer-led group serving the communities of Franklin County. Its mission is to protect and improve the lives of stray, lost, and unwanted dogs.

Griffin’s Friends is committed to helping ease the hardships of children in treatment for cancer and the families who love and support them.

Freedom’s May Month of Giving campaign supports A Bed for Every Child. The community is invited to stop by any Freedom branch throughout the month to support this endeavor with cash donations. Over the summer, in June, July, and August, Freedom will again collect funds and nonperishable food items in support of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union believes every child deserves a great night’s sleep, every night. That’s why it is again holding its annual Month of Giving campaign to support the program known as A Bed for Every Child throughout the Pioneer Valley. The community is invited to stop by any Freedom branch throughout the month of May to support this endeavor with cash donations.

“We appreciate the commitment of our members, staff, and community in supporting this important annual initiative,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “With ongoing support, we can help make sure all children have a warm, cozy place to dream every night.”

This effort began in 2011 when the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless learned that many public-school students were not getting enough sleep because they did not have their own beds. In response, they launched A Bed for Every Child in 2012 with a mission to help children get the restful sleep they need to learn and succeed.

Partnering with schools, healthcare institutions, and nonprofit community partners, each child receives a brand-new mattress and a sturdy custom wooden bed frame. On average, A Bed for Every Child receives more than 200 referrals for beds each month statewide. To date, more than 1,598 children have been helped.

Freedom Credit Union has partnered with the Pioneer Valley chapter of the Cooperative Credit Union Assoc. to support this initiative annually since 2017.

Daily News

Lee Craig

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union recently hired Lee Craig as its senior vice president and chief financial officer. Bringing three decades of leadership experience in credit-union operations and compliance, Craig will lend his expertise to planning, directing, and controlling Freedom’s overall financial plans and policies, accounting practices, and relationships with lending institutions and the financial community.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Lee as our new CFO,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “His incredible wealth of knowledge encompasses not only every facet of our industry, but the communities in which our members live and work. We couldn’t ask for a better fit for this fundamental role within our organization.”

Craig comes to Freedom after 23 years as CFO at MassMutual Federal Credit Union, where he was responsible for the operation’s overall financial condition, information-technology oversight, compliance management, and strategic planning. He also previously served as principal examiner at the National Credit Union Administration.

A member of the Credit Union National Assoc. CFO Council and Compliance Council and a past member of Fiserv’s user advisory board, Craig served on the town of Westhampton’s Finance Committee for several years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from Westfield State University.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union is collecting cash donations through March 30 at its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit Griffin’s Friends, a volunteer-led group dedicated to providing relief and support to children with cancer and their families.

“This is a cause we support annually because it is near and dear to the hearts of our members and staff,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “Griffin’s Friends is committed to helping ease the hardships of children in treatment for cancer and the families who love and support them.”

All funds raised throughout the March Month of Giving campaign will benefit the Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Health Foundation Inc. Established in 1994, Griffin’s Friends is named for Griffin Kelleher, who passed away from cancer when he was 14 months old. This fund is his legacy, supporting children in treatment for cancer and their families by providing small acts of kindness. Examples include trips to stage performances and sporting events; in-hospital and outpatient entertainment; massage therapy; and activities such as art, computers, and games.

“We encourage our employees, members, and community to donate to this worthy cause at any Freedom branch this month,” Welch said. “Together, we can help ease the all-consuming burden of a child’s cancer diagnosis for local families by providing them with moments of comfort and happiness.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout 2023, Freedom Credit Union contributed financial support to more than 70 charitable organizations throughout the four counties of Western Mass, donating a total of $181,898.

“Our members and staff are passionate about supporting the community where we live, work and serve,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “In 2023, we were proud to donate funds for a wide variety of deserving institutions.”

Corporate charitable giving accounted for donations totaling $130,432.00, which benefitted local and regional organizations. Throughout the year, Freedom also held a variety of Month of Giving campaigns, raising $17,316 to support local organizations. Local branch and department giving contributed an additional $34,150 to local charities.

“As a credit union, Freedom was founded in a cooperative spirit,” Welch said. “We know that serving our members in a holistic way includes helping the whole community, since we all rise together. Our efforts are continuing through 2024. Throughout the month of February, we are asking the community to ‘Paws for a Cause’ and make cash donations to benefit the Foundation for TJO Animals in Springfield and Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter in Greenfield.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Through Feb. 29, Freedom Credit Union is inviting its members, employees, and community to “Paws for a Cause” and make cash donations to benefit the Foundation for TJO Animals in Springfield and Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter in Greenfield.

“These amazing institutions provide food, water, shelter, and a variety of critical services for thousands of animals in our region every year,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “They rely on donations to help fund everything from veterinary care to toys and bedding for the animals’ comfort and enrichment as they wait to find their forever homes.”

The Thomas J. O’Connor Adoption Center provides animal shelter and adoption services for the cities of Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke. The Foundation for TJO Animals was formed to allow the group to better serve the shelter animals in its care through medical treatments and rehabilitation. This veterinary care allows pets to be brought to the adoption floor to hopefully find their forever homes.

The Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter is a volunteer-led group serving the communities of Franklin County. Its mission is to protect and improve the lives of stray, lost, and unwanted dogs by offering a welcoming facility, providing care, and finding good homes for each animal.

“We encourage you to donate directly to these organizations or at any of our branches through Thursday, February 29,” Welch said. “Let’s make those tails wag.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of January, Freedom Credit Union is collecting cash donations at all its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless and its work.

“In the cold New England winter, individuals and families experiencing or facing homelessness are at peak risk,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless has been working on their behalf since 1981, providing programs to identify and address the accelerating challenges of poverty and homelessness. We are proud to play a role in supporting their efforts.”

The coalition is making a meaningful impact. In 2023 alone, it assisted 3,683 households in 298 Massachusetts communities, provided 1,598 children living in poverty a bed of their own, and helped 7,924 individuals representing 1,981 households avoid homelessness and displacement. In 2024, the coalition aims to escalate its efforts to continue enhancing its mission, which is “to create lasting solutions to housing, income, health, education, and racial inequalities in all parts of the Commonwealth.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of November, Freedom Credit Union collected cash donations at all its branches on behalf of the Westover Galaxy Community Council to support military service members and their families at Westover Air Reserve Base (ARB) in Chicopee. A total of $2,032.83 was collected from members, staff, and the community, which Freedom matched for a total donation of $4,065.66.

“Throughout the year, our monthly giving campaigns are met with terrific support, for which we are grateful,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “We really wanted to close out the year with a bang, so we matched the donations we received for this worthy cause. The holidays can be particularly hard for our military members and their families, especially when they are separated. The Westover Galaxy Community Council works to ease this difficulty by offering special events and resources.”

Formed in 1988 as a committee within the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce and incorporated as an independent organization in 1989, the Westover Galaxy Community Council is an organization made up of veterans, local businesspeople, and other citizens who support the men, women, and mission of Westover ARB. Within U.S. Department of Defense guidelines, the council raises funds to contribute to events and special needs at Westover, the largest air reserve base in the nation and home to more than 5,500 military and civilian workers.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of October, Freedom Credit Union and its members raised more than $1,000 for Unify Against Bullying.

“Unify Against Bullying is an organization we are very proud to support,” said Debra Mainolfi, the credit union’s West Springfield branch officer and a member of the Unify Against Bullying executive board. “Every year in the U.S., over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying, and Western Massachusetts is no exception. Most children who experience bullying don’t report it. Unify Against Bullying makes a positive impact in our schools and communities to bring people together to speak out against bullying in a unified voice.”

Unify Against Bullying pledges to bring an end to bullying through the celebration of true diversity. The organization works to ensure that victims of bullying know they are not alone — that they are, in fact, supported by a loving, caring community of fellow students, teachers, parents, siblings, business leaders, and many others.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — During the month of November, Freedom Credit Union is collecting cash donations at all its branches throughout Western Mass. to help Westover Galaxy Community Council support military service members and their families at Westover Air Reserve Base (ARB) in Chicopee.

“At Freedom Credit Union, our members and staff are honored to support our military and the brave individuals who give so much to protect and defend our nation,” President Glenn Welch said. “Throughout the year, and especially around the holidays, being away from family is one of the biggest challenges they face. The Westover Galaxy Community Council works to ease this difficulty by helping keep the members of our military connected to their families and homes, while also providing resources to their family members.”

Formed in 1988 as a committee within the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce and incorporated as an independent organization in 1989, the Westover Galaxy Community Council is an organization made up of veterans, local businesspeople, and other citizens who support the men, women, and mission of Westover ARB. Within Department of Defense guidelines, Westover Galaxy Community Council raises funds to contribute to events and special needs at Westover, the largest Air Reserve base in the nation.

“Whether or not you are a Freedom member, please join us in supporting those who keep us safe,” Welch said. “Stop by any one of our branches to make a cash donation.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the months of July and August, Freedom Credit Union raised more than $2,700 through its annual summer food drive for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. In addition to cash donations, Freedom also collected non-perishable food items.

“Thanks to the generosity of our members and staff, we were able to make a substantial donation of both money and non-perishable food for the Food Bank,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “Every donation makes a difference, and we are proud to help erase food insecurity in our community.”

Since 1982, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has helped provide much-needed food to area residents in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. It sources its products from donations, which it distributes to participating pantries, meal sites, and shelters throughout the region.

“We’re grateful for the ongoing support of Freedom Credit Union,” Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Executive Director Andrew Morehouse said. “With a food assistance network of 172 local food pantries in all four counties of Western Massachusetts, we will certainly put these dollars and food donations to good use.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of October, Freedom Credit Union is collecting cash donations at all its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit Unify Against Bullying. The Springfield-based nonprofit organization seeks to bring an end to bullying through the celebration of diversity, and it provides grants to those who are in the best position to make a difference: children, parents, teachers, and administrators.

“Unify Against Bullying says, ‘when we stand together, we stand as one,’” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “That’s exactly what we’re doing as we support this incredible organization through our Month of Giving campaign this October. There’s no place for bullying in our community. Let’s work together to put an end to it.”

Unify Against Bullying works to provide grant funding for schools and other programs where individuals are on the frontlines of bullying and potential bullying every day. By providing added resources, the organization aims to promote awareness and acceptance and show children that the days of ignoring or tolerating bullying are over.

“Not only is this a cause we are proud to support, but our West Springfield branch officer, Debra Mainolfi, is a member of the board of directors for Unify Against Bullying,” Welch noted. “We are proud that so many of our employees are involved in organizations working to better our communities, and we’re honored to support them in any way we can.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union recently welcomed Mortgage Loan Originator Michael Laga to its Loan Production Office at 115 Elm St. in Enfield, Conn. In this role, Laga works with homebuyers to assess their financial status and credit, recommend the best loan products, and guide members through the homebuying process.

“We are delighted to bring Michael’s nearly three decades of experience to bear for the benefit of our members in Connecticut as well as the greater Northampton area in Massachusetts,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “He is quickly proving to be a valuable and adept addition to our team of exceptional mortgage loan originators.”

Laga graduated from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst and played professional baseball for 14 years on teams including the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Francisco Giants.

Freedom’s Loan Production Office opened in Enfield in November 2022. It is dedicated exclusively to mortgage and business lending. John Santaniello, assistant vice president of Member Business Lending, also works from this office, helping businesses that are seeking loans, including term, Small Business Administration, commercial real estate, and commercial vehicle loans.

Freedom membership is available to anyone who lives, works, or attends school in Hartford or Tolland counties in Connecticut, in addition to Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, or Berkshire counties in Massachusetts.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of September, Freedom Credit Union is accepting monetary donations at all its branches to benefit the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, an Alzheimer’s Assoc. event held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide.

According to the Alzheimer’s Assoc., one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and more than 6 million Americans are living with the disease. This year alone, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the United States $345 billion — a number projected to rise to nearly $1 trillion in 2050.

“While those statistics demonstrate the tremendous national impact of Alzheimer’s disease, for many of us, this devastating disease is also intensely personal, robbing us and our loved ones of cherished memories and connections,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “That’s why we’re moved to again support the Alzheimer’s Association in its mission to raise funds and awareness for a breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer’s and all other forms of dementia.”

The Alzheimer’s Assoc. Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. This inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to join the fight against the disease.

Freedom Credit Union is accepting donations through Saturday, Sept. 30. Local walks in Western Mass. this year will be held in Adams on Saturday, Sept. 30 and Holyoke on Sunday, Oct. 15.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of June, Freedom Credit Union collected cash donations at its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit Griffin’s Friends, a volunteer-led group dedicated to providing relief and support to children with cancer and their families, raising a total of $1,400.

“Over the years, Griffin’s Friends has earned a special place in our hearts because of the passion its volunteers have for preserving the memory of Griffin Kelleher through generous acts of kindness,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “There is a kind of magic in honoring the spirit of a child by providing joyful experiences that impact children and families on such a personal level, and at a time when they are needed most.”

Griffin’s Friends was founded in 1994 in Springfield and is named for Griffin Kelleher, who passed away from cancer when he was 14 months old. This group is his legacy, uniquely supporting children in treatment for cancer and their families by providing small acts of joy.

Examples of the types of experiences offered by Griffin’s Friends include trips to stage performances and sporting events, in-hospital and outpatient entertainment, massage therapy, and activities such as art, computers, and games. To contribute, visit griffinsfriends.com. All funds donated go to the Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Health Foundation Inc.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union announced the promotion of Eric Garcia from assistant branch officer to branch officer at its main office in Springfield. He first joined the Freedom team in September 2020 as a member services representative and, due to his potential and initiative, was quickly promoted to the role of assistant branch officer in November 2021. With this latest promotion to branch officer, he will assume responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the main branch.

“Eric’s dedication, professionalism, and commitment to our members make him the perfect fit for this leadership role,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “He has frequently filled in for officers at other branches and had the employees singing his praises.”

Throughout his tenure at Freedom, Garcia has been recognized for his outstanding contributions. He is a recipient of both the prestigious GEM Award and the President’s Award, highlighting his exceptional work ethic, commitment to excellence, genuine kindness, and positive impact on the organization.

“Eric has consistently demonstrated exceptional management skills and has earned the trust and respect of his entire team,” Welch said. “We are confident that, under his guidance, our main branch will continue to thrive and provide our members with the exceptional service they deserve.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the months of July and August, Freedom Credit Union is holding its annual summer food drive for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts to help support essential services for people in need throughout the region.

“This cause will remain near and dear to our hearts as long as there are people in our community who suffer from food insecurity,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “We are collecting non-perishable food items and cash donations at all our branch locations and invite our members, staff, and community to contribute.”

Last year, Freedom raised more than $4,100 for the Food Bank and collected an additional 930 pounds of food for the Gray House in Springfield.

Suggested donations of non-perishable food and personal care items include hot and cold cereals; packaged rice and grains; pasta and noodles; canned beans and vegetables; canned and dried fruit; peanut butter and nuts; granola bars and crackers; powdered or evaporated milk; instant potatoes; canned chicken, fish, and meat; cooking oils and spices; canned soups, stews, and chili; powdered or canned baby formula; diapers, wipes, and toilet paper; shampoo and body wash; and toothpaste and toothbrushes.

“Please give to the extent you are able and help us take a bite out of food insecurity,” Welch said. “Invite your friends and family to help or create a company-wide initiative at your business. Every donation makes a difference.”

Since 1982, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has helped provide much-needed food to residents in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties. It sources its products from donations, which it distributes to participating pantries, meal sites, and shelters throughout the region.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union will once again offer the opportunity for Western Mass. residents to securely purge unwanted paperwork.

In cooperation with PROSHRED Springfield, Freedom is offering its free Community Shred Day at two of its branches on Saturday, June 3: from 9 to 10 a.m. at 58 Union St., West Springfield; and from 11 a.m. to noon at 959 Springfield St., Feeding Hills.

The public is invited to bring old bills, bank statements, tax returns, and other sensitive documents for free, quick, and secure on-site shredding.

Members and non-members alike may bring up to five file boxes or paper bags (per vehicle) to the events. There is no charge for this service.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Understanding that a good night’s sleep is essential for children’s health, growth, and development, Freedom Credit Union is again partnering with the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the Cooperative Credit Union Assoc. to help provide ‘A Bed for Every Child’ throughout the Pioneer Valley. Through May 31, the community is invited to make cash donations at any Freedom branch.

“We believe every child deserves the opportunity to get a good night’s sleep in a warm and comfortable bed of their own,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “This is a cause that is near and dear to the hearts of our members and staff, who all give generously every year to help ensure sweet dreams for all the children in our region.”

This effort began in 2011 when the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless learned that many public-school students were not getting enough sleep because they did not have their own beds. In response, they launched A Bed for Every Child with a mission to help children get the restful sleep they need to learn and succeed. To date, more than 14,250 children have been helped.

Every $350 allows for a ‘Bed Buddy’ package, which provides one child with a complete bed set. Freedom welcomes cash donations of any amount.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union is again collecting cash donations at all its branches throughout the Pioneer Valley to benefit the Foundation for TJO Animals and the Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter. Donations will be accepted through Friday, March 31.

“Animal shelters deliver a vital service in our community,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “They provide food, water, shelter, care, and medical services to approximately 6.3 million animals across the country every year, securing forever homes for more than 4 million. Last year, we raised more than $1,700, a total we hope to exceed this year.”

Freedom Credit Union employees and members, as well as the community at large, are encouraged to make monetary donations directly to local animal shelters or purchase a ‘pawprint’ for $1 or more at any Freedom branch, which will be displayed in the window.

The Thomas J. O’Connor Adoption Center provides animal shelter and adoption services for the cities of Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke. The Foundation for TJO Animals was formed to allow the group to better serve the shelter animals in its care through medical treatments and rehabilitation. This veterinary care allows pets to be brought to the adoption floor, where they will hopefully find their forever home.

The Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter is a volunteer-led group serving the communities of Franklin County. Its mission is to protect and improve the lives of stray, lost, and unwanted dogs by offering a welcoming facility, providing care, and finding good homes for each and every animal.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union is again helping to make holiday wishes come true for area children through its Cherish the Children 2022 campaign, held in cooperation with the local Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF). Through Dec. 22, Freedom invites its members, staff, and the entire community to select a child’s wish from the tree inside each of its branches and return to place the requested gift under the tree.

“Over the years, our generous members, employees, and credit-union partners have brightened the holidays for many area children,” Freedom President and CEO Glenn Welch said. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference again this year and look forward to making even more Christmas wishes come true.”

DCF provided Freedom with wish lists that included children’s names, ages, and gift ideas. Freedom staff members created a tag for each child’s wish and hung it on their branch’s Christmas tree. Members of the public are encouraged to take a tag, purchase the gift the child requested, and then bring it back — unwrapped and with the tag attached — to place under the tree.

“Our goal is to provide gifts for a total of 500 area children this year,” Welch said. “We are also accepting monetary donations, which our ‘elves’ will use to round out the effort with a shopping spree. Children add the real magic to the holiday season, so we’ll make every effort to ensure every child receives a present they will truly enjoy.”

To participate in the Cherish the Children campaign, visit one of the Freedom branches in Chicopee, Feeding Hills, Greenfield, Ludlow, Northampton, Turners Falls, West Springfield, or Springfield.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union recently announced the hiring of two staff members for its new loan-production office at 115 Elm Street in Enfield, Conn.: Jackson Findlay, mortgage loan originator, and John Santaniello, assistant vice president of Member Business Lending.

“We are excited to have Jackson and John join our team to serve our members in Connecticut,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “We could not have two better people representing us at our first location across state lines.”

Findlay will be responsible for helping guide members through mortgage loan options, preparing and submitting mortgage loan applications, and working with prospective homebuyers throughout the process of obtaining a mortgage loan. A graduate of Newbury College with a bachelor’s degree in international business and Elms College with an MBA, he previously served as a virtual mortgage officer with another financial institution.

Santaniello will work with businesses seeking loans, including term, Small Business Administration, commercial real estate, and commercial vehicle loans. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He previously worked at another financial institution in Connecticut as assistant vice president of Commercial Lending.

In 2020, Freedom expanded its charter from people who live, work, or attend school and their families in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties in Massachusetts, to also include people in Hartford and Tolland counties in Connecticut.

Daily News

ENFIELD, Conn. — Freedom Credit Union, with 10 branches throughout the Pioneer Valley, announced the opening of its first location in Connecticut at 115 Elm St., Unit 214, in Enfield. The office, which recently opened, is dedicated exclusively to mortgage and business lending for the time being.

“We are excited to expand our footprint over the state line into Connecticut to better meet the needs of our members there,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “This new location has both a full-time mortgage loan originator and a business lender on site.”

The mortgage loan originator, Jackson Findlay, will help guide members through mortgage loan options, prepare and submit mortgage loan applications, and work with prospective homebuyers throughout the process of obtaining a mortgage loan. He earned his bachelor’s degree in international business from Newbury College and an MBA from Elms College.

John Santaniello, assistant vice president of Member Business Lending, will work with businesses that are seeking loans including term, Small Business Administration, commercial real estate, and commercial vehicle loans. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

“We have a significant number of members who go back and forth across the state line for work and other activities, so this expansion makes sense,” Welch added. “It is our intention to offer additional services to Connecticut in the future.”

In 2020, Freedom expanded its charter from people who live, work, or attend school in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties to also include people in Hartford and Tolland counties in Connecticut.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Through Friday, Dec. 2, Freedom Credit Union is collecting cash donations at all its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit the Pioneer Valley USO located at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee.

“At Freedom Credit Union, our members and staff are longtime supporters of our military and the brave men and women who give so much to protect and defend our nation,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “Throughout the year, and especially around the holidays, being away from family is one of the biggest challenges they face. The USO works to ease this difficulty by helping keep the members of our military connected to their families and homes, while also providing resources to their family members.”

Westover is the largest air reserve base in the nation and home to about 5,500 military service members and their families. There, the Pioneer Valley USO works to provide programs and services to service members and their families. This includes entertainment and events, a food pantry, transition programs, holiday celebrations, and more.

“We hope everyone will join us in supporting those who keep us safe,” Welch said. “Whether or not you are a Freedom member, please stop by one of our branches to make a cash donation toward this important effort. Every donation is appreciated and will be put to great use.”

Freedom Credit Union has branches in Chicopee, Feeding Hills, Greenfield, Ludlow, Northampton, Turners Falls, West Springfield, and Springfield.

Banking and Financial Services Special Coverage

Century Unlimited

 

President and CEO Glenn Welch (center) with some of his team.

President and CEO Glenn Welch (center) with some of his team.

When asked what might come next for Freedom Credit Union, Glenn Welch said simply, “we’re going to continue doing what we’ve been doing for the past 100 years.”

By that he meant … well, a whole lot of things, from continued growth and innovation to embracing new technology; from growing the base of customers to extending the institution’s geographic reach; from finding new ways to serve members to giving back to the community.

There will be more of all of that, said Welch, president and CEO of Freedom, who offered what amounted to a ‘state of the credit union’ report for BusinessWest on the occasion of its 100th birthday.

The milestone (July 22 was the official birthday) has been marked in various ways — from a 100-day summer food drive that raised $4,100 for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and collected 930 pounds of food for the Gray House, to a week of ice cream at all the branches in late July for members and employees; from raffles and giveaways for members to specials on loans and CDs.

“It’s a big milestone these days for a financial institution to be around that long,” Welch said. “So we wanted to celebrate with the community.”

Mostly, though, the institution has been quietly continuing those patterns of behavior listed above, he added, noting that he and his team are being both innovative and entrepreneurial as they go about writing the next chapter in a history that began with an institution known as the Western Massachusetts Telephone Workers Credit Union, formed when Warren Harding was patrolling the White House.

“It’s a big milestone these days for a financial institution to be around that long. So we wanted to celebrate with the community.”

Listing examples of both, he said Freedom will soon be introducing its first interactive teller machine (ITM) as well as credit cards and a new debit-card product. Meanwhile, it is continuing and broadening its push into Connecticut with the opening of a loan-production office on Elm Street in Enfield. Also, the credit union, which now boasts roughly $650 million in assets, more than 32,000 members, and 10 branches across Western Mass., has been making some inroads to service companies in the broad and ever-expanding cannabis industry in Western Mass., while continuing to aggressively pursue more business on the commercial-lending side of the ledger.

With the cannabis sector, the credit union recently started providing deposit and cash-management services for businesses in different kinds of businesses, said Welch, adding that this could become a vehicle for growth at Freedom.

“We have several clients that have signed on with us and we have a pretty good backlog of businesses that are looking to come on board with us,” Welch said, noting that the credit union is working with its regulator to make sure it is complying with guidelines for doing business with those in this sector.

It is certainly not the only institution looking to garner cannabis customers, he went on, adding that, as competition mounts, Freedom will work to remain competitive and secure market share in a sector where new businesses open every month, if not every week.

Cannabis was recently made legal for recreational use in the Nutmeg State, he went on, adding that this could be another avenue for growth in that market. “We think we’re in a good position with our expansion into that market.”

Overall, Freedom is still finding its footing in Connecticut, he said, adding that, over the next few years, it will explore opportunities to branch out south of the border, literally and figuratively.

Glenn Welch

Glenn Welch says the basic strategy at Freedom is “to keep doing what we’ve been doing for the past 100 years.”

“We’re going to explore our options in Connecticut as we get a foothold there,” he explained. “There could be a possibility of branching down there; we signed a two-year lease in Enfield, and we want to explore the market with the loan production first; we thought that was a good way to get a good foothold.”

For this issue and its focus on banking and financial services, BusinessWest talked at length with Welch about the first 100 years for Freedom Credit Union, and what is on tap for this Western Mass. institution.

 

Answering the Call

Tracing the history of the credit union, Welch said it started in a small office in the telephone-company building on Worthington Street, serving only employees of that large and fast-growing industry.

In 1978, the institution relocated to a new home on Main Street in Springfield’s North End, which still serves as its headquarters today. In 1987, the Western Massachusetts Telephone Workers Credit Union merged with Monarch Credit Union. As demand for the benefits of a credit union grew, the institution applied for a community charter. In January 2001, membership eligibility was expanded to include anyone who lived or worked in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, or Berkshire county, and in early 2020, further expansion of membership eligibility included Hartford and Tolland counties in Connecticut.

In 2004, the institution merged with FHBT Credit Union, and the name of the larger entity became Freedom Credit Union. And with that new name came geographic expansion, with new branches in Chicopee, Northampton, and, later, Turners Falls, Greenfield, Feeding Hills, Easthampton, the Sixteen Acres neighborhood in Springfield, Ludlow, West Springfield (after a merger with West Springfield Credit Union in 2019), and then Connecticut.

Throughout its history, Freedom has consistently sought out new opportunities to expand and bring its products, services, and mission to new zip codes, said Welch, while also looking for new and better ways to serve its members, said Welch, adding that these trends continue today.

Especially with its push into Connecticut, but also with its work to attract residents and businesses in its service area that are looking for options in the wake of a seemingly endless string of bank mergers, the latest being M&T’s absorption of People’s United Bank.

“We’re going to explore our options in Connecticut as we get a foothold there.”

Connecticut has become the next frontier for many banks and credit unions based in Western Mass., and so it is with Freedom, said Welch, adding that the new office in Enfield, which opened earlier this month, will include both a commercial-lending officer and a mortgage originator.

“We had a lot of people in Connecticut who wanted to bank with us, so that’s why we expanded our charter in 2020,” he said, adding that COVID obviously slowed the pace of progress into that state, but with the pandemic easing in most all respects, the credit union is expecting to see growth in the numbers of members from across the border.

Meanwhile, Freedom will continue and escalate what has been an aggressive push into the commercial-lending market on both sides of the border, another initiative that has been slowed somewhat by COVID.

“We’re trying to expand on the commercial side, but obviously not ignoring consumers,” he told BusinessWest. “We did hire a new hire lender for the Connecticut market; we believe there is a lot of opportunity there — on both the commercial and consumer side.”

Overall, the credit union began its push into the commercial market roughly seven years ago, he said, adding that it has been making good inroads since, with two lenders in this market and now the one in Connecticut.

Its legal lending limit is $7 million, with a large sweet spot of $2 million to $5 million, Welch explained, adding that this range leaves plenty of growth potential in a region dominated, on both sides of the border, by small businesses.

“We have a very experienced lending team — we’ve been in the market in a long time,” he said, adding that Freedom will be rolling out some new products in the next few months that will make it easier for companies to obtain small-business loans.

“We’ve partnered with a credit-union service organization with an online app where people can go, and they will make the credit decision for us, based on our guidelines in place,” he explained. “That’s how we hope to help the small businesses in the area.”

Another new service soon to be unveiled by Freedom will enable area retailers to offer financing for purchase of their products through the credit union, an initiative that he believes will help small businesses while also creating potential new members for the credit union on the consumer side.

The credit union’s headquarters have been located on Main Street in Springfield since 1978 — before it was called Freedom.

The credit union’s headquarters have been located on Main Street in Springfield since 1978 — before it was called Freedom.

Overall, growth in membership has been steady, at perhaps 1% a year on average, which is typical of credit unions in this market, he said, adding that Freedom is trying to capitalize on the ongoing consolidation of the banking market and mergers like the one involving M&T and People’s United, which, by most accounts, did not go smoothly.

“I think that’s our biggest opportunity, especially in Connecticut, with M&T and People’s United being such big players in that market,” he said, adding that the credit union is conducting some marketing targeting customers of those institutions.

Meanwhile, as noted earlier, the credit union will soon roll out its own credit card as well as a new debit-card product, its first ITM, and other products and services aimed at making banking easier and more convenient for members.

“We just keep automating things as we try to make it easier for our members to do business with us,” Welch explained. “A lot of things are being done online, and I think we have very competitive products for that; if people want to apply for loans or open accounts, they can do it on their own time, but certainly we have the branch system in place to support them when they need help.”

 

By All Accounts

Looking at the business plan for the next several years, Welch said Freedom is looking at a number of growth opportunities — in Massachusetts, Connecticut, within the cannabis industry, in commercial lending, and with several new consumer products.

It is moving on several different fronts at once, with the goal of expanding its membership base, providing new and better products and services, and taking its mission in new directions.

These initiatives are new in some respects, but overall, they’re simply a continuation of what the institution now known as Freedom has been doing for a century.

 

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

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union will once again offer the opportunity for Western Mass. residents to securely purge unwanted paperwork. In cooperation with PROSHRED Springfield, Freedom is offering a free Community Shred Day on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at its 74 Main St., Greenfield branch.

The public is invited to bring old bills, bank statements, tax returns, and other sensitive documents for free, quick, and secure on-site shredding. Members and non-members alike may bring up to five file boxes or paper bags per vehicle to the event. There is no charge for this service.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union is again offering the opportunity for Western Mass. residents to securely purge unwanted paperwork. In cooperation with PROSHRED Springfield, Freedom is offering free Community Shred Days on two Saturdays, Sept. 10 and Oct. 15, at its Ludlow, Chicopee, Northampton, and Greenfield branches.

On Sept. 10, shredding will take place from 9 to 10 a.m. at 645 Center St., Ludlow, and from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at 1976 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. On Oct. 15, shredding will take place from 9 to 10 a.m. at 226 King St., Northampton, and from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at 74 Main St., Greenfield.

The public is invited to bring old bills, bank statements, tax returns, and other sensitive documents for quick, secure on-site shredding. Credit union members and non-members alike may bring up to five file boxes or paper bags per vehicle to the events. There is no charge for this service.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union recently announced the promotion of Charlene Smolkowicz from commercial credit manager to assistant vice president.

She has been with Freedom since 2016 and is based in the main office in Springfield. In her role, she manages the Commercial Credit department, underwriting process, and analyst team for commercial and industrial, commercial mortgage/commercial real estate, and nonprofit borrowers. She is also responsible for maintaining sound portfolio credit quality and monitoring risk.

“Charlene already had nearly two decades of experience when she joined our team six years ago, and she has proven herself to be a leader time and time again,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “She is a past recipient of our GEM award and is dedicated not only to providing the best service to our members, but also to helping her colleagues grow and thrive.”

Smolkowicz earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration at Northeastern University in Boston and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management at Bay Path University. She also completed the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. Advanced School of Commercial Lending at Babson College.

Active in the community, she serves as treasurer and chairs the finance committee for the board of directors for Viability Inc., and participates in both the WIT (Women Innovators & Trailblazers) Mentor Match Program and the Springfield School Volunteers Read-Aloud program. She was recognized by United Way of Pioneer Valley as Volunteer of the Year in 2012.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union recently announced the promotion of Andrew Sullivan from commercial loan officer to assistant vice president, member business lending.

Sullivan has been with Freedom since 2019 and is based in the main office in Springfield. He will continue his role providing financing for new and existing business members along with managing the existing commercial-loan portfolio.

“Andrew joined our team with experience as a small-business lender and portfolio manager and quickly showed his value to our members in his role as a commercial-loan officer,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “This well-deserved promotion will allow him to continue to serve our members while mentoring others on our lending team.”

Sullivan earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting/business management and an MBA from Elms College. He is also the founder of Andrew Sullivan’s Swing for a Cure to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union announced it recently promoted Rae Brown to the role of branch officer for its Northampton and Easthampton locations. She previously served as the assistant branch officer at the Main Street, Springfield office.

“Rae has been with us for nearly eight years and has proven herself to be a wonderful leader, dedicated to providing outstanding service to our members and committed to the success of her team,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “She is the perfect person to oversee our two branches in Hampshire County.”

Brown has more than two decades of experience in banking, including more than 11 years in Hampshire County. She has an associate degree from Springfield Technical Community College and is also a notary public.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union hired Carla Banas as branch officer for its Ludlow location. She brings more than 16 years of banking experience to her role, the last several of which were in Ludlow, where she specialized in commercial banking.

“Carla has a depth of experience in community and commercial banking, and a proven track record of coaching and staff development,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “She lives in Ludlow and has a passion for the local community and for helping small businesses.”

In her new role, Banas will oversee the daily operations of the branch, ensure the growth and development of employees, ensure exceptional customer service for members, and grow new business by cultivating lasting relationships.

Outside her professional role, Banas is on the board for Women to Watch and serves as community outreach chair. She is also a member and past president of the Ludlow BNI Core Connections chapter and is active in the East of the River Chamber of Commerce. In her previous position, she was recognized for her work with employed veterans by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of February, Freedom Credit Union is once again collecting donations for its  annual Gift of Warmth — ­Blanket, Clothing and Pajama Drive, supporting the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.

“As part of the Massachusetts credit unions, we assist with two annual initiatives for the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless: A Bed for Every Child and Gift of Warmth,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “Since the launch of A Bed for Every Child, more than 9,000 children throughout the state have received a new bed of their own. And as much as funding for beds is important, so are the special touches that make a bed comfy and cozy, which is why we also support the Gift of Warmth — Blanket, Clothing and Pajama Drive.”

Cash donations can be made at any Freedom Credit Union branch throughout the month of February. Funds raised will be used to purchase new blankets, clothing, and pajamas for area children. Donations can also be made online at abedforeverychild.org/ccua, or new blankets, clothing, or pajamas can be purchased and delivered to A Bed for Every Child, c/o Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, 73 Buffum St., Lynn, MA 01902.

“We are so gratified at the way our members, staff, and community step up each year to help ensure that all children in our community can get a warm, comfortable, good night’s sleep,” Welch said. “This is a cause that is close to all our hearts.”

Since 2011, Massachusetts credit unions have donated more than 9,100 blankets and thousands of warm clothing items, including pajamas, for many in need throughout the state.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union (FCU) is again proud to partner with the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the Cooperative Credit Union Assoc. on A Bed for Every Child.

“A Bed for Every Child is one of our most cherished organizations that we support,” said Glenn Welch, president and CEO of Freedom Credit Union. “We have a strong commitment to our community, and this group is doing amazing work right here in our backyard. Every child deserves a warm, safe place to rest their head for a restorative night of sleep.”

In 2011, the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless learned that many public-school students were not getting enough sleep because they did not have their own beds. In response, the coalition launched A Bed for Every Child with a mission to help facilitate the healthy sleep children need to learn and succeed. Every $250 equals a ‘comforts of home’ package that provides sheets, blankets, pillows, and oral-hygiene kits. Every $350 allows for a ‘bed buddy’ package, which provides one child with a complete bed set.

Each FCU branch is currently collecting cash donations though Friday, Dec. 17 to benefit A Bed for Every Child and help Freedom reach its goal.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union has made a $15,000 commitment — $3,000 per year over five years —to support a new family-medicine residency program designed to attract and retain young physicians to Franklin County. Led by founding Chair Dr. Robert Baldor, the Department of Family Medicine is a partnership between Baystate Franklin Medical Center and UMass Chan Medical School – Baystate.

“We care not just about the financial health of our members and community, but also about their overall health,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “Franklin County is an underserved area when it comes to primary healthcare, and many of the local providers are older and close to retirement. We are happy to help attract new physicians to our area through this endeavor.”

The residency will be housed at the Greenfield Family Medicine Practice at 48 Sanderson St., which is adjacent to Baystate Franklin Medical Center and easily accessible to the Greater Greenfield community. Family medicine physicians are trained to treat all members of a family, from children to adults and seniors, diagnosing and treating a wide range of ailments and providing preventive care.

Four new residents will be welcomed annually into the three-year training program (12 in total). They will learn from the physicians at Baystate Franklin Medical Center and specialists from Franklin County and other Baystate Health facilities. The first class of four residents will arrive in June 2022.

“Historically, 85% of residents who train in family-medicine residencies practice as primary-care providers, and 39% of those physicians stay close to the community where they trained,” said Baldor, who noted that this is the first Baystate Health academic department housed outside Springfield, and the first accredited family-medicine training program in the region. “We are thrilled that Freedom Credit Union is supporting this new program that will have a real and lasting impact on the health of our entire community.”

Freedom’s $15,000 donation is among $245,700 that has been donated in support of the hospital’s $4.2 million investment in creating a state-of-the-art clinical/teaching facility at 48 Sanderson St. Two education grants from the federal government will support the program as well, including a $750,000 Health Resources & Services Administration grant and an Area Health Education Center grant for $100,000.

“An endeavor such as this one requires the support of the entire community,” Welch said. “We are proud to join the ranks of other local donors — including the medical staff at Baystate Franklin, who contributed $25,000 — in bringing this project to life, and we encourage others to do the same.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of August, Freedom Credit Union collected cash donations at all its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit Unify Against Bullying, raising a total of $955.49 in support of the group’s mission to bring an end to bullying through the celebration of true diversity. The Springfield-based nonprofit organization provides grants to those who are in the best position to make a difference — children, parents, teachers, and administrators.

“Great strides have been made to shine a light on the problem of bullying, which affects children of every shape, size, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or physical ability,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “We are proud that our members and staff came together to support the important work being done by Unify Against Bullying to understand and eradicate the stigmas surrounding differences that fuel the majority of bullying.”

Unify Against Bullying works to provide grant funding for schools and other programs where individuals are on the frontlines of potential bullying every day. By providing added resources, they hope to promote awareness and acceptance, show children that the days of ignoring or tolerating bullying are over, promote the celebration of differences, and come together as one community.

Debra Mainolfi, Freedom’s West Springfield branch manager, is a member of the board of directors for Unify Against Bullying.

Freedom’s September Month of Giving Campaign focuses on awareness and research for Alzheimer’s disease. Cash donations are being collected at all branches through Sept. 30 benefit the Alzheimer’s Assoc. Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — During the month of September, Freedom Credit Union is collecting cash donations at all its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit the Alzheimer’s Assoc. Walk to End Alzheimer’s and its mission to raise funds and awareness for a breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and all other forms of dementia.

“Alzheimer’s is a debilitating disease affecting more than 6 million people in the United States, killing more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “So many of our members and staff have been affected by this devastating disease, and we are happy to help by raising funds and awareness.”

Through Thursday, Sept. 30, Freedom Credit Union employees and members, as well as the community at large, are invited to make monetary donations at any Freedom branch.

Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. This inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to join the fight against the disease.

“Not only will we be raising funds this month, but we are also putting together a team to participate in one of the walks on Sunday, September 26 at Holyoke Community College,” Welch noted. “We are proud to support causes that affect our community and hope others will join us.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout June and July, Freedom Credit Union collected cash donations at its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, which leads the fight against food insecurity throughout Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties. It raised $2,710 thanks to the generosity of members and staff.

“Especially as we continue to recover from the pandemic, food insecurity is a pressing concern for many in our community,” said Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch. “In fact, more than 100,000 people across our four counties need support, a call our members and staff responded to with generosity.”

 

Since 1982, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has helped provide much needed food to area residents. It source its products from donations and then supplies it to participating pantries, meal sites, and shelters throughout the region. Its work allows individuals, families, seniors, children, veterans and people with disabilities to lead healthy and meaningful lives.

 

Based on the donations received in their previous fiscal year, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts was able to provide the equivalent of 12.3 million meals, a significant increase over previous years.

 

Freedom’s August Month of Giving Campaign will benefit another worthy local charity: Unify Against Bullying. Visit any branch or freedom.coop to make a donation through August 31.

 

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union is collecting cash donations at all its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit Unify Against Bullying, whose mission is to bring an end to bullying through the celebration of true diversity. The Springfield-based nonprofit organization provides grants to those who are in the best position to make a difference — children, parents, teachers, and administrators. Freedom Credit Union is accepting donations through Tuesday, Aug. 31.

“Bullying affects children of every shape, size, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or physical ability,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “We hope to raise funds this month to assist Unify Against Bullying in their important work of understanding and eradicating the stigmas surrounding differences that fuel the majority of bullying.”

Throughout August, Freedom Credit Union employees and members, as well as the community at large, are invited to make monetary donations at any Freedom branch or online at freedom.coop.

Unify Against Bullying works to provide grant funding for schools and other programs where individuals are on the frontlines of potential bullying every day. By providing added resources, they hope to promote awareness and acceptance and to show children that the days of ignoring or tolerating bullying are over. They hope to promote the celebration of differences and come together as one community.

“Not only is this a cause we are proud to support, but our West Springfield branch officer, Debra Mainolfi, is a member of the board of directors for Unify Against Bullying,” Welch said. “We are proud that so many of our employees are involved in organizations working to better our communities, and we’re honored to support them in any way we can.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union will once again to offer the opportunity for Western Mass. residents to securely purge unwanted paperwork. In cooperation with PROSHRED Springfield, Freedom is offering a free community shred day at two of its branches in Springfield and West Springfield.

The event is slated for Saturday, Sept. 18 from 9 to 10 a.m. at 296 Cooley St. in Springfield, and from 11 a.m. to noon at 58 Union St. in West Springfield. The public is invited to bring old bills, bank statements, tax returns, and other sensitive documents for free, quick, and secure on-site shredding.

Members and non-members alike may bring up to five file boxes or paper bags (per vehicle) to the events. Masks are not required for those who are vaccinated.