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Big E 2020

Canceled: For the safety of fairgoers, staff, vendors, entertainers, exhibitors, sponsors, suppliers, and the broader community, the leadership of the Eastern States Exposition have canceled the 2020 Big E. “We know our faithful fairgoers will be disappointed,” a statement noted. “This decision was difficult and complex, but we all know in our hearts that it’s the right thing to do for the health and safety of the 1.6 million people who support us each year. Our staff has spent the last few months working tirelessly to figure a way to bring our annual New England tradition to everyone this fall. Despite exploring all our options and planning extensively, we realized that the Big E experience that everyone has come to know and love would not be the same.” Next year’s edition of the Big E is scheduled for Sept. 17 to Oct. 3, 2021.

Café Creations

July 8, 15, 22: Café Creations, an interactive learning program designed by transition specialist Kelsey Poole in conjunction with the Mental Health Assoc. (MHA), will provide opportunities for creativity, friendship, and increasing independence for 15 adults ages 18 to 22 with autism or developmental disabilities. The program was made possible through a grant provided by the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism Inc. Café Creations will run for three consecutive Wednesdays from 3 to 4 p.m. via the Zoom virtual meeting platform. To participate, students need access to an internet-enabled computer or tablet that can connect to Zoom. Interested individuals should sign up no later than Friday, July 3 by contacting Poole at (413) 454-7112 or [email protected]. Café Creations is designed to provide adults with autism or developmental disabilities a virtual, interactive, and fun learning experience that enables them to walk away with something they created. Along the way, students have the opportunity to connect with others outside of their community, mostly in towns in Western Mass, while focusing on recreational and educational activities that incorporate meaningful connections and sustainable friendships. To finish each weekly session, students play interactive games with incentives and prizes. Materials required for each session’s creative project will be delivered to each student’s residence in time for each session. These materials include vision boards, which enable students to get to know something about themselves and then share that with others in the group; food ingredients for students to make their own pizzas; and materials to create a lava lamp. Students are encouraged to have a job coach or parent nearby to assist with some activities, notably making pizza, which involves using an oven. According to Poole, the program promotes independence and builds friendships through creation. “Folks with autism or developmental disabilities don’t always know how to meet others like themselves in their community,” she said. “I designed Café Creations to be an alternative way of learning and, at the same time, an alternative way of connecting with others. It provides that linkage and does so in a manner where there’s something creative happening. With this population, it’s important to peel back the support and get them to spread their wings.”

Asnuntuck Information Sessions

July 13, 22, 28; Aug. 6: Asnuntuck Community College has scheduled several virtual information sessions with the Admissions and Financial Aid departments during the summer. The sessions will be held on Monday, July 13 at 5 p.m.; Wednesday, July 22 at 3 p.m.; Tuesday, July 28 at 5 p.m.; and Thursday, Aug. 6 at 3 p.m. Prospective students need to attend only one of the sessions. Participants will be able to learn about the admissions and financial-aid process. The July 13 session will feature information regarding Connecticut’s community-college debt-free scholarship, Pledge to Advance Connecticut (PACT). Students must apply and be registered for a full-time schedule of courses by July 15 to be eligible for PACT. It is free to apply to the college. The sessions will also include time for questions and answers. To register for a session and learn how to register for classes, visit asnuntuck.edu/admissions/how-to-enroll. Registration for the fall semester is now open.

Healthcare Heroes Nominations

Through July 17: BusinessWest and its sister publication, the Healthcare News, will pay tribute to the heroes of COVID-19 by dedicating their annual Healthcare Heroes program in 2020 to those who are have emerged as true heroes during this crisis. The deadline for nominations is July 17. Healthcare Heroes was launched by the two publications in 2017 to recognize those working in this all-important sector of the region’s economy, many of whom are overlooked when it comes to traditional recognition programs. Over the years, the program has recognized providers, administrators, emerging leaders, innovators, and collaborators. For 2020, the program will shift its focus somewhat to the COVID-19 pandemic and all those who are working in the healthcare field or helping to assist it at this trying time. All manner of heroes have emerged this year, and we invite you to nominate one — or several — for what has become a very prestigious honor in Western Mass.: the Healthcare Heroes award. All we need is a 400- to 500-word essay and/or two-minute video entry explaining why the group or individual stands out as an inspiration, and a truly bright star in a galaxy of healthcare heroes. These nominations will be carefully considered by a panel of independent judges, who will select the class of 2020. For more information on how to nominate someone for the Healthcare Heroes class of 2020, visit businesswest.com/healthcare-heroes/nomination-form. Videos can be sent via dropbox to [email protected]. Healthcare Heroes is sponsored by Comcast Business and Elms College.

Nominations for Humane Awards

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

MCLA Gallery 51 Virtual Artist Series

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

Submission Period for Virtual Art Show

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

Elms College Executive Leadership Breakfast

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