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Building New Lives

More than two dozen students were recently recognized for completing a five-month ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) program for Puerto Rican evacuees at Holyoke Community College. The Puerto Rican New Arrivals Program started July 23 and concluded Dec. 20 with a recognition ceremony and feast at HCC’s Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center (PAFEC) in downtown Holyoke. The HCC division of Business and Community Services offered the free ESOL program specifically for residents of Puerto Rico who left the island after Hurricane Maria and relocated to Western Mass.

Maria Crespo Santos and Yamilette Gonzalez Caceres share a moment at the ceremony

Students, faculty, and staff from HCC’s Puerto Rican New Arrivals Program celebrate the completion of the program

Investing in Students

An “Introduction to Fire Science” elective class offered at Ware High School and taught by Ware Fire Department Deputy Chief Edward Wloch — one example of project-based learning at the high school — led to an opportunity to take an EMT-B class at the Holyoke Community College satellite located at the Education to Employment (E2E) site in Ware. Students who finished the high-school elective are now exploring careers in fire science and emergency medicine. Area business partners included Baystate Wing Hospital Corp., which provided a matching grant of $640 that covered half the tuition and textbooks for the EMT course. From left: Michael Moran, president of Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital; students Valentina Towne, Morgan Orszulak, and Joe Gagnon; Wloch; students Seth Bourdeau, Felicity Dineen, and Jordan Trzpit; and Ware Superintendent of Schools Marlene DiLeo.

From left: Michael Moran, president of Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital; students Valentina Towne, Morgan Orszulak, and Joe Gagnon; Wloch; students Seth Bourdeau, Felicity Dineen, and Jordan Trzpit; and Ware Superintendent of Schools Marlene DiLeo.

From left: Michael Moran, president of Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital; students Valentina Towne, Morgan Orszulak, and Joe Gagnon; Wloch; students Seth Bourdeau, Felicity Dineen, and Jordan Trzpit; and Ware Superintendent of Schools Marlene DiLeo.

Another Act of Advocacy


The Advocacy Network, a local organization with a mission to promote and protect the health, human rights, and safety of people with developmental disabilities, recently donated $17,000 to Whole Children. The donation was one of the last acts of the group, which announced it is dissolving after more than 60 years of work. “We’re very pleased to support the programs and staff of Whole Children. We know we found the right place,” said Advocacy Network board member Ed Orzechowski. Whole Children was started in 2004 by a group of parents looking for after-school programs for their children with intellectual disabilities or autism. It joined with Springfield-based Pathlight in 2010 and has expanded to serve some 600 adults, teens, and children each year in a variety of recreation, performing-arts, and enrichment programs.

Launching a New Brand


Consolidated Health Plans (CHP), a Springfield-based accident- and health-insurance Berkshire Hathaway company, recently announced the launch of a new brand name and brand identity for three organizations: Consolidated Health Plans, Commercial Casualty Insurance Co., and Atlanta International Insurance Co. The organizations will be branded under the marketing name of Wellfleet, and the company names are changing to Wellfleet Group, Wellfleet Insurance Co., and Wellfleet New York Insurance Co., respectively.
Consolidated Health Plans President and CEO, Drew DiGiorgio, right, with company founder Kevin Saremi at CHP’s recent 25th anniversary celebration at the Basketball Hall of Fame. At left: from left, CHP employees Maureen Brunelle, Karen O’Connor, Susan Daley, and Amanda Noel.

Consolidated Health Plans President and CEO, Drew DiGiorgio, right, with company founder Kevin Saremi at CHP’s recent 25th anniversary celebration at the Basketball Hall of Fame. At left: from left, CHP employees Maureen Brunelle, Karen O’Connor, Susan Daley, and Amanda Noel.

Picture This

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts December 25, 2018

Cutting the Ribbon

Hundreds of dignitaries, including Gov. Charlie Baker, joined Springfield Technical Community College administrators, faculty, students, and trustees (past and present) for a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the Ira H. Rubenzahl Student Learning Commons, otherwise known as Building 19 when it was part of the Springfield Armory complex. Actually, several speakers who took the podium joked that the $50 million facility should simply be called ‘the Ira’ for short. The renovated historic building will now serve as a one-stop hub for student services and activities.

Rubenzahl, president of the school from 2004 to 2016 and visionary for the Building 19 project, cuts the ribbon

Rubenzahl, president of the school from 2004 to 2016 and visionary for the Building 19 project, cuts the ribbon

Baker, right, with current STCC President John Cook

Baker, right, with current STCC President John Cook

Rubenzahl chats with students Karolyn Burgos-Toribio and Mohammed Gabriel

Rubenzahl chats with students Karolyn Burgos-Toribio and Mohammed Gabriel

Building 19 opened in the mid 1800s, and has served the college in a number of ways over the years

Building 19 opened in the mid 1800s, and has served the college in a number of ways over the years

Rubenzahl addresses those gathered for the ceremonies, with Cook and Baker to his right

Rubenzahl addresses those gathered for the ceremonies, with Cook and Baker to his right

 

Banking on Worthy Causes

The Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. (MBA) announced that the MBA Charitable Foundation set a new record in its annual year-end community grant season. The 45 grants in 2018 total $163,000. The foundation has now provided gifts totaling approximately $2.5 million over its 22-year history. Among the awards is $5,000 to United Way of Pioneer Valley’s Thrive Financial Success Program (below), $5,000 to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts (middle), and $5,000 to Girls Inc. of Holyoke (bottom).

 

‘Your Friends Are My Friends’

More than 200 women recently attended WillPower Foundation’s “Your Friends Are My Friends” holiday brunch at Hadley Meeting House. The annual fundraiser raised more than $12,000 for grants for families with loved ones with different abilities throughout Western Mass. An art auction with pieces created by supporters of WillPower was the highlight of the event.

Sharon Dufour of LUSO Federal Credit Union and Kim Anderson with art they won at the auction.

Sharon Dufour of LUSO Federal Credit Union and Kim Anderson with art they won at the auction.

 

Food for Thought

Arrha Credit Union President Michael Ostrowski (pictured at far left) recently recognized Ludlow High School honor students for collecting $7,159.50 in non-perishable food items and donations for Springfield Open Pantry. Arrha sponsors the School Challenge, through which area students raised $22,982.91 this year. To show appreciation, Arrha donated $1,000 to Ludlow High School community efforts. The Springfield Open Pantry is an emergency food kitchen that serves more than 30,000 people each year.

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A Pictorial Essay

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Continuing the Fight

The 25th Rays of Hope Walk & Run Toward the Cure of Breast Cancer drew about 25,000 people to Forest Park in Springfield on Oct. 21 to raise money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer, as well as supporting survivors and remembering loved ones they’ve lost. The program, launched in 1994 by Lucy Giuggio Carvalho has raised almost $15 million over its history for research, treatment, equipment, breast-health programs, outreach, and education — all of it local — as well as providing grants to various community programs throughout Western Mass.

‘Pink Day’

LUSO Federal Credit Union in Ludlow and Wilbraham celebrated a “Pink Day” recently to raise awareness for breast cancer. The local, nonprofit community credit union is raising money to benefit Rays of Hope and the Pink W.A.Y. through calendar raffles for the months of November and December. Suggested donation is $10 (for one) or $15 (for two). To learn more, visit www.lusofederal.com.

Bowl-a-thon Donation

Joe Phillips, right, president of Phillips Insurance Agency Inc., presents a $5,000 check to John Freedman, president of Joseph Freedman Company, for the seventh annual Joseph Freedman Bowl-a-thon being held Nov. 7 at AMF lanes in Chicopee. The proceeds go to Camphill Village, a community for adults with developmental disabilities who live together and work together caring for each other.

Getting College Experience

Brian Candido, professor and program chair for Springfield Technical Community College’s Computer Information Technologies program, leads a class involving students from Springfield’s Commerce High School. The college welcomed more than 40 students from Commerce this fall as part of a program, created in collaboration with the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership, to enable high-school students to take college-level classes. Students attending STCC can choose between courses in mobile app programming, computer basics, and airbrushing techniques.

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A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts / August 20, 2018

Swinging for a Good Cause

The 38th annual Brightside Golf Classic at Springfield Country Club

The 38th annual Brightside Golf Classic at Springfield Country Club raised $90,180 to help to continue the work of Brightside for Families and Children as a nonprofit child-welfare and family-support organization for at-risk children, adolescents, and their families. The support given through this year’s Golf Classic will help Brightside’s efforts to assist children, adolescents, and families in need through family outreach and stabilization, psychiatric and medication evaluation and management, special education, and therapeutic mentoring. Pictured, from left:  William Walthouse, St. Germain Investment Management; Maria Zygmont, Brightside; John Kendzierski, Professional Drywall Construction Inc.; Daniel Moriarty, Monson Savings Bank; Mark Paglia, Brightside; Jack Dowd, the Dowd Agencies; Madeline Johnson, Brightside; Hank Downey, Florence Bank; William Wagner, Westfield Bank; and Mark Fulco, President, Mercy Medical Center.


 

Building Leaders

The MHA Leadership Series

The MHA Leadership Series, which is open to all members of management at MHA and targeted at program supervisors and directors, recently graduated 26 participants. The program delivers a leadership curriculum specialized for human-services professionals. The comprehensive training is designed to support supervisors and directors within their roles. A second Leadership Series is scheduled for the winter of 2019. “Employee training is essential to the success of any organization. Supervisor training and development can have a profound effect on employee retention, as well as recruitment,” said Cheryl Fasano, MHA president and CEO. “The investment MHA has made in our Leadership Series will benefit the organization for the long run. Investing in our most important resources, our human resources, is a priority.”


 

Community Impact

The staff of Facial Cosmetic & Maxillofacial Surgery (FCMS) in East Longmeadow

The staff of Facial Cosmetic & Maxillofacial Surgery (FCMS) in East Longmeadow collected money over the past few months during dress-down Fridays, and chose to donate $500 in proceeds to East Longmeadow Fire Department for its Firefighters Assoc. Pictured, from left: Cheryl Grassetti of FCMS, Mike Minahan of the East Longmeadow Fire Department, FCMS owner Dr. Richard Fraziero, and Ashley Swift of FCMS.