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Grand Opening

On June 23, Bacon Wilson welcomed clients, neighbors, and friends to a grand-opening reception at its new facility at 99 Springfield Road in Westfield. The event, which included a ribbon-cutting ceremony officiated by Westfield Mayor Donald Humason, was the firm’s first opportunity for in-person festivities since the pandemic began. Pictured, from left: Attorney Chip Smith, Attorney Daniel McKellick, Managing Partner Kenneth Albano, and Attorney Jonathan Breton.

 


White Lion Roars

White Lion Brewing celebrated the grand opening of its Tower Square facility on June 26. Here, White Lion founder Ray Berry (left) joins several staff members behind the counter during the event.

 


 

Caring for the Community

UMassFive College Federal Credit Union collected 350 pounds of personal-care items during the month of May and donated them to the pantries of Amherst Survival Center and Northampton Survival Center. Donations were collected at the credit union’s Hadley and Northampton branch locations. Pictured: Sez Morales (left), Amherst Survival Center pantry coordinator, and Cait Murray, UMassFive Community Outreach manager, with some of the donations.

 

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Open to Making Connections

On June 9, Berkshire Bank hosted a ribbon cutting for its Reevx Labs at 270-272 Bridge St. in Springfield. Reevx Labs are collaboration spaces for the community where entrepreneurs and nonprofits can connect with peers and resources to achieve their missions. Pictured, from left: Lori Gazzillo Kiely, Berkshire Bank Foundation director and the bank’s Berkshire County regional president; Ronald Molina-Brantley, vice president, relationship manager, and team leader at Berkshire Bank; Sean Gray, the bank’s president and chief operating officer; Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno; state Sen. Adam Gomez; and Jim Hickson, managing director, middle market, and regional president of the bank’s Pioneer Valley and Connecticut region.

 


Spring Cleanup

On June 11, a team of volunteers from MassMutual participated in a spring cleanup of the Square One site at the Christian Life Center on Sumner Avenue in Springfield. They prepared garden beds, built shade tents, raked, organized, and more. It was the first time this team has been together in person since the beginning of the pandemic.


Remembering a Legend

While many are mourning the loss of legendary restaurateur Andy Yee, the Student Prince & the Fort celebrated his life with a 60th birthday bash on June 11. The event kicked off with a proclamation by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, a welcome by Yee’s restaurant partner and friend Peter Picknelly, and a word from Rudi Scherff, longtime former owner of the Fort. The menu included Yee’s favorite dishes from the Fort kitchen, while the Fort bar served his favorite drink menu, and, because Yee loved music, guests enjoyed a lineup of live music with no cover charge.

 


Fresh Paint Springfield

The Fresh Paint Springfield mural festival recently transformed 10 large exterior walls into art in Mason Square and downtown. The locations and lead muralists include: top to bottom (below): 232 Worthington St., above the existing BLM mural, by Jeff Henriquez; 1106 State St., by Ryan Murray; Springfield City Library, Mason Square branch, 765 State St., by Betsy Casanas; and the corner of Dwight Street and Harrison Avenue, by Eric Okdeh; next page, clockwise from top left: 827 State St., by WMass Portrait Artists; Mosque 13, 727 State St., by Kay Douglas; 595 Main St., by Wane One; La Fiorentina, 883 Main St., by ARCY; Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, 3 Rutland St., by Nero and SoulsNYC; and the Worthington Street side of the Taylor Street Parking Garage, by Stash. About 1,000 community members pitched in to create the murals, while the Community Mural Apprentice program paired 10 local artists with established muralists to learn how to engage with the community in designing and painting large, professional murals.

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Brewing Up Business

 

 

 

 

 

One Way Brewing opened its doors at 807 Maple Road in Longmeadow on May 22, marking the launch of Longmeadow’s first brewery. One Way Brewing released a flagship beer, Kickstarter, a New England IPA. Pictured at top: two of the many customers who showed up at the event, which featured lines stretched around the building for much of the day. Above, Jason Tsitso, partner and head brewer, loads up six-packs of beer for sale at the kickoff event

 

 


 

 

Honoring a Legacy

Springfield’s Sinai Temple and the Jerome S. Gurland Human Relations Award Committee recently selected Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) as the 2021 award recipient. GSHFH Executive Director Aimee Giroux (pictured, right) met with Rabbi Jeremy Master (left) on May 26 to accept the honor. Award namesake Rabbi Gurland of Longmeadow, who passed away on May 20, had been an advocate for community service and interfaith relations. Giroux said the funds will be used to promote community involvement, primarily with youth volunteers through construction on its Bay Street project.

 


 

 

Customers’ Choice Community Grants

During a May 18 celebration at Look Park, Florence Bank awarded $100,500 to 32 community organizations through its 19th annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program. Each year, Florence Bank customers are invited to vote for their favorite local nonprofit; to qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes. In 2020, almost 7,000 votes were cast. Pictured: Monica Curhan, senior vice president and Marketing director, joins President and CEO Kevin Day in leading the awards presentation.

 


 

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Open for Business in Chicopee

 

Florence Bank recently celebrated its third Hampden County branch with a ribbon-cutting ceremony highlighted by a $5,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee. Pictured at top: Florence Bank staff and community leaders join bank President and CEO Kevin Day (center, flanked by Branch Manager Kimberly Downing and Chicopee Mayor John Vieau) in cutting the ribbon. Above: Day presents Lynn Morrisette, Marketing and Development director for the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, with the $5,000 donation.

 


 

Sock It to Stigma

Lenny Underwood, owner of Upscale Socks, teamed up with the Mental Health Assoc. (MHA) throughout May, Mental Health Awareness Month, with a new line of socks to support mental-health awareness. “I see how stigma relates to getting help — or not getting help — with mental wellness,” Underwood said. “It has been an issue I have seen and heard in my adulthood. But I’m optimistic when I see people in the public eye tell their story, being honest and vulnerable, because folks look up to others who are open and relatable. It helps to create more of a dialogue.” The socks will be available throughout the year at www.upscalesocks.com and at www.mhainc.org.

 


 

 

Protecting History

State Sen. Eric Lesser joined members of the Belchertown legislative delegation, local officials, and members of the community to celebrate the signing of an act providing for the permanent protection and stewardship of historic Lampson Brook Farm in Belchertown. The bill, sponsored by Lesser and supported by state Reps. Susannah Whipps, Jake Oliveira, and Thomas Petrolati, was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker in January. This law allows for the permanent protection of the five separate parcels that make up the 430-acre historic site.

 

 


 

 

 

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Brewing Up Diversity

White Lion Brewery owner Ray Berry recently teamed up with the owners of three other Massachusetts breweries — C.J. Eldridge of Arcpoint, Kevin Merritt of Crue Brew, and Arnold Cazeau of 67 Degrees — on a project they hope will draw more people of color to the industry. The project is a beer called “As One” — a juicy New England IPA available during White Lion’s weekly “Cans to Go” sessions at the brewery. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this limited-release brew will help fund a scholarship at Holyoke Community College for students of color who enroll in its beer, cider, and winemaking program. Pictured: Cazeau and his wife, Stephanie (right), talk to Amanda Sbriscia, vice president of Institutional Advancement at HCC, at an event at White Lion announcing the project.

 

 


 

 

 

Grand Opening

Second Chance Home Care, located at 200 North Main St., Suite 4 South, East Longmeadow — a non-medical home-care agency that serves the elderly, special-needs, and autism population — recently held a grand-opening ceremony. Town Manager Mary McNally was in attendance to help cut the ribbon and welcome the Second Chance team (pictured), including Director Veronica Anderson (left), to East Longmeadow. Second Chance provides a full spectrum of home-care services ranging from assistance with daily living, special needs, and autism respite services to just a little help at home.

 

 


 

 

Delivering the Goods

Visiting Angels of West Springfield donated 200 St. Patrick’s Day goody bags to Mont Marie Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center located in Holyoke. These bags included St. Patrick’s Day treats and a little leprechaun for some festive spirit. These donations were distributed to the staff and residents of the healthcare center for their holiday party. Mont Marie Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center offers clinical services and specialized programs for the rehabilitation of their residents. Visiting Angels is a home-healthcare service that offers senior in-home care, elderly care, and care for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

 

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Students Serving Students

 

The Springfield College Center for Service and Leadership and the Humanics in Action Club recently delivered more than 200 fire-safety kits to Rebecca M. Johnson Elementary School, and 100 incentive kits to both Elias Brookings Elementary School and William N. DeBerry Elementary School. The fire-safety kits (top) include washcloths, emergency whistles, water bottles, granola bars, a face mask, soap, a toothbrush, and toothpaste, as well as donated items from the Springfield Fire Department, including a fire hat and a fire-safety booklet. The intention behind the fire-safety kits is that, in an emergency, the kids could grab the bag and have emergency supplies. The incentive kits (bottom) include an activity book, notebook, crayons, slime, DIY slap bracelets, positive notes, and erasers.

 

 

Fatal Rewards

 

The Holyoke Community College Theater Department’s fall 2020 production, a live-streamed virtual play called “Fatal Fisticuffs,” won two awards at this year’s Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The original work, written by HCC alumnus Tom Roche, was recognized with a merit award for innovation in digital theater. HCC student Nanette Mendieta of Holyoke won an award for excellence in stage management. Pictured: HCC Theater Professor Tim Cochran, right, directs a fight sequence with HCC alumnus actor Mike Pray for “Fatal Fisticuffs,” as streaming coach and HCC alumnus Cory Missildine, left, records the action against a green screen.

 

 

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Supporting Students

Jane Schwartzberg and James Machia, advanced manufacturing and technology students at Asnuntuck Community College, were each awarded a $2,500 scholarship through a 3M grant. The scholarships are available to students entering or currently enrolled in programs in mechatronics, advanced manufacturing technology, robotics, or industrial maintenance. Schwartzberg and Machia are pictured standing behind the Festo Mechatronics Learning System that 3M donated to Asnuntuck.

 


 

Tackling Tough Issues

Springfield College doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student Xavier Gibson was selected as one of two finalists in the annual physical therapy essay contest co-sponsored by the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy Consortium for the Humanities, Ethics, and Professionalism and the Journal for Humanities in Rehabilitation. Gibson’s essay — which highlights his responsibilities and obligations as a DPT student of color, the only student of color in his cohort, to come to terms with addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in society and inequalities in healthcare — will be published in the JHR’s fall 2021 issue.

 


 

In the Bag

JGS Lifecare was selected as the nonprofit beneficiary of the Big Y Community Bag Program for the month of March at the Big Y located in Longmeadow. JGS Lifecare will receive a $1 donation every time the $2.50 reusable “Big Y Cares” Community Bag is purchased at this location during March, unless otherwise directed by the customer through the giving tag attached to the bag. “We are thrilled to receive the support of our local Big Y and our community,” said Susan Kimball Halpern, vice president of Development and Communications at JGS Lifecare (pictured).

 


 

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Paws in the Workday

Monson Savings Bank recently arranged to have a certified and trained therapy dog, Rose, visit all locations to give a little comfort, relief, support, and — of course — cuddles.  Rose and her owner, Tammy Warren, visit with Nicole Shea, customer service associate at the bank’s Hampden branch.

 


 

 

Community Support

Throughout December, Freedom Credit Union partnered with its members and the local community to raise funds online to benefit the Pioneer Valley USO. Freedom matched total donations up to $2,500, helping to raise a grand total of $7,500. Pictured: Freedom President and CEO Glenn Welch, holds the check with Vice President of Retail Administration Kara Herman. (Photo courtesy of Market Mentors)

 

 


Art of the Matter

 

After retiring from her career as professor and Communication Department chair at American International College in 2018, Mary Ellen Lowney, who also works part-time as the Communications and Community Relations manager for the Springfield Housing Authority, decided to add watercolor to her world. “I started painting in March 2019, more or less on a lark,” she said. She has developed her talent under the tutelage of Joan Nelson, who has a studio in Indian Orchard. “Painting is a fairly new hobby for me,” Lowney said. “I am finding it to be relaxing, creative, and very rewarding.”

 

 

 

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We’ll Drink to That

Ed Sunter, president of the Hampden County Estate Planning Council of Springfield; Julie Quink, treasurer; and John Arnold, past president, recently presented a check for $1,400 to Terry Maxey, executive director of Open Pantry of Springfield. In the second annual fundraiser, council members were invited to participate in a wine and beer tasting sponsored by Baystate Brewing Co. of Sturbridge, Progression Brewery of Northampton, White Lion Brewery of Springfield, and  Hardwick Winery.  Members enjoyed beer and wine samples in their homes and offices. Pictured, from left: Sunter, Arnold, and Maxey.

 


 

Investment in the Future

The Advanced Manufacturing Technology Program at Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) has received $15,000 in grant funding from the Gene Haas Foundation to use for student scholarships for tuition and books. The scholarship will be managed by the ACC Foundation, and awards will be given based on need and merit. Pictured, from left, are students Nina Rattray, Emma Mack, and Jonathan Paskewitz.

 

 


 

Young Woman of Impact

BusinessWest Editor and Associate Publisher George O’Brien and Sales Manager and Associate Publisher Kate Campiti recently presented Evelyn Humphries, a student at Longmeadow High School, with a plaque recognizing her as the inaugural People’s Choice Young Woman of Impact. The public chose Humphries from among five deserving nominees, honoring her impressive track record of service to the community, especially during the pandemic. The social-media-driven program was a popular addition to this year’s Women of Impact celebration, held on Jan. 28. Below: Humphries with her mother, Gina

 


 

 

Special Delivery

On Jan. 28, the Rotary Club of Springfield distributed 6,000 disposable personal protective masks to the city of Springfield. Mayor Domenic Sarno joined with Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris and John Perez, president of the Rotary Club of Springfield, on the front steps of City Hall for the PPE distribution. In total, 20,000 masks were donated to organizations serving Springfield’s residents, including the Gray House, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Open Pantry Community Services, the MLK Community Center, the New North Citizens Council, Square One, and Gandara Mental Services of Springfield.

 


 

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Recognizing 45 Years

Jim Conroy (left) and Jeff Gonyer (right) were recently recognized by President Eric Forish for their 45 years of service as Forish Construction team members. Conroy is a Massachusetts-licensed construction supervisor, and Gonyer is a Massachusetts-licensed hoisting and heavy-equipment operator, and also a federally licensed CDL driver.

 


 

 

Cold-weather Concerns

As the weather turns colder, many homeless individuals do not have functioning coats and cannot afford new ones. Led by team leader Fran Murphy, Meyers Brothers Kalicka recently conducted a coat drive within the office and collected 50 new and gently used coats to be donated to the Springfield Rescue Mission.

 


 

 

Page-turning News

Monson Savings Bank President and future CEO Dan Moriarty recently met with Hope Bodwell, library director of the Monson Free Library, to present a $1,000 donation of behalf of the bank. The donation was made following the public voting results of the 2021 Monson Savings Bank Community Giving Initiative.

 

 


 

 

Suit Your Socks

Lenny Underwood, owner of Upscale Socks, recently met Nikki Burnett (left), executive director of Educare Springfield, to donate 333 pairs of socks to the early-childhood education center, following the “Suit Your Soles” campaign in which Underwood matched a donation for every pair of socks purchased from Nov. 18 to Dec. 18.

 


 

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Superheroes Saving Lives

JGS Lifecare recently unveiled its new “Superheroes Saving Lives” campaign. Created in English and Spanish, the three-month campaign features videos from Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence and Leavitt Family Jewish Home residents, who thank the staff for their heroic efforts in keeping them safe during the pandemic. The campaign slogan — “Not all superheroes wear capes. At JGS Lifecare, we wear masks” — emphasizes the fact that healthcare workers have emerged as real-life superheroes, risking their own health every day to save the lives of residents.

 


 

 

Hand in Hand

Mercy Medical Center is participating in an international art project recognizing healthcare workers for their efforts during the pandemic with small, handcrafted ‘hand medals’ designed to create a link between the creator and the recipient. Mercy’s participation in the Hand Medal Project is a partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond, Va. and artists connected to VCU who crafted 400 hand medals for distribution to Mercy nurses. Pictured, from left: Darlene Cunha, chief Nursing officer, presents a hand medal to Joseph Culver, a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit, as Mercy President Deborah Bitsoli looks on.

 


 

 

Round Up with Carr

Through Carr Hardware’s recent “Round Up with Carr’” campaign, customers donated $1,221.82 to the Enfield Dog Park, in Enfield, Conn. and $1,423.25 to Gifts of Love in Avon, Conn. As a fundraiser for those organizations, Carr Hardware offered customers in those two communities the opportunity to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar over the holiday season. Pictured: Ken Cohn (left) and Heather McDonald (right) of Carr Hardware present a check to Karen Pugliese, president of Enfield Dog Park.

 


 

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Happy, Safe Holidays

Dr. Richard Fraziero, owner of Facial Cosmetic & Maxillofacial Surgery in East Longmeadow, and Ashley Swift, the practice’s Community Outreach director, brought some holiday cheer to the Chicopee Fire Department this year. In lieu of sending holiday cards, Fraziero decided to donate to local emergency first responders to aid them in purchasing more PPE to help keep them safe in these trying times.

 


 

No Shave November

TommyCar Auto Group partnered with the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office to raise more than $7,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute during their No Shave November campaign. Earlier this month, TommyCar co-owner Carla Cosenzi and Sheriff Patrick Cahillane presented the check to a representative from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. (Photo by Market Mentors)

 

 


 

 

Being Accountable

Revitalize CDC and the BeHealthy Partnership (BHP) accountable-care organizations made up of Health New England, Baystate Health Centers, and Caring Health Center have supported patients at risk of contracting COVID-19 by providing them with essential supplies and access to nutritious food at home. The program specifically serves vulnerable members of the community who may face food insecurity and homelessness, allowing them to remain safe and healthy in self-isolation.

 

 


 

Holiday Cheer

Brownie Troop 65110 at Longmeadow’s Wolf Swamp Elementary School recently delivered handmade holiday greeting cards to the residents at Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence. The troop also stood outdoors and sang holiday songs that residents enjoyed through the window.

 

 

 

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Celebrating Heroes

Supporters were out bright and early in the morning cold last week to cheer Hillcrest Commons staffers during a shift change for their tireless efforts the last several weeks caring for residents through the coronavirus surge. They planned to be out the following day for a similar morale-boosting event during the afternoon shift change.

 

 


 

 

I Can See Clearly Now

Several months ago, Jackie Santana (left), a deaf woman who depends on lip reading as well as sign language, wrote about her frustrations communicating with people wearing face masks in a newsletter published by the Holyoke Community College Ludlow Area Adult Learning Center, where she is a student. Inspired by Santana’s essay, Ash Aliengena (right), a literacy specialist at the center, started making masks with clear plastic windows and created a website offering free, accessible face-mask patterns, where people can “Click. Print. Cut. Trace. Go.” To date, Aliengena has hand-sewn more than 60 masks and donated most of them to people at the center and to public-school teachers in Holyoke.

 

 


 

 

Provider of Choice

 

Golden Years Home Care Services recently received the 2020 Best of Home Care – Provider of Choice Award, which is based on client satisfaction scores gathered by Home Care Pulse, an independent satisfaction-research firm for home care. Best of Home Care – Provider of Choice award-winning providers have contracted with Home Care Pulse to gather feedback by conducting live phone interviews with their clients each month. Because Home Care Pulse is a third-party company, it is able to collect honest and unbiased feedback.

 

 


 

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Serving Up Grants

The Greenfield Business Assoc. (GBA) recently awarded eight Greenfield businesses funding from the COVID-19 Business Reopening Outdoor Equipment Micro-Grant through MassDevelopment’s Commonwealth Places: Resurgent Places grant program. First-round grant awards were received by Brad’s Place, Denny’s Pantry, Hangar Pub and Grill, Hope & Olive, Main Street Bar and Grille, Mesa Verde, Terrazza, and the new Adam’s Donuts. Each of the eight recipients received grants of up to $1,200, and the GBA’s goal is to help at least eight more businesses with the remaining funds. Pictured: Mik Muller (right), GBA board president and owner of Montague WebWorks, hands a check to Michael Stone, manager of Hangar Pub and Grill.

 


 

 

Special Delivery

In anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday and with more families in need amid the pandemic than usual, MBK rallied to deliver Thanksgiving food items to the Gray House. Led by team leaders Chelsea Cox and Sarah Rose Stack, the team collected donations and money before making the dropoff. The team went shopping for turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings, and was able to fill four bins with food and make an additional monetary donation. The Gray House expected to feed between 800 and 1,000 families on Thanksgiving.

 


 

 

A Tasty Return

Seven culinary-arts students at Holyoke Community College have been on a slow simmer since March, when their first-semester schedules were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They had just completed their seven-week introductory cooking course, but it’s tough to cook over Zoom, so their first semesters were put on hold until the fall. But the teaching kitchens at HCC’s Culinary Arts Institute reopened this fall, and the students were back at their stations, progressing through a series of accelerated, back-to-back classes designed to catch them up before the spring semester begins on Jan. 25.

 


 

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Help Where It’s Needed

Monson Savings Bank President Dan Moriarty (left) and CEO Steve Lowell (right) recently presented a $5,000 check to Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The bank made the donation to help address the food-insecurity challenges being faced by many local residents. “This year has been more difficult than ever for many residents,” Lowell said. “As a local community bank, it is our duty to help those most in need. We take our responsibility very seriously and do whatever is possible to help residents who are struggling.”

 

 


 

 

Celebrating STEM Week

As a way to celebrate STEM Week in Massachusetts last month, the Red Sox Foundation and the Museum of Science in Boston partnered to distribute nearly 650 at-home science and engineering design-challenge kits to children at Springfield’s Square One (pictured), the Lawrence YMCA, and the Lawrence Boys & Girls Club. The Try It! kits are a part of the virtual learning resources the museum has developed through its curricular division, EiE, and its MOS at Home digital platform, to provide families with all the materials needed to enjoy fun and engaging science education any time, any place.

 


 

 

Supporting Girls

The Junior League of Greater Springfield (JLGS) recently donated 90 backpacks to Girls Inc. of the Valley to be given to elementary-school girls. “The Junior League of Greater Springfield is committed to the promotion of literacy and serving women and children in our community. With the backpack-donation project, our volunteers recognized an urgent need for the girls of the Pioneer Valley and jumped into service,” said Jamie Margolis, assistant treasurer of JLGS. “It has never been more important to us to help lift and support young women in our community.”

 

 


 

 

 

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Manufacturer of the Year

State Sen. Eric Lesser, Senate chair of the Manufacturing Caucus, recognized Toner Plastics as the First Hampden and Hampshire Manufacturer of the Year in a virtual, reimagined fifth annual Manufacturing Awards ceremony also attended by state Rep. Jeff Roy, Manufacturing Caucus co-chair; House Speaker Robert DeLeo; Senate President Karen Spilka; and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Michael Kennealy. This followed an in-person presentation of the award by Lesser (pictured, left) at the East Longmeadow facility on Oct. 15 alongside company President Jack Warren and members of his team.


 

Grand Opening in Amherst

bankESB recently celebrated the virtual grand opening of its newest branch location at 253 Triangle St., Amherst. The event was commemorated in a Facebook Live broadcast hosted by the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. Pictured, from left: Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce; Nancy Lapointe, senior vice president of Retail Administration at bankESB; Matt Sosik, bankESB president and CEO; Jessica West, bankESB assistant vice president and Amherst branch officer; and stste Rep. Mindy Domb

 


 

COVID-19 Relief

The state awarded Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) two grants totaling nearly $662,000 for COVID-19 relief. The money will be used to help keep the campus safe during the pandemic, compensate faculty for their work developing online courses, and boost student aid. Pictured: STCC President John Cook speaks at a news conference announcing the funding, alongside, from left, Heriberto “Herbie” Flores, president and CEO of Partners for Community; state Rep. Angelo Puppolo Jr; state Rep. Bud Williams; state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez; and Denise Hurst, vice president of Advancement and External Affairs at STCC.

 


 

Halloween, 2020-Style

 

The United Way of Pioneer Valley staged a unique, COVID-era Halloween-day celebration at the TD Bank building in downtown Springfield. Sponsored by Colebrook Realty Services and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, the event drew more than 3,000 cars, with those driving through dressed for the occasion. From top to bottom: Sarno waves to an approaching car; Paula Wysocka, a United Way staff member, gets into the spirit of the event; some of the goodies that were handed out to the young people being driven through; the entrance to the building was decorated for the holiday.

 


 

Celebrating STEM Week

As a way to celebrate STEM Week in Massachusetts last month, the Red Sox Foundation and the Museum of Science in Boston partnered to distribute nearly 650 at-home science and engineering design-challenge kits to children at Springfield’s Square One (pictured), the Lawrence YMCA, and the Lawrence Boys & Girls Club. The Try It! kits are a part of the virtual learning resources the museum has developed through its curricular division, EiE, and its MOS at Home digital platform, to provide families with all the materials needed to enjoy fun and engaging science education any time, any place.


 

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Education Equity

The Lumina Foundation recently awarded $1.2 million in grants to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, with half the money earmarked for six state colleges and universities. Holyoke Community College will use its $100,000 award to further the work of its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion task force and expand mentorship programs that focus on students of color, including its ALANA Men in Motion program (pictured, in pre-COVID days). Latinx students participating in the program at HCC show a fall-to-fall retention rate of 75%, compared to 45% for Latinx students not participating in ALANA.

 


 

 

Driving for a Cure

Carla Cosenzi and Tommy Cosenzi, owners of TommyCar Auto Group, recently donated nearly $100,000 to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute thanks to the generous support of sponsors of the 12th annual Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament. The event, named for their late father, drew the interest of nearly 148 golfers and 156 sponsors this year. Since the inception of the event, more than $1 million has been raised to support brain-tumor research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

 

 


 

 

The Bionic Kid

On Sept. 15, Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield outfitted 8-year-old patient Sam with the first custom-built, 3D-printed bionic arm in the health system. The device, known as the Hero Arm, customized for Sam with Marvel Comics superhero Iron Man covers, was made possible through a collaboration with UK-based bionics company Open Bionics and will enable Sam, a bilateral amputee, to live life to the fullest. Pictured: Sam shows off the arm alongside his mother, Michelle, and Brock McConkey, manager of Orthotics and Prosthetics at the hospital.

 

 

 


 

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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.

 

 

 

 


 

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Feed the Body – Feed the Mind

Link to Libraries and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts announced a partnership to provide books and meals to hundreds of local families in need in Western Mass. In partnership with Northampton Radio Group and Springfield Rocks Radio Group, the organizations launched the “Feed the Body – Feed the Mind” campaign, distributing children’s books and meals to families at several Food Bank member organizations’ designated meal-pickup sites in Springfield, Easthampton, Greenfield, and Holyoke.

 

 


 

Red Alert


Springfield was among cities nationwide to participate in a Red Alert event on Sept. 1 to draw attention to the plight of the entertainment and live-event industry. Zasco Productions, LLC lit up downtown Springfield (pictured) in the color red to raise awareness of the 12 million event professionals currently out of work due to COVID-related economic shutdowns. In addition, CJC Event Lighting lit up its offices, Chez Josef, and the Log Cabin.

 


 

 

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Helping Local Kids

Carr Hardware in Pittsfield launched a program called ​“Round Up for the Schools”​ to benefit local Berkshire County school districts. Customers have the option to round up the cost of their purchases to the nearest dollar, and Carr will then match those donations and purchase needed personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves, sanitizer, and other items, to donate to local schools, said company President Bart Raser (pictured). Carr Hardware will also have collection jars stationed at all locations for customers to donate.

 


 

 

Boosting Access to Food

 

Florence Bank donated $5,000 to Chesterfield’s Community Food Cupboard, which was recently established by Chesterfield’s Council on Aging and a group of volunteers to help needy families access food during the COVID-19 crisis. The team includes members of the Select Board, trustees of the Chesterfield Library, along with Council on Aging board members and the Chesterfield Finance Committee. Pictured, from left: Chesterfield Community Food Cupboard volunteer Denise Cormier, Florence Bank Branch Manager and Vice President April O’Brien, and Janice Gibeau, director of Chesterfield’s Council on Aging.

 


 

 

Ribbon Cutting at F45 Training

 

Dan and Jessye Deane recently opened F45 Training at 1464 Riverdale St. in West Springfield. The interval training studio is a franchise out of Australia that is just getting its start in the U.S. Unlike traditional box gyms, F45 blends high-intensity interval training, functional training, and circuit training and pulls from 4,100 exercises, ensuring that no workout is ever the same. Pictured, from left: Brennan McKenna, West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt, Dan Deane, Jessye Deane, Charley, Brady, Cooper, and Kristina Cordova.

 


 

 

Driving for the Cure

It wasn’t exactly business — or even golf — as usual, but the 12th Annual Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament was staged Aug. 17 at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow. The field was smaller than in years past — 140 golfers — and there were other changes made due to COVID-19, but roughly $70,000 was raised to aid research into cures for brain cancer. Top to bottom: Tom Cosenzi Jr. and Carla Cosenzi, co-owners of TommyCar Auto Group and founders of the tournament, named in honor of their father, who succumbed to brain cancer in 2009; Golfers line up at the registration table; The event T-shirts tell the story; over the years, the tournament has raised more than $1 million to fight brain cancer.

 


 

Open for Business

 

Sport Clips Haircuts Hadley owner Ian Coogan was joined recently by his wife, Lisa Scheff, and daughter, along with state Rep. Dan Carey, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Claudia Pazmany, and the Sport Clips team to cut the ribbon at the grand opening ceremony for their new location along Route 9 in Hadley.

 


 

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Tourism Boost

State Sen. Eric Lesser (center) recently joined John Doleva (left), president and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and Mary Kay Wydra (right), president of Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, to announce $250,000 in funding for tourism marketing in the Pioneer Valley. “This funding for tourism marketing will help us begin to rebuild and bring business to our restaurants, attractions, and hospitality industry across the board,” Lesser said. The funding is part of a $1.1 billion coronavirus-response package signed into law on July 24.

 


Supporting Community Health Workers

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (pictured with Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal) recently visited HCC to announce the awarding of a four-year, $1.89 million federal grant aimed at helping families impacted by opioid use. The funds — $399,676 in the first year — will enhance HCC’s existing Community Health Worker training program with the goal of increasing the number of CHWs qualified to work on integrated opioid-use-disorder teams in area health centers in medically underserved communities.


J-Camp in a Box

The Jewish Community Center of Springfield and Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts have partnered to provide “J-Camp in a Box” this summer to over 400 children, ages 5-12, including 250 refugee and low-income youths. The first box was distributed in July, and the second box went home to campers earlier this month. With summer camps closed across the state due to COVID-19, these ‘campers’ are staying busy with two boxes full of activities to do at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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Brewing Up Some News

Joined by state Rep. Tom Petrolati and leadership from Westmass Area Development Corp., Loophole Brewing Services announced plans for its new location at 90 First Ave. in Ludlow. The planned 21,000-square-foot brewery, taproom, and beer garden will occupy the former jute-processing building on a 2.5-acre parcel at the eastern end of the Ludlow Mills complex. Loophole co-founders Jeff Goulet, Aaron Saunders, and Todd Snopkowski plan to acquire the space from Westmass. In addition to the brewing operations, Loophole plans to have food offerings and more for taproom and beer-garden guests.

 


Meeting a Surging Need

Easthampton Community Center

Easthampton Community Center Executive Director Robin Bialecki and Thomas Conner, Florence Bank branch manager and vice president

Florence Bank donated $7,500 to the Easthampton Community Center to support its Food Pantry Program that serves 22 towns throughout the Pioneer Valley and provides food each month to 6,000 food-insecure individuals in need, including more than 600 children in the greater Easthampton area through the Kid’s Summer Pantry Program.

 

 


Drive-by Party

On July 15, Fleming Cocchi, a longtime resident of Wilbraham, turned 100 years old, and Visiting Angels of West Springfield, the home-care service that has taken care of Cocchi and his wife since 2014, organized a drive-by celebration. A parade of friends, family, and community members — including fire trucks and police cars — gathered to drive by Cocchi’s house with signs, balloons, bows, and birthday wishes. Cocchi waved from his porch with a big smile on his face as the cars and trucks passed by.

 


 

 

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Camp Days

The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke opened its seven week, in-person summer camp on July 6, serving up to 75 youth a day. The camp will help kids combat summer learning loss while focusing on one primary theme: diversity. With the topic of racism at the forefront of the country and Holyoke being a community of color, the club will continue to create a platform to educate children on inclusiveness, acceptance, and equality for all. Program activities will incorporate elements of diversity, and additional activities will include project-based learning, targeted literacy support, STEM and coding, arts and crafts, daily challenges, sports and recreation, gardening, culinary arts, dance, non-contact boxing, and more.

 


Food Donations

The United Way of Pioneer Valley recently received its first food shipment — 11 pallets of shelf-stable food items, pre-packaged in boxes, made to feed a family of four for several days — secured through a relationship with MEMA as part of pandemic-response efforts. If a family needs assistance and isn’t covered by one of the community agencies receiving food, they can call (413) 737-2691 for assistance. Pictured: Jennifer Kinsman, director of Community Impact, and Emmanuel Reyes, Thrive financial coach, unwrap a pallet of food.

 


 

 

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Celebrating 40 Years

Robert MacDonald, executive director of Work Opportunity Center Inc. (WOC) was recently honored with a Zoom anniversary celebration for his 40 years of leadership. WOC provides services to individuals with developmental challenges, including community integration, work skills, and community employment. Agawam Mayor William Sapelli, Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno, and West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt all offered proclamations. Pictured, from left: Mary Akers, assistant executive director; Dale Lapointe, board secretary; Joanne Roberts, board member; MacDonald; Steve Robinson, board president; and Rick Hanchett, vice president.

 


 

Sharing and Caring

Cooley Dickinson Health Care employees recently donated hundreds of personal-hygiene products ranging from hair brushes and razors to deodorant, soap, and toothpaste to the Amherst and Northampton Survival Centers and the Easthampton Community Center. Pictured, from left: Jeff Harness, Cooley Dickinson’s director of Community Health and Government Relations; Robin Bialecki, executive director of the Easthampton Community Center; and Angela Belmont, chief Nursing officer at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

 


 

Service Above Self

Last month, John Doleva, president and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; and Frank Colaccino, Hall of Fame governor, CEO of the Colvest Group, and chair of the Westfield Bank 2019 Service Above Self luncheon committee, presented a check for $6,500 to the Rotary Club of Springfield, which is planning to award $10,000 in grants to Springfield-based nonprofit organizations that benefit the Greater Springfield community, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured from left: Paul Lambert, Rotarian and vice president of Enshrinement Services & Community Engagement at the Hall of Fame; Doleva; Colaccino; and Sue Mastroianni and Jack Toner, past presidents of the Rotary Club of Springfield.

 


 

Special Delivery

Amid COVID-19, the need for organizations such as Open Pantry Community Services has grown. Matt Ogrodowicz of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. led a charge to collect food and donations at MBK over a two-week period. He shared Open Pantry’s mission as well as its high-demand items, including cereal, pasta, canned goods, peanut butter, and spaghetti sauce. Staff at MBK donated food and/or money, which Ogrodowicz used to shop for additional items on the high-demand list. With the combined efforts, MBK was able to donate 279 pounds of food to Open Pantry.

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Breaking Ground

 

Florence Bank broke ground earlier this month on its third Hampden County branch at 705 Memorial Dr. in Chicopee, the former Hu Ke Lau site. The full-service location will open later this year. The bank has been working with Marois Construction of South Hadley, HAI Architecture of Northampton, and R. Levesque Associates, an engineering firm in Westfield, on the project. Pictured: Florence Bank President and CEO Kevin Day (left) poses with Chicopee Mayor John Vieau at the groundbreaking.


Feeding the Front Lines

 

Ludlow-based Pioneer Valley Financial Group and Mill’s Tavern & Grille recently partnered to cook and deliver food to front-line workers during the pandemic. Starting on April 10, PV Financial donated $350 to Mill’s Tavern each week to help pay for the cost of food and delivery, while a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $2,280 from the community. The donations have allowed Mill’s Tavern and PV Financial to deliver more than 400 meals to hospitals, police and fire departments, and pharmacies across Western Mass., including the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke (pictured), Baystate Mary Lane in Ware, and CVS Pharmacy in Ludlow.

 


Deserving Scholars

This spring, the Holyoke Community College Foundation awarded nearly $210,000 in scholarships to 200 incoming, current, and transferring HCC students and will set a record for the number of scholarships it distributes for the 2020-21 academic year, with 233. The number of applications for scholarships this year increased by 22%, from 391 to 479. Pictured: HCC business major Alexandra Clark is the recipient of this year’s Marguerite I. Lazarz Memorial Scholarship from the HCC Foundation.

 

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Summer Fun

The law firm Pellegrini, Seeley Ryan & Blakesley donated $3,000 and employees’ time to provide and distribute summer-activity backpacks to 300 children for the Boys & Girls club of Greater Westfield. The backpacks were stuffed with art supplies, puzzles, games, soccer and gym balls, and other items for children.

Attorney Patrick McHugh stuffs a backpack

Attorney Patrick McHugh stuffs a backpack

 

Ayame Anthony is pleased with her haul

Ayame Anthony is pleased with her haul

 

 


Feed the Fight

Peter Pan Bus Lines and the Bean Restaurant Group recently teamed up with U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to show appreciation for first responders. On May 26, as part of the “Feed the Fight” project, Neal helped deliver more than 300 meals to Mercy Medical Center in Springfield. Supported by a donation from Neal’s campaign and organized by Peter Pan and the Bean Group, the project rewards the hard work of frontline healthcare workers while also supporting local Western Mass. restaurants.

 

 


Bridging the Gap

bankESB recently donated $5,000 to the Easthampton Community Center to support the Kid’s Bag Pantry program, which typically provides each child up to age 18 with a bag of food monthly during the school year and weekly during the summer months. This year, the weekly program began in March due to school closures, contributing to a shortfall in funding. Pictured: Easthampton Community Center Executive Director Robin Bialecki (left) receives the donation from Natalie Didonna, assistant vice president and branch officer at bankESB’s Easthampton office.

 

 


 

 

 

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Celebrating Carol Leary

On May 17, what would have been Bay Path University’s 123rd commencement celebrating the class of 2020, President Carol Leary and her husband, Noel, were treated to a surprise drive-by parade commemorating Carol’s retirement after 25 years. For 20 minutes, more than 200 cars snaked down Route 5 in Longmeadow blasting their horns. Headed by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, the decorated cars featured a giant teddy bear, an inflated flamingo raft tied to a car roof, numerous signs expressing ‘carpe diem’— the official school motto — and, of course, balloons. While maintaining their social distance, the parade of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends shouted their thanks and well wishes to the Learys. (Photos by Leah Martin)

 


 

Election Protection

Scott Rote, president of Wheeler & Taylor Insurance, recently called Charles Burger, director of the Southern Berkshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee, wanting to donate 2,000 surgical masks. Then the agency went a step further, procuring foam, elastic strapping material, and 200 sheets of polycarbonate plastic and constructing face shields to be used by poll workers in upcoming elections. Burger will allocate the personal protective equipment to the 12 towns in Southern Berkshire County. After the face shields are used for elections, they will be cleaned and repurposed.

 

 


 

Project Toybox

The United Way of Pioneer Valley recently partnered with numerous community organizations to deliver more than 1,000 educational, age-appropriate to families hit hard by COVID-19. Thanks to its partnership with Good360, the toys arrived at the United Way’s office on May 13 and are being distributed to the following organizations who will pass them along to children in need: Boys & Girls Clubs of West Springfield, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Westfield, Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Holyoke, YMCA of Greater Springfield, and Holyoke Housing Authority. Pictured: the United Way’s Joe Mina moves a pallet of donated toys.

 


Sign and Drive

Bulkley Richardson trusts and estates attorneys have been coordinating parking-lot and driveway signings for higher-risk clients in need of executing legal documents. Keeping the health and wellness of clients a top priority, these arrangements, and others, are made so that an office visit is not required.

 


 

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Meeting the Need

Action Ambulance Supervisor Kyle Rondeau

Action Ambulance Supervisor Kyle Rondeau, HMC President and CEO Spiros Hatiras, and HMC Chief Operating Officer Carl Cameron.

Holyoke Medical Center has shared personal protective equipment (PPE) with local first responders, including Action Ambulance, South Hadley Fire Department, and the city of Springfield. The donations included 700 face shields, 1,000 KN95 face masks, and 1,500 standard face masks for the responders to give to people they interact with at a distance closer than six feet. Holyoke Medical Center executives also spoke with officials in other surrounding municipalities, most of which had an adequate current supply of masks and face shields.


Bedtime Stories

Link to Libraries recently launched a new initiative called “Link Live: Bedtime Stories,” airing on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 8 p.m. on Facebook Live. Children’s book authors are reading their own books and then taking questions from participants. With the use of Facebook, children and their parents can not only enjoy being read to, but also have the unique opportunity to interact with the author in real time. The first authors who participated were Ashley Morse (The Big E Book, pictured), Jamie Michalak (The Coziest Place), Anika Aldamuy Denise (The Love Letter), Josh Funk (Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast), and Cynthia Platt (A Little Bit of Love). Link to Libraries is planning to extend the program into May and will release an updated schedule soon.

Mask Maker, Mask Maker, Make Me a Mask

When the COVID-19 pandemic made wearing face masks a public health concern, those masks suddenly become hard to find — and Lauren Hummel and Donna Fournier sprang into action. Fournier’s mother taught her to sew long ago, and she had a lot of fabric on hand, so she started making masks — 50 to begin with, mostly for her family. Hummel started by making a mask for herself, and friends reached out wondering if she would make masks for them. Both eventually connected with the Mental Health Assoc. to make masks for staff who work in MHA’s group homes, who are considered essential workers. Hummel got her daughter, Kellie, involved as well (pictured), and MHA continues to look for volunteer sewers.

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Community Support

Earlier this month, UMassFive College Federal Credit Union reached out to support community members and healthcare workers heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, sponsoring 150 portions of chicken pot pie (made fresh and delivered by Log Cabin Rolling) that were served at the Amherst Survival Center daily community meal, and also sponsoring the delivery of 200 meals to emergency-room staff, split between Springfield’s Mercy Medical Center and Worcester’s UMass Memorial Medical Center. These meals were delivered to the staff at lunchtime, with extra meals to support the next shift as well.

 


 

Meeting the Need

 

The United Way of Pioneer Valley

The United Way of Pioneer Valley recently donated 5,000 frozen meals to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The transfer took place at Springfield City Hall, with Mayor Domenic Sarno and United Way President and CEO Paul Mina, in attendance. With the economic effects of COVID-19 causing many area businesses to close, the Food Bank and the food pantries it serves have seen a dramatic increase in need. This donation was a part of the Western Massachusetts United Ways’ combined efforts to provide relief for COVID-19. Pictured: Mina (left) and Tom Leporati of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts handle a pallet of food.

 

 

 


 

A Story Worth Reading

Link to Libraries and MGM Springfield announced a partnership


Last month, Link to Libraries and MGM Springfield announced a partnership to promote learning and literacy in support of Springfield students who are out of the classroom and learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Link to Libraries and MGM Springfield donated more than 1,000 books to children ranging from kindergarten through high school. The books were distributed to families through the 15 schools designated as lunch pick-up sites.

 

 


 

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Elevating the Brand

Valley Vodka Inc., maker of V-One Vodka, announced a new partnership with Julious Grant and Ty Law. Grant brings 29 years of executive-level experience in the spirits industry, having held senior leadership roles in sales and marketing in some of the most successful companies in the world. Law, an NFL Hall of Famer, won three Super Bowls as a cornerback with the New England Patriots. This partnership comes on the heels of Valley Vodka Inc. completing a multi-million-dollar purchase and renovation of its own ‘farm to glass’ distillery in Kamien, Poland. “With our new distillery, expanded production, and new packaging, this is the perfect time to introduce more people to our clean-drinking vodka,” V-One creator Paul Kozub said. “Julious and Ty are tremendous assets to help us expand distribution and increase brand awareness.” Pictured, from left, are Grant, Kozub, and Law.

 


Supporting the Community

Florence Bank recently pledged $50,000

Florence Bank recently pledged $50,000 to the YMCA of Greater Springfield to help fund the new wellness and childcare center that opened at Springfield’s Tower Square on Dec. 5. The new, state-of-the-art facility includes a 15,000-square-foot education center that serves infants through elementary-school students. Additionally, the facility includes a new, 12,000-square-foot wellness center with premium strength and conditioning equipment in a space that overlooks the city. Pictured, from left: Jeffrey Poindexter, YMCA of Greater Springfield board chair; Dexter Johnson, YMCA of Greater Springfield president and CEO; and Nicole Gleason, Springfield branch manager and vice president of Florence Bank.

 


Highest Honors

For the third consecutive year, the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter at Western New England University

For the third consecutive year, the Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) Chapter at Western New England University earned the “highest honors” designation for its campus engagement and programming for the 2018-19 academic year. One indicator of the chapter’s engagement is participation at the annual Global Leadership Summit (GLS), which chapter President Tessa Wood and Secretary Kathryn Wells attended last year. The GLS enables delegates to participate in professional-development workshops and share best practices with student leaders from other BGS chapters worldwide. Pictured, from left: chapter members Wood, Finance Chair Emily Sajdak, Service Chair Krystyna Germano, and Vice President Teddy Doyle.

 


Record Donation

Holyoke Community College (HCC) has received the largest donation

Holyoke Community College (HCC) has received the largest donation in the college’s 74-year history — $7.5 million — from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Foundation, established by the late Elaine Marieb, a longtime HCC faculty member, alumna, best-selling textbook author, and Northampton native. The donation includes $5 million outright and a $2.5 million matching gift that will go toward future renovations of HCC’s main science facility, the Marieb Building, as part of a multi-phase plan to expand the recently opened Center for Life Sciences to encompass the entire three-story structure. Pictured: HCC Biology Professor Emily Rabinsky (center) teaches a biotechnology lab in the Center for Life Sciences.

 


Advocating for Girls

Executives from Girls Inc. of the Valley recently joined executives

Executives from Girls Inc. of the Valley recently joined executives from Girls Inc. of Lynn, Worcester, and Berkshires on the State House floor to highlight the Eureka! program — which prepares teenage girls to participate and excel in cutting-edge, dynamic STEM careers — and advocate for its inclusion in the state budget. Pictured, from left: Ruth Roy, campaign director, Girls Inc. of the Valley; Kelly Marion, CEO, Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, home of Girls Inc. of the Berkshires; Victoria Waterman, CEO, Girls Inc. of Worcester; Agnes Nkansah, Girls Inc. of Worcester Eureka! alumna and student at Brandeis University; Suzanne Parker, executive director, Girls Inc. of the Valley; Deb Ansourlian, executive director, Girls Inc. of Lynn; Brenda Nikas-Hayes, director of Eureka!, Girls Inc. of Worcester; Sidney Hamilton, outreach and site coordinator, Girls Inc. of the Berkshires; Lena Crowley, director, Teen and Middle School Program, Girls Inc. of Lynn; and Alexandra DeFronzo, supervisor of STEM Programs, Girls Inc.

 


Read Across America Day

First American Insurance Agency recently took part in Read Across America Day

First American Insurance Agency recently took part in Read Across America Day by reading to students at Saint Stanislaus School as part of its Kids First campaign. The campaign is an ongoing effort to support children and teens in Western Mass. through education and play. The staff volunteers time and resources through several activities and fundraisers throughout the year. Pictured, from left: Theresa Kelly, Kristie Learned, Ginger Marszalek, and Meghan Harnois from First American Insurance Agency.

 


 

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A Visit from the First Lady

On Feb. 21, Massachusetts First Lady Lauren Baker paid a visit to Square One’s Tommie Johnson Child & Family Center, where she spent the afternoon learning about Square One’s work with children and families in the region. She was greeted by Square One educators, therapists, and children, who welcomed her with songs and gifts for the children Baker engages with in her work with the Wonderfund of Massachusetts.

 


Advocating for Community Colleges

James Lombella (left), North-West regional president of Connecticut Community Colleges, and Eileen Peltier (right), dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education for Asnuntuck, Northwestern Connecticut, and Tunxis community colleges, traveled to Hartford in February to represent the 12 Connecticut community colleges as part of a 2020 Skills Summit organized by the National Skills Coalition. Lombella and Peltier met with staff from the office of state Sen. Richard Blumenthal and state Rep. Joe Courtney (center) to provide updates on the community colleges and seek support for Pell grants for students in non-credit programs that provide industry licensure and credentials.


Grand Opening

Brenda Cuoco & Associates Real Estate Brokerage celebrated its grand-opening ceremony on Feb. 8. The office opened for business in Wilbraham in November. State Rep. Angelo Puppolo presented Cuoco, who has been a real-estate agent for 15 years, with a House of Representatives citation.

The brokerage team, from left, Amy Beaulieu, MaryKate Caron, Paula Lynch, Alyssa Stout, Brenda Cuoco, Tammy Sandomierski, Kathleen Brenner, Paige Belcastro, and Cori Bessette

 

From left: Puppolo, David Cuoco, Brenda Cuoco, Marco Cuoco, and Antonio Cuoco

 


Giving Back to the Community

Community Bank N.A. announced that its annual charitable giving reached more than $2.6 million in 2019 through sponsorships, donations, and grants, with its branches across Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont donating to more than 2,500 local organizations. In Massachusetts, it supported a variety of organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of Springfield, the YMCA of Greater Springfield, Springfield Rescue Mission, Open Pantry Community Services, Way Finders, Gardening the Community, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County, and (pictured) the Western Regional Office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (MSBDC).

From left: Community Bank N.A. Springfield Branch Manager Gilbert Nieves, Commercial Banking Team Leader Keith Nesbitt, MSBDC Regional Director Samalid Hogan, MSBDC Client Services Coordinator and Office Manager Lynn Shedd, and MSBDC Senior Business Advisor Anita Elisaon.

 

 


Art History

Tower Square unveiled a James Kitchen sculpture in its Center Court on Feb. 26. The 11-foot-high sculpture, titled “Tower Squares,” is comprised of intricate, stacked blocks, a la Dr. Seuss, filled with parts and pieces recycled from Springfield’s past. Visitors will discover a 1940s Indian motorcycle seat, pipe wrenches invented by Solymon Merrick in 1835, a clip-on ice skate patented by Everett Barney in the 1800s, a basketball hoop, ice tongs, hammers, gears that turn, doorbells that ring, faucets, and much more. The entire installation is interactive, inviting children and adults to explore its components. The statue will be a permanent feature of the building.

 

 


 

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Accessible Design Award

At its annual awards gala, the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) presented Caolo & Bieniek Associates Inc. with the 2019 Accessible Design Award for its work at Westfield State University’s Davis Hall. The award honors design excellence in buildings that are accessible for people of all abilities, with an emphasis on projects that exceed the legal accessibility requirements in anticipation of diverse user needs and benefits. The residence-hall addition and renovation, designed in coordination with the university and Stegman+Associates Inc., includes new private and multi-user restrooms, providing access to all students.

Pictured, from left: Janet Stegman, owner, Stegman+Associates; Janet Chrisos, deputy director, Massachusetts State College Building Authority; Steven Taksar, vice president, Administration & Finance, Westfield State University; Curtis Edgin, president, Caolo & Bieniek Associates.


Grand Opening

The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated the ribbon cutting and grand opening of Hadley Dental Care on Jan. 31. More than 50 community and business leaders stopped by to see the state-of-the-art technology and hear about the client-centric care offered by Dr. Tapan Pujara, DDS and Dr. Chaitalee Ganatra, DDS (pictured). The practice is located at 1 Mill Valley Road, Unit D, Hadley. A celebration followed the ribbon cutting next door at the Taproom, featuring networking, food, and prizes.

 


Charitable Champions List

Pioneer Valley Financial Group is one of 20 financial-advisory firms selected for the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation’s 2019 Charitable Champions List, which recognizes advisory firms for their exemplary efforts to give back to their communities by promoting a culture of philanthropy among employees and financial advisors. Invest in Others received dozens of applications, which were evaluated blindly by a judging panel made up of financial advisors. Applications were evaluated on criteria including employee benefits, company contributions, and philanthropic events and programs offered by the firms.

 


Getting a Boost

Led by state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, the Springfield legislative delegation was able to secure a $250,000 appropriation for the UMass Center at Springfield. On Feb. 10, a ceremonial check was presented by the delegation at the center, located in Tower Square in downtown Springfield. At that event, UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy introduced Jamina Scippio-McFadden as the new director of the center, which opened its doors in 2014. Pictured below: Scippio-McFadden and Gonzalez address those gathered for the check presentation.

From left, state Sen. James Welch, state Rep. Angelo Puppolo, McFadden, Gonzalez, state Rep. Bud Williams, and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno gather around the ceremonial check.


 

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A Home for Innovation

On Jan. 23, DevelopSpringfield celebrated the completion of the Springfield Innovation Center at 276 Bridge St., a $7.1 million project funded through state and federal tax credits, grants, foundation money, and private financing. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (left, with Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno), who helped secure more than $1 million in federal tax credits to finance the project, noted that innovation is a key part of the country’s — and the region’s — story, and needs to continue to be. State Sens. Eric Lesser and James Welch and state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez were also on hand for the ceremony.

 


 

Scoring a Milestone

The Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament celebrated an important milestone in 2019, pushing past the $1 million mark in donations to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The tournament hosted its 11th annual tournament on Aug. 19 at Twin Hills Country Club and Elmcrest Country Club, where attendees heard from Dr. Patrick Wen from the Neuro-Oncology Department at Dana-Farber (pictured, left, with Carla Cozenzi and Tommy Consenzi of TommyCar Auto Group) about the impact of the tournament on brain-cancer research. In its 11 years, the tournament has raised $1,086,487.50 for Dana-Farber.

 


Car Wash for a Good Cause

 

Balise Motor Sales helped make a difference this holiday season by raising $13,341.51 for Square One. Balise donated the first month’s payment from each unlimited monthly car-wash plan purchased in December at two Western Mass. locations. Balise is a longtime supporter of Square One, donating $5,000 in 2018 to support its Adopt-a-Classroom program, $10,000 in 2017 to help build a new indoor playspace, and $10,000 in 2016 to support the organization’s new fitness program, LAUNCH. Pictured, from left: Joan Kagan and Kristine Allard from Square One, Alexandra Balise from Balise Motor Sales, and Dawn DiStefano from Square One.


Toward a New Home

Florence Bank has pledged $7,500 to the Harmony House of Chicopee to help fund a renovation and expansion that will allow the nonprofit to improve services and care for more terminally ill individuals who live alone or lack a capable caregiver. Harmony House is currently fundraising to cover the cost of the $600,000 home renovation. It recently broke ground on a permanent and much larger home in the Aldenville section of Chicopee. Pictured, from left: Ger Ronan, president, Yankee Home; Maureen Buxton, West Springfield branch manager, Florence Bank; Ruth Willemain, Harmony House founder; Amy Corcoran, president, Harmony House board of directors; and Pamela Quirk, RN, house operations and volunteer committee chair, Harmony House.


Forging Connections

State Sen. Eric Lesser and state Rep. Brian Ashe toured Toner Plastics in East Longmeadow recently with members of the FORGE Manufacturing Initiative, which builds and fosters connections between regional suppliers and innovative startups across the Commonwealth. They were also joined by QUIKCORD, a regional startup that has worked with Toner Plastics to develop a life-saving utility case for military paracord. Pictured, from left: Lesser and Ashe take in the tour with Toner Plastics President Jack Warren.


MassHire Grand Opening

On Jan. 14, MassHire Springfield Career Center held a grand-opening celebration at its new facility on the third floor of 95 Liberty Street. About 125 people attended the event, which included guided tours of the 13,200-square-foot facility. Pictured, from left: state Rep. Carlos Gonzalez; Rosalin Acosta, state secretary of Labor & Workforce Development; Kevin Lynn, executive director of MassHire Springfield Career Center; Shayvonne Plummer, Springfield Office of Planning & Economic Development; Talia Gee, Springfield chief Diversity & Inclusion officer; and Gary MacDonald, vice president of AIM HR Solutions.

 


Cannabis Conference

The Springfield Regional Chamber hosted the region’s first-ever cannabis conference on Wed., Jan. 28: “The Buzz About Cannabis: Marijuana in the Marketplace and the Workplace.” Employers and employees from all over Western Mass. attended the conference to get some help navigating the brand new complex world of marijuana in Massachusetts.

Theory Wellness, soon to open a new location in Chicopee, presents at the exhibitor marketplace

Scott Foster, attorney at Bulkley Richardson, and Tina Sbrega, CEO of GFA Credit Union, present “Business Structure and Banking in the Cannabis Industry”

Daniel Fogarty and Mikayla Bell from NETA show their products at the exhibitor marketplace

Joanne Berwald, vice president of HR at Mestek, Erica Flores, attorney at Skoler Abbott, and Pam Thornton, director of Strategic HR Services at the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast, answer questions about cannabis in the workplace

 


 

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Coats of Arms

Employees at Smith & Wesson collected gently used coats during a recent on-site coat drive, and will distribute them to people in need Western Mass., with the help of the United Way of Pioneer Valley. “Our employees are continually looking for ways to give back to our community,” said Lane Tobiassen, president of Firearms at Smith & Wesson. “Knowing these new and gently used coats will be distributed locally makes this event even more special.”


Another Term Begins

Domenic Sarno, the 54th and longest-serving mayor of Springfield, was inaugurated for the fifth time on Jan. 6 at Springfield Symphony Hall. Denise Jordan, executive director of the Springfield Housing Authority, served as the mistress of ceremonies.


The Youngest Fans

Mercy Medical Center and the Springfield Thunderbirds announced a partnership to gift babies born at Mercy’s Family Life Center with a Mercy/Thunderbirds branded onesie. Every year, the Family Life Center welcomes more than 1,000 babies into the world. In their admission packets, parents will be given the onesie, along with instructions on how to enter a monthly drawing. A winner will be chosen each month to win a Boomer’s Kids Club membership, a plush Boomer, and four tickets to a Thunderbirds game. “We’re thrilled to be able to provide each newborn a special gift to welcome them to this world along with Mercy,” said Nathan Costa, president of the T-birds. “It’s never too early to start loving hockey.”


Workplace Pledge

Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced that the bank recently donated $61,000 to the United Way of Hampshire County. The bank directly pledged $25,000, while the bank’s employees contributed another $36,000 of their own funds in support of the United Way’s workplace campaign.  That campaign provides employees with the opportunity to donate and direct funds, volunteer time, and advocate for causes that are most important to them.


Toast to the Season

The Hampden County Bar Assoc. (HCBA) recently held its annual Toast to the Season at the Sheraton in Springfield. Members were asked to bring a toy for Toys for Tots.

HCBA President-elect Thomas Wilson, Esq.; HCBA Executive Director Noreen Nardi, Esq.; and HCBA President Kathleen Cavanaugh, Esq.

 

Judge Barbara Hyland, Hampden County Probate & Family Court; and Judge William Hadley, Holyoke District Court.

 

Assistant Clerk Magistrate Michael Wallace, Holyoke District Court; Clerk Magistrate Nathan Byrnes, Westfield District Court; and Charles Casartello Jr., Esq.

 

 

 


 

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HCC Gives Back to the Community

Representatives from four Holyoke Community College (HCC) student clubs delivered hundreds of winter care packages to agencies in Holyoke and Springfield that serve the homeless. Members of the HCC Military Club, Criminal Justice Club, Radio Club, and Sociology Club created hygiene kits (84 for women, 86 for men) that included basic toiletries, and also prepared 208 kits that included hats, mittens, scarves, and blankets and gave away winter coats.

HCC Criminal Justice Professor Alex Sanchez, student John Serrano, student Sierra Palazzi, alumna Lindsey Pare, student Robert Vigneault, and student John Colleto hold some of the winter care packages. HCC also celebrated the 20th anniversary of its annual Giving Tree campaign this year, fulfilling the holiday wishes of 375 individuals from four nonprofits that aid and support some of the area’s most at-risk residents

Palazzi helps distribute gifts during the closing celebration for the Giving Tree campaign

 


 

No Shave November

TommyCar Auto Group joined forces with the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Patrick Cahillane for No Shave November, in which participants forgo shaving and grooming for one month to raise cancer awareness. Throughout November, deputies and staff in the Sheriff’s Office were able to opt out of the dress code prohibiting beards for a donation of $20 to the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, which supports the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Meanwhile, TommyCar Auto Group employees donated the money they would spend on shaving to the charity. In total, the Sheriff’s Office raised $2,700, which Carla Cosenzi, president of TommyCar Auto Group, matched, resulting in a donation of $5,400 to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

 


Florence Bank Open House

Florence Bank hosted its 12th annual holiday open house at its Williamsburg branch on Dec. 11.  Complimentary appetizers and refreshments from the Williamsburg Snack Bar were served, and local businesses, including Cichy’s Garage, O’Brien’s Auto Works, Williamsburg Market, Dove Business Associates, and Village Green, donated raffle prizes.

The event featured a performance of holiday carols by the Williamsburg Congregational Church Choir

Kristine Zdaniewicz, assistant branch manager at the Williamsburg branch (left), and April O’Brien, vice president and Williamsburg branch manager

 


Helping Families Celebrate the Season

Robinson Donovan, P.C. once again partnered with the Gray House for its Adopt-a-Family Christmas program to brighten the season for deserving families in the Western Mass. community. The Gray House pairs local businesses with families in need to fulfill Christmas wish lists for their children; this year, Robinson Donovan assisted five families. Through the help of participating businesses, the Gray House was able to provide more than 800 gifts from children’s wish lists in 2018. In addition to the Adopt-a-Family Christmas program, the organization hosts a general toy drive for children in the community with the help of local schools and shelters.

Robinson Donovan Partner David Lawless with Teresa Liberti, executive director of the Gray House

 


 

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Care Where It’s Needed

Baystate Health recently received a $1 million grant from TD Bank to further the health system’s commitment to the communities it serves by funding an innovative new mobile health clinic called the TD Bank – Baystate Health Bus, which will deliver preventive care to people in urban and rural communities who are not receiving services due to financial and transportation barriers, including a shortage of providers in their neighborhoods. As a mobile medical unit, the bus will be staffed by a multi-disciplinary healthcare team to bring health screenings, early detection, and referrals for needed treatment or other services directly to at-risk individuals.

At the announcement, from left: Mark Keroack, president and CEO, Baystate Health; Rebecca Blanchard, senior director of Education, Baystate Health; Steve Webb, regional vice president, TD Bank; Dr. Kevin Hinchey, chief education officer, Baystate Health; Christina Cronin, philanthropy officer, Baystate Foundation; and Scott Berg, executive director, Baystate Health Foundation

Keroack talks about the importance of the health bus

 


Going Above and Beyond

Polish National Credit Union (PNCU) has made a $10,000 donation to the Chicopee Police Department, to be used to purchase an aerial drone for public safety. Drones have become a critical tool for first responders, allowing for additional capabilities for search and rescue, surveillance, crash reconstruction, and other tasks.

Pictured, from left: PNCU board members John Murphy and Stephen Burkott with Chicopee Police Chief William Jebb.

 


 

STEM Center at STCC

On Dec. 11, Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) officially opened its STEM Center, featuring resources and services to assist students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students who visit the facility can use a computer lab and study lounge and take advantage of other services, including exam proctoring, career exploration, and class support. In addition, the center features collaborative spaces for group study, tutoring, supplemental instruction, and group meetings.

Pictured: faculty and staff join STCC President John Cook, right, at the grand opening of the STEM Center at STCC. Barbara Washburn, interim dean of the School of STEM, second from right, cuts the ribbon with Vice President of Academic Affairs Geraldine de Berly.


 

Helping Students Thrive

A reception on Dec. 10 acknowledged a $50,000 donation from PeoplesBank to Holyoke Community College’s (HCC) Thrive Center, which assists students as they negotiate the complex bureaucracies associated with myriad issues, such as health insurance, food, housing and utility assistance, and credit repair. The money will be used to establish a dedicated fund for Thrive managed by the HCC Foundation, the college’s nonprofit fundraising corporation.

Pictured, from left: Thomas Senecal, president and CEO, PeoplesBank; HCC President Christina Royal; HCC student Christopher Royster; and Amanda Sbriscia, executive director, HCC Foundation.

 


 

Third Party Lender of the Year

Florence Bank was recently recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the Western Massachusetts Third Party Lender of the Year for loans the bank administers to small businesses in the area. Third-party loans, called SBA 504 loans, are offered by the bank in collaboration with certified development corporations such as Granite State Development Corp., Bay Colony Development Corp., and BDC Capital/CDC New England.

Pictured, from left:  Peter Kontakos, office deputy district director, SBA Massachusetts; Erin Couture and Michael Davey, Florence Bank vice presidents in Commercial Lending; Robert Nelson, office district director, SBA Massachusetts; and Ili Spahiu, assistant district director for Lender Relations, SBA Massachusetts.

 

 

 

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Cutting the Ribbon

EforAll Holyoke recently cut the ceremonial ribbon at its new headquarters on High Street. The well-attended event featured remarks from a number of those responsible for creating EforAll, now a key component of the region’s entrepreneurship infrastructure, and also building a home for it, one complete with co-working space, in the city’s downtown.

Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, executive director of EforAll Holyoke, offers some remarks

 


History Lessons

Fifth-grade students at Springfield’s DeBerry School visited the Springfield Armory on Nov. 26 on a field trip organized by BusinessWest as part of its sponsorship of the school through the Link to Libraries Community Book Link Program. The students were reading recently about creation of the National Parks, which prompted a visit to the Armory, a National Historic Site. The students learned about the Armory’s importance to Springfield’s development and its lead role in bringing mass-production processes to the forefront. Here, the students pose in front of the historic photo that greets Armory visitors.

 


Early Literacy Leadership Summit

More than 100 community and state education leaders gathered at Reading Success by 4th Grade’s first Early Literacy Leadership Summit on Nov. 14 at UMass Center at Springfield in Tower Square. The summit featured a presentation by Junlei Li, Saul Zaentz senior lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education (top right), whose work is significantly influenced and inspired by the pioneering work of Fred Rogers. Pictured at left: from left, Chrissy Howard, manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade; Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman; Literacy Champion Award honorees Tyeshia Weir and Melissa Blissett; Springfield City Councilor Tim Allen; Sally Fuller, retired program manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade and Literacy Champion Award honoree; and Robert Bolduc, CEO of Pride Stores and Literacy Champion Award honoree. Top left: panelists in the Out of School Time breakout session at the summit.

The summit featured a presentation by Junlei Li, Saul Zaentz senior lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education whose work is significantly influenced and inspired by the pioneering work of Fred Rogers

From left, Chrissy Howard, manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade; Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman; Literacy Champion Award honorees Tyeshia Weir and Melissa Blissett; Springfield City Councilor Tim Allen; Sally Fuller, retired program manager of Reading Success by 4th Grade and Literacy Champion Award honoree; and Robert Bolduc, CEO of Pride Stores and Literacy Champion Award honoree

Panelists in the Out of School Time breakout session at the summit.

 


President’s Platinum Award

Country Bank recently held its annual staff recognition, which recognized the recipient of the President’s Platinum Award, Matt Croft, IT solutions architect (left). “Matt embodies the bank’s values and its mission,” said Paul Scully (right), president and CEO of Country Bank. One nominee wrote that “Matt shares his knowledge and continually collaborates with teammates by asking for their opinions and different viewpoints to solve problems. He analyzes situations, and if he sees that someone has a heavy workload to meet a deadline, he pitches in to lend a hand to hit the target date. He follows up with appreciation and sincere gratitude toward others for their efforts.”

 


 

Rock-solid Performance

Granite State Development Corp. approved 21 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loans totaling more than $8 million in its last fiscal year, making it the most active 504 lender in Western Mass. by both dollars and loan approvals. In addition, it ended the fiscal year ranked fourth in the country by approving 223 loans for $109,099,000.

Pictured, from left: Peter Kontakos, SBA deputy district director; Tracey Gaylord, vice president, Business Development, Granite State Development Corp.; Barbara Arena, vice president, Business Development, Granite State Development Corp.; Robert Nelson, SBA district director; and Ili Spahiu, SBA assistant district director for Lender Relations.

 


Stuff the Bus

The Springfield College campus community filled the Springfield College Athletics bus on Nov. 20 with more than 2,900 pounds of non-perishable food items as part of the annual Fill the Bus campaign, sponsored by the Springfield College Student Athlete Leadership Team, the Department of Public Safety, and the Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement. Fill the Bus is an annual tradition that allows students, faculty, staff, and community members to donate non-perishable food items to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, German Gerena Community School, and the Springfield College Food Pantry. Donations included canned fruit and vegetables, canned soup, cereal, crackers, granola bars, jelly, peanut butter, rice, and stuffing mix.


 

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Toys for the Kids

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and Massachusetts State Police Colonel Kerry Gilpin, along with Springfield police officers and state troopers, recently went shopping at Walmart on Boston Road on Tuesday morning with a special delivery in mind. Afterward, they made a large donation of toys to Baystate Children’s Hospital.

 


Honoring a Supporter

At the launch of the college’s first major gifts campaign in more than a decade, Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook announced the naming of the Tuohey Family Welcome Center at the Student Learning Commons. Brian Tuohey (pictured), a generous supporter of STCC, beamed with delight after hearing the news. His family, including his five children and 12 grandchildren, made a surprise appearance at the kickoff event on Oct. 22.

 


Celebrating 100 Years

Balise Auto Group recently held its 100th-anniversary employee-recognition event at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

President Jeb Balise

A shot of all Balise associates who have been with the company for 10 years or more

 


Food Fest West

The West of the River Chamber of Commerce (WRC) held its annual Food Fest West on Nov. 7  at Springfield Country Club in West Springfield. The event featured the foods of area restaurants, including Carrabba’s Italian Grill, bNapoli, 110 Grill, Hamel’s Creative Catering, Courtyard by Marriott, Pintu’s Indian Cuisine, Partners Restaurant, Springfield Country Club, Storrowton Tavern, Tekoa Country Club, and more. Storrowton Tavern in West Springfield won the People’s Choice Award.

Guests Kelli Lemelin and Ron Lemelin enjoy food from Springfield Country Club

 

A chef from bNapoli serves WRC Chairman Ryan McL

 


Where Health Matters

Health New England recently awarded five $50,000 Where Health Matters grants to organizations that have a positive impact among vulnerable population groups in Western and Central Mass. The honorees included Men of Color Health Awareness, or MOCHA (represented by Lamont Scott, pictured below); Square One (represented by Joan Kagan and Kristine Allard, pictured at bottom); 18 Degrees, a division of Berkshire Children and Families Inc.; Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services; and the Center for Youth Engagement at UMass Amherst.

Lamont Scott

Joan Kagan and Kristine Allard

 


Instilling a Love of Books

The start of the 2019-20 school year marked several significant milestones for Link to Libraries. First, thanks to the generosity of local businesses and families, including Monson Savings Bank (MSB), which now sponsors a record five schools, every public elementary school in the city of Springfield is now a part of Link to Libraries’ Community Book Link sponsorship program. During the 2018-19 academic year, Link to Libraries donated 23,000 new books to sponsored libraries throughout the region. In addition, a record 200-plus Link to Libraries volunteer readers began reading in classrooms in underserved elementary schools in Hampden, Hampshire, Berkshire, and Hartford counties.

Principal Terry Powe and students from Elias Brookings Elementary School welcome their new sponsor, MSB President Steve Lowell, and Link to Libraries President and CEO Laurie Flynn

 

William Johnson, vice president of St. Germain Investments, reads to students at Lincoln Elementary School

Longtime volunteer Francie Cornwell reads to students at Homer Elementary School

 


A Challenge from the Commissioner

Carlos Santiago, commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, spoke to a crowd at Holyoke Community College on Nov. 5. He emphasized the importance of reconceptualizing the work that educators have been doing for the past 20 to 30 years, examining the students that are coming into the system, and changing the perception of the students themselves.

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President’s Gala

An evening of elegance and passion, the Springfield College President’s Gala raised more than $500,000 for Springfield College student scholarships. More than 300 gathered on Saturday, October 26 at the MGM Springfield Aria Ballroom. All proceeds will go toward need and merit-based scholarships. The gala was also an opportunity to celebrate the Springfield College Humanics philosophy and its 50-year commitment of having an active member of the current student body serve as a voting member of the board of trustees. Pictured, clockwise from top left: Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper with sport management major Shamar Martin; Kristian Rhim, a communications/sports journalism major from Philadelphia who serves as the student trustee-elect this academic year and will continue on as the 50th student trustee starting in June 2020, is introduced at the gala; Alexandra Goslin, a math and secondary education major from South Windsor, Conn., who is serving as the 49th student trustee this academic year, welcomes visitors to the gala.

Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper with sport management major Shamar Martin

 

Kristian Rhim, a communications/sports journalism major from Philadelphia who serves as the student trustee-elect this academic year and will continue on as the 50th student trustee starting in June 2020, is introduced at the gala

 

Alexandra Goslin, a math and secondary education major from South Windsor, Conn., who is serving as the 49th student trustee this academic year, welcomes visitors to the gala

 


 

Children’s Study Home Art Show

On Sept. 19, the Children’s Study Home held a child and youth art show and auction at the Carriage House at the Barney Estate in Forest Park. More than 30 pieces of artwork from all mediums, including acrylic, watercolor, colored pencil, chalk, and sculptures, were shown from the students of the Children’s Study Home’s Mill Pond School and Curtis Blake Day School, as well as artwork from the children of the Children’s Study Home’s residential programs. Local area artisans participated and donated art pieces to the event. The art was displayed for the evening and sold to raise money for the Children’s Study Home’s art and culturing programs.

 


 

Uplifting Women

More than 130 people attended the COMMversations 2019 event at the Springfield Museums. This Bay Path University student-directed event, in partnership with community collaborators, honored and recognized the voices of historic women of the past, pacesetters of the present, and those who are working in ‘brave’ spaces today to define a future for all. Featured speakers were Bay Path President Carol Leary, who was recognized for her 25 years of leadership at Bay Path, and Freedom Rider Jean Denton Thompson, who courageously fought for justice on the front lines of the civil-rights movement.

Allison Zacynski (left) and Tabitha Shustock were two of many Bay Path students who participated in COMMversations 2019

 

From left, state Rep. Brian Ashe, Leary, state Sen. Eric Lesser, Denton Thompson, Bay Path Professor Janine Fondon, and Marvena Shubrick, representing state Rep. Jose Tosado.


 

Harvest of Creativity

On Oct. 25, students and staff from DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology in West Springfield delivered creepy, cute, and festive Halloween pumpkins to the young patients of Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield and Baystate Children’s Hospital. A yearly tradition at DiGrigoli School, the students spent weeks painting, gluing, and designing their pumpkins. Paul DiGrigoli, owner of DiGrigoli School and DiGrigoli Salon, purchases 60 pumpkins every year to increase creativity among the students and teach them the importance of giving back. Once the pumpkins are designed and completed, they are judged by staff members, and prizes are awarded. A selection of the best are then hand-delivered to the child patients of the two Springfield hospitals.

 


Note-able Family

The Ja’Duke Theater announced a father/daughter duo as winners of the Valley Voice competition, which took place Oct. 26. The winner of the Valley Voice Kids & Teen division is 10-year-old Natalie Duff of Wilbraham. She competed in three rounds of performances to win the top spot, a cash prize of $500, and a one-hour recording session at Next Level Records. This division is designated for singers in grades 1 to 12. Natalie’s father, Jared Duff, was named the winner of the Valley Voice adult division. He also competed in three rounds of performances and won a cash prize of $1,000 and a one-hour recording session at Next Level Records.

 


 

Super 60

Now in its 30th year, the Springfield Regional Chamber’s Super 60 program celebrates the success of the fastest-growing privately-owned businesses in the region. Businesses on the Total Revenue and Revenue Growth categories for 2019 represent myriad sectors of the economy, including nonprofits, transportation, healthcare, technology, manufacturing, retail, and hospitality. They were feted on Oct. 25 at Chez Josef in Agawam.

Pictured at right: Michael Mancuso (left) of event sponsor People’s United Bank presents a plaque to Nate Costa, president of the Springfield Thunderbirds, honored in the Revenue Growth category.

 

 


Passing the Torch

The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley (FBC) celebrated its 25 years of success and first leadership transition with a Legacy and Soul event on Oct. 23 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Founding Director Ira Bryck officially passed the torch to the new Executive Director Jessi Kirley (pictured belwo). FBC members, sponsors, friends, and family shared stories about Bryck and gave a show of support for Kirley. The night finished with dancing to local reggae band (and family business) ReBelle.

 


 

Keep the Ball Rolling

Joe Phillips (right), president of Phillips Insurance Agency Inc., recently delivered a $5,000 check to John Freedman (center) and state Rep. Brian Ashe for the eighth annual Joseph D. Freedman Bowl-a-Thon. John is the founder of the event, and Ashe will serve as master of ceremonies. The event is being held Saturday, Nov. 16 at AMF Lanes in Chicopee. All proceeds will benefit Camphill Village, a community for adults with developmental disabilities who live and work together, caring for each other. Last year, hundreds of bowlers enjoyed the bowling, face painting, and other activities.

Joe Phillips (right), president of Phillips Insurance Agency Inc., recently delivered a $5,000 check to John Freedman (center) and state Rep. Brian Ashe for the eighth annual Joseph D. Freedman Bowl-a-Thon

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Empowering Women

Girls Inc. of the Valley hosted Joyce Roché, businesswoman and author of The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success on Oct. 10 at the Delaney House. She was interviewed by Girls Inc. teens Maya and Janira and shared her story from humble beginnings to becoming the first African-American woman vice president of Avon.

Joyce Roché autographs copies of her book after the event

Maya, Girls Inc. Executive Director Suzanne Parker, Roché, and Janira.

 


Discussing Brexit

On Oct. 3, American International College hosted Stavros Lambrinidis, European Union ambassador to the U.S., and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to discuss the history of the EU as well as the organization’s role in international trade. Lambrinidis told Neal and a packed audience that there is a “divorce” happening in the EU, referring to Brexit, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, and discussed the importance of a continued relationship with the U.S.

 


 

Smoothing Career Pathways

Under a new agreement with Springfield Technical Community College, students at Springfield High School of Commerce will be able to take courses at STCC and earn up to 20 college credits at no cost to them. The Early College initiative allows high-school students to explore high-need career pathways, avoid student-loan debt, and ultimately complete a college degree more quickly.

Pictured, from left: Matthew Brunell and Colleen Beaudoin, co-executive directors, Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership; John Cook, STCC president; Chris Gabrieli, chair, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education; Daniel Warwick, Springfield Public Schools superintendent; and Paul Neal, executive principal, Springfield High School of Commerce.

 


 

Earning an A+

The Parmar family of Pioneer Valley Hotel Group received the 2019 Legacy Award at the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual A+ Awards Dinner at Hadley Farms Meeting House on Oct. 3.

From left: state Rep. Mindy Domb, Elena Cohen of state Sen. Jo Comerford’s office, Laxman Parmar, Kishore Parmar, Shardool Parmar, and chamber Executive Director Claudia Pazmany.

Lisa Solowiej and Jocelyn Potter, A+ awardees for Community Service, are joined by their children and Pazmany to receive a citation from Domb for their leadership creating and coordinating the Amherst Survival Center Neighborhood Food Project.

 


 

Illusionist Performs for a Cause

Illusionist Jason Bishop and his dog, Gizmo, greet Treehouse Foundation youth Destiny and Sheyenne after his performances at the Armory at MGM on Oct. 13. The magician made Gizmo disappear and reappear, turned one-dollar bills into one hundred-dollar bills, and wowed the audience with his illusions and humor. Bishop performed two shows to benefit the Treehouse Foundation, an Easthampton nonprofit that supports children and youth who have experienced foster care.

 


 

Responding to the Call

Polish National Credit Union (PNCU) recently made a $10,000 donation to the Chicopee Fire Department. The donation will be used to purchase an industrial-sized washer extractor, an innovative machine that reduces the amount of carcinogens in turnout gear without damaging the equipment.

Chicopee firefighters with Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos, PNCU President and CEO James Kelly, Chicopee Fire Chief Daniel Stamborski, and Chicopee Fire Fighters Local 1710 IAFF President Glen Olbrych (fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh from left, respectively).

 


 

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield Turns Two

On Oct. 16, family and friends of dealership owners Michelle and Peter Wirth joined to celebrate the two-year anniversary of the dealership’s opening in 2017. Since launching the Chicopee location, the dealership has sold more than 2,000 cars. The celebration included cake, cupcakes, and balloon décor provided by Rise Event Production.