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UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences Nets $93 Million

AMHERST — UMass Amherst announced that, as part of Robert and Donna Manning’s recent historic $50 million gift to the University of Massachusetts, $18 million will endow the newly named Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences. At the same time, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a $75 million commitment that will enhance and expand the college’s facilities. The state grant, which will be allocated over the course of multiple future capital plans, is backed by a $30 million commitment from the campus for the expanded physical footprint of the college. These combined investments will allow the college to continue to grow and fuel new discoveries in computing research. It will attract top faculty, increase access to its nationally ranked program, and offer scholarships, bridge programs, and peer mentoring to foster a diverse and ethical future workforce. Since 2018, the college has committed to doubling the amount of undergraduate and graduate students, and the gift and grant will help accelerate that goal. The Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences ranks among the top 20 computer science programs in North America and boasts the 11th-ranked artificial intelligence (AI) program. United around a revolutionary vision for computing research and education, known as Computing for the Common Good, the college is driving scientific discovery in key areas such as healthcare, sustainability, cybersecurity, quantum information systems, and human-centered technology. Its research is focused on some of the most demanding challenges of today, including ensuring that AI is equitable, safe, and applied in positive ways, creating technologies that protect personal privacy and safeguard children from online predators.

 

Eastern States Exposition Receives Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Eastern States Exposition (ESE) President and CEO Eugene Cassidy was joined by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Robert Nelson, director of the Small Business Assoc. (SBA) Massachusetts District Office, on Oct. 25 to announce that ESE is the recipient of a Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG). These federal grants are given to venues in the entertainment realm such as concert halls, theaters, and other attractions that suffered significant losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Big E, North America’s fifth-largest fair in 2019, did not take place in 2020. “For more than 100 years, the Eastern States Exposition, home of The Big E, has welcomed millions of visitors to enjoy exhibits, entertainment, and agriculture,” said Neal, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “Due to the pandemic, the Big E was forced to close its gates for the 2020 season, resulting in extensive loss. I advocated fiercely on their behalf to the Small Business Administration for swift approval of the Big E’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application. Today, just weeks after almost 1.5 million people visited the 2021 fair, we celebrate the authorization of $9 million to the Big E. Congratulations to Gene Cassidy and his team for this tremendous award.”

 

Country Bank Opens New Office in Tower Square

SPRINGFIELD — Country Bank opened a business office on the 17th floor of Tower Square in Springfield at the end of October to support its continued growth in the markets it serves. The new business office will support local businesses and allow the Country Bank team to become ingrained with the companies and nonprofits in Springfield. Bringing more than 20 years of commercial banking experience, Senior Vice President Ben Leonard will lead the Springfield team. He has spent more than a decade fostering relationships in Western Mass. with both community and business leaders while he was with Wells Fargo. Leonard serves on the board for Revitalize CDC in Springfield. In 2018, he was a BusinessWest 40 Under Forty honoree and is a graduate of Wells Fargo’s Credit Management Training Program. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Texas.

 

Level Two Studios, LLC Opens in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Level Two Studios, LLC a new all-inclusive production facility, recently opened in Springfield, offering an optimal environment for professional, full-scale video production and photography. Located on the second level of 155 Brookdale Dr., the studio’s expansive, 2,000-square-foot space accommodates creative media production with numerous amenities. The many features of Level Two Studios include a 25-by-11-foot white or green screen corner cyclorama wall — the only one available in the region — as well as blackout walls for seamless filming. The studio also boasts flexible standing sets that provide endless customization options, sound suppression, full lighting, a state-of-the-art video-editing suite and audio studio for post-production, a green room, and ample accommodations for private wardrobe, makeup, meetings, and other preparation. The facility can accommodate production crews of all sizes and is available for both full- and half-day rentals.

 

Barron & Jacobs to Move Office Location

NORTHAMPTON — Barron & Jacobs Associates will move its offices in November from Old South Street in Northampton to 420 North Main St. in Leeds. After 17 years in its current location, the company has decided to move to a new spot. The existing building was purchased by the company’s prior owner from Historic Northampton, and Barron & Jacobs restored the home to its original glory. Company owner Chris Jacobs said the new site offers a great location, is well-suited for the business, and is more energy-efficient. Barron & Jacobs is a full-service design/build remodeler. In business since 1986, the company’s projects include kitchens, baths, porches and decks, attic and basement conversions, whole-house renovations, exterior work, and more. For more information or to schedule a design consultation, visit barronandjacobs.com.

 

Angels in Adoption Honors Friends of Children

HADLEY — U.S. Sen. Edward Markey is celebrating Friends of Children as a 2021 Angels in Adoption honoree for its outstanding advocacy for foster-care issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which coordinates the Angels in Adoption program, honored Friends of Children on Oct. 20 in a virtual gala. According to Markey, Friends of Children was nominated as an honoree this year due to its relentless advocacy for children despite the challenges of the COVID pandemic. “Even in our nation’s darkest hour, as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, you have fought tirelessly for the children and families impacted by foster care and involvement in the juvenile justice system and have shown great fortitude in the face of adversity,” Markey said. Jane Lyons, executive director of Friends of Children, said accepting the nomination shines an important light on the invaluable work the organization provides. “To be recognized by the CCAI with this award is really exciting and underscores the value placed on our independent child advocacy for kids in the foster-care system.”

 

Lesser Presents $1,000 Earmark to Springfield Science Museum

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums welcomed state Sen. Eric Lesser on Oct. 25 to announce a $100,000 earmark from the Commonwealth to help fund the International Space Station exhibit in the Springfield Science Museum. The Springfield Museums is constructing a fully immersive representation of the International Space Station module Destiny. The gallery will have an ‘airlock’ entrance and dynamic view of Earth from the exhibit’s bay-window cupola. The vestibule is nearing completion and will include a facsimile astronaut suit as well as interactive features that help visitors better understand the science of space exploration. Plans are also underway for a facilitated, roving ‘space cart,’ which will include items from an astronaut’s gear that visitors can touch. A facilitator will be available to answer questions and share information about space travel. Currently on view outside the gallery is an interactive screen donated by NASA. Visitors can touch the image of the International Space Station to find out more information about its function.

 

Country Bank Supports Ride to Remember

WARE — Country Bank recently supported the Ride to Remember, the 100-mile bicycle ride in tribute to fallen police officers and firefighters. This year, the event was rerouted to include a round-trip ride from Springfield to Worcester to pay tribute to the lives lost by the Worcester Police and Fire departments. Country Bank President and CEO Paul Scully, who previously participated in the ride, presented a $10,000 donation to the Ride to Remember with funds directed to the Manny 267 Foundation in Worcester. The Manny 267 Foundation was established after the city of Worcester suffered the loss of officer Manny Familia, a five-year veteran who responded to the 911 call of a 14-year-old boy in distress at Green Hill Pond. Unfortunately, neither Familia nor the boy survived. The goal of the foundation is to raise funds to provide rescue tubes for every police cruiser and, with the collaboration of the YMCA, provide proper training for police to perform water rescues. In addition, they want to offer swimming lessons and water-survival skills for kids and teenagers in the Worcester community. Finally, their goal is to donate a ‘Manny tube’ to every police department in the U.S. and to prevent this type of tragedy from ever happening again.

 

Excel Dryer Renews Support for Square One Program

SPRINGFIELD — For the fifth consecutive year, Excel Dryer is lending its support to Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom initiative, donating $5,000 to provide supplies and meals to the agency’s preschoolers. “We are proud to support Square One and their ongoing efforts to provide early-education services to children in our area,” said Denis Gagnon, president of Excel Dryer. “This organization is a vital part of our community, providing a safe and educational space for young children. We hope our donation can help provide much-needed meals and resources for these students.” Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom program is part of the agency’s Campaign for Healthy Kids, a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment.

MSB Asks Community to Vote for Their Favorite Nonprofits

MONSON — With the season of giving right around the corner, Monson Savings Bank (MSB) is reaching out to the public and requesting they submit their votes for the bank’s 2022 Community Giving Initiative. For more than a decade, MSB has been seeking the help of the community to plan the bank’s community-giving activities by inviting members of the community to vote for the organizations they would like the bank to support during the upcoming year. Everyone is welcome to participate and can cast their vote at www.monsonsavings.bank/connect/community-giving.html. Voters may provide the names of up to three organizations they would like the bank to donate to in 2022. The only requirements are that the organizations be designated a nonprofit and that the organizations provide services within the bank’s geography. Voting ends on Friday, Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. Monson Savings Bank pledges to support the top 10 organizations that receive the most votes. The 10 organizations will be announced by mid-January, and donations will then be distributed.

American Eagle Supports Asnuntuck Food Pantry

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — American Eagle Financial Credit Union (AEFCU) revealed the recipients of $25,842 in total donations from the latest round of the credit union’s popular Cash Back to the Community program. The third quarter’s winners — three nonprofit organizations from AEFCU’s service area that earned the most community votes — will each receive $8,614 from American Eagle. The latest winners are the Asnuntuck Community College Food Pantry in Enfield, the Southington Girls Softball League, and Our Piece of the Pie in Hartford. Through the Cash Back to the Community program, American Eagle has donated $76,571 to local organizations in 2021 alone, and $162,996 since the program first launched in January 2020. AEFCU donates 1% of its credit- and debit-card interchange income to three nonprofit and/or 501(c)(3) organizations each quarter through the Cash Back to the Community program. In addition to American Eagle’s donations through the Cash Back to the Community program, AEFCU employees donated $3,461 to the United Way and $8,339 to the American Eagle Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. AEFCU employees have provided $33,827 in total donations in 2021. Funds are generated through voluntary payroll deductions throughout the year and distributed to local organizations that American Eagle and its employees support on a quarterly basis.

 

BHN’s Kamp for Kids Receives $5,000 Grant from Westfield Bank

WESTFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) announced it has received a grant of $5,000 from Westfield Bank’s Future Fund Program to benefit Kamp for Kids, the organization’s summer day camp for children and young adults with and without disabilities. Westfield Bank, a longtime supporter of BHN’s Kamp for Kids, established the Future Fund in 2002 as a response to overwhelming community needs and the shrinking sources of corporate philanthropy. It prioritizes funding to 501(c)(3) educational, recreational, cultural, and social-service programs that serve Westfield Bank’s market area. Grants made to Kamp for Kids provide camperships to youth with or without disabilities to ensure that all children, regardless of family income, are able to attend camp.

 

Agenda

Rally in the Alley

Every Thursday: Downtown Springfield will be the site for Rally in the Alley, a month-long outdoor ping-pong points league held on Market Street in collaboration with the Springfield Thunderbirds, NOSH Café, and Sweet Ideas Café. The first event of its kind hosted in the heart of the city, it will take place every Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The event is free to participate in, and open to all ages. The matches will be round-robin style, one-on-one. Prizes will be given out each week, including Springfield Thunderbirds game tickets, downtown restaurant gift cards, Springfield merch, and much more. NOSH and Sweet Ideas Café will be open, serving dinner and drinks. Participants can sign up beforehand by visiting springfielddowntown.com or at the event. The Springfield Thunderbirds are the presenting sponsor, and Blue Haus Group is co-hosting the event.

 

Willie Ross School Grand Reopening

Sept. 17: Willie Ross School for the Deaf (WRSD) will hold a grand reopening and ribbon cutting for the newly completed renovation and expansion to its Sidney Cooley Administration Building from 10 a.m. to noon at 32 Norway St., Longmeadow. WRSD President and CEO Bert Carter; Dr. J. Robert Kirkwood, chair of the WRSD board of trustees; and George Balsley, vice chair of the board, will offer remarks at the event, which will also offer light refreshments and tours of the new space. The $2.5 million renovation and expansion took two years to complete and added a second story to its administration building that features new space for interpreters, an updated audiology center, a redesigned main entrance, improved wheelchair access, new space for the school’s Work Study Program, and upgraded administrative technology. The comprehensive renovation also included new landscaping of the property and replacement of windows and insulation to increase energy efficiency.

 

Community Shred Day

Sept. 18: Freedom Credit Union will once again to offer the opportunity for Western Mass. residents to securely purge unwanted paperwork. In cooperation with PROSHRED Springfield, Freedom is offering a free community shred day at two of its branches in Springfield and West Springfield. The event is slated for 9 to 10 a.m. at 296 Cooley St. in Springfield, and 11 a.m. to noon at 58 Union St. in West Springfield. The public is invited to bring old bills, bank statements, tax returns, and other sensitive documents for free, quick, and secure on-site shredding. Members and non-members alike may bring up to five file boxes or paper bags (per vehicle) to the events. Masks are not required for those who are vaccinated.

 

YMCA of Greater Springfield Golf Tournament

Sept. 21: The YMCA of Greater Springfield announced it will hold a golf tournament at the Longmeadow Country Club. The funds raised will support youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility through access to the YMCA. In addition to a round of golf, golfers will enjoy a grilled lunch at 11 a.m. and a dinner following the tournament. To learn more about registration and sponsorship opportunities, e-mail Donna Sittard, Development director at the YMCA, at [email protected], call (413) 739-6951, ext. 3110, or visit www.springfieldy.org.

 

Golden Bear Athletics Golf Classic

Sept. 20: The Department of Athletics at Western New England University will host the 22nd annual Golden Bear Athletics Golf Classic at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow at 12:30 p.m. The cost for individual participation is $175 per person. Foursomes are welcome. The tournament will be a scramble format, and golf carts will be provided. Competitions during the day will include closest to the pin, straightest drive, and longest drive. There will also be mulligan tickets, a raffle, and a putting contest throughout the day. Each year, the Classic honors outstanding individuals who have made a positive impact on Western New England University and its athletics family. This year’s honoree will be WNEU President Robert Johnson. A cocktail reception and luncheon honoring him will take place upon tournament completion. For more information and registration or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, visit wnegoldenbears.com/landing/index.

 

40 Under Forty Gala

Sept. 23: BusinessWest’s 15th annual 40 Under Forty gala will take place at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. The class of 2021 was introduced to the region in the magazine’s May 12 issue, and the profiles may be read online at businesswest.com. Event sponsors include Comcast Business, Health New England, the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, PeoplesBank, and Venture X..

 

United Way Day of Caring

Sept. 24: The United Way of Pioneer Valley has opened volunteer signups for Day of Caring 2021. Volunteers may sign up at uwpv.org/doc21-events. “There is a greater need than ever for kindness, good deeds, and building our sense of community this year,” said Paul Mina, president and CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley. “I implore anyone with free time on or around Day of Caring 2021 to sign up and do good with us. Help our nonprofits, who have struggled greatly through the COVID-19 pandemic, and you will start your last weekend of September with the best night’s sleep you can find — knowing you’ve done a good thing when it was needed most.” Learn more about the United Way Day of Caring at uwpv.org/day-of-caring, or donate at uwpv.org/donate.

 

Brew at the Zoo

Sept. 25: The Zoo in Forest Park will host its fourth annual Brew at the Zoo, presented by PDC Inc., from 1 to 5 p.m. Beer enthusiasts will enjoy a day at the zoo complete with unlimited beer samples from local craft breweries, a home-brew competition, food trucks, live music, games, and animal interactions. All the money raised through this event goes directly to support the 250 animals that call the zoo their home year-round. The event, which was canceled last year due to the pandemic, offers three ticket types: VIP, general admission, and designated driver. Attendees with a VIP ticket will enjoy an extra hour of sampling beginning at noon, the opportunity to participate in up-close animal encounters, and grain to feed the animals. This event is 21+. The zoo will be closed to the public on Sept. 25. Advance tickets are required, and IDs will be checked at the door. For a list of participating breweries and to purchase tickets, visit www.forestparkzoo.org/brew. Limited tickets are available.

 

Leadership Training Program

Sept. 28-30: Giombetti Associates, a leadership institute providing behaviorally based talent-development and acquisition services, will host the second of three three-day leadership training programs for 2021 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. This intensive course covers the power of Performance Dynamics and how it can help participants know themselves better; different leadership styles and what makes them effective or ineffective; the importance of being vulnerable and transparent; how to build interpersonal relationships; what effective onboarding is and how it will help participants’ organizations and employees; how to be an efficient communicator; the best way to deliver developmental feedback; building teamwork and the value of team building; and trust, integrity, and more. Prior to training, each participant goes through Performance Dynamics, an assessment that consists of three personality inventories designed to identify 17 different traits that drive personality and behavior. Then, in an interactive, one-on-one feedback session, the participant develops a newfound self-awareness of their behavioral strengths, learns how to manage their personality more effectively, and gains an understanding of how their personality impacts others. Throughout the three-day training, the participant is encouraged to constantly refer to and link their personality to the leadership issue being discussed. All the subject matter is wrapped around individual personality and how it affects behavior in different situations, yielding a unique experience of self-exploration. To learn more about the three-day leadership program, which has an additional session scheduled in November, visit giombettiassoc.com/three-day-leadership-training-program. Registration is now open for both sessions.

 

HCC Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series

Sept. 29, Oct. 27, Nov. 24: Holyoke Community College (HCC) will continue its monthly Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series this fall. During each session, participants will join prominent women leaders for discussions on relevant topics and ideas to help their leadership development. They will also have the opportunity to form a supportive network to help navigate their own careers. The fall dates and topics are:

• Sept. 29: “Do Something Every Day that Scares You” with Pattie Hallberg, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts;

• Oct. 27: “Just Go for It,” with Helen Gomez Andrews, co-founder and CEO of the High End; and

• Nov. 24: “Journey to and from Exit Zero,” with Sharale Mathis, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at HCC.

The cost of each session is $25, with the exception of the three-part Vision Board class with Turner, which costs $99. The cost for the full, six-session series is $120. Cost, however, will not be a barrier to participation. If pricing is an issue, contact Michele Cabral, HCC’s executive director of Business, Corporate and Professional Development, at [email protected] Space is limited, and advance registration is required. To register, visit hcc.edu/womens-leadership.

 

Company Notebook

Gift of $50 Million from Robert and Donna Manning Is Largest in UMass History

BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts announced it will receive a cash gift of $50 million from Robert and Donna Manning. The gift, the largest of any kind in the university’s history, is aimed at increasing access and opportunity across the five-campus university system. The first distribution of the $50 million will be $15 million to endow the UMass Boston Nursing program, which will become the Robert and Donna Manning College of Nursing and Health Sciences. The funds will be focused on supporting student diversity and ensuring that the new cohort of nursing professionals are champions of equitable patient care. Donna Manning’s 35-year career as an oncology nurse at Boston Medical Center inspired the decision to focus the gift on nursing at UMass Boston. Known for her dedication to patients, Manning donated her salary to the hospital each year. The College of Nursing and Health Sciences is the fastest-growing college at UMass Boston and offers the only four-year public programs in Nursing and Exercise and Health Sciences in the Greater Boston area. The undergraduate and graduate population of approximately 2,100 students in the college is 19% black, 12% Latinx, and 11% Asian-American Pacific Islander. In the coming months, the Mannings plan to announce distributions from the overall gift to improve access and opportunity on the other UMass campuses in Amherst, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Worcester. Robert Manning is chairman of MFS Investment Management and the long-time chair of the UMass board of trustees. The Mannings were already among UMass’ greatest supporters, having committed more than $11 million to UMass Lowell, where the Manning School of Business bears their name. On the Lowell campus, they have endowed several faculty chairs, sponsored a nursing simulation lab, and established the Robert and Donna Manning Endowed Scholarship Fund. The Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to faculty on all five UMass campuses for high-impact teaching.

 

MGM Unveils Two Sports Lounges

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield marked its third anniversary by unveiling two widescreen luxury sports lounges. MGM Springfield President Chris Kelley recently led a tour of the new lounges, which he said reinforces the resort’s position and commitment as the market’s leading destination for sports and entertainment. The new, multi-million-dollar MGM Springfield Sports Lounge will be positioned on the casino floor and feature a 45-foot, state-of-the-art HD viewing wall, inviting fans to watch multiple sporting events at once, along with more than 70 individual lounge seats. The venue is designed to seamlessly incorporate sports betting via the BetMGM platform should Massachusetts lawmakers pass future legislation. The property also unveiled a new VIP Sports Lounge within TAP Sports Bar. This second viewing destination will offer a more intimate experience with an HDTV wall, couches, and a special culinary menu crafted by TAP chefs.

 

UMass Announces $175 Million Gift to Its Medical School

WORCESTER — The University of Massachusetts has announced a history-making $175 million donation from the Morningside Foundation to UMass Medical School. The transformational gift is unrestricted and will more than double the medical school’s endowment. It comes as the medical school celebrates its 50th year of educating future physicians, nursing leaders, and biomedical scientists and as its Nobel Prize-winning research enterprise has grown to $400 million. In recognition of the gift and of the commitment to education, research, and healthcare by the Chan family of investors, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists, UMass Medical School will be renamed the UMass Chan Medical School. Its three graduate schools will be renamed the T.H. Chan School of Medicine, the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing, and the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. T.H. Chan, for whom the School of Medicine will be named, is the late patriarch of the Chan family, who was deeply committed to supporting higher education. The Graduate School of Nursing will be named for the family’s matriarch, Tan Chingfen, a nurse who, the family recalled, administered vaccines to neighborhood children in the 1950s. The choice of Morningside for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences reflects the name of the family’s investment group and foundation.

 

EforAll/EparaTodos Holyoke Looking for Volunteers

HOLYOKE — EforAll/EparaTodos Holyoke is actively seeking both English- and Spanish-speaking volunteers to participate as mentors in the winter 2022 business accelerator program. Accelerator mentors come from a variety of backgrounds and use their business and leadership experience to guide new entrepreneurs through the process of turning their idea into a growing business. Mentors work in teams of three and are matched with an entrepreneur based on schedule availability and the desire to work together. The team meets as a group to help reaffirm topics and themes raised during classes, while also strategizing with the entrepreneur on how to reach their specific goals during the program. This is a high-touch, year-long commitment. Mentor teams have weekly 90-minute virtual meetings for three months and then meet once a month for the following nine months. Spanish speakers are especially needed. Anyone looking for an interactive and meaningful volunteer opportunity and interested in learning more about EforAll should e-mail [email protected]

 

SERVPRO of Hampshire County Celebrates 25 Years in Community

BELCHERTOWN — SERVPRO of Hampshire County, a cleanup and restoration company, is recognizing its 25th anniversary in the local business community. The company will celebrate its milestone with an open house on Thursday, Sept. 16 at its offices at 50 Depot St. in Belchertown. Fall has been in business since Aug. 16, 1996. SERVPRO clients include insurance companies seeking restoration services, as well as commercial and residential property owners who require routine cleaning services. With more than 50 years of experience, the SERVPRO system’s time-tested techniques and proprietary cleaning products have earned its franchises a spot as a leader in the restoration and cleaning industry. SERVPRO of Hampshire County is capable of cleaning and restoring a fire-, mold-, or water-damaged building and its contents, including wall, ceiling, and floor surfaces; furniture; fabric; fixtures; and more. Many franchisees also offer cleaning and restoration of special items, such as HVAC duct systems; building exteriors; electronic equipment, including computers; and documents that have sustained water damage.

 

Freedom Credit Union Raises $2,710 for Food Bank

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout June and July, Freedom Credit Union collected cash donations at its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, which leads the fight against food insecurity throughout Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. It raised $2,710 thanks to the generosity of members and staff. Since 1982, the Food Bank has helped provide much-sneeded food to area residents. It sources its products from donations and then supplies it to participating pantries, meal sites, and shelters throughout the region.

 

Whalley Computer Associates Announces Partnership with Cynet

SOUTHWICK — Whalley Computer Associates has joined forces with cyberattack defender Cynet to offer customers an enhanced layer of protection with an autonomous breach platform. The joint venture between the two IT solution providers offers customers another cybersecurity option to keep data safe with state-of-the-art prevention and detection. Cynet pioneered the autonomous breach-protection platform and offers cybersecurity to organizational security teams already stretched thin by the resources demanded to integrate and employ disparate solutions across frequently complex and wide-ranging security needs. The Cynet 360 platform secures organizations of every size, deploying and integrating across thousands of endpoints in hours, and providing all the fundamental capabilities of NGAV, EDR, UEBA, Network Analytics, and Deception solutions, plus backing through its frontline CyOps, a team made up of SOC experts available 24/7.

 

Paragus IT Named to Channel Futures MSP 501 List

HADLEY — The Channel Futures annual MSP 501 list is a definitive ranking of the most influential and fastest-growing managed service providers (MSPs) around the world. This year, Paragus IT ranked seventh in Massachusetts and 15th in New England, making it one of the top-ranked MSPs in Western and Central Mass. Channel Futures is a media and events platform serving companies in the information and communication technologies channel industry with insights, analysis, information, and in-person events. Its annual 501 list serves as a critical benchmarking tool and speaks to the rapidly evolving IT-channel ecosystem and its diversity of business models.

 

Monson Savings Donates $1,000 to Town’s Christmas Lights

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank recently donated $1,000 to the town of Monson’s Christmas lights display to honor the hard work and long careers of John Malo and John Morrell. Malo recently was recognized by the town of Monson for his 50 years of service to the town’s post office, and he has no plans to retire. On July 23, family members, friends, and town residents gathered together at the Post Office to celebrate his long and successful career. In November 2020, Morrell celebrated 53 years of service to the Monson Highway Department as the Monson highway surveyor. He started his career with the town in 1968 as a truck driver and spent many years working hard to keep the townspeople safe.

 

Rachel’s Table, Food Bank Join Forces to Fight Hunger

SPRINGFIELD — Rachel’s Table, the food rescue and redistribution program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts are joining forces to fight hunger. Rachel’s Table, with its 200 volunteer drivers, will transport food directly from designated grocery stores to Food Bank agencies, filling the gap where agencies lacked transportation or when its volunteers were needed elsewhere. Rachel’s Table’s partnership with the Food Bank began pre-pandemic in Westfield and has become revitalized during the past several months. Together, Rachel’s Table and the Food Bank are serving seven agencies, with 13 volunteer drivers from Rachel’s Table rescuing nutritious food from eight donors in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Starting slowly but deliberately, more than 15,000 pounds of healthy meat, produce, and dairy have been delivered since the program began, and there is more to come. People interested in driving for Rachel’s Table, or who know of food from a local restaurant, bakery, or grocery store that is going to waste, can contact the organization at www.rachelstablepv.org.

 

New Community Center, Housing Coming to Carriage Grove

BELCHERTOWN — MassDevelopment and the Belchertown Economic Development and Industrial Corp. (BEDIC) announced the selection of Brisa Ventures, LLC to develop a 12-acre parcel of land at Carriage Grove into a new mixed-income residential community featuring approximately 100 units of housing. Brisa Ventures will also preserve and redevelop the existing former Belchertown State School administration building into a community center, museum, cultural space, meeting space, and either a restaurant, brewery, or distillery. Construction of the development is projected to begin by the end of 2022 and is expected to be complete within 18 to 24 months. The sale of this BEDIC-owned parcel and building to Brisa Ventures will represent the first phase of a multi-phased, mixed-use project under negotiation with the company intended to include additional commercial, residential, and community-oriented investments. The new rental housing units will be designed as a mix of two- and three-story apartment- and townhome-style residences and built to ultra-low energy-use standards; they are planned to use solar energy to meet net-zero energy use. The development will also include extensive common green areas with play areas, community gathering spaces, and pathways that connect the housing units to each other and to the neighboring trail network.

 

Home City Development Secures Permit for Affordable-housing Development in Pelham

PELHAM — Home City Development Inc., a Springfield-based affordable-housing developer, has received a comprehensive permit from the Pelham Zoning Board of Appeals for the construction of 34 mixed-income rental units. On Aug. 10, the Zoning Board approved the comprehensive permit for the property to be known as Amethyst Brook . This is the first affordable-housing development approved in the town of Pelham and the first time the Zoning Board of Appeals has awarded this type of permit. Two new buildings will be constructed at 20-22 Amherst Road; 22 Amherst Road will be designed to ‘passive house’ standards, which includes energy-efficiency specifications that drastically reduce the building’s ecological footprint. Notable additions to the site construction include a stormwater-management system and electric-vehicle charging stations. Next, Home City Development will finalize project financing, and construction is expected to be completed within 12 to 14 months after the start date, to be announced. The design team is led by Architecture Environment Life of East Longmeadow. Berkshire Design Group of Northampton will conduct civil engineering and landscape design.

 

Company Notebook

Belt Technologies Receives $45,600 Workforce Training Fund Grant

AGAWAM — Belt Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of custom metal belt conveyer solutions and conveyor systems for more than five decades, has been awarded a $45,600 grant to assist in the training of 24 workers and the creation of at least two new jobs before 2023. This project is funded by a Workforce Training Fund grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The grant program is administered by Commonwealth Corp. More than $8 million was awarded to companies all across Massachusetts, investing in companies from a variety of different industries. Belt plans to use the funds to help employees complete several training programs which will improve their proficiency with tooling, planned maintenance, and lean-manufacturing principles. The company currently employs 39 people in Agawam and plans to add two new manufacturing positions to increase capacity.

 

The Dowd Agencies Restructures Financial-services Division

HOLYOKE — The Dowd Agencies, LLC, a leading insurance provider serving New England for more than 120 years, has restructured its financial-services division to provide more focused services to its clients. The former Dowd Financial Services has been divided into two divisions: Dowd Wealth Management and Dowd Employee Benefits. Dowd Wealth Management will replace the financial arm of Dowd Financial Services, offering financial consultation relative to retirement planning and investments. Dowd Employee Benefits will center around both group and individual health, dental, life, and an assortment of ancillary products. Both divisions will serve individuals and businesses.

 

Canary Blomstrom Insurance Merges with GoodWorks

AGAWAM — Canary Blomstrom Insurance Agency recently became a member of GoodWorks Financial Group, a national network of insurance agencies, according to Canary Blomstrom President Sandy Brodeur. The agency will retain its name, staff, and Agawam location, and Brodeur will continue to serve as president. By joining GoodWorks, Canary Blomstrom will partner with Wheeler & Taylor Insurance of Great Barrington to broaden its insurance offerings locally, regionally, and nationally. Wheeler & Taylor is GoodWorks Financial’s flagship national agency. Canary Blomstrom offers all types of personal insurance, including home, auto, renters’, and boat insurance. It sells life, long-term-care, and disability insurance and annuities. Products for businesses and nonprofits include all types of commercial property and casualty insurance and employee-benefits insurance, including group health and dental plans and voluntary benefits.

 

 

Partner Consulting Joins Pixel Health Family of Companies

HOLYOKE — Partner Consulting has been acquired by Massachusetts-based Pixel Health as part of the company’s continued expansion of its national healthcare technology ecosystem. Headquartered in Middlefield, Conn., Partner joins VertitechIT (infrastructure design and implementation), Nectar (digital health strategy consulting), baytechIT (managed services), Liberty Fox Technologies (software-application development) and akiro (healthcare financial and business-advisory services) as part of the Pixel Health brand. Turning ordinary phone systems into a unified communications tool with bottom-line impact on productivity and collaboration has been the hallmark of Partner Consulting for more than two decades. With experience in assessment, design, implementation, and management of unified communications, mobility, contact-center, and telecom expense-management methodologies, Partner consultants work with healthcare systems, Fortune 500 businesses, utility companies, and state governments in the sourcing and management of telecommunications and mobility platforms. Partner Consulting will continue to service healthcare and enterprise clients from its Connecticut headquarters. Pixel Health is based in Western Mass., with consulting offices in Philadelphia and central Pennsylvania, Vermont, Florida, Tennessee, and Washington.

 

Coca-Cola to Close Bottling Plant in 2023

NORTHAMPTON — Coca-Cola announced it will close its bottling plant at 45 Industrial Dr. in Northampton in the summer of 2023, leaving its 319 employees to find new jobs. “After careful consideration, the Coca-Cola Company has decided to close our production facility in Northampton, Massachusetts,” the company, headquartered in Atlanta, said in a statement. “We did not make this decision lightly and are grateful to have had the opportunity to have been a part of the Northampton community.” The statement added that workers “will be encouraged to apply and be considered for jobs that they are qualified to perform within the Coca-Cola system and at other third-party manufacturer locations. The facility is targeting closure in the second quarter of 2023, and we will support our associates throughout the challenging transition.”

 

Girls Inc. Awarded $10 Million for Equality Can’t Wait Challenge

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc., the national organization that inspires girls to be strong, smart, and bold, has received $10 million in funding as one of four awardees selected by the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge to benefit its Project Accelerate program. Project Accelerate aims to expand the power and influence of women in the U.S. by 2030. Building on Girls Inc.’s evidence-based programming, Project Accelerate addresses inequality in the workplace, particularly the absence of women of color in positions of influence and leadership. The program will accelerate young women’s trajectories through college and career entry, leveraging partnerships with corporations and social-impact organizations to ensure both their preparation and their access to positions of influence. Project Accelerate will also reduce the gender gap by working with young women starting as early as their junior year in high school to ensure they have the resources and support to thrive as leaders. Through a network of 78 affiliates, including here in the Pioneer Valley, Project Accelerate aims to lift 5,400 diverse women into corporate positions of power and influence, shifting the equity landscape for generations.

 

Finck & Perras Supports Restoration of Old Town Hall

EASTHAMPTON — Finck and Perras Insurance donated $15,000 to CitySpace in a multi-year pledge for support of the restoration of Easthampton Old Town Hall into a center of the arts for Western Mass. In 2006, beginning with Old Town Hall’s first floor, CitySpace embarked on an effort to create affordable space for arts organizations and creative businesses under one roof in Easthampton’s Main Street Historic District. Now, CitySpace is raising funds to convert the unused second-floor, 3500-square-foot hall into a flexible, accessible, 350-seat space for performances, concerts, and community events. Renovations also will include a new box office, elevator, entryway, theatrical lighting, and sound and projection systems. To date, more than $4.2 million in grants and contributions have been received for the $6.9 million project. CitySpace plans to begin renovations in late 2022 and seeks further support for the project.

 

MCLA to Receive $1.9 Million in ARP Funding for Students

NORTH ADAMS — MCLA will receive $1.9 million to distribute directly to enrolled students from Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) that are part of the federal Ameri can Rescue Plan (ARP). One of the largest investments ever made in American higher education, ARP allocates $40 billion to colleges in order to mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A third round of pandemic relief for higher-education institutions, the ARP funds are more than double the first two COVID recovery packages combined. HEERF funding, which exists under the umbrella of ARP, is meant specifically for students. MCLA students with the highest need, demonstrated via FAFSA information, will receive the majority of this funding, but all enrolled students will receive a check or the option to use the funds to pay off student debt or pay for future semesters of college. The first disbursement of funds will be to MCLA undergraduates and graduate students who are enrolled for summer classes as well as for the fall 2021 semester. The next disbursement will be to students enrolled for fall 2021. The remainder of this funding will be disbursed to enrolled students in spring 2022.

 

Breeze Airways Launches Three New Non-stop Flights at Bradley

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority announced that Bradley International Airport has launched new, non-stop service to Columbus, Ohio; Norfolk, Va; and Pittsburgh with Breeze Airways. These three launches follow the airline’s recent debut at Bradley and its inaugural non-stop service to Charleston, S.C. The new non-stops will operate on Thursday, Friday, Sunday, and Monday on single-class Embraer aircraft with a two-by-two seat configuration. Flights are available for booking at www.flybreeze.com.

 

Company Notebook

Country Bank, WooSox Announce Community Giving Campaign

WARE — Country Bank and the Worcester Red Sox have announced a community giving campaign to support nonprofit leaders throughout the region. To kick off the campaign, dubbed “WooStars,” Country Bank recognized 11 local nonprofits at Polar Park, including Springfield-based organizations Friends of the Homeless, Ronald McDonald House, Christina’s House, and Habitat for Humanity, along with Worcester-based organizations the United Way, Why Me, Sherry’s House, Provision Ministry, St. John’s Food Pantry for the Poor, the Boys and Girls Club, and Habitat for Humanity. Each nonprofit was presented with a $5,000 check from Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank. Representatives of the nonprofits also participated in a television commercial to support the campaign. Country Bank and the Worcester Red Sox Foundation will select nine additional nonprofit leaders who have stepped up to the plate to serve their community. The deadline for nominations is Aug. 15. Each winner will receive a $5,000 donation to their nonprofit and will be recognized at a presentation in Polar Park on Sept. 9. In addition, the bank has also launched a Most Valuable Teacher (MVT) campaign that recognizes the outstanding work teachers do every day to educate and support students. The public is invited to nominate a WooStar at www.countrybank.com/about-us/woostars or a Most Valuable Teacher at www.countrybank.com/personal/youth-accounts/most-valuable-teacher.

 

Fontaine Brothers to Tackle Court Square Project

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield-based Fontaine Brothers has been named the general contractor for the long-awaited rehabilitation of 31 Elm St. in Court Square in Springfield into a 74-unit apartment complex. Construction work on the $50 million project is expected to begin in the fourth quarter and take roughly two years to complete. The project represents a partnership between OPAL Development, WinnDevelopment, MGM Springfield, and MassMutual, with funding coming from a variety of sources, including $11.3 million in state and federal historic tax credits. In addition to the housing units, plans call for retail space and a restaurant on the ground level. The project is expected to employ 100 to 120 union construction workers.

 

Lee Bank Foundation Announces $64,500 in Community Funding

LEE — Lee Bank Foundation awarded $64,500 to eight Berkshire-area organizations in its second round of 2021 community grant awards. Recipients were awarded grants ranging from $2,000 to $12,500 to support their local programming. Organizations receiving funding include Berkshire Bounty, Berkshire County Historical Society, Berkshire South Regional Community Center, Elizabeth Freeman Center Inc., Flying Cloud Institute, Music in Common, New Stage Performing Arts Center Inc., and Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires. To be considered for grant awards, applicants must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on funding organizations that work to bridge income and opportunity gaps in the region. The next application deadline is Sept. 1. Funding requests should reflect one or more of Lee Bank Foundation’s primary focus areas, which include education and literacy; food security and nutrition; economic growth and development; health and human services; mentorship, internship, and school-to-work initiatives; and arts and culture. Applicants may submit only one application in a 12-month period. Online applications and information can be found at www.leebank.com/community-impact/donations-sponsorships.html.

 

Market Mentors Receives Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Certification

SPRINGFIELD — Market Mentors, the region’s largest marketing, advertising, and public-relations agency, announced it has received certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women-owned businesses thrive and grow. WBENC certification provides Market Mentors with access to a vast network of support, including targeted business opportunities and increased visibility in corporate and government supply chains, education, and development programs. It is also an approved third-party certifier for the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business federal contracting program. WBENC certification validates that a business is at least 51% owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women. One or more women must have unrestricted control of the business, a demonstrated management of day-to-day operations, and a proportionate investment of capital or expertise. To become certified, business owners undergo a thorough vetting process, including review of business documentation and a site visit. After working in media for more than a decade, Abdow founded Market Mentors in her home in 2003. Over the past 18 years, it has grown into a team of more than 20 professionals with multiple areas of expertise and breadth of experience across a range of industries.

 

WSU Receives $1.5M Grant to Increase Healthcare Access

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University’s (WSU) Department of Social Work received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for its Integrative Behavioral Health (IBH) Equity Project. The project builds a specialized workforce within rural, medically underserved areas as well as among diverse and historically marginalized populations to address barriers identified by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in social determinants of health. This HRSA award will be distributed over the next four years and will train 92 Westfield State graduate students in the master of social work (MSW) program in the following integrative behavioral-health specialties: child, youth, and family; health social work; substance use and addictions; and Latinx community health. These students will receive $920,000 in training stipends over the next four years. Westfield State President Linda Thompson, whose background is in nursing, health sciences, and public policy, noted that the IBH project continues the university’s growth in building important healthcare programs that meet the needs of the Commonwealth. The Field Education Team in Westfield State’s Department of Social Work established IBH/Integrated Primary Care and interprofessional training partnerships across Western and Central Mass. to train students to gain proficiency as they provide in-person and telehealth services to children, youth, and families as well as individuals living with addiction and mental-health issues. It is broadening to include organizations that serve the Spanish-speaking Latinx population. The IBH Equity Project will also increase linguistic and cultural access to social-work education by offering classes in Spanish to impact the structural health inequities that affect students and clients throughout the Pioneer Valley. WSU is the first institution in the area to offer social work courses in Spanish. The project advances the university’s progress toward an institutional goal of gaining the federal Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) designation. Achieving the designation is part of a larger commitment by Westfield State to address systemic racism and inequities on the campus, such as in its policies and practices.

 

Professional Drywall Construction Expands into New York State

SPRINGFIELD — Professional Drywall Construction Inc. (PDC), a commercial drywall company headquartered in Springfield, is expanding its footprint into New York State, having recently opened a new office in Malta on July 1. Leading the expansion is Randall Berkebile, who will serve as project executive and New York regional manager at the new branch. “We have been looking into expanding into New York for quite some time, and Malta is a great, centralized location to set up our new shop,” said Ron Perry, owner of PDC. “We brought Randall in to help establish our company in the capital district and beyond. His years of experience and deep contacts in the region will assist in us creating a strong foothold in the community.” Berkebile, a resident of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is a graduate of Ball State University. He has almost a decade of experience in construction-management roles and will be responsible for overseeing projects and growing the New York branch. PDC also has a branch office in Norwalk, Conn.

 

Public Art to Be Installed in Springfield’s Pynchon Plaza

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Museums and Springfield Cultural Partnership announced the artists chosen to augment the newly renovated Pynchon Plaza. The SPark! Igniting Our Community call resulted in many quality applications. The chosen artists include Roberly Bell (Pelham), artful seating; Lauren Celini (Springfield), utility art; Michelle Falcón Fontánez (Boston) and Alvilda Sophia Anaya-Alegría (Springfield), mosaic art; RT Woods (Springfield), fencing art; Beth Crawford Haydenville), 3D sculptural art; Jeffrey Lara (Springfield), 3D sculptural art; Make-It Springfield, library box; and Outdoor Musical Instruments (United Kingdom), sound sculpture (to be embellished by a local artist). The call was open to all artists, and special consideration was given to installations that include Springfield artists, artists of color, LGBTQA+ artists, and female artists. Funding of these eight projects comes from a combination of public and private monies, including a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Program Grant and a City of Springfield Community Development Block Grant. The project is designed to engage city artists, residents, community stakeholders, and cultural institutions to actively participate to reimagine public art that celebrates Springfield’s citizens, culture, and historical legacies. Competitive proposals will be inspired by aspects of Springfield itself, including its historic and/or present-day people, cultures, places and landscapes, architecture, etc., and can be literal or creative, interpretive representations. The SPark! Art Committee included representation from the Springfield Cultural Council, Springfield Parks, the Apremont Quadrangle Civic Assoc., Skyview Downtown, and the Springfield Technical Community College Carberry Fine Arts Gallery.

 

Company Notebook

HUB International Acquires Assets of Epstein Financial Group LLC

EAST LONGMEADOW — HUB International Limited, a full-service global insurance broker, announced it has acquired the assets of Epstein Financial Services LLC and Epstein Financial Group LLC. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Located in East Longmeadow, Epstein Financial is an independent registered investment advisor providing corporate retirement-plan consulting, compliance, and regulatory guidance, as well as wealth-management services. The agency’s experience and resources help clients maintain a successful retirement program that will assist their employees to achieve financial security. Charlie Epstein, principal and founder of Epstein Financial, will join HUB Retirement and Private Wealth in HUB New England. This move continues to strengthen HUB’s retirement and wealth-management services (HUB RPW) with the addition of talent and resources to develop more comprehensive strategies for clients. HUB RPW works to help plan sponsors create an offering that aligns with their business strategy, navigates fiduciary risk, and helps employees pursue their financial goals. The several registered investment-advisory affiliates in HUB RPW provide investment-advisory services to clients whose total assets are approximately $105 billion. Epstein Financial was represented by the consulting firm Wise Rhino Group for the transaction.

 

Paragus IT Launches Division to Support Automation Service

HADLEY — Paragus IT has always defined its core services as the ‘three pillars of IT’: on-demand support, security and compliance, and strategic planning. It announced it has launched a new division to support a fourth pillar: automation. A process can be automated if it is repetitive in nature, doesn’t require logical thinking or human intervention for completion, and has the potential for costly human error or inconsistency. Potential automated processes for businesses include appointment booking, employee scheduling and onboarding, issue tracking and resolution, social-media activity, and much more. “Every business has at least a handful of manual processes that could benefit from being completely automated,” Paragus CEO Delcie Bean said. “Automation can substantially save time and money while increasing accuracy, efficiency, and profitability. We are more than an outsourced IT vendor for our clients — we’re a strategic partner. By lightening their workload and eliminating these time-consuming tasks, we’re helping our clients devote additional time and resources to focusing on more important things.”

 

UMass President Says University to Drive Post-pandemic Recovery

BOSTON — University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan said the university system is emerging from the pandemic period “with its academic, research, and financial strengths fully intact” and positioned to play a major role in driving economic renewal and recovery in the Commonwealth. Speaking at a quarterly meeting of the UMass board of trustees, during which the board approved the university’s operating budget for the coming year, Meehan said there are many signs UMass has weathered the COVID-19 storm and is moving forward in its mission of service to the Commonwealth. For example, the five campuses of the UMass system recently awarded 19,000 degrees to students, the vast majority of whom will live and work in Massachusetts. Meehan projects that student enrollment will remain stable and that each of the UMass campuses will be open to students when the new academic year begins in the fall. The university is also on course to end this fiscal year with a balanced budget and projects a 6% increase in its workforce, bringing staffing back to pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile it will use $113 million in federal recovery funds to provide emergency grants to students in need while also freezing tuition for most students for a second consecutive year. Meehan noted that, while the university is currently on firm financial footing, the expiration of federal funding after this fiscal year, combined with ongoing disruption in the higher-education industry nationwide, will require continued vigilance and innovative management in the coming years. UMass expects to receive $258.6 million in total federal stimulus funding. In addition to the $113.5 million that will support student emergency grants, the university will strategically invest $145 million of these one-time funds — available through the end of fiscal year 2022 — to create a financial bridge to future fiscal years with the goal of ensuring financial stability for the long term.

 

White Lion Brewing Tapped as Partner at Free Music Fridays

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield announced it will partner with local brewery White Lion Brewing to provide guests a wide selection of craft beer during the resort’s Free Music Fridays concert series at the Plaza. Located in downtown Springfield, the brewing company will activate a bar and beer trailer from 6 to 9 p.m. where guests can tap into local brews while enjoying live music from local musicians. Concerts are scheduled to run from 7:30 to 9 p.m. MGM Springfield kicked off the new concert series on June 4. Local favorites on the schedule this summer include FAT, Brass Attack, Trailer Trash, Darik and the Funbags, and Michelle Brooks-Thompson, among many others. For details on the Free Music Fridays concert series, including lineup updates, visit mgmspringfield.com.

 

Freedom Credit Union Accepting Donations for Food Bank

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union is collecting cash donations at its 11 branches throughout the region to benefit the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, which leads the fight against food insecurity throughout Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. Donations will be accepted through Saturday, July 31. Since 1982, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has helped provide much-needed food to area residents. It sources products from donations and then supplies it to participating pantries, meal sites, and shelters throughout the region. Its work allows individuals, families, seniors, children, veterans, and people with disabilities to lead healthy and meaningful lives. Based on the donations received in their previous fiscal year, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts was able to provide the equivalent of 12.3 million meals, a significant increase over previous years.

 

Community Foundation Announces $150,000 Grant to Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) announced a grant of $150,000, spread over the next three years, to the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley (HRIPV). The grant represents a significant contribution to the initiative’s capital drive to raise $1 million in commitments now to support and build capacity for the organization over the next three years. The multi-year, strategic grant is part of CFWM’s ongoing commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in workplaces and promote equitable growth in the region. The funding will support HRIPV’s capacity in engaging communities across the state of Massachusetts in its signature two-day training. HRIPV has been in existence since 2012, and more than 1,000 community members have participated in its programming. Funds from the capital drive have also allowed HRIPV to develop a comprehensive online and virtual series of trainings and programming. The Healing Racism initiative will also be resuming in-person training sessions in July. Members of the community interested in participating can learn more and register online at www.healingracismpv.org. The first $50,000 grant to HRIPV will occur in July 2021. According to the Community Foundation, the multi-year funding approach will guarantee revenue stability while HRIPV meets demands for its services and continues its capital-campaign efforts. The Healing Racism Institute is led by Vanessa Otero, one of the co-founders of HRIPV and an original member of the board until assuming the position of interim director in 2020.

 

Chikmedia Announces Four Scholarship Winners

SPRINGFIELD — Thanks to the generosity of Summerlin Floors, Ryan McCollum of RMC Strategies, and the Springfield Thunderbirds, Chikmedia has chosen four $500 scholarship awardees for its 2021 Chik of the Future scholarships. Chikmedia, a boutique firm offering strategic marketing planning and creative PR, launched its annual scholarship this year to support future generations of marketing professionals. Chikmedia offered four $500 scholarships in 2021, and a variety of local businesses decided to match that scholarship amount. These four scholarships are being awarded to Western Mass. women who are high-school graduates pursuing a college degree in marketing, public relations, communications, or business. Shermarie Hyppolite is pursuing a double major in communication and public relations with the hope to one day become a successful public-relations professional specializing in brand building and storytelling. She aims to have her own public-relations agency that can help uplift brands and create a space in the public-relations industry for women and non-binary people of color. Claudia Gonzalez is currently obtaining her degree in marketing with the goal of working in a television and networking company. Additionally, she will be pursuing her MBA this fall at Bentley University. Kimberley Moore is completing her degree in communications with a concentration in human resource management at DeVry University. As a mother of six daughters, she made a commitment early in their life to instill the importance of education, including hard work and dedication. She is proud to say that all have finished or are still attending college, and it is now her turn to do the same. Saniya Stewart is a full-time student at American International College and a dual-enrollment student at a local community college. She simultaneously attends both colleges, working toward her bachelor’s degree and the prerequisites for a master’s degree in healthcare management. Her goal is to open a nonprofit healthcare facility in her hometown of Springfield to be an advocate for those who truly need a person to lean on.

Company Notebook

Wahlburgers Opens at MGM Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Wahlburgers announced that its restaurant at MGM Springfield is now open to the public and ready to serve guests. The Wahlburgers MGM Springfield team is looking forward to becoming a part of the community and providing guests with an exciting dine-in experience as well as offering takeout. The popular casual dining concept founded by brothers Mark, Donnie, and Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg, and the subject of A&E Network’s Emmy-nominated reality show for 10 seasons, will feature a chef-inspired menu that brings guests its signature lineup of burgers along with entrée salads, sandwiches, and more. The restaurant’s full bar will offer a large selection of craft cocktails, wines, and local beers. Wahlburgers Springfield MGM is located at 1028 Main St., at the corner of Main and Union streets in downtown Springfield. The 4,900-square-foot restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner. In honor of the late family matriarch, Alma Wahlberg, the chain’s Springfield location includes a special ‘Alma’s table.’ This design element is adorned with photos from her childhood through her adult life, along with snapshots of her family members. Those who join the WahlClub rewards program by downloading the Wahlburgers app will have access to exclusive promotions, earn points for every dollar spent, and redeem rewards for free food and merchandise. Online ordering and delivery are also available via the Wahlburgers app.

 

One-day HCC Campaign Raises $122K for Student-support Programs

HOLYOKE — Led by auto dealer Gary Rome, trustees, alumni, and friends, Holyoke Community College raised $122,000 for student-support programs last month during its one-day “Together HCC: Drive to Change Lives” campaign. Organizers had set a goal of 150 donors for the 24-hour fund drive on April 27. The final tally was 295. Rome, an HCC Foundation board member, had issued a donation challenge of $10,000 if the campaign met its goals of securing 150 new donors and 1,000 social-media posts using the hashtag #TogetherHCC. He presented a check to HCC officials at his Holyoke dealership on May 4. In addition to Rome, Peg Wendlandt and Gary Wendlandt, Jim Izatt, Dylan Pilon, trustees Robert Gilbert and Charlie Epstein, HCC Foundation board member Mike Roundy, and the HCC Alumni Council all posed match and challenge gifts for the campaign. Alumnus Myke Connolly, owner of Stand Out Truck, donated the use of his mobile billboard. In addition to his #TogetherHCC donation, Connolly created the Stand Out Truck Celeste Berger Annual Scholarship at HCC to be awarded this spring to a current HCC student of marketing, business, or entrepreneurship.

 

Monson Savings Bank Supports Shriners Mini Golf Tournament

MONSON — As part of its efforts to support the health, happiness, and overall well-being of local children, Monson Savings Bank has embraced Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield as a continued community partner, with MSB making its second donation to the children’s hospital this year. Monson Savings Bank President and CEO Dan Moriarty met with Stacey Perlmutter, director of Development for the hospital, and special guest Fezzy Bear, the Springfield Shriners’ adored ambassador, to present the bank’s $1,500 donation to the Shriners’ Putting for a Purpose Mini Golf Tournament. Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield is a pediatric hospital that specializes in treating orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal-cord injuries, urology, cleft lip, and cleft palate. The children’s hospital offers both inpatient and outpatient levels of care, with services including rehabilitation, fracture care, and sports health and medicine. Shriners provides treatment to children regardless of families’ financial capabilities and relies on donations from events, like its fund-raising Putting for a Purpose Mini Golf Tournament, to provide expert care to children. This year’s event is set to take place Sept. 9-11 at Stony Falls Miniature Golf at McCray’s Farm in South Hadley.

 

Healthtrax Physical Therapy Opens in West Springfield

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Healthtrax Physical Therapy recently opened its third clinic combining restorative clinical treatments inside Healthtrax Fitness, 155 Ashley Ave., West Springfield. Treatments are provided by physical therapist Brian Ferreira. Working as a physical therapist since 2006, he is a certified in manual therapy and earned his master’s degree in physical therapy at the University of Hartford. He is experienced in advanced manual-therapy skills and outpatient orthopedics. Services not only target the current issues (pain, weakness, etc.), but address underlying movement impairments, and treating these biomechanical dysfunctions results in better, more sustainable outcomes for each patient based on medical history, co-morbidities, and goals of therapy, Ferreira noted. The scope of diagnoses the center can treat includes low back and neck pain, rotator-cuff tendinitis, tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow, knee and hip pain, plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, spinal stenosis, hand and thumb pain, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc and joint disease of the spine, nerve pain and sciatica, poor balance and unsteady gait, and general deconditioning due to disease or illness. Open to the public and Healthtrax Fitness members, Healthtrax Physical Therapy treats patients of all ages and abilities, including adult and youth athletes, pre- and post-operative patients, workers’ comp injury patients, motor-vehicle accident patients, children with orthopedic conditions, and those needing work conditioning or hardening.

 

BFAIR Partners with Boston College School of Social Work on Project

NORTH ADAMS — BFAIR partnered with the Boston College School of Social Work on a project with graduate students this spring as part of its “Creating and Sustaining Social Enterprises” course. This course focuses on important concepts and stages in considering revenue-producing programs in a nonprofit setting to add financial stability. Students are involved in basic data gathering and analysis and organize their conclusions in a business plan for the enterprise effort. As such, they conducted a brief survey to provide BFAIR with information regarding its service that provides employment for people with disabilities and is beneficial to the environment. BFAIR’s Bottle and Can Redemption Center, located in North Adams, helps the community by providing residents with a way to exchange redeemable bottles and cans for cash while remaining true to its mission. The culmination of the course resulted in an expansion of BFAIR’s Bottle and Can Redemption Center in the form of a pop-up service working with the North Adams Housing Authority, Berkshire Housing, and the city of North Adams. The pop-up service will give these locations the opportunity to redeem or donate their bottles during certain timeframes during the week at six different locations in North County starting in June.

 

Bradley International Airport Adds New Non-stop Destinations

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Bradley International Airport is one of the launch airports for Breeze Airways. The newly founded carrier announced its official, national debut with the rollout of a route network across the U.S. At Bradley, it will launch four new non-stop destinations this summer, including Charleston, S.C. (currently operating), and Columbus, Ohio; Norfolk, Va.; and Pittsburgh (all beginning July 22). The new non-stops will operate on a single-class Embraer aircraft, with a two-by-two seat configuration. Breeze Airways offers booking flexibility that includes no change or cancellation fees for flights changed or canceled up to 15 minutes before scheduled departure. The CAA also announced that Bradley has launched new non-stop service to Minneapolis with Sun Country Airlines. The service to Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport operates twice a week. In September, Sun Country Airlines will also be launching new non-stop service from Bradley International Airport to Orlando, Fla.

 

Carr Hardware TV Spots Win Gold Telly Award

PITTSFIELD — Carr Hardware announced that its “Dewitts” advertising campaign, created by Clayson Creative, has won a Gold Telly Award for 2021 in the business-to-consumer category. In the ads, the Dewitts are the world’s worst do-it-yourselfers and are in constant need of help from the experts at Carr Hardware. See their latest videos at shop.carrhardware.com/the-dewitts. The Telly Awards, the world’s largest honor for video and television content across all screens, has announced this year’s winners, including Jennifer Garner’s “Pretend Cooking Show” series, RadicalMedia’s “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” documentary series, Partizan’s “Fantastic Voyage” campaign, and the Clayson Creative/Carr Hardware “Dewitts” campaign. Founded in 1979, the Telly Awards are judged by the Telly Award Judging Council, a group of leading video and television experts from some of the most prestigious companies in entertainment, publishing, advertising, and emerging technology, such as WarnerMedia, NBC News, Framestore NY, and Vimeo, to name a few. Carr Hardware plans to bring more Dewitts videos to its customers in the upcoming year.

 

SSO Musicians Say Leaders Show Lack of Commitment to Future

SPRINGFIELD — In a recent letter to supporters and the media, a group representing Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) musicians leveled a number of complaints at SSO leadership, claiming that the lack of a 2021-22 concert schedule, failure to replace departed Executive Director Susan Beaudry or renew the contract of Music Director Kevin Rhodes, and a dispute over the musicians’ collective bargaining agreement have put the future of the organization in doubt. Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MOSSO) alleges that the SSO board of directors’ executive management committee has effectively shut down the organization. MOSSO noted that the SSO board has essentially eliminated artistic leadership by minimizing Rhodes’ role and putting off renewing his contract, which expired on May 31, and has launched no national search for Beaudry’s successor. For the time being, Development Director John Anz is serving as interim executive director. According to MOSSO, the SSO board’s solution to current financial challenges has been to eliminate staff positions and drastically reduce the number of performances and players performing. MOSSO maintains that the board’s own endowment and fundraising reports show that SSO finances are improving and that, instead of cutting performances, the SSO should continue growing its successful development program, start applying for grant funding (as have similar performing organizations), and turn over management of the SSO to an executive director with a proven track record of success. The SSO board claims that the 2021-22 season cannot be planned in the absence of a successor to the 2017-20 collective bargaining agreement (CBA), but MOSSO notes that federal law requires that the terms of an expired CBA remain in effect until a new agreement is reached.

 

River Valley Counseling Center Wins $50,000 Technology Makeover

HOLYOKE — River Valley Counseling Center (RVCC) announced it has been awarded a $50,000 technology makeover from Insight Enterprises and Intel. RVCC is one of three winners in the Connected Workplace Makeover Contest, which was created to help businesses address the effects of aging technology. As a winner, RVCC will receive IT consultation from Insight and $50,000 worth of new 11th Gen Intel Core Processor devices, including Intel vPro Platform PCs built for business. The contest targeted small and mid-sized companies of fewer than 1,000 employees that have been particularly strapped for resources or may be struggling to adapt IT systems and processes to the shifting marketplace amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The contest focused on three areas of critical IT needs: productivity; updating tools, particularly for remote work; security; and total cost of ownership. More than 1,200 U.S. organizations submitted contest entries sharing why they needed a workplace makeover. RVCC was named the winner in the productivity category. Intel Evo vPro PCs will allow RVCC to service clients in a timelier manner, roll out better telehealth options, stay secure, and be HIPAA-compliant. Over the next month, Insight and Intel will be conducting on-site consultations with RVCC to help the team identify the best technology upgrades for their clinic located at 303 Beech St. in Holyoke. It is expected that productivity based at this location could improve by up to 25% by replacing poorly running computers, including some still running on Windows Vista.

 

Holyoke Medical Center Opens Two New Behavioral-health Units

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center opened and began providing care in two new behavioral-health units on June 1. The new units are located in the main hospital at 575 Beech St., Holyoke, and consist of one 16-bed adult behavioral-health unit and one 18-bed geriatric behavioral-health unit. These units are in addition to the 20-bed adult behavioral-health unit that has been serving the community since 1989. “Holyoke Medical Center has always been committed to providing the care and services that meet the needs of our community. As an independent community hospital, we are also able to adapt quickly as those needs change,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems. “The construction for these two units started in January of this year, when the veterans staying with us since April 2020 were able to return to the Soldiers’ Home. In less than five months, our team was able to transform and build two state-of-the-art units, designed specifically to support the needs of the growing number of behavioral-health patients throughout our region.”

Company Notebook

BETE Fog Nozzle Earns MassHire Workforce Leader Award

GREENFIELD — The MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board awarded BETE Fog Nozzle its 2021 Workforce Leader Award, honoring the company’s contributions to workforce well-being, workplace, and public safety during the pandemic. BETE now employs more than 180 people at its Greenfield facility, designing, casting, and machining spray nozzles. The company garnered headlines earlier in the year for developing an innovative machine for quickly disinfecting school buses after each use with a touchless process employing BETE’s trademark fog nozzles. Working with local bus company F.M. Kuzmeskus Inc., BETE engineers designed a button-sized fogger installed in rows along each school-bus ceiling, out of reach of children. The series of spray foggers are linked and connected to a port on the outside of the bus where a mobile compressor machine mixes air and disinfectant that is pumped through a tube to the spray nozzles on the bus interior, sending an aerosol disinfectant mist throughout each bus before rolling to the next one. When the pandemic lockdown shuttered businesses in March 2020, BETE provided paid furloughs to all its employees, and the company offers regular profit-sharing bonuses. BETE is also a founding supporter of the seven-year-old Manufacturing Skills Initiative (MSI) training partnership between Greenfield Community College, the Workforce Board, Career Center, Franklin County Technical School, and area manufacturers. BETE has hired more than a dozen graduates from MSI’s 12-week CNC Operator training program, giving them a solid start toward building a rewarding, high-skill career in precision machining. Company President Tom Fitch is chairman of the GCC Future Work Advisory Council, which brings local chambers, business, employment agencies, and the college together to develop curriculum to provide training that brings additional employment and advancement opportunities to area residents.

 

Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. Announces Acquisition

SPRINGFIELD — Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. has added the Northampton law firm Etheredge & Steuer to its regional law practice. Attorneys Edward Etheredge and Shelley Steuer bring a wealth of talent, knowledge, and expertise to Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin’s business, real estate, land-use planning, permitting, estate planning, and estate administration practice areas. Both firms have deep roots in Western Mass. and similar approaches to providing service to clients. Etheredge, whose practice is principally in real estate, land use, planning, and development, began practicing law in Northampton in 1976. He is admitted to the Massachusetts Bar and admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Steuer, whose practice focuses on estate planning and estate and trust administration, has practiced in Northampton since 1990. She is a member of the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council, the Hampshire County Bar Assoc., and the Massachusetts Bar Assoc. She is admitted to practice in Massachusetts, New York, and California, as well as the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Steuer and Etheredge will be joined by members of the Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin team at 64 Gothic St., Northampton. The firm will continue to provide services to clients at 1441 Main St., Springfield.

 

Eversource ConnectedSolutions Earns Program Pacesetter Award

SPRINGFIELD — In recognition of its efforts to help customers reduce energy use and save money through demand response programs, Eversource’s ConnectedSolutions demand-management program received the 2021 Program Pacesetter Award from the Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA). The energy company was recognized for surpassing enrollment goals and setting a high bar for energy-demand-management programs. Eversource’s ConnectedSolutions program provides incentives to customers to reduce their energy use at times of peak demand, which helps reduce strain on the electric grid and lowers carbon emissions by avoiding additional power generation of dirtier fossil fuels like coal that still come online in New England when demand is high. Customer enrollment in 2020 across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire surpassed goals by more than 60 MW, reaching a total of 170 MW approved for targeted use during days with the highest energy demand and an additional 6.3 MW of storage capacity approved for daily demand reductions. ConnectedSolutions is significant not only for the large demand reductions that can be achieved, but also for the diversity of customers and devices enrolled, including more than 600 business customers using a range of demand-reduction strategies and more than 33,000 residential devices including Wi-Fi thermostats, electric-vehicle chargers, residential battery storage, and Wi-Fi-connected A/C units.

 

House Earmarks $50,000 for New Manufacturing Program at HCC

HOLYOKE — State Rep. Patricia Duffy announced that $50,000 has been earmarked in the House fiscal-year 2022 budget to seed the development and implementation of a new Manufacturing Training Program at Holyoke Community College (HCC). According to labor and workforce data, 9.7% of jobs in Holyoke are in manufacturing, compared to 6.7% statewide. Meanwhile, at 9.9%, the unemployment rate in Holyoke is the second-highest in Western Mass. after Springfield’s 11.2%, compared to a statewide rate of 6.6% for March 2021. The Manufacturing Training Program will join a robust stable of workforce-development programs at HCC. The program will serve up to 45 individuals in three cohorts by providing approximately 150 hours of remote and in-person, hands-on training combined with workplace experiential learning, and includes skills assessments and pre-training focused on workplace readiness in English and basic math, followed by core training in entry-level manufacturing. The manufacturing component will include modules in communication, teamwork, customer service, digital literacy, general manufacturing processes and principles, blueprints, dimensions, tolerances, instrumentation and measuring; manufacturing workplace math, lean manufacturing, problem solving, quality control, and workplace safety. Regional employers will be invited to participate in curriculum design and delivery as guest speakers, as well as in hosting tours of their facilities when possible. Participants will be connected to area employers and receive job-placement assistance through HCC and MassHire Holyoke.

 

Girls Inc. of the Valley Event Raises More Than $67,000

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley has raised more than $67,000 to date from its Spirit of Girls 2021 event, which will help support ongoing program needs. The virtual event was held on May 6 and was attended by notable women such as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, Mount Holyoke College leadership fellow and political figure Carmen Yulín Cruz, actress Tequilla Whitfield, WWLP weeknight anchor Ciara Speller, and Girls Inc. President and CEO Stephanie Hull. Girls Inc. of the Valley has had to opt for safer, virtual options, which is why this year’s Spirit of Girls event was held 100% virtually. Attendees heard directly from girls, staff, and notable celebrities regarding the importance of celebrating their place at the table. Girls Inc. of the Valley will be posting a link to a video of the event on its YouTube channel, where it will still accept monetary gifts as well. Girls Inc. of the Valley aims to inspire all girls to see themselves as leaders with the skills and capabilities to improve and influence their local communities.

 

Springfield Museums Offer Sensory Friendly Saturdays

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Museums will present Sensory Friendly Saturdays on the second Saturday of each month from 9 to 11 a.m., starting May 8. Sensory Friendly Saturdays provide less noise, dimmer light, and cool-down spaces for those who have sensory sensitivity. The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and the Springfield Science Museum will open early, with some exhibits modified to provide an opportunity for people with a range of differing abilities to experience what the museums have to offer. Trained staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and, if necessary, direct visitors to a quiet space that provides a chance to cool down and take a break. Sensory-friendly crafts for all ages will be available in the Cat’s Corner. Parents and caregivers must stay with their children at all times. The modifications are enabled until 11 a.m. Preview guides are available for those who would like to explore what to expect before arriving at the museums. If visitors find the Museums too overwhelming and need to leave before 10 a.m., the Welcome Center staff will give the family a voucher to try again on another Sensory Friendly Saturday. The Springfield Museums became universal-participation-designated two years ago as part of a Massachusetts Cultural Council program to help museums, theaters, and other cultural organizations pay particular attention to ensuring their programming is accessible to all people. The staff created preview guides for families to read together before visiting the museums and made decisions about which exhibits they could modify to be more friendly to visitors with sensitivity to noise, lights, and movement.

 

WNEU School of Law Adds Race-related Coursework Requirement for Graduation

SPRINGFIELD — In an effort to incorporate antiracism education and training into the student experience, Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law has added a new Antiracism and Cultural Competency (ARCC) graduation requirement beginning with incoming students in the fall of 2022. This requirement offers students more than a dozen options from substantive courses relating to legal history, structural inequality, intersectionality, discrimination, civil rights, and theories of subordination, focusing on cultural context and cultural competency. The list of eligible courses includes “Race, Racism, & the Law,” “Business Law from an Antiracist Perspective,” “Gender & the Law,” “Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession,” and many others. “Western New England University School of Law has a long and proud history of incorporating social justice and antiracism into the education we offer,” said School of Law Dean Sudha Setty. “A cornerstone of our mission is the belief that the study of law must embrace the notion that different beliefs, backgrounds, and opinions are critical components of a well-rounded learning environment.” WNEU School of Law currently offers a wide range of elective courses, experiential learning opportunities, engagement opportunities through its Center for Social Justice, pro bono opportunities, student organizations, and vibrant speaker series that serve to broaden students’ knowledge on legal issues related to racial justice, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.

 

 

Springfield Thunderbirds, Mass Lottery Wrap ‘Feed the Frontline’ Campaign

SPRINGFIELD — Each week during the month of April, the Springfield Thunderbirds and the Massachusetts State Lottery teamed up for the “Feed the Frontline” campaign, to thank individuals in the healthcare and service industries. The Thunderbirds worked with several of their food partners to provide lunch to some deserving individuals throughout the Pioneer Valley. Members of the Thunderbirds front office and mascot Boomer visited staff at Mercy Medical Center, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, USA Hauling, the Springfield Police Department, and the Springfield Fire Department. The Thunderbirds and the Mass Lottery will be collaborating on several initiatives throughout the spring and summer to recognize several individuals within the Western Mass. community. Meals were provided by a number of local food partners, including Nadim’s Mediterranean Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings, 99 Restaurant, Uno Chicago Grill, and Theodores’. The Mass Lottery and the Thunderbirds will continue to promote the outstanding work of those in the community throughout the summer when the Hometown Salute campaign launches in May. Individuals who are currently or have served in the military, or those working in the healthcare or public-service industries, may be nominated to be recognized by the Thunderbirds each week.

 

Visiting Angels West Springfield Receives Home-care Accreditation

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Visiting Angels, a private-pay home-care agency based in West Springfield, is among a select group of agencies to earn accreditation from the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts. The alliance, which represents 180 home-health and eldercare agencies across Massachusetts, has created an accreditation protocol to promote quality services, ethical business standards, and superior employment practices in an industry that lacks meaningful licensure in Massachusetts even as it grows in popularity. The Home Care Alliance launched this accreditation program for private-pay agencies (agencies that are not paid by Medicare or Medicaid) in 2010. Agencies seeking accreditation are required to submit documentation to show that they meet standards established by the organization. The standards were developed over several months in consultation with an advisory task force representing agencies throughout the Commonwealth. Training requirements, administrative protocols, and business practices are among the categories the Home Care Alliance reviews for accreditation.

 

Riley Home Realty Launches Full-service Agency

CHICOPEE — Riley Home Realty announced the launch of its Chicopee-based, full-service real-estate agency. This family-owned and -operated agency will offer residents in the surrounding Western Mass. communities a comprehensive suite of services delivered with expert guidance from a team of dedicated agents. Riley Home Realty services include listing homes for sale, working with home buyers, managing rental properties and listing rental properties, and property management. It was a dream of members of the Riley family to work together to help others realize home and real-estate ownership, the company noted. “Our family-owned and -operated agency is built on the values we as a family embody. We are with each other every step of the way. Our clients get that same dedication and commitment when they work with us. When you work with Riley Home Realty, you’re family.”

Company Notebook

Bulkley Richardson Launches Blockchain, Cryptocurrency Group

SPRINGFIELD — Bulkley Richardson recently launched a Blockchain and Cryptocurrency practice group to provide solutions for businesses adopting blockchain technology in a complex and changing regulatory landscape. The group’s attorneys have broad-based experience in key areas affecting blockchain technologies, including financial services and banking, intellectual property, securities regulation, emerging businesses, corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, taxation, and digital privacy and cybersecurity. Blockchain technologies like cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are changing the way businesses operate. The rise of the blockchain has spurred a wave of innovation that is disrupting the market and spawning new areas of the digital economy. As blockchain innovation continues to grow and evolve, so do the legal, regulatory, and business challenges. The Blockchain and Cryptocurrency practice group includes attorneys Mark Cress, Dan Finnegan, Scott Foster, Bart Galvin, Lauren Ostberg, Ron Weiss, and Sarah Willey. With a cross-disciplinary approach, Bulkley Richardson aims to assist clients in capitalizing on new business opportunities and meeting the challenges in this rapidly evolving industry.

 

Whalley Computer Associates Named One of Tech Elite 250

SOUTHWICK — Whalley Computer Associates (WCA) has once again been named to the Tech Elite 250 list comprised of solution providers in the U.S. and Canada that have made the investments necessary to earn the highest level of certifications from the largest and most prestigious manufacturers of technology products and services, such as Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell, IBM, Microsoft, Nutanix, VMware, HPI, and HPE, to name a few. CRN, a brand of the Channel Company, named WCA to the Tech Elite 250 in 2016 and 2019 as well. WCA’s engineering team has earned about 125 certifications with nearly 30 different manufacturers by numerous dedicated engineers. Founded in 1979, WCA has been providing IT solutions and services to customers throughout New England and upstate New York for 42 years. While it boasts a diverse customer base from small customers to numerous Fortune 100 companies in a wide array of industries, WCA is one of North America’s leading technology solution providers to healthcare, retail, finance, K-12, higher education, and government agencies on both the state and local levels.

 

Darby O’Brien Advertising Launches Catch & Keep Initiative

SOUTH HADLEY — For more than 40 years, Darby O’Brien Advertising has created and executed innovative branding, advertising, and political campaigns. In recent years, clients have increasingly asked the agency to bring its same out-of-step approach to another important area of business: recruiting. Many businesses, especially in technology and manufacturing, are facing unique challenges in today’s job market. Many have plenty of well-paid positions open but are unable to find the right candidates to fill them. Then, when they find the right people, it can be a challenge to keep them. Traditional headhunters and online hiring services often fall short, offering boilerplate approaches to a problem that needs customized solutions — and offering no follow-up. The agency decided to launch Catch & Keep after developing successful recruiting campaigns for clients including VSS CNC Machining, the Mental Health Assoc., Paragus IT, and Berkshire Real Estate. Case studies and more information on Catch & Keep can be found at darbyobrien.com/recruiting.

 

National Science Foundation Grants $649,000 to WNEU

SPRINGFIELD — The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Western New England University (WNEU) $649,111 for a five-year grant to offer scholarships to students. The target populations are students who are high achievers in high school whose family demonstrates they will benefit from financial aid. The grant will create a community-outreach program to increase the number of high-school and middle-school students entering and succeeding in STEM fields. The grant, titled Sustainable Pathways to Success for Low-income STEM Students Emphasizing Research and Innovation, was awarded to Jingru Benner, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and a team of educators from the university including Dean Hossein Cheraghi, Michael Rust, and Anthony Santamaria from the College of Engineering; Raymond Ostendorf from the College of Arts and Sciences; and Bryan Gross, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing. Benner will serve as principal investigator and project director. The project will increase the number of high-school students who have access to enroll in the WNEU Mechanical Engineering program. The grant provides funding for an annual need-based scholarship that will be added on top of each student’s WNEU merit scholarship and can be combined with the university’s Women in Engineering or FIRST Robotics Scholarships. In addition, the grant will fund critical resources for students in the program to receive targeted support to help them successfully graduate.

 

Elms College Athletics to Join GNAC This Fall

CHICOPEE — Elms College and the Great Northeast Athletic Conference announced that the Blazers’ GNAC core membership will begin this fall with the upcoming 2021-22 academic year. Last October, both the institution and the league office issued a joint announcement indicating Elms would join the GNAC with the 2022-23 academic year; however, that timeline has since been adjusted. Elms had been a member of the New England College Conference since 2007, claiming 19 league championships while leading the way in All-Academic selections. The Blazers’ swimming and diving programs have been associate members of GNAC since 2006, last competing at the 2020 GNAC championships just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Now all 17 sport programs will compete in the same conference, including baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, as well as men’s and women’s volleyball. GNAC Commissioner Joe Walsh, the conference office, and current members are working diligently to make scheduling adjustments to accommodate the Blazers’ programs, as Elms will now begin its GNAC journey this fall with men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s golf, and women’s volleyball.

 

MCLA Receives $28,000 Grant from Massachusetts DHE

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has received a $28,720 Higher Education Innovation Fund Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE), which recently announced a slate of $1.7 million in grants for the state’s public colleges. These grants fund initiatives that help colleges work toward racial equity in Massachusetts public higher education. The grant will allow the MCLA Department of Public Safety to work with a consulting firm specializing in improving police departments’ relationships with their communities. The consultant will work with MCLA to develop an interactive training module for the Department of Public Safety with the goal of increasing cultural competency and engagement of its officers and staff with the MCLA community. Most of the grant proposals funded by DHE seek to provide faculty and staff equity training for transforming campus pedagogy, syllabi, curriculum, and campus life, with the goal of making the institution a truly nurturing environment for students of color.

 

UMass Board of Trustees Approves In-state Tuition Freeze for 2021-22

BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts board of trustees voted to approve UMass President Marty Meehan’s proposal to freeze tuition for all in-state undergraduate and graduate students at UMass Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell for the 2021-22 academic year. The vote marks the second consecutive year of tuition and mandatory fee freezes at UMass for in-state undergraduate and graduate students. The Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell campuses also froze out-of-state student tuition. The net price of a UMass education — price minus financial aid — remains consistent with other New England public land-grant universities and 31% below peer private institutions. In addition to a tuition freeze, the university increased its institutionally funded financial aid to a record high of $352 million this fiscal year. This aid, which is funded directly by the university, accounts for 40% of the total aid UMass students receive and is comprised primarily of scholarships and grants. Since 2015, institutional aid has increased by $116 million, or 49%. At least 25% of UMass students at each campus receive Pell Grants. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund is projected to provide $23 million to UMass to further support students, and last year’s CARES Act provided $23 million in direct aid to students. These grants are not considered or included as financial aid.

 

Brenda Cuoco & Associates to Open Second Branch in Longmeadow Shops

LONGMEADOW — Brenda Cuoco & Associates Real Estate Brokerage announced the addition of a new flagship office location opening soon in the Longmeadow Shops. The office is currently under construction, with a target opening date of May 1, and will be located at 714 Bliss Road, adjacent to Starbucks. The addition will support the steady and sustained growth that the brokerage has seen in the last several years and will complement the existing office located at 2442 Boston Road in Wilbraham. The brokerage will also actively recruit top-performing agents to help serve this new community. The firm sold 164 properties last year with a volume of $46.8 million.

 

AIC to Name Renovated Basketball Locker Room in Honor of Frank Oppedisano

SPRINGFIELD — The American International College (AIC) men’s basketball locker room will enjoy a much-needed makeover with help from friends in the community. Earlier this year, a group of alumni expressed an interest in doing something meaningful to help AIC men’s basketball in memory of their friend and former teammate, Frank Oppedisano, class of 1967. In addition to their fundraising effort, AIC Athletics engaged alumni and supporters during Athletics Giving Week last month. Donors were asked to consider giving to a general fund or team of their choice, with proceeds from the campaign earmarked to benefit student-athletes and athletic programs at the college. The new locker room will offer additional locker space, new flooring, and Yellow Jacket branding throughout, and will be named in honor of the Springfield native who was a four-year member of the basketball program. Before his passing in March 2020, Oppedisano was a regular at AIC men’s basketball home games and routinely provided congratulations after a win or unconditional support in defeat.

 

Bradley Debut Non-stop Service to Atlanta on Frontier Airlines

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the debut of non-stop service from Bradley International Airport (BDL) to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) on Frontier Airlines. The service will commence on June 11 and will operate four times per week. To view flight times and booking information, visit www.flyfrontier.com. With the debut of non-stop service to Atlanta, Frontier Airlines will now offer five non-stop destinations from Bradley International Airport this summer. The airline’s other destinations include Denver, Miami, Orlando, and Raleigh-Durham.

 

Company Notebook

STCC Named Fourth-best Community College in U.S.

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) was ranked as the fourth-best community college in the nation and second-best in Massachusetts, according to Academic Influence, a college ranking system. On March 4, the website released its first-ever ranking of the 50 best community colleges in America. STCC is one of six Massachusetts community colleges listed in the top 20. STCC, the Commonwealth’s only technical community college, offers comprehensive workforce and technical education in fields that include manufacturing; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); healthcare; business; human services; and the liberal arts. The college is federally designated as a Hispanic-serving institution, with more than 30% of students identifying at Latinx. Academic Influence considered 839 community colleges in the U.S. that were fully accredited, enrolled at least 1,000 students, and provided primarily two-year associate-degree programs along with certificate credentials in most cases. In a separate recognition, STCC’s online business degree program was recently ranked as the second-most-popular in the New England region, according to Business Degree Central, an online resource for students. The website ranked STCC’s program second out of 11 colleges in New England. The business program was also ranked second-most-popular in Massachusetts.

 

HCC Ranked Among Best Community Colleges in U.S.

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) ranks among the best community colleges in the U.S. for 2021, according to Academic Influence, a technology-driven education-evaluation group. HCC was listed 20th out of 839 community colleges nationwide. In particular, HCC was noted for the strength of its academic programs in criminal justice, nursing, computer science, business, education, and engineering. “In rankings on other sites, students typically see only the largest community colleges. We believe we take a smarter and more comprehensive approach,” said Jed Macosko, academic director of Academic Influence and professor of physics at Wake Forest University. Criteria for the schools in this ranking include a minimum of 1,000 enrolled students, full accreditation, and exclusively two-year (or associate) degree programs. “We look at how influential the school’s faculty is and then factor in the student-body size. We call this metric ‘concentrated influence,’” Macosko said. “Those community colleges with a strong faculty but comparatively fewer students, schools that might otherwise get lost in the shadows of their larger competitors, now have an opportunity to shine. Because students often choose to attend a school nearby, this kind of illumination provides a truer view of how influential their neighborhood community college may actually be, regardless of its size.”

 

Serve Food Opens Shared Kitchen to Aspiring Restaurateurs

HOLYOKE — Serve Food, a new business in Holyoke, recently hosted its grand opening at its 112 High St. location. Serve Food, a shared-use kitchen, is a certified commercial kitchen in which individuals or businesses prepare value-added food products and meals using a monthly membership. Because expenses are shared, the costs are significantly lower than if an entrepreneur started a kitchen on his or her own. All utilities, maintenance expenses, equipment repairs, sanitation, and cleaning supplies are included in the membership fees, allowing members to focus on their product. With membership in the Serve Food kitchen, members can get access to a kitchen almost immediately at little to no risk or extra expense, and have an opportunity to learn and collaborate with other local chefs and food makers. Serve Food’s website, servema.com, also plans to sell members’ products on its website.

 

Turning Leaf Centers Opens Dispensary Doors to Public

NORTHAMPTON — Turning Leaf Centers opened its doors on 261 King St. in Northampton on March 15. The dispensary features a ‘craft bar,’ experience, which will allow patrons to be educated on everything marijuana, have rolling parties, and participate in flower talk. “We believe the large, curated space will allow people to have an experience nobody has seen with the craft bar, live music days, and seating areas,” co-owner Stephanie McNair said. “Supporting our local community is something that is very important to us as a company. We are looking to display and promote local artists and have event demonstrations and educational seminars in our space.” Turning Leaf Centers Northampton has cultivated an eclectic menu from every product category and price point for every type of cannabis consumer.

 

UMass President to Again Recommend Tuition Freeze

BOSTON — University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan announced he will recommend that the university’s board of trustees freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates for the academic year beginning in September. If approved by the UMass board, this would be the second straight year of a tuition freeze at the Commonwealth’s 75,000-student national public research university system. The average pre-financial-aid in-state undergraduate tuition at UMass was $14,722 for academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21. UMass has the fifth-lowest tuition among the six New England public universities — University of Vermont ($19,062), University of New Hampshire ($18,938), University of Connecticut ($17,834), University of Rhode Island ($15,004), and the University of Maine ($11,712) — this academic year. UMass awarded $971 million in federal, state, institutional and other financial aid in FY20. Since FY15, institutional aid — funds set aside by the university to decrease actual student costs — has increased 49% to $351 million per year.

 

Florence Bank Opens Third Hampden County Branch

CHICOPEE — Florence Bank opened its third Hampden County branch at 705 Memorial Dr. in Chicopee on March 22, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated for Wednesday, May 5. The Chicopee branch has an open floor plan with two teller pods and innovative technology for quick cash handling. The location will also feature a drive-up ATM with SMART technology for easy depositing. Kimberly Downing will serve as assistant vice president and branch manager for the new location. Other employees who will staff the new location are Diane Afonso, assistant branch manager; Tracy Keefe, customer service representative and senior teller; Kiara Sonoda, teller operations manager; and Karen Willemain, senior teller.

Jake’s Barber Shop Celebrates Five Years with Community Contribution

GREAT BARRINGTON — As Jake’s Barber Shop commemorates the start of its fifth year in the community, owner Jake Hunker is marking the moment by supporting Railroad Street Youth Project, a local organization that encourages focus and commitment for others. RYSP is a Great Barrington not-for-profit organization that encourages community teenagers to meet, learn, talk, and focus on the future. For the week of Tuesday, March 30 through Saturday, April 3, the barber shop will donate $5 from each haircut to RSYP. Appointments for RSYP-benefiting haircuts from Hunker can be made online through booksy.com, and customers can also call (413) 717-4238 for an appointment. Railroad Street Youth Project is a nonprofit organization helping young people bring their ideas and inspirations to fruition and discover their place in the world. Its Youth Operational Board continues to fund youth-inspired projects, run ongoing mentoring and apprenticeship programs, provide sexual-health programming through local schools, offer job training and career counseling, and staff an active drop-in center that provides counseling, mediation, referrals, and advocacy services for young people in need.

 

Springfield College Recognized for Community-college Transfer

SPRINGFIELD — For the sixth consecutive year, Springfield College has been named to Phi Theta Kappa’s Transfer Honor Roll, which identifies the top four-year colleges and universities for creating dynamic pathways to support community-college transfer. Springfield College is one of only 150 colleges and universities in the country to be recognized for this honor, including one of only six colleges and universities in Massachusetts. “We are very honored once again to be among a small, select group of colleges recognized nationally by Phi Theta Kappa for our high level of commitment to the success of transfer students,” said Stuart Jones, vice president for Enrollment Management at Springfield College. “Educating students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others is the hallmark of who we are and what we do best.”

 

Bradley Airport Launches Non-stop Service to Nashville, Miami

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the launch of non-stop flights from Bradley International Airport (BDL) to Nashville International Airport (BNA) in Tennessee on Southwest Airlines, and non-stop flights from Bradley to Miami International Airport (MIA) on JetBlue. “We are excited to launch Southwest Airlines’ non-stop service to Nashville from Bradley International Airport,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA. “Nashville is a popular destination that also offers key connectivity to major destinations across Southwest’s West Coast network. The launch of this service significantly enhances our non-stop offering for our travelers, and, with its introduction, we are pleased to strengthen our long-standing partnership with Southwest Airlines.” In addition, “we welcome JetBlue’s expansion at Bradley International Airport and the addition of new, non-stop service to Miami,” Dillon said. “This new route, which follows JetBlue’s other recent route launches, is a significant vote of confidence in our airport and the market we serve.”

Company Notebook

Bay Path Recognized for Supporting Students Throughout Pandemic

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announce it was selected as a winner of the Virtual Innovation Awards: Excellence in Delivering Virtual Student Services hosted by NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Bay Path is among 10 schools recognized across the nation for exemplary virtual student support services, and one of only three schools to receive the top award of $50,000. The award highlights the effectiveness of the work being done to support both Bay Path’s traditional undergraduates and adult students enrolled in its online undergraduate degree program, the American Women’s College. These best practices will serve as case studies to inform the field at large. As Bay Path’s online program for adult women, the American Women’s College has been continually developing and enhancing its virtual support services since 2013. At the onset of the pandemic, university staff were able to put these supports into overdrive to ensure campus-based undergraduate students could easily access services despite the abrupt move to remote. Some of the virtual services that have allowed Bay Path University to be responsive to its diverse student body, whether in person or online, include a virtual career-services hub; UWill, a telecounseling service; and Tutor.com, which provides access to online tutoring services 24/7. Similarly, programming related to orientation, peer-to-peer engagement, community building, and multi-cultural affairs was provided by a support team that was able to quickly pivot to virtual platforms and social-media tools.

 

 

STCC to Reinstate Five Programs

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will restore five programs that were discontinued last year in response to projected budget shortfalls brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The STCC board of trustees voted to support biomedical engineering technology, biotechnology, civil engineering technology, dental assisting, and landscape design and management. STCC President John Cook said the college will work to reinstate programs after open, transparent, and public conversations with college stakeholders about needs and resources. In June, the college announced the discontinuation of seven programs as part of a broad set of cost-saving measures. Trustees established a committee to examine these programs, including costs, enrollment, facilities and equipment needs, and to consider questions of sustainability. Beyond the five programs, at a future time, trustees will continue the examination of two programs: automotive technology and cosmetology. STCC will work to relaunch the five programs in fall 2021, and the gross annual operating cost of these programs is approximately $500,000.

 

United Personnel Services Wins ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing Award

SPRINGFIELD — United Personnel Services was recently honored in the Best of Staffing Client, Employee, and Talent Awards from ClearlyRated, in recognition of high levels of satisfaction from customers, job seekers, and employees. Winners have proven to be industry leaders in service quality based entirely on ratings provided by their clients and staff. Focused on helping to connect people with the right job opportunities, United Personnel Services received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 90.9% of clients and 78% of placed job candidates, significantly higher than industry averages. These ratings led to United Personnel’s fourth consecutive year of recognition as a Best of Staffing company from ClearlyRated.

 

Holyoke-based Startup Aims to Spark Non-alcoholic Beer Revolution

HOLYOKE — New to the beer and brewing industry, Ezra Bleau is introducing his business, Na Brews, with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign, “Na Brews (Nah Brooz) – Craft Beer for All People, for All Occasions.” This campaign will raise money for his mobile de-alcoholization production plan, increasing access to social, healthy alternatives nationwide. The main draw of the campaign is a $20 pledge to be part of the “world’s largest non-alcoholic beer collaboration, which he intends to do during a livestreamed interactive event with his brewer. The company has been in contact with the Guinness Book of World Records and is working on certifying the event. Participants will be a part of this new craft beer every step of the way, selecting everything from style, grains, and hops to label design. With their $20 pledge, each participant’s name will be included in the collaboration can label for a future keepsake, and they will also be sent a can for their enjoyment and have exclusivity to purchase more before it is opened up to the general public. NA Brews currently is an e-commerce operation based in Holyoke, offering online retail sales of non-alcoholic beer, spirits, and wine selections, including specialty boxes and subscription services for others to enjoy in the comfort of their own home or any social setting. Bleau also has a manufacturing and full alcohol-free production plan, partnering with independent breweries in surrounding communities to produce quality craft non-alcoholic beer.

 

Berkshire Bank Foundation Supports MCLA’s Summer STEM Academy

NORTH ADAMS — The Berkshire Bank Foundation awarded Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) $20,000 to fund the Berkshire Bank STEM Academy, which accepts up to 20 incoming first-year students enrolled in a STEM major or who have expressed interest in STEM fields. Designed to introduce incoming students to careers in STEM, the residential, five-day academy includes opportunities to network with STEM faculty, students, and staff in the interest of developing a deeper relationship with those involved in STEM careers in the Berkshires. The program’s ultimate goal is to encourage more students to secure jobs in the Berkshires and remain here after graduation. This summer will mark the ninth year of the Berkshire Bank STEM Academy. Alumni of the program, which was developed to serve low-income and first-generation college students, have gone on to be leaders at MCLA as residential advisors, tutors, and supplemental instructors. Graduates have gone on to have careers at Raytheon, General Dynamics, Edge Pharma, and as public-school teachers. Students are selected based on their responses to surveys taken upon their acceptance to the college. Interested students should e-mail program director Dr. Sara Steele, assistant professor of Psychology, at [email protected] to have their name prioritized in the selection process.

 

Country Bank Reports $1.3 Million in Community Philanthropy in 2020

WARE — Country Bank reported that its donations and sponsorships for 2020 totaled $1.3 million. Through the bank’s philanthropic efforts, it provided support to local nonprofits throughout the communities it serves; in 2020, more than 400 of these organizations received donations. The pandemic has left businesses and individuals facing continued looming uncertainties. Many nonprofits struggled from the economic fallout, and they looked to community partners like Country Bank for assistance. Country Bank donated more than $500,000 to area hospitals and first-responder housing efforts to provide the financial and tangible emergency resources needed to support their mission during the pandemic. Organizations receiving support included the Baystate Health Foundation, Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., Christina’s House, Springfield Rescue Mission, Ronald McDonald House, and Behavioral Health Network Inc. Recognizing the importance and overwhelming need to help organizations that address hunger, Country Bank also provided monetary donations to food programs throughout the region that exceeded $100,000. The recipients of these funds included Friends of the Homeless, Rachel’s Table, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and many local food pantries.

 

Meyers Brothers Kalicka Unveils New Website

HOLYOKE — Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (MBK) announced a new website, mbkcpa.com, this week. The primary goal during the redesign process was to create a more user-friendly and valuable resource for clients and community alike. More specifically, the firm wanted users to easily locate information about accounting services, industries it serves, the firm’s story and team members, career opportunities, and community support. The website also features an active blog with articles about taxation, accounting, advisory, news, and community. Additionally, the firm offers free newsletters centered around taxation, business, not-for-profits, and healthcare. These newsletters help readers stay informed on recent provisions and guidance, access articles, get invitations to special webinars or podcasts, and gain industry knowledge. You can subscribe to any or all of these newsletters for free by adding your e-mail address into the ‘subscribe’ feature located in the footer of the new website.

 

Community Comes Through to Help Amherst Survival Center Families

AMHERST — Hannah Rechtschaffen, director of Placemaking for the Mill District, and Andy Haase of Cowls Building Supply recently delivered more than 400 games purchased by W.D. Cowls Inc. to the Amherst Survival Center, augmenting dozens of community donations already collected and delivered from North Amherst Motors, the Toy Box, North Square Apartments in the Mill District, and Cowls Building Supply. In December, Lev Ben-Ezra, executive director of the Amherst Survival Center, outlined to Cinda Jones, president of W.D. Cowls, how the community could help her cause this winter. Ben-Ezra explained that the center was looking for ways to brighten the winter for families stuck at home, including craft kits, valentines, and other fun activities. Her hope for February was to distribute more than 400 games and puzzles to local families, and she asked the Mill District for help generating donations. Now, with more than 500 games donated in January, the Amherst Survival Center is providing families with games and activities along with groceries in February. Community members who want to help the Amherst Survival Center serve more families can donate online at amherstsurvival.org/donate.

 

WNEU Offers Free Graduate Courses to Current Students

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University announced that all current students (class of 2021 to class of 2024) will be offered two graduate courses free of charge with acceptance to a WNEU master’s-degree program upon completion of their bachelor’s degree. “As our undergraduates consider next steps, especially with the current economic climate, we want to help provide them with the opportunity to advance their credentials in what could prove to be a difficult time as the nation returns to post-COVID normalcy,” said Matt Fox, executive director of Graduate Admissions. According to the NACE Job Outlook Survey, 2021 hiring will be “more positive than expected given that the pandemic shut down the economy, plummeted the stock market, and raised the unemployment rate.” Nearly 17% of organizations responding to the NACE survey plan to increase their hiring levels of 2021 graduates, compared to 2020 graduates, and about 53% plan to maintain their level of hiring. Fox outlined the many benefits this opportunity offers, including improving employment and future advancement opportunities, deferred undergraduate loan payment, and what essentially equates to a 20% reduction in graduate tuition. For more information, visit www1.wne.edu/admissions/graduate/two-grad-courses.cfm.

 

Ludlow Elks Supports Program at Scantic Valley YMCA

LUDLOW — The Ludlow Elks awarded the Scantic Valley YMCA a $2,000 Beacon Grant from the Elks National Foundation to help the Y launch MOVE2Function, a movement-disorder fitness program. The Ludlow Elks have provided financial and in-person support for the Scantic Valley YMCA’s healthful-living programs. LIVESTRONG at the YMCA supports those impacted by cancer. The latest program to receive the Ludlow Elks support is MOVE2Function, offering those impacted by movement disorders evidence-based functional fitness programming to support them in making changes to support and improve all aspects of their health. Movement disorders include Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and essential tremor. In 2019 and 2020, the Ludlow Elks supported the Interactive Health Fair at the Scantic Valley YMCA, which was open to the public. With previous funding, the Ludlow Elks provided the food along with preparing and serving it. Attendees enjoyed a healthy meal while interacting with company representatives, YMCA staff, and college students to learn about such topics as nutrition, heart health, fitness, balance programming, blood pressure, and eye screenings.

 

UMassFive Directs $4,000 to Local Survival Centers

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced it has directed $4,000 in donations to local survival centers in Amherst and Northampton. The donations were made possible thanks to UMassFive winning a Credit Union Give Back Sweepstakes held by its credit-card servicer, PSCU. This sweepstakes selected 25 credit unions from across the country to receive $4,000 to donate to local charitable organizations of their choice. UMassFive chose to direct donations of $2,000 each to the Amherst Survival Center and the Northampton Survival Center in support of the extra cost burden that 2020 placed on the organizations. Both organizations had to pivot operations quickly to meet the most pressing needs of their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and have seen more need than ever before.

 

Country Bank Supports Quaboag Valley CDC

WARE — Country Bank announced a $25,000 donation to the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp. (QVCDC) to support various programs to help local communities in the region. A portion of the donation will be used toward a matching grant for a senior-citizen outreach program. This project was funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development, Massachusetts CDBG Program. Projects are developed and administered by local officials with the assistance of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Services for the outreach program include grocery shopping and prescription pickups for low-income seniors in Ware, Hardwick, Belchertown, and Warren. The QVCDC also offers various programs to assist businesses in the region with navigating these unchartered times. One of the latest programs includes companies with up to five employees that could be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in grant funding through a Microenterprise Assistance Grant.

 

Company Notebook

Mount Holyoke College Receives Largest Gift in Its History

SOUTH HADLEY — Mount Holyoke College announced it has received the largest gift in support of financial aid in its history. Alumna Liz Cochary Gross and Philip Gross have committed $10 million to be directed to scholarships and financial aid.  Nancy Nordhoff, a 1954 graduate, also committed $1 million to support future Mount Holyoke students across the economic spectrum. These two gifts are the seed for Mount Holyoke’s new Meet the Moment Scholarship Challenge. This challenge offers donors the opportunity to double — or triple — their impact with their endowment gifts. For first-time donors to endowed financial aid, the Meet the Moment Scholarship Challenge will match two dollars for every one dollar contributed for gifts between $50,000 and $250,000. For repeat endowed financial-aid donors, the challenge will match new gift commitments between $50,000 and $250,000 dollar for dollar. The college is seeking to raise at least $20 million in new gifts and commitments over the next 18 months. As of Jan. 14, Mount Holyoke has already secured more than $5 million in gifts and commitments toward this effort, above and beyond the $11 million in challenge gifts.

 

Big Y Participating in Nexamp Community Solar Program

SPRINGFIELD — Big Y World Class Market has taken another step in supporting the production and consumption of clean energy by contracting with Boston-based Nexamp to participate in its community solar program. Under the agreement with Nexamp, Big Y is subscribing to 19 solar projects across Massachusetts, representing a total of 57 megawatts of capacity. Big Y will receive 50% of the energy credits generated by these projects. The projects included in Big Y’s agreement with Nexamp are located in Massachusetts in the National Grid and Eversource utility service territories. Big Y and other subscribers to these community solar projects are allocated a portion of the project’s output and receive discounted credits on their utility bills.

 

Monson Savings Bank Gives $15,000 to Nonprofits Chosen by Community

MONSON — After Monson Savings Bank asked community members to cast their votes for their favorite charitable organizations as a part of the Monson Savings Bank 2021 Community Giving Initiative, more than 3,400 votes were received. Now that the votes have been tallied, Monson Savings Bank is donating a total of $15,000 among the top 10 vote recipients. In total, 200 organizations received votes. The recipients include Women’s Empowerment Scholarship (Greater Springfield), Wilbraham United Players, Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield, Rick’s Place (Wilbraham), I Found Light Against All Odds (Greater Springfield), Academy Hill Private School Scholarship (Springfield), Scantic Valley YMCA (Wilbraham), Monson Free Library, St. Michael’s Players (East Longmeadow), and Link to Libraries Inc. (Hampden). This was the 11th year of the Monson Savings Bank Initiative.

 

Comcast Introduces Fastest Internet Speeds over Wi-fi Across Northeast

PHILADELPHIA — Comcast announced it has introduced the fastest internet speeds over wi-fi available across the Northeast, including 14 states from Maine to Virginia and Washington, D.C. Customers can now take advantage of advanced wi-fi technology that is capable of delivering speeds faster than a gig to support the ever-increasing number of connected devices in their homes. The speed increase was rolled out in Comcast’s Northeast markets on Jan. 7 for no additional charge to customers, and will be introduced to the rest of its service areas throughout 2021. Comcast is one of the first U.S. internet service providers to offer a Wi-Fi 6 certified gateway with the latest version of its xFi Advanced Gateway, which is capable of delivering multi-gigabit speeds via ethernet and laid the groundwork for gigabit speeds over wi-fi. Customers on the upgraded Xfinity gigabit tier will require an xFi Advanced Gateway, or one of the wi-fi-6-capable devices approved to work with the Xfinity network to receive the faster speeds. Comcast will be reaching out to customers who need to upgrade their equipment for no additional cost if they don’t have a capable device in their home.

 

Nursing Schools Almanac Names AIC Among Best Schools for Nursing

SPRINGFIELD — Nursing Schools Almanac has released its 2020 rankings of the best nursing schools in the U.S. In collecting data on more than 3,000 institutions nationwide, only 20% made the list of the best nursing schools in each geographic region. The nursing program at American International College (AIC) was named in both the New England and Massachusetts categories, placing 45th in the region and 21st in the state. Each school was evaluated on three dimensions: the institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, the breadth and depth of nursing programs offered, and student success, particularly on the NCLEX licensure examination. Nursing Schools Almanac combined the assessments into an overall score and ranked the schools accordingly.

 

The Royal Law Firm Announces New Strategic Association

SPRINGFIELD — The Royal Law Firm announced it has established a mutual of-counsel association with Minasian Becker LLC, a boutique commercial real-estate and business law firm, as of the third quarter of 2020. Complementing Royal’s business-side-only litigation practice, this association will provide Royal clients with the added benefits of commercial real-estate and corporate transactional work. The Minasian Becker team of attorneys has represented regional, national, and international companies and nonprofit organizations with their commercial real-estate and business-transaction needs for more than 25 years. Amy Royal, founding partner of the Royal Law Firm, believes the relationship with Minasian Becker will be an attractive supplement to Royal’s existing law practice of labor and employment law and other business-related litigation. With this alignment of their practices, Royal and Minasian Becker will offer their clients locations in Arlington, Springfield, and Rockport in Massachusetts, as well as in Hartford, Conn. Royal attorneys are admitted to practice in the state and federal courts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. Both law firms are nationally certified as women’s business enterprises and women owned small businesses, and are able to offer the benefits of diversity to their clients.

 

Boston Children’s Hospital, Baystate Health Collaborate on Specialized Pediatric Care

SPRINGFIELD — Boston Children’s Hospital and Baystate Health have formed a collaboration that will improve patient access to highly specialized pediatric care and strengthen the coordination of care between Boston Children’s and Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield. The collaboration will provide patients throughout Western Mass. with improved access to pediatric specialty care at Baystate Children’s Hospital, and it will streamline care planning among providers at Boston Children’s and Baystate Children’s. The collaboration anticipates that the two hospitals will jointly develop pathways to ensure that children and adolescents get the right care in the right setting. In some instances, Boston Children’s clinicians will be available to provide care at Baystate Children’s. The two hospitals already work collaboratively in cardiology, neurology, and dermatology, and by enhancing medical education, remote consults, information technology, and other initiatives, the two institutions will be better able to coordinate care for their patients.

 

Boulevard Machine & Gear Moves to Larger Headquarters

WESTFIELD — Boulevard Machine & Gear, a precision-machining facility, announced it has moved its headquarters to a new, larger space in Westfield to accommodate steady business growth over the last decade. The new address is 326 Lockhouse Road. Boulevard Machine will leverage its new facility to provide additional capacity for its customers while providing new internal operational efficiencies. The new facility also will provide Boulevard with improved, state-of-the-art production space to facilitate internal and external collaboration and communication, while providing the company with further room for growth with its ongoing investment in equipment. The newly constructed factory will accommodate leading-edge manufacturing technologies, lean equipment layout, and automated workflow, resulting in increased efficiency and better overall customer experience, company President Susan Kasa said. Boulevard Machine, founded in 1954, was acquired by Kasa in 2006. It is a certified woman-owned business that provides precision-machined components for the aerospace, defense, and medical markets.

 

Balise Auto Boosts Square One’s Campaign for Healthy Kids

SPRINGFIELD — Balise Auto, a long-time supporter of Square One, recently committed $15,000 toward the agency’s Adopt-A-Classroom initiative. “We have been so impressed by Square One’s dedication and ability to find creative and effective ways to support the education of children and families in our community,” said Alexandra Balise, director of Marketing at Balise Auto. “Balise is proud to support Square One and their ongoing efforts to shape the leaders of tomorrow.” Square One’s Adopt-A-Classroom program is part of the agency’s Campaign for Healthy Kids, a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. The gift from Balise comes at a critical time, as Square One continues to provide full-day remote-learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms, childcare offerings, and family-support services. Square One currently provides early-learning services to more than 500 infants, toddlers, and school-age children each day, as well as family-support services to 1,500 families each year.

 

Academy of Music Raising Funds for Restroom Renovations

NORTHAMPTON — Northampton’s historic Academy of Music Theatre announced its “We Care!” campaign, which will expand and renovate the public restrooms in the 130-year-old landmark to provide more toilets and sinks and upgrade the facilities for cleanliness and hygiene. Among the improvements slated for the $325,000 project are the expansion of the existing restroom facilities and the installation of new plumbing, HEPA-filtered hand dryers, touch-free toilet and sink fixtures, and partitions to serve a larger patron population, as well as new wall, floor, and ceiling finishes. The project is led by Northampton-based Thomas Douglas Architects, whose previous design for the renovation of the Academy of Music’s auditorium earned a Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award. The Academy secured $225,000 last winter for the project from state and foundation sources, including the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Funds, Smith College, and the Beveridge Family Foundation. The “We Care!” campaign aims to raise the remaining $100,000 from the Pioneer Valley community.

 

Architecture Environment Life Inc. Wins Citation Award from WMAIA

EAST LONGMEADOW — Architecture Environment Life Inc., known to many as ArchitectureEL Inc. or AEL, received a Citation Award from the Western Mass. chapter of the American Institute of Architects (WMAIA). In partnership with the Western Mass. section of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA), WMAIA hosted its biannual Celebration of Architecture and Design Awards program last month to encourage and recognize distinguished architectural and landscape-design achievement and honor project teams, including the clients and consultants who work together to improve the built environment. The WMAIA Design Awards, held every two years, includes two Honor Awards for exceptional work, easily distinguishable by exceptional quality of design and function; two Merit Awards for work that demonstrates a high level of design quality worthy of recognition; and two Citation Awards for work that demonstrates a level of design quality worthy of mention. ArchitectureEL Inc. applied for this award by submitting a portfolio displaying its design for New Valley Bank at 1930 Wilbraham Road in Springfield. Judging for the award was informed by the AIA Framework for Design Excellence, which contends that design is not solely about aesthetic components, but also concerns how buildings perform for people.

 

Big Brothers Big Sisters, Restaurants Team Up to Raise Funds for Programs

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County (BBBSHC) and four area restaurants partnered in December to raise money to support BBBSHC’s youth-mentoring programs. The four restaurant partners were located throughout Hampden County and included Springfield’s Nadim’s Downtown Mediterranean Grill, Hampden’s La Cucina di Hampden House, Wilbraham’s Blue Elephant Restaurant, and Holyoke’s Delaney House. Staff, board members, and volunteers from BBBSHC delivered close to 100 dinners to more than 40 donors during four Fridays in December. Participants chose from customized menus created specifically for the fundraiser. BBBSHC Executive Director David Beturne formed the partnerships as a creative way to raise funds for his organization during a trying time that has seen revenues and staffing levels cut by more than half. BBBSHC captured 50% of the revenue, and the restaurant partners captured the remaining 50%. Between the fundraiser itself and a sponsorship from Freedom Credit Union, BBBSHC was able to pull in just over $7,000.

UMassFive Donates Hundreds of Winter Coats and Clothes to Amherst Survival Center

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced that its members, staff, and community partners have donated hundreds of winter coats and clothing to Amherst Survival Center. Donations were gathered through a collection drive held at UMassFive’s Hadley and Northampton branches throughout the month of December. “This is a drive that we hold annually, and we weren’t sure what to expect in terms of donations during the pandemic,” said Cait Murray, Community Outreach manager at UMassFive. “We were pleasantly surprised to receive a record number of donations this year. The generosity of our members, staff, and community partners is truly remarkable.” Five vehicle loads of donations were dropped off at the Amherst Survival Center, where they were sorted and distributed to the community. To support the Amherst Survival Center directly, visit amherstsurvival.org.

 

RT Consulting, LLC Acquires Sage Benefit Advisers, LLC

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. — RT Consulting, LLC, has acquired Sage Benefit Advisers, headquartered in Peterborough, N.H. Formed in 2006, RT Consulting is a national employee-benefits administration firm focused on employee-benefits compliance, healthcare advocacy, data transparency, communication, education, and partnerships with clients and brokers. Since inception, RT has grown to become a robust HR-management tool helping to ease the burden of all the critical activities within human resources, such as enrollment, communication, navigation, and administration. RT Consulting has worked with companies of all sizes and industries, including technology, automotive, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and energy, and has also done extensive work with associations. The acquisition of Sage Benefit Advisers positions RT to expand its comprehensive advisory and administrative services.

 

Company Notebook

Thunderbirds Announce Suspension of 2020-21 Season

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds announced that they are one of three AHL franchises that have elected to opt out of play for the upcoming 2020-21 season. The decision, made in conjunction with their NHL affiliate, the St. Louis Blues, was based on numerous safety and logistical concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will allow the organization to turn its full focus toward the 2021-22 season. The Thunderbirds will maintain their status as active members of the AHL and return to play next season. “Over the past few months, we have worked tirelessly with the St. Louis Blues to explore every possible avenue for returning to play this season,” Thunderbirds President Nate Costa said. “Unfortunately, due to health and safety concerns, travel logistics, new player-supply rules, and other considerations, the Blues and Thunderbirds collectively determined that it was in the best interests of all parties to opt out for this season. Given the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts, it has also become clear that we will be unable to host fans at our games in the foreseeable future. As an independently owned franchise, our foremost obligation is to ensure that our team is financially viable for the long term, something that is not possible without game-day revenue.”

 

Hazen Paper Wins Award for 2020 Holographic Calendar

HOLYOKE — The International Hologram Manufacturers Assoc. (IHMA) recently named Hazen Paper’s 2020 holographic calendar Best Applied Decorative/Packaging Product at the Excellence in Holography Awards 2020. Featuring a fire-breathing dragon with three-dimensional scales, the oversized calendar utilized an array of innovative holographic techniques to create a decorative design the IHMA called “outstanding.” These holographic designs included Hazen-Lens behind the months of the year, gray-motion for the sky background, color-motion for the dragon, and two-channel color-motion lenses and fire-motion lenses to animate the flames. The calendar was originated entirely within Hazen’s state-of-the-art holographic lab and manufactured in Hazen’s Holyoke facility on Hazen Envirofoil, an environmentally friendly product. Made with renewable energy, transfer-metallized Envirofoil is made with less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate, a recycled film carrier that is reused again and again, and is repulpable as paper after de-inking. It was offset-printed using UV-cure inks with customized opaque white by AM Lithography of Chicopee.

 

Tighe & Bond Named Finalist for Engineering Excellence Awards

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond Inc. has been recognized by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/MA) as a 2020 Engineering Excellence Award Finalist (Gold Award). Tighe & Bond, in conjunction with a team of subconsultants and property owner ENGIE North America, transformed the site of the Mt. Tom coal-fired power plant into the state’s largest community solar and energy-storage facility. In 2014, the Mt. Tom coal-fired power plant in Holyoke stopped operations, and ENGIE North America began the task of decommissioning and closing the power-plant site. This undertaking involved demolition of the coal-fired plant and remediation of many areas of the property. A portion of the site was also used for renewable-energy generation and energy storage to benefit the region and the city of Holyoke. The project team aided with the decommissioning design of the property and worked to obtain a complex array of environmental and land-use permits for the entire project for future industrial and commercial redevelopment. The Tighe & Bond environmental team developed the remedial design for the power plant and the associated coal ash management on the property. The largest component of the property restoration included risk-based evaluations and various capping strategies to address coal ash that has been deposited over much of the property. The successful coal-ash closure approach resulted in preserving and protecting nearby waterways, including the Connecticut River and Kennedy Brook, as well as more than 50 acres of vegetated forest and associated rare and endangered species habitat. For the solar project, the project team provided permit-level design and engineering support as well as construction-period design for the energy-storage system. This project developed the largest community solar project in Massachusetts and the largest utility-scale energy-storage installation in the Commonwealth.

 

UMass Amherst Grad Students Receive Financial Support

AMHERST — The economic and research hardships stemming from the global COVID-19 pandemic have strained campuses around the country, including UMass Amherst. Especially hard-hit are graduate students in the sciences, as their research opportunities and funding trajectories have been greatly reduced by COVID-19 public-health restrictions. In response, the university’s College of Natural Sciences (CNS) created the Graduate Student Fellowship Fund this fall to provide additional funding to graduate students who need to extend their work for another year, and to make available innovations in data collection for those who are unable to conduct in-person experiments. The largest gift to the fund so far has come from alumni and long-time supporters Richard and Barbara Mahoney, who contributed $100,000 in early December. The contribution has sparked additional donations from donors who recognize the value of graduate-student research in the college and want to support those students. Graduate students are at the core of the research enterprise on campus, putting in thousands of hours to run experiments, collect data, and analyze findings. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many graduate students have lost the opportunities they previously had to spend much-needed time in labs or out in the field. More than 1,000 graduate students are working toward degrees across CNS.

 

Florence Bank Donates Nearly $100,000 in 2020 to Ease Food Insecurity

FLORENCE — Florence Bank donated nearly $100,000 in 2020 to support a new food-distribution collaborative and nine other longtime nonprofits with a mission to feed people who are battling food insecurity in the Pioneer Valley. The gifts have been made since March to organizations in all corners of the region, including the hilltowns, to help ease the economic strain brought on by COVID-19. In the spring, Florence Bank donated $50,000 to the Community Food Distribution Project created jointly by the Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton to help fund emergency food distribution in the early months of the pandemic. The new collaborative makes food staples available through on-site distributions at nearly a dozen local sites. Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton established the organization in partnership with Community Action Pioneer Valley, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the city of Northampton, and Northampton Public Schools. Grow Food Northampton and the Northampton Survival Center each received $25,000 from the bank. Since May, Florence Bank has also made the following gifts to these local nonprofits: Amherst Survival Center, $10,000; Springfield Rescue Mission, $10,000; Easthampton Community Center, $7,500; Chesterfield Community Cupboard, $5,000; the Gray House Market of Springfield, $5,000; Easthampton Congregational Church, $2,500; the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, as part of Monte’s March, $1,000; Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry of Chicopee, $1,000; and Open Pantry Community Services Inc. of Springfield, $1,000. Florence Bank also nominated Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen to receive a $5,000 award from the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. Charitable Foundation, which the nonprofit has accepted.

 

Nursing Schools Almanac Names AIC Among Best Schools for Nursing

SPRINGFIELD — Nursing Schools Almanac has released its 2020 rankings of the best nursing schools in the U.S. In collecting data on more than 3,000 institutions nationwide, only 20% made the list of the best nursing schools in each geographic region. The nursing program at American International College (AIC) was named in both the New England and Massachusetts categories, placing 45th in the region and 21st in the state. Each school was evaluated on three dimensions: the institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, the breadth and depth of nursing programs offered, and student success, particularly on the NCLEX licensure examination. Nursing Schools Almanac combined the assessments into an overall score and ranked the schools accordingly. According to Dean of Health Sciences Karen Rousseau, “while the demand for healthcare professionals grows each year, at no time has that need been more critical than now. The School of Health Sciences at American International College provides access to educational opportunities that develop a diverse network of skilled individuals who provide comprehensive nursing care in a variety of settings and who are able to demonstrate leadership in evidence-based practice to promote continuous improvement in the quality and safety of healthcare.”

Agenda

Women’s Leadership Training Program

Starting Jan. 6: Building on the success of its popular Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series, Holyoke Community College (HCC) is launching an eight-week training program for women who want to develop and enhance their leadership skills.

For convenience, the program, “Women Leaning Into Leadership 2021: Empowering Your Voice,” is being offered over Zoom in two separate, eight-week sessions. One meets on Wednesdays, Jan. 6 through Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., while the other meets on Thursdays, Jan. 7 through Feb. 25, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The interactive workshops will be facilitated by Annie Shibata, owner of Growth Mindset Leadership and Communication Coaching. Enrollment is limited by design. In addition to weekly 90-minute group seminars, each participant can schedule a private, 30-minute session of personalized coaching with the instructor. During the program sessions, participants will learn to evaluate their communication skills and apply new communication techniques, practice the power of mindfulness, distinguish forms of influence and persuasion to create powerful messages, assess their leadership strengths, and create short- and long-term plans for career development. To register for the Wednesday program, visit hcc.edu/women-2021-1. To register for the Thursday program, visit hcc.edu/women-2021-2.

 

Asnuntuck Super Saturday

Jan. 9: Asnuntuck Community College (ACC) will hold a virtual Super Saturday event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., aimed at helping new and continuing students who have questions about how to apply, would like to speak to an advisor, or have questions regarding financial aid and registering. The college’s spring semester begins on Friday, Jan. 22. New and continuing students are invited to attend the event. Participants will also be able to virtually meet with Asnuntuck’s Manufacturing department, as well as speak with staff from ACC’s Continuing Education and Workforce Development Office to learn about our non-credit certificate options. Anyone who is interested in attending the online event, but has not yet applied, should complete the application ahead of time to maximize their time during the event. Participants may pre-register at asnuntuck.edu/virtualsupersaturday if there is a specific department they plan to meet with. If seeking to meet with an advisor during the event, it is strongly encouraged to pre-register ahead of time at asnuntuck.edu/student-resources/casa to request an appointment.

 

Virtual Event Series on Vaccination

Jan. 13, 20, 27: The Springfield Regional Chamber will host three virtual events dedicated to helping business leaders understand the COVID-19 vaccine. “What to Expect with the COVID-19 Vaccine” is slated for Wednesday, Jan. 13 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health, will lead a conversation about what businesses can expect, how and when the vaccine may be distributed, and more. “Navigating the Legal Complexities of the COVID-19 Vaccine in the Workplace” will follow on Wednesday, Jan. 20 from 9 to 10 a.m. Employment attorney Meghan Sullivan of Sullivan Hayes & Quinn will offer insights about the HR complexities of the vaccine and the issues surrounding deployment to the business community. “Effectively Communicating the COVID-19 Vaccine” will be presented on Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 9 to 10 a.m. Justine Griffin from Rasky Partners will discuss developing cross-cultural communications strategies, messaging, and more to gain buy-in on the importance of the vaccine for employees, business, and the entire community. To learn more or register, visit springfieldregionalchamber.com. Chamber members receive exclusive discounts.

 

Healthcare Heroes

Jan. 14: BusinessWest and the Healthcare News will celebrate this year’s Healthcare Heroes with a free virtual event. This year’s heroes include Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health; Christopher Savino, Emeline Bean, and Lydia Brisson, clinical liaisons for Berkshire Healthcare Systems; Friends of the Homeless; the Nutrition Department at Greater Springfield Senior Services Inc.; the staff at Holyoke Medical Center; the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst; Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, director of Spiritual Life at JGS Lifecare; Maggie Eboso, Infection Control and Prevention coordinator at Mercy Medical Center; Jennifer Graham, home health aide at O’Connell Care at Home; and Helen Gobeil, staffing supervisor at Visiting Angels West Springfield. The Healthcare Heroes program is sponsored by Elms College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health and Health New England (presenting sponsor), and partner sponsors Bulkley Richardson, Comcast Business, and Trinity Health Of New England/Mercy Medical Center. A link to access this free event will be available at businesswest.com and healthcarenews.com, or you can RSVP by calling (413) 781-8600, ext. 100.

 

Women of Impact

Jan. 28: BusinessWest will celebrate this year’s Women of Impact with a virtual event. This year’s honorees include Tania Barber, president and CEO of Caring Health Center; Carol Campbell, president of Chicopee Industrial Contractors; Helen Caulton-Harris, Health and Human Services commissioner for the city of Springfield; Pattie Hallberg, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts; Andrea Harrington, Berkshire County district attorney; Toni Hendrix, director of Human Services at Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing; Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College; and Sue Stubbs, president and CEO of ServiceNet. The event is sponsored by Country Bank, Health New England, and TommyCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors), Comcast Business (supporting sponsor), and WWLP 22 News/CW Springfield (media sponsor). More details about the event will be announced soon.

 

‘Establishing Resilience: Building Happiness’

Feb. 6: Past year got you down? Need a brighter outlook for 2021? Holyoke Community College has a class for you. HCC is partnering with Pam Victor, president and founder of Happier Valley Comedy, to offer a Zoom workshop titled “Establishing Resilience: Building Happiness” from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Victor, a comedian and improv facilitator who prefers the title ‘head of happiness,’ will lead participants on an experiential exploration of happiness and resilience building to enhance their joy and ease at work and home. She will share stress-relieving exercises and techniques to help people bring more well-being, laughter, gratitude, and play into their daily lives. The cost of the class is $99. To register, visit hcc.edu/happiness.

 

Company Notebook

Women’s Leadership Conference to Be Held in Person in 2022

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University will host its 25th Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC) in person at the MassMutual Center in Springfield on Friday, April 1, 2022. The decision comes nine months after the March 2020 event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual conference brings more than 2,000 attendees to downtown Springfield for a day of speakers and workshop sessions devoted to professional development and personal goals. After weighing several options for hosting the annual conference, the university decided to forgo a 2021 event and wait until the event could take place in person. With an extended timeline, social media and digital forums will serve as virtual hubs to generate conversations and share thoughts and information that will carry over to the WLC. More information on speakers and schedules is forthcoming and will be posted at baypathconference.com.

 

Freedom Credit Union to Match Donations to Pioneer Valley USO

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of December, Freedom Credit Union will partner with its members and the local community to raise funds to benefit the Pioneer Valley USO. Freedom will match total donations made through Dec. 31 up to $2,500. The mission of the USO (United Service Organizations) is to strengthen America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home, and country throughout their service to our country. The Pioneer Valley USO, located at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, provides more than 102,000 pounds of food to more than 3,200 individuals annually through the Emergency Food Pantry, supports more than 600 families annually with holiday food baskets for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and sends more than 500 care packages to deployed military men and women around the world. Funded entirely by private donations, sponsorships, and grants, it supports both Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee and Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield. Donations can be made to Freedom’s matching drive online at bit.ly/393WCzo.

 

STCC Creates Affordable Transfer Agreements with Post University

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) partnered this fall with Post University in Waterbury, Conn. to offer seamless transfer pathways in six programs. Students in the following STCC associate-degree programs have an opportunity to transfer to Post University and pursue a bachelor’s degree: applied psychology, business transfer, communication and digital media, criminal justice transfer, early childhood education transfer, and human services/social work. Post University offers classes online but also has a 58-acre main campus that includes six student residence halls, an admissions building, a library, a fitness center, and a multi-purpose sports facility. The main campus classes for spring 2021 will be online in response to risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. STCC is also planning online classes this spring with a mix of low-density, in-person labs for health and manufacturing programs. STCC and Post University signed the agreements in September. STCC offers dozens of pathways for transferring to a four-year college or university. Students who take advantage of the transfer pathways can see significant financial savings, said Matt Gravel, dean of Academic Initiatives at STCC.

 

 

Comcast Supports MHA Programming, Families of Staff

SPRINGFIELD — Comcast recently awarded a $5,000 grant to MHA, which includes $2,000 to fund the purchase of school supplies for children of MHA staff dealing with hybrid and remote learning models as a result of the pandemic. Supplies for the children include face masks, hand sanitizer, pencils, pencil sharpeners, notebooks, erasers, and pocket folders. The remaining $3,000 will underwrite a Room to Recover at MHA’s Safe Haven program for a year. Safe Haven offers transitional housing support to people served by the Department of Mental Health who are experiencing chronic homelessness, including those in recovery. Since a large proportion of the staff have school-aged children, and with so many schools either remote or hybrid, providing these supplies helps ensure that kids are prepared for school, said Kimberley Lee, vice president, Resource Development & Branding for MHA.

 

Holyoke Medical Center Earns Leapfrog Top Hospital Award

HOLYOKE — Highlighting its nationally recognized achievements in patient safety and quality, Holyoke Medical Center was named a Top General Hospital nationally by the Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization of employers and other purchasers widely acknowledged as the toughest standard setters for healthcare safety and quality. More than 2,200 hospitals were considered for the award. Among those, Holyoke Medical Center received a Top General distinction. A total of 105 hospitals were selected as Top Hospitals, including nine Top Children’s Hospitals, 29 Top General Hospitals, 19 Top Rural Hospitals, and 48 Top Teaching Hospitals. The quality of patient care across many areas of hospital performance is considered in establishing the qualifications for the award, including infection rates, practices for safer surgery, maternity care, and the hospital’s capacity to prevent medication errors. Holyoke Medical Center also received the Top General Hospital recognition from the Leapfrog Group in 2014 and 2016.

 

Six Flags New England Sends Holiday Thrills to Square One

SPRINGFIELD — Six Flags New England will donate more than 200 toys valued at more than $1,000 to Square One’s children. “Six Flags New England is honored to support Square One this holiday season,” said Jennifer McGrath, the park’s Communications manager. “Now more than ever, we need to rally as a community and support causes and families here in Western Massachusetts and beyond.”

 

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives Grant from Rotary Club

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley received a $2,000 grant from the Rotary Club of Springfield to support Girls Inc. of the Valley’s “Bridge the Digital Divide” project. This donation will help girls and their families overcome social and economic stressors during this pandemic. In the midst of the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for positive, girl-focused, youth-development programming is stronger than ever. Girls who were already dealing with adverse childhood experiences like poverty and racism need additional support during these challenging times, and this donation from the Rotary Club of Springfield will allow both organizations to help serve the community. Many of the girls have been asking if Girls Inc.’s Eureka! STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education program will happen during the summer of 2021. To ensure the safety of their participants, staff, and volunteers, Girls Inc. will provide Eureka! University, a virtual version of the program, this summer.

 

EforAll and EparaTodos Holyoke Looking for Volunteer Mentors

HOLYOKE — EforAll and EparaTodos Holyoke are actively seeking volunteers to participate as mentors in this winter’s business-accelerator program. Accelerator mentors come from a variety of backgrounds and use their business and leadership experience to guide new entrepreneurs through the process of turning their idea into a growing business. Mentors work in teams of three and are matched with an entrepreneur based on schedule availability and the desire to work together. The team meets as a group to help reaffirm topics and themes raised during classes, while also strategizing with the entrepreneur on how to reach their specific goals during the program. This is a high-touch, year-long commitment, and everything is virtual. Mentor teams have 90-minute meetings for three months and then meet once a month for the following nine months. Anyone who is looking for an interactive and meaningful volunteer opportunity and is interested in learning more about EforAll should e-mail [email protected].

 

Local College Students Compete in Online Grinspoon Pitch Contest

AGAWAM — The Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative’s first online, fully remote regional pitch competition took place on Nov. 17. Twenty-one students from area colleges delivered 60-second pitches to an audience of their peers in Zoom breakout rooms. After a popular vote, four finalists were selected to receive $50 each. Next came the final competition. Winning the grand prize and a total of $150 was Jenny Jung, a junior at Amherst College. Her idea is PressBeta, a beta-testing platform for independent game developers to be connected to beta testers for $59 per month. Passionate gamers can test out interesting, pre-launch games and give feedback in exchange for limited, early access.

 

Bradley Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler Readers as Eighth-best U.S. Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that t released the results of its annual Readers’ Choice Awards, with Bradley International Airport recognized as the eighth-best airport in the U.S. The awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. Bradley International Airport was recognized as a top-10 airport for the fourth consecutive year. “This award is a tremendous honor during a challenging year for the travel industry, and we are proud to once again be recognized among our nation’s best airports,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. “We thank the travel community for their continued vote of confidence in Bradley International Airport and for underscoring the value of traveling through a smaller airport. Now more than ever, Bradley Airport stands out by always offering a clean, safe, and convenient travel experience.”

 

Company Notebook

‘Together HCC’ Campaign Earns National Recognition

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been named a finalist for a national Bellwether Award in recognition of its “Together HCC” fundraising and social-media campaign. HCC was one of 10 U.S. colleges selected as a finalist by the Bellwether College Consortium in its Workforce Development category, which identifies strategic alliances that promote community and economic development. Bellwether finalists represent leading community colleges whose programs and practices are considered outstanding and innovative. The college launched “Together HCC: A Campaign for Caring” at the end of March in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign sought to raise money for students facing economic hardships and collect stories to motivate and inspire them during a period of extreme disruption. The Bellwether College Consortium is a group charged with addressing the critical issues facing community colleges. The consortium honors community colleges with awards in three categories: instructional programs and services; planning, governance, and finance; and workforce development. The Bellwether Awards are widely regarded as one of the nation’s most competitive and prestigious recognitions for community colleges. HCC was the only community college in Massachusetts selected as a 2021 Bellwether finalist. After COVID-19 broke, HCC saw a dramatic rise in the number of applications to its Student Emergency Fund. In three months, the “Together HCC” campaign raised about $40,000 from nearly 200 private donors for the emergency fund, which also received a lift of $75,000 in COVID-19 relief funds from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Since March, the HCC Foundation has distributed almost $90,000 from the emergency fund to 130 students. For another key component of the campaign, HCC solicited uplifting anecdotes and images from alumni, faculty, staff, students, family members, and friends that were shared on HCC’s social-media channels using the hashtag #TogetherHCC.

 

Robinson Donovan, P.C. Makes Food Donation to Gray House

SPRINGFIELD — Robinson Donovan, P.C. made a donation of 100 pounds of side dishes to the Gray House to help ensure food on the table for local families this Thanksgiving. “We’ve partnered with the Gray House for several years for the Adopt-a-Family Christmas program, and wanted to do something extra this year, knowing how many people have been deeply impacted by the pandemic,” Partner Jim Martin said. “The Gray House is an invaluable community institution that we are proud to support.” Through the help of individuals and businesses like Robinson Donovan, the Gray House is able to provide turkeys and accompanying food for families in need on Thanksgiving.

 

Country Bank Supports Communities in Need

WARE — Country Bank announced a series of initiatives to help support local communities during the 2020 holiday season, especially those affected by the economic fallout from the ongoing pandemic. As part of these initiatives, Country Bank teamed up with Old Sturbridge Village to offer 750 free meals to families in need this Thanksgiving. Meals were delivered to St. John’s Food for the Poor, the YWCA, Abby’s House, Veterans Inc., and Elm Street Congregational Church. On Small Business Saturday, Nov. 28, the Country Bank retail banking team will support local small businesses by purchasing 400 gift cards from businesses throughout its markets. These gift cards were distributed in Country Bank branch locations on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1. The corporate-office team will also partner with Provision Ministry and assemble 250 backpacks filled with essential care items to be delivered to the Springfield Rescue Mission. Throughout the month of December, the famous red kettles will be visible at several Country Bank branch locations to help fill the void the Salvation Army will experience this year, in part due to the pandemic. Country Bank has donated $10,000 toward this meaningful cause. Finally, as part of its Community Cares program, the staff participated in its own Boston Marathon by ‘walking the distance’ via a downloadable app. This virtual challenge brought people together while supporting charities of their choice with a $500 donation. A total of $30,000 will be granted to charities.

 

Demore’s Automotive Owner Makes Holidays Brighter

PALMER — Jay Demore, owner of Demore’s Automotive in Palmer, believes in supporting the community. This week, more than 300 people in Palmer will have Thanksgiving meals thanks to the efforts of Demore; his sister JoAnn, operations manager at the auto shop; and a few customers who have come to the shop with checks for as much as $200 and $300. Demore, who has operated the auto-repair shop since 1997, will provide prepared meals from Palmer restaurants, 80 of which will go to elderly residents in town. For families that prefer to make Thanksgiving dinner, he’ll make sure they have a turkey and the ingredients for stuffing, side dishes, and desserts. Anyone in need was encouraged to message Demore privately through social media; customers and local residents who knew of a family in need reached out to let him know. The plan to help began last Easter, as restaurants and families began to be affected financially by the pandemic. That’s when Demore began purchasing gift cards for Palmer restaurants and giving them to town residents in need. Demore has taken his support of Palmer restaurants on the road with the Stand Out Truck, a mobile digital billboard. He purchased ads on the truck for his own business and, after seeing results, began purchasing ad space and sponsoring restaurants. He is also offering to help any families in need at Christmas — and not just with meals. Demore and his sister have already purchased some big-ticket toys, such as a remote-control Jeep, which he says will be decked out with the Demore Automotive logo, as well as boys’ and girls’ bikes, a play kitchen, and a Nintendo Switch.

 

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Donates 250 Turkeys to Gray House

SPRINGFIELD — The law firm Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley donated and helped distribute 250 frozen turkeys to aid the Gray House in its efforts to feed families in Springfield. “The mission of the Gray House is critical to our community,” Partner Earl Seeley III said. “We wanted to do what we could to further their efforts and help make Thanksgiving brighter for the people they serve.” Partner Charlie Casartello added that “the need to help people overcome food insecurity is more acute now than ever. Everyone deserves a great Thanksgiving dinner, and we were happy to have the opportunity to pass out the turkeys to our neighbors and wish everyone a happy holiday.” Attorneys from the firm were on hand to personally distribute the turkeys to individuals who had signed up with the charity to receive one. Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley is a law firm of more than 15 lawyers who devote their practice to protecting the rights of injured individuals.

 

Wheeler & Taylor Insurance, Claire Teague Senior Center Team Up on Thanksgiving Meals

GREAT BARRINGTON — Wheeler & Taylor Insurance in Great Barrington teamed up with the Claire Teague Senior Center to give local seniors a complete Thanksgiving dinner they could easily prepare at home. J. Scott Rote, president of the insurance agency, bought oven-ready turkey breast with gravy kits at a local supermarket. He and his staff added vegetables, cranberry sauce, mashed-potato mix, dessert, and four KN95 face masks to each package. In all, the packages will yield about 300 to 350 meals. Polly Mann-Salenovich, director of the Clare Teague Senior Center in Great Barrington, delivered them to a local senior-housing complex and individual seniors. Separately, Kimberly Briggs, account manager at Wheeler & Taylor, who is also the secretary of the Junior League of Berkshire County, spearheaded employee fundraising for the People’s Pantry in Great Barrington. In total, Wheeler & Taylor employees donated 10 boxes of groceries that were delivered to the pantry by Briggs and Rote.

 

Asnuntuck Accredited as American Welding Society Accredited Test Facility

ENFIELD, Conn. — Asnuntuck Community College recently became the first American Welding Society (AWS) accredited test facility (ATF) in Connecticut. Students enrolled in Asnuntuck’s welding program will have an opportunity to earn certifications. According to Richard Munroe, one of two certified instructors at Asnuntuck, the program establishes minimum requirements for test facilities, their personnel, and equipment to qualify for accreditation to test and qualify welders. AWS’ website explains that entrusting welder certification to ATF specialists makes good business sense for contractors and fabricators. Companies are increasingly realizing the shortcomings of self-qualification and are switching to AWS accredited test facilities to test and qualify their welders. ATFs help them save money, improve productivity, and reduce liability by entrusting their welder certification to experts. The Asnuntuck Community College welding program began in 2004 at Windsor High School and was moved to the Asnuntuck campus in 2008. Now known as the welding and fabrication program, it has graduated approximately 1,000 students since its inception. The college has dedicated 10,000 square feet to welding instruction in a state-of-the-art facility on the Enfield campus, which includes 75 welding booths.

 

Golden Years Home Care Services Gives Care Packages to Veterans

EAST LONGMEADOW — Golden Years Home Care Services partnered with Veterans Outreach Centers of Massachusetts Inc., Commonwealth Care Alliance, and Springfield Pharmacy to deliver “Appreciation for Your Service” care packages to veterans in Springfield on Nov. 24. Thanksgiving is a time when most people think about what they are thankful for. Staff at Golden Years say they are thankful to veterans for all the work they have done for this country, but, while providing home-care services to veterans, they noticed that not all veterans have the basic necessities most take for granted. The partnership among the organizations supplied veterans with toothbrushes, gloves, hats, socks, shampoo, hand sanitizers, masks, deodorant, soap, razors, and more supplies. They also received a turkey provided by Golden Years Home Care.

 

FutureHealth to Combine Forces with Insurance for Students

SPRINGFIELD — FutureHealth announced it has entered into an agreement with Insurance for Students, located in Delray Beach, Fla., to combine their expertise as one company. They have developed and will be distributing the next generation of student insurance products and services. Pat White, president and founder of Insurance for Students, has been designing, marketing, and administering comprehensive student accident and health plans for colleges and universities for more than 40 years. Kevin Saremi, president and founder of FutureHealth, has been providing online health-education programs that address mental health and other health-related issues within the student market. Prior to starting FutureHealth, he founded Consolidated Health Plans (now Wellfleet), a third-party administrator for student health-insurance products for more than 20 years, before selling the company to Berkshire Hathaway.

 

Resinate Inc. Opens Second Dispensary in Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Resinate Inc. — a locally owned and operated, vertically integrated cannabis company — opened its second retail location at 110 Pleasant St. in Northampton on Nov. 20. Resinate, which also has a facility in Worcester, is opening its second location during an unprecedented period with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and will strictly adhere to CDC and Commonwealth guidelines to keep its staff and patrons healthy. Resinate Northampton offers online pre-ordering, in-store pickup, and limited parking. Additional parking is available at the E.J. Gare parking garage and the Armory lot. Metered on-street parking is also available. For more information about Resinate, product offerings, and dispensary hours and locations, visit www.iresinate.com or e-mail [email protected]

 

TommyCar Collision Opens in Northampton

HADLEY — TommyCar Auto Group, which operates five car dealerships in Hampshire County, is expanding into the auto-body business with the opening of its new TommyCar Collision Center in Northampton. The center, which is now open, is located at 32 Damon Road, next door to the auto group’s Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley dealership. TommyCar Collision will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers free estimates. Services will include, but are not limited to, automotive glass replacement; body and bumper repair; detailing; frame straightening; full-service mechanical services; painting; paintless dent repair; repair after hail damage; repairs for scratches, dents, and door dings; and windshield repair and replacement. To learn more or schedule service, call (413) 517-3855 or visit tommycarcollision.com.

 

Liberty Mutual Lends Support to Square One Campaign for Healthy Kids

SPRINGFIELD — Liberty Mutual Insurance is the latest corporation to lend its support to Square One’s Campaign for Healthy Kids — a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. The $3,000 gift comes at a critical time as Square One recently expanded its early-education program to include full-day remote learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms, family childcare offerings, and family-support services.

“The vital services the Square One team provide to the community on a daily basis have taken on a whole new level of importance during this unprecedented time,” said Beth Green, Liberty Mutual Insurance Contact Center Operations associate. “Early education is one of the most effective ways to improve a child’s long-term security and well-being, and the services offered by Square One are core to Liberty Mutual’s values of being there for people when they need us most. We are honored to help them fulfill their commitment to provide high-quality early education and a safe and healthy community for Springfield’s children.”

 

Contribution Clothing Supports Nonprofits with Holiday Gift Guide

LUDLOW — Kelly Partridge, Founder of Contribution Clothing LLC, launched the mission-driven online boutique, www.contributionclothing.com, in June 2019. The boutique, which retails new women’s apparel and accessories, provides quarterly monetary donations to Western Mass. nonprofit organizations that share a vision of empowering women and girls. The woman-led boutique is currently working to gift 15% of its net profits to Dress for Success Western Massachusetts. This holiday season, Contribution Clothing is promoting Gifts That Give Back, a holiday gift-guide collection featuring select items each week leading up to Christmas. The collection will include pre-sale items not typically available at the boutique, with price points of $50 and under to keep holiday shopping affordable. Since the launch of the website, Contribution Clothing has provided monetary donations to a variety of organizations, such as Empty Arms Bereavement Support, Ovations a Cure for Ovarian Cancer, Shriners, Girls Inc. of the Valley, Girls on the Run, Christina’s House, the Care Center, Bay Path University, and Safe Passage. The ambitious clothing line hasn’t stopped there, also supporting many community-based events and fundraisers, such as the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage, the Women Empowered calendars for Girls Inc. and Girls on the Run, and the Unify Against Bullying Fashion show, and Partridge even created her own volunteer event in support of Christina’s House this past quarter.

 

Local College Students Compete in Online Grinspoon Pitch Contest

AGAWAM — The Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative’s first online, fully remote regional pitch competition took place on Nov. 17. Twenty-one students from area colleges delivered 60-second pitches to an audience of their peers in Zoom breakout rooms. After a popular vote, four finalists were selected to receive $50 each. Next came the final competition. Winning the grand prize and a total of $150 was Jenny Jung, a junior at Amherst College. Her idea is PressBeta, a beta-testing platform for independent game developers to be connected to beta testers for $59 per month. Passionate gamers can test out interesting, pre-launch games and give feedback in exchange for limited, early access.

 

Bradley Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler Readers as Eighth-best U.S. Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Condé Nast Traveler released the results of its annual Readers’ Choice Awards, with Bradley International Airport recognized as the eighth-best airport in the U.S. The awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. Bradley International Airport was recognized as a top-10 airport for the fourth consecutive year. “This award is a tremendous honor during a challenging year for the travel industry, and we are proud to once again be recognized among our nation’s best airports,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. “We thank the travel community for their continued vote of confidence in Bradley International Airport and for underscoring the value of traveling through a smaller airport. Now more than ever, Bradley Airport stands out by always offering a clean, safe, and convenient travel experience.”

 

Company Notebook

UMass Donahue Institute Receives $32.5 Million from Head Start

HADLEY — The UMass Donahue Institute has been awarded a new five-year, $6.5 million per year cooperative agreement to direct the Head Start National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations (NCPMFO), a role it has filled for the past five years under an earlier award. Under the new cooperative agreement, the institute will continue to work in collaboration with its partners: Family Health International 360, Zero to Three, and the UCLA Anderson School of Management. NCPMFO will continue to disseminate clear, consistent guidance, materials, and trainings on Office of Head Start priorities for the development and implementation of sound management systems and strong internal controls in Head Start programs across the country. NCPMFO’s work addresses topics such as risk management, governance, data collection and analysis, budgeting, management of multiple funding sources, and leadership, including the annual Head Start Management Fellows Program conducted at UCLA. NCPMFO’s work reaches approximately 1,700 grantees of Early Head Start and Head Start programs located in all states, including those programs serving American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and migrant and seasonal workers. NCPMFO is one of four national center cooperative agreements recently awarded. The others address early childhood development, teaching, and learning; early childhood health; behavioral health and safety; and parent, family, and community engagement.

 

Thunderbirds Foundation Donates $15,000 to Rays of Hope

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Thunderbirds President Nathan Costa presented a check for $15,000 to the Baystate Health Foundation for Rays of Hope from proceeds raised by the sale of specialty pink jerseys worn at the 2020 Pink in the Rink night in March. Each year since the team’s inception, the Thunderbirds have held a Pink in the Rink night to benefit Rays of Hope, complete with participation by breast-cancer survivors, pink ice, and pink specialty jerseys. The event has sold out each of the past four seasons, and has become a signature event in the area to raise awareness. This past season’s event took place on March 7, and was again sold out, with a capacity crowd of 6,793. The Thunderbirds Foundation has contributed more than $80,000 to the Baystate Health Foundation and the Rays of Hope through the proceeds of specialty jersey auctions from the annual Pink in the Rink night.

 

Davis Family Establishes New Scholarship Fund in Honor of Mary Walachy

SPRINGFIELD — The Davis family has established the Joseph F. and Helen C. McGovern Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts in honor of the Irene E. & George A Davis Foundation’s recently retired Executive Director Mary Walachy. Walachy retired in June after serving 23 years as executive director of the family foundation, and the fund is named after Walachy’s parents, both strong advocates for education. Walachy’s father, Joseph McGovern, was an entrepreneur who owned and operated Notion Thread, a manufacturing company in West Springfield. Walachy’s mother, Helen, also worked with her husband at the company. The scholarship fund will provide resources for successful applicants studying education or social work. It will be awarded through the Community Foundation’s scholarship program, which awards approximately 1,000 scholarships to 800 students annually. The program considers academic merit and financial need in its applicant reviews. Walachy earned a master’s degree in social work and, prior to joining the Davis Foundation, served as CEO of the Mental Health Assoc. Walachy was hired in 1997 as the first executive director of the foundation. Under her leadership, the foundation created several signature programs, including Cherish Every Child, the nationally-recognized Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative, and the Funder Collaborative for Reading Success, as well as the establishment of Springfield Business Leaders for Education and the launch of Educare Springfield.

 

Berkshire Theatre Group Awarded $1 Million Gift

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Theatre Group and Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire announced a generous gift of just over $1 million from the family of the late Mary Anne Gross in honor of her lifetime love of both theatre and the Berkshires. This award also recognizes the tireless efforts of Berkshire Theatre Group in producing the first live Actors’ Equity-approved musical in the U.S. this past summer, following the shutdown of live performing arts due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. The Gross family will also award just over $1 million to Pittsfield’s Barrington Stage Company. The Gross family gift will support payroll and basic operating costs for the next six months in order to ensure there are no furloughs or layoffs while the theater continues to raise funds in support of future artistic programming. A portion of the gift is structured as a matching grant to leverage additional donations for 2021. In July, Berkshire Theatre Group’s musical, Godspell, the first musical in the U.S. approved by the Actors’ Equity Assoc. (AEA) during the COVID-19 pandemic, opened a five-week run under a tent outside of the Colonial Theatre. Due to popular demand and critical acclaim, the run was extended for two weeks. The musical ran from Aug. 6 to Sept. 20. Berkshire Theatre Group has just been approved once again by AEA and will present Truman Capote’s Holiday Memories outdoors at its Stockbridge campus from Nov. 20 to Dec. 20.

 

Home City Development Wins Funding for Elias Brookings Apartments

SPRINGFIELD — Home City Development Inc. (HCDI), a Springfield-based affordable-housing development organization, was awarded resources from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to adapt and rehabilitate the former Elias Brookings School into 42 affordable rental housing units, to be known as Elias Brookings Apartments. The award includes $1 million in low-income housing tax credits (to generate more than $9 million in equity), $4.4 million of soft debt, and project-based rental vouchers. Other funds for the project include state and federal historic tax credits, city of Springfield HOME and Community Preservation Act funds, and construction and permanent loans. MassHousing will provide the permanent first mortgage loan and a subordinate workforce-housing loan. HCDI plans to begin construction in early 2021 and complete the work in 12 months. The project will serve a range of incomes, including extremely low-income households, low-income households, and workforce housing. Select apartments are reserved for clients of the Department of Mental Health, people with disabilities, and homeless households. HCDI will offer a variety of supportive services to all residents. The property will be managed by Housing Management Resources, an organization with extensive experience managing comparable properties. Built as the Elias Brookings School in 1925, the building was severely damaged in the June 2011 tornado and was closed. This redevelopment aims to contribute significantly to the revitalization of the of the Maple Hill, Six Corners, and Old Hill neighborhoods, which were heavily impacted by the tornado. HCDI is working with Davis Square Architects, development consultant Gerry Joseph, Allegrone Construction, Klein-Hornig LLP, and Shatz, Schwartz, and Fentin, P.C., as well as many other partners on this project.

 

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield Wins Community Service Award

CHICOPEE — The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce announced that Mercedes-Benz of Springfield was chosen as its Community Service Award recipient. This award honors a business, nonprofit, or individual which has benefited the lives of the Amherst-area community through their work and outreach. The Driven by Community platform officially launched in March, although it has been implemented at the dealership since the doors opened three years ago. Since then, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield has partnered with more than 250 local organizations, raised more than $20,000 when COVID-19 impacted local businesses, and hosted numerous fundraising and charity events at the dealership — most recently, a drive-in movie night with proceeds donated to the Urban League of Springfield to support its mission. The virtual A+ Awards Show will be livestreamed from Hadley Farms Meeting House on Thursday, Nov. 12.

 

Wellfleet Partners with binx health to Keep College Students Safe

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet Insurance has teamed up with binx health to offer college clients access to easy at-home/in-dorm sample collection for COVID-19 testing using binx’s enterprise solutions for population health screening. The ‘binx boxes’ are showing up in dorm rooms of thousands of students on Wellfleet’s college client campuses, offering school officials a quick, easy way to test a campus population, with oversight and test ordering by on-site university clinicians. The model amplifies the power and reach of university administration in their efforts to test, track, and trace the COVID-19 infection status among students, faculty, staff, and vendors. Students ‘activate’ binx boxes online, complete sample collection in their dorms or at home, then drop off completed kits at centralized locations for lab processing. Results are rapid, often under 24 hours from sample receipt. Wellfleet, one of the nation’s leading student health-insurance carriers, worked with binx on behalf of client colleges and universities to deliver a first-of-its-kind platform that makes population testing a reality for the nation’s college campuses. The testing platform offers a unique, modular approach enabling tailored rollout and customized deployment based on university population needs. Serving as a ‘digital hub,’ binx enables seamless linking of patients to university administration via clinician ordering tools, global logistics, at-home/in-dorm sample collection, viral trend analysis and reporting, rapid lab testing, contact tracing, and live customer service and support, all offered at an affordable, per-test fee by university. In addition to introducing clients to tailored COVID-19 testing solutions, Wellfleet has also adapted policies to help members, including helping to ensure student members aren’t saddled with out-of-pocket costs related to COVID-19, and enhanced coverage for telemedicine visits.

 

Bradley Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler Readers as Eighth-best U.S. Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Condé Nast Traveler released the results of its annual Readers’ Choice Awards, with Bradley International Airport recognized as the eighth-best airport in the U.S. The awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. Bradley International Airport was recognized as a top-10 airport for the fourth consecutive year. “This award is a tremendous honor during a challenging year for the travel industry, and we are proud to once again be recognized among our nation’s best airports,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. “We thank the travel community for their continued vote of confidence in Bradley International Airport and for underscoring the value of traveling through a smaller airport. Now more than ever, Bradley Airport stands out by always offering a clean, safe, and convenient travel experience.”

 

MCLA Adopts Test-blind Policy Through Fall 2022

NORTH ADAMS — In support of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and in recognition of the public health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the MCLA Office of Admission will be waiving the SAT/ACT testing requirement for students who apply for fall 2021 and fall 2022. MCLA will also pilot a test-blind/test-free policy for fall 2021 applicants. National and institutional data point to high-school work being indicative of student success in college and a more equitable means of assessment than standardized-test scores. For many years, research studies have found that wealthy students have significant advantages through the college-application process. A 2013 study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Southern California, for example, found that the difference in SAT scores between high- and low-income students was twice as large among black students compared to white students. MCLA’s application is free, and students are considered for merit-based scholarships at the same time as they submit their application. MCLA has an early-action deadline of Dec. 1. Those who apply must submit their official high-school transcript, including first-quarter senior grades and any transcripts for college-level courses taken, as well as a personal statement/essay. To find out more, visit mcla.edu/apply.

 

AIC Hosts Mural Honoring Mason Square Resident

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) recently honored a Springfield individual known to residents in Mason Square as Preacherman with a mural on the college’s maintenance building located at the corner of State and Reed streets. Born Randolph Lester, he was a well-known community member who was given the Preacherman moniker as he was often seen walking around the Mason Square area carrying a Bible. Collaborating on the construction of the mural was Britt Ruhe, the founder of Fresh Paint Springfield, a creative initiative in 2019 that invited artists to paint building walls downtown. Ruhe is the director of Commonwealth Murals and manages the Community Muralist Institute, featuring individual mural installations that meaningfully engage and uplift communities. AIC alumnus Andrew Cade, president of the Springfield Cultural Council and senior vice president of the Urban League of Springfield, supported the project with a grant from the Springfield Cultural Council and other resources to assist with the mural. The artist, Greta McLain, has has extensive mural-making experience and created the “Home, Here” mural on the Chestnut Towers parking garage on Dwight Street.

 

Summerlin Floors Awarded Woman-owned Business Certificate

AMHERST — Summerlin Floors has been awarded the official woman-owned business certificate from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. and a leading advocate for women business owners and entrepreneurs. Summerlin Floors has been busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, completing the certification process and reaching its goal of achieving the woman-owned business certificate, along with announcing a new scholarship that will be awarded to a woman of color. To achieve WBENC certification, woman-owned businesses complete a formal documentation and site-visit process administered by one of WBENC’s 14 regional partner organizations. The WBENC certification gives woman-owned businesses the ability to compete for real-time business opportunities provided by WBENC corporate members and government agencies. To give back to the community and future generations, the company launched a new scholarship last month, awarding a $2,500 scholarship to a woman of color pursuing a degree in business at Greenfield Community College (GCC). For more information and to apply for this scholarship, contact the GCC Admissions Office at www.gcc.mass.edu/admissions or (413) 775-1801.

 

Excel Dryer Supports Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom Initiative

SPRINGFIELD — For the fourth consecutive year, Excel Dryer has committed an annual gift of $5,000 to support Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom initiative. The gift comes at a critical time as Square One recently expanded its early-education program to include full-day remote learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms and family childcare offerings. The funds will be used to offset expenses associated with classroom supplies, meals, and professional development. Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom program is part of the agency’s Campaign for Healthy Kids, a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. Square One currently provides early-learning services to more than 500 infants, toddlers, and school-age children each day, and family support services to 1,500 families each year, as they work to overcome the significant challenges in their lives.

 

Company Notebook

Elms College Establishes St. John Paul II Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced the creation of the St. John Paul II Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture (CERC), thanks to the generous support of three foundational donors. A seven-figure naming gift from an anonymous donor and two six-figure contributions, from Carolyn Jacobs and B. John and Collette Dill and family, will help the college launch the center. The CERC will examine the most pressing and complex questions related to ethics, religion, and culture in today’s society and lead the regional community in thoughtful, engaging discourse. From an academic perspective, programming for the CERC will focus on the infusion of ethical leadership across the curriculum, the integration of ethics within the healthcare and business fields of study, and the provision of innovative experiential learning opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. “The creation of the CERC reflects the college’s goals of training the next generation of ethical leaders, sharing the richness of the Catholic intellectual tradition, encouraging interfaith dialogue, and promoting our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Peter DePergola II, associate professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities at Elms College and a member of the CERC advisory board. An official launch of the St. John Paul II Center for Ethics, Religion, and Culture will take place in late October and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held virtually.

 

MassMutual Center, UMass, AIC to Co-host 2024 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Regional

SPRINGFIELD — The National Collegiate Athletic Assoc. (NCAA) announced that the MassMutual Center, in conjunction with American International College and UMass Amherst, has been selected to host the 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Regional, marking the first time the event has been held at the MassMutual Center. The two-day regional will feature four teams competing in two first-round games, with the winners advancing to the regional final the following day. The winner of the regional final will advance to the 2024 Frozen Four, which will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. “We are incredibly proud to partner with American International College and the MassMutual Center for a 2024 regional,” said Ryan Bamford, director of Athletics at UMass Amherst. “We have been privileged to see first-hand the passion that fans in this region have for college hockey, and we are looking forward to playing a part in hosting a first-class event in Springfield during one of the most exciting weekends on the college hockey calendar.” Added Jessica Chapin, interim director of Athletics at AIC, “we are thrilled to be awarded the bid for the Division I Ice Hockey Regional with UMass and the MassMutual Center for 2024,” “This will be a wonderful opportunity to add to the storied history of hockey in the Springfield, Massachusetts area.”

 

Northern Tree Service Transitions to Employee Stock-ownership Plan

PALMER — Northern Tree Service Inc. announced it has transitioned the ownership of its business lines over to an employee stock-ownership plan, or ESOP. The Lazear Capital Partners team worked with the management of Northern Tree Service to design a custom solution that included employee benefits, financial flexibility, and maximum tax advantages. Founded in 1932 by Walter Cambo, the company was first established to service state and municipal tree work in Eastern Mass. Under the leadership of Paul Cambo, Northern Tree Service grew to provide land-clearing services for the ever-expanding energy grid in the Northeast. Furthering Northern’s expansion, now under the leadership of Paul’s son, Philip, Northern Tree Service has continued its growth to become one of the most diversified tree-care companies in the industry, servicing all New England and surrounding states. “The ESOP was the choice we made to maintain the business’s current direction while simultaneously rewarding the 250-plus employees that have been so critical to the business’ success,” President Timothy LaMotte said. “We have a very specialized and highly skilled group of professionals focused on safety and integrity, and we are excited to see that continue.” With the new ESOP in place, both Philip Cambo and LaMotte will continue their current roles for the foreseeable future and gradually hand over the business’ operational control to the next generation of leaders.

 

Berkshire Bank Enhances Leave for Employees Experiencing Gender-based Violence

BOSTON — Berkshire Bank announced enhanced protections that will provide its 1,500 employees with paid and protected leave to manage the consequences of intimate-partner violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Berkshire Bank has partnered with FreeFrom, a nonprofit creating pathways to financial security and long-term safety for survivors of gender-based violence, to increase its existing leave policies to benefit its employees. The enhanced policy gives employees 15 days of leave a year to seek medical care, attend court proceedings, and relocate — all without missing a paycheck or depleting their accrued sick or vacation days. Since 2014, Berkshire Bank has had a domestic-violence leave policy in compliance with relevant state laws. These new enhancements go beyond the mandated requirements of state laws to offer additional support for survivors and their families impacted by this type of abuse. Berkshire Bank employees will also now have access to FreeFrom’s Compensation Compass, a tool designed to assist survivors of domestic abuse in understanding whether they are eligible for compensation to cover some of the costs of the harm they experienced. In addition, the bank plans to collaborate with FreeFrom as part of its Survivor Safety Banking Initiative to explore how to design products and policies to better support customers that have experienced or are experiencing violence or abuse. This approach eliminates barriers to access for individuals of all backgrounds and experiences by providing innovative financial solutions, including an online account-opening experience that will help bring survivors into mainstream banking.

 

Bradley Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler Readers as Eighth-best U.S. Airport

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced that Condé Nast Traveler released the results of its annual Readers’ Choice Awards, with Bradley International Airport recognized as the eighth-best airport in the U.S. The awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. Bradley International Airport was recognized as a top-10 airport for the fourth consecutive year. “This award is a tremendous honor during a challenging year for the travel industry, and we are proud to once again be recognized among our nation’s best airports,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. “We thank the travel community for their continued vote of confidence in Bradley International Airport and for underscoring the value of traveling through a smaller airport. Now more than ever, Bradley Airport stands out by always offering a clean, safe, and convenient travel experience.”

 

Excel Dryer Supports Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom Initiative

SPRINGFIELD — For the fourth consecutive year, Excel Dryer has committed an annual gift of $5,000 to support Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom initiative. The gift comes at a critical time as Square One recently expanded its early-education program to include full-day remote learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to its traditional preschool classrooms and family childcare offerings. The funds will be used to offset expenses associated with classroom supplies, meals, and professional development. “I am a strong proponent of in-person learning, and I applaud the efforts of Square One to reopen its preschool programs back in June, with appropriate protocols in place,” said Denis Gagnon, president of Excel Dryer Inc. “However, not all children have been able to return to school in the fall, which has created additional expenses to provide these children with remote learning support.” Square One’s Adopt-a-Classroom program is part of the agency’s Campaign for Healthy Kids, a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on the agency’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. “The past few months have greatly reinforced the demand for our programs and services,” said Kristine Allard, vice president of Development & Communication at Square One. “With that growing demand and the unanticipated COVID-related expenses — including providing full-day support during remote learning — we have a tremendous need to expand our donor base.” Square One currently provides early-learning services to more than 500 infants, toddlers, and school-age children each day, and family support services to 1,500 families each year, as they work to overcome the significant challenges in their lives.

 

Company Notebook

bankESB Earns Recognition for Quality, Community Commitment

EASTHAMPTON — bankESB was recently honored for overall quality and commitment to the community. The bank earned the number-one spot for Overall Quality in Western Mass. in the 2020 New England Banking Choice Awards. The awards are presented annually by American Business Media, publisher of Banking New England, and are based on the results of the Rivel Banking Benchmarks, the largest and most comprehensive measure of banking customer experience in the world. The 2020 results are based on more than 11,000 interviews and 300,000 reviews of nearly 300 Massachusetts institutions. The bank also was named an honoree by the Boston Business Journal in its annual 2020 Corporate Citizenship Awards, a recognition of the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. The publication annually publishes this list to showcase companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities. Companies qualify for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities and social-service nonprofits last year.

 

Florence Bank Gives $10,000 to Amherst Survival Center

FLORENCE — Florence Bank recently donated $10,000 to the Amherst Survival Center, which connects residents of Hampshire and Franklin counties to food, clothing, healthcare, wellness, and community, primarily through volunteer efforts. Since mid-March, the Amherst Survival Center has focused its resources on food and nutrition programs, ensuring its ability to provide hot meals to go, daily access to fresh produce and bread, and full grocery shops from its food pantry in as safe a manner as possible. This summer, the center established a strategic plan to address the steady rise of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their plan entails doubling the food provided by the food pantry while also expanding grocery offerings to roughly two weeks each month. Additionally, the center will expand its staff in order to implement evening and weekend hours and integrate deliveries into the schedule with a goal of delivering food to 1,000 to 1,500 area residents per month. These efforts have been fueled by generous donations like the one from Florence Bank.

 

ValleyBike Share Offers Discount to Area Students

PIONEER VALLEY — ValleyBike Share has begun offering a special discount to all area students with an .edu e-mail address. The pass costs $60 for an annual membership that includes unlimited 45-minute rides. ValleyBike Share is the all-electric-assist bike-share program of the Pioneer Valley, which includes Amherst, Easthampton, Holyoke, Northampton, South Hadley, Springfield, and the UMass Amherst campus. Students can use ValleyBike Share to explore the Pioneer Valley without a car. The electric-assist bikes can go from one town to another with ease within the system, which makes them perfect to use if a student has classes at any of the other colleges in the service area. To join, visit www.valleybike.org. ValleyBike is open from approximately April 1 to Nov. 30, weather permitting.

 

UMass Donahue Institute Wins $14 Million Contract

HADLEY — The UMass Donahue Institute has been awarded a five-year, $14 million contract to provide training and technical assistance to Head Start and Early Head Start programs for all six New England states. The grants allows the institute to continue to work with local Head Start programs on their educational, health, and family services as well as management systems to strengthen their ability to serve children and their families. Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide comprehensive services that support the development of children from birth to age 5, and their families, in centers, childcare partner locations, and their own homes. Early Head Start also provides services to pregnant women. Head Start and Early Head Start services include early learning, health, and family well-being. The contract was awarded by the Office of Head Start in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nationally, Head Start/Early Head Start is divided into 12 regions. UMass Donahue Institute will be the sole provider of training and technical assistance to Region 1, which includes Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The institute was first awarded the New England training and technical assistance grant in 2003.

 

Country Bank Recognized for Charitable Giving

WARE — The Boston Business Journal has once again named Country Bank an honoree in its annual 2020 Corporate Citizenship Awards, recognizing the region’s top corporate charitable contributors. The publication annually publishes this list to highlight companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities. During this year’s virtual celebration held on Sept. 10, 107 companies — a record number — qualified for the distinction by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities and social-service nonprofits last year. This year’s honorees include companies from healthcare, technology, financial and professional services, retail, professional sports, and more. Country Bank, which ranked 60th, employs 209 staff members within Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester counties. In 2019, staff members actively promoted the bank’s mission of giving back to the communities they serve by volunteering more than 1,100 hours of community service.

 

AIC Receives High Marks for Teaching and Education Degrees

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) is ranked 17th among the top 50 colleges and universities for teaching and education degrees, as ranked by learn.org for academic year 2020-21. Established in 2003, learn.org provides free resources for students and working professionals to research potential schools and degrees by providing information on career opportunities and institutions of higher education that help individuals reach their goals, including school connections, scholarships, and online college planning for quality and affordable education. Citing AIC, learn.org highlights the college’s master’s programs, including its master of education in early childhood education and a master of education in middle or secondary education. The organization additionally notes that AIC offers a doctoral program with multiple tracks, the doctor of education in teaching and learning, and called attention to students’ ability to take part in a practicum or field-based research to ensure preparedness for future careers. The organization also credits the School of Education with employing “top-notch staff and faculty members, many of whom hold terminal degrees in their field.”

 

Square One Responds to Need for Remote-learning Support

SPRINGFIELD — As working parents continue to navigate the unchartered territory surrounding remote education, Square One is answering the call for help. The agency is now providing full-day remote-learning support for children in kindergarten through grade 5, in addition to expanded offerings for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Enrollment is available at three Square One early-learning centers in Springfield, as well as the agency’s network of home-based child-care providers who operate throughout the region. Through the generosity of funders, including the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and Square One’s corporate and individual donors, all locations are outfitted with the technology and staffing needed to accommodate each student’s remote-learning needs. All guidelines surrounding social distancing, cleanliness, and personal protective equipment will be strictly enforced. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided. For more information, parents are urged to contact the Square One enrollment office at (413) 732-5183. With the growing demand for programs and services at Square One comes a greater need for additional financial support. Donors are asked to support the Campaign for Healthy Kids by texting ABC123 to 4432, visiting www.startatsquareone.org, or e-mailing Kristine Allard, vice president of Development & Communication, at [email protected].

 

Berkshire Bank Foundation Contributes More Than $1 Million in COVID-19 Relief

PITTSFIELD — The Berkshire Bank Foundation announced that, due to the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has contributed more than $1 million to collaborative efforts supporting nonprofit organizations responding to community-based needs. Guided by the foundation’s mission of investing in those living and working in its local communities, the total relief provided represents an additional $1 million over the foundation’s $3 million total annual grant budget. The organizations supported in the Pioneer Valley through Berkshire Bank Foundation’s contributions include the Mental Health Assoc. Inc., YMCA of Greater Springfield, the SCORE Foundation – Western Massachusetts SCORE, and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, among others. The foundation’s grants this year have supported community-based organizations to help local families in the areas of affordable and safe housing, food security, health supplies, students in distress, and assistance to small businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The foundation has also allowed nonprofits to utilize funds given for specific programs to help cover general operating costs and extended requirements and/or reporting deadlines where needed.

 

Beveridge Family Foundation Partners with Innovation Accelerator

WEST NEWBURY — The Beveridge Family Foundation provides support to nonprofits within Hampden and Hampshire counties. While continuing that critical work, it has started investing directly into social-impact projects and ventures. By leveraging its endowment, the Beveridge Foundation is significantly increasing the amount of funding it can deploy. Local organizations with proposals for economically sustainable programs can now apply for investments of up to $250,000. These proposals must be at the pilot stage or later and already have significant evidence of demand and viability. Innovation Accelerator trains nonprofits to develop high-impact social ventures. Alumni have gone from sticky notes on a whiteboard to live programs that have raised more than $1 million in seed funding. Each team that participates in the flagship accelerator program generates mission-aligned ideas, gathers concrete evidence, and receives direct feedback from the Beveridge Foundation and other funders.

 

Education Equity Focus of Grant to Holyoke Community College

HOLYOKE — When Holyoke Community College (HCC) unveiled its four-year strategic plan in 2018, one of its top priorities was increasing success rates of students of color. That aligned with goals established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE), which in the same year made equity the top policy and performance objective for the entire state public higher-education system. To support those ongoing efforts, the Lumina Foundation recently awarded the Massachusetts DHE grants worth $1.2 million, with half the money earmarked for six state colleges and universities, including HCC. HCC’s $100,000 award will be used to further the work of its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion task force and expand mentorship programs that focus on students of color. Through its Talent, Innovation, Equity, and Equity Institution grants, the Lumina Foundation seeks to dismantle systemic barriers to student success and degree attainment, particularly for black and Latinx students. Massachusetts was only the fifth state to receive grants from the Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation based in Indianapolis. Latinx students participating in HCC’s ALANA Men in Motion program show a fall-to-fall retention rate of 75%, compared to 45% for Latinx students not participating in ALANA, an academic support, mentoring, and counseling program for African-American, Latino, Asian, and Native American men. HCC’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion group focuses on making sure students of color succeed at the same rate as their white peers, using benchmarks such as retention and college completion rates.

 

United Way Distributes PPE to Area Nonprofits, Municipalities

SPRINGFIELD — As part of its COVID-19 response efforts, United Way of Pioneer Valley has distributed a round of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19-related items to multiple area nonprofits and municipalities. Recipients of PPE to date include the Agawam Department of Public Health, Boys and Girls Club of Chicopee, Chicopee Food Force, Granville Fire Department, Granville Police Department, Granville Public Library, Link to Libraries, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, Ludlow Senior Center, Ministry en Motion, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, One Holyoke CDC, Quarry Hill Community School in Monson, Southwick Senior Center, Tolland Fire Department, and Westfield Senior Center. Distributions include various sizes of hand-sanitizer bottles, hand-sanitizing stations, disposable masks, gloves, face masks, face shields, cleaning wipes, and countertop sneeze guards. Donations also included hula hoops and pool noodles to help young children learn about social distancing.

 

Company Notebook

Big Y Expands Legacy of Helping Farmers and Small Businesses

SPRINGFIELD — In 1936, Paul and Gerry D’Amour were passionate about providing fresh local food to their customers at the Y Cash Market in Chicopee. Today, close to 85 years after its founding, Big Y World Class Markets have more than 500 partnerships with local farmers like Meadowbrook Farms and local food producers like Millie’s Pierogi. The passion of its founders continues with Big Y announcing the Fresh & Local Distribution Center, which provides local farmers and food producers with an efficient, one-stop location that saves them the time and cost of delivering to individual stores. It also features state-of-the-art technology and temperature controls to help Big Y maintain and deliver food at the peak of freshness to customers. Currently, through Big Y’s Fresh & Local Distribution Center, 70 farmers — accounting for more than 9,000 acres of farmland in the region — supply Big Y’s stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut with 1,200 types of native fruits and vegetables each year. For many farmers, this partnership helps them grow their business and preserve farmland and open space in area communities. More that 3,000 different products from local food producers can be found at a typical Big Y supermarket. Big Y actively searches for new craft-food artisans to bring into their stores and can provide them with support for marketing and packaging, help with barcodes, or even advice on business matters like insurance. The new Fresh & Local Distribution center has close to 425,000 square feet of space and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is located adjacent to Big Y headquarters at 2145 Roosevelt Ave. in Springfield.

Elms College Climbs U.S. News List of ‘Top Performers on Social Mobility’

CHICOPEE — Elms College improved its ranking by 30 spots on U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 list of “Top Performers on Social Mobility” in the northern U.S. region. The list ranks schools for enrolling and graduating large proportions of students who have received federal Pell Grants. Elms College improved its ranking dramatically, moving to seventh among 89 regional universities in the region, up from 37th in 2020. On U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 list of “Best Regional Universities,” Elms College retains its ranking in the top 55% among 176 other colleges and universities in the northern U.S. region. U.S. News ranks Elms College as a university because of changes to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s basic classification system and the number of graduate programs Elms offers. The Carnegie categories are the accepted standard in U.S. higher education. The U.S. News “Best Colleges” rankings are designed to help students and their families find colleges that offer the best academic value for their money. The list provides at-a-glance breakdowns of each institution and ranks them based on such indicators of excellence including value and first-year student retention rate. The full rankings are viewable at www.usnews.com/colleges.

MCLA Ranked a Top Ten Collegeby U.S. News & World Report

NORTH ADAMS — For the third consecutive year, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is ranked as a Top Ten College by U.S. News & World Report. MCLA ranks ninth on the organization’s list of top public colleges and also appears on U.S. News’ list of Top National Liberal Arts Colleges. The college also is ranked among the top 50 public and private schools on U.S. News’ Top Performers on Social Mobility list, which measures how well schools graduate students who receive federal Pell Grants, typically awarded to students whose families make less than $50,000. Only eight other public colleges are ranked higher than MCLA on this list. The college has appeared on U.S. News’ list of top public colleges for eight of the last 10 years. This year, during the pandemic, MCLA was also able to distribute more than $257,000 to students who found themselves dire economic circumstances due to COVID-19 through the MCLA Resiliency Fund. MCLA was also awarded a federal TRIO grant, which will provide $1.3 million to enhance our support for under-resourced students for the next five years. U.S. News and World Report ranks colleges based on indicators that reflect a school’s student body, faculty, and financial resources, along with outcome measures that signal how well the institution achieves its mission of educating students.

WSU Among Top Public Universities in U.S. News & World Report Rankings

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University (WSU) is again one of Massachusetts’ top public universities among its peers, according to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2021 list. The rankings underscore the university’s commitment to accessibility, affordability, and intentional outcomes. In this year’s release, Westfield State is ranked 90th among 170 institutions in “Regional Universities – North.” It is ranked ahead of its peer Massachusetts state universities in both that category and U.S. News’ Best Public Schools, where it placed 26th. Rankings were determined by a number of factors, including a peer assessment, retention and graduation rates, faculty resources, class sizes, student/faculty ratio, student selectivity, and alumni-giving rate.

HCC Awarded Grants to Support Childcare Professionals

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been awarded two grants worth more than $1 million to continue educating and training early-childhood educators and supporting the programs they work for in Western Mass. Both the Career Pathways Grant, for $680,000, and the Strong Start Training and Technical Assistance Grant, for $360,000, come from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), which licenses public and private childcare programs in the state. HCC is the lead agent on a six-month Career Pathways Grant that will allow the college to continue its free Childhood Development Associate Plus (CDA-Plus) certificate program. The program was created to help early-childhood educators already working in the field attain their national CDA credential or enhance their certification level, and is offered at no cost to participants. Greenfield Community College and Berkshire Community College are HCC’s partners in the Western Mass. consortium. The three colleges each have their own CDA-Plus programs and collaborate on implementation and support. HCC launched its CDA-Plus program in 2019 after an initial, year-long grant of $2 million to the consortium from the EEC. Students who complete the program are awarded a CDA-Plus certificate and can apply the credits they earn toward an associate degree in early childhood education from HCC. The grant covers all tuition, fees, books, and a $425 CDA credentialing fee, and includes a stipend of about $500 for unexpected costs. HCC graduated its first class of CDA-Plus students in June. A second group started in January 2020 and will complete their program in November. The new funding will pay for a third class set to begin their studies this month. The $360,000 Strong Start Training and Technical Assistance Grant follows an initial award in 2019, establishing HCC as the EEC’s professional-development center for Western Mass.

Local Bus Company First to Use New Disinfectant System

GILL — F.M. Kuzmeskus Inc., a family-owned school transportation provider since 1925, is the first and only transportation company in the country to use a new system designed specifically for disinfecting buses. At the height of the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020, the bus company approached Bete Fog Nozzle Inc. in Greenfield about developing a system which would quickly, consistently, and accurately apply an EPA- and CDC-approved disinfecting agent to the interior environment of each of its more than 100 school buses. Working closely with Ted Toothaker, systems engineer at Bete Fog Nozzle, testing and development began in early May. The system, dubbed Bete FastPASS (public area spray system), ends the need for manual spraying and was specifically designed to eliminate human error. Using high-pressure nozzles and air compressors, two buses are treated in just three minutes. Each bus is treated twice a day.

Collaboration Between UMass, IntelliVen Supports Lifelong Learning

AMHERST — UMass Amherst announced a new collaboration with IntelliVen, a leading executive-team-development organization, to provide interactive remote-learning programs designed to raise the performance and effectiveness of leadership teams. IntelliVen offers immersive programs designed to help an organization’s core leadership team tackle the unique challenges of managing a growing organization, especially in today’s turbulent markets. IntelliVen’s proprietary set of course modules enables an interactive, remote learning experience that leaders take along with their teams to unlock their true potential to perform and grow. “IntelliVen teaches leaders, teams, and organizations to set direction, achieve team alignment, implement strategy, and make the change they want to grow faster and perform better,” said Peter DiGiammarino, managing partner. Members of the university community will receive a discount on the standard price of IntelliVen’s leadership-development immersion programs.

JetBlue Adds Four New Non-stop Routes at Bradley

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced non-stop service to four new destinations from Bradley International Airport on JetBlue, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Cancún, Mexico. The new service to Cancún is slated to commence on Nov. 19, while service to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are all slated to begin on Dec. 18. This new service will compliment JetBlue’s existing non-stop routes from Bradley to numerous Florida destinations as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico. “JetBlue is an important partner for us, and we are very pleased to see that the airline recognizes the potential of the Bradley Airport market,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the CAA.

Company Notebook

Officials Celebrate Start of Court Square Project

SPRINGFIELD — A host of city, state, and national leaders were on hand at the former Court Square Hotel property on Aug. 27 to mark the official start of a long-awaited $51 million project to convert the long-dormant landmark into apartments and retail space. Gov. Charlie Baker, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno were among the many dignitaries to address those gathered to commemorate the launch of the initiative, which will bring 59 market-rate apartments, 15 workforce apartments, and more than 20,000 square feet of retail to the center of Springfield. The project is the result of a partnership involving a number of players, including developers Winn Companies of Boston and Opal Real Estate of Springfield, as well as MassMutual, MGM, and MassHousing’s Workforce Housing Initiative. More than $11 million in state and federal historic tax credits have also been secured for the project. Initial work on the property involves $4 million worth of demolition and hazardous materials cleanup, expected to completed by November. Actual construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

AmherstWorks Reopens; New Applications Being Accepted

AMHERST — AmherstWorks, a co-working space dedicated to serving the Pioneer Valley community, has reopened and is accepting new applications for membership passes and private offices. AmherstWorks has implemented new policies and procedures, in addition to restructuring the space to adhere to the state’s health and safety regulations in light of the coronavirus pandemic. All members will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing of six feet at all times. Previously shared desks will be assigned exclusively to individuals each day, with hand sanitizer readily available. AmherstWorks membership assistants will sanitize all surfaces a minimum of three times a day. The newly renovated downtown workspace includes large windows for natural light, high-speed internet, and premium amenities for members.

MCLA, BCC Sign Education Articulation Agreement

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and Berkshire Community College (BCC) have signed a new articulation agreement, creating a pathway for students who complete BCC’s associate degree in early childhood education to enroll in MCLA’s liberal-arts degree-completion program in children, families, and society. Students who complete this associate-degree program at MCLA will also be able to enter MCLA with a core-requirement waiver. Students must graduate with at least a 2.5 grade point average to qualify. This agreement means students who qualify will be able to earn their associate and bachelor’s degrees as well as early education and care certifications. These credentials support requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC). This pathway can also result in a lead teacher certification from the DEEC.

Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley Moves to Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Volvo Cars Pioneer Valley, part of the TommyCar Auto Group, moved from South Deerfield to its new location at 48 Damon Road in Northampton on Sept. 1. “This is an exciting change for us as Northampton is such a wonderful community and has been incredibly welcoming,” said TommyCar co-owner Carla Cosenzi. “The dealership will be more conveniently located for our customers, right off the highway. They will still get the same outstanding service they have come to expect from us, along with a greater inventory and a more spacious showroom and service department.” TommyCar Auto Group already has three dealerships in Northampton — Country Hyundai, Genesis of Northampton, and Northampton Volkswagen — as well as Country Nissan in Hadley.

Westfield State University Installs Cell Tower Atop Scanlon Hall

WESTFIELD — Cellular service on the Westfield State University campus is expected to significantly improve now that a new cell tower has been installed atop Scanlon Hall. Westfield State partnered with the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance and the Massachusetts State College Building Authority on the project. The installation was completed in August by Berkshire Wireless, a subcontractor for Verizon Wireless. In addition to improved and more reliable cell service, the university will also generate revenue by leasing the space to the cellular provider. A 10-year contract will generate $240,000 over the term, and the $24,000 per year will go toward the university’s Residential Life area to support services and programming for resident students.

Bulkley Richardson Joins Law Firm Anti-racism Alliance

SPRINGFIELD — Bulkley Richardson announced it has joined the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance (LFAA), a national collaboration of more than 260 law firms united in identifying and dismantling structural or systemic racism in the law. The alliance’s charter states its purpose is to “leverage the resources of the private bar in partnership with legal-services organizations to amplify the voices of communities and individuals oppressed by racism, to better use the law as a vehicle for change that benefits communities of color, and to promote racial equity in the law.” “We are joining some of the country’s most prominent law firms to shine a spotlight on systemic racism,” said Jeff Poindexter, co-chair of Bulkley Richardson’s litigation department. “Recognizing that racism is a public crisis, the firm has made a pledge to reject racism, hate, bigotry, and all forms of discrimination. By joining the LFAA, we can be a part of the solution and support an initiative to advance racial equity.”

HCC Receives $40,000 Grant for COVID-19 Relief

HOLYOKE — The Holyoke Community College (HCC) Foundation has received a second grant in as many months to help students facing financial emergencies because of COVID-19. In its latest round of grants, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts awarded $40,000 to HCC from its COVID-19 Relief Fund. In July, the Community Foundation awarded the HCC Foundation $35,000. All $75,000 went into the President’s Student Emergency Fund, which is managed by the HCC Foundation. Thanks to the Community Foundation’s first grant to HCC, 67 students received emergency funding with an average disbursement of $522. Already, in the past two weeks, 15 additional students have received emergency aid. Typically, students request help paying for basic needs, such as food, rent, utilities, childcare, and transportation.

JFS Selected for Year Two of Jewish Poverty Challenge

SPRINGFIELD — Following a North American call for submissions and an exhaustive selection process, Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts has been chosen by the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies (NJHSA) for participation in year two of its NJHSA Jewish Poverty Challenge, an offering of the network’s Center for Innovation and Research. The goal of the program is to help NJHSA member agencies better analyze the marketplace, launch and manage solutions, and implement sustainable measures for success to address the many dynamics associated with responding to Jewish poverty. NJHSA has partnered with Start Co., a venture-development consultancy firm based in Memphis, Tenn. with an expertise in launching startups and engaging municipalities, corporations, and nonprofits in poverty-reduction responses. The team at Start Co. will provide expert consultation assistance as JFS rethinks and redesigns products and services, adjusting assumptions and organization models. Throughout the process, special attention will be paid to the impact of COVID-19 on service-delivery methods.

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Awards Six Scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — Six area students were each recently awarded a $1,000 Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship to advance their education by the law firm that bears his name, Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley. The Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship is an award that goes to a member of a local union affiliated with the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation or their spouses or dependents. Applicants were asked to submit their high-school or college transcripts, written recommendations, a recital of their community-service activities, and an essay detailing the importance of the labor movement to their family. Winners of this year’s awards are Corey Bryant of Springfield, Alexandria Barnard-Davignon of Longmeadow, Anna MacDonnell of Longmeadow, Lindsay Marjanski of South Hadley, Sarah Meunier of South Deerfield, and Taryn Morse of Hatfield.

Hazen Paper Pioneers New Type of Custom Holography

HOLYOKE — Hazen Paper Co. has created an innovative, two-sided promotion to demonstrate cutting-edge holographic technologies. Hazen’s team designed the artwork on both sides to showcase specific visual effects with nano-holography that delivers an even more dramatic three-dimensional effect than lenticular printing. The front features a fire-breathing dragon with minutely detailed glittering scales. The effect of a blast of moving flames was achieved with registered, custom color-motion and multi-channel holography. On the back, a shimless random repeat custom hologram, ‘random burst,’ creates a moving, three-dimensional flash backdrop for a flock of butterflies. Originated entirely within Hazen’s state-of-the-art holographic lab and manufactured in its Holyoke facility, the project was realized on Hazen Envirofoil, an environmentally friendly product. Sub-micron transfer-metallized Envirofoil uses less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate and a recycled film carrier, and is repulpable as paper after de-inking. It was offset-printed using UV-cure inks by AM Lithography of Chicopee. Vertically integrated, Hazen can take production from design to holographic paper in less than two weeks.

WNEU, Big Y Pharmacy Residency Program Accreditated

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) College of Pharmacy Health Sciences and Big Y Foods, Inc. Community-Based Residency Program has received accreditation from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the American Pharmacists Assoc. (APhA). The accreditation establishes criteria for training pharmacists for the purpose of achieving professional competence in the delivery of patient-centered care and in pharmacy services. The purpose of the post-graduate year one (PGY1) Community-Based Pharmacy Residency Program is to build upon the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) education and outcomes to develop community-based pharmacist practitioners with diverse patient care, leadership, and education skills who are eligible to pursue advanced training opportunities, including post-graduate year two (PGY2) specialized residencies and professional certifications. ASHP’s Commission on Credentialing extended the accreditation of the residency program through 2024. The accreditation means the program meets or exceeds the national standards set for a residency training program. The WNEU College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Big Y Foods Community-Based Residency Program is the only such university-based initiative in Western Mass. This year, the residency program graduated its fifth resident. Three of the graduates are Big Y pharmacists who have created new pharmacy services, and two graduates went on to pursue PGY2 ambulatory-care residencies. WNEU College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences also offers a PGY1 Community-Based Pharmacy Residency Program with Walgreens. This program began in 2014 and is also accredited by ASHP and APhA.

Multiple Sclerosis Center Opens at Mercy Medical Center

SPRINGFIELD — Trinity Health Of New England announced the opening of the Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research at Mercy Medical Center. Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in the Greater Springfield area are now able to access their healthcare needs in one central location with a team of specialists dedicated to every aspect of their care. The Mandell Center, located at 175 Carew St. in Springfield, offers a combination of cutting-edge treatments, groundbreaking research, and innovative rehabilitation programs, and provides an all-inclusive treatment plan for each patient’s individual needs. In addition to state-of-the-art equipment, the model will include a nationally recognized team of MS specialists including neurologists, neuropsychologists, urologists, physiatrists, social workers, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, speech pathologists, physician’s assistants, and nurses. The Mandell MS Center at Mercy is partnered with the world-renowned Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell MS Centers at Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital in Hartford, Conn. and Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn.

HMC Recognized for Promoting Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) has earned national recognition as a Let Life Bloom Platinum Award recipient for its efforts to increase organ, eye, and tissue donor registrations through the Workplace Partnership for Life (WPFL) Hospital Organ Donation Campaign. The WPFL is a national initiative that unites the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the organ-donation community with workplaces across the nation in spreading the word about the importance of donation. The WPFL Hospital Organ Donation Campaign challenges hospitals and healthcare organizations to “let life bloom” by educating staff, patients, visitors, and communities about the critical need for organ, eye, and tissue donation, including offering opportunities to register as organ donors. HMC earned points for conducting awareness and registry activities between October 2019 and April 2020 and prompting new donor registrations during that time period. Visit registerme.org to sign up as a donor.

Company Notebook

PeoplesBank Grant Helps Fund WNEU Student Startup

SPRINGFIELD — PeoplesBank and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Western New England University (WNEU) College of Business are working together to help students expand their entrepreneurship education beyond the classroom. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at WNEU works to develop students’ entrepreneurial mindset. Through co-curricular efforts, such as Startup Weekend and the cross-disciplinary business/engineering “Product Development and Innovation” course, students are able to create ideas, products, and services that have market potential. PeoplesBank is taking this one step further by providing grant funding to advance qualifying startups that show promise and demonstrate success. Joseph Ferrera, a 2020 graduate of the Entrepreneurship program at Western New England University, is the first recipient of a PeoplesBank grant. He founded Double O Joe, a Ludlow-based videography startup, in his sophomore year and continued to advance the business model through his entrepreneurship courses at WNEU. He is currently serving several small businesses in the Greater Springfield area. The grant funded a more advanced drone and camera in order to continue to grow his customer base and video offerings.

STCC Launches Certificate in Social-media Strategy, Design

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will offer a new social-media strategy and design certificate this fall in the Department of Technical Arts and Design. The coursework is designed to prepare students for the planning and implementation of a promotional strategy using a variety of social-media platforms, including social networking, microblogging, photo sharing, and video sharing. In addition, students will take courses in graphic design, motion graphics, marketing, and advertising to blend social-media strategy and design, a combination that is very much in demand, said Professor Philip Ruderman, a faculty member in the Graphic Communications & Photography program at STCC. Ruderman called the program a vehicle to help students promote their talents, showcase their work, and develop relationships that will grow their employer’s business, or their own. The new social-media tools course offered this fall will focus on the basic elements needed to create and maintain a successful social-media campaign, including social-media marketing basics, social-media mix, social marketing process, analysis, strategy development, program and communication design, and implementation. This online course will put students on the path for self-promotion and promotion of businesses. The training enables them to build awareness within the marketplace and to target and engage online viewers and build a community of followers. An online search for social-media jobs in the region will yield a number of results, including digital content creators, digital content producers, social-media designers, and social-media specialists. In addition, a number of marketing positions requiring social-media skills can also be found. Nine courses, or 27 credits, are required to complete the program, which could be completed in as few as two semesters. To learn more about the program, visit stcc.edu/explore/programs/smsd.coc. For questions, call Admissions at (413) 755-3333.

BHN’s Kamp for Kids Receives $10,000 Grant from Westfield Bank

WESTFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) announced it received a grant of $10,000 from Westfield Bank to benefit Kamp for Kids, the organization’s summer day camp for children and young adults with and without disabilities. Westfield Bank has been a longtime supporter of BHN’s Kamp for Kids. Grants made to Kamp for Kids provide camperships to youth with or without disabilities to ensure that all children, regardless of family income, are able to attend camp. Due to COVID-19, this summer Kamp for Kids is being held virtually in order to provide a safe camp experience for the campers and their families. The virtual camp is open to all who wish to participate and offered free of charge, and consists of recreational activities, nature time, and arts and crafts. To register and participate in virtual camp, visit www.bhninc.org/kamp-kids. The camp has created three themes for this year’s activities: “In My Backyard,” “Only in New England,” and “All Around the World.” Kamp for Kids has also continued its partnership with the Westfield Cultural Council and Berkshire Hills Music Academy, a music-based program for people with disabilities in Franklin County, to offer musical programming for participants.

LPV Announces New Path Forward

SPRINGFIELD — Last month, Leadership Pioneer Valley’s (LPV) board of directors approved a plan for the next six months. The plan creates new leadership-development options aimed at addressing the needs of the wider community. Because leadership in a pandemic necessitates both a statewide and national perspective, LPV will continue to collaborate with programs across the Commonwealth and participate in the National Leadership Alumni Network — a first of its kind. It will also continue offering sessions exploring creating more equitable workplaces and communities. These programs and others in the works are designed to address the needs of LPV alumni and the wider community. LPV’s signature LEAP program, a nine-month regional leadership-development program for emerging leaders, will be pushed back to January 2021, and will be a hybrid of virtual and in-person programming that prioritizes safety while building engaging connections. This fall, LPV will offer a number of new opportunities including small Leadership Luncheons, a Leader Roundtable series, and a new Adaptive Leadership series. All sessions will begin virtually and transition to in-person when feasible.

HCC Unveils New Academic Programs for Fall Semester

HOLYOKE — Cannabis cultivation, beer and cider brewing, and winemaking are just a few of the new academic programs being offered this fall at Holyoke Community College (HCC). All three were developed as one-year, 24-credit certificate programs through the college’s Sustainability Studies department. One new course, “Cannabis Today,” provides knowledge of the growing part of the industry. Other requirements for the certificate include classes in agriculture, marketing, and entrepreneurship. The college also developed the brewing and winemaking certificates with an eye on expanding industries. Another new course, “Fermentation Science,” explains the scientific processes of fermentation as it applies to both brewing and winemaking. This fall, HCC is also unveiling new certificate and associate-degree programs in a range of other academic areas, including behaviorial neuroscience (degree), critical social thought (degree), geoscience (degree), child development (certificate), mental health (certiificate,) and veterinary assistant (certificate). The fall semester at Holyoke Community College begins Tuesday, Sept. 8. To enroll for fall, visit hcc.edu/admission, call (413) 552-2321, or e-mail [email protected].

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley Awards Six Scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — Six area students were each recently awarded a $1,000 Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship to advance their education by the law firm that bears his name, Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley. The Gerard L. Pellegrini Scholarship is an award that goes to a member of a local union affiliated with the Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation or their spouses or dependents. Applicants were asked to submit their high-school or college transcripts, written recommendations, a recital of their community-service activities, and an essay detailing the importance of the labor movement to their family. Winners of this year’s awards are Corey Bryant of Springfield, Alexandria Barnard-Davignon of Longmeadow, Anna MacDonnell of Longmeadow, Lindsay Marjanski of South Hadley, Sarah Meunier of South Deerfield, and Taryn Morse of Hatfield.

Hazen Paper Pioneers New Type of Custom Holography

HOLYOKE — Hazen Paper Co. has created an innovative, two-sided promotion to demonstrate cutting-edge holographic technologies. Hazen’s team designed the artwork on both sides to showcase specific visual effects with nano-holography that delivers an even more dramatic three-dimensional effect than lenticular printing. The front features a fire-breathing dragon with minutely detailed glittering scales. The effect of a blast of moving flames was achieved with registered, custom color-motion and multi-channel holography. On the back, a shimless random repeat custom hologram, ‘random burst,’ creates a moving, three-dimensional flash backdrop for a flock of butterflies. Originated entirely within Hazen’s state-of-the-art holographic lab and manufactured in its Holyoke facility, the project was realized on Hazen Envirofoil, an environmentally friendly product. Sub-micron transfer-metallized Envirofoil uses less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate and a recycled film carrier, and is repulpable as paper after de-inking. It was offset-printed using UV-cure inks by AM Lithography of Chicopee. Vertically integrated, Hazen can take production from design to holographic paper in less than two weeks.

WSU Teacher-education Program Accredited with Commendation

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University’s (WSU) teacher-education program has received full, seven-year accreditation with commendation from the Assoc. for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation (AAQEP) for its wide-ranging, growing work in anti-racism education. WSU is the first institution of higher education in the AAQEP membership to receive commendation from the organization. The WSU Education Department’s teacher-education program is designed to prepare educators to teach effectively within a democratic society. Its mission is informed by several pillars, including critical engagement with diversity, social justice, community building, scholarship, and reflective practice. Program coursework and field experiences provide students with the understanding, knowledge, and skills that will enable them, as teachers, to engage with diversity and issues of equity, build inclusive learning communities, embrace the scholarship of teaching and learning, and adopt a reflective practitioner mindset. These principles — which undergird the Teacher Education program — set expectations that are essential for those who will teach in K-12 schools, and collectively are needed to provide the foundational knowledge for WSU students to become effective, caring, and equitable teachers. The Accreditation Commission also commended the university’s education programs for their concerted and deepening work in anti-racist education, as these efforts permeate the preparation of educators, are embedded in and impact the wider campus culture, and reach into the community through campus- and program-based partnerships. All education students participate in annual Anti-Racist Education Town Hall events featuring relevant themes like the School-to-Prison Pipeline, share common readings across courses, and participate in guest lectures on campus.

WNEU, Big Y Pharmacy Residency Program Accreditated

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) College of Pharmacy Health Sciences and Big Y Foods, Inc. Community-Based Residency Program has received accreditation from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and the American Pharmacists Assoc. (APhA). The accreditation establishes criteria for training pharmacists for the purpose of achieving professional competence in the delivery of patient-centered care and in pharmacy services. The purpose of the post-graduate year one (PGY1) Community-Based Pharmacy Residency Program is to build upon the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) education and outcomes to develop community-based pharmacist practitioners with diverse patient care, leadership, and education skills who are eligible to pursue advanced training opportunities, including post-graduate year two (PGY2) specialized residencies and professional certifications. ASHP’s Commission on Credentialing extended the accreditation of the residency program through 2024. The accreditation means the program meets or exceeds the national standards set for a residency training program. The WNEU College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Big Y Foods Community-Based Residency Program is the only such university-based initiative in Western Mass. This year, the residency program graduated its fifth resident. Three of the graduates are Big Y pharmacists who have created new pharmacy services, and two graduates went on to pursue PGY2 ambulatory-care residencies. WNEU College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences also offers a PGY1 Community-Based Pharmacy Residency Program with Walgreens. This program began in 2014 and is also accredited by ASHP and APhA.

Multiple Sclerosis Center Opens at Mercy Medical Center

SPRINGFIELD — Trinity Health Of New England announced the opening of the Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research at Mercy Medical Center. Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients in the Greater Springfield area are now able to access their healthcare needs in one central location with a team of specialists dedicated to every aspect of their care. The Mandell Center, located at 175 Carew St. in Springfield, offers a combination of cutting-edge treatments, groundbreaking research, and innovative rehabilitation programs, and provides an all-inclusive treatment plan for each patient’s individual needs. In addition to state-of-the-art equipment, the model will include a nationally recognized team of MS specialists including neurologists, neuropsychologists, urologists, physiatrists, social workers, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, speech pathologists, physician’s assistants, and nurses. The Mandell MS Center at Mercy is partnered with the world-renowned Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell MS Centers at Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital in Hartford, Conn. and Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that causes a disruption in the myelin that insulates and protects nerve cells. MS is a long-lasting disease that can affect a person’s brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves, causing problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions. Thus, having a variety of specialists in one location is invaluable for MS patients.

Company Notebook

First American Insurance Acquires Morin & Foy

CHICOPEE — First American Insurance Agency, an independent insurance firm, announced it has acquired Morin & Foy, a property and casualty firm situated in Brimfield. Located on Route 20, Morin & Foy serves its surrounding communities by providing clients with personal and commercial insurance. The joining of the two companies allows for the growth of First American Insurance Agency’s portfolio and building the business client groups. First American Insurance Agency is acquiring only the Brimfield location. “When I first met Sharon and the team in Brimfield, it was clear from our very first conversation that First American Insurance Agency could build on what we both have in common: the client-first mentality,” said Corey Murphy, First American president. Added Sharon Morin, manager at Morin & Foy, “we are a dedicated team committed to serving our community and treating people with respect and kindness. I know that First American Insurance will continue to build and grow that culture.”

St. Germain Named to List of Top Registered Investment Advisers

SPRINGFIELD — For the fifth consecutive year, St. Germain Investment Management has been named to the Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers (RIA). The 2020 list recognizes top independent RIA firms from across the U.S. This is the seventh annual FT 300 list, produced independently by the Financial Times in collaboration with Ignites Research, a subsidiary of the FT that provides business intelligence on the asset-management industry. RIA firms applied for consideration having met a minimum set of criteria. Applicants were then graded on six factors: assets under management (AUM), AUM growth rate, years in existence, advanced industry credentials of the firm’s advisers, online accessibility, and compliance records. There are no fees or other considerations required of RIAs that apply for the FT 300. The FT 300 is one in series of rankings of top advisers by the Financial Times, including the FT 400 (DC retirement-plan advisers) and the FT 400 (broker-dealers).

Gift From Bulkley Richardson Gives Parents Peace of Mind

SPRINGFIELD — During COVID-19, the world has turned upside down. For parents with babies at the Davis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Baystate Children’s Hospital, the pandemic brings especially tough choices. Due to the coronavirus, Baystate Health’s NICU allows just one parent to visit at a time. To ease the stress of separation, the NICU team keeps families connected through personal webcams attached to many of the bassinettes. Using a unique password, parents can log onto a secure website anytime, day or night, to visit their baby virtually. Recently, Bulkley Richardson generously donated $10,000 to support the purchase of additional cameras. Peter Barry, former managing partner at Bulkley Richardson, knows firsthand the difference these resources make for families. His grandchild was in the care of Baystate Children’s Hospital Neonatal Continuing Care Unit when he was born. “The skill and caring of the team were truly impressive,” Barry said. “These cameras will make a very difficult situation a bit easier for parents and grandparents. Bulkley Richardson is proud to provide philanthropic support for this level of life-saving expertise in our region.” The Davis Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the only one of its kind in Western Mass., providing the highest level of care available for sick or premature newborns. NICU patients often have prolonged hospital stays of weeks or months.

UMass Amherst to Make Standardized Tests Optional

AMHERST — Beginning with the spring 2021 term, and continuing for each spring and fall term through spring 2023, UMass Amherst will make standardized tests optional for its first-year entering applicants. For the past several months, the university has monitored how possible, safe, and secure it will be for students to take the SAT or ACT. In recent weeks, said James Roche, vice provost for Enrollment Management, it has become obvious that the challenges to testing presented by the coronavirus pandemic will persist in the months ahead. Historically, UMass Amherst has used a holistic review to evaluate applicants. The quantitative assessment component of that review was done using a formula that combined the applicant’s high school GPA and the best combination of test scores. Roche said the university’s research shows that, of the separate components, the high-school GPA is a stronger predictor of student performance, persistence, and success; however, it is also known that the combination of the two components provides an even stronger predictor than either the GPA or test score alone. The university has analyzed three years of data and more than 100,000 applicant records to develop a formula for its test-optional assessment that uses the high-school GPA as the base. For applicants who either have or will submit test scores, UMass Amherst will compare the result of the formula with and without the test score included and give the applicant the highest value of the two. This test-optional approach applies to all majors. As it always has, UMass Amherst will continue to consider the rigor of students’ high-school coursework in its assessment, especially for courses that apply most directly to the applicant’s intended major.

STCC Launches New Water-distribution Course

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will offer an online course this fall to prepare students for careers in the drinking-water industry and to help those working in the field enhance their skills. The course, called “Concepts & Practices of Drinking Water Distribution,” is being offered through the Workforce Development Center at STCC in partnership with the Massachusetts Water Works Assoc. and the Springfield Water & Sewer Commission. The training, which runs from Sept. 14 to Dec. 4, is free for students enrolled in any community college in Massachusetts. Individuals not enrolled at a community college, as well as employees at water utilities, can register for the class for a fee. This is the second in a series of courses designed for careers in the water industry. Last fall, a water-treatment course was offered in a similar self-paced online format. Students who completed the training last fall touted the course’s effectiveness and flexibility. The water distribution course will include weekly videos, readings, discussion topics, and quizzes. The 12-week training will help prepare students to take the Massachusetts Drinking Water Operator Grade 2, 3 and 4 Distribution license exams. Licensure is necessary for beginning a career in the drinking-water industry. This course is approved by the Massachusetts Board of Certification of Drinking Water Operators. Material covered includes hydrology, source waters, basic math and chemistry, regulations, water sampling, hydraulics, distribution-system components (pipes, valves, pumps, tanks, meters), equipment operation and maintenance, safety, and administrative duties. Someone with a Massachusetts water operator distribution license can work in such positions as water construction and repair technician; construction foreman; equipment operation and maintenance specialist; water-quality technician; SCADA, GIS, or instrumentation specialist; or water-systems manager. Students who complete the water course can consider continuing their education in fields such as civil engineering, urban studies, software development, business administration, and more. To enroll online, visit stcc.edu/water. To enroll in person or for more information, call (413) 755-4225 or e-mail [email protected]

Wellfleet Launches ‘Back to Work’ Educational Series

SPRINGFIELD — Wellfleet has launched a “Back to Work” education series, offering virtual programs designed to give business leaders from all sectors advice, ideas, and best practices for returning to the office — and to a sense of normalcy. Wellfleet’s “Back to Work” series, a collection of live and on-demand webinars and online resources available at wellfleetinsurance.com/backtowork, kicked off this spring with a “Healthy Buildings” webinar featuring Dr. Joseph Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Allen shared valuable insights on how business leaders can improve workplace buildings to enhance productivity, engagement, and retention among employees, and offered a hierarchy of controls for a safe, multi-faceted approach to repopulating office spaces. Worried parents can get peace of mind from Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 National Teacher of the Year, whose on-demand webinar offers perspective, strategy, and support to parents-turned-educators navigating long-term social distancing and the potential for continued remote learning this fall. Parents can also take advantage of Wellfleet’s Summer Education & Activity Pack, a resource rich with activities, tips, and tools for keeping kids educated and entertained over the summer. Insurance-industry-specific webinars round out the “Back to Work” series offerings, including a conversation on “Overcoming Challenges Facing Voluntary Benefits Engagement & Enrollment,” led by Erik Gray, Wellfleet Workplace’s head of Enrollment Experience. For a complete listing of events and to register, visit www.wellfleetinsurance.com/backtowork.

Common Capital Approved as Lender for Community Advantage Recovery Loans

BOSTON — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has developed a new, temporary loan product called Community Advantage Recovery Loans (CARL) for eligible lenders to provide technical and financial assistance to support small businesses located in underserved areas. The SBA issued a document in the Federal Register, providing specific requirements for Community Advantage Recovery Loans. In addition to getting funded, the underserved small businesses will also receive technical assistance to build financial resiliency against future business disruptions. Community Advantage Recovery Loans can be approved through Sept. 27 and must be fully disbursed no later than Oct. 1. The CARL Participant Guide is available on SBA’s website and outlines all other loan terms and conditions. “Common Capital appreciates the opportunity to participate in this new program, which will help us increase the flow of loan capital to underserved businesses in Western Massachusetts,” Common Capital President Raymond Lanza-Weil said. “Combined with our existing SBA loan programs, we look forward to expanding our assistance to businesses that have a concrete plan for adapting to the COVID-19 economy.”

New EV Charging Stations Available in Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Whalen Insurance, located at 71 King St. in Northampton, now has six new electric-vehicle (EV) chargers installed beneath and powered by its solar canopy. These charging stations are operational and available for public use, charge up to 7.2 kW of power at a cost of $2 per hour, and require no parking fees to access them. The EV chargers and 62.64 kW solar canopy were both installed by PV Squared, a local solar design and installation company based in Greenfield. The EV project was funded primarily by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, as a result of the Volkswagen diesel-emissions settlement. In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to secretly and intentionally installing software in vehicles to cheat state emissions tests, which raised the levels of smog-causing nitrogen oxides up to 40 times higher than permitted. Massachusetts received a partial settlement, and the money is being used to increase the amount of EV charging and infrastructure and promote more electric-vehicle usage throughout the Commonwealth. The goal is to increase air quality and reduce particulate pollution by creating a cleaner transportation sector. The EV charging station at Whalen Insurance is contributing to the larger environmental goals of the state, while also directly benefiting the local community. Peter Whalen and Janna Ugone own the EV chargers. In addition to the EV charging station, Whalen has invested in six solar projects, totaling 127.92 kW, on various properties in Northampton. On an annual basis, these solar arrays produce a combined 141,591 kWh of electricity, which is equivalent to 110 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). This translates to an environmental offset of CO2 emissions from 11,265 gallons of gasoline consumed and 110,308 pounds of coal burned. Whalen also loves driving his electronic vehicle.

Agenda

Virtual Job Fair

Aug. 4: With government-mandated social-distancing restrictions in place, the West of the River Chamber of Commerce (WRC) will hold its annual job fair virtually this year. With the extra unemployment money individuals are receiving about to expire, and local businesses beginning to reopen, the WRC is looking to help its members in any way it can. The Zoom event will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. This is a free event for attendees, and vendors and attendees can both register online. Each vendor will have the opportunity to speak to the attendees as a whole group about their company and what positions they are looking to fill. At the conclusion of the group session, each vendor will have a breakout room where attendees can ask more detailed information and exchange contact information. The event is sponsored by Reminder Publications. For more information and to register, visit www.westoftheriverchamber.com.

Driving for the Cure Golf Tournament

Aug. 17: TommyCar Auto Group announced that its 12th annual Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament will be held at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow. Money raised supports neuro-oncology research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Since its inception, this annual golf tournament has raised more than $1 million. The scramble-style tournament features a ‘Tee Off Against Cancer’ shotgun start. Players will enjoy 18 holes of golf and exciting on-course activities. Sponsorship packages range from $50 to $15,000, and foursomes start at $1,250. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities or to register a foursome, visit tomcosenzidrivingforthecure.com. Volunteers and sponsors can also contact Gayle Bover at (413) 341-1917 or [email protected].

Knights Of Columbus Golf Tournament

Aug. 21: The Greenfield Knights of Columbus Council #133 will host its seventh annual charity golf tournament at Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston. This year, the Greenfield Council #133 recognizes the United Arc as its tournament partner. The event will be an 18 hole, four-person scramble with tee advantages for senior golfers. The entry fee of $125 per person includes greens fees, carts, use of the practice range, and prizes for the winners. A $35 gift card will be given to all golfers, which can be used at any time for meals, merchandise, or golf-related items. Raffle tickets will be sold, with prizes including a three-day Cape Cod vacation, a sports package, golf certificates, a ‘mystery box’ provided by the United Arc, restaurant certificates, auto packages, and much more. A hole-in-one contest will offer a chance to win a new car or other significant prizes. In addition to the United Arc, the proceeds from the event will be used to fund a number of Council #133’s worthy causes in Greenfield and Franklin County, including the Pan Mass Challenge, Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s Wheeling for Healing, Farren Hospital’s Gift of Light, the Greenfield Homeless Shelter, monthly community meals, high-school scholarships, honoring veterans on Memorial Day and having Wreaths Across America wreaths placed on graves at Christmas, several youth sports programs, and more. To sign up or for more information, call Lou Grader at (413) 774-2848, Dan Arsenault at (413) 774-5258, Bob Wanczyk at (413) 774-2465, Paul Doran at (413) 522-1800, or Joe Ruscio at (413) 768-9876.

Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series

Aug. 26, Sept. 30, Oct. 28: On July 29, Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal and Amanda Sbriscia, HCC’s vice president of Institutional Advancement, kicked off a reimagined monthly Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series. The 2020 Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series, postponed from spring due to COVID-19, will now take place virtually over Zoom on the last Wednesdays of each month from noon to 1 p.m. The series is sponsored by HCC and Training and Workforce Options (TWO), a collaboration between HCC and Springfield Technical Community College. Each lunchtime event will feature two presenters leading discussions on different topics. On Aug. 26, “Empowering Women in the Workplace” will be presented by Denise Jordan, executive director, Springfield Housing Authority; and Julie Quink, managing partner, Burkhart, Pizzanelli, P.C. On Sept. 30, “Comfortable in Your Own Skin, Finding Your Voice” will feature Tanisha Arena, executive director, Arise for Social Justice; and Pam Victor, owner, Happier Valley Comedy. On Oct. 28, “Women Leaders in Non-Traditional Businesses” will be presented by Colleen Loveless, president and CEO, Revitalize Community Development Corp.; and Nicole Palange, vice president, V&F Auto. Each session costs $20 each, or $50 for the full series. Registration is required. Space for each luncheon is limited to 25. To register, visit hcc.edu/womens-leadership.

Golf FORE Health Tournament

Sept. 14-15: The 31st annual Golf FORE Health Tournament, Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s only major fundraising event, will be held at the Crumpin-Fox Club in Bernardston. COVID-19 has altered every aspect of people’s personal and professional lives. Today, the need for support for the local hospital is greater than ever, and many businesses have reached out asking how to help Cooley Dickinson care for its patients and our community. This year’s tournament will be played in a social-distancing format with tee times every 10 minutes starting at 8 a.m., and will now be played over two days and adhere to all current Massachusetts COVID-19 golf guidelines. Each team will play on one of the two days. This means the annual post-event banquet will not take place, but organizers say they have been able to incorporate some exciting new tournament additions and give sponsors the greatest amount of exposure. The lead platinum sponsors are bankESB and MJ Moran Inc. To secure a team or to sponsor the event, visit www.cooleydickinson.org/golf. Questions should be directed to Jennifer Margolis at [email protected] or (413) 582-2255.

Company Notebook

Melanson Heath Rebrands as Melanson

NASHUA, N.H. — Melanson Heath, one of the fastest-growing accounting firms in the U.S., announced that the company will begin operating under a new name and will be known as Melanson, effective immediately. This rebranding strategy reflects both the evolution of the company and its vision for the future. Along with this change, a newly redesigned company logo has been revealed, and a new website, melansoncpas.com, has been launched. “As part of our focus on expansion and business development, our leadership team and I believe it was appropriate to rebrand our firm to more specifically reflect who we are,” said Managing Partner Scott Toothaker, CPA. “We are very excited about the introduction of our new company name, Melanson, because it allows us to better represent our business to our clients and community. We are also very happy about the launch of our new website, which features our own employees and better reflects the personality found at Melanson. We are not just an accounting firm; we are a partner for our clients.”

Phoenix Project Launched to Assist Struggling Businesses

PIONEER VALLEY — The DiStefano Group and Seven Roads Media announced the Phoenix Project, a movement to collaborate and create opportunities within the Pioneer Valley business community based on the principles of kindness and understanding. The goal is to provide a broad range of assistance to businesses that are struggling as a result of the unprecedented happenings of 2020. The two companies, in direct response to the inequities and hardships that so many in the community are facing, will seek to gain a genuine understanding of what local business owners need and address those needs immediately and for free. The process will begin with a video interview to gather raw, first-hand knowledge. Seven Roads Media and the DiStefano Group will provide business and media coaching on the spot, but support for the business won’t end there. The Phoenix Project also includes the expertise of an established group of ‘masterminds’ — local professionals at the top of their fields — to provide coaching in banking, marketing, financial management, real estate, photography, hospitality, events, human resources, psychology, IT, and more. Gina DiStefano, president and CEO of the DiStefano Group and Phoenix Project co-founder, explained that “the video is just the beginning. From there, we will connect the business with our group of masterminds, who will continue to provide pro bono advice. We intend to have a real impact on businesses that have been hit hard. We are willing and able to help.” The project’s model will build supportive relationships not just for the chosen business, but among all of the those represented by the masterminds, said the third co-founder, Jess Roncarati-Howe, a nonprofit consultant and coach with the DiStefano Group who formerly served as president of the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce. “An entrepreneurial spirit who truly cares about what’s going on around them can foster tremendous impact,” she added. “It is the driving force behind the Phoenix Project. We will help our community to heal — one interaction, one relationship at a time.”

IALS at UMass Amherst Joins Digital Health Sandbox Network

AMHERST — The Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI) selected six new healthcare research and development (R&D) hubs to join the Digital Health Sandbox Network, including UMass Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS). The Sandbox Network program connects digital-health startups to cutting-edge R&D facilities in the Commonwealth and allows Massachusetts startups to apply for funding to test their innovations at one of the networks’ labs, now including IALS. Sandbox R&D facilities provide a range of services supporting validation and testing for digital health companies throughout their life cycles. “Establishing a translational institute at UMass that provides startup lab space; more than 30 industry-friendly, staffed core equipment facilities; and individualized venture-mentoring services creates an exciting environment for digital-health companies in Western Massachusetts,” IALS Director Peter Reinhart said. IALS helps to shepherd and translate fundamental research into new product candidates, technologies, and services that benefit human health and well-being. IALS also helps users address both basic and translational questions, deliver technologies and product candidates more rapidly, and become more competitive in obtaining funding. Facilities include a state-of-the-art test bed for mobile health experiments at scale, the Center for Human Health and Performance, a roll-to-roll fabrication and processing facility, and research laboratory space for lease. In 2019, Gov. Charlie Baker announced $500,000 in funding for the Sandbox program as part of the Commonwealth’s efforts to boost the digital-health ecosystem under the Massachusetts Digital Health Initiative.

Captain Candy to Open Second Store in Holyoke

NORTHAMPTON — Levi Smith, owner of Captain Candy in the lower level of Thornes Marketplace, announced he is opening a second store in the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside. “I’ve survived the COVID-19 shutdown, and I’m excited to be opening a second store in Holyoke,” Smith said. Captain Candy offers eclectic candies that are not the norm in grocery and convenience stores — everything from gumballs to candy cigarettes, wax bottles full of juice, Turkish taffy, Pop Rocks, and Zotz. Smith was contacted in January by the owners of Pyramid Management Group, which owns more than a dozen malls in the Northeast, including the Holyoke Mall. Smith’s Holyoke store opening comes a little over a year after he purchased the Northampton shop from former owner Nolan Anaya. Smith was 18 at the time. Currently, he is a business student at Holyoke Community College. In the early months, Smith will operate the new store to ensure a smooth start, and then he will hire as needed. Currently, he and six part-time employees operate the Thornes location, which opened in 2013.

Smith College Team Wins Ventilator-design Challenge

NORTHAMPTON — The SmithVent team of engineering alumni, staff, and faculty are the winners of the CoVent-19 challenge to design an easily manufacturable ventilator for use during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Grécourt Gate, Smith College’s online news portal. The team’s breathing device was chosen from more than 200 submissions to the competition launched on April 1. “In two months, we went from knowing nothing to having a functional prototype,” said team co-leader Susannah Howe, director of Smith’s Engineering Design Clinic. “To see that trajectory in such a short period of time, with people who are volunteering their time on top of their other jobs, is amazing and heartwarming and so rewarding.” Smith College President Kathleen McCartney added that “I could not be more proud of the SmithVent team for winning the CoVent-19 Challenge. This win speaks volumes about the power of a liberal-arts education, grounded in experiential learning, to find innovative, collaborative solutions to complex, urgent problems. SmithVent is Smith at its best: a lasting example of our community coming together for the betterment of the world.”

Springfield Library & Museums Assoc. Wins $100,000 NEA Grant

SPRINGFIELD ​— National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Mary Anne Carter has approved more than $84 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2020. Included in this announcement is an Our Town award of $100,000 to​ the ​Springfield Library & Museums Assoc. in partnership with the Springfield Cultural Partnership for Spark!: Igniting Our Community, a project in the newly renovated Pynchon Park to envision and create public art that serves to connect the city, residents, and visitors. This is one of 51 grants nationwide that the agency has approved in this category. Spark: Igniting Our Community is a two-year public art project that will transform recently reopened Pynchon Park into a vibrant public space through innovative multi-media art installations created by local and national artists. City residents, community stakeholders, and cultural institutions will be involved in a collective process to imagine, select, and commission public art that celebrates Springfield’s citizens, culture, and heritage. The park, closed for 40 years, will use the arts to connect neighborhoods and people, creating equitable partnerships that demonstrate the power of civic engagement for more vibrant and livable communities. The park’s reopening offers an opportunity to continue momentum by celebrating public art in this passageway and creating a programming and civic-engagement space. This project will create a walkable pathway between the museum district and the commercial downtown, spurring retail and public-space projects along these avenues and encouraging greater tourism throughout the city.

Webster Bank Offers Financial Program for Frontline Heroes

WATERBURY, Conn. — Webster Bank became one of the first financial-services companies nationwide to introduce Frontline Heroes, a program for essential healthcare workers and first responders that enhances the financial well-being of those who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In gratitude for their selfless service, Webster’s new Frontline Heroes program offers a range of financial benefits, including checking accounts free of a monthly maintenance fee and free checking withdrawals at any ATM through December 2021. The program provides new customers with the ability to earn a cash incentive, as well as additional discounts and benefits. Frontline Heroes includes any full-time or part-time employee currently in essential healthcare, including hospitals, nursing homes, medical and dental practices, and home healthcare. The program is also available to first responders. For every new Frontline Heroes customer, Webster will also donate $250 to United Way COVID-19 Response Funds, making a minimum donation of $100,000.

Company Notebook

UMass to Expand Online Educational Opportunities

BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts and Chapman University System announced their intent to form an exclusive strategic partnership between UMass Online and Brandman University to expand educational opportunities for adult learners in Massachusetts and across the nation. This partnership, expected to be finalized later this year, will be launched as millions of adults in Massachusetts and across the U.S. need flexible, high-quality, and affordable online-education alternatives now and as they recover from the economic dislocation caused by COVID-19, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Based in Irvine, Calif., Brandman was established in 1958 by Chapman University, a 159-year-old private institution in Orange, Calif. Originally founded to deliver high-quality education to active-service military, Brandman has evolved into a widely recognized leader in online education, with a strong record of serving veterans and a diverse range of adult learners. The partnership will augment UMass Online, which now supports more than 25,000 students, strengthening its technology platform and student-support services tailored to adult learners. UMass President Marty Meehan recently cited dramatic declines in the number of high-school graduates and employers’ need for a highly skilled workforce in announcing plans to scale up online programming at UMass. He also cited the “troubling lack of economic mobility” among African-Americans and Hispanics. The economic disruption caused by COVID-19 has accelerated these challenges, and the need for new online education programs that remove the obstacles adult learners often face is now even more urgent. A key target group for the partnership will be adult learners in underserved communities. According to a Strada Network survey of 4,000 adults, most Americans (62%) are concerned about unemployment, but African-Americans are moreso (68%), and their Latinx and Asian counterparts are even more worried (72%). The same study indicated that 53% of adult learners prefer online education opportunities.

HMC Submits Proposal to Expand Psychiatric Bed Capacity

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) has submitted a letter of intent and project proposal to the Massachusetts Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality to expand psychiatric bed capacity. The letter, sent on June 19, notified the Determination of Need Program that HMC will be completing an application for an additional 64 psychiatric beds. If approved, this will increase the hospital’s total capacity to 84 psychiatric beds, which will serve adult and geriatric populations. The 68,000-square-foot Holyoke Medical Center Behavioral Health Pavilion proposal includes 48 adult psychiatric beds, 36 geriatric beds, and 4,000 square feet of shell space for future expansion or uses to be determined later. Population statistics and competitive analysis suggest that there is a need within a 14-mile radius of Holyoke Medical Center for 52 adult psychiatric beds and 36 geriatric psychiatric beds. The proposal also includes a parking analysis and parking-garage study, which could provide an additional 60 to 180 parking spaces. Holyoke Medical Center is partnered with Signet Health Corp., assisting the hospital in the delivery of behavioral-health services by providing management and consulting services. The Leo Brown Group, a full-service healthcare real-estate development and solutions company, will design and build the facility. It is estimated that, once approved by state and local officials, the new facility will take 18 months to complete and become operational.

Monson Savings Bank to Open New Branch in East Longmeadow

EAST LONGMEADOW — Monson Savings Bank announced the expansion of its branch network into East Longmeadow. This new office, located at 61 North Main St., is expected to open in late summer. The full-service branch will offer an extensive array of consumer and commercial products, traditional banking products, wealth-management products, and several robust digital solutions that have grown more important in today’s environment. It has been the bank’s goal to further expand the markets it serves.

Royal, P.C. Moves to Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — The law firm of Royal, P.C. has moved to Springfield. Founded by attorney Amy Royal in 2008, Royal, P.C. is now located in the Indian Orchard section of Springfield, at 819 Worcester St., Suite 2. “Springfield is where I grew up, so it felt natural to relocate my law firm here,” Royal said. “Indian Orchard, with its unique history, has always felt like a special place within the city to me, and its geography otherwise places us in a more centralized location with respect to our Central and Eastern Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut clients.” The telephone and fax numbers of (413) 586-2288 and (413) 586-2281 remain the same. For more information about the firm, visit www.theroyallawfirm.com.

Bay Path Launches Risk Management Degree

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University is expanding its focus in the rapidly growing area of cybersecurity — and helping to bring more women into it — with the introduction of an undergraduate major in risk management. In addition, the university will offer scholarships to women looking to obtain degrees in cybersecurity. Made possible by Strada Education Network, these scholarships will help offset the cost of fall 2020 enrollment in cybersecurity programs. The term ‘risk management’ applies to the forecasting and evaluation of risks alongside the identification of procedures to avoid or minimize their impact. This new program concentration will include coursework in data privacy, project management, crisis management, and incident recovery. With nearly 80% of the organizations surveyed for the 2019 Marsh Microsoft Global Cyber Risk Perception Survey ranking cyber risks as a top-five concern, but only 11% feeling adequately prepared to assess and address those threats, the need for risk managers in the cybersecurity sphere is more important than ever. Within those responding organizations, the majority of board members and senior executives responsible for their organization’s cyber risk management reported that they had less than a day in the last year to spend focused on cyber risk issues.

ValleyBike Share Launches 2020 Season

PIONEER VALLEY — ValleyBike Share — the electric-assist bike-share program of the Pioneer Valley that includes Amherst, Easthampton, Holyoke, Northampton, South Hadley, Springfield, and the UMass Amherst campus — has launched the 2020 season in select locations. Remaining stations will be opened over the following weeks. ValleyBike boasts more than 40,000 active members, who have ridden more than 280,000 miles on 126,940 trips. Due to the situation with Covid-19, ValleyBike is urging members to sanitize the handles, seat, and PIN pad before and after using the bikes. Every time the maintenance team touches a bike, it will be fully sanitized, but the public can do their part to keep themselves and others safe. Visit www.valleybike.org for more information and to find out how to become a member.

Art Therapy/Counseling Program Accredited at Springfield College

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College Art Therapy/Counseling master’s-degree program has been granted initial accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), effective immediately. Awarded after a peer review by the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education and the CAAHEP board of directors, this accreditation determined the Springfield College Art Therapy/Counseling program was in substantial compliance with nationally established accreditation standards. Students enrolled in the program will have the option to either pursue a master of science or master of education degree. Graduates are master’s-level clinicians who can jump right into the workforce or pursue additional licensure opportunities, which will allow them to earn a license in the mental-health field after graduation and to obtain board certification as an art therapist.

Applied Mortgage Giving Makes $45,000 Regional Donation

NORTHAMPTON — Applied Mortgage Giving announced a new campaign, the Vitality Grant, which will be donated to six local community organizations: Downtown Amherst Foundation (Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and Amherst Business Improvement District), Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Franklin County, and United Way of Hampshire County. These organizations will each receive a portion of the gift to use at their discretion to support their work in the community. The Vitality Grant — sponsored by Applied Mortgage Giving, the charitable arm of Applied Mortgage, a d/b/a of HarborOne Mortgage, LLC — is designed to positively influence and provide opportunities for the success of small businesses and nonprofits in Hampshire and Franklin counties. Applied Mortgage Giving will be partnering with the local chambers and United Ways, hoping to enhance these organizations’ opportunities to meet the specific needs of their communities. For more information or questions regarding the Vitality Grant, e-mail LaBonte at [email protected].

Westfield State Accepting Applications for Addiction Counselor Education Program

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Education is accepting applications for the 2020-21 addiction counselor education (ACE) program. Classes will be held evenings and weekends starting in September 2020 and ending in May 2021. The goal of this non-credit certificate program, offered at the university since 1991, is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and techniques necessary for the successful treatment of individuals and families afflicted by alcoholism and/or other drug addictions. This program has been highly instrumental in the professional development of individuals in Western Mass. who are either working or interested in the growing healthcare field of addiction services. To help with this mission, Westfield State also offers the ACE program at a satellite location, in Pittsfield, to help train potential counselors in the Berkshires area to fill critical positions in treatment facilities that are understaffed and unable to fill open positions. Applications for both programs are available online at www.westfield.ma.edu/ace. For more information, or to receive an application by mail, contact Brandon Fredette at [email protected] or (413) 572-8033.

Pittsfield Cooperative Bank Supports Resilience Fund

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Agricultural Ventures (BAV) announced it has been awarded a $5,000 grant from Pittsfield Cooperative Bank to support its Resilience Fund for Farmers. This new fund was established in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting impact on local farmers, who are hurting right now as stores, restaurants, and other income-generating avenues like farmers’ markets and CSA are closed or operating in different, logistically challenging ways due to the virus. Despite these challenges, many farmers are reaching out to contribute healthy food to the neediest among us and sell as much as they can directly to consumers. The goal of the BAV Resilience Fund for Farmers is to support those who are experiencing business challenges as a result of COVID-19. Zero-interest, forgivable loans and grants will be provided to help farmers adapt to new realities, overcome significant income challenges, and ensure that farms remain viable and sustainable so they continue to meet demand for healthy, local foods. In addition to working with individual farmers, BAV also hopes to support strategies that avoid costly duplication of effort among farmers, such as developing coordinated delivery services. The first grant from the fund helped Roots Rising to pivot and establish the Berkshire County-wide Virtual Farmers Market, which in its first eight weeks served 1,400 households, gave $18,000 to neighbors in need, and generated $50,000 in sales to support the local food system. The grant from Pittsfield Cooperative Bank represents the first corporate support to the fund, which was established with a grant from a local family foundation. J. Jay Anderson, president and CEO of Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, added that the bank “is proud to support the work of the Berkshire Agricultural Ventures and the Resilience Fund for Farmers during this extraordinary time. At a time when local food systems and healthy food is important to our communities more than ever before, we thank them for their work.”

MCLA Receives Two Awards from Council for Advancement and Support of Education

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announced it has received two awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), a global nonprofit association dedicated to educational advancement. The college received an Educational Fundraising Award for Overall Performance in the category of Public Liberal Arts Institutions and a Circle of Excellence Award for its 2018-19 President’s Report. This is the first year MCLA has been recognized by this program. The annual Educational Fundraising Awards recognize exemplary development programs based on a blind review of data submitted to the CASE Voluntary Support of Education survey. Winners are selected based on factors and variables that include, but are not limited to, patterns of growth, overall breadth of fundraising, amount raised per student, and alumni participation. The Circle of Excellence Awards recognize institutions whose staff members advanced their institutions through innovative, inspiring, and creative ideas. The awards acknowledge superior accomplishments that have lasting impact, demonstrate the highest level of professionalism, and deliver exceptional results. CASE judges commended the 2018-19 President’s Report, which was developed by MCLA’s Department of Marketing and Communications staff, on its theme and narrative flow, effective use of vintage and modern photographs and design elements, concise but not spare use of color, and the overall feeling of community it expressed, among other praise.

Agenda

‘Interrupting Racism’ Training

June 25, 29: Learning to be an active bystander and interrupting racism before it escalates is critical to creating cultural change in the workplace, schools, and communities. Human in Common is poised and ready to help. This innovative business teaches individuals to effectively interrupt bias and discrimination and create policies and practices that amplify racial equity. The Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce has invited Human in Common to offer its timely training, “Interrupting Racism: Policies, Practices, and Everyday Acts of Solidarity for Businesses and Nonprofits.” This two-part Zoom training will occur on Thursday, June 25 from 1 to 4 p.m., and Monday, June 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. This training begins with a timeline of the history of racism in the U.S. to bring awareness to the conditions that have led to systemic racism. Participants will develop a diversity mission statement, practice six ‘ethical upstander’ methods for interrupting racism in the workplace, explore policies and practices to amplify racial equity, and engage in small breakout groups to practice anti-racism skills using real-life scenarios. The event webpage is bit.ly/2MMrNmr, or visit www.facebook.com/events/193655011884223.

Small-business Resource Series

June 25, July 2: Holyoke Community College (HCC) and Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will continue its series of online workshops for area employers who want to explore programs, services, and grant-funded workforce-training opportunities to boost their small businesses. The 45-minute remote sessions will meet from 9 to 9:45 a.m. and focus on a different government funding source. On June 25, Oreste Varela, branch manager for the U.S. Small Business Administration office in Springfield, will talk about SBA programs and services available to prospective and current entrepreneurs who need assistance starting or expanding their businesses. On July 2, Melissa Scibelli, director of Workforce Development Programs for MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board, will discuss the Registered Apprenticeship program, an innovative, work-based learning model for new hires and incumbent employees that provides funds to assist businesses in closing critical workforce-gap shortages through on-the-job learning and related technical industry training. The Small Business Resource Series is being offered by HCC and STCC through their Training and Workforce Options (TWO) partnership. Advance registration is required for all sessions. To register, visit hcc.edu/business-series. Log-in information for each remote session will be supplied after registration is complete.

Healthcare Heroes Nominations

Through July 1: Since the phrase COVID-19 came into our lexicon, those working in the broad healthcare field have emerged as the true heroes during a pandemic that has changed every facet of life as we know it. And over the past several months, the world has paid tribute to these heroes, and in all kinds of ways — from applauding in unison from apartment-complex windows to bringing hot meals to hospital and nursing-home workers; from donating much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to people putting hearts on their front lawns and mailboxes to thank first responders, healthcare workers, postal workers, and others. BusinessWest and its sister publication, the Healthcare News, will pay tribute in their own way, by dedicating their annual Healthcare Heroes program in 2020 to those who are have emerged as true heroes during this crisis. Healthcare Heroes was launched by the two publications in 2017 to recognize those working in this all-important sector of the region’s economy, many of whom are overlooked when it comes to traditional recognition programs. Over the years, the program has recognized providers, administrators, emerging leaders, innovators, and collaborators. For 2020, the program will shift its focus somewhat to the COVID-19 pandemic and all those who are working in the healthcare field or helping to assist it at this trying time. All manner of heroes have emerged this year, and we invite you to nominate one — or several — for what has become a very prestigious honor in Western Mass.: the Healthcare Heroes award. To assist those thinking of nominating someone for this honor, we are simplifying the process. All we desire is a 400- to 500-word essay and/or two-minute video entry explaining why the group or individual stands out as an inspiration, and a truly bright star in a galaxy of healthcare heroes. These nominations will be carefully considered by a panel of independent judges, who will select the class of 2020. The deadline for nominations is July 1. For more information on how to nominate someone for the Healthcare Heroes class of 2020, visit businesswest.com/healthcare-heroes/nomination-form. Videos can be sent via dropbox to [email protected]. Healthcare Heroes is sponsored by Comcast Business and Elms College.

Estate Planning Conference

June 30: Mark Esposito, an attorney at Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C., will speak at the 21st Annual Estate Planning Conference of Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education Inc. (MCLE) on Tuesday, June 30. He will contribute to an expert panel discussion titled “What’s Up in the World of Fiduciary Litigation?” at the 2020 conference, which will take place as a live webcast from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The recorded webcast will be shown during that timeframe on Tuesday, July 14. Esposito joined Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin in 2017 and concentrates his practice in general litigation, with particular emphasis on commercial, trust and estate, and employment and labor litigation. He has counseled various public-sector labor unions and employees in collective bargaining, negotiations, arbitration, and litigation, representing clients in state and federal court as well as before administrative agencies.

Nominations for Humane Awards

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

Submission Period for Virtual Art Show

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

MCLA Gallery 51 Virtual Artist Series

June 27 to Aug. 8: MCLA Gallery 51 announced that its new online program, the G51 Virtual Artist Series, will be held live on Zoom, at noon on alternating Saturdays. Local, regional, national, and international artists will give virtual tours of their studios and discuss their practices. Discussions with the artists will also be recorded for later viewing. The series kicked off on May 16. The gallery’s full spring programming schedule is available on its website. Upcoming artists include Gladys Kalichini (June 13), who is known for paintings, digital work, and installations that explore history and the marginalization of certain groups; Todd Elliott (June 27), a multi-disciplinary artist whose work is inspired by shapes and forms used in architectural motifs, transpiration design, typography, and logos; Sula Bermudez-Silverman (July 11), whose conceptual work intertwines multiple issues, investigating and critiquing the issues of race, gender, and economics; Kim Faler (July 25), a local, multi-disciplinary artist working in painting, drawing, installation, sculpture, and photography, whose art practice unpacks the emotional weight found within everyday objects and architecture; and Anina Major (Aug. 8), who works with topics of identity, slavery, the female body, Bahamian culture, and more. She considers her creative practice to be a response to continuous erasure and a culture that is constantly being oversimplified.

Elms College Executive Leadership Breakfast

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

Company Notebook

Olver Design Building Receives Architecture Institute’s Highest Honor

AMHERST — The American Institute of Architecture’s (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) announced recently that the John W. Olver Design Building on the UMass Amherst campus is a winner this year of its highest honor, the COTE Top Ten Awards. Projects “illustrate the solutions architects have provided for the health and welfare of our communities and the planet,” the AIA citation says. Called the most technologically advanced CLT building in the country, the Design Building opened in 2017 to house the campus’s Department of Architecture, Building and Construction Technology Program (BCT), and Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. The BCT program developed some of the CLT technology used and has since been testing native Massachusetts wood species for CLT suitability. The building is named for former congressman and UMass Amherst Chemistry professor John Olver and was designed by Boston architectural firm Leers Weinzapfel. In 2014, Olver attended a talk by associate professor of Environmental Conservation Peggi Clouston of the BCT program. She noted how CLT construction using lower-quality wood was enjoying a comeback. Olver, recognizing an expanded use for regional wood, encouraged campus officials to consider adopting the new technology. Built of CLT timber and glue-laminated columns, the 87,000-square-foot Design Building saves the equivalent of more than 2,300 metric tons of carbon compared to a traditional energy-intense steel and concrete building. It uses 54% less energy than a typical campus building and is one of two in North America to use CLT for wind and seismic resistance. Its footprint once a parking lot, the building now includes a rooftop garden and rain-garden landscaping. A central courtyard highlights natural light while reducing heat loss. Its open central stairway invites visitors to take the stairs instead of an elevator.

Whittlesey Achieves Blue Partner Status with Datto

HARTFORD, Conn — Whittlesey announced it has achieved exclusive Blue partner status with Datto, the world’s leading provider of IT solutions delivered through managed service providers (MSPs). Datto Blue status represents the top 5% of the company’s partners worldwide. “We’ve been partnered with Datto since 2014,” said Mark Torello, partner in charge of Whittlesey Technology. “We’ve been growing with them as they’ve branched out from data backup and recovery products to networking, cloud continuity, and device management. The reliability of their products and services and outstanding customer and technical support have been consistently top‐notch and provided us the resources to accelerate our business growth. It’s an honor to be acknowledged for putting these products and tools to use and demonstrating success.” Whittlesey has exceeded high standards of performance to qualify for Blue status within Datto’s Global Partner Program, the highest classification provided by Datto. Blue status includes many exclusive programs and benefits designed to support further enablement and business growth.

TRE Olive Wins Two Awards at International Olive Oil Competition

EAST LONGMEADOW — TRE Olive, located in East Longmeadow, is both a Gold and Silver award winner at this year’s 2020 New York International Olive Oil Competition. The NYIOOC is held each spring in New York and is the world’s largest and most prestigious olive oil contest. Its annual listing of award winners is considered the authoritative guide to the year’s best extra-virgin olive oils, according to Joe Maruca, co-owner of TRE Olive. TRE Olive won the Gold Award for Campo Dieci “Terra dei Nonni,” which means ‘land of our grandparents.’ The Silver was awarded for its TRE Olive Select. In addition to its award-winning extra-virgin olive oil, TRE Olive also offers a tree-adoption program. When an olive tree is adopted, the recipient will receive an adoption certificate, a gift box, a photo of their tree, a welcome brochure, and three tins of olive oil to get started. The tree is also tagged with the adoptee’s name for one year.

Paragus IT Named to Forbes ‘Small Giants’ List

HADLEY — Every year, Forbes publishes its “Small Giants” list highlighting 25 businesses “whose commitment to greatness over fast growth has enabled them to best serve their customers, employees, and communities.” This year, Paragus IT was recognized as an innovator in the small-business world, with Forbes citing the Hadley-based firm’s employee-ownership structure and mission to make IT fun, among other features. “It’s an honor to be included on such a diverse and amazing list of other small businesses around the country,” said Delcie Bean, CEO of Paragus IT. “And it’s great that a magazine as prestigious as Forbes is committed to appreciating what makes small businesses great. As an employee-owned company, our employees, or partners, as we call them, were so excited to be recognized for our passion for making IT fun.”

Bacon Wilson Donates $10,000 to YMCA of Greater Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson announced that the firm has recently completed a $10,000 contribution to the capital campaign for the YMCA of Greater Springfield. The pledge originated in the fall of 2019, as Bacon Wilson supported the YMCA’s transition from the former Chestnut Street location to the new Tower Square facility in downtown Springfield. “My partners and I are very pleased to be able to support the Springfield YMCA at this critical moment,” said attorney Kenneth Albano, Bacon Wilson’s managing partner. “Bacon Wilson is pleased to know our contribution will boost the mission and continuing good works of the YMCA of Greater Springfield.”

Bay Path Launches Master’s Program in Learning, Design, and Technology

LONGMEADOW — As an onslaught of complex challenges, and the urgency to develop innovative solutions to meet them, promise to reshape higher education, Bay Path University announces the launch of a new master’s program in Learning, Design, and Technology (LDT) this fall. The fully online program will tap into Bay Path’s long-standing position as a leader in the use of emerging technologies, creative curricula, and learning analytics to train professionals looking to shape the ongoing evolution of higher education by applying technology to the development of innovative, accessible, and impactful learning processes. Designed by a broadly representative team of Bay Path faculty and staff, the LDT program was launched to give students a students a deep foundation in the tools and theory of learning design, technology innovation, learning analytics, and higher-education leadership, a foundation on which they can create engaging and innovative learning experiences for all students. Students will also have the opportunity to enroll jointly in Bay Path’s doctoral program in Higher Education Leadership and Organizational Studies (HELOS) and carry out applied, real-world learning design projects. While the launch comes at a time when the coronavirus has transformed campuses, Bay Path has used technology to pioneer unique teaching and learning formats and offer flexible, dynamic, and personalized educational experiences for 20 years. The university’s diverse student population includes its traditional on-campus undergraduates, online graduate students, and online adult learners obtaining bachelor’s degrees through the American Women’s College. 

Food Insecurity Prompts Big Y to Make Second Round of Donations

SPRINGFIELD — With regional food banks experiencing unprecedented demand, Big Y is providing an additional $125,000 in support to address the rise in food insecurity. With the donations made in March, Big Y has provided $250,000 in financial assistance to area food banks in addition to the healthy surplus food it provides to them on a weekly basis. Using the estimate that every dollar donated provides four meals, the Big Y financial assistance amounts to 1 million meals. The donation will be split equally by the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Worcester County Food Bank, and the Greater Boston Food Bank in Massachusetts, as well as Foodshare and the Connecticut Food Bank in Connecticut. As part of its commitment to hunger relief in its neighborhoods and ongoing partnerships with regional food banks, Big Y provided an estimated $11.5 million of healthy surplus food to these organizations in 2019. This food donation amounts to an estimated 5.7 million meals, two-thirds of which include donations of meat and fresh produce as well as bakery and non-perishable grocery items. Frozen food and dairy products account for one-third of the annual donation.

MCLA Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge Announces Three Winners

NORTH ADAMS — Although this year’s Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge, held May 4-8, was a virtual affair, the college community still came together to view and vote for the three finalists’ pitches. The finalists, all seniors, who pitched their business ideas via video, were David Flight, Kimberly Granito, and Sierra Lamonde. The students were coached through a series of deliverables — determining a solution to a problem, developing a budget and business plan as the road map for the project or business, and presenting before a panel of judges. Granito’s Detailing Dream won first place, which came with a $7,500 award. Lamonde’s Pyrography Crafts placed second, for a $5,000 award, and Flight’s Settling the States won the $2,500 third-place award. The startup funding awards aim to cover inventory, equipment, and marketing costs for the three new businesses. Granito’s winning business, Detailing Dream, is a car-detailing service meant to cater to people who may think they don’t have the time or money for such a service. Granito’s packages include lower-cost options that other companies don’t offer because they usually cater to luxury cars. Unlike most of her competitors, Granito’s business would also include a mobile option where she would come to the customer, so they could take advantage of the service without leaving their home or office. Second-place winner Lamonde said her business, Pyrography Crafts, aims to bring joy to customers by creating one-of-a-kind, handcrafted wood burnings of people, pets and other animals, cartoons, and more. Flight’s Settling the States is a company that designs legacy board games inspired by the geographical regions of the U.S. The company’s first product, Settling New England, has players compete against each other to survive the changing seasons to become legend settlers.

Monson Savings Bank Announces New Loan & Operations Center

MONSON — Because Monson Savings Bank continues to grow by adding new positions and new personnel, and has outgrown some of its spaces, some employees are moving this week into a new, 12,000-square-foot office space on the top floor at 75 Post Office Park in Wilbraham. This location will be the new Monson Savings Bank Loan & Operations Center. The following departments will be moving: Commercial Lending, Residential Lending, Collections, Compliance, Retail Administration, Retail Operations, Business Development, Municipal Banking, and E-Banking. The main branch and corporate headquarters will still be located in Monson.

Taylor Real Estate Moving to Liberty Street in Easthampton

EASTHAMPTON — Taylor Real Estate, which is celebrating 65 years of operation this year, announced it will move to a new location on Liberty Street in Easthampton this month. Chuck Conner, a third-generation owner of the business founded by his grandfather in 1955, said the new office space offers convenient off-street parking for clients and staff as well as on-site storage for the firm’s plentiful ‘for sale’ signage, and a newer, brighter workspace for staff. He noted that the move is symbolic of moving the firm into the future, when ownership and operations will be assumed by his daughters, Megan Conner and Danica Achin, both licensed Realtors with the firm. In addition to working with buyers and sellers, Megan handles administration and advertising, and Achin is the rental division manager. Additional change has come in the form of new technology that allows a digital approach to marketing and communication and the execution of documentation. Houses can be shown to potential buyers via virtual visits made possible by professional photography, and closing papers can be signed electronically.

Company Notebook

Country Bank Donates $75,000 as Part of ‘Neighbors in Need’ Program

WARE — As the pandemic continues to disrupt business activities both nationally and in Massachusetts, Country Bank announced a $75,000 series of donations designed to assist organizations on the front lines. As the latest installment in a string of recent financial support, the bank will be facilitating donations to select organizations throughout its market from Springfield to Worcester. The Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts will each receive $25,000 to provide additional grant funding for critical-needs programs. These programs offer support for vulnerable seniors, those without stable housing, with limited English proficiency, and with compromised health conditions, including mental health and drug addiction. Other programs receiving a contribution include: Springfield Rescue Mission and Friends of the Homeless in Springfield; and Abby’s House, Saint John’s Food Pantry, and the Boys and Girls Club in Worcester. These donations will assist in continuing to meet the ever-changing needs in their communities. Many nonprofit organizations are not only combating reduced financial support as many businesses are closed, but also face a lack of volunteers, and have to continually evolve how they support their clients while keeping everyone safe on a limited budget and with limited resources. “This is an uncharted time for our bank, our customers, and our local business community. As part of our effort to assist those most affected by COVID-19, Country Bank has already donated $400,000 to help local hospitals, first-responder recovery centers, food pantries, homeless shelters, veterans, children, and community foundations,” said Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank. “We continually look for opportunities where we can help make a difference in the health and well-being of the people in our communities.”

Westfield Bank Future Fund Announces 2019 Giving Totals

WESTFIELD — Westfield Bank announced that the Future Fund, a philanthropic endeavor dedicated to supporting local 501(c)(3) organizations that have a positive impact on the region’s educational, recreational, cultural, and social well-being, awarded more than $300,000 to more than 40 organizations in Western Mass. and Northern Conn. in 2019. Grant recipients included the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield, Domus Inc., Farmington Valley YMCA, Friends of the Holyoke Soldiers Home, Girls Inc. of the Valley, the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, Junior Achievement of Southwest New England, Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Spirit of Springfield, and the YMCA of Greater Westfield. According to James Hagan, and CEO of Westfield Bank, the Future Fund awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants each year to qualifying organizations whose applications are accepted. “There are so many people and groups in our communities that have devoted themselves to making life better for all of us, and especially the young people who represent our future, and we know that supplying needed services presents financial and logistical challenges that grow with each passing year,” he said. “The Future Fund, and Westfield Bank, are dedicated to providing needed support to worthy organizations that enrich and define life in the towns and cities we serve.” In addition to the Future Fund grants, Westfield Bank contributed more than $400,000 to help sponsor community and performing-arts events, youth sports teams, fundraisers, and more. The bank also donated more than $500,000 to local organizations via the Chicopee Savings Charitable Foundation, an affiliate of Westfield Bank. In total, Westfield Bank provided more than $1.2 million in local and regional philanthropic support in 2019.

Springfield College AmeriCorps, Parent Villages Begin Mask Project

SPRINGFIELD — Members of the Springfield College AmeriCorps program are partnering with Parent Villages Inc. and other local nonprofits to lead the Village Engagement Matters initiative, a program committed to providing community members with face masks at no cost to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The initial distribution of protective facemasks took place on May 12 at three meal-distribution sites located at Springfield elementary schools. Springfield College AmeriCorps members have been assisting with the production of the masks, and also helping with the planning of the distribution efforts. “Giving back to our community is always something we have done in our family, and we are committed to helping with this project,” said Springfield College AmeriCorps member and social-work student Molly Glynn. “My mom and I started making masks for our family members, but that quickly has turned into helping our community as well. What I like about the Olson mask pattern we are using is, it provides a pattern to make masks for both adults and kids, and the pattern also allows for a pocket on the inside for a micron filter to help those individuals who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.” Added Parent Villages Inc. CEO Lakisha Coppedge, “the Parent Villages organization always tries to stay in touch and learn about items that community members really need, and obviously right now the masks are at a high demand. Springfield College stepped up to the plate to help, and we can’t thank the college enough to make this project a reality, and always being there to help our community members.” During these challenging times of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, Springfield College AmeriCorps members continue to seek opportunities to serve the Greater Springfield area, including volunteering their time making sure the Village Engagement Matters initiative is a success. “It really means a lot to have AmeriCorps members finding ways to support others,” said Springfield College AmeriCorps Director LaTonia Naylor. “We continue to live our Humanics mission at Springfield College of educating students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership and service to others. It brings me so much joy to watch people step up and show love and support for our community members.”

United Way of Pioneer Valley Announces EFSP Grant Funding

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) has been appointed administrator for Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) grant funding from FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, which appropriated supplemental funding in the amount of $194,555 for Phase 37 and $277,380 for CARES grants. With a board comprised of local community leaders, UWPV will determine funding allocation through a competitive application process. These funds will be used to supplement existing food and shelter services, and cannot be given to start new programs. Funding for Phase 37 and CARES-funded grants is now available. Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations that serve Hampden County, South Hadley, or Granby may apply. Allocations are to be applied toward supplementing existing food and shelter services. Applications are due by Friday, May 22 at noon. For information or to apply, contact Nicole Young, manager of Community Investments, at [email protected]

Vann Group Becomes Licensed Practioner of Predictable Success

SPRINGFIELD — The Vann Group, LLC announced that Michael Vann has recently become a licensed practioner of the Predictable Success, a business-growth methodology that over the last 30 years has been used to scale hundreds of businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Widely recognized as one of the most powerful organizational growth models available, Predictable Success was developed by Les McKeown, a successful entrepreneur and business-growth advisor. McKeown is the author of the bestselling book Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track and Keeping It There, as well as the companion book, The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success. Until recently, access to the full model was available only through McKeown. Michael Vann is part of the first cohort of licensed practioners. “I’ve been working with growth models for the past 20 years but have never come across one as powerful as Predictable Success. It isn’t an academic model or a hypothetical theory; it’s a proven, real-world process that enables any organization to scale successfully,” Vann said. “What I find really valuable about Predictable Success is its ability to get to the root cause of an organization’s issues rather than trying to solve symptoms. It integrates very well with our core methodology and tool set. It has been a great addition for our clients that are looking to grow and build value.” Les McKeown, the founder and CEO of Predictable Success, noted that “I’m absolutely delighted to have Michael join our growing group of licensed practitioners. Michael’s background as a trusted advisor and consultant makes him a stellar addition to our group, and I know his existing client base will benefit enormously from his access to the Predictable Success growth model, especially in these precarious times.” The Predictable Success model is intuitive and non-complex and can easily be implemented with the completion of a workshop. In conjunction with the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund, the Vann Group has several Predictable Success workshops approved under the Express Grant Program. The program will reimburse eligible businesses for up to 50% of the actual cost of training. Contact the Vann Group for additional information.

Pioneer Valley College Students Recognized for Entrepreneurship

AGAWAM — Eighty-six students from 14 local colleges and universities recently received awards for their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, with 55 unique businesses and business concepts represented. News of the 2020 Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) Entrepreneurial Spirit Awards came at about the same time as participating students’ semesters were disrupted by COVID-19. Soon thereafter, the annual entrepreneurship banquet, where more than 450 people were scheduled to attend to celebrate these students, was canceled. The Grinspoon EI class of 2020 received their award checks of up to $1,000 by mail, and they and continue to be mentored by their Grinspoon EI faculty advisors. This year’s entrepreneurial class represents many diverse concepts and businesses. Some examples include:

• Bac-Be-Gone, bacteriocin-based cleaning products (Hadley Beauregard, Hailey Charest, and Bryanna Lexus Freitas, UMass Amherst);

• Keifer Games, a clever tabletop game for creative thinkers (Matthew Kiefer, UMass Amherst);

• Nashion, a new material for salon gel nails (Sona Kim, Amherst College);

• PAL, a prosthetic airliner medical device (Courtney Carlson, Kelsey Hastings, and Olivia Truenow, Western New England University); and

• Slacktyde, eco-art and eco-friendly clothing (Camila Mirow, Mount Holyoke College).

Mary Schoonmaker, Grinspoon EI faculty advisor and assistant professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Western New England University, noted that “the Grinspoon Foundation Spirit Awards are foundational to building entrepreneurial self-efficacy. Past and present recipients have appreciated the confidence building and encouragement to advance their innovations.” This year’s Grinspoon, Garvey & Young Alumni Award went to Justin Park, founder and CEO of QL Gaming Group, a direct-to-consumer sports-betting data and iGaming affiliate platform. This annual award is given to a former Entrepreneurial Spirit Award winner who has advanced their entrepreneurial endeavors. It is named after Grinspoon’s original business partners, Tom Garvey and Bill Young. “The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation has provided me with encouragement since 2012 to pursue my passion in entrepreneurship,” Park said.

Agenda

Difference Makers

Sept. 10: BusinessWest will present its 12th annual Difference Makers event on Sept. 10 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The class of 2020 was profiled in the Feb. 3 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. Tickets cost $75. To reserve a spot, e-mail [email protected] or visit businesswest.com. Event sponsors include Burkhart Pizzanelli, Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health Of New England, Royal, P.C., and TommyCar Auto Group, while the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, MHA, and United Way of Pioneer Valley are partners.

Elms College Executive Leadership Breakfast

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

Hooplandia

June 25-27, 2021: Organizers of Hooplandia, the planned 3-on-3 basketball tournament and festival scheduled for this June, announced that the event has been postponed to 2021, with games hosted by the Big E Fairgrounds and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Boys and Girls Clubs in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut will remain the lead philanthropic recipient of the event, which was slated to host 2,500 teams and 10,000 players. To help build a bridge to the 2021 Hooplandia, a number of smaller events are being planned, with details forthcoming. Those include Hooplandia at the Hall of Fame Enshrinement, a series of 3-on-3 games in the parking lot of the Hall during Springfield Celebration Day on Sunday, Aug. 30, as part of Enshrinement Weekend activities; the Hooplandia World Slam Dunk Championship at the Big E in September, featuring slam-dunk artists from around the world competing for the title of Hooplandia World Slam Dunk Champ; and Hooplandia Showcase Games on the Court of Dreams at the Basketball Hall of Fame, a series of high-profile 3-on-3 games to be scheduled for competition this winter on the legendary hardwood. Details of all events will be announced as they emerge. All teams that have registered and paid for Hooplandia will be issued full refunds. Teams of players age 8 and under were slated for free registration in 2020, honoring the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant — Bryant wore #8 during a portion of his Los Angeles Lakers career in the NBA. The free under-8 registration will be extended to the 2021 event. Hooplandia’s Instagram account (@hooplandia) and website (www.hooplandia.com) will provide ongoing information and plans for the event and its transition.

Agenda

Zoom Series on Elder Law, Estate Planning

May 4, 11, 18: Adapting to COVID-19 restrictions, Attorney Karen Jackson of Jackson Law will teach a series of Holyoke Community College classes through Zoom, highlighting the latest developments in elder law and estate planning. An elder-law and estate-planning attorney, Jackson will present her six-hour course, called “Elder Law and Estate Planning: What You Need to Know,” on Zoom in three two-hour sessions on consecutive Mondays from 6 to 8 p.m. The cost is $99. To register, e-mail Valentyna Semyrog at [email protected], leave a message at (413) 552-2123, or visit www.hcc.edu/bce. Participants will be sent a link to join the class and can join using PCs, laptops, or smartphones. In the first session, Jackson will explain each document in the core estate plan. She will discuss the problems that can occur when proper documents are not prepared before a loss of mental capacity or physical health or before sudden loss of life. The second session will address four areas: trusts, the probate court process, Medicare hot topics, and options for community care and home care. Jackson will provide pertinent information and details about each to assist attendees in their planning now. In the third and final session, Jackson will introduce the various Medicaid programs that provide long-term skilled nursing-home care in Massachusetts and the financial assistance associated with each. While participants may choose to attend any or all of the sessions, they must still pay the full course cost of $99.

Difference Makers

Sept. 10: BusinessWest has moved its 12th annual Difference Makers event, originally scheduled for March 19, to Sept. 10 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The class of 2020 was profiled in the Feb. 3 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. Tickets cost $75. To reserve a spot, e-mail [email protected] or visit businesswest.com. Event sponsors include Burkhart Pizzanelli, Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health Of New England, Royal, P.C., and TommyCar Auto Group, while the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, MHA, and United Way of Pioneer Valley are partners.

Elms College Executive Leadership Breakfast

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

Company Notebook

Community Foundation Grants $700,000 Through COVID-19 Response Fund

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) announced the release of its first grants, totaling $700,000, to community organizations and nonprofits from its recently-established COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley. The fund has raised $2,480,000 from local philanthropic and business organizations and over 50 individuals. The first round of funding to support local response to the crisis includes $190,000 to distribute food through the region’s system of food pantries; $120,000 to address the needs of vulnerable elders, including home-delivered meals; $120,000 to provide critical health services and outreach through the Valley’s federally designated Community Health Centers; $150,000 to provide shelter for those without homes and those impacted by domestic violence; and $120,000 to provide flexible supports to the region’s lowest-income families and individuals. Organizations receiving funding include Caring Health Center, Catholic Charities Agency – Diocese of Springfield, Center for Human Development, Community Action Pioneer Valley, Community Health Center of Franklin County, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Friends of the Homeless (Clinical & Support Options), Greater Springfield Senior Services, Highland Valley Elder Services, Hilltown Community Health Center, Holyoke Health Center, LifePath, New England Learning Center for Women in Transition, Safe Passage, ServiceNet, Springfield Partners for Community Action, Springfield Rescue Mission, Valley Opportunity Council, WestMass ElderCare, Womanshelter Companeras, and YWCA of Western Massachusetts. More grants are expected to be announced and released to respond to emerging needs. In subsequent phases, grants will be made to address needs of nonprofit organizations that have been financially impacted by the crisis. The Community Foundation welcomes additional donations to the COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley. Donate online at communityfoundation.org/coronavirus-donations.

Fire Investigation Transfer Program Launched at STCC

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) has a hot new program. Starting this fall, the college will offer a new option in the Fire Protection and Safety Technology department: fire investigation transfer. Students who choose this option will study fire behavior, fire operations, prevention, investigations, and criminal law through courses in fire science and criminal justice. Fire investigators often work for local, state, and federal agencies, but also pursue opportunities in the private sector. The program is offered in the evening only, which will give students who work more flexibility. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for fire inspectors and investigators are expected to grow by 8% between 2018 and 2028. The median pay in 2018 was $60,200. Students who successfully complete the two-year program will receive an associate of science degree in fire protection and safety technology. To learn more about the program and to apply for the fall, visit stcc.edu/explore/programs/fitr.as. Individuals with questions may contact Tenczar at [email protected] or call (413) 755-4596.

HCC President Pledges $10,000 to ‘Together HCC’ Campaign

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) President Christina Royal has issued a personal $10,000 challenge gift toward a new HCC campaign that is as much about building moral support in a time of great uncertainty as it is about raising money for students experiencing financial distress. As part of the HCC Foundation’s “Together HCC — A Campaign for Caring,” students, staff, faculty, alumni, relatives, and friends are being asked to use the hashtag #TogetherHCC to share stories and images on social media that show the strength of the college community in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Royal’s $10,000 challenge is not just a financial one. Instead, the goal is to gather 1,000 contributions of any kind toward the #TogetherHCC campaign. That includes monetary donations as well as social-media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as e-mail submissions that describe an inspirational tale or messages of encouragement relating to the ongoing pandemic. Besides scholarships, the HCC Foundation manages several funds that directly support students facing financial emergencies as well as those experiencing food and housing insecurity. These include the President’s Student Emergency Fund, which was established by Royal, and another that supports HCC’s Thrive Student Resource Center, which manages the HCC Food Pantry.

Northampton Survival Center Updates Public on Services

NORTHAMPTON — While concern for staff, client, and volunteer health during the COVID-19 pandemic recently forced Northampton Survival Center to temporarily stop client visits to pick up food, the center anticipates resuming modified operations as soon as possible. Even though the building is closed, however, new community partnerships and initiatives have sprung into action. The center has teamed up with Community Action Pioneer Valley to begin distributing food out of Jackson Street School, a nearby location with ample, circular parking and cafeteria and refrigeration capabilities. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, food will be delivered by the Survival Center to the school, where a team of trained personnel will be able to create pre-bagged packages of nutritious food while maintaining safe distancing and other health precautions. On those same afternoons, bags will be carted outdoors under a tent, for quick drive-up intake and food transfer to clients safely in their cars. Another initiative between the Northampton Survival Center and Grow Food Northampton delivers fresh produce and groceries every Tuesday to high-need sites including Hampshire Heights, Florence Heights, Meadowbrook, and the Lumber Yard on Pleasant Street. Food distribution at all four sites will work in tandem with the Northampton public-school system and Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School’s new meal-delivery program for children, in order to amplify each other’s efforts to keep children and their entire families fed. Shelf-stable groceries will be paired with fresh produce purchased directly from local farms, as well as produce and other goods purchased from distributors via River Valley Co-op. To serve clients in the hilltowns, food is being brought from the Hilltown Pantry and Northampton Survival Center to the various Councils on Aging that serve the region. COAs in Chesterfield, Worthington, and Goshen have already begun distributing this food from their sites, and further outreach is being coordinated with the Hilltown Community Health Center and the Hilltown Community Development Corp. The center is exploring using a school classroom in Worthington as a mini-pantry, and fresh produce has been shared with the Maples senior housing in Worthington. Eggs from Northampton Survival Center have been shared with the MANNA hot meal program, and fresh produce and retail donations of bread and other items usually reserved for the center are now being shared with other food pantries in the area, via the center’s partners at the Food Bank.

Monson Savings Bank Donates $25,000 to Baystate Health’s Greatest Needs Fund

MONSON — Baystate Health has just completed construction of a rapid-response triage area outside of the Baystate Medical Center Emergency Department, allowing the hospital to better protect patients and medical staff from exposure to the virus as patients are being screened and tested. This new triage area is just one of the many large, unplanned expenses this health emergency has created. Additionally, the exploding demand for personal protection equipment for staff and myriad other needs to fight this outbreak are stretching resources and finances to the limit. Monson Savings Bank has donated $25,000 to Baystate’s Greatest Needs Fund. This gift will directly support resources needed at Baystate Health as it continues to address and prepare for the care the community needs during this worldwide pandemic.

UMassFive College Credit Union Offers Financial Resources, Support

HADLEY — As a local nonprofit financial cooperative, UMassFive College Federal Credit Union (UMassFive) is known for playing an active role in supporting and educating members and local communities. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UMassFive has launched a number of initiatives to continue supporting its membership and people in the local community. For example, UMassFive has joined forces with Log Rolling Catering to donate 350 meals to individuals and families in need, as well as those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. The Amherst Survival Center received 150 prepared meals for distribution to those in need, and another 200 meals went to the ER staff at both Mercy Medical Center in Springfield and UMass Medical Center in Worcester. In addition, UMassFive has pledged $1,000 to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and donated another $1,000 to the local farming nonprofit Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, which will use the funds as part of its campaign to raise $50,000 for emergency loans to local farms. Credit-union members can also participate by making charitable donations in support of their local community through the UMassFive Buzz Points program, including options benefiting the Food Bank and the Amherst Survival Center. UMassFive is committed to answering questions and providing financial guidance to its members throughout this ongoing time of economic uncertainty. Members are encouraged to reach out for one-on-one phone consultations with credit union staff to better understand what options are available to them at this time. For instance, UMassFive is offering loan-payment deferral for up to three months on all qualified consumer loans. Members can visit www.umassfive.coop/emergency-relief to learn which loans qualify and to submit their emergency-relief payment-deferral requests through an easy-to-fill-out web form. As a way to make things a little easier for qualified borrowers who decide to take on some short-term debt to address their current needs, UMassFive has temporarily lowered the rate of all new personal loans to 5.99% APR for amounts of $2,000 or less. New and existing members can apply for this loan online at www.umassfive.coop/personalloan. After signing up (for new users) or logging in, applicants should select ‘fixed-term loan,’ then ‘loan special,’ and continue filling out the form until fully submitted. The credit union strongly encourages seeking alternative options before taking on additional debt.

Country Bank Donates $250,000 to Four Hospitals

WARE — Country Bank announced it has donated $250,000 to four local hospitals to help assist with the work they are doing for patients as they fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The hospitals receiving donations include Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Harrington Hospital in Southbridge, UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, and Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester. Paul Scully, president and CEO at Country Bank, noted that “these are challenging and ever-evolving times as we face uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. As a community partner, we care deeply about our communities, and we wanted to support our local hospitals to help ease their financial burden as they continue to offer exceptional care to our friends and neighbors in the region.”

Providence Ministries Services Continue Through Pandemic

HOLYOKE — Providence Ministries will continue to offer essential support services to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, Executive Director Shannon Rudder shared precautions being made to ensure continuity of services while protecting program participants. Effective immediately, the following program shifts will occur: Kate’s Community Kitchen will provide warm, nutritious takeout meals; dining-room services will be suspended until further notice. Margaret’s Pantry will continue to welcome those in need of supplemental groceries to enjoy its community services. This includes both monthly guests along with anyone impacted by loss of work or simply realizing greater need at this time. Make an appointment by calling Brenda at (413) 536-9109, ext. 119. St. Jude’s Clothing Center will be closed until further notice to contain exposure, while the foodWorks culinary-training program will suspend current classes until further notice; the April 1 graduation will be rescheduled. Providence is taking every precaution to ensure its single-room-occupancy recovery housing spaces maintain cleanliness and overall health. It is difficult to ensure a true quarantine due to shared spaces, such as bathrooms and kitchens. At Loreto House, residents will suspend weekend passes and all planned workshops, no general public will be allowed entrance, a daily temperature check has been instituted, and any resident presenting symptoms and fever will be sent to the hospital or their primary-care provider. At both Broderick House and McCleary Manor, no outside visitors or overnight guests are permitted. No new residents will be admitted to any of these houses during this time. Each home has adequate cleaning products and hand soaps. Volunteers are asked to exercise caution and use their best judgement to continue in their service.

Girls Inc. Receives Grants from Baystate Health, Women Empowered

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley received a community-benefits discretionary grant of $5,000 from Baystate Health to Girls Inc. of the Valley’s “Informed and In Charge” program, which is designed to teach healthy sexuality. Through “Informed and In Charge,” girls acquire the knowledge and skills for taking charge of and making informed decisions about their sexual health. Exploring values, practicing responses in different situations, and thinking about their futures helps girls identify ways and reasons to avoid early pregnancy and prevent sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Meanwhile, Women Empowered, a group that strives to promote body positivity and acceptance for both adult women and future generations of girls, has donated $2,500 in proceeds of its Women Empowered calendar sales to Girls Inc. of the Valley. The receipt of this gift will support Girls Inc. of the Valley’s current research-based program offerings designed to empower girls, and will provide a boost in its annual fundraising efforts. The Women Empowered calendar features a diverse group of everyday women who have embraced their uniqueness, have overcome physical and mental obstacles, celebrate their bodies, and want to share their story to inspire others. This calendar provides the chance to send a message of body positivity and acceptance in order to teach other women and future generations to embrace the totality of who they are, and use their gifts, their beauty, and their stories to change the world. Everyone involved with the production of the calendar and all sponsors are women-owned businesses.

Amherst Area Tip Jar Launched

AMHERST — The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and the Amherst Business Improvement District (BID) have launched the Amherst Area Tip Jar. Many locals would regularly be patronizing their favorite restaurants, bars, salons, coffeehouses, and other businesses that have been ordered closed or have shifted to take-out only, depending on the type of business, due to the COVID-19 crisis and related health and safety restrictions. The Tip Jar, first established in Pittsburgh, allows people to support local service industry staff and businesses. It allows them to send a ‘tip’ to their favorite business, which will share it with their staff — bartenders, servers, kitchen staff, stylists, aestheticians, mechanics, etc. The Amherst Area Tip Jar offers an option for these businesses and individuals to post their Venmo or PayPal information so that customers, family members, neighbors, and community members, near and far, can continue to support them using this open-source concept — a way to maximize social distancing while supporting these workers and small businesses. E-mail Claudia Pazmany, the chamber’s executive director, at [email protected] or Gould at [email protected]m with any inquiries.

Big Y Announces Support for Five Food Banks

SPRINGFIELD — On March 16, Big Y World Class Markets donated $125,000 to three Massachusetts food banks and two in Connecticut in order to help them respond to the challenges they face in helping to feed others during these challenging times. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Food Bank, the Worcester County Food Bank, Foodshare, and the Connecticut Food Bank will each receive an immediate donation of $25,000. All Big Y stores also now have collection boxes to allow customers to make food donations for local pantries and shelters. As part of its recent 10th annual Sack Hunger/Care to Share program, Big Y also provided more than $11.5 million in food to area food banks, which amounts to a total of 5.7 million meals to help those in need throughout the region. In addition to Sack Hunger, it donates healthy food to these food banks six days a week throughout the year. Two-thirds of those 5.7 million meals include donations of meat and fresh produce, while bakery, non-perishable grocery items, frozen food, and dairy products account for the rest. In fact, these almost-daily donations have become a routine part of Big Y’s operations. These food banks depend upon this steady flow of food to feed those in need. Big Y also encourages support in any amount for area food banks right now. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts estimates that every dollar donated will provide four meals for those in need. Visit foodbankwma.org for more information. Additionally, Big Y donated $50,000 to the COVID-19 Response Fund hosted by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. The fund will provide flexible resources to Pioneer Valley nonprofit organizations serving populations most impacted by the crisis, such as the elderly, those without stable housing, families needing food, and those with particular health vulnerabilities.

Company Notebook

Bacon Wilson to Donate $25,000 for Firm’s 125th Anniversary

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson announced that, in honor of its 125th anniversary year, the firm will donate $25,000 to various community organizations throughout the Pioneer Valley. Bacon Wilson will make five contributions of $1,250 for each quarter of 2020. After gathering suggestions from members of the firm, first-quarter contributions of $1,250 were awarded to:

• Michael J. Dias Foundation, which provides aid and education for individuals and families on substance abuse, and help for those battling the disease of addiction;

• All Out Adventures, which promotes health, community, and independence for people with disabilities, seniors, veterans, and their families and friends through outdoor recreation;

• Amherst Survival Center, which connects people to food, clothing, healthcare, wellness, and community, primarily through volunteer efforts;

• Our Community Table: Westfield Soup Kitchen, a 100% volunteer organization dependent upon donations to provide a clean and safe environment to serve those in need; and

• Treehouse Foundation, an intergenerational community neighborhood where adoptive families and their children, older youth, and elders invest in one another’s health, dreams, and futures.

Bacon Wilson will announce recipients for the firm’s remaining quarterly giving in June, September, and December.

Eversource Energy to Purchase Columbia Gas of Massachusetts

BOSTON — Eversource Energy announced it has reached an agreement to purchase the Massachusetts natural-gas assets of Columbia Gas for $1.1 billion from NiSource. The acquisition will bring Columbia Gas operations in Massachusetts under local ownership by the largest energy company in New England. Columbia Gas currently serves 330,000 natural-gas customers in more than 60 communities in Massachusetts. Eversource has 300,000 natural-gas customers and 1.5 million electric customers in 51 communities across the Commonwealth. Many communities that Columbia Gas serves with natural gas already receive electric service from Eversource. Under the asset-purchase agreement, liabilities related to the September 2018 gas distribution incidents in the Merrimack Valley will remain the responsibility of Columbia Gas’s current parent company, NiSource. Eversource plans to finance the transaction with a balance of new equity and debt that maintains its credit profile. The parties expect to close the transaction by the end of the third quarter 2020.

Isenberg Again Ranks First for MBA Online Education

AMHERST — For the fourth year in a row, the online MBA offered by the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst topped the rankings of U.S. programs — and came out number three in the world — in the Financial Times survey. Isenberg has offered an AACSB-accredited MBA degree program entirely online since 2001, making it one of the most well-established and robust online degrees in the country. Currently, more than 1,100 students are enrolled in the program. In addition to its overall position in the 2020 Financial Times ranking, the Isenberg online MBA also stood out in a number of data areas, based on information collected by the publication from members of the 2016 graduating class. It ranked first in the world for salary increase, with alumni reporting that they earn 46% more now than they did when they graduated from the Isenberg MBA program; second in the U.S. for average current salary ($168,046); and first in the U.S. for value.

American International College Named To Military Friendly Schools List

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) has again been named a Military Friendly School. VIQTORY, a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business that connects the military community to civilian employment and educational and entrepreneurial opportunities, has released the 2020-21 Military Friendly​​ Schools list, providing a comprehensive guide for veterans and their families using data sources from federal agencies, veteran students, and proprietary survey information from participating organizations in order to help them select the best college, university, or trade school to receive the education and training needed to pursue a civilian career. Institutions earning the Military Friendly​ School designation are evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey completed by the school. This year, fewer than 800 schools nationwide earned this prestigious designation. Methodology and criteria were determined by VIQTORY with input from the Military Friendly​ ​Advisory Council of independent leaders in the higher-education and military-recruitment community. Final ratings were determined by combining the individual institution’s survey scores with the assessment of its ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer), and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

Girls Inc. of the Valley Receives $500,000 Grant

HOLYOKE — Girls Inc. of the Valley announced plans for major expansion and the launch of its new campaign. The organization is in the early stages of an ambitious, comprehensive campaign, “Her Future, Our Future,” with three primary goals: to develop a permanent Girls Inc. home in downtown Holyoke; to expand school-based programming in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield; and to extend the Eureka! STEM education program. To that end, it has received $500,000 in support from the Kendeda Fund, a private grantmaker based in Atlanta. This transformative gift will support the expansion of Girls Inc. of the Valley’s programs and create a stronger network that encourages girls to achieve. Girls Inc. of the Valley is launching this campaign to offer more girls fundamental support and research-based programming. These programs are designed to empower girls and present them with opportunities to navigate barriers they face in school and beyond.

Women’s Fund to Award $45,000 to Groups Addressing Sexual Violence

SPRINGFIELD — The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) announced a spring grant cycle to fund organizations that are working to fight sexual violence in the Western Mass. region. Funding for this grant cycle is made possible by a grant the WFWM received from the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies (the Me Too Fund), housed at the New York Women’s Foundation. Joining the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Foundation of California, and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota in this work, WFWM will carry out the Me Too Fund’s goal of ensuring ongoing philanthropic investments toward transforming the oppressive systems that produce structural inequalities of power that result in harassment and violence by making grants from this fund in and for the local community. Applications will be accepted from women- and girl-serving organizations in all four counties of Western Mass. through March 31. Projects funded by this grant from WFWM must focus on prevention and/or intervention of sexual violence and harassment. Visit mywomensfund.org for additional information or to apply.

GCAi Launches Videos for Peter Pan’s App Marketing and Perks Rewards Program

SPRINGFIELD — Riders on any Peter Pan bus right now will not only view a new app-marketing video but also a new Perks Rewards program video. In between the two marketing videos is a brief welcome message by company Chairman and CEO Peter Picknelly. Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi) produced the three videos, which are already being shown on all routes in the Northeast Corridor. Each of them was produced by award-winning video producer Darcy Young, one of the only female video producers in the market. The concepts and scripts were developed by GCAi founder John Garvey. The app and rewards videos will be disseminated through digital marketing campaigns in specific markets on the East Coast in the near future. These videos are the third in a series of passenger videos produced by GCAi that began when Peter Pan Bus Lines separated from Greyhound Bus Lines in 2017. The videos can be viewed at gcaionline.com/video.

Webber & Grinnell Acquires Roger Menard Insurance Agency

NORTHAMPTON — Webber & Grinnell Insurance announced the acquisition of Roger Menard Insurance Agency at 241 King St., Northampton. “Roger and I have been talking about this for a long time, and we are fortunate to be able to continue his legacy of great customer service to his clients,” said Webber and Grinnell President Bill Grinnell. “Our office is only a quarter-mile down the street, so it will be an easy adjustment for his clients. We also represent the same insurance carriers as Roger Menard Insurance, which will make the transition go very smoothly. Menard added that “Webber and Grinnell is the premier insurance agency in Northampton, and I know my clients will be treated very well. I’ve truly enjoyed this business and the relationships I have developed along the way. But after 36 years, it’s time to do something different. I will still be available to answer any questions during the transition.”

DAISA Enterprises to Facilitate Healthy Children and Families Event

SOUTH HADLEY — DAISA Enterprises, a food-systems and community health strategy firm based in South Hadley, was selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to design and facilitate a convening of Healthy Children and Families grantees for 2020. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), based in Princeton, N.J., is the largest philanthropic foundation in the U.S. focused solely on health, striving to advance policy, system, and environmental changes that create the conditions to foster families’ opportunities to promote healthy child development. The Healthy Children and Families convening will be a forum for sharing lessons and leveraging insights among grantees, partners, stakeholders, and RWJF staff around strategies to achieve this goal and prioritize health equity. More than 100 health leaders are expected to attend this event this spring or summer.

Health New England a Finalist in Healthiest Employers Program

SPRINGFIELD — Health New England has been recognized as one of the 2019 finalists of the Healthiest Employers of Massachusetts, a nationally recognized awards program powered by the Springbuk Health Intelligence Platform. Applicants to the Healthiest Employers awards program were evaluated across six key categories, representing a holistic view of employee well-being: culture and leadership commitment, foundational components, strategic planning, communication and marketing, programming and interventions, and reporting and analytics. All companies that applied to the awards program were ranked according to the proprietary Healthiest Employers Index, a 1-100 rubric for employee well-being programming. Ranked second in the 100- to 499-employee size category in Massachusetts, Health New England was honored for its commitment to employee health and corporate health programming. As an award finalist, Health New England has demonstrated a strong commitment to the health and well-being of its team members.

Bay Path Earns ‘A’ Grade for Early Reading Courses

LONGMEADOW — The National Council on Teacher Quality released its scores for the 2020 Teacher Prep Review, ranking Bay Path University’s Early Reading course content in undergraduate, traditional, elementary-education programs with an ‘A’ designation. Reading ability is a key predictor of future educational gains and life success, and more than one-third of American children are not able to read by the fourth grade, with black and Hispanic children being disproportionately affected. Successful reading instruction is essential to achieving educational equity, yet only seven programs in Massachusetts received an ‘A’ ranking. After reviewing course syllabi and required textbooks, programs were ranked based on the following criteria: the availability of explicit instruction on each of the five components of reading instruction — phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies; support for instruction with high-quality textbooks that accurately detail established principles of scientifically based reading practices; and evidence that teacher candidates must demonstrate mastery through in-class assignments, tests, and field work.

Scout Curated Wears Supports Dress for Success

SPRINGFIELD — Scout Curated Wears started out as a local business and quickly turned into a nationwide sensation with its signature item, which converts from a wrap bracelet to a necklace. But the company is equally proud of its commitment to give back 10% of its net proceeds to support women’s organizations. Dress for Success Western Massachusetts is one of the nonprofits that benefits from the generosity of Scout Curated Wears and owner Lora Fischer-DeWitt. Women in the Greater Springfield community benefit from both a network of support and programs developed by Dress for Success. These programs, which are designed to be responsive to both women and employers, include the Foot in the Door workforce-readiness program; the Boutique, which provides women with professional attire for interviews and employment; the Margaret Fitzgerald One-on-One mentor program; and the Professional Women’s Group, designed to promote employment retention and career advancement. Fischer-DeWitt changes the lives of women who come through these programs by providing an annual contribution and by sponsoring Common Threads, an annual event celebrating of the accomplishments of women who have come through Dress for Success Western Massachusetts programs. This year’s event is scheduled for Thursday, April 16 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Springfield Sheraton.

Elms School of Nursing Ranks in Top 10 in State

CHICOPEE — The School of Nursing at Elms College ranks in the top 10 of “Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts,” according to a recent ranking by registerednursing.org. To determine this year’s rankings, registerednursing.org researched the 40 nursing programs across the state and analyzed their students’ performance on the NCLEX-RN exam over the past five years. In 2019, Elms College nurses achieved a 97% pass rate on the exam, while the national pass rate was 91%. This is the third top-10 ranking for Elms College’s School of Nursing over the past year. It has been ranked in the top 10 of nursing schools in Massachusetts according to both nurse.org and niche.com.

Agenda

Real-estate Licensing Course

Feb. 19 to March 19: The Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley will sponsor a 40-hour, 14-class sales licensing course to help individuals prepare for the Massachusetts real-estate salesperson license exam. The course will be completed on March 19. Tuition is $400 and includes the book and materials. For an application, call the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley at (413) 785-1328 or visit www.rapv.com.

Legal Interpreting Certificate Program

Starting Feb. 25: Interested in working as a legal interpreter? Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will a training course that runs through April, with classes meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Offered as a certificate program through the Workforce Development Center at STCC, this class is open to Spanish-, Portuguese-, Arabic-, and Russian-speaking students who would like to expand their interpreting skills in legal settings. Interpreting is a high-demand field, with jobs expected to grow by 19% through 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Large increases in the number of non-English-speaking people in the U.S. will drive growth, the bureau reports. The course will cover the most in-demand types of hearings, such as due-process hearings, unemployment hearings, and depositions. Students will learn legal terminology and procedural protocols needed to interpret for these various types of hearings. In addition, students will have the opportunity for intense practice through mock hearings, which will give them the experience and comfort level needed to apply for work in the field. Trained legal interpreters are in demand throughout Massachusetts and nationwide in law offices, schools, state agencies, and contracting agencies. For more information and to enroll online, visit stcc.edu/wdc/descriptions/legal-interpreting. To contact the Workforce Development Center office, call (413) 755-4225.

Springfield Rotary Club Luncheon

Feb. 28: Paul Aquila, registered principal with Raymond James Financial Services and founder of Longview Investments, LLC, a diversified financial-services firm offering wealth management in Connecticut and Massachusetts, will address the Springfield Rotary Club’s luncheon meeting on Friday, Feb. 28. He will discuss donor-advised funds — what they are, how to use them, and how they can help clients integrate their values into their investments. The Springfield Rotary Club meets every Friday at 12:15 p.m. in the MassMutual Room at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, and is a member of Rotary International. The Rotary luncheon with Aquila costs $18 per person and is open to the public.

Difference Makers Gala

March 19: The 11th annual Difference Makers gala will take place at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. BusinessWest launched its Difference Makers program in 2009 to celebrate individuals, groups, organizations, and families that are positively impacting the Pioneer Valley and are, as the name suggests, making a difference in this region. The class of 2020 is profiled in the Feb. 3 issue of BusinessWest. Tickets cost $75. To reserve a spot, e-mail [email protected] or visit businesswest.com. Difference Makers is sponsored by Burkhart Pizzanelli, Royal, P.C., Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health of New England, and TommyCar Auto Group, and the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournement, MHA, and United Way of Pioneer Valley are partners. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.

Women’s Leadership Conference

March 27: Bay Path University’s division of Strategic Alliances announced that producer, author, entrepreneur, educator, and, of course, top model Tyra Banks will bring her bold attitude, unique style, and well-honed business acumen to Springfield as the keynote speaker at the 25th annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC). This year’s theme, “Own Your Now,” will encourage conference guests to examine the forces that have shaped their careers, relationships, and aspirations; recognize what drives them and what holds them back; and empower them to confidently move forward. Suzy Batiz, who will deliver the morning address to open the conference, earned a place on Forbes’ list of most successful self-made women — and an estimated net worth of $260 million — by creating of a suite of eco-minded household products, including Poo-Pourri, a toilet spray she developed to combat bathroom odors. Patrice Banks (no relation to Tyra) will address the audience at lunchtime. She is the owner of the Girls Auto Clinic and Clutch Beauty Bar, an auto mechanic shop and beauty bar staffed by women. She is also the founder of the SheCANics movement, which looks to demystify car repair and engage more women in the automotive industry. Breakout sessions — focused on navigating the complicated relationships, personalities, and dynamics of the workplace and the impact those have on our careers and opportunities — will be led by bestselling authors and researchers including Laura Huang, Harvard Business School professor and author of Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage; Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning; Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author of Don’t You Know Who I Am: How to Stay Sane in the Era of Narcissism, Entitlement and Incivility; and Jennifer Romolini, author of Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits. For further information on the conference and to register, visit www.baypathconference.com.

Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series

March 27, April 10, May 8, June 19: Women leaders of prominent area institutions will be the featured presenters at the spring 2020 Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series hosted by Holyoke Community College and the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. At the four-part, monthly “Leadership in Your Future 2020” series, each of four presenters will sit at a different table each week and speak on a subject of their choosing. Over the course of the four-session series, they will rotate among the tables so guests have the opportunity to hear all the presentations. The four presenters are Theresa Cooper-Gordon, commissioner, Holyoke Housing Authority (“Self-Determination”); Priscilla Kane Hellweg, executive/artistic director, Enchanted Circle Theater (“In it for the Long Haul”); Jody Kasper, chief of Police, city of Northampton (“Rising to the Top”); and Christina Royal, president, Holyoke Community College (“Leading Through Change”). The luncheons run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, 164 Race St. Lunch will be prepared and served by students in the HCC Culinary Arts program. The series will provide an opportunity to learn from women leaders of area institutions and a chance for participants to network with their peers and gain insights on building their own careers. The cost is $150 for all four sessions. Seating is limited. For more information or to reserve a seat, contact Valentyna Semyrog at (413) 552-2123 or [email protected].

Unify Against Bullying Cut-a-Thon

April 4: Hair-salon owners and their teams are being asked to make a difference in the fight against bullying. Unify Against Bullying is looking for local and regional salons to participate in a one-day Cut-a-Thon, donating proceeds from haircuts, blowouts, and styling to the anti-bullying organization. Some salons will also offer temporary pink hair color — the signature color of Unify Against Bullying. In addition, each salon will add its own fun activities and promotions for the event. Although the main event is being held on April 4, some salon owners can choose the option to hold the fundraiser for the whole month to make it easier on their team. This year, Basia Belz, a Unify Against Bullying board member and owner of Vivid Hair Salon, located at 99 Elm St., Westfield, will chair the event. Salon owners who wish to participate can contact Belz at (413) 564-0062 or [email protected].

Elms College Executive

Leadership Breakfast

April 9: Elms College will host its third annual Executive Leadership Breakfast for the region’s business executives, state and local legislators, and community leaders. The keynote speaker for the event is U.S. Rep. Richard Neal. His talk, “Leadership in Turbulent Times,” will examine how our congressional delegation is providing leadership on issues that could impact the economy of the Western Mass. region. Neal was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1988. He currently serves as chair of the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. This annual event features talks by the region’s leaders on topics of relevance that impact all sectors of business and the economy in Western Mass. Corporate sponsorships are available for this event, and an invitation is required to attend. For more information on the various sponsorship opportunities or to request an invitation, call the Elms College Office of Institutional Advancement at (413) 265-2448.

Hooplandia

June 26-28: Hooplandia, the largest 3-on-3 basketball competition and celebration on the East Coast, will take place on June 26-28, 2020, hosted by Eastern States Exposition and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The event will feature hundreds of games for thousands of players of all ages and playing abilities, with divisions for young girls, boys, women, men, high-school elite, college elite, pro-am, ‘over the hill,’ wheelchair, wounded warrior, Special Olympians, veterans, first responders, and more. More than 100 outdoor blacktop courts will be placed throughout the roadway and parking-lot network of the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds in West Springfield. Slam-dunk, 3-point, free-throw, dribble-course, vertical-jump, and full-court-shot skills competitions will be spotlighted. Themed state courts will be mobilized along the Exposition’s famed Avenue of States. Featured ‘showcase games’ will be held on new court surfaces in the historic Eastern States Coliseum and on the Court of Dreams, the center court of the Basketball Hall of Fame. A year-long community outreach effort will begin immediately. Registration will open on March 1, 2020. Information and engagement is available now through www.hooplandia.com or on Instagram: @hooplandia.

Company Notebook

Charter Oak Financial Merges with Two Firms

HOLYOKE — Charter Oak Financial, MassMutual Greater Long Island, and MassMutual Greater Hudson have combined. The expanded firm will operate as Charter Oak Financial and will be led by managing partners Brendan Naughton and Brad Somma. The consolidation is part of a strategic plan to extend Charter Oak’s reach and leverage highly skilled resources to create the scale and infrastructure needed to deliver an enhanced client experience. Charter Oak now includes 375 advisors and a team of more than 100 specialists and staff servicing clients from offices across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. The combination also bolsters existing presence in the Chinatowns of Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Naughton and Somma have been industry colleagues since 2001 and bring a combined 30 years of financial-services expertise to their leadership roles. Naughton joined Charter Oak in 2005 as a managing director for the firm’s Stamford office. He filled that role until 2009, when he was appointed managing partner. Somma was a managing director with Charter Oak from 2008 until 2012, when he was appointed managing partner of MassMutual Greater Long Island.

Big Y Donates $215,742 to Breast-cancer Groups

SPRINGFIELD — In order to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, all Big Y supermarkets donated proceeds from their October initiative “Partners of Hope” to 29 breast-cancer treatment and support organizations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut. During the month-long campaign, Big Y raised $215,742. The 29 recipients included eight organizations in Western Mass.: Protect our Breasts in Amherst; the Pink Way in Ludlow; Survivor Journeys in Longmeadow; Cancer Connection and Cooley Dickinson Hospital, both in Northampton; Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield; and Baystate Health Foundation/Rays of Hope and Mercy Medical Center, both in Springfield. Big Y donated a portion of the proceeds from both the Floral and Produce departments during October, and 5 cents for each Big Y, Top Care, Full Circle, Simply Done, Paws Happy Life, Pure Harmony, @Ease, Tippy Toes, and Culinary Tours brand products purchased between Oct. 4 and Oct. 10 (excluding random-weight items). The Big Y Butcher Shops also donated 10 cents from every pound of all-natural angus beef and Big Y Smart Chicken sold during the entire month of October. Big Y Pharmacy & Wellness Center donated $5 for every flu shot given. Every store promoted Partners of Hope pink ribbons for $1 for the month of October as a way of generating additional proceeds for local breast-cancer organizations throughout the two states. In addition, Big Y’s dietitian team, Carrie Taylor and Andrea Luttrell, devoted a portion of their fall newsletter to cancer prevention. Since 2007, Big Y has raised more than $2 million to support local breast-cancer initiatives.

The Starting Gate at GreatHorse Honored by WeddingWire

HAMPDEN — The Starting Gate at GreatHorse was announced a winner of the 2020 WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards, an accolade representing the top wedding professionals across the board in quality, service, responsiveness, and professionalism reviewed by couples on WeddingWire. For its 12th annual Couples’ Choice Awards, WeddingWire analyzed reviews across more than 20 service categories, from venues and caterers to florists and photographers, to find the most highly rated vendors of the year. These winners exhibit superior professionalism, responsiveness, service, and quality when interacting with the millions of consumers who turn to WeddingWire each month to help ease their wedding-planning process. Wedding professionals who win WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards are members of WeddingPro, the leading B2B wedding brand.

EANE Offers Study Classes for HR Certification Tests

AGAWAM — Perfect distance vision is commonly referred to as 20/20 vision. As a new year begins, the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) wants to help those in the human resources (HR) field sharpen their visions for career growth. HR certifications from HRCI or SHRM indicate that an individual possesses a knowledge and understanding of what HR professionals at various levels are expected to know and do on the job. The certification exams require a combination of experience and preparation in order to be successful. EANE provides a proven study process for these exams. The national pass rates for the HRCI or SHRM certification tests is about 50%. That pass rate increases to nearly 90% for those who have studied with an EANE HR certification study group. EANE’s winter study group sessions begin in February. The $995 registration covers enrollment in the 10-week class that meets from 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, as well as all necessary study materials. Dinner is provided at the study classes, which are led by EANE’s certified HR professionals. Learn more about EANE’s study classes at www.eane.org/hr-certification-study.

Swift River Building New Pharmacy at Home Campus

CUMMINGTON — Swift River, a member of the Addiction Campuses treatment centers, announced the opening of a new pharmacy. The construction project began in 2019 and is expected to be completed this month. Swift River has teamed up with Keiter Builders Inc. based in Florence, and Kuhn Riddle Architects of Amherst to lead in the design and construction of a new, 1,690-square-foot addition. The addition is a B-use occupancy including a nurse’s station, patient-service portals, exam rooms, and a pharmacy for the storage and dispensing of narcotic addition-treatment substances. The project is regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency and meets relevant standards, including an alarm system, security cameras, motion and sound detectors, and limited key-access entry points.

GCC, Double Edge Theatre Announce Collaboration

GREENFIELD — This spring, Greenfield Community College (GCC) and Double Edge Theatre will embark on a formal collaboration to grow the role of visual and performing arts within the college and Franklin County. Kicking off with an experimental-performance class taught by Double Edge at GCC next semester, this partnership will evolve into a multi-year endeavor to engage a diverse mix of students and community members in longer productions and spectacles. Founded in Boston in 1982 as a feminist ensemble and laboratory for the creative process, Double Edge has been an integral part of the community in Ashfield for the past 25 years. Located on a 105-acre former dairy farm, the theatre welcomes people from around the world to come study, move, perform, produce, and explore the intersection of art and social justice. Over 700 students have come through the company’s rigorous and intensive training. Artistic home to a multitude of passions, skills, and interests, Double Edge attracts thousands of theater-goers every year. Shows are sold out months in advance, and the company has brought its imaginative and visceral work across the U.S. and as far as Central Europe, South America, and Norway.

Cosmetology Student Salon at STCC Accepting Clients

SPRINGFIELD — Need a haircut or manicure? How about a scalp treatment? Consider stopping by the Cosmetology Student Salon at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC). The salon, located in Building 20, Room 217, is open to clients Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays for walk-ins 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is a nominal fee for services. No appointment is necessary. Students can assist with haircuts, styling, scalp treatments, conditioning treatments, manicures, and paraffin hand treatments. A Redken Professional School, the student salon uses and sells Redken and Matrix professional products. Students in the salon are enrolled in the cosmetology program at STCC, which teaches the art, science, and business aspects of the cosmetology profession. Students who successfully complete the two-semester program will receive a certificate in cosmetology. All students who work in the lab have completed certain requirements mandated by the Massachusetts Cosmetology Rules and Regulations. For more information, call the salon at (413) 755-4837. To learn more, visit stcc.edu/explore/programs/cosm.crt.

Fresh Paint Releases Economic-impact Report

SPRINGFIELD — Fresh Paint Springfield, the first-ever downtown mural festival that took place in June 2019 and transformed 10 large exterior walls into art, has released a report on the positive economic impact that occurred in Springfield from last year’s festival. Fresh Paint Springfield has also announced plans for a 2020 festival, which is set to take place June 1-13, 2020 and will paint exterior walls in Mason Square and downtown Springfield. Nominations for 2020 murals on walls in Mason Square or downtown can be made at www.freshpaintspringfield.com/walls. The economic-impact study involved a team of specialists from the UMass Design Center and Jessica Payne Consulting to measure concrete participatory, financial, cultural, community, and environmental outcomes of the festival. The full report can be downloaded at www.freshpaintspringfield.com. The study found that Fresh Paint Springfield stimulated new investment in the downtown community and showcased the connection between public art and economic development. The resulting economic impact to Springfield was $361,481. The study also found that business owners benefited from an uptick in revenue during the festival, and the murals permanently improved the walkability of downtown. All business owners reported that sponsoring the festival was a good use of city and state economic-development funds, and would like to see Fresh Paint Springfield happen again. Respondents also overwhelmingly agreed that the murals and festival events valued public art and built a greater sense of community. The festival drew 12 sponsors, including foundations, nonprofits, municipal agencies, and businesses.

Company Notebook

The Hive Makerspace Comes to Downtown Greenfield

GREENFIELD — After the World Eye Bookstore at 156 Main St. in downtown Greenfield moved down the street, the storefront sat empty for almost two years before former landlord Robert Cohn decided to take a new tack to find an appropriate tenant for the 5,600-square-foot space. He contacted local creatives to find out what might be an exciting contribution to the creative economy of downtown Greenfield, and artists and artisans from myriad disciplines suggested that a makerspace could be an economic driver and help create a destination downtown. So Cohn moved forward with finding the team to put such a plan in place, and the Hive was born. Rachael Katz and Adrienne LaPierre are the project leads working to implement the vision of a state-of-the-art public makerspace. Katz, the owner of the Greenfield Gallery just across the street, is the primary technical consultant for the Hive, with experience that combines the skills of a mechanical engineer with the talents of an artist. She is the sculptor behind the Beatrice the Bee project, the largest public art project ever undertaken in downtown Greenfield, in which six painted bees will be placed around town in celebration of Bee Fest in May 2020. LaPierre, who will be the executive director of the facility, is an educational technology consultant who has spent the past five years working within the Brattleboro public school system to develop innovative ways to integrate makerspace activities and engineering design into the elementary- and middle-school curriculum. They are working with a small, dedicated team of advisors and volunteers to bring the Hive to life. They have applied for a planning grant and have initiated fundraising efforts to cover costs for the first year of development. The name of the Hive is a tribute to the long-standing legacy that Greenfield holds in the world of beekeeping. Makerspaces represent the democratization of design, engineering, and fabrication. At the Hive, traditional artisans will stand side by side with engineers operating 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC machines. Performing artists may design fabric for costumes, and props for plays can be crafted at the same time prototypes for new products created by local innovators and entrepreneurs take shape.

EforAll Holyoke Announces 2020 Winter Cohort

HOLYOKE — Ten early-stage businesses and nonprofits have been selected to participate in the Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Winter Accelerator program in Holyoke. This cohort was evaluated by more than 50 community leaders, EforAll mentors, industry experts, and entrepreneurs through a rigorous application review and interview process. The startups selected represent both products and services from a variety of industries. In this year-long program, 70% of the startups have at least one founder of color, and 80% have at least one female founder. This is representative of EforAll’s mission to accelerate economic development and social impact through inclusive entrepreneurship in gateway communities. As part of the 2020 cohort, entrepreneurs will have access to expert mentorship, tailored curriculum, co-working space, and opportunities to win prize money. The finalists are:

• Liam Malone, Holyoke: Greens for Good. Aims to open a year-round farmers market and aquaponic production facility to provide locally sourced food at affordable prices for Holyoke and beyond;

• Carlos Rosario, Springfield: Rosario Asphalt Co. Specializing in residential asphalt and paving services;

• Dioni Soriano and Nayroby Rosa, Holyoke: Soriano Baseball Academy. A baseball camp that provides one-on-one coaching and guidance to youth ages 8 to 16, creating a safe environment where they can practice their skills and improve them year-round;

• Erika Matos, Indian Orchard: Top Flight Nutrition. A nutrition club that recently opened at 594 Dwight St. in Holyoke, offering fitness classes, healthy shakes and smoothies, and health-related programming for the community;

• Jessica Rivera, Chicopee: Bet on Our Youth Travel Camp. Centered on providing services and opportunities to enlighten young people through positive experiences;

• Heather Labonte, Granby: the Estate. An outdoor event venue for weddings, corporate parties, showers, and special occasions;

• Nicole Ortiz, Chicopee: Crave Food Truck. This HCC culinary student plans to open a food truck that has a variety of food with an emphasis on local ingredients and breakfast;

• Sandra Rubio, Easthampton: Totally Baked 413. This Holyoke-based startup offers custom 3D, gourmet cakes for any occasion, as well as pastries and other fresh-baked goods;

• Jessika Rozki, Springfield: Rozki Rides. Providing safe and reliable children’s transportation for working parents; and

• Sarah Kukla, Holyoke: Cupcakes, Pupcakes & More. Baked goods and sweets for both humans and dogs.

Springfield College Unveils New Master of Science in Athletic Training Program

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College unveiled its new master of science in athletic training program, which is accredited under the 2020 Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) Curricular Content Standards. The new curriculum is the combined effort of many dedicated athletic training educators working over a three-year period to design a program that stayed true to the core values of Springfield College and the athletic training education program. The new program also seeks to incorporate innovative and engaging ways to ensure that athletic training graduates are well prepared to meet the healthcare needs of physically active individuals. Springfield College has a long-standing tradition in preparing athletic trainers for successful careers dating back to 1925. As part of this internationally recognized program, students gain the training and experience to help them succeed in the field. Springfield College’s athletic training tradition includes graduates employed by professional teams, high schools, and colleges and universities.

New Restaurant to Open in Thornes Marketplace

NORTHAMPTON — Aaron Thayer, a chef with experience at exclusive fine-dining establishments in Boston and San Francisco — and at Coco & the Cellar Bar in Easthampton — will open a restaurant called Patria in Thornes Marketplace with his business partner and wife, Abby Fuhrman. Patria will be located on the basement level in the space formerly occupied by ConVino, which closed in August. Thayer and Fuhrman expect to open Patria in the spring of 2020. Currently, they are renovating the dining room and kitchen to create a more functional flow and enhance the décor with new furnishings and lighting. Key in creating a new workflow is a restructuring of the dining room and kitchen to account for the fact that Patria will be focused more on food service, whereas ConVino’s emphasis, as a wine bar, was on beverage sales. Thayer said Patria will offer fine dining with a relaxed and casual approach. Patria will specialize in large, family-style roasts, fresh pastas, and vegetable dishes that will all be sharable. Service and quality will be a major focus of the restaurant, and Thayer and Fuhrman will work to create an atmosphere that is comfortable and adventurous. Thayer will use as much local produce and other ingredients as is possible.

Pilot Precision Products Wins Silver Economic Impact Award

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Pilot Precision Products, which opened the doors to its new, 24,000-square-foot facility in South Deerfield in April, received a Silver award in the Western Mass. division at the 2019 Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Awards. Nineteen companies from across the Commonwealth were selected as finalists for MassEcon’s 16th annual celebration of firms for their outstanding contributions to the Massachusetts economy. MassEcon, the state’s private-sector partner in promoting business growth in Massachusetts, selected the finalists based on their job growth, facility expansion, and investment since Jan. 1, 2018, as well as other criteria, including community involvement. The winners were selected after site visits and a reception with their competitors and judges from Nutter McClennen & Fish, LLP. Locally owned and operated, Pilot Precision Products is the parent company of duMONT Minute Man Industrial Broaches and Hassay Savage broaching tools, and is the exclusive American distributor of Magafor and GMauvaisUSATM products. Pilot currently has 33 employees and had tripled its sales over the past three years.

Carr Hardware Opens New Store in Lenox

LENOX — Carr Hardware, a family-owned business for more than 90 years, announced that its new location in Lenox is now open for business. The 11,000-square-foot retail space is located in the Center at Lenox on Routes 7 and 20. The Center at Lenox is also home to well-known retailers CVS, Marshalls, and Price Chopper. The new, state-of-the-art Carr Hardware offers a modern and convenient shopping experience with a nostalgic, vintage hardware-store flair, said company President Bart Raser. Preferred brands featured include STIHL, Toro, Pratt & Lambert, Valspar, Cabot, Milwaukee, Dewalt, Weber, Big Green Egg, Scotts, Graber, and Carhartt, to name a few. The store also features a large, seasonal garden center, as well as services like digital key duplication, screen and glass repair, lamp repair, and propane filling. Free local delivery is available as well as the Carr assurance, “at Carr, we service what we sell.” Unique to the market, Carr Hardware has introduced “Ben Moore 2 Your Door,” where contractors and homeowners can select their Benjamin Moore paint purchase, along with the needed accessories, and have them all delivered within the Greater Lenox area the same day for free. Orders can be placed online, by phone, or by text.

Jay Smith Receives Award from National Tour Assoc.

HATFIELD — The National Tour Assoc. (NTA) recently presented Jay Smith, founder of Sports Travel and Tours, with the 2019 Bob Everidge Lifetime Achievement Award for dedication to the organization’s mission for more than 20 years. At NTA’s annual conference, called Travel Exchange, on Dec. 12 in Fort Worth, Texas, Smith accepted the honor from NTA President Pam Inman. Smith has served as a volunteer, member of the organization, member of the NTA board of directors, and board vice chair and chair. Smith founded Sports Travel and Tours in 1996, offering tours to baseball games initially and then expanding to include other sports trips in a wider range of venues, including Cuba, London, and Japan. Support from his staff and his wife, Carol, allowed him to dedicate time to the NTA and its goals. Smith is active in Tourism Cares and Travel Alliance Partners, two industry-focused organizations, and Sports Travel and Tours has been the official travel company of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum since 2007.

Rotary Club of Springfield Inducts Massachusetts Commission for the Blind

SPRINGFIELD — The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) was inducted as a corporate member into the Rotary Club of Springfield on Dec. 6. Nathan Skrocki, regional director, and Keri Davidson-Bravman, vocational rehabilitation and children’s worker supervisor for the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, will be the participating members. The MCB was sponsored by Rotarian Paul Lambert, vice president of Enshrinement Services & Community at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. MCB was established on July 13, 1906. The organization was originally comprised of three men and two women, including Helen Keller. Its mission is to provide vocational and social rehabilitation services for residents of the Commonwealth who are declared to be legally blind by an eye professional. MCB provides rehabilitation and social services to Massachusetts residents who are blind, leading to their independence and full community participation. Its main office is in Boston, with regional offices in Springfield, Worcester, and New Bedford.

Agenda

Loomis Village Art Exhibit

Jan. 1-31: The public is invited to view a new exhibit coming to Loomis Village in January, “Five Felters, Five Perspectives,” which will showcase bespoke garments, landscapes, and abstract and sculptural wall pieces inspired by nature, historical artifacts, and imagination. The artists are Nina Compagnon, Sally Dillon, Martha Robinson, Flo Rosenstock, and Margaret Stancer. The exhibit will be displayed in the second- and third-floor galleries at Loomis Village, 20 Bayon Dr., South Hadley every day in January from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A reception with the five artists will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 15 from 4 to 6 p.m. A demonstration of felting techniques, also open to the public, will be presented on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 2 p.m.

Project Management Exam Prep Workshop

Jan. 6-8: Are you ready to become a certified project-management professional (PMP)? Forbes.com lists a PMP certificate as the second-highest-paying IT certification for 2019, and the Project Management Institute (PMI) states that, through 2020, 1.57 million new project-management jobs will be created each year. To help prepare community members to begin the certification process, Bay Path University’s Strategic Alliances division is hosting a three-day workshop that will prepare participants to take the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) Exam. The CAPM workshop, led by IT consultant and project manager Rick DeJohn from Camus Consulting Inc., combines lectures, discussions, case studies, and in-class practice testing with a review of test results. Project-management experience is not required, and anyone interested in demonstrating to employers that they have the skill set to become a project manager is encouraged to attend. Participants who complete the program will be awarded a certificate of completion and will earn the required 23 education hours to sit for the CAPM examination. Per the Project Management Institute, a high-school diploma, associate degree, or global equivalent is required as an exam prerequisite. This workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day on the Bay Path campus, 588 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow. To register, visit capm2020.eventbrite.com. For additional information, contact Briana Sitler at [email protected] or (413) 565-1066.

Cannabis Certificate Program

Jan. 13 to May 5: American International College (AIC) is announcing a new undergraduate initiative in the School of Business, Arts and Sciences titled Micro-Emerging Markets: Cannabis Certificate Program. Three business courses are offered in rotation beginning with the spring 2020 semester. The first course of the series will run on Wednesdays, 3:50 p.m. to 6:20 p.m., starting Jan. 13, 2020 and continuing through May 5, 2020. There are no prerequisites to enroll other than a high-school diploma or GED equivalency. Non-matriculated students can enter the program at any time in the sequence. The first course, “Cannabis Entrepreneurship,” will examine customer groups, products, and services in the recreational market. The effect of price, quality, and competitors will be explored relative to competing effectively. This will involve key components of the industry, including legal aspects, business models, financing, and marketing. In “Cannabis Business Operations,” students will analyze the evolving cannabis marketplace and investigate the complexities and challenges of this sector. This course will conduct an in-depth look at the key components of different business types, how the sector is evolving, starting and operating a cannabis business, in addition to financial constraints, investments, and strategic marketing in the industry. The final course, “The Law and Ethics of Cannabis,” will examine the legalization of cannabis. Discussion around the legal and ethical implications of cannabis use, its legalization, criminal activity, and marketing will be explored in addition to perspectives of law enforcement, business owners, and recreational uses. For more information, visit aic.edu/mem.

Cannabis Education Center

Jan. 16, 23: The Cannabis Education Center, a joint venture between Holyoke Community College (HCC) and C3RN – the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network – has scheduled three standalone courses for people working in the cannabis industry or those who want to get started. The first, “How to Start a Cannabis Business,” — a comprehensive, introductory session about starting a cannabis business — was held on Dec. 17. The next, “Professional Cannabis Business Plan Development,” will run on Thursday, Jan. 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, 164 Race St., Holyoke. This $199 course is for experienced cannabis entrepreneurs who need assistance developing a business plan. The third, “Medical Cannabis 101,” is geared toward dispensary agents and healthcare providers. That will run on Thursday, Jan. 23 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the HCC Kittredge Center. The cost is $99. Space is limited, so advance registration and pre-payment are required for all courses. No walk-ins will be allowed. To register, visit hcc.edu/bcs and click on ‘Cannabis Education.’

‘Stress Less in 2020’

Jan. 17: The free monthly Lunch and Learn program at Ruth’s House Assisted Living Residence at JGS Lifecare has announced its next topic. Dr. Bill Bazin, a chiropractor for more than 30 years, will present “Stress Less in 2020 with Time and Energy Efficiency,” offering strategies to better manage stress and increase quality of life. Almost 60% of Americans consider themselves stressed and depressed, and stress can play a major factor in heart attacks. Bazin will talk about stress and offer strategies on what to do to deal with it. Topics will include why we have stress; different types of stress; signs and symptoms of an overstressed life; how to get exponential growth from one’s time and energy; strategic planning for one’s life and family; eliminating fear, panic, and anxiety; the five factors of health; solutions for stress that can be done at home, and when to take the next step to deal with stress. The lunch at noon will be followed by the presentation from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The Ruth’s House Lunch and Learn program is free and open to the public. RSVP to Lori Payson at (413) 567-3949, ext. 3105, or [email protected] For more information, visit jgslifecare.org/events.

All Ideas Pitch Contest

Feb. 5: Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) Berkshire County is holding an All Ideas Pitch Contest from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Green at 85 Main St., Suite 105, North Adams. EforAll’s first Pitch Contest at the Berkshire Museum in October created a lot of community buzz, with more than 100 attendees and 11 companies competing. The big winner that night was Kaitlyn Pierce of Binka Bear. Described as “Shark Tank without the teeth,” EforAll’s friendly, free event features a business showcase and then pitches from six pre-selected contestants and two more that are added the night of the event. Each participant is given two and a half minutes to pitch a business or nonprofit idea to a panel of judges and the audience. At the end of it, EforAll gives away seed money to help launch these ideas. The first-place finisher wins $1,000, second place gets $750, third place wins $500, and the audience favorite also wins $500. Applications and audience registration are both available online at www.eforall.org/berkshire-county.

Women’s Leadership Conference

March 27: Bay Path University’s division of Strategic Alliances announced that producer, author, entrepreneur, educator, and, of course, top model Tyra Banks will bring her bold attitude, unique style, and well-honed business acumen to Springfield as the keynote speaker at the 25th annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC). This year’s theme, “Own Your Now,” will encourage conference guests to examine the forces that have shaped their careers, relationships, and aspirations; recognize what drives them and what holds them back; and empower them to confidently move forward. Banks is the creator of America’s Next Top Model, the reality show and modeling competition that has been replicated in 47 international markets and viewed in 150 countries. This year’s conference also will feature breakout sessions focused on navigating the complicated relationships, personalities, and dynamics of the workplace and the impact those have on our careers and opportunities. Sessions will be led by bestselling authors and researchers including Laura Huang, Harvard Business School professor and author of Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage; Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning; Dr. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and author of Don’t You Know Who I Am: How to Stay Sane in the Era of Narcissism, Entitlement and Incivility; and Jennifer Romolini, author of Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits. For further information on the conference and to register, visit www.baypathconference.com.

Hooplandia

June 26-28: Hooplandia, the largest 3-on-3 basketball competition and celebration on the East Coast, will take place on June 26-28, 2020, hosted by Eastern States Exposition and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The event will feature hundreds of games for thousands of players of all ages and playing abilities, with divisions for young girls, boys, women, men, high-school elite, college elite, pro-am, ‘over the hill,’ wheelchair, wounded warrior, Special Olympians, veterans, first responders, and more. More than 100 outdoor blacktop courts will be placed throughout the roadway and parking-lot network of the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds in West Springfield. Slam-dunk, 3-point, free-throw, dribble-course, vertical-jump, and full-court-shot skills competitions will be spotlighted. Themed state courts will be mobilized along the Exposition’s famed Avenue of States. Featured ‘showcase games’ will be held on new court surfaces in the historic Eastern States Coliseum and on the Court of Dreams, the center court of the Basketball Hall of Fame. A year-long community outreach effort will begin immediately. Registration will open on March 1, 2020. Information and engagement is available now through www.hooplandia.com or on Instagram: @hooplandia.

Company Notebook

Westmass Moves Corporate Offices to Downtown Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Westmass Area Development Corp. announced the opening of its new corporate offices in downtown Springfield. Located at One Monarch Place, Suite 1350, the new offices will host all corporate functions of Westmass with capacity to continue regional awareness and growth. The new office location will enable Westmass to continue to brand itself as a regional development company focusing on opportunities in real estate and economic development in Western Mass. “An opportunity to move into downtown Springfield is great for Westmass,” said Jeff Daley, president and CEO. “We look to expand our market throughout Western Mass. for real-estate development opportunities as well as working with municipalities and private developers providing consulting services to assist with the technical details of real estate and economic-development projects in Western Mass.” He noted that Westmass also maintains offices at Ludlow Mills. “As a nationally recognized brownfield-redevelopment site and the marquee project in our portfolio, with hundreds of residents and employees living and working at the Mills, it is important to not only have our facilities management office there, but to house our expanding leasing and marketing departments as well.”

Florence Bank Unveils Renovated Easthampton Branch

EASTHAMPTON — Florence Bank has completed a renovation of the interior and drive-through at its existing Easthampton branch at 5 Main St. The renovation is part of Florence Bank’s ongoing effort to align its physical branch locations with modern banking offerings and customer needs. The Easthampton renovation included interior updates and modernizations, along with two new ATMs. Florence Bank is a full-service, mutually owned bank based in Florence and has served the Easthampton community for 20 years. It first merged with Easthampton Cooperative Bank and expanded and remodeled its present location on Main Street in 1999. The Easthampton location serves more than 6,400 customers annually. The renovations were intended to maintain the branch’s charm while also embracing the innovative design of Florence Bank’s newly constructed locations. The bank partnered with the following local contractors on the project: HAI Architecture in Northampton, Pioneer Contractors in Easthampton, Broadway Office Interiors in Springfield, Fine Woodworks Millwork in South Hadley, Mercier Carpets in West Springfield, and Grimaldi Painting in East Longmeadow. Inside, the lobby, teller line, and customer-service area were renovated and updated, making the interior brighter and more contemporary. A new digital screen has also been installed to keep customers up to date on bank-wide enhancements and notifications. Outside, two new ATMs are now available, and the drive-up teller equipment was enhanced to provide two-way audio/video communication. Florence Bank opened a branch on Allen Street in Springfield in late 2018. In 2020, the bank will open its newest Hampden County location in Chicopee, expanding its network to 12 locations.

Behavioral Health Network Receives $10,000 Grant from PeoplesBank

SPRINGFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) has been awarded a $10,000 grant from PeoplesBank to be used for BHN’s Money School program, a financial-independence initiative for survivors of domestic or sexual violence who are also recovering from addiction. PeoplesBank’s grant to BHN will support the operation of the Elizabeth Freeman Center’s Money School program. Money School is an award-winning, trauma-informed, financial-independence initiative designed to create long-term safety and economic security for survivors. Participants are given individually tailored financial and career mentoring as well as intensive advocacy and support for their substance-use recovery and healing in the aftermath of domestic or sexual violence. The program helps survivors achieve and maintain safety, economic independence, and family well-being for themselves and their children. Kathy Wilson, president and CEO of BHN, noted that “much of our work at BHN has to do with supporting and engaging with people as they overcome obstacles and plan a better future for themselves. The Money School program has been particularly effective in helping women to take control of their finances, one of the most difficult challenges for anyone when navigating the long-term impact of domestic violence. We deeply appreciate the resources being provided by PeoplesBank in this vital program that is changing the lives of the women served.” The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that one in four women report experiencing domestic violence. In addition to physical abuse, domestic-violence survivors often experience financial duress, and almost half of domestic-violence victims struggle with substance-use disorders.

Tighe & Bond Opens Office in Portland, Maine

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond Inc. a northeastern leader in engineering and environmental consulting, opened a new office in Portland, Maine this month. The 4,400-square-foot office, located just minutes from Portland City Hall and the Old Port, will allow the firm to better serve its growing base of clients throughout Maine and the region while providing an opportunity to employ professionals native to the area. Senior Project Manager Dan Bisson will provide leadership for Tighe & Bond’s newest office. Bisson has more than 25 years of experience with management, permitting, planning, design, and construction of water infrastructure projects for municipalities, utilities, and private clients. Tighe & Bond’s strategic plan calls for geographic growth to further reinforce its position as a Northeast regional leader in engineering and environmental services. The company is experiencing office expansions and staffing growth in multiple locations throughout the Northeast, adding four offices in the past five years and expanding its Worcester office earlier this year.

Davis Educational Foundation Awards $100,000 to CCGS Joint Purchasing Initiative

LONGMEADOW — The Davis Educational Foundation has awarded the CCGS Joint Purchasing Initiative a $100,000 grant to be distributed over two years. This is the third grant by the Davis Educational Foundation to underwrite this collaborative project. The Joint Purchasing Initiative (JPI) consists of the five private member institutions of the Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield (CCGS), including American International College, Bay Path University, Elms College, Springfield College, and Western New England University. The goal of the JPI, which will continue to be administered by Bay Path University, is to identify and implement strategic opportunities for collaboration where shared purchasing and shared services in high-cost and high-impact areas will result in significant institutional cost savings across the JPI’s partner institutions, ultimately containing the cost of higher education for students. Since its founding in 2017, the efforts of the JPI have resulted in collective cost savings of nearly $900,000, with varying degrees of savings by institution. During this time, the JPI reduced costs by negotiating better deals on contracted services with vendors, such as student transportation for athletics and van leasing, rental-car agreements, contract management, corporate payment systems, IRB software, employee and student background checks, electricity and solar sources of energy, interpretive and captioning services, medical-waste-disposal services, and computer purchases. With the funding from the latest grant from the Davis Educational Foundation, the next step in the evolution of the JPI is to explore and develop potential plans for shared services, implement best practices, reduce duplication of efforts, and drive efficiency gains with the expertise already existing within the institutions.

HCC Marks 20th Year of Giving Tree Campaign

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) celebrated the 20th anniversary of its annual Giving Tree campaign Thursday, fulfilling the holiday wishes of 375 consumers from four nonprofits that aid and support some of the area’s most at-risk residents. During the campaign’s closing ceremony, HCC students, faculty, and staff gathered with representatives from WestMass Elder Care, Homework House, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC), and the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home to share food, stories, and gifts. Eleven HCC departments participated in this year’s Fall Food Fest in November, raising $833 for the Giving Tree campaign. The money was used to fulfill 26 gift tags for MSPCC and create gift boxes that included baby wipes, diapers, clothing, books, and toys. Each year during the annual campaign, Giving Trees are set up in designated areas around the HCC campus. Participants choose colored-coded tags from one of the nonprofit agencies based on the age of the recipient and their wish for a gift. The wrapped gifts are then sorted and piled on tables for the closing celebration.

Family Business Center Awards Grand-funded Memberships to Three Women Business Owners

HOLYOKE — At the Family Business Center’s (FBC) December Log Cabin Dinner Forum, Lakisha Coppedge of Coppedge Consulting, Kimberley Betts of Betts Plumbing & Heating Supply, and Sherryla Diola of Mundo Artisan Foods were awarded grant-funded memberships for the 2020 year. This inaugural grant, aimed at supporting women business leaders in Western Mass., was funded by Encharter Insurance. “My goal is to grow our trusted business learning community intentionally, and to increase diversity and inclusion,” said Jessi Kirley, FBC executive director, who collaborated with the women leaders of local partner organizations, including the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, Leadership Pioneer Valley, EforAll, and Valley CDC, for nominations and selection of the award recipients. Added Tracey Benison, president of Encharter Insurance, “women-owned businesses are critical to the success of small business in the Pioneer Valley. As a women-led insurance agency, Encharter looks for meaningful ways to support women-owned businesses. The recipients of the scholarships are standouts in their professions. We are excited to support their continued journey of learning.”

Company Notebook

City, MGM Springfield Win Economic-development Award

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield and the city of Springfield Office of Planning and Economic Development (OPED) have received a 2019 Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for the MGM Springfield project. The award was presented by the IEDC last month at its annual conference in October in Indianapolis. The Gold Excellence in Public-Private Partnership Award was presented to Brian Connors, the city’s deputy director of Economic Development, and was the only award category highlighted during the conference keynote event. The award recognizes outstanding and innovative development projects that have significantly enhanced revitalizations. OPED’s team was led through the MGM Springfield project by now-retired Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy, and also included Phillip Dromey, deputy director of Planning, and Scott Hanson, principal planner. The MGM Springfield project represented a $960 million private investment, resulting in several new-to-market amenities, including a downtown movie theater, bowling alley, ice-skating rink, four-star hotel, and several new retail and restaurant offerings. In addition, MGM’s commitment to populate existing offsite entertainment facilities became another highlight to economic spinoff, as did the commitment to $50 million each year in spending with local vendors. The project has created several thousand construction and permanent jobs and greatly enhanced local revenues, which helped fund additional public-safety, early-education, and park improvements.

United Personnel Named Among Top 100 Women-led Businesses In Massachusetts

SPRINGFIELD — United Personnel announced it has been named one of the top 100 women-led businesses in Massachusetts by the Commonwealth Institute, a nonprofit that supports female business owners. The list, published in the Boston Globe, was developed based on revenue, number of full-time employees in the state, team diversity, and innovation. The rankings feature a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, business services, healthcare, education, human services, and retail. United Personnel was number 75 on the list, and was one of only two companies based in Western Mass. represented. Focused on helping to connect people with job openings at local companies, United Personnel has seen decades of success as a women-led organization. Founded by Mary Ellen Scott in 1984 with her late husband, Jay Canavan, United Personnel is now on its second generation of female leadership under President Tricia Canavan.

Hampshire College Maintains Accreditation, Advances Plans

AMHERST — Hampshire College remains in compliance and will continue its accreditation, according to a vote by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) at its meeting on Nov. 22. NECHE reviewed Hampshire’s progress report and five-year plans before acting to continue the college’s accreditation. The commissioners lifted their notation on Hampshire’s compliance with the standard of organization and governance, citing significant progress in this area. NECHE recognized such progress as the hiring of a new president, substantial achievements with respect to good practices for governing boards, and considerable progress in realistic planning with respect to enrollment, fundraising, and finances. The commissioners continued Hampshire’s notation on the standard of institutional resources and asked the college for a full progress report in two years, in December 2021. A team of Hampshire College administrators and trustees, led by Wingenbach and board chair Luis Hernandez, met with the NECHE commissioners on Nov. 21 and reported that Hampshire’s leadership is secure and its board of trustees governance is strong. The college is actively recruiting new students for 2020, its 50th-anniversary year, as it plans to rebuild to full enrollment by 2023-24. The college has also been conducting a rapid, community-wide process to reinvent its curriculum and student experience. In the coming months, Hampshire will draw on the continued support of its alumni, donors, friends, and community members to meet admissions and fundraising goals. Hampshire College also kicked off a major capital campaign, announcing it has already raised $11.2 million in gifts toward its campaign goal of $60 million by 2024. “Change in the Making: A Campaign for Hampshire” is currently led by four alumni co-chairs: Ken Burns (’71), award-winning documentary filmmaker; Gail Caulkins (’73), president of the Greenacre Foundation and former Hampshire College trustee; Lucy Ann McFadden (’70), retired astrophysicist, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, and a member of the Hampshire board of trustees and chair of its advancement committee; and Julie Schecter (’71), director and trustee of numerous organizations, including the SHIFT Foundation, co-founder of Hampshire’s Ethics and the Common Good program, vice chair of Hampshire’s board of trustees, and chair of its trusteeship and governance committee. The co-chairs are working actively to secure additional major gifts, supported by a campaign council, a diverse group of volunteers that represents the board of trustees, major donors, college leaders, faculty, staff, students, and parents. The campaign is administered by Chief Advancement Officer Jennifer Chrisler and the college’s Advancement Division staff.

People’s United Bank to Close Three Springfield-area Branches

SPRINGFIELD — Following its acquisition of United Bank, People’s United Bank plans to close three Springfield-area branches in April, all of them because they are near other People’s United locations. The closures include the former United branch at 1355 Boston Road in Springfield, the former United Branch at 1414 Main St. in Springfield, and a former Farmington Bank location at 85 Elm St. in West Springfield that People’s United acquired in 2018. All employees have been offered jobs at other People’s United offices. People’s United Financial announced in July it was purchasing United Financial Bancorp for $759 million.

Elms College Ranked in Top 15% of State’s Best Schools for Veterans

CHICOPEE — Elms College ranks in the top 15% of 2020 Best Colleges for Veterans in Massachusetts, according to data-analytics company College Factual. The college is also in the top 15% of colleges and universities in the company’s national rankings. In the list of Best Colleges for Veterans in Massachusetts, Elms College was rated ninth out of 70 higher-education institutions for veteran friendliness as reviewed by College Factual. Elms improved its standing five slots over last year’s 14th position. According to College Factual’s national list, Elms College moved from the top 25% to the top 15% with a rating of 214 out of 1,751 institutions, improving its position by 225 slots over last year’s standing at 439. This list highlights colleges and universities that are working hard to provide quality educational outcomes to veterans, active-duty military students, and their families, College Factual stated. Some of the factors taken into account by College Factual include affordability to veterans, support services, and resources specific to the needs of veterans, whether they are traditional or non-traditional students.

UMassFive Opens Branch at Northampton VA Medical Center

NORTHAMPTON — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union introduced its newest branch location at the Northampton VA Medical Center. As of October, the Northampton VAF Federal Credit Union has formally merged with UMassFive College Federal Credit Union, and former Northampton VAF members have transitioned to banking with UMassFive. With this merger, current employees of the Northampton VA Medical Center and their immediate family members are now eligible for UMassFive membership. Along with the merger, the existing credit-union branch located in Building 1, Room B204 of the Northampton VA Medical Center has been completely renovated. The new, open floor plan includes seated service areas where UMassFive representatives can provide members access to a range of credit-union products and services, including checking, auto loans, home-equity loans, solar loans, mortgages, credit cards, and investment guidance. The space also now features a video teller machine that can be accessed in the branch entryway, and allows members to perform video transactions with UMassFive tellers, even while the branch is closed. As with other UMassFive locations, members at the Northampton VA branch will have access to free financial workshops on topics like budgeting essentials, homebuying, identity theft, and planning for retirement. The hours for this new UMassFive branch are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Off-hours access to the lobby video teller machine are available when the building and basement are open, and during regular video-teller hours. Any credit or debit card may be swiped for after-hours entry.

Freedom Credit Union Launches Cherish the Children Campaign

SPRINGFIELD — To a child in need, one special gift can be a holiday wish come true. That’s the spirit behind Freedom Credit Union’s 12th annual Cherish the Children campaign, which provides presents to hundreds of local children in time for the holidays. Freedom Credit Union (FCU), headquartered on Main Street in Springfield and serving members throughout Western Mass. through 10 additional branches, will host this year’s endeavor through Dec. 23. Equipped with ‘wish lists’ of names, ages, and gift ideas from the local area offices of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), FCU aims to provide gifts for a total of 600 children in need. From the wish lists, FCU has produced a tag for each child, which they will place on holiday trees at all Freedom branches, excluding the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy. Employees and members are encouraged to choose one or more tags from a tree, purchase the item the child has requested, bring it to the branch (unwrapped and with tag attached), and place it under the tree. Monetary donations are also welcome, as FCU’s own ‘elves’ will be going on a festive shopping spree at local stores that provide them a discount for this campaign.

Yankee Home Improvement Holds Annual Food Drive

CHICOPEE — For the second year in a row, Yankee Home is engaging customers in a pay-it-forward event to provide food for those in need this holiday season. For every non-perishable food item donated, Yankee Home will give customers 1% off the cost of their home-improvement service, up to 10%. All food items will be donated to Rachel’s Table, a program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts that works to eliminate hunger and reduce food waste in the community. Through the end of December, Yankee Home will be accepting non-perishable food items Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at its 36 Justin Dr. headquarters in Chicopee. While the discount is capped at 10% of the total cost of the service, people are encouraged to donate as much as they can. The discount applies to installed, new work only. A Yankee Home specialist can provide complete details.

Florence Bank Receives Award From U.S. Small Business Administration

FLORENCE — 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. Michael Davey and Erin Couture, both vice presidents and commercial loan officers with the bank, accepted the award on Nov. 8 at an event held during SBA’s annual meeting at Clark University in Worcester. Davey explained that 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. He said the program allows small-business owners who might be lacking the traditional 20% down payment to purchase business property with only 10% down, while also reducing the bank’s exposure to risk.

Company Notebook

HCC, C3RN Launch Cannabis Education Center

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College (HCC) and the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN) recently announced the creation of the Cannabis Education Center to provide education and training opportunities and other business resources to individuals in the region who want to work in the state’s newly legalized cannabis industry. HCC and C3RN are designated training partners through the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s Social Equity Vendor Training program. The program was designed to provide priority access, training, and technical assistance to those negatively impacted by the drug war. The Cannabis Education Center will be managed out of HCC’s Kittredge Center and provide academic advising and workforce training, public education events that highlight entrepreneurship and workforce development, entrepreneurship events for those interested in joining the cannabis industry as a startup company, and social-equity training for applicants qualified through the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission’s Social Equity Training program. More information about these programs will be posted soon on the Cannabis Education Center’s website, cannabiseducationcenter.org. The Cannabis Education Center will also be running four previously announced certificate programs for specific jobs in the cannabis industry: cannabis culinary assistant, cannabis retail/patient advocate, cannabis cultivation assistant, and cannabis extraction technician assistant. The first of those programs, cannabis culinary assistant, will begin on Jan. 11, 2020, at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. Each certificate program will consist of 96 hours of instruction, half of which will be held on the HCC campus with the other half conducted through C3RN’s internship program with participating dispensaries, cultivators, manufacturers, and ancillary businesses. C3RN and HCC will also be running five courses for the entrepreneurship track in the Social Equity Program starting Saturday, Nov. 23 at HCC’s Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center, 206 Maple St., Holyoke. The first two-session class, set for Nov. 23-24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., will focus on business-plan creation and development.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County Receives Mentoring Matching Grant

GREENFIELD — Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP), the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding quality youth mentoring in Massachusetts, is awarding $869,000 in mentoring matching grants to mentoring and youth-serving organizations across the state. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County is one of only 44 organizations chosen to receive a grant. These funds were approved by the state Legislature in the FY 2020 budget and are the only state funding dedicated to the mentoring field. MMP worked closely with legislative and community partners in advocating for the money, which represents a 110% increase over the last two years. The Mass Mentoring Partnership matching grant is used to make and support one-to-one mentoring matches that help ignite the power and promise of Franklin County youth. The mentoring matching grants are managed by MMP, with oversight from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and are intended to improve students’ attitudes towards school. Research has shown that young people who are in mentoring relationships show improved academic performance, better school attendance, and a greater chance of going on to higher education. Despite this compelling evidence, there remains a shortage of mentors, with research suggesting that one in three young people will grow up without one. This year’s grants are expected to create and support more than 3,200 high-quality mentor and mentee matches in schools and youth-serving programs statewide.

Eversource Partners with United Way on Programs

SPRINGFIELD — As part of its commitment to the health of all Bay State communities and economic development across the state, Eversource presented Massachusetts United Way agencies with contributions totaling more than $930,000 this year that support programs and services for hundreds of thousands of residents around the state. In total, Eversource and thousands of the company’s employees across Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut contributed more than $2.2 million to the United Way in 2019 to support after-school programs, health clinics, workforce-development programs, weatherization for low-income homeowners, and more. Eversource’s contributions to agencies throughout the state include a corporate gift of more than $515,000 as well as $410,000 in personal contributions made by Massachusetts employees during the company’s annual giving campaign for the United Way. Additionally, Eversource employees across Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut have volunteered more than 1,300 hours in partnership with the United Way to serve hundreds of nonprofits throughout New England.

Westfield Bank to Open Bloomfield, Conn. Location

WESTFIELD — James Hagan, president and CEO of Westfield Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of Western New England Bancorp Inc., announced that the bank will open a new branch office in Bloomfield, Conn. in mid-2020. The bank will open a full-service branch in the Copaco Center shopping plaza on Cottage Grove Road. The office will include lobby and safe-deposit services, an image-technology ATM, and multiple drive-through teller lanes. The bank looks forward to breaking ground as soon as it secures the necessary permits and approvals, with construction being facilitated by AmCap Inc., the property owner and manager, and Borghesi Building and Engineering Co. Inc. of Torrington. Plans are subject to regulatory approval. The Bloomfield location will follow a new Financial Services Center, which is expected to open in West Hartford Center earlier in 2020. In addition to a full-service branch, the West Hartford Financial Services Center will include a suite of offices for residential lending, commercial lending, and business and government deposit services. Representatives of these departments currently occupy temporary space at 977 Farmington Ave. to assist with their community-outreach activities.

Levellers Press Named a Manufacturers of the Year

AMHERST — Levellers Press in Amherst received a Manufacturer of the Year Award at the fourth annual Manufacturing Award Ceremony at the State House on Oct. 22. Collective Copies, a collectively managed and worker-owned printing company, celebrated the 10th anniversary of its publishing wing, Levellers Press, on Sept. 18. Levellers’ beginning was marked by the launch of its first title, Robert H. Romer’s Slavery in the Connecticut Valley of Massachusetts, still one of its bestsellers. One hundred titles later, it has expanded its book-printing and distribution capabilities with Off the Common Books to help self-publishing authors get their books out in a more collaborative way than is possible through the big vendors. Levellers offers a wide selection of printing papers and welcomes input from authors throughout the layout and design process. Levellers Press is a member of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers and was nominated by state Rep. Mindy Domb. The award ceremony was sponsored by the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus. Along with Levellers Press, 76 manufacturers were recognized for truly ‘making it’ in Massachusetts.

‘Best Law Firms’ Ranks 11 Bulkley Richardson Practice Areas in Top Tier

SPRINGFIELD — Best Lawyers, in partnership with U.S. News and World Report, has included Bulkley Richardson in its 2020 list of “Best Law Firms,” ranking the firm in the top tier for the most practice areas of any Springfield law firm. The 2020 “Best Law Firms” list ranks Bulkley Richardson in the following 11 practice areas: bankruptcy and creditor debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law, bet-the-company litigation, commercial litigation, corporate law, criminal defense: general practice, criminal defense: white-collar, litigation – labor and employment, medical malpractice law – defendants, personal injury litigation – defendants, tax law, and trusts and estates law. To be eligible for a ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer included in Best Lawyers. Bulkley Richardson has 12 of its lawyers included on the 2020 Best Lawyers list, the most from any Springfield law firm. Three of the firm’s partners were also named 2020 Springfield Lawyer of the Year: Michael Burke, David Parke, and John Pucci. The rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations and peer reviews from leading attorneys in their field.

UMassFive College Federal Credit Union Honored with Award

BOSTON — During the recent Empower U conference in Boston, Credit Union Student Choice presented its third annual Honor Roll Award to UMassFive College Federal Credit Union. The award recognizes excellence in higher-education financing and is given to the winning financial institution in conjunction with a $5,000 Chip Filson Scholarship, which may be awarded by the credit union to an outstanding student-member of its choice. The scholarship was given to UMassFive College Federal Credit Union in honor of Chip Filson, a credit-union industry icon and former Student Choice board member, who played an influential role in the founding and ongoing development of Credit Union Student Choice.

Mellon Foundation Awards Five Colleges $800,000 for Online Museum Collections

AMHERST — The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the Five College Consortium $800,000 to reimagine the way museum collaborations can share their online collections with each other and the world. The current shared collections database at Five Colleges was developed more than 20 years ago, and this commitment to a consortial database has enriched collaboration across the Five Colleges and opened up discovery and access to museum collections for students, faculty, staff, and the public. It remains one of the few collections databases in the country that is shared among several museums, but with advancements in technology and new accessibility needs on the part of the user, this database has revealed its age and limitations. These facts, combined with Five Colleges’ long history of collaboration, was what originally led the Mellon Foundation to request a grant proposal from the consortium. The museums that are a part of the current collections database are the Hampshire College Art Gallery, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, the Smith College Museum of Art, the University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass Amherst, and Historic Deerfield, an independent museum that works closely with the campuses. The award from the Mellon Foundation’s Arts and Cultural Heritage program is a 30-month planning grant that will be used to assess the museums’ collections-management needs.

Melanson Heath Joins BDO Alliance USA

NASHUA, N.H. — Melanson Heath has joined the BDO Alliance USA, a nationwide association of independently owned local and regional accounting, consulting, and service firms with similar client service goals. As an independent member of the BDO Alliance USA, Melanson Heath can expand the services offered to clients by drawing on the resources of BDO USA, LLP, one of the nation’s leading professional-services firms, and other Alliance members. The firm serves clients through more than 60 offices and 550 independent Alliance firm locations nationwide. As an independent member firm of BDO International Ltd., BDO serves multi-national clients through a global network of more than 73,000 people working out of 1,500 offices in more than 162 countries. The BDO Alliance USA enhances member-firm capabilities through the availability of supplementary professional services, comprehensive management-consulting services, focused industry knowledge, customized state-of-the-art computer systems, and internal training programs.

Way Finders Breaks Ground on Library Commons Apartments

HOLYOKE — Way Finders held a groundbreaking ceremony for its Library Commons development, which will include 38 affordable apartments, support services, and retail and cultural spaces, on Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. at Holyoke Public Library. The development will feature 23 two-bedroom apartments and 15 three-bedroom apartments. The complex also features on-site laundry facilities, two wheelchair-accessible apartments, and 54 off-street parking spaces, and is a short walk to child-care centers, transportation, and schools. Way Finders has also developed a partnership with the Care Center on Roqué House, a first-of-its-kind facility in the Commonwealth that will provide 10 two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments for families headed by young parents who are full-time students. Library Commons is comprised of two rehabilitated historical buildings and one newly constructed building. Way Finders’ services will be made available on-site. There will also be meeting space, classrooms, and an art studio/gallery available to all Library Commons residents. The architect for the project is Dietz & Co. Architects Inc., and the contractor is NL Construction Inc.

Girls on the Run Completes Successful Autumn Auction

NORTHAMPTON — Girls on the Run of Western Massachusetts reported a successful Autumn Auction on Oct. 19. The event raised enough money to fund five more teams in Western Mass. Mill 180 Park in Easthampton donated the space and all the food for the event, while 70 items were donated by local business, and a cake was donated by Small Oven. Girls on the Run is a youth-development program that uses fun running games and dynamic discussions to teach life skills to girls in grades 3-8. Participants develop and improve competence, feel confidence in who they are, develop strength of character, respond to others and themselves with care, create positive connections with peers and adults, and make a meaningful contribution to community and society. The next event is the GOTR 5K at Smith College on Saturday, Nov. 23 starting at 10:30 a.m. This event is open to the public.

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