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Picture This

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President’s Gala

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

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

 

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

 

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

 


 

Children’s Study Home Art Show

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

 


 

Uplifting Women

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

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

 

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


 

Harvest of Creativity

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

 


Note-able Family

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

 


 

Super 60

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

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

 

 


Passing the Torch

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

 


 

Keep the Ball Rolling

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

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

Picture This

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Empowering Women

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

Joyce Roché autographs copies of her book after the event

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

 


Discussing Brexit

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

 


 

Smoothing Career Pathways

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

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

 


 

Earning an A+

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

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

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

 


 

Illusionist Performs for a Cause

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

 


 

Responding to the Call

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

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

 


 

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield Turns Two

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

 

 

 

 

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They Shoot, They Score

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Lexington Group hosted an Aeron Chair Hockey Tournament on Oct. 2. Lexington Group invited players and administrative staff from American International College and UMass Amherst to battle it out in a friendly competition (pictured at top left). AIC won and advanced to a match against the Springfield Thunderbirds, with the AHL squad prevailing. The event, which raised $18,000 for the Foundation of TJO Animals, was incorporated into an After-5 networking event co-hosted by BusinessWest, the West of the River Chamber of Commerce, and the East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce. West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt served as referee, Pat Kelley of Lazer 99.3 emceed and provided entertainment, and complimentary refreshments were provided by Log Rolling.

Two squads with Boomer, the Thunderbirds mascot

Lexington Group owner Mark Proshan (far left), Reichelt, and some of the players present the $18,000 check to the Foundation for TJO Animals

The cake created by Cerrato’s Bakery to commemorate Lexington’s 30th anniversary

 


 

 

Square One Tea Party

Square One held its 14th annual Tea Party on Oct. 4 at the Starting Gate at GreatHorse in Hampden. Proceeds will benefit the children and families served by Square One.  (Michael Epaul photography)

event sponsors Jenny Mackay and Maureen Gaudreau of USI Insurance

Keynote speaker Tasheena Davis, attorney and Springfield city clerk

Dawn DiStefano of Square One with event sponsors Peter Miniati and Jeff Ligori of Napatree Capital

 


 

New Home for Williamstown Police

Caolo & Bieniek Associates Inc., the Chicopee-based architectural firm, has completed construction at the new Williamstown Police Station. Built at the Turner House, formerly a center for veterans, the new station provides improved accessibility and safety, as well as the most current technologies in law enforcement.

Pictured, from left: Chris Kluchman, Housing Choice Program director, Department of Housing and Community Development; Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for Community and Government Affairs, Williams College; Williamstown Selectwoman Anne O’Connor; state Sen. Adam Hinds; Williamstown Selectman Andrew Hogeland; Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch; Williamstown Police Chief Kyle Johnson; state Rep. John Barrett III; and James Hanifan, architect, Caolo & Bieniek Associates.

 

 


 

Grand Opening

The Sisters of Providence celebrated the grand opening of Hillside Residence, 36 units of elder affordable housing, on Sept. 27. The $9,250,000 housing development is located on the Hillside at Providence campus, formerly known as Brightside, at 100 Hillside Circle, West Springfield. This innovative facility’s objectives will demonstrate a nonprofit model of affordable elder housing and be integrated with Mercy LIFE, a Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) offering health and care management services, with both organizations co-located on the same 27-acre campus devoted to elder programs.

 


 

Cooking Up Support

bankESB recently donated $10,000 to the Holyoke Community College Foundation to support students preparing for careers in the culinary-arts and hospitality industries.

Pictured, from left: Amanda Sbriscia, HCC vice president of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the HCC Foundation; Harry Montalvo, Community Development specialist at bankESB; Tiffany Raines, assistant vice president of the bank’s Holyoke branch; HCC president Christina Royal; and John Driscoll, board chair of the HCC Foundation, hold a ceremonial check for $10,000 at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute.

 


 

Bridging the Gap

On Sept. 24, Elms College launched the Center for Equity in Urban Education (CEUE). The CEUE will help bridge the 800-teacher annual gap across K-12 schools in the area, especially in specific roles such as special education, English-language learners, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs. The center was made possible through the foundational support of the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation of Springfield and Cynthia and William Lyons III of Wilbraham. The launch ceremony included the signing of memorandums of understanding with leaders from schools in Chicopee, Holyoke, and Springfield.

Pictured, from left: John Davis, senior director, Davis Foundation; Modesto Montero, head of school, Libertas Academy Charter School in Springfield; Cynthia Lyons, chair, Elms College board of trustees; Elms College President Harry Dumay; William Lyons III; Daniel Baillargeon, superintendent, Catholic Schools Office, Diocese of Springfield; Stephen Zrike Jr., receiver/superintendent, Holyoke Public Schools; Daniel Warwick, superintendent, Springfield Public Schools; Rachel Romano, executive director, Veritas Preparatory Charter School in Springfield; and Paul Stelzer, vice chair, Elms College board of trustees.

 


 

Supporting Veteran Families

Revitalize Community Development Corp. and its JoinedForces initiative announced they were awarded a $730,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to continue their mission to support military veteran families. This statewide grant will be used to modify and rehabilitate the homes of more than 51 military veterans. The funds will be used to remedy safety hazards in the home; install energy-efficient features such as insulation, heating system repairs, and Energy Star appliances; and make age-in-place modifications, including the installation of grab bars and ramps. The announcement took place at the home of Lonnie Chappell, a U.S. Marine veteran who served in Vietnam, and his wife, Mary (pictured with U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno).

 

 

 

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Dig In

With the help of local dignitaries, the Walhburgers chain broke ground on Sept. 20 at its newest location at the corner of Union and Main streets in downtown Springfield. Wahlburgers at MGM Springfield will be a casual-dining eatery, featuring its signature burgers and full bar. Founded by brothers Mark, Donnie, and Chef Paul Wahlberg, Wahlburgers will be filled with photos and memories celebrating the brothers’ life journeys from Dorchester neighborhood kids to rising chef and international celebrities.

The 4,400-square-foot space, set to open in 2020, will provide 120 jobs to the community.

 


 

Sweet Harvest

Loomis Village installed two beehives this spring with the help of the Hampden County Bee Keepers Assoc. The hives were tended to throughout the summer, and residents also had the chance to learn about beekeeping. By summer’s end, the facility harvested 54 pounds of honey, with the possibility of another harvest later in the year.

Pictured: resident Karen Hyvonen helps Hampden County Bee Keepers Assoc. members remove the caps from the combs. From there, the honey is extruded and strained before being bottled.

 


 

Car Wash for a Good Cause

During the weekend of Sept. 7-8, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield hosted a car-wash fundraiser benefiting Chris Thibault and his family. Thibault and his wife, Missy, own and operate Chris Teebo Films, a local production company that helped Mercedes-Benz get its start in Western Mass. more than two years ago. Chris has been diagnosed with stage-4 cancer and is fighting hard for his life.

Pictured, from left: dealership co-owners Michelle and Peter Wirth; Missy and Chris Thibault with son Brayden; and Rich Hesse, co-owner of the dealership, with son John.

 


 

Launching Women Luncheon

Carla Oleska, principal of Carla Oleska & Co. and former executive director of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, leads an exploration of glass ceilings women often don’t think about — the one within ourselves, the one they construct for other women, and, of course, the big, systemic one. The talk was part of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce’s Launching Women Luncheon.

More than 50 women leaders in business, government, and nonprofit organizations attended the first of the series at the Inn on Boltwood.

 


 

Revitalizing a Community

On Sept. 20, Revitalize CDC held its annual Green N Fit event. The organization and hundreds of volunteers rebuilt four homes throughout Holyoke in one day. Three out of the four homes are owned by military veteran families.

Pictured: Jeremy Ducharme from Blue Cross Blue Shield helps to paint the home of Carol LaBoursoliere, an 80-year-old widow of a military veteran who has lived in her home on Brown Avenue for 53 years. Other homes renovated were on Homestead Avenue and Norwood Terrace.

 


 

 

Open for Business

Architecture Environment Life President Kevin Rothschild-Shea (left) and architect Rick Morse stand in front of New Valley Bank’s first location, a building they designed. The office, located at 1930 Wilbraham Road in Springfield, opened the week of Sept. 9 and is the first new bank to open in Massachusetts in a decade.

Sixteen Acres banking veteran Kimberly Marion will oversee the location and lead the bank’s retail efforts in the market as vice president and personal banking officer

 

 


 

New Life for the Pedlar

The Hildreth House, built in 1882 and home for more than 70 years to the Yankee Pedlar Inn, is now the Pedlar Banking Center, restored and renovated by PeoplesBank. The interior of the LEED-certified building now houses a community room, which will be available to nonprofit organizations free of charge. A new addition was added in the rear of the Hildreth House to provide space for the bank lobby, service counter, and support offices, as well as the drive-through canopy.

Pictured: Mason Lebron of Dowd Insurance Agency and Victor Rodriguez, mortgage consultant at PeoplesBank, celebrate the building’s grand opening.

 


Climate Strike

Organizers encouraged those attending to call their representatives and demand action be taken to mitigate the warming of the planet.

The Interfaith Council of Springfield and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield organized a ‘solidarity vigil’ in collaboration with the global Climate Strike on Sept. 20 in Springfield’s Court Square. Members of the community gathered to speak on the issue of climate change and joined in song.

 

 


Back(pack) to School

First American Insurance Agency, an independent insurance firm, recently donated more than 200 backpacks to nine Chicopee elementary schools. Notebooks, pencils, and glue sticks filled each bag, along with Kleenex and a bookmark.

Pictured, from left: First American’s Noni Moran, Julianne Rossi, Dennis Murphy, Jenna Dziok, and Katelyn Morgan.

 

 


Bridging the Generations

Springfield College and Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing have developed an intergenerational Students in Residence program for graduate students in the School of Health Sciences. Julie Torchia and Allie Tupaj, both doctor of physical therapy students, moved into a two-bedroom apartment at Loomis Lakeside this fall and will contribute to social and educational aspects of community living at the facility, logging eight hours of community-engagement project work each week.

Pictured, from left: Brooke Hallowell, dean of the School of Health Sciences at Springfield College; Torchia; Tupaj; Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper, Loomis Communities President Lauren Scruggs; and Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing CEO Craig Johnsen

 

 

 

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Giving Back

Timm Marini, president of HUB International New England, recently presented a check for $5,000 to the Mental Health Assoc. (MHA). Marini has also committed to a $5,000 donation to MHA for 2020. “HUB International New England embraces the value of the communities where our customers and employees live and work, so we give back by supporting community-focused organizations that do good things to help others. MHA is an organization that we have supported for many years and continue to support because of the important work they do helping vulnerable people,” said Marini (pictured with Kimberley Lee, vice president, Resource Development & Branding for MHA).

Music to Their Ears

Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. recently donated $5,000 to the Berkshire Hills Music Academy (BHMA) in South Hadley, which offers a post-secondary transition program, as well as a long-term graduate program for young adults with intellectual challenges. Its educational model infuses music with an empirically based curriculum to promote skills for independence. Karen Phillips of Phillips Insurance (left) presented the check to Michelle Theroux, executive director of Berkshire Hills Music Academy, at the annual spring concert held at the Bernon Music Center on the BHMA campus.

 

City of First Socks

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno showed his support for Upscale Socks owner Lenny Underwood recently, and bought the first pair of his ‘City of First’ socks, depicting the city skyline and a basketball, representing the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The socks can be purchased online at www.upscalesocks.com, as well as the Springfield Regional Visitors Center located at 1319 Main St.

 

 

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Senior Games

During the weekend of July 13-14, Springfield College hosted the Massachusetts Senior Games, as it has since 1991. Hundreds of participants took part in a range of events, including track and field, swimming, racquetball, and more. Pictured at left: from left, Springfield College Professor Emeritus Beth Evans, occupational therapy master’s student Renée deLisser, and Joan Simmons, associate professor of Occupational Therapy, get ready for the Senior Games. At right: Davis Cox, Massachusetts Senior Games board of directors president, prepares for the event at Blake Track at Springfield College.

From left, Springfield College Professor Emeritus Beth Evans, occupational therapy master’s student Renée deLisser, and Joan Simmons, associate professor of Occupational Therapy, get ready for the Senior Games.

Davis Cox, Massachusetts Senior Games board of directors president, prepares for the event at Blake Track at Springfield College.

 


 

Patio Party

The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with Young Professionals of Amherst and Northampton Area Young Professionals for a patio party on July16 at the Courtyard by Marriott.

Pictured, from left: Youssef Fadel of New England Promotional Marketing, Regina Curtis of the Greenfield Community College Foundation, Dawn Creighton of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, and Vince Jackson of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce.


 

Planners Tell All

On July 17, Michael’s Party Rental teamed up with Meeting Professionals International of the Connecticut River Valley and CJC Creative to host a “Planners Tell All” event. A panel of corporate and special-event planners joined local wedding/meeting planners and suppliers at the Michael’s warehouse for a night of networking and education.

Pictured, from left: Jackie Martucci, owner of Events by Jackie M; Lisa Antonecchia, owner of Creative Concepts by Lisa; Erin Tierney, lecturer at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst; and Amanda Cristina, senior meeting planner at LIMRA.

 


 

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Connecting Youth with Careers

River East School-to-Career recently held its annual breakfast meeting at the Ludlow Country Club. The program places high-school students from Belchertown, Ludlow, Monson, Palmer, Ware, and Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School in a business environment to gains skills through part-time jobs and internships. Seven student-mentor teams were honored for their outstanding work performance and providing students with job opportunities. Hampden Veterinary Clinic and Baystate Health Eastern Region accepted the Business Champion Award for providing work-based learning opportunities to students each year for the past 15 years.

From left, Jennifer Gouvin, president, River East School-to-Career board of directors; Lori Manseau, manager, Rehabilitation Services, Baystate Wing Hospital, accepting the award on behalf of Baystate Wing and Baystate Mary Lane; and Loretta Dansereau, director, River East School-to-Career Inc.

From left, Gouvin; Dr. Penny Peck, owner, Hampden Veterinary Clinic; and Dansereau.

A Bed for Every Child

The Cooperative Credit Union Assoc. Inc. (CCUA), on behalf of Massachusetts credit unions, along with members of the Massachusetts Credit Unions Social Responsibility Committee, recently presented a $202,725 check to the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless at the third annual Stephen D. Jones Credit Union Charity Golf Tournament in support of “A Bed for Every Child.”

From left: Charlene Bauer, Metro Credit Union; Ronald McLean, CCUA; Rui Domingos, Naveo Credit Union; Mark Cochran, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union on behalf of the Stephen Jones Family; Kevin Zipps, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union; Tina Baptista, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless; Paul Marotta, Hanscom Federal Credit Union; David Plantier, MassMutual Federal Credit Union; and Peter Panaggio, St. Anne’s Credit Union. Committee members not pictured include Sarita Ledani, RTN Federal Credit Union; Robert Lockett, Workers’ Credit Union; Melissa Morin, Credit Union of the Berkshires; and Jon Reske, UMassFive College Federal Credit Union

Xtraordinary Day of Service

Berkshire Bank employees recently came together to package more than 50,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger, which will be sent to nations where starvation is a key concern. The donation was a part of the bank’s annual Xtraordinary Day of Service, when the bank closes its offices early to empower employees to volunteer in their local communities. The event is in its fourth year. The volunteer work for Rise Against Hunger was one of 37 projects completed as a part of Xtraordinary Day. More than 90% of Berkshire Bank’s workforce participated in the event, totaling over 6,000 hours of volunteer work in a single day throughout the bank’s footprint.

Surprise Gift

On June 21, Richard’s Fuel and Heating celebrated its 500th Mitsubishi Electric Heating and Cooling mini-split installation with an event that surprised lucky customer Lisa Bartlett, as well as the installation technicians. Briget Michaud, business manager at Richard’s Fuel and Heating and one of the organizers of the promotion, showed up with a cake and balloons and presented Bartlett with a gift certificate covering half her unit and installation costs. Richard’s Fuel and Heating also donated $500 to the Easthampton Council on Aging.

From left: Michaud, Bartlett, and Sean Gallagher from BellSimons Co., the Mitsubishi Electric rep for Richard’s Fuel and Heating.

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Cutting the Ribbon

New Valley Bank & Trust recently staged a grand opening at its headquarters at Suite 910, One Monarch Place.

Mayor Domenic Sarno welcomes the bank to the city

Mayor Domenic Sarno welcomes the bank to the city

Sarno and bank Chairman Frank Fitzgerald cut the ceremonial ribbon alongside board members and dignitaries

Sarno and bank Chairman Frank Fitzgerald cut the ceremonial ribbon alongside board members and dignitaries

Fitzgerald thanks the almost 300 local investors who raised $23.5 million to get the bank started, well in excess of what is needed by regulatory requirements

Fitzgerald thanks the almost 300 local investors who raised $23.5 million to get the bank started, well in excess of what is needed by regulatory requirements

 

Innovation Fest

On June 12, Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) staged the region’s inaugural Innovation Fest, a day-long celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation that featured seminars, networking, the awarding of cash prizes to finalists in VVM’s accelerator program, walking tours of downtown, and much more.

VVM CEO Kristin Leutz welcomes attendees to the festival

VVM CEO Kristin Leutz welcomes attendees to the festival

Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, executive director of SPARK EforAll Holyoke, and Bill Cole, president of Living Local, present a program called “Reviving Main Street”;

Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, executive director of SPARK EforAll Holyoke, and Bill Cole, president of Living Local, present a program called “Reviving Main Street”

Michael Molinari, a principal with Autodrop3d

Michael Molinari, a principal with Autodrop3d, a New London, Conn.-based company that has created an automated ejection system for 3D printers, took home the top prize ($10,000) among the accelerator finalists

the five accelerator finalists

the five accelerator finalists, all holding their ceremonial checks, gather with VVM mentors and supporters

Mayor Domenic Sarno welcomes visitors to Springfield.

Mayor Domenic Sarno welcomes visitors to Springfield.

 

Innovation Accelerator Graduation

The 2019 Innovation Accelerator, a program that transforms nonprofit leaders’ thinking by bringing a culture of innovation into their organizations, recently graduated its fourth cohort. The event, held at TechSpring in Springfield, hosted three graduating Innovation Accelerator teams. With numerous funders and business and foundation executives in attendance, they supported, learned, and provided a pathway to potential funding for initiatives realized during the six-month class. Each team pitched its best plan to create mission-aligned revenue for their organizations. They also had to clearly demonstrate the core assumptions underlying their new ventures, how they tested those assumptions, the evidence they gathered, and what they learned.

from left, students

from left, students Cody Andrews, Julie Lococo, Monique Whiting, and James O’Neill (Viability) present to sharks John Goodhue (Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center), Joe Minton (Digital Development Management), Marty Caine (Wolf & Co.), Ali Usman (Pixeledge), and Paul Silva (Innovation Accelerator)

from left, Kelly Minton (Innovation Accelerator), student Rose Egan (Community Education Project), and Silva

from left, Kelly Minton (Innovation Accelerator), student Rose Egan (Community Education Project), and Silva

students Ethan Ferris and Will Swyers

students Ethan Ferris and Will Swyers, co-founders of Xernai, talk with sharks Caine and Dana Barrows (Northwestern Mutual)

 

The Business of Cannabis

The Springfield-based law firm Bulkley Richardson staged an informational forum on June 18 as part of an ongoing series on the many legal aspects of operating a cannabis-related business. The featured speaker was Tina Sbrega, president and CEO of GFA Federal Credit Union, to talk about how her financial institution became the first in the state to serve recreational marijuana companies. The event drew about 50 business professionals. Sbrega explained that the process of banking the cannabis industry involves a host of regulations because the drug is illegal at the federal level.

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Inspiring Young People

Junior Achievement of Western Mass., working in concert with Associated Industries of Mass. (AIM) and a host of area businesses, staged the inaugural JA Inspire program at the MassMutual Center late last month. The event is a type of job fair for area young people, designed to not only introduce them to potential careers and area employers, but offer insights into what it will take to enter these fields. More than 400 students from 12 area schools and youth organizations attended, and 42 area companies participated.

Jennifer Connelly, president of JA of Western Mass., with students from Granite Valley Middle School in Monson

Jennifer Connelly, president of JA of Western Mass., with students from Granite Valley Middle School in Monson

Kristin Carlson, president of Peerless Precision, talks with a student about opportunities in manufacturing while Dawn Creighton, Western Mass. Director for AIM, listens in

Kristin Carlson, president of Peerless Precision, talks with a student about opportunities in manufacturing while Dawn Creighton, Western Mass. Director for AIM, listens in

students visit the Comcast booth

students visit the Comcast booth

students from M. Marcus Kiley Middle School in Springfield pose for a group shot

students from M. Marcus Kiley Middle School in Springfield pose for a group shot

students take part in the activities at the Florence Bank booth

students take part in the activities at the Florence Bank booth

 


 

Paul Harris Winners

The Rotary Club of Holyoke recently bestowed Paul Harris Fellowships, Rotary International’s highest honor, upon two community leaders, Peter Rosskothen and Edward Caisse III. Rosskothen is co-owner of the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House, the Delaney House, and other businesses. He is actively involved with a number of area groups and organizations, including the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, the Pioneer Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Link to Libraries. Caisse is unit director of High Risk/Community Initiatives for the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, known for his work with the Safe Neighborhoods Initiative in Holyoke. Here, Holyoke Rotary Club President Robert McKay, center, congratulates Rosskothen, left, and Caisse.

 


 

TWO Grants

Training & Workforce Options (TWO) helped obtain grants to train workers at Savage Arms in Westfield and Conklin Office Furniture in Holyoke. The Baker-Polito administration in March announced the awarding of $7.48 million in Workforce Training Fund Program grants that will fund training for almost 6,000 workers and is expected to create more than 1,100 new jobs in the Commonwealth over the next two years. The awarded grants included $238,485 for customized training for 67 workers at Savage Arms and $48,820 to train 72 workers at Conklin Office Furniture. The training at Savage Arms will help workers learn to operate computer numerical control (CNC) machines. The grant also includes training in English as a second language. The company expects to add 54 new jobs by 2021. The grant for Conklin Office Furniture will pay for the training of 72 workers in a range of skills, from customer service and team building to sales and leadership. Here, Mark Stafinksi, left, who completed the Introduction to Manufacturing Technologies course facilitated by TWO, stands with Michael Welsh, director of Human Resources at Savage Arms, and Tracye Whitfield, director of Business Development at TWO.

 


 

Breaking Ground

MassMutual was joined by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and the Fallon Company as it broke ground recently on the company’s new commercial building in Boston’s booming Seaport district at 10 Fan Pier Boulevard. This is an integral milestone in support of MassMutual’s multi-year plan to expand in its home state of Massachusetts. Once completed, the new, 17-story, 310,000-square-foot building will house approximately 1,000 MassMutual employees. MassMutual is also renewing its commitment to Springfield, the city of its founding, by adding 1,500 jobs to its headquarters by the end of 2021. Here, MassMutual Chairman, President, and CEO Roger Crandall (eighth from left) is holding the original shovel used for the groundbreaking of MassMutual’s headquarters building in Springfield in 1925. From left, Sean Anderson, head of Facilities at MassMutual; Susan Cicco, head of Human Resources & Employee Experience at MassMutual; Richard Martini, chief operating officer at the Fallon Company; Anis Baig, head of Talent Acquisition & People Analytics at MassMutual; Jennifer Halloran, head of Marketing and Brand at MassMutual; Joe Fallon, founder, president, and CEO of the Fallon Company; Walsh; Crandall; Baker; Teresa Hassara, head of Workplace Solutions at MassMutual; Pia Flanagan, chief of staff at MassMutual; Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S. (MMUS); Gareth Ross, head of Enterprise Technology and Experience at MassMutual, and Renee Roeder, head of the MMUS Business Project Management Office at MassMutual.

 


 

Legacy Gift

During her lifetime, Elaine Marieb donated more than $1.5 million to Holyoke Community College in large and small amounts she once described as “tokens of gratitude” to the institution where she earned her nursing degree and taught biology for 24 years. Even after her death in December, Marieb’s generosity continues. HCC is the beneficiary of a $1 million legacy gift Marieb set up as part of her estate plan, money earmarked for HCC programs that support non-traditional-age students. The gift was officially announced on May 28 at HCC’s monthly board of trustees meeting, followed by the presentation of a $1 million ceremonial check. Pictured, from left, HCC Foundation board chair John Driscoll, HCC Vice President of Institutional Advancement Amanda Sbriscia, HCC President Christina Royal, and HCC board of trustees chair Robert Gilbert hold a ceremonial check for $1 million from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Foundation.

 


 

Rally Against Cancer

Country Bank’s Employee Charitable Giving program recently donated $26,000 to the Jimmy Fund’s Rally Against Cancer. Team captains Eric Devine, Bonnie Trudeau-Wood, and Jeremy Toussaint led Team Country Bank with fundraising activities to help them exceed their goal of $25,000 and claim the first-place spot in the Corporate Team Challenge. Fundraising activities included staff-donated raffle baskets for employees to win, paying to wear jeans on casual Fridays, a bus trip, bake sales, and online staff donations. In addition to these activities, Country Bank provided a generous matching donation.

Picture This

A photo essay of recent business events in Western Massachusetts / May 2019

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]

Meeting the Class of 2019

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, one of the sponsors of BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty program for 2019, recently staged a cocktail party for the class of 2019 and their guests, providing an opportunity for the soon-to-be members of an exclusive club to meet and get to know one another. Here, honorees gather for a class photo. They’ll be together again on June 20 for the 40 Under Forty Gala at the Log Cabin in Holyoke.



Trees into Cartons, Cartons into Trees

Fourth- and fifth-graders from the Ludlow Community Center/Randall Boys and Girls Club recently gathered to learn about the environmental benefits of trees, paper, and recycling from staff members of the Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC), a national trade association, headquartered in Springfield, for the manufacturers of paperboard boxes. The presentation was part of PPC’s educational outreach program, TICCIT (Trees into Cartons, Cartons into Trees), which teaches students that trees are a sustainable crop, highlights the many uses for trees and paper, and underscores the importance of recycling. The students also planted tree saplings in paperboard cartons to take home. The carton, when planted directly in the ground, provides protection and a natural water funnel for the new tree. As the tree grows, the carton will break down and complete the TICCIT cycle. PPC also donated a young weeping cherry tree that was planted near the front entrance of the community center.



Investment in the Future

Aerospace Components Manufacturers (ACM), a nonprofit regional network of independent aerospace companies, recently announced a four-year, $180,632 pledge to Asnuntuck Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center. The center’s CNC machine-technology lab was also named in honor of ACM. “By ensuring that more students gain access to careers in this exciting industry, these funds will aid in both the realization of individual educational and career goals as well as helping to satisfy a dramatically increasing demand for a technologically skilled workforce,” said Asnuntuck President Frank Lombella, pictured at right with ACM President Pedro Soto (left) and ACM Executive Director Paul Murphy. See story on page 21 for an broader look at the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center.



Marking a Milestone

The Edward P. Boland VA Medical Center in Leeds is marking its 95th anniversary this year. It is marking this milestone in a number of ways, including a ceremony, complete with a large birthday cake, at the facility on May 15.

CEO John Collins, FACHE, addresses those gathered, offering both a look back and a glance to the future

CEO John Collins, FACHE, addresses those gathered, offering both a look back and a glance to the future

Audience members listened to a number of different speakers

Audience members listened to a number of different speakers

Gordon Tatro, a retired employee (Engineering) and the VA’s unofficial historian, references an old photo of the facility to highlight changes that have taken place in recent years

Gordon Tatro, a retired employee (Engineering) and the VA’s unofficial historian, references an old photo of the facility to highlight changes that have taken place in recent years

Collins joins recently hired employees to cut the cake

Collins joins recently hired employees to cut the cake