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A Visit from the First Lady

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

 


Advocating for Community Colleges

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


Grand Opening

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

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

 

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

 


Giving Back to the Community

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

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

 

 


Art History

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

 

 


 

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Accessible Design Award

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

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


Grand Opening

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

 


Charitable Champions List

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

 


Getting a Boost

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

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


 

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Care Where It’s Needed

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

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

Keroack talks about the importance of the health bus

 


Going Above and Beyond

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

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

 


 

STEM Center at STCC

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

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


 

Helping Students Thrive

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

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

 


 

Third Party Lender of the Year

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

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

 

 

 

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Cutting the Ribbon

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

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

 


History Lessons

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

 


Early Literacy Leadership Summit

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

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

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

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

 


President’s Platinum Award

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

 


 

Rock-solid Performance

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

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

 


Stuff the Bus

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


 

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President’s Gala

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

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

 

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

 

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

 


 

Children’s Study Home Art Show

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

 


 

Uplifting Women

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

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

 

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


 

Harvest of Creativity

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

 


Note-able Family

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

 


 

Super 60

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

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

 

 


Passing the Torch

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

 


 

Keep the Ball Rolling

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

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

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Empowering Women

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

Joyce Roché autographs copies of her book after the event

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

 


Discussing Brexit

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

 


 

Smoothing Career Pathways

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

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

 


 

Earning an A+

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

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

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

 


 

Illusionist Performs for a Cause

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

 


 

Responding to the Call

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

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

 


 

Mercedes-Benz of Springfield Turns Two

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

 

 

 

 

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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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