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Customers’ Choice Grants

Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program gala

Jim Gipe / Pivot Media

Florence Bank recently celebrated its 20th annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program gala, awarding $100,000 to 45 nonprofits across the Valley. At the close of the event, president and CEO Kevin Day drew cheers from the audience of nonprofit leaders, announcing that giving will increase to $125,000. Here, Day raises a glass to celebrate the program with nonprofit leaders.



Sign of the Times

American International College President Hubert Benitez, left, and Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook

American International College President Hubert Benitez, left, and Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook sign an articulation agreement formally establishing a close academic relationship between the two-year college and the four-year institution. The accord between AIC and STCC aligns academic programs that enhance the seamless transition of STCC graduates and qualified candidates from STCC, and promote a smooth, successful transfer to AIC. The articulation agreement offers time and cost savings for students by recognizing the coursework pursued at the community college and demonstrates the ongoing commitment of both AIC and STCC to the community and its students, by ensuring that educational pathways are created for all those who wish to consider a degree in higher education.



To a Higher Gear

Monson Savings Bank team members deliver bicycles to the YWCA of Western Massachusetts

Monson Savings Bank team members deliver bicycles to the YWCA of Western Massachusetts as a part of its 150 Build-a-Bike Campaign, a component of the bank’s 150th birthday celebration. From left: Diana Guzman, YWCA director of Human Resources; Asia Bradford, YWCA director of Adult Residential Programs; Dalila Cardona, YWCA clinical director; Rob Chateauneuf, Monson Savings Bank senior vice president and senior commercial loan officer; Michael Rouette, Monson Savings Bank executive vice presisdent & COO;  Dan Moriarty, Monson Savings Bank president & CEO;  Elizabeth Dineen, YWCA of Western Massachusetts executive director; Ray Plouffe, Family Bike Shop owner; Monika Konopko, YWCA chief financial officer; Yhissa Ocasio, YWCA director of Youth, HIV, and Court Support Programs; Terri Fox, Monson Savings Bank senior vice president and chief retail officer; and Corinne Sawyer, Monson Savings Bank vice president and director of Business & Municipal Banking.



Donation to CDH

Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB

Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, recently announced that the bank has made a $500,000 challenge grant to support the Emergency Department at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. The funds will be used to support Transforming Emergency Care: Campaign for the Cooley Dickinson Emergency Department, a $19.76 million expansion, reconfiguration, and renovation effort to allow Cooley Dickinson to meet the ever-evolving emergency medicine needs of all members of the community, from infants to older adults. From left: Nancy Lapointe, bankESB senior vice president, retail banking; Dr. Lynnette Watkins, president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Hospital; Sosik; and Karen Craig, assistant vice president, branch officer for bankESB’s King St., Northampton office



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Common Threads


Dress for Success Western Mass. staged its annual fundraising event, Common Threads, on April 25 at the Sheraton in Springfield. More than 300 people turned out for the event, which featured inspirational stories from women who were helped by the agency in their efforts to find employment in a field where they can build a career, a keynote address from Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal, and the presentation of several awards, including the Distinguished Alumna award to Kassandra Carrasquillo; the Volunteer of the Year award to Bridget Haley; and the Outstanding Contributor Award to Dawn Creighton.


audience members take in the proceedings

audience members take in the proceedings


Briceyda Landaverde, of Western Mass News, serves as emcee for the evening

Briceyda Landaverde, of Western Mass News, serves as emcee for the evening


posing for a selfie are Creighton, Jennifer Metsch, Royal, Ramona Reno, and Karen MacGeorge

posing for a selfie are Creighton, Jennifer Metsch, Royal, Ramona Reno, and Karen MacGeorge


Delphine Kabatesi, left, and Jill Schibelli, Margaret Fitzgerald Mentoring Program participants

Delphine Kabatesi, left, and Jill Schibelli, Margaret Fitzgerald Mentoring Program participants


Royal delivers her talk, which focused on mentors in her life

Royal delivers her talk, which focused on mentors in her life



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150th Anniversary Reception

To commemorate Monson Savings Bank’s incorporation on March 27, 1872, the bank recently invited members of the community to attend a 150th Anniversary Reception at the Monson branch. Dan Moriarty, president and CEO of Monson Savings Bank, along with MSB team members, welcomed guests as they joined the celebration. Dignitaries, including local professionals, government officials, and community members attended the reception to show their support for the institution.

State Sen. Anne Gobi and Rep. Brian Ashe (right), seen with Moriarty, presented Monson Savings Bank with citations, and commended the bank for reaching the momentous anniversary


From left, Michael Rouette, MSB’s executive vice president and COO; Laurel Peck, MSB Retail Operations specialist; Sandra Letendre, veteran MSB employee; and Moriarty


Moriarty, left, with past president Neil Marshall, center, and past president (and now chairman of the board) Steve Lowell



Soofa Wraps

Business and civic leaders gathered in downtown Amherst recently for the unveiling of new ‘Soofa signs,’ 100% solar-powered electronic displays placed in the downtown area to better communicate local events and resources, and to help promote local businesses. The signs will communicate COVID-19 updates, public health guidelines, town updates, and local business offerings. The initiative was sponsored by UMass Five College Credit Union.

From left: Claudia Pazmany, executive director, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce; UMass Five College Credit Union team members: Taylor Robbins, Cash Management specialist; Craig Boivin, vice president of Marketing; and Rich Kump, President & CEO; Dave Ziomek, Assistant town manager/director of Conservation & Development, Town of Amherst; state Rep. Mindy Domb; and Jeff Simpson, chief Commercial Officer and vice president of Commercial Lending of UMass Five. (Missing are Gabrielle Gould, president of the Amherst Business Improvement District, and Brianna Sunryd, Communications manager and Community Participation officer for the Town of Amherst — partners who made the initiative possible).



Urban League Donation

Balise Toyota and Balise Lexus donated to the Urban League of Springfield and nominated the organization for additional funds through the Toyota Dealer Match Program, resulting in a total donation of $30,000. The funds will be used to support new development and improvements at the league’s historic Camp Atwater, with youth development activities and facilities upgrades as the primary objectives.

From left, Ken Maffia, general manager of Balise Toyota; Henry Thomas III, president and CEO of the Urban League of Springfield; Alex Balise, director of Marketing for Balise Auto Group; Dee Thomas; and Tim Cardillo, general manager of Balise Lexus.


Celebrating 125 Years


Bay Path University celebrated its 125th anniversary and the inauguration of its sixth president, Sandra Doran, on April 8. An evening gala at the MassMutual Center followed earlier inauguration ceremonies at Symphony Hall.

A wide view of the inauguration


At the ‘Presentation of Symbols’ are, from left, Jonathan Besse, chairman of the Bay Path board of trustees, Doran, retired Bay Path President Carol Leary


Later at the ball … clockwise, from left, with Doran, second from left, are Madeline Landrau, Relationship Manager at MassMutual, Judy Matt, president of the Spirit of Springfield, and Kathy Tobin, director of Annual Giving and Events at Baystate Health


Michelle and Peter Wirth, co-owners of Mercedes Benz of Springfield, rally the audience during the fund-raising segment of the program


Ruth Carter, Academy Award winner for Best Costume Design, addresses the audience



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211 Day


The United Way of Pioneer Valley hosted the grand opening of its new Springfield Community Service Center, sponsored by Balise Auto Group, on Feb. 11, a day declared as ‘211 Day’ in the Commonwealth. Municipal and business leaders gathered at ceremonies at 1441 Main St., the location of the new center, for a ribbon cutting that followed comments from several speakers on the services provided by Mass211 and the importance of this program to the region. Ceremonies were held simultaneously in Framingham and the Mass211 headquarters there. Among those speaking were Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito; Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno (pictured at the podium); Paul Mina, president and CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley; and many others.



Recognizing Support for Community Colleges


U.S. Rep. Richard Neal was awarded the 2022 National Education Service Award during the Assoc. of Community College Trustees’ (ACCT) Community College National Legislative Summit. Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal was on hand to make the presentation. Pictured, from left: Richard Rhodes, American Assoc. of Community Colleges board chair; Neal; Royal; James Cooksey, ACCT board chair; and Jee Hang Lee, ACCT president and CEO.



Home Sweeter Home


In September, Purple Heart Homes (PHH), a veterans-services agency that focuses on housing solutions, and Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity collaborated on a home-preservation project for Peter, a retired Army National Guard staff sergeant, and his wife, Beth. They purchased a duplex in Monson three years ago and live in one unit, while Beth’s daughter and young son live in the other residence. The project fixed a moss-spotted roof, a broken water heater in the daughter’s unit, and damaged exterior doors at both dwellings.




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In Support of Excellence

Pictured, from left: Matt Bannister, senior vice president, Marketing and Corporate Responsibility at PeoplesBank; Kerry Pepin, vice president, portfolio manager at PeoplesBank; Steve Winn, BHN President and CEO; and Vicky Crouse, senior vice president, Commercial Lending, PeoplesBank.

Behavioral Health Network, Inc. recently received a $25,000 donation from PeoplesBank to benefit the Katherine B. Wilson Staff Excellence Fund, which supports the career and professional development of BHN’s workforce and assists in achieving social-justice objectives.




Top Student Investors

Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts (JAWM) recently held its annual Stock Market Competition at the Cedars Banquet Facility in Springfield. Taking home the top prize this year in the live event was the Raiders team from Hampshire Regional High School (pictured). JAWM later held a virtual competition for students who could not attend the live event, at which students from Putnam Vocational Technical High School took first and third place. Teams of middle- and high-school students at the event are ‘given’ $1 million to invest in more than 50 fictitious stocks, aiming to build the highest portfolio net worth.



Boosting Food Security

Pictured: Community Bank Branch Manager Gilbert Nieves (left) and Open Pantry Community Services Agency Director Terry Maxey.

Community Bank recently donated $6,500 to support Open Pantry Community Services, which aims to increase food security for families in the surrounding community through its Emergency Food Bank, Loaves and Fishes Community Kitchen, and Holiday Meals programs. It further supports those in need by providing Teen Parent and Open Door Social Services programs, as well as permanent housing for homeless single women recovering from substance abuse.



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Joining the Fight Against Cancer

Employees of UMassFive College Federal Credit Union raised more than $16,000 for the UMass Cancer Center through participation in the 23rd annual UMass Cancer Walk and Run at Polar Park in Worcester. UMassFive employees join together annually as Team UMassFive to raise funds for the cause, both personally and in branch locations. In 2021, fundraising efforts included the Hadley branch hosting its annual Crafting for a Cure Boutique. Other branch efforts included raffle baskets, bake sales, candy sales, and jewelry sales.


Supporting Care for Children

A three-state fundraising effort and matching company contribution by City Tire and Auto Centers recently netted Baystate Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospitals for Children – Springfield donations of $10,000 each. The company raised the funds through contributions on specific auto services for the past six months. Pictured at the Shriners check presentation, from left: Peter Greenberg and Daniel Greenberg, president and vice president, respectively, of City Tire; and Stacey Perlmutter and Lee Kirk, the hospital’s director of Development and administrator, respectively.


Tackling Food Insecurity

State Sen. Eric Lesser was recently joined by state Rep. Bud Williams and Jodi Manning, manager of the Farmers’ Market at Forest Park, to announce $75,000 in funding secured to support staffing, website development, outreach, and education for the Farmers’ Market. Lesser acted as lead sponsor in the Senate, securing this state funding in the ARPA spending bill signed into law last month.


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Delivering Holiday Cheer

American Eagle Financial Credit Union celebrated the season of giving by delivering baskets of holiday cheer to Hampden County families with loved ones who faced challenges from the pandemic or illness this past year. AEFCU representatives presented baskets filled with holiday treats, gifts, and Bright Nights tickets to special-education teachers at West Springfield High School, families staying at Ronald McDonald House of Springfield, and patient-care staff at Baystate Children’s Hospital. In addition, Bright Nights tickets and gift cards were delivered by Springfield radio stations on the credit union’s behalf to Shriners Children’s New England and the Boys & Girls Club of Springfield.

AEFCU representatives

AEFCU representatives presented baskets filled with holiday treats, gifts, and Bright Nights tickets to special-education teachers at West Springfield High School


Families staying at Ronald McDonald House of Springfield

Families staying at Ronald McDonald House of Springfield


Patient-care staff at Baystate Children’s Hospital

Patient-care staff at Baystate Children’s Hospital



Touring Small Businesses

On Dec. 12, state Sen. Eric Lesser hosted a small-business holiday tour with Grace Barone, executive director of East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce (ERC5), visiting several member businesses of ERC5. The pair, joined by state Reps. Brian Ashe and Jacob Oliveira, visited Pete’s Sweets in East Longmeadow, the Scented Garden Gift Shoppe in Wilbraham, Vanished Valley Brewing in Ludlow, Rosewood Home & Gifts in Hampden, Center Square Grill in East Longmeadow, and the Longmeadow Shops.


Pete’s Sweets in East Longmeadow

Pete’s Sweets in East Longmeadow


Scented Garden Gift Shoppe in Wilbraham

Scented Garden Gift Shoppe in Wilbraham





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Open for Business

Officials cut a ceremonial ribbon on Nov. 30 at Town Common, the mixed-use facility created at the former United Bank building in the center of West Springfield. The property is now at nearly full occupancy, with a tenants that include Tandem Bagel Co., Future Health, Seven Hills Foundation, Kindred Healthcare, and many others. Doing the honors are, from left, state Rep. Michael Flynn; Tyler Saremi, president of Saremi LLP; West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt; and Kevin Saremi, a partner in the project.



Every Dollar Counts

Carr Hardware recently donated $5,272.12 to the Berkshire Humane Society, first by donating the sales of more than 300 buckets to the Humane Society, and then offering customers the option to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar for the first two weeks of November. Pictured: Carr Hardware President Bart Raser (left), Berkshire Humane Society Executive Director John Perreault, and Bowser.



Recognizing Successes

State Rep. Mindy Domb (left) recently attended the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative breakfast to recognize the work of chamber Executive Director Claudia Pazmany (second from left) and Gabrielle Gould, executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District (right). Together, Domb noted, these community leaders have been largely responsible for bringing in more than $2.1 million in state grants to small businesses in Amherst, scheduling vaccination clinics for restaurant workers, developing a microgrant program for small businesses, and implementing an innovative program of  purchasing hundreds of meals from local restaurants last winter and distributing them to families facing food insecurity. Also pictured: John Page, former marketing and membership manager at the chamber.

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Sock It to MA

From left, Lenny Underwood, founder of Upscale Socks; Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, and state Sens. Eric Lesser and Adam Gomez joined Chris Russell, executive director of the Springfield Business Improvement District, for the unveiling of Upscale Socks’ new Massachusetts sock. The design, created by Underwood, features some of what the Commonwealth is known for: basketball, the Knowledge Corridor, mountains, the state flower, and the state fruit.




Thank You for Your Service

House of Heroes and Johnson Brunetti Retirement & Investment Specialists recently provided no-cost home repairs and updates for veteran Sylvia McGiver of Enfield, Conn. McGiver served both at home and overseas in Japan as an Army nurse, treating wounded soldiers during the Vietnam War and eventually earning the rank of captain before her discharge in 1970. This marked the third straight year Johnson Brunetti has partnered with House of Heroes to thank local veterans with a home-improvement project.




Supporting Local Care

Greenfield Cooperative Bank recently made a $75,000 donation, one of the largest in the bank’s history, in support of Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s new Department of Family Medicine. This new UMass Medical School – Baystate-affiliated program will train future family doctors in Greenfield to ensure a legacy of long-term, sustainable, high-quality primary healthcare for the citizens of Franklin County and surrounding towns.






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Celebrating a Legacy

Square One celebrated the career and legacy of Joan Kagan, its former president and CEO, at a retirement party on Oct. 14. Pictured from top: Kagan addresses the gathering at the Starting Gate at GreatHorse. Center: from left, Melissa Blissett, vice president of Family Services; Kris Allard, vice president of Development & Communication; Kagan; Maria Bedard, vice president of Early Education & Care; Dawn DiStefano, president and CEO; and Joni Beck Brewer, retired vice president of Family Services. Bottom: Kagan with a painting gifted by local artists and Bay Path University students Cora Swan and Audira Cave. The painting will hang at Square One’s Tommie Johnson Child & Family Center as a way of honoring Kagan for her years of service.



Cutting the Ribbon

Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries recently held a ribbon-cutting event at its newly renovated store on University Drive in Amherst. Pictured, from left: store Manager Cynthia Bartels, Goodwill CEO Joanne Hilferty, Goodwill board member Kathleen Murphy, Amherst Town Council President Lynn Griesemer, Amherst Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Youssef Fadel, state Rep. Mindy Domb, and Goodwill Senior Director of Retail Robert Niejadlik.


Growing STEM

Springfield Technical Community College was recently awarded two grants worth more than $7 million from the U.S. Department of Education to boost student success among Latinx and low-income students in STEM fields. Pictured at the ceremony announcing the grants: from left, STCC President John Cook, state Rep. Orlando Ramos, state Rep. Bud Williams, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, and Shai Butler, STCC’s vice president of Advancement and External Affairs.


Hunger Relief

State legislators visited Rachel’s Table recently to announce $25,000 in funding secured for food rescue and distribution efforts. Pictured from left: state Rep. Brian Ashe; a staffer for state Rep. Bud Williams, Jodi Falk, director of Rachel’s Table; state Sen. Eric Lesser; Sarah Maniaci, associate director of Rachel’s Table; Nora Gorenstein, interim executive director of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts; Ellen Gold, board president of Rachel’s Table; and state Rep. Jacob Oliveira.

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Grand Opening at Venture X

Venture X Holyoke celebrated the grand opening of its co-working space on Sept. 9, drawing more than 80 guests who enjoyed drinks, food, live music, and tours of the facility. Pictured: the Venture X Holyoke team cuts the ribbon at the grand opening. (Photo by Aiden McDonald)



Committed to the Mission

In celebration of a $50,000 earmark in the Massachusetts state budget to support its commitment to early learning, Square One welcomed the amendment’s sponsors, state Sen. Adam Gomez and state Rep. Bud Williams, for a visit to its Main Street, Springfield location on Oct. 4. They were joined by state Sen. Eric Lesser, state Reps. Michael Finn and Orlando Ramos, Square One President and CEO Dawn DiStefano, and staff and children from the agency.



Up, Up, and Away

Mateo Reyes, a senior at Westfield Technical Academy, recently earned his private pilot license from Fly Lugu on Sept. 30. Leading up to the day of his checkride, Reyes could be found studying at the airport almost every day after school. “Watching Mateo accomplish such a huge feat at just 17 years old has been inspiring to everyone at Fly LUGU,” flight dispatcher Sammie Gladu said, “and we’re looking forward to seeing where his new license takes him.”



Fore the Kids

Professional Drywall Construction Inc. raised $35,000 during its fifth annual PDC Charity Golf Tournament, held on Sept. 9 at Wyckoff Country Club in Holyoke. The tournament, which featured an 18-hole round of golf, lunch, and a dinner reception, drew 120 participants. Pictured: PDC co-owners Ron Perry (left) and Nick Shaink. (Photo by Market Mentors)



School Is Now in Session

Gov. Charlie Baker (pictured) and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito recently joined students, families, staff, board members, and community partners to celebrate the opening of Springfield Prep Charter School’s new campus on Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield. The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the completion of two years of planning and construction on a $20.4 million building project that will serve nearly 500 students each year.



Creating a Pipeline

Committed to growing the future manufacturing workforce, Governors America Corp. in Agawam recently hosted six students as part of the Learn to Earn program created by New England Business Associates. During the five-hour event, students had the opportunity to tour the facility, speak with staff in a variety of roles, and learn about the various opportunities available within manufacturing. (Photo by Market Mentors)



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Supporting Healthy Kids

The Enterprise Holdings Foundation recently donated $12,143 to Square One in support of its Campaign for Healthy Kids, part of its broader commitment to donate $55 million over five years to organizations that advance social and racial equity. The Campaign for Healthy Kids is a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on Square One’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment.




Helping Women Get Back to Work

State Sens. Eric Lesser and Adam Gomez and state Reps. Carlos Gonzalez and Orlando Ramos recently joined Margaret Tantillo, executive director of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, and her team to announce $25,000 in funding for the organization’s workforce-development program. As lead budget sponsor, Lesser secured this earmark in the FY22 budget that was passed by the Senate and House and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker in July. Dress for Success’ workforce-development programs and services improve the employability, employment placement, and self-sufficiency of women who are unemployed and seeking to enter or re-enter the workforce. 




Fore a Good Cause

The Royal Law Firm was the signature cocktail sponsor of the CHD Cancer House of Hope golf tournament held on Sept. 13. The Royal foursome included, from left, Joe Eckerle, Tanzi Cannon-Eckerle, BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien, and Tim Netkovick.



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Stepping Up to the Plate

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley (PSRB) announced a corporate sponsorship with the Worcester Red Sox, geared toward providing support to the team’s charitable efforts throughout Greater Worcester and sponsorship of its community calendar. The firm shot new television commercials on Aug. 16 on the field at Polar Park, and also announced the continuation of its relationship with Red Sox legend Dwight Evans as PSRB’s spokesperson. Pictured, from left: Charlie Casartello, the firm’s managing partner; Evans; and Patrick McHugh, a partner at PSRB.



Local Legal Lights




The Hampden County Bar Assoc. (HCBA) held its annual meeting, vendor show, and dinner on Aug. 12 at the Springfield Sheraton Hotel. Pictured top: Joseph Pacella is sworn in as president of the association for 2021-22 by District Court Judge Philip Contant. Bottom: Tahirah Amatul-Wadud (center) is presented with the Massachusetts Bar Assoc. (MBA) Community Service Award by MBA President Denise Murphy and HCBA President Thomas Wilson. Fifty-year members of the bar were also recognized during the evening.




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Margarita Madness

Margarita Madness 2021, the Amherst Area Chamber’s signature networking event, returned this year, outdoors, under the pavilion at the Young Men’s Club of Hadley made possible by presenting sponsor Steve Lewis Subaru and supported by more than 40 participants and sponsors for 20 margarita tastings. Funds were raised for CHD’s Not Bread Alone as well as the chamber’s work throughout the year to create, maintain and promote a vital, thriving business climate in the Amherst Area. Back row, from left, John Page, Membership & Marketing manager of the Amherst Area Chamber; Marissa Faldasz from The Hangar & Pub of Amherst, first prize winner of 2021 Margarita Madness with its Habanero Pineapple Ginger Margarita; Steve Lewis, CEO of Steve Lewis Subaru, presenting sponsor of Margarita Madness; Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber; and Samantha Heraty from the Hangar & Pub of Amherst; Lower row, left to right, Alex DeLiefde from the Hangar & Pub of Amherst; Youssef Fadel, of New England Promotional Marketing and founding chair of the Annual Margarita Madness 2021 Committee; and Chrystal Thompson, from the Hangar & Pub of Amherst.



To Honor America

Karen Nogueira, director of Client Relations for PV Financial Group, recently sang the national anthem at Fenway Park to open up a Red Sox game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Nogueira has been with PV Financial Group since 2006.




Hefty Deposit

Monson Savings Bank (MSB) announced it will donate $100,000 to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts to support people who struggle with food insecurity. MSB was a major charitable donor to the Food Bank’s capital campaign, which aims to raise $22 million for the new Chicopee facility that will serve as its future headquarters, set to open in 2023. Pictured, from left: Erica Flores, president of the Food Bank’s board of directors; Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank; and Dan Moriarty, Monson Savings Bank president and CEO.



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Learning Takes Flight

Fly LUGU Flight Training is partnering with Boy Scouts of America to help the local troop earn their aviation merit badge. Flight instructors from Fly LUGU are volunteering their time to help the young Scouts attain the badge. Instructors are taking pride in teaching the boys airport operations and basic flight instruments, as well as demonstrating a proper pre-flight inspection on a Cessna 172. For many of the Scouts, it is their first time being up close to a small aircraft.




Grand Opening

Brenda Cuoco & Associates Real Estate Brokerage recently opened its second office location at 714 Bliss Road in the Longmeadow Shops. Cuoco has more than 16 years of experience in the industry and is looking forward to bringing her passion and knowledge to the Longmeadow market.





Movie Nights

North Square at the Mill District in Amherst will wind down its summer outdoor cinema series on Aug. 25 with a showing of Mamma Mia! Series partners include (pictured, from left) Tony Maroulis, vice president of Real Estate & Development at W.D. Cowls Inc.; Arthur Haskins, property manager of North Square at the Mill District; Cinda Jones, president of the Mill District; Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce; and Yasmin Chin Eisenhauer, executive director of Amherst Cinema.




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Supporting Education

Elms College announced it has named its center dedicated to improving fairness and opportunity in K-12 education as the Cynthia A. Lyons Center for Equity in Urban Education (CEUE). Lyons has been a member of the Elms College board of trustees for the past 15 years, serving the last seven as board chair. In addition, the Lyons family committed $1 million in support of the CEUE, which was launched in 2019 to help bridge the 800-teacher annual gap across K-12 schools in Chicopee, Holyoke, and Springfield, especially in the STEM fields. Pictured, from left: William Lyons III, Cynthia Lyons, Elms President Harry Dumay, and Paul Stelzer, incoming chair of the Elms College board of trustees.



Heritage Week

Mercy Medical Center celebrated its Heritage Week on July 19-23, a time when the organization reflects on its early days and the many contributions the Sisters of Providence have made to the local community. Pictured: Mercy President Deborah Bitsoli presents a bouquet of flowers to Sister Mary Caritas, Mercy board member and former Mercy Hospital president, at a colleague barbeque, where Caritas recounted stories about the beginnings of the health ministry and thanked colleagues for their continued commitment to providing a healing environment.



Round Up for Change

Wild Oats Market in Williamstown recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its Round Up for Change program with a $3,353.57 donation to the Williamstown Farmers Market’s Community Essentials Initiative. The program allows customers to round up their total purchase amounts at checkout to benefit a local nonprofit. All funds collected go directly to that month’s featured partner. Since initiating the program in June 2020, Wild Oats has donated more than $38,000 to 13 different organizations. Pictured, from left: Netse Lytle (center) of Wild Oats Market presents a check to MaryEllen Meehan (left) and Anne Hogeland from Williamstown Farmers Market.




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Supporting the Kids


Smith & Wesson recently committed $20,000 in corporate giving to Square One, in addition to funds donated by employees as part of their commitment to social responsibility. The company has previously supported the agency’s early-education and care initiatives and programs to support victims of domestic violence. It was also among the first businesses in the region to fund Square One’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Pictured: Smith & Wesson’s Caitlin Roman (top) and Mark Smith (above) meet some preschool children from Square One’s Main Street classroom before the check presentation.



New Housing in Amherst


Gov. Charlie Baker (second from right) joined other state and economic-development officials on July 7 to cut the ribbon at the new apartment complex at North Square in Amherst. The 130-unit building at 75 and 85 Cowls Road, part of the Mill District, offers a mix of market-rate, affordable and low-income apartments with one, two and three bedrooms, and is more than 90% occupied. The Mill District development — a project of W.D. Cowls Inc., which is led by ninth-generation owner Cinda Jones (seventh from right) — also includes 22,000 square feet of retail space.



Grant Announcement


On July 13, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Bay Path University President Sandra Doran jointly announced that two health-focused graduate programs at the university have recently received two federal grants. The master of science in physician assistant studies program has been awarded a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Primary Care Training & Enhancement Program; and the master of science in clinical mental health counseling program is the recipient of a grant from the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training program totaling $1.43 million over four years, funded through the American Rescue Plan. At top, Doran addresses those gathered at a press conference at the university’s Philip H. Ryan Health Science Center in East Longmeadow. Above, Neal, with Bay Path physician assistant studies students behind him, addresses the audience.




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Open to Making Connections

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


Spring Cleanup

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

Remembering a Legend

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


Fresh Paint Springfield

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

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Brewing Up Business






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





Honoring a Legacy

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




Customers’ Choice Community Grants

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



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Open for Business in Chicopee


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



Sock It to Stigma

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




Protecting History

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






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Brewing Up Diversity

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






Grand Opening

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





Delivering the Goods

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


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Students Serving Students


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



Fatal Rewards


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



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Supporting Students

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



Tackling Tough Issues

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



In the Bag

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



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Paws in the Workday

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




Community Support

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



Art of the Matter


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




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Recognizing 45 Years

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




Cold-weather Concerns

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




Page-turning News

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





Suit Your Socks

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



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Happy, Safe Holidays

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



No Shave November

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





Being Accountable

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




Holiday Cheer

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




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Celebrating Heroes

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





I Can See Clearly Now

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





Provider of Choice


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




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Serving Up Grants

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




Special Delivery

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




A Tasty Return

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



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Help Where It’s Needed

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





Celebrating STEM Week

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




Supporting Girls

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






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Education Equity

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




Driving for a Cure

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





The Bionic Kid

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





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First Responders Luncheon

The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce recently hosted its annual First Responders Luncheon. Pictured below, from top to bottom: chamber board members and event organizers (from left) Hannah Rechtschaffen of the Mill District, Beth Pearson of Pearson Wallace Insurance, and Heidi Flanders of Integrity Development and Construction, gather outside Pasta E Basta to receive fresh lunches to deliver to first responders in seven communities the chamber serves; Amherst firefighters and EMTs gather for lunch at North Station, flanked by Rechtschaffen and Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber; Pearson (left) delivers meals to the Leverett Police and Fire departments.





Strike Out Hunger

KFC was the presenting sponsor of the Westfield Starfires Strike Out Hunger Campaign, donating $10 for every strikeout at Bullens Field during the 2020 season. $1,500 was presented at the Starfires season finale to benefit the Westfield Boys & Girls Club summer meals program. Pictured: Starfires Manager Tony Deshler, Director of Baseball Operations Evan Moorhouse, Westfield Boys and Girls Club Chief Advancement Officer Bo Sullivan, Starfires co-owner Christopher Thompson, Westfield Boys & Girls Club CEO Bill Parks, and Starfires pitcher of the year and strikeout leader Chase Jeter.






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Feed the Body – Feed the Mind

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




Red Alert

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




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Helping Local Kids

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




Boosting Access to Food


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




Ribbon Cutting at F45 Training


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




Driving for the Cure

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



Open for Business


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



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Tourism Boost

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


Supporting Community Health Workers

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

J-Camp in a Box

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

















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Camp Days

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


Food Donations

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




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Celebrating 40 Years

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



Sharing and Caring

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



Service Above Self

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



Special Delivery

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

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Breaking Ground


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

Feeding the Front Lines


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


Deserving Scholars

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


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Summer Fun

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

Attorney Patrick McHugh stuffs a backpack

Attorney Patrick McHugh stuffs a backpack


Ayame Anthony is pleased with her haul

Ayame Anthony is pleased with her haul



Feed the Fight

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



Bridging the Gap

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






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Special Deliveries

With campus closed, Holyoke Community College donated its perishable food supplies to three area nonprofits: Martin Luther King Jr. Family Center in Springfield, the YWCA Transitional Living Program in Holyoke, and Easthampton Community Center. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts helped coordinate the donations.

load a cargo van with surplus produce and other food

Sarah Schmidt, director of programming for HCC’s Center for Excellence, and Stacy Graves, coordinator of the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, load a cargo van with surplus produce and other food

ready to deliver a load of food

Mark Pronovost, director of Aramark/HCC Dining Services, gets ready to deliver a load of food to the Easthampton Community Center.


Needed Supplies

UMass Amherst recently donated 300 face shields — developed by UMass researchers, engineers, nurses, and other healthcare professionals — to the Skilled Nursing Center at Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing. UMass contributed more than $30,000 toward the initial production of face shields and hundreds of volunteer hours designing, testing, revising, and manufacturing them.

a box of shields designed and donated by UMass Amherst

Tomara Meegan (left), assistant director of Nursing and infection preventionist at Loomis Lakeside, and Patty Coughlin, director of Nursing at Loomis Lakeside, carry a box of shields designed and donated by UMass Amherst.



Gear for the Front Lines

Lenco Armored Vehicles recently donated nearly $300,000 worth of personal protective equipment to regional first responders working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, including sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and spray, respirators, masks, eyewear, gloves, protective clothing, and power air respirator supplies — about 35,000 pieces of equipment in all. Recipients include Dalton, Lanesborough, Pittsfield, and Richmond fire departments; Dalton, Lanesborough, and Pittsfield police departments; County Ambulance and Action Ambulance in Pittsfield; and the emergency room at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.

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Meeting the Need

Action Ambulance Supervisor Kyle Rondeau

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

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

Bedtime Stories

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

Mask Maker, Mask Maker, Make Me a Mask

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

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