Page 49 - BusinessWest December 7, 2020
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Paid Family and Medical Leave
Webinars for Employers
Dec. 10, 17: Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. announced it will hold two complimentary webinars in Decem- ber to help employers prepare for the new Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program, which will take effect in Massachusetts on Jan. 1. The first webinar, “Are You Ready for the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Program?” will take place on Thursday, Dec. 10 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Attor- neys John Gannon and Meaghan Murphy will pro- vide a general overview of the new law, discuss how to manage and prepare for PFML claims, talk about how to curb abuse, and share PFML policy updates. To register for this free webinar, visit The second webinar, “Employee Handbook Review,” will be held on Thursday, Dec. 17 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Attorneys Amelia Holstrom and Erica Flores will cover policy changes required by the new PFML laws and more, including how those changes may impact other policies and procedures, legally required poli- cies for employers, and recommended changes to address impacts and prepare for PFML claims. To register for this free webinar, visit
Bright Nights at Forest Park
Through Jan. 3: Bright Nights at Forest Park is tak- ing place this year. Spirit of Springfield and the city of Springfield have developed protocols to provide
a safe and festive event that has been a holiday tra- dition since 1995. They will be instituted during setup, breakdown, and during the event, and include masks, regular cleaning, online ticketing, and more. Restrooms will be for emergency use only, and the usual bustling gift shop, amusement rides, horse-
drawn wagon and carriage rides, and visits and sup- per with Santa will not be available. This will help keep all visitors safe and socially distanced in their vehicles during the experience. Bright Nights at For- est Park is three miles of a unique holiday experi- ence featuring more than 675,000 lights and iconic displays like Seuss Land, Everett Barney Mansion, Toy Land, Happy Holidays, Springfield, and so many more. It generates $15 million in economic impact annually and has created a lifetime of family memo- ries in its 25-year history. It also promises to be one of the safest events, with families contained in their cars. Admission will be $23 per car weeknights, weekdays, and holidays. Discounted tickets will be available at participating Big Y World Class Markets for $16.50. Due to bus-capacity limitations in Mas- sachusetts, admission for buses has been reduced to $100 for buses with capacity of more than 30 people. Vehicles with seating from 17 to 30 people will be charged $50 for admission.
Healthcare Heroes
Jan. 14: Due to spikes in COVID-19 cases across the U.S. and beyond, BusinessWest and the Healthcare News will celebrate this year’s Healthcare Heroes with a virtual event. They include Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health; Christopher Savino, Emeline Bean, and Lydia Brisson, clinical liaisons for Berkshire Healthcare Systems; Friends of the Homeless; the Nutrition Department at Greater Springfield Senior Services Inc.; the staff at Holyoke Medical Center; the Institute for Applied Life Sci- ences at UMass Amherst; Rabbi Devorah Jacobson, director of Spiritual Life at JGS Lifecare; Maggie Eboso, Infection Control and Prevention coordina- tor at Mercy Medical Center; Jennifer Graham, home
health aide at O’Connell Care at Home; and Helen Gobeil, staffing supervisor at Visiting Angels West Springfield. The Healthcare Heroes program is spon- sored by Elms College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health and Health New England (presenting spon- sor), and partner sponsors Bulkley Richardson, Com- cast Business, and Trinity Health Of New England/ Mercy Medical Center. More details about the event will be announced soon.
Women of Impact
Jan. 28: Due to spikes in COVID-19 cases across the U.S. and beyond, BusinessWest will celebrate this year’s Women of Impact with a virtual event. They include Tania Barber, president and CEO of Caring Health Center; Carol Campbell, president of Chi- copee Industrial Contractors; Helen Caulton-Harris, Health and Human Services commissioner for the city of Springfield; Pattie Hallberg, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central & Western Massachusetts; Andrea Harrington, Berkshire County district attorney; Toni Hendrix, director of Human Services at Loomis Lake- side at Reeds Landing; Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College; and Sue Stubbs, presi- dent and CEO of ServiceNet. The event is sponsored by Country Bank, Health New England, and Tom- myCar Auto Group (presenting sponsors), Comcast Business (supporting sponsor), and WWLP 22 News/ CW Springfield (media sponsor). More details about the event will be announced soon.
Continued from page 40
Even without the adjustments
wrought by COVID-19, there’s always more to learn about how to build
and grow a business, and to that end, WBOA leadership will continue to identify categories of information that would be most useful to its members.
“We’re looking for even more diver- sity of speakers in terms of the indus-
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persist, the numbers seem to indicate that they need to take a break,” he went on. “And that’s disproportionately unique to community colleges — we don’t see the same level of enroll-
ment decline at state universities, at UMass, or at undergraduate private institutions.”
Learning Curves
While coping with falling enroll- ment, the community colleges are facing additional challenges when
it comes to serving those who are enrolled, said those we spoke with, not- ing, again, the disproportionate impact on those in lower-income brackets.
One of the biggest challenges many students face is getting internet access, said Salomon-Fernández, noting that this was already a challenge for some in rural Franklin County before the pan-
tries they come from,” she said. “It’s about linking what’s deliverable to really out-of-the-box thinking.”
Making the Time
In this difficult year, Eliason knows women aren’t necessarily looking for another networking group. But the WBOA isn’t just another networking group.
“Just come,” she said when asked
demic; now, it’s even more of an issue. Royal agreed, noting that many students made use of HCC’s wi-fi and
computer labs before the pandemic because they didn’t have it at home or had limited, low-band service.
The schools have responded by giv- ing out laptops and Chromebooks on loan, as well as mobile hotspots to help with wi-fi connectivity.
“We’ve had hundreds of students access technology to help them with remote learning,” said Royal, add-
ing that, through the school’s Student Emergency Fund, help has been pro- vided for everything from rent pay- ments to auto insurance to food, with more than $90,000 distributed to more than 230 students.
But the help goes beyond money, she said, adding that, at the school’s Thrive Center, students can get assis- tance with filling out applications for unemployment, get connected to men-
what she’d say to women wonder-
ing whether the alliance is for them. “Attending a meeting is significant. It’s a really safe place to learn informa- tion. A lot of people say, ‘I didn’t need what the main speaker had to say, but one of the other people who spoke for five or six minutes, she made it worth coming.’
“We think of it as a think tank,” she continued. “If you’re stuck or in a rut,
tal-health services, find digital-literacy programs, and receive support from the school’s food pantry, in addition to those internet hot spots.
Looking ahead, though, the col- leges face a much larger and even more important challenge as they try to anticipate changes to the job mar- ket, some of them being shaped by and accelerated by the pandemic, and adjust their programs accordingly.
“We’re trying to understand and anticipate how the job market will change,” said Salomon-Fernández. “We expect some jobs to be gone and not come back, and as a community col- lege, we’re preparing ourselves to sup- port the most vulnerable people whose jobs will cease to exist.
“We’re already working with our Workforce Investment Board and with our chamber of commerce and other employment partners to help them think through training, both right now
you can just put yourself in a place where there’s every possibility that someone will say something that will further you. Someone will say some- thing in the course of a meeting that makes you say, ‘yeah, that was great.’”
And the learning — and, hopefully, growing — continues. u
Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]
and for what’s coming down the pike,” she added. “It’s a matter of being agile in our thinking, of being responsive in terms of what new academic programs and new workforce-development pro- grams might be needed, and making sure they are informed by industry and that we are ready to serve when people are ready to re-engage in this work.” ‘Ready to serve’ is a phrase that
defines the purpose and the mission of the region’s community colleges. Carry- ing out that mission has become more difficult during the pandemic and the many changes it has brought, but the schools are persevering.
This has been the sternest of tests for them, but they are determined to pass it themselves, and enable all those they serve to do the same. u
George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]
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