New block party to raise money for county's needy

GREENFIELD — Though a local church is calling its upcoming event a block party, it will be held entirely on the St. James Episcopal Church property this year, its first.

Organizers said last week that while the mayor had offered to close Federal Street in the area of Church Street for several hours on Saturday , St. James turned down the offer to “see how it goes” for the first annual Federal Street Block Party.

“We might take him up on it next year,” said Dennis O’Rourke, a church board member and one of the block party organizers.

O’Rourke said what’s unique about the event is that proceeds will go to local social service agencies to help the less fortunate of Greenfield and beyond.

“The impetus for the block party was a walk about 25 members took back in December,” said O’Rourke. “It was frigid, but we decided we wanted to walk through some of our surrounding neighborhoods to see who and what was there. We found a lot of social service agencies doing a lot of good for the community.”

Rev. Heather Blais said the block party will not only raise money for some of the agencies — the church hasn’t decided which ones and how many — but will also give the church and others an opportunity to have a conversation with some of the leaders of those agencies.

Blais said St. James doesn’t plan to try to recruit new members.

“We want people to know who we are and we want to get to know our community,” she said.

Blais said the church’s charitable efforts have been focused on the area’s homeless, hunger and heroin.

“We want to work with others to figure out how to provide food and shelter and how to share information and resources,” said Blais. “We want to use this beautiful campus to build better relationships.”

The block party will be held Saturday on the corner of Federal and Church streets from noon to 4 p.m. and is free and open to all.

Organizers, including O’Rourke, Blais and Whitney Robbins, said they hope it will become an annual event that donates proceeds to numerous good, local causes.

The event will include a dunking booth, demonstrations of all types, music by Bobby C, games, raffles, different types of food and a visit by Chow the Clown, who works with the Shriners.

For more information about the block party, call O’Rourke at 413-772-9096.

For more about St. James, call 413-773-3925 or visit:

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