Regional Notebook: Dec. 29, 2023
|Published: 12-31-2023 10:00 AM
SPRINGFIELD — Through its Flexible Funding program, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts is awarding a total of $2.275 million to 96 nonprofits to build capacity and strengthen their operations and programming.
Since 2021, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has used Flexible Funding to help nonprofit partners improve their organizational effectiveness and strengthen their impact. Unrestricted support allows organizations the essential freedom of discretionary spending.
“Organizations understand their work better than anyone else,” Meredith Lewis, director of community impact and partnerships, said in a statement. “Giving general operating support gives organizations the flexibility to meet their current and evolving needs.”
The Flexible Funding program provides nonprofits that substantially benefit Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties up to $30,000 in grant support. Up to 75% of applicants are doing work that aligns with the foundation’s strategic priority areas of advancing diversity, equity and inclusion; creating a strong start for all children; advancing affordability for post-secondary education; and supporting local arts.
Franklin County-based recipients include Antenna Cloud Farm, Artspace Community Arts Center, Ashfield Community Preschool, The Brick House Community Resource Center, Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin and North Quabbin, Franklin County Pride, Friends of the Montague Common Hall, Friends of the Wendell Meetinghouse, Hilltown Youth Performing Arts Program, LaunchSpace, The LAVA Center, Pioneer Valley Symphony, Piti Theatre Co., Shea Theater Arts Center, Silverthorne Theater Co. and The Literacy Project. Additional funding recipients in Hampshire and Hampden counties also serve Franklin County residents.
SPRINGFIELD — Earlier this month, employees from all areas of the Baystate Health system collectively donated a variety of toys and other needed items for this year’s holiday toy drives.
Baystate Franklin Medical Center collected nearly 200 toys from team members that were given to the Community Action Pioneer Valley Family Center.
Everything from dolls and trucks to games and stuffed animals, books, arts and crafts supplies, hats and mittens were collected.
Meanwhile, Baystate Medical Center collected more than 1,000 toys through employee donations, complementing donations from the American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance service.
This year’s donations benefited local children served by Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services (MLKFS) and the New North Citizens’ Council.
“It’s heartwarming to see the smiles and excitement these toys bring to our children,” Karon Forde, director of youth programs with Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, said in a statement. “Each donation is a spark of joy and a message that they are valued and remembered. Baystate’s contribution to MLKFS is a beautiful gesture of community spirit and compassion that touches not only the children but their families as well.”
Baystate Noble Hospital team members collected toys and gifts to benefit families in greater Westfield served by the Behavioral Health Network. Additionally, team members at Baystate Wing Hospital participated in the toy drive by supporting 107 children from families living in Ware, Palmer, Belchertown, Brookfield, Brimfield, Warren and other surrounding areas.
SPRINGFIELD — In recognition of its outstanding commitment to recycling education and advocacy in western Massachusetts, the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility Advisory Board has received the 2023 MassRecycle Award for Outstanding Institution.
The state-owned Springfield Materials Recycling Facility is the sole dual-stream sorting facility in Massachusetts, offering processing and marketing services to more than 66 communities across four western counties.
Over the past 30 years, the volunteer members on the Advisory Board have executed a range of impactful initiatives, including:
■Offering free Materials Recycling Facility tours for students and interest groups to provide a hands-on experience of the recycling process.
■Creating public education materials such as informative signs and brochures that are available to download or as pre-printed materials.
■Maintaining a website filled with resources for community members and visitors.
■Using social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to reach a wider audience and share important recycling information.
■Inserting annual “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” guides into Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden county newspapers for 16 years, ensuring residents have access to the latest recycling guidelines.
■Collaborating with The Rendon Group and Reelife Productions to produce videos on recycling topics, receiving more than 20,000 views since their release in January 2023.
Notably, the videos have received recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Northeast Recycling Council. To better serve the diverse western Massachusetts communities, these videos have been translated into multiple languages, including Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish.
Beyond public education, the Advisory Board mediates disputes between towns, the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility operator and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The board also plays a role in contract negotiations between the facility’s operator and member communities, ensuring the best interests of member towns in negotiations.
For more information about the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility Advisory Board, visit springfieldmrf.org.
NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Chief Community Relations and Communications Officer Jeff Harness has announced his retirement and is seeking to raise $34,000 in support of the hospital’s New Beginnings program.
The goal represents Harness’ 34 years of service to the organization.
New Beginnings promotes education and support for pregnant and postpartum people in, or working toward, recovery from substance use.
The goal of the program is to help foster a connection between parents and their babies, growing parental confidence and sustaining their recovery.
“It has been an incredible privilege to be part of Cooley Dickinson Hospital for more than three decades and this is a program that means a lot to me, because it’s a shining example of what our organization is all about,” Harness said in a statement. “The focus of New Beginnings is helping the newest members of our community get off to a healthy start in life, so I’m grateful for any support individuals and organizations can provide.”
New Beginnings, which began in 2018, is open to Cooley Dickinson OB/GYN & Midwifery patients who are pregnant or up to two years postpartum. Topics discussed in the program include discomforts of pregnancy and comfort measures, stress management, relapse prevention, nutrition during pregnancy and neonatal abstinence syndrome (neonatal withdrawal).
Those interesting in donating can do so at cooleydickinson.com/givenow (select “Jeff Harness — New Beginnings” from the dropdown menu), by calling 413-582-2256, or by mailing a check to P.O. Box 329, Northampton, MA 01061.