Regional Notebook: Feb. 19, 2021

Published: 2/18/2021 1:32:12 PM
Applications open for scholarships

Applications are open for Fred W. Wells Trust scholarships for the 2021 to 2022 school year.

The trust fund was established in the memory of Fred W. Wells and Ethel Dow Wells, longtime Franklin County residents. Thanks to their generosity, scholarships have been awarded to hundreds of students in Franklin County over the past three decades, according to a press release.

Residents of Ashfield, Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Greenfield, Hawley, Heath, Leyden, Monroe, Montague, Northfield, Rowe or Shelburne, who have resided in any of these towns for not less than two years prior to the date of application, are eligible. The release states scholarships are available to students graduating from high school who are planning to enter college or an advanced educational program, as well as to students who are currently enrolled in these programs.

Awards of up to $1,000 take into consideration, among other factors, need, character, leadership ability, extra-curricular activities and employment, and recommendations from counselors and teachers, the release states. An applicant may receive up to $4,000 over the course of his or her academic career.

Applicants must include an official school transcript and letters of recommendation along with their applications. Applications are available at public or private high school guidance offices or at the town administrative offices in the communities listed above.

The forms must be postmarked on or before March 20, and sent to: Prudence Blond, GSB Wealth Management and Trust Services, 400 Main St., Greenfield Savings Bank, Greenfield, MA 01301.

Women’s Fund offering up to $250K in grants

SPRINGFIELD — The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts is offering up to $250,000 in grants for organizations that serve women and girls in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties.

“Being able to make grant funding available at this time is critical as we are in a unique position to support our communities in meeting urgent unmet needs,” Nicole Young, community investments manager, said in a Women’s Fund press release. “Our board is committed to investing in the organizations serving women and girls who are equally as dedicated to addressing these disparities.”

The Women’s Fund is considering renewing the agreements made with organizations that received funding through the Fund for Me Too Movement and Allies (the #MeToo Fund) in 2020. According to the release, these programs deliver services and support across the four counties for prevention and intervention of sexual-based violence. Last year’s recipients include the Root Studio in Turners Falls and The Salasin Project in Greenfield. Funding from these renewal grants will total $50,000.

Additionally, the organization will disperse at least $100,000 for programs providing economic aid to women and families. Potential recipients were vetted through an interview process, with awards being determined based on immediate need. Award recipients will be announced soon, according to the release.

The Young Women’s Initiative of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts seeks to distribute $15,000 in grants to Springfield-based organizations whose programs address safety and anti-violence; economic security and prosperity; or leadership and visibility. And lastly, the Women’s Fund will award grants totaling at least $70,000 through a general request for proposals process, the release states.

Women and girl-serving organizations based in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties whose work aligns with one of Women’s Fund’s following pillars of work may apply: economic security; parity in positions of power and leadership and; and freedom from violence, harassment and abuse. The application process will start with a letter of intent due by Feb. 28, with final decisions announced by June.

More detailed information, including a grant timeline, letter of intent criteria and submission guidelines, is available at mywomensfund.org.

Virtual concert to support Granby resident battling serious illnesses

GRANBY — A virtual night of music, art and dance on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. will benefit “Supporting Kathy’s Journey,” a group of friends and family members who have come together to financially support Granby resident Kathy Charland as she battles rare, serious illnesses.

This is a non-ticketed event with diverse performances, including rock, jazz, gospel, dance and visual art, plus the opportunity to learn more about Charland and the conditions she faces. The event will be available to watch for free on Facebook and YouTube. Visit supportingkathysjourney.weebly.com/events to learn more.

COVID-19 Response Fund provides $1.3M in grants

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has awarded $1.3 million in new grants to support programs providing eviction prevention, mental health and food insecurity assistance to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants are from the COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley, which to date has awarded $10.2 million to 182 organizations in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.

According to a Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts press release, more than 700 donors — including individuals, foundations, businesses and $4.4 million from the statewide Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund — have contributed to the foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Donations can be made at communityfoundation.org/donate-now.

“Our grant making continues to evolve to meet the demands placed on the social infrastructure of our region as a result of the pandemic,” said Katie Zobel, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. “More people are struggling to stay in their homes as a result of the devastating consequences of COVID-19 on our economy. Food insecurity continues to plague the region and there is a marked increase in individuals and families needing behavioral health care services. This latest round is aimed at these critical areas of need.”

The Franklin County-based organizations that received funding in the new round of grants are: Community Action Pioneer Valley (Greenfield); Community Health Center of Franklin County (Greenfield); Franklin Area Survival Center (Turners Falls); Franklin County Community Meals Program (Greenfield); Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority (Turners Falls); Good Neighbors Food Pantry (Charlemont); Hilltown Churches Food Pantry (Ashfield); LifePath (Greenfield); Root Studio (Turners Falls); Seeds of Solidarity Education Center (Orange); Stone Soup Café (Greenfield); Salvation Army — Greenfield corps; and Wendell Good Neighbors. Numerous other organizations that are not based in Franklin County but provide services to its residents also received grant funding.

Eversource warns of scams

BOSTON — Eversource is encouraging its customers to remain vigilant after increased reports of a scam whereby the caller threatens to disconnect a customer’s electric or gas service because of an unpaid bill, and demand’s immediate payment.

According to an Eversource press release, some of the energy company’s customers have reported receiving a call from someone claiming to be from Eversource, using a real employee’s name and offering a discount on their electric bill. Others have reported receiving an email that contains the Eversource logo. These are new tactics that scammers are using to steal money and sensitive personal information.

“Scammers are constantly changing their tactics to take advantage of unsuspecting customers, and that’s why we’re always working to raise awareness,” said Eversource Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Penni Conner. “If you receive an email, phone call or visit at your front door and it doesn’t feel right, don’t panic and don’t pay. We will never threaten to disconnect your service or demand instant payment.”

The energy company offers the following tips to help avoid becoming a victim:

■Eversource representatives never demand instant payment over the phone, require the use of pre-paid debit cards or request customers meet at a payment center to make the payment.

■Never provide personal financial or account information to any unsolicited person on the phone, at the door or online, even if they seem legitimate.

■Beware — some sophisticated scammers can manipulate their caller ID to say the caller is with Eversource.

■Customers who are scheduled for disconnection due to nonpayment receive a written notice that includes information on how to maintain their service.

■Customers can verify they are speaking with an Eversource representative by asking for some basic information about their account like the name on the account, the account address and the exact past due balance.

Eversource urges anyone who believes they are a target of improper solicitation to contact local law enforcement. Customers are also encouraged to contact the energy company at 800-592-2000 if they receive a call or email, or if someone shows up at their door, to verify it’s Eversource.

Bishop appoints vicar general

SPRINGFIELD — Bishop William Byrne has named Father Piotr Calik as vicar general of the Diocese of Springfield. A vicar general reports to the bishop and is the moderator of the curia, or administrative affairs.

“Father Piotr’s many gifts are well-suited for this time of transition,” Byrne said in a Diocese of Springfield press release. “The position will be full-time to allow me to be bishop, not of an office, but of our diocese. I am grateful that Father Piotr has agreed to serve in this capacity because I know he loves being a pastor.”

Calik is currently the pastor of All Saints and St. Mary parishes in Ware.

“Being asked by Bishop Byrne to be vicar general was a huge surprise to me,” Calik said in the release. “It is a very humbling experience.”

Calik attended SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Krakow, Poland from 2007 to 2008, before attending SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Michigan from 2008 to 2013, the release states. He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Springfield in 2013 by then Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell.




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