Regional Notebook: Nov. 13, 2023

POLLY NORMAND

POLLY NORMAND

From left, Lt. Alan Borgal, Animal Rescue League of Boston investigator; Kyle Dragon, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office regional animal control officer; Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Erin Aiello; Emanuel Maciel, New Bedford animal control director; and Alyssa Devlin, Northwestern DA’s office paralegal. Aiello was honored for her efforts to educate people and raise awareness about animal cruelty during the annual meeting of the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts on Oct. 27.

From left, Lt. Alan Borgal, Animal Rescue League of Boston investigator; Kyle Dragon, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office regional animal control officer; Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Erin Aiello; Emanuel Maciel, New Bedford animal control director; and Alyssa Devlin, Northwestern DA’s office paralegal. Aiello was honored for her efforts to educate people and raise awareness about animal cruelty during the annual meeting of the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts on Oct. 27. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published: 11-12-2023 2:20 PM

Donation helps curb need for diapers

It Takes a Village, a Huntington-based nonprofit supporting postpartum families in western Massachusetts, is working with Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield to combat diaper need in the hilltowns.

Baystate Noble Hospital donated 4,192 diapers, 520 packs of wipes and 144 baby shampoos to It Takes a Village for distribution to local families at The Village Closet.

“We are purposeful in our support of It Takes a Village,” Annamarie Golden, director of community relations with Baystate Health, said in a statement. “Their commitment and contributions to the children and families in the hilltowns is remarkable. Baystate Health is proud to make this donation again this year.”

One in two families struggle to provide enough diapers to keep their baby clean, dry and healthy, according to It Takes a Village.

“No one should have to choose between buying diapers or groceries,” Lisa Goding, program director for It Takes a Village, said in a statement.

Families in need are able to visit The Village Closet, located at 2 East Main St. in Huntington, for diapers once a month. Not only does The Village Closet have diapers, but there is formula, clothing, baby gear, books and toys as well. These items are provided to families at no cost.

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For more information on The Village Closet or It Takes a Village, visit hilltownvillage.org or call 413-650-3640.

Normand named VP of community programs

NORTHAMPTON — Polly Normand has been named ServiceNet’s vice president of community programs, where she is overseeing shelter and housing services, substance use recovery services and the REACH Early Intervention Program.

Normand comes to the position after serving as a consultant for the past several months, and prior to that as a board member for ServiceNet, a mental health and human services nonprofit serving communities across western Massachusetts, for six years.

Normand, a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator, completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her career has included both her own private practice and corporate work with Baystate Health and Shields Health Solutions. As part of her new role at ServiceNet, she will be launching a wellness program for people with serious mental illness, an initiative she began working on during her consultancy.

“I have always been drawn to mental health and human services,” Normand said in a statement. “In this new role, I’m excited to partner with ServiceNet’s program leaders as we consider how to further meet the needs of those we serve: from early intervention, where we support children’s optimal development, to the shelters and recovery homes where we help people identify and navigate their optimal next steps, and across the organization as we implement our new wellness program.”

Women’s Fund reports on gender equity research

SPRINGFIELD — In collaboration with its partners, the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, a nonprofit that fuels progress toward gender equity by funding the solutions, recently completed its 2023 research report “Gender Equity in Western Massachusetts: The Status of Women, Girls, Transgender, Nonbinary, and Gender-Diverse Adults and Youth.”

This is the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts’ third commissioned research report on the status of women and girls since 2013. This report was prepared by the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts and funded by donors and grants from Feeding America and The Beveridge Family Foundation.

The research report includes data on gender demographics, employment and earnings, poverty and opportunity, health and well-being, reproductive justice, violence and safety, leadership and political participation.

“We engage in research not only to measure our progress toward gender and racial equity, but also to provide our region and its many nonprofits with data that help them develop their own strategies and to have critical data they need when applying for grant funding to fuel their missions,” Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts’ CEO Donna Haghighat said in a statement.

“This report fills an important gap in our understanding of gender equity in the region by including the best available local data on issues facing transgender and gender diverse residents, women and girls of color, Indigenous women and families, domestic violence survivors, formerly incarcerated women and newcomers to the U.S. Our resourceful, creative and collaborative communities are making progress, but many systemic inequities continue to undermine the well-being of women, girls, transgender and gender diverse people in western Massachusetts,” Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts’ Director of Assessment and Capacity Building Lisa Ranghelli said in a statement. “I hope this report spurs coordinated action that engages these communities in making change.”

The public is invited to learn about the research report and some key findings during a presentation at Greenfield Community College’s Cohn Dining Commons on Wednesday, Nov. 29, from 4 to 6 p.m. Reservations are required by visiting mywomensfund.org/events.

The full report and key findings are available at data.mywomensfund.org/data-hub.

ADA Aiello honored for animal protection work

NORTHAMPTON — Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Erin M. Aiello was recently honored for her efforts to educate people and raise awareness about animal cruelty during the annual meeting of the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts, held in Auburn on Oct. 27.

Aiello received the Richard “Dick” Stein Award, given annually to someone who promotes professionalism of the animal welfare field through continuing education. The award is named in honor of the late Richard Stein, a founding member of the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts in 1980, who served as Canton’s animal control officer for more than 30 years. Stein, a driving force in the move to educate and professionalize animal control officers, helped create the association’s certification course.

Upon receiving the award, Aiello thanked the animal control officers for their hard work and efforts to protect animals, noting that in every county she has worked in there have been “devoted animal welfare officers.”

“It definitely is a collaborative effort. We’ve had a lot of success in court because we have animal control officers who are willing to do the work,” she said. “I’m interested in handling these cases and making sure that people who hurt animals are held accountable.”

Aiello, a prosecutor in the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, alluded to the correlation between people who abuse animals and those who abuse people. “Your work also plays a role in helping communities and humans and families,” she added.

Aiello worked in the Plymouth County and Bristol County district attorney’s ofbfices and in private practice before coming to the Northwestern DA’s office in 2019. She earned her law degree from Roger Williams University’s School of Law in 2008 and her bachelor’s degree in politics and government from the University of Hartford in 2005.

Comerford receives Justice Award

BOSTON — State Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, received a 2023 Beacon of Justice Award from the Equal Justice Coalition during an awards ceremony at the State House on Oct. 19. The honor recognizes Comerford’s commitment to expanding access to civil legal services and securing funding for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation in the fiscal year 2024 budget.

The Equal Justice Coalition advocates for expanded access to civil legal aid for low-income Massachusetts residents. Through Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation-funded legal aid organizations, people who have civil legal problems but cannot afford an attorney are able to access services.

“Smart, stabilizing legal representation and advice should be accessible to all Massachusetts residents, regardless of income,” Comerford said in a statement. “I am proud to partner with my colleagues in the Legislature to ensure that people throughout the commonwealth can access civil legal services. I am grateful for the work of the Equal Justice Coalition and Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation-funded legal aid organizations, and humbled to receive this recognition.”

Police departments receive road safety grants

BOSTON— Eight Franklin County and North Quabbin police departments were recently awarded funding through the Municipal Road Safety Grant Program to support traffic safety enforcement and outreach programming.

In total, 186 municipalities received nearly $5.45 million. The program is administered by the Office of Grants and Research and uses funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The annual program provides funding to municipal police departments who propose traffic safety projects, including high-visibility enforcement patrols, equipment to enhance road safety such as digital speed signs, pedestrian and bicyclist safety initiatives, and public outreach campaigns intended to educate community members and youth about roadway safety.

The eight local police departments to receive funding are: Athol, $19,920; Bernardston, $19,286; Gill, $19,987; Leverett, $11,901; Northfield, $20,000; Shutesbury, $12,478; Sunderland, $11,939; and Warwick, $6,933.

Four Franklin County artists receive grants

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts’ ValleyCreates program awarded $80,000 to 20 local artists throughout Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties as part of its second round of Project Evolution grants.

“This support will assist these talented artists in moving their projects forward to the next stage, whether they are in development, ideation, creation or implementation,” Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts’ Senior Program Officer Nicole Bourdon said in a statement. “We are pleased to support a wide range of projects with an array of disciplines represented by this cohort, including writing, theater, music, film, dance and visual arts.”

Each award combines grant support totaling $4,000 with cohort learning, coaching and additional project administration-oriented professional development to ensure that artists have the tools they need for their projects to succeed.

The four Franklin County recipients are: K Adler and Theodore Hinman of Greenfield, Lori Clark of Deerfield and Carmela Lanza-Weil of Shelburne Falls.