Editorial: State government stepping up with jobs help for those in recovery

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Here are some brief thoughts on some of the events making news from around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

There are so many aspects to the scourge of addiction, it is sometimes hard to know where to focus efforts to help those in recovery. Fortunately, we live in a state that is trying in many ways to help. Most recently, Greenfield received a $75,000 state grant to better help people in recovery overcome the complex barriers to employment.

The money will be used for the Second Chance Employment and Training Initiative, which will create an alternative staffing model to help those in recovery find jobs. Harmon Personnel Services and Gardner Athol Area Mental Health Association are key partners in this effort.

This group will work with the town, the Opioid Task Force, Community Action and other organizations that aid people on their way to a successful and sustainable recovery by helping them build self-sufficiency skills that lead to stable jobs. Stable jobs help create stable lives — which is vital for sustained recovery.

Pioneer students on point

Three Pioneer Valley Regional School students have shown what can be done when you work hard and show initiative.

Krishana Facto, Anna McClure and Ni’Kole McConley all graduated a semester early this year. History teacher Aimee Brown, who’s been at Pioneer for about 20 years, said she couldn’t remember there being an early graduation ceremony before now.

McClure researched the student handbook and found it was possible to graduate early and developed a plan to collect the 118 credits needed to graduate by mid senior year.

McClure, who already was a dual enrollment student at Greenfield Community College, and Facto and McConley, can now head to college full time, ahead of time. No time like the present to move ahead.

Lesson of perseverance

Erving Elementary School students may have thought they were learning how to draw comic characters the other day from Jeff Mack, a noted children’s author and illustrator. But they got a lesson in try-try-again.

“The first thing I need to tell you is I did not always draw like this,” Mack told the youngsters. “This took years and years to figure out how to do this.

Mack explained that he had to keep drawing to improve, and he still draws something every day to keep his skills fresh.

We hope the students heard the message. The art lesson was valuable, but the life lesson was more so.


Meanwhile, at Colrain Central School pupils recently were learning mindfulness, focusing on stillness and rhythmic breathing. Good for the body and good for the soul.

This is the first year that school counselor Jana Standish has taught this meditative technique to show children how to calm themselves and focus on whatever they’re facing in the present — whether it’s an upcoming spelling test or something that made them angry.

Two girls said they are starting to use mindfulness methods to relax before gymnastics meets. They’ve even tried “mindful eating,” in which the children slowly ate tangerine segments, fully focusing on the flavor, aroma, juiciness and texture. The students asked if they could do more mindful eating in their classroom this year.