top of page

May 2022

Ed Caisse

May 12, 2022

Virtual Networking Meeting

Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative
Meeting Notes

Date: May 12, 2022
Time: 1:00pm to 2:30pm
Place: Zoom Meeting

Mission Statement: The Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative is a partnership between local, state & federal law enforcement; city & state government; civic & human service organizations; faith based organizations; the business community; education providers; property managers; and residents coming together with a goal to create safe, healthy & economically viable neighborhoods through information sharing, identifying at-risk youth, referrals and community efforts in specific Holyoke neighborhoods.

Welcome & Introduction 1:00pm - 1:05pm

Luby O’Connor: Health Care For All (HCFA) 1:05pm - 1:20pm

Luby O’Connor Outreach Coordinator- My name is Luby O’Connor, I am the Outreach Coordinator here at Health Care For All and our mission is to make sure that every resident of Massachusetts has access to quality affordable health insurance.

We are briefly going to talk about the introduction to HCFA, access to health insurance in Massachusetts, immigrant health care and rights, and some of the partners that we work with. I will also be talking about our new initiative that is a MassHealth redetermination. We have three major areas of services. We have our direct service like the health line. We also work with the public policy to advocate for better care for all. We have presentations like this one to inform the community that we can offer in English, Spanish and Portuguese to schools, nonprofit organizations and all services are free of charge. Some people usually ask why we have three Spanish, three Portuguese, and no one else for the helpline. Our number of counselor’s they depend on what we hear from the community.

The more we hear from the community, the more we increase our capacity. Right now because of the number of calls we have received from the new coming Haitian community recently added another line for Haitian individuals was added and she speaks French as well. We increase our capacity based on what we hear from the community. If the community wants more we hear a lot of phone calls then we increase our capacity.

In terms of our policy on the major areas we have been working on recently. You can reach out to us if you would like to get involved we would love your help on that. Recently we have been working on the affordable health care, children’s health in which the first briefing was on April 5th for all children being covered in Massachusetts. There are four major ways to access health care in Massachusetts. Medicare which is for people 65 and over and for those with disabilities. Medicaid/ MassHealth is our state health insurance. Health Connector is one of the plans offered in Massachusetts and we can push a dental plan on that as well.

We have enrollment assistance at Health Care For All. We have the helpline counselors. We have community health centers, hospitals, community organizations like us and again all our services are free of charge. Immigrant’s healthcare and rights: With the work that we are doing recently these are the partners we are working with. We work directly with MIRA coalition, The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, and we also have one of our in office partners the health law advocates. We also do a lot of presentations on knowing your rights. Here in Massachusetts everyone has the right to have some form of health care regardless of immigration status. Some of them cover a little bit some a little bit more it all depends on your immigration status. Everyone has the right to a little bit of accessibility to health insurance and health care. If you cannot afford your medical bills again we will work directly in office with the health law advocate and they also offer a lot of services free of charge if you feel like getting bills or you go to the hospital and all of a sudden you have a big bill and you thought that MassHealth would cover you can send the bill to us or you contact us via the helpline and we can connect you to a lawyer and again those services are free of charge they will look through your case and will update you as they go.

We have people who can speak Spanish and English only, but they are very proactive and will constantly keep you informed of your case. For a lot of immigrants depending on immigration status we tell them to apply to MassHealth and we always make sure during our presentations in house or virtually that it is safe to apply to MassHealth. Those programs don’t share your information. It is very important especially during COVID-19 we noticed that a lot of people are not accessing care because they are afraid of their immigration status will play a big factor when they apply for it. We don’t want anybody to forgo care because of their immigration status. We offer free access to expert health benefit attorneys.

We work in conjunction with the helpline again we are trying to create a system that is friction free. What I mean by that is when you call the helpline even though you already have MassHealth or any other insurance but you need assistance we transfer your calls right to a lawyer that works around us. This makes it so that you don’t have to carry around a bunch of different numbers you can carry one and have access to all these services. Again all the services are free of charge. Another thing we have been discussing when talking about immigrants health and health accessibility is PRUCOL. A lot of times the MassHealth counselors don’t check the PRUCOL box. It is not a status but a temporary way of seeing your application that allows you to apply for much better health coverage. One of the things you could do is we go through each applicant over the phone to make sure they are getting the best insurance possible through PRUCOL. As long as the government knows that you are here in the country usually is one of the categories that qualifies someone to apply to get better health coverage through PRUCOL. Again all of this information is given freely and your information stays private within the system and with our health counselors.

For Health Care For All we just finished several campaigns. We were part of the training that we called the vaccine equity innovative in which we tackled the training during the vaccination campaigns and we are done with that and now we have moved on to different campaigns because we got some data from Framingham and Milford where children age 5-11 are very under vaccinated so we launched another campaign to help form and educate and lead them in the clinic and their community so that they can get their families vaccinated. That campaign finished at the end of April. Now we have started a new one called the MassHealth redetermination campaign and you will be hearing a lot about it especially agencies that have a lot of clients that serves MassHealth. As of yesterday 2 million may be at risk of losing their mass health coverage. This is very important so that’s one of the things that MassHealth and other agencies have been coming to Health Care For All about. We have been so successful in so many other campaigns they figured that we should tackle that as well. It will be a two month campaign, but we will be starting that very soon and there are people already being proactive and they already starting sending the blue envelopes to residents but the residents don’t know what is going on, so we are trying different ways to make sure we really guide and help the residents of Massachusetts to take action to update their information to send all their information that is necessary based on their file. Keep your ears open because this is a big deal coming out.

We will be implementing this big campaign throughout Massachusetts. That campaign will also have a vaccination component especially for boosters because the Massachusetts government noticed that the data came in and there was not a lot of boosters so they figured that we should go back and educate and encourage people on how important getting the booster really is and guide them to the closest location in their community. We will be working with a lot of faith-based organizations and community based organizations as well. We will be doing a lot of knocking canvasing around of course in connection with the city. We got approved by the city and then we go on to the neighborhood and we always inform the city which neighborhoods we will be tackling that day. We also inform the neighborhood residents, so they are not surprised by people knocking on doors, it’s all very much in conjunction with the city. There will be a lot of phone banking done as well and we are going to be doing a lot of tabling in busy spots likes bus stops, supermarkets, food places, and train stations.

You will see us everywhere because the goal is to make sure that everyone updates their information so they don’t lose care. The state chooses cities for the organization to campaign in. Sometimes people say how come my city is not there? It’s a good thing that your city is not there it means that the people that have a really huge number of MassHealth members that they have not yet updated their information. These are the cities that we will be working on during this campaign that was given to us by the state when they looked at the data and said okay these are the cities of the people that are not replying back to us with their information so their information can be updated. These are the cities we will be working with and there is a lot of grant to work with the cities and as I said we will be working with a lot of the faith-based and community based organizations and just be on the lookout as we will be sending out a lot of emails out to communities to see if they want to get funded or if they already do which is to offer information and making sure that you send people to the right place or you don’t even have to do that just make sure that you guide them to MassHealth phone number or Health Care For All’s phone number so people can update their information in the computer.

If you are part of any organization of the cities you can reach out to me. We are collecting a lot of numbers right now we are about two hundred names that we are kind of looking around to see how many agencies we can fund but it should be busy and exciting times. Again I will put my name in the chat my name is Luby O’Connor and I work with my colleague Lorene she’s our health justice organizer, so we work together as well.

Agency Overview and Updates 1:20pm-2:10pm

Abbie Germaine: Western Mass Moms
My name is Abbie and I am from the Western Massachusetts Moms program and you might know that my role includes educating the community about the services we have to offer, which are services for mothers and other caregivers who are experiencing mild to moderate depressive symptoms. We offer an eight week stress-management course to help develop skills to manage stress and improve the lives of our participants. We also offer employment services to help participants gain and maintain employment. And finally we also refer them to local agencies within the community when additional resources are needed. There’s a lot more to it so I’d love to meet with you individually either on zoom or in person, so we can further discuss your program and mine so that we can build a referral pathway partnership. We are part of a study group called the next gen study funded by the U.S Department of Human services and the social security administration. Our participants will have the opportunity to be part of a project that could lead to nationwide change for mothers and other caregivers across the country. I do want to emphasize that it’s very much a community initiative, so we hope to partner up with other agencies, schools, providers, and programs like yours so that we can offer this great opportunity to as many folks as possible. We are accepting referrals and we would love to talk with you individually about how we can connect. On a last note, we are looking for community hub spaces to host our stress-management course once a week, so if anyone is working for an agency that might have space available we’d love to hear from you. I’ll make sure I put my contact information into the chat as well. Just on a final note, we are looking for any community events with any agencies that might have foot traffic or community events where we can set up a table to hand out our flyers, give away some marketing information and items and also just to recruit for our programs. If that sounds like something you are interested in hearing more about I will put my info in the chat and I would love to touch base in the near future.

Abby Mahoney: Holyoke Community College
I am Abby Mahoney and I am the Senior Special Programs Coordinator for the Career Pathways Grant at Holyoke Community College. The Career Pathways Grant offers free courses for early childhood educators and right now we are recruiting for our child development certificate. Our next cohort will start in the fall it’s also known as the CDA an eighteen credit certificate program. It’s offered in both English and Spanish, and my colleague is here to talk about the Spanish program. To be eligible you need to be working in an EEC license center based program or family childcare and if anyone is looking to get into the field and is not yet working, we can also support those students as well. I’d also like to share that HCC is opening the Itsy Bitsy Child Watch, which is a free child drop-in/ childcare program for our students and that is starting on May 24th which is the first day of our summer semester so that’s a really exciting new program that HCC has. Thank you and my information is in the chat.

Adlyn Colon: HCC, Picknelly Center
I am Adlyn Colon and I work for the HCC Adult Education Program. My office is located in downtown Holyoke at 206 Maple Street. We offer high set preparation classes during the day and in the evening in English, and also in Spanish. In addition, we have ESOL classes. We are recruiting now for the first summer semester. We do have some more programs and certifications but I have some coworkers here in the meeting that will be talking a little bit more about them. My information is in the chat.

Adrien Rescia: Holyoke Public Library
I am the new Outreach Coordinator for Holyoke public library. We are still kind of working on what I am going to be doing, but our goal really is to host events and to have organizations come in to really explain what they offer to help members of the community connect to different resources somewhere that they are familiar with and comfortable going to.

Aida Luz-De Ramos: Lyman Terrace Holyoke
I am Aida Gomez and I am from Lyman Terrace 17 Hampden Street in Holyoke. I am The Resident Coordinator and we have a space we can use in the morning, our community room and I’m looking for ESOL for residents. I am looking for activities because I have Boy’s and Girl’s club in the afternoon in summers but in the morning as the space is just there and I need to bring as much as I can in for my community, for my residents, my seniors. I am going to have a bingo for seniors. I am also going to put my email there my information please reach me. Also on June 18th I’m going to have an activity this is my first activity as a Resident Coordinator it’s a Saturday and I just need help from you guys to bring tables, to recruit for whatever reason. I need help and that’s why I’m here to help you too and we will go from there.

Amber Johnson: Westover Job Corps
My name is Amber Johnson and I am a Career Transition Specialist at Westover Job Corps Center and my trades are for pharmacy, MAA, and CNA. Currently we are doing the HHA because we can’t do clinicals off center but we will be starting the program up in the near future once everything is in order. I am looking to collaborate with people that are in those sectors, I put my information in the chat box, so go ahead and reach out to me if you have any relation with those trades.

Ami Jackson: Youth Advocacy Division
My name is Ami Jackson I am the Youth Advocacy Division Staff Investigator and I am the only one in the state for CPCS. We are Criminal Defense Division for juveniles aging twelve to seventeen years 364 days that are involved in the criminal justice system and I have nothing new to report.

Chloe Soto: Nueva Esperanza
I am Chloe Soto and I am the Program Manager here for Nueva Esperanza. We are currently looking for volunteers for our Noche De San Juan event happening on June 25th and we are hoping to fill about seventy to eighty spaces. This is a cultural event and will be happing on the 25th from 12pm to 7pm. We are also looking for people to do our walking tours for the Corazon Project, which is a mural place keeping project that will be happing against the main street corridor. There is a stipend attached to doing this tour that’s happening every third Friday of the month. If we can get a tour guide to sign up they’ll make $160 to do a two hour tour.

Dave Baker: Westover Job Corps
My name is Dave Baker and I am the Center Director at Westover Job Corps, I think most of you know who we are. I work with Amber Johnson who is fabulous and I am here because we are always recruiting for students. I think you know the program pretty well if you have any questions or comments please feel free to reach out to me directly I am happy to answer questions. We are always looking for students between the ages of sixteen to twenty four who want to learn trade and get a good job and keep it that’s what we do here.

Faith Ruggiero: Hampden County Sheriff’s Department
My name is Faith Ruggiero and I am Ed Caisse’s new Intern and I started on Tuesday with him. I go to school at Bay Path University and I’ll be here for the next two months at least.

John McCarthy: USCIS
I am the Community Relations Officer for USCIS out of the Boston Office and I have put my connection information in the chat. I have also put in a URL that leads to current news about extensions of work hearts if anybody is interested.

Greg Graustein: Recovery Connection Center
I am Greg Graustein from Recovery Connection Center. We are located in Springfield, Worcester, Natick and sixteen other programs across the state of Massachusetts. We do outpatient suboxone/sublicane opioid recovery programs and vivitrol for alcohol. We have immediate access for people in need. You have my information in the box look us up if you need us so someone in need can contact us.

Ileana Carrion: City of Holyoke Office of planning and Development
My name is Ileana I work for City of Holyoke Office of Planning and Public Development.
I am Senior Project Manager here. I just want to bring your attention to two things we have going on. The first one is Explore Holyoke Restaurant Week which is happening June 6th to June 12th. If you all can please participate we are going to have little passports where if you go to a restaurant and get a certain number of stamps you get a coupon which is really great. We also have a call to local artists we are going to be putting two to three artistic bike racks around Holyoke. We got a grant for that which Cynthia Espinosa applied for and we really need some artists out there to submit some drawings for that. If you or if you know anyone you would like to submit please send me any information to my email I’ll put it in the chat.

Iohan Vega: Holyoke Media
Nothing to report

Iris Sosa: Boy Scouts of America Western Mass Council
I am Iris Sosa and I am an Outreach Specialist for the Boy Scouts of America of Western Massachusetts Council. We are working to have an active unit of scouts in Holyoke and we are always looking for organizations to have programs with them and to have a partnership with us. We have different age programs. We have the Cub Scout program that is kindergarten to fifth grade. We have scouts that are fifth grade and up. We have adventurer that is fourteen years old and up and explorer that is more career oriented type of program. Reach out to me if you know and kid that is interested in being part of scouting.

James Biscoe: Clean Slate
I am James Biscoe and I am the Area Manager for the Clean Slate. We do outpatient treatment for substance abuse disorder in Holyoke, Springfield, and West Springfield locally. If anybody wants any more information please feel free my contact information is in the chat.

Jen Fernandes: United Way Thrive Program
I am Jen Fernandes and I am a Financial Coach with the Thrive Program which is with the United Way of Pioneer Valley. The Thrive program is our financial literacy program. It is a one stop financial success center it’s free and open to anybody in the community. It’s a really awesome program. We work with individuals one on one personalized coaching on things like budgeting and money management, debt reduction, increasing credit score, understanding your credit report, savings, banking, referrals to resources in the community, free tax preparation during the tax season. It’s a really great program. This is defiantly something really hard to find in the community that’s done for free and again it’s open to anyone in the community. I put my information in the chat so if anybody wants to make an appointment they can call my cell. I also have my coworker Emmanuel Reyes who’s another coach. We do presentations all the time, so if any bodies looking for us to come in and do presentations about Thrive please let me know. Also I have been wanting to do a thrive open house, where people can really come in person and learn more about Thrive, so we are going to be holding that on June 27th which is a Monday from 6pm-8pm at the pathic building in Holyoke the Picnelly Building, right in the first floor and it’s a pretty decent size space there. We will have some light refreshments and all decorated up with balloons. People can come in a really hear about Thrive and talk with us in person and learn more information about Thrive and just spread the word. Ed when I get that flyer done I’ll probably send that to you to blast that out. If anybody has any questions my information is in the chat.

Jill McKeon: Department of Children and Families
I am Jill McKeon from DCF in Holyoke. I think the only thing I have to report is that we are hiring five new social workers starting next month and we are all very excited. We have hopes for continuing to hire and we are fine tuning our new workers through on the job learning. I just wanted to give you that heads up.

Office Josh Colon: Holyoke Police Department
I am Officer Josh Colon I am working out of 208 Race Street and right now we have nothing to report, but anyone wishing to partner with our police department can reach me. I put my email in the chat.

Juan Anderson-Burgos: State Representative Pat Duffy’s Office
My name is Juan Anderson Burgos and I am the legislative aide to State Rep. Patricia Duffy. There’s so much that our office covers I can name a couple things we do. There’s unemployment, which I am very successful at. If anybody you know in Holyoke that is having issues with unemployment please send them our way. I am the leader in that. I also discovered that I am really good with housing, so if people have issues with housing I am also good at that. Again nothing to small, nothing to big, doesn’t matter send them our way. I have put our information in the chat.

Julia Popkin: Community Legal Aide
I am Julia Popkin and I am a Staff Attorney at Community Legal Aid and I am based out of the Springfield office. CLA is a Civil Legal Aid program for all of central and western Massachusetts and we primarily serve folks who are at one hundred and twenty five percent or below of the federal poverty guidelines and elders who are sixty and above. We have 140 plus staff and five main offices one in Worcester, Springfield, North Hampton, Pittsfield, and Fitchburg. We specialize in a number of areas of civil law including housing, so eviction defense, access to affordable housing programs, fair housing. We do family law for domestic violence survivors so divorce, visitation, custody, child support. We also have an education law unit which I am apart of where we are mostly helping students with special needs service in school also helping kids with disciplinary issues like suspension and expulsion. We have an elder law unit that helps people who are sixty and over with their most pressing civil and legal needs. We also have a benefits and employment unit to help people get steady income and we have an immigration unit that’s helps people who are seeking asylum, unaccompanied minors, and victims of certain crimes. We have a newer initative family stabilization project which takes DCF referrals and we access the service that we have to try to prevent the removal of children from the home. We do a lot of community outreach and engagement so we can offer know your rights training and other sorts of education to community members and organizations. We have a couple special programs to help veterans and formerly incarcerated people and a medical legal partnership that embeds attorneys and health centers serving Medicaid patents. I’ll put information about how to apply for that in the chat. People can do it online over the phone or they can walk into any of our offices on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and if you have any questions you can feel free to reach out.

Kaitlyn DeBlois: Clean Slate
My name is Kaitlyn DeBlois and I am with Clean Slate also with James and I am the Community Relations Liaison and I’ll be covering all of Massachusetts. I just started a couple weeks ago so I am excited to make some really meaningful partnerships.

Kashawn Sanders: Follow My Steps Mentoring Program
I am Kashawn Sanders from the Follow My Steps Foundation. What we do is we mentor youth in under resourced communities by pairing them with their desired professionals that are in their desired career path. We also couple that with financial literacy and community engagement. Anybody is looking to contact me or reach us on social media for more information.

Kate Murdock: Holyoke Public Defender’s Office
My name is Kate Murdock I am the Attorney in charge of the Holyoke Public Defenders Office. We represent clients who have been arrested in the courts once we are appointed by the court. We are often working with many of your organizations like drug treatment and drug rehabilitation services as part of the outcomes of the case but we would like to be more proactive though know your rights trainings and that kind of community work that we can be doing that’s a little more proactive instead of reactive.

Kevin Spivey: Enlace de Familia
My name is Kevin Spivey I am a Family Resource Specialist out of Holyoke’s FRC which is in Enlace de Familia. We offer programs to the community from yoga to cooking matters to any activities to help families become stronger. We also help with mentoring programs. We do a nurturing fathers program as well as a Ma and Pa program. As we are now opening our doors fully to walk in traffic, so we can help with any and every need possible. Please come by and see us once again we are Enlace de Familia FRC in Holyoke Mass.

Lora Soderbaum: Holyoke Housing Authority
Nothing to report

Lisa Carbonell-Correa: Alzheimer’s Association
My name is Lisa and I work for Alzheimer’s Association and I added my contact information to the chat. We are trying to see if we can partner for June since it is Brain Awareness month, I put the link for information in the chat. If you have any questions you can reach back to me.

Lucy Friedman-Bell: Safe Routes to School
I am Lucy I am the Safe Routes to School Outreach Coordinator for Holyoke. We are working on a walking school bus at Lawrence School, which supports students and families in getting to school safely and on time every day. We are going to be looking for volunteers for residents, community members, if you work at an organization or agency that work be interested in walking with students to school as little as once a week this year and next year. If this is something you might be interested in or you know someone or a volunteer who might be interested in supporting I am going to put my email in the chat and please just message me. We are looking for volunteers to support this.

Mandy Goulet: Hope for Holyoke
My name is Many Goulet I am the Peer Outreach Coordinator at Hope for Holyoke Recovery Center. I am also a recovery coach for the parent project, which is funded by SAMSA it’s a MORE initiative. We are really excited as we have a couple new groups this month. In honor of mental health awareness month we have the How You Doing group which takes place on Tuesdays at 11:15am. I am really excited for how the Kick Start for the parent project group, which is also on Tuesdays at 12pm. It is a support group for families with DCF engagement in their lives. You can come on in join the group as always we are non-clinical. We are a peer recovery support group/ support center. We are open 9am-5pm. This weekend we have our Jack Jonah walk. You can see us our table will be out at the Ashley Reservoir at 9am till 2pm this Saturday.

Marangaly La Santa: Holyoke Community College
I am Abby Mahoney’s partner. I am the Community Bilingual Outreach Counselor at HCC and I am working with Abby to recruit possible students for our new CDA Spanish cohort that starts in the fall. We have one going on now and we are recruiting for the fall and all classes are in Spanish and everything is free, so if you have anyone send them my way. My information is in the chat.

Maria Chambers: My name is Maria Chambers and I am a Senior Program Manager at the Behavioral Health Network. I work specifically in our medical integration department overseeing a couple of our care management programs. In a nutshell any eligible MassHealth members who have complex behavioral health or medical condition and also social determinant health needs can be referred to our program and we have care teams that work with the member and their primary care physician as well as any other members of their care team such as a therapist or a psychiatrist to address their medical, behavioral health, and social needs. I’ll put my email address in the chat and if anyone has any questions I am more than happy to talk to you more about the program.

Maria Flores-Lopez: Salvation Army of Holyoke
I work for the Salvation Army of Holyoke. I have nothing to report, but if there is an agency to help people that get stranded in Holyoke, please let me know my email in the chat.

Maria Pagan: Holyoke Public Library
I am Maria Pagan and I am the Holyoke Public Library Director and my contact information is in the chat as well as the website where you can access all of our resources. You already met Adrien, she’s our new Community Outreach Coordinator you are probably going to be hearing from her as she gets to know the community and the different agencies. We also have space here, I think it was Abby who mentioned that you are looking for a place to meet, our community meeting room is available once again, as well as we have a table in our lobby that you are able to display some of you resources. I can’t guarantee a big crowd coming in the door but you will probably be able to contact a couple of people as they come in and out of the library. We are here to help everybody we do not duplicate your services, but we do have things that will complement what you are doing.

Maria Pelchar: Holyoke Fire Department
My name is Maria Pelchar and I am a Lieutenant at the Holyoke Fire Department assigned to fire prevention. We do have a couple of ongoing programs. We have a car seat installation program where we give out free car seats to people that come to us that meet certain criteria. We also have a free smoke alarm program for every single resident in Holyoke and you have to be a resident of Holyoke. We have a free Knox Box program for the elderly. If you need a fire safety presentation or health information if you are having a health information career fair or if you just want the Fire Department there at your program or for me to bring Sparky, I am your contact. I will put my information in the chat.

Marissa Chiapperino: Holyoke Medical Center
I am Marissa Chiapperino Registered Dietitian for the Community Navigation Team at Holyoke Medical Center and we are an active participant and community partner of Let’s Move Hampden County 50210. We continue to offer our bimonthly community dinners. The one most important to you would be the one on the last Thursday of every month which is open to the whole community in front of the hospital first come first serve and it’s a no questions asked type situation, families just drive up tell us how many bags they need and we put them in cars until we run out. Get there early, 3:45pm is the recommendation for that. In June we are finally going to be relaunching our diabetes classes in Spanish also for free at Boudin Village. I did have Eddie email and share that flyer yesterday, but I did put it in the chat at the beginning of our meeting. Again it’s a no questions asked situation. Somebody with diabetes, caring for someone with diabetes, or a family member. Anyone who needs to know more and we will have community health workers on hand to help with our education piece.

Marissa Otero: The Office of Senator John Velis
My name is Marissa and I am one of the aides for Senator John Velis serving the second Hampden Hampshire district, including Holyoke. Our email is in the chat, but please feel free to reach out if you ever need anything. Essentially our job is to keep the connection going and making sure that everyone had the resources that they and likewise that we are aware of the resources to give to the communities. If you need anything feel free to reach out to our office.

Megan Gross: Umass Amherst
I have two programs to share. The first is a collaboration with Nayroby at OneHolyoke called supporting families raising bilingual children and we have a monthly support group for Spanish speaking caregivers of children with special education needs and our next meeting is Saturday May 21st at 1pm at the Flats community building as well as one zoom so you can join either way. During the time that parents meet we have activities for children so they do not need to seek out child care and those activities are run by bilingual speech pathologists and students. The topic for this month is going to be a speaker from Mass Advocates for Children who is bilingual and will be presenting about the special education process and IEP’s. I know that’s an area where parents often have questions and so we hope this will be an opportunity to get those questions answered in Spanish if that’s what’s more comfortable. Then in addition to that we have an ongoing Zoom study for children between the ages of four and six who speak Spanish and English through the lab at UMASS Amherst. This is for children with difficult development as well as for children on the autism spectrum and children who have a language disorder. If you have any families that may be interested in helping us to learn more about bilingual development and having a fun activity for their kids to do I’ll put both flyers and the sign up links in the chat.

Neil Desroches: US Attorney’s Office
My name is Neil Desroches, I am a US Attorney at the US Attorney’s office in Springfield. I would like to bring to everyone’s attention that my office is once again partnering with the Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative and the YMCA in Greater Holyoke to bring the You Can Be Anything You Want To Be speaker series for the Safe Neighborhood Initiative elementary age basketball league. Basically it’s a series that brings in speakers to speak to all the players who are in-between third and sixth grade about making good life choices and about career paths they can pursue. It’s also a great opportunity to get out and into the community and talk to the people who are living in Holyoke. The games are on Friday nights and if you are looking for something to do come down and cheer on the kids.

Nichelle Nicholas: Recovery Connection Center
My name is Nichelle Nicholas and I am the Director of Community Outreach. I am sure you just heard from my colleague Greg Graustein. The one thing he didn’t share that I would love to share is that I know it probably isn’t in your area but this Saturday in Dedham at 259 Washington Street we will be hosting in honor of SAMSA’s prevention week we will be having prevention day. We have a lot of local resources that will be there to talk about prevention of substance use, prevention of alcoholism, prevention of mental health, prevention of suicide. The State rep Paul McCarthy will be there. We also will have the Dedham Police Chief there and we will also have the Dedham Fire Department there. We have free food, DJ, and bring your kids have some fun and learn about how we can take preventive measures to stop and be a part of the solution and not react to be there when it’s too late. For all of you who are interested you can feel free to come by the event and I would love to connect with everyone. I know that I was trying to ask the question to the presenter that I saw on her last slide that a lot of our sites are on that last slide where it talked about Fall River, New Bedford, Springfield and I would love to connect with the women who did the presentation as to how Recovery Connection could support her with providing her the information to help the patients get back on MassHealth.

Nicole Rodriguez: Holyoke Community College
My name is Nicole Rodriguez and I am the new Assistant Project Coordinator for Holyoke Community College at the Adult Learning Center. As you know the Learning Center is a free evening school equality program and the classes run September through June and are for adults of all ages and backgrounds who want to get their school GED. Our classes are free to all many Adult Learning Center students are parents or workers or even students who haven’t been in school for a while. Some speak English as a second language some have disabilities; some have been away from school like I said for a while. Students are placed in a level that they apply for, we teach reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. When the students are ready they will take their GED or HIGHSET and then we will assist them in getting them to their next level whether that is a job or college. I’ll put my information there again and I will add my email. We are in need of students to come back in September and we just need to get people back, so if they have any questions please reach out to me.

Rebecca Benedict: River Valley Counseling Center
I am Rebecca Benedict and I am an Outpatient Clinician and SOAR Program Supervisor for River Valley Counseling Center and today I am here to speak about the SOAR program. That’s a series of three different programs that are substance abuse prevention located at Holyoke High North. The first part of it is I decide and that can be done either individually or as a group and it’s a series of educational videos that teach students the risks and health concerns that smoking can cause. Then we have Project Amp, which is with our mentor. Its non-clinical she goes over goals with students and its done in four to six sessions. They also review coping skills and any social school pressures in school. Then the third part of that is Accra which is more clinical and that’s done mainly with the student it’s fourteen to fifteen sessions and is focused on substance abuse prevention, trying to get them more connected to the community, again coping skills. There two sessions that’s also with the parent or someone close in the students’ lives to help build their relationship. If anyone knows of any students that go to Holyoke High and wants a referral my contact information is in the chat and I can talk to you further about it and let you know how to refer.

Rowan Rosario: Nuestra Raices
My name is Rowan and I am the Ameri Core Community Engagement Coordinator with Nuestra Raices here in Holyoke. I was just going to share that we have a bunch of events coming up as things start to warm up outside. Most notably we are having our Para Key Festival on May 21st and we are open to the community. We are going to have a new farm store, a new playground, and we are also looking for volunteers to assist with that event. My information is in the chat if you want to reach out to me. We also have a variety of ongoing volunteer opportunities if that’s something you are interested in participating in. Again my information is in the chat, so feel free to reach out.

Sandy Ward: Friends of the Holyoke Public Library / Funeral Consumers Alliance of WMass
I have put in the chat information about an upcoming talk I am doing at the Holyoke Public Library and choices and final arrangements. This is in my role with the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Massachusetts and I want to let people know in this zoom that I can come out and speak to any group who want to learn about what some of the options are rights in death care. It’s not a topic that people often want to talk about but we try to sort out the Massachusetts laws and what you can and can’t do and particularly tips for saving money for families that can’t afford the final arraignments they’d like. We have lots of advice and tips about how you could pair off the extras and focus on what the family really wants to do and need.

Sasha Espada: MassHire Holyoke
My name is Sasha Espada and I am from Mass Hire Holyoke the Youth Department. We did launch our Youth Works Summer Job Program that’s for ages Eighteen to Twenty Five. If you have any youth you can send them our way I’ll put my email again in the chat. We are also looking for businesses or organizations who are willing to host our youth. We are hoping for about one hundred and seventy slots. Any businesses and organizations that are willing to host youth we cover the wages, we cover the liability, and we train them before they are placed. Just reach out to me so we can get that started. It’ll be from July to August.

Stephanie Marshall: MHA
My name is Stephanie Marshall I am a Recovery Coach at MHA and if you are looking for a Recovery Coach, I am that chick.

Tyler Drubych: River Valley Counselling Center
My name is Tyler I am one of the Out Patent Clinicians for the Holyoke Site in River Valley Counseling and I am also the Clinical Supervisor at the WISE program. The WISE program is an early intervention program geared for students between the ages of eight to thirteen years old. We work closely with students of Peck and Varitas, so if there are any children who you think would be interested in some support, just helping with coping skills and building relationships things lie that our program goes into the summer as well. Referrals are open and we are also looking for a full time bilingual case manager. If anyone is interested or knows anyone who would be interested in the position, my information is in the chat.

Tate Hayman: Holyoke Community College
My name is Tate Hayman I am the ESOL English Language Instructor for the Nurse Aid Training Program at Holyoke Community College. My information is in the chat and we are always looking for students. Our program is completely free. It’s for English Language Learners who are looking for a better job and a better future in a career in health care. It’s a sixteen week program. I am hoping with this meeting I’ll be able to make some connections with other organizations about how we can get the word out, cause we are always looking for students and we are currently looking for students for a mid-May start.

William Courchesne: Hampden County Sheriff’s Department
Bill Courchesne from the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department. I am the Warden Six Neighborhood Watch Coordinator for the Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative. Nothing new right now but we are still currently looking for a new community meeting place in Ward 6, so if you know of anybody or any business that’s willing to host us, my contact information is in the chat.

Yamaris Rivera: Holyoke Public Schools
My name is Yamaris Rivera, I am the Family Assistant Coordinator at Lawrence School. Friday May 27th we have one of the school events; Guest Readers, so if you have some time to come and read between 9:30am to 11:30am, please let me know. Also if anyone would like to bring this specific information into our FACE Team meetings, we have those every other Friday let me know. In each of the schools we have a FACE Coordinator and this is a great opportunity to bring your resources to our families.

Yvonne Lomax: Westover Job Corps
Welcome from Westover Job Corps. What a great time to apply young people here to Westover. We are actually enrolling young people for in person enrollment. We are also working with our non-residential students coming back and forth so we are so excited to have them coming back to our campus. We are also looking for outreach and admissions counselors, if anyone’s interested in recruiting for Westover Job Corps, as well as an array of HR positions are available here at the Westover Job Corps. Ed Just wanted to let you know that we are going to make both those Water Safety Outreach Events the twenty seventh and the twenty eighth and I am looking forward to it.

On the twenty seventh we will be attending the water safety event at the Boys and Girls Clubs on Acorn Street and that event will be from 4pm to 7pm. The Westover Job Corops will have a table we will all be out there the partners that are involved will be speaking with young people about water safety and giving out information in regards to resources in the community. On the 28th we will be over at James Jackson Court with Ed Caisse from 12pm to 4pm the Westover will have a table and as always Ed will have community activities bounce houses, food, and more activities and of course water safety information for the summertime. We look forward to all of you coming out and bringing your families and your young people to receive all of that information.

Walter Rice: United Way of Pioneer Valley
United Way of Pioneer Valley is really excited to celebrate our hundredth anniversary and I am going to send a link out. Please join us at the Sheraton from twelve to two on June second. We would love to have you.

Ed Caisse: Hampden County Sheriff’s Department
I have a couple things. I know Yvonne Lomax just talked about May 28th, so that’s actually going to be our kickoff event for basketball league, but we decided to partner up with the team that’s kicking off the water safety event. I did hear a couple agencies mention that they would like to get out and do more tabling, so we can make available to you a table for that day, so if you’re interested in partnering on that event on May 28th the events going to go from twelve to four. If you are going to try and table I would show up at least at eleven thirty and send me an email if you think you’d be interested in being involved in that event. To me the more tables the merrier. If people want to come and pass out information to the community the kickoff for the basketball are the kids playing basketball, kind of like a jamboree in a sense. It’s not going to be a regular season game but it’s going to be an opportunity for them to meet the coach’s play some basketball and just kind of celebrate the kickoff of our upcoming season.

Next what I wanted to say is regarding the basketball league registration are still opened up. If you are working with families and have young people that are interested from Holyoke that are interested in getting involved in a positive activity. You heard Neil Desroches talk about it a little earlier one of the things we try to do is have a character development component connected to it so that third through the sixth grade league is going to have different speakers coming in. Karen from his office actually schedules all the speakers. I know she’s always interested in getting new speakers to come out and talk to the kids. If you’re an agency representative that has some sort of agency that you think the kids may be interested in hearing about and it’s an opportunity of them to actually have a career opportunity in that field down the road that’s what we are trying to do. We are trying to really educate the kids at a young age and let them know that all the career possibilities for them. I know Juan talked a little about getting people connected. Juan before I forget I wanted to say that Rey has a family at Morgan School so I want to get you connected to Rey today Juan because he has a family looking for an apartment in Holyoke.

Next I wanted to say if you could mark your calendars for our Back to School Event. The Back to School Event is scheduled for August 20th; it’s going to be from 11am to 3pm. We are expecting three thousand community residents at the event. We are planning on giving away twenty five hundred 2500 backpacks away. We are going to also have a service provider area where agencies can come and set up a table. We are going to specifically target about twenty agencies that we feel families really need to get connected to but if your agency is interested in having a table it is going to be on a first come first serve basis, so send me an email and I’ll get you connected to Jennifer Gonzalez, who is actually handling our table registration for that event. We are going to have fifty tables in that area to really pass out information to the families that come to the event.

We have kicked off the Holyoke Hub and this was week three of the Hub. We know that we are going to get better and better as we go, but we are interested in opening that up to agencies that actually have resources for folks that may be in actually elevated risk situations and really need to have wrap around services. If you are an agency that may be having resources that can help folks that are dealing with some very specific type risk factors just send me an email. Maybe we can have a conversation and maybe you’re an agency that should absolutely should be coming to those hubs meetings. If you don’t know about the hub and haven’t had a chance to read our March notes that really had a deep explanation of what the Hub is. It’s just a situation table where situations are brought and we hear the risk factors mentioned on a given situation and then we try to get wrap around services connected to that situation to really help that person get out of that acutely elevated risk and then those agencies continue to work with that situation to really help that person navigate life and get to better places. If you need to know more or you want to get connected to that just send me an email.

Information from the Chat
Marissa Otero (Sen Velis)
Marissa Otero, Office of State Senator John Velis, 2nd Hampden Hampshire,

Greg Graustein
Greg Graustein, Recovery Connection Centers, website

Marqual Watkins
Hilda Rivera Coordinated entry navigator for the Shine program at Gandara. We help homeless young adults 18-24 we have a triage number they can call 413-316-4979 for assessments
Aliza Ansell
Aliza Ansell, Youth Advisor and Tutor Coordinator, Valley Opportunity Council, Chicopee, MA

Juan Anderson-Burgos
Juan Anderson -Burgos-Legislative Aide to Representative Patricia Duffy. Office # 413-529-4307 Email:

Kaitlyn DeBlois
Kaitlyn DeBlois, Community Relations Liaison, Clean Slate -

Kevin Spivey
Kevin L Spivey Holyoke FRC Enlace de Familias

James Biscoe
Good afternoon everyone, James Biscoe Area Manager for Clean Slate. We provide outpatient substance addiction services primarily through suboxone and vivitrol with counseling, my email is if you have any questions about our services. Thank you

Sasha Espada
Sasha Espada 413-729-4334 we are currently accepting youth to sign up for our Youth Works summer program. Also any businesses that are interested in hosting youth at their worksite with no Sasha Espada35:47

Jenyka Spitz-Gassnola
Jenyka Spitz-Gassnola, Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), Massachusetts Dept. of Youth Services,

Aida Luz De Ramos
Aida Gomez Community Life Service Coordinator. Lyman Terrace 17 Hampden Street. Hello everyone my email looking for help on June 18th Saturday I will be having a CIGNA HEALTHY MARKET Looking for partners to bring a table a be part of this activity we are closing our street Hampden and is my first activity as a Community Life Service Coordinator in Lyman Terrace 413-887-6641. Looking for an ESOL instructor for Lyman Terrace Residents have to be fully bilingual my community is 99% Spanish Speaking. morning classes. I have 9am - 3pm available in our Community room, could be twice a week 2.5 hours....Let’s talk 413-887-6641 we can talk about wages...thanks

Tate Hayman
Tate Haman-ESOL Instructor for the ESOL Nurse Aide Training Program through the Workforce Development Department at Holyoke Community Collegethayman@hcc.edu413-801-0602

John McCarthy
John.j. Community Relations USCIS Boston District Office

Marissa Chiapperino
Marissa Chiapperino-Community Registered Dietitian at Holyoke Medical Center, member of Lets move Hampden County 5210. In June we are hosting 2 free Bilingual Diabetes classes at Beaudoin Village and all are welcome. Here is the flyer. My email is

Maria Flores-Lopez
Hello, Maria Flores-Lopez, the Salvation Army - Holyoke e-mail:

Adlyn Colon
Adlyn Colon - HCC Adult Ed. 413-552-2927

Chloe Soto/Nueva Esperanza Inc.
Chloe Soto/ Program Manager Program Manager 413-437-7666

Mandy Goulet
Mandy Goulet- Peer outreach coordinator for hope for Holyoke recovery center// Recovery coach for the Parent Project (funded by SAMHSA, a MOAR initiative.)

Tyler Drubych
Hello my name is Tyler Drubych, I work for RVCC as a Holyoke outpatient clinician and I am the WISE clinical supervisor. The WISE program is an early intervention program through Peck/Veritas and works with students between the ages of 8-13. (413)505-4801

Megan Gross
Megan Gross, Bilingual Language Development Lab at UMass Amherst,, Supporting Families Raising Bilingual Children Project (for Spanish-speaking caregivers of children with disabilities):

Zenaida Smiley
Hello Zenaida Smiley Roca Young Mom's Program of Western Mass... 413-333-9444.

Iris Sosa
Iris Sosa, Outreach Specialist Boy Scouts of America, Western Massachusetts Council. Email; phone 413-594-9196 x7030. Scout offer outdoor activities in the Scout Reservation one a moth. This Saturday May 14 we are going to have activities. Any families are welcome to participate.

Rebecca Benedict
Rebecca Benedict - I work for RVCC as a Holyoke outpatient clinician, and as the SOAR Program Supervisor. The SOAR Program is a combination of 3 different types of substance use prevention programs implemented at Holyoke High North. Email: Phone: (413) 377-6372

Nichelle Nicholas
Nichelle Nicholas Director of Community Outreach for Recovery Connection. (857)236-6145 Recovery Connection is hosting a community event to spread awareness in our local community. Recovery Connection is interested in seeing you at Prevention Day in Dedham, MA on May 14th from 11AM-2:30PM.All across the country, incredible people are investing in their communities and prevention. They are standing up to prevent misuse of illegal drugs, opioids, marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, and prevent suicide and mental illness. They are helping their community work harder and smarter, inspiring prevention actions that take root and grow into real change. They are teaching us that anyone and everyone can be a part of prevention, and they are changing lives. In attendance will be State Representative Paul McMurtry, Dedham Police Chief & Fire Department Hope to see you there! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions my number is (857) 236-6145

Ami (She/Her) Jackson, Investigator- YAD
Ami R. Jackson Staff Investigator Springfield Office CPCS- Youth Advocacy Division101 State Street, 2nd Floor Springfield, MA

William Courchesne
Bill Courchesne HCSD Ward 6 NW Coordinator for HSNI VM 413-858-0015

Stephanie Marshall (she/her)
I am Recovery Coach MHA

Julia Popkin
Julia Popkin, Staff Attorney, Community Legal Aid, Springfield, MA.
To apply for assistance from Community Legal Aid: apply online at, call (855) 252-5342, or walk into one of our offices on Tuesdays or Thursdays from 9-5.

Walter Rice
Walter Rice, Director of Community Engagement, United Way of Pioneer Valley, please joins us for our 100th Celebration on June 2nd at the Sheraton, from 12PM-2PM. Please RSVP at

David Baker
David Baker, Westover Job Corps Center Director

Amber Johnson
Amber Johnson: Westover Job Corps Center/ Career Transition Specialist for trades: pharmacy, MAA and CNA. Office #: 4135934057 email:

Josh Colon
Off. Josh Colon Holyoke Police Dept. Email

Abbie~Westrern Mass MOMS
Abbie Germain- Western Mass MOMS Partnership, 413-561-7413, I would love to speak with you individually to answer any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly!

Megan Billiel
The Thrive program in Springfield is holding an event on the 25th that maybe beneficial for you. My contact info is Megan Billiel 413 734 5376 ex 617.

Lisa Carbonell-Correa
Lisa M Carbonell-Correa MA CCHW CDP Memory Specialist Alzheimer’s Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter| 617-819 -8923 ext. 2040 | / Helpline: 800.272.3900 | Find all of our virtual programs and support groups here:
Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month (ABAM), and all month long, the Alzheimer's Association is holding special events to share facts about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. We’ve planned a special series of education programs, brain-health toolkits for kids in grades K-12, as well as community toolkits you can find in your local library. Together, we can #ENDALZ.

Kate Murdock
Kate Murdock, Attorney in Charge, Holyoke Office of the Public Defender Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services. 413-471-3392

Kashawn Sanders
Kashawn Sanders Follow My Steps

Lucy Friedman-Bell

Maria Chambers

Laura Soderbaum
We are hosting a Three Day FTHB's Workshop Series. Below is the lik with the flyer:

Sandy Ward
I’m available to speak to groups about death care options. On June 7 at 10am I’ll be doing a program (Zoom or in-person) at the Holyoke Public Library, Community Room. Here’s the HPL’s calendar description, “Come learn about your options and rights to choose meaningful, dignified, and affordable funeral arrangements. Hear about transformations underway in the funeral industry, green alternatives preferred by environmentalists, and home-based death care. Bring your questions. Information resources will be shared so that you can help educate yourself and your loved ones about the choices. Make your wishes clear and affordable. Talk given by Sandy Nichols Ward, Retired Science Librarian, Mount Holyoke College, and Volunteer, Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Massachusetts June 7, 10am-11:30am, “Choices in Final Arrangements” a program at Holyoke Public Library presented by volunteer Sandy Ward of Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Mass. (see description in earlier Chat entry). Contact info: Sandy Ward 413-532-4306 or via Funeral Consumers Alliance of W. MA,

Maria Pelchar
Lt. Maria Pelchar - Holyoke Fire Dept. (413)534-2254 Ext 105

Luby O'Connor
I have to leave for my 2 pm meeting. Thanks everyone for having me today. Luby O'Connor from Health Care for All

Nicole Rodriguez-Outreach at ALC-HCC-PAFEC
Nicole Rodriguez- HCC-Assistance Project Coordinator/Outreach ALC- PAFEC-206 Maple Street Holyoke, Mas 01040 4th Floor-Email:NRODRIGUEZ@HCC.EDU 413-459-1877. We are recruiting student for September 2022.

Yvonne Lomax
Yvonne Lomax-OA Manager Westover.

Ileana Carrion
Hello! Ileana Carrion from the City of Holyoke Office of Planning & Economic Development. Nice to meet you all! My email is Please click on our website for more information on Explore Holyoke Restaurant Week and the Call for Local Artists.

Ruth Ayala
Hi, I am Ruth Ayala From Valley Opportunity Council From Holyoke and Chicopee. I am the new Resident Service Coordinator for Holyoke and Chicopee. My email contact is the information was awesome. Thanks everyone.

Yamaris Rivera
Yamaris Rivera-HPS Family Coordinator assigned to the Lawrence School-534-2075

Old Business / New Business
Next Meeting is Thursday, June, 2022 (ZOOM).

Close Meeting 2:15pm
Contact Information:
Edward Caisse
Hampden County Sheriff’s Department
(413) 858-0225

bottom of page