Around the Hamptons: Riverside Industry 18th annual auction in person, online

  • In this 2018 photo, Kim Pietraszkiewicz, left, of Florence and Rebecca Johnson of Easthampton prep salads at Riverside Industries. The nonprofit is holding its popular fundraising auction this year with a hybrid of online and in-person auctions. Gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Published: 4/5/2022 9:10:05 PM
Modified: 4/5/2022 9:09:03 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Riverside Industries is presenting a hybrid-style format for its popular fundraising auction this year — a silent auction that’s currently under way and an in-person live auction scheduled for this Friday.

The nonprofit uses proceeds from the annual event in its mission of helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live full lives.

The silent auction portion of the event kicked off last Friday with the option to bid online at on more than 180 items, ranging from a one-year membership to Springfield Country Club, gift cards to local eateries including Blue Heron Restaurant in Sunderland, and a getaway in Chatham.

Bidding is open for the silent auction until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 8.

Susan Lapointe, director of development and community relations for the organization, said that since she assumed her current role in October 2018, the annual auction has raised more than $300,000 for Riverside through sponsorships, cash donations and bidders. The last two years have been very different from previous years due COVID-19, she said.

“Everyone looks forward to this event as the start of spring,” Lapointe said. “Prior to the pandemic, more than 400 community members would gather at One Cottage Street to join in the auction and kick off the season.”

Riverside’s in-person live auction, which will be limited to 100 people, will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. this Friday at CitySpace in the Old Town Hall, at 43 Main St. in Easthampton.

“We thought it would be a great opportunity to partner with another not-for-profit and show off the amazing work they are doing to bring the Old Town Hall back to life,” LaPointe said.

Among the items featured at the live auction is a package that features a 30-minute flight for up to three people over the Pioneer Valley and includes a $50 gift card to Fitzwilly’s in Northampton and a $150 Downtown Northampton gift card. The item is valued at $425.

Also featured at the live auction is the opportunity to donate to Riverside’s “Support a Need” category. With this auction item, organizers have asked staff to suggest a need that if fulfilled, will help provide better services to the people that Riverside serves.

This year, the plan for this year’s Support a Need is to raise funds for adjustable treatment tables.

Tickets for the live auction are available online for $50 per person and must be purchased in advance, with bidding starting at 7 p.m. For those unable to join in person, Riverside will livestream the event at

Council supports Debt-Free Future Act

The Easthampton City Council unanimously passed a resolution at its March 16 meeting supporting a statewide push to create a program to cover tuition and fees for all Massachusetts residents attending a state public higher education institution.

Councilor Dan Rist and At-Large Councilor Koni Denham wrote a letter to their fellow council members addressing their concern over the rising costs of public higher education as well as its impact on Easthampton youths. They asserted that expanding access to affordable higher education through the Debt-Free Future Act legislation (H.1339/S.829) would provide more Easthampton students with the opportunity to choose their paths in life without being blocked by insurmountable financial obstacles.

“I think this is important for us to support this in part because 41% of Easthampton youth are designated as economically disadvantaged, so that has an impact on our community,” Denham at the meeting. “We also talk about inclusivity, equity and access and this would have a huge impact for women and communities of color that are impacted by this.”

Public visioning session in Westhampton

The Westhampton Open Space and Recreation Plan committee will host a public visioning session to further guide and inform the town’s open space and recreation plan. The session will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Westhampton Public Library, at 1 North Road.

The session will include a presentation on elements of the town’s open space and recreation plan, including existing conditions as well as the results of a public survey.

Members of the committee will also provide hands-on mapping to identify favorite and important places and areas of vulnerability or concern, and host small group breakout sessions to discuss open space and recreation assets, needs, challenges and funding opportunities related to conservation, water supply, wildlife, climate change, agriculture, forestry, trails and sites of historic significance.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at


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