COVID-19 community updates

  • Citing environmental reasons, the multi-colored rainbow of helium balloons that traditionally fronts the Northampton Pride parade was rendered this year on cardboard. Photographed during the 38th annual event on Saturday, May 4, 2019.

Published: 4/22/2020 4:21:56 PM
Noho Pride will be virtual this year

Though this year’s Northampton Pride Parade and Festival have been canceled, Northampton Radio and Noho Pride are creating an online “Virtual Noho Pride 2020: Pride Through Your Lens” crowd-sourced video. All are welcome to submit a short – 30 seconds or less – video to the project. Video ideas include:

■Show off you, your kids or your pets in their rainbow gear.

■Tell us what Pride means in your life.

■Read your pride-themed poetry.

Northampton Radio Group promotions director Mark Lattanzi says that Pride is an important event in our community, and that they hope to receive as many videos as possible from the Northampton area and beyond.

Videos will be edited into an online virtual Pride festival, broadcasted on the Northampton Radio Group social medial channels on May 2 at noon. Northampton Radio Group is 93.9 the River, WHMP, Hits 94.3 and Pure Oldies 96.9.

Videos can be submitted through April 24 at

For more information contact: Anna Hoff, director of operations, Noho Pride, at, 610-844-8860; or Mark Lattanzi,, 413-559-1976.

Legal living room

Bacon Wilson continues Legal Living Room, a free web discussion series, with estate planning “encore” presentation April 23 and family law information session April 28.

The web discussions allow attorneys to communicate directly with the public about important legal topics.

During the estate planning “encore” presentation, attorneys Hyman Darling, Gina Barry, Benjamin Coyle, Todd Ratner, Lisa Halbert, and Valerie Vignaux will outline the essential elements of a successful estate plan and answer questions from participants, including discussing subjects such as how documents can be signed while maintaining safe social distancing, considerations when nominating guardians for minor children. The firm added this additional estate planning session due to high interest and participation in the Legal Living Room kickoff event, held April 14.

On April 28, attorneys Julie Dialessi-Lafley and Melissa Gillis will present family law topics including issues of custody and parenting time, family court actions, divorce, mediation, child support and alimony modification, and related issues.

These web discussions are held on the Zoom platform, allowing participants the opportunity to talk from the safety and comfort of home. They are free and open to the public. For more information or to reserve a spot, register in advance at for the April 23 event at, or view the event on Facebook at

For the April 28 event, register at, or view the event on Facebook at

For more information contact Carolyn Coulter,

Five College Learning in Retirement

Five College Learning in Retirement will hold online registration starting May 4 for the fall semester. Because of the coronavirus, the annual spring preview of upcoming courses has been canceled.

5CLIR will offer 24 seminars and workshops in the fall. Subjects cover a wide range, from history, literature, science and religion to autobiographical writing. Instead of grades and exams, participants research a topic for a presentation, followed by discussion, in weekly seminars that meet at area colleges and community centers.

The nonprofit serving seniors in the Pioneer Valley also offers monthly programs and schedules trips to museums and other places of interest.

The course catalogue, registration form and more information about the nonprofit organization are available at

Spanish business accelerator

Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) is accepting applications for its new EparaTodos program in Holyoke, which will focus on supporting Spanish speaking entrepreneurs in the Greater Holyoke community.

EforAll’s free one year business accelerator program helps under-resourced individuals successfully start and grow their businesses or nonprofits, including personal and professional services, food, manufacturing and online/traditional retail. The program offers a unique combination of immersive business training, dedicated mentorship and access to a professional network. The organization typically offers its programs in-person but it is prepared to deliver classroom training and mentor sessions online if necessary.

Among the businesses started by EforAll participants, 75 percent are owned by women, 56 percent are owned by people of color, 54 percent are owned by immigrants and 56 percent are owned by people who were previously unemployed.

EforAll is accepting applications for this new Spanish language accelerator (EparaTodos) as well as its English Accelerator program (EforAll) through Wednesday, May 20, at 5 p.m. Interested applicants can learn more and apply at where they will find information in both English and Spanish.

To support its new Spanish language programming, EforAll Holyoke has hired a dedicated EparaTodos program manager, Gabriella Candelario. Before joining EparaTodos Holyoke, Gabriella Candelario worked with the Springfield Public Schools as a program coordinator. Gabriella can be reached at

Blue Cross supports nonprofits

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is offerring support to nonprofits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including more than $107,000 to support organizations working in Hampden and Hampshire counties. Support includes:

■$25,000 to The COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley at The Community Foundation of Western Mass

■$15,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Holyoke

■$10,000 to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

■$10,000 to Lovin’ Spoonfuls

■$47,000 to Project Bread

Eileen Cavanaugh, president/CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, says the contribution from Blue Cross ensures doors will remain open to provide essential services to the kids who need them most right now.

During the COVID-19 crisis the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke is offering no-cost full-day emergency child care to support families of essential workers and first responders. The emergency child care site serves ages 5 to 13 and provides high-quality youth development activities including education-based projects and homework help, STEM activities, sports and recreation, yoga, arts activities and much more. In addition to the emergency child care service, the club is also providing access to meals, serving more than 4,400 dinners thus far, including meal deliveries to eight different homeless shelters throughout the city.

The contributions to the Boys & Girls Club and other Hampden and Hampshire organizations are part of a broader statewide effort consisting of $250,000 in direct contributions to support COVID-19 relief efforts across Massachusetts and the reallocation of more than $1.75 million in community investments and strategic sponsorships to expedite unrestricted cash to help nonprofits meet operational challenges.

As part of its commitment, Blue Cross is implementing the following support.

■Committing $550,000 in relief grants to nonprofits across the commonwealth front-line aid including access to food, basic needs and critical support for first responders, health care and retail workers. The funds, which were previously reserved for Blue Cross’ Healthy Living Accelerator Grants, will be distributed in two phases: $275,000 will be distributed this spring in $10,000 - $15,000 grants to 22 nonprofits and the other half, later this fall, when organizations have reassessed their greatest needs.

■Lifting funding restrictions on $520,000 of committed funds to ensure nonprofits have the flexibility to address critical challenges. An example includes shifting the company’s Project Bread funding to support its COVID-19 program that ensures students across the commonwealth still have access to breakfast and lunch during school closures.

■Instituting a matching gift program for all employee donations to any Massachusetts nonprofit. Total is currently at $134,000 and the program will remain open through May 13.

■Launching several virtual volunteer initiatives including remote skills-based volunteering, college mentoring with Strive for College, warm wish notes with Cradles to Crayons, virtual storytelling with Message of Hope, sewing facemasks for local health care workers and donating blood through the Red Cross.

■Partnering with MassINC to run a four-part tracking poll measuring Massachusetts residents’ levels of understanding and compliance with public health measures.

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