Verizon Wireless franchise owner donates $10K to Northampton Survival Center

  • Megan Saraceno, the community engagement coordinator with Grow Food Northampton, hands Heidi Nortonsmith, the executive director of the Northampton Survival Center, a bag of food to deliver to a home during a holiday distribution event at Hampshire Heights, Dec. 7. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • Wireless Zone regional franchise director Bob Roccanti, left, and Nate Bastarache, center, owner of four Verizon Wireless retail locations in the Pioneer Valley, presented a $10,000 donation to the Northampton Survival Center on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. Survival Center executive director Heidi Nortonsmith, right, said the donation comes at a time when client need has risen dramatically. STAFF PHOTO/BRIAN STEELE

Staff Writer
Published: 12/21/2021 8:19:09 PM
Modified: 12/21/2021 8:18:54 PM

NORTHAMPTON — After 12 years in business, Nate Bastarache, owner of four Verizon Wireless franchises in the Pioneer Valley, experienced his first supply chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, despite the difficulty of putting enough products on the shelves, he persists in giving back to the communities that host his stores.

Bastarache’s stores in Easthampton, Belchertown and two in Northampton donate a portion of sales to local nonprofits every year through the Wireless Zone Foundation for Giving, a collective effort of 400 Verizon retailers, with a maximum check of $10,000. This year is no different, even as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on businesses nationwide.

Bastarache and regional franchise director Bob Roccanti presented a $10,000 donation to the Northampton Survival Center on Tuesday, the latest in a series of checks the foundation distributed this year to nonprofit organizations in the area.

“I know there’s a lot of people out of work. A lot of businesses got impacted heavily, or they had to lay off staff,” Bastarache said. “We had a point, too, where we had to cut some people loose for a small period of time, so it’s not all riches out there. … I hope to inspire other people who have the ability to donate to local nonprofits.”

Survival Center executive director Heidi Nortonsmith said there has been “a 74% increase in client need since the start of the pandemic,” forcing the center’s staff and volunteers to get creative in distributing food, toiletries and other basic necessities to people throughout Hampshire County.

“Folks can come and get food through drive-up. They can actually do a curbside pickup now, by appointment, by ordering online,” Nortonsmith said.

The Survival Center also now offers delivery for clients who are homebound, an adaptation Nortonsmith said has become expensive.

The $10,000 donation, she said, “helps us get more food out to more people, wherever they are, and in whatever circumstances they need it. We’re really grateful to partners like this.”

Roccanti said that Bastarache holds backpack and school supply giveaways at his stores before school begins each year. One year, he even gave each parent a sack of potatoes.

“It was amazing, the amount of people that were coming in,” Roccanti said. “He spent a lot of money.”

In May, Bastarache gave $1,000 to Northampton’s Safe Passage shelter, the Easthampton Community Center and the Belchertown Senior Center.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.
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