United Way of Pioneer Valley creates several new programs in honor of 100th anniversary

Hampden County

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – As of January 10, United Way of Pioneer Valley celebrated their 100th anniversary and in honor of that created several new services to continue improving the lives in western Massachusetts.

According to a news release sent to 22News, the programs are designed to provide the greatest impact and are based on feedback UWPV received from a survey of local UWPV stakeholders and community leaders conducted in July 2020.

United Way of Pioneer Valley’s new services are the following:

  • Feeding the Hungry – UWPV is working closely with the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and have already come up with these additions to their food initiatives:
    • Convening representatives from local colleges & universities to ensure students have access to healthy food
    • Meeting with food pantries to learn about their individual needs, such as supplies and volunteers, and determine how they can help meet them
    • Opening the United Way Chicopee Cupboard to distribute food, cooking lessons, recipes, pet food, offering Thrive financial coaching, and more initiatives
    • Working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Holyoke to expand their existing food security program, which already provides food for hundreds of families in need
  • YouthGenerate is a youth development curriculum that will focus on leadership development and building life skills through mentoring, character/citizenship development, and community service.
  • Mass2-1-1/Call2Talk is a satellite call center for mental health/suicide. This new call center is staffed by graduate students from the Springfield College Master of Social Work program, who have been trained to answer the Call2talk lines as part of their course requirements.
  • 211 Day will be on February 11 and UWPV will be recognizing the hard work of call-takers who have received a massive uptick in call volume during the pandemic.
  • UWPV’s Thrive program provides free, one-on-one financial coaching.
  • UWPV is creating a new program to tackle the digital divide, the gap between people with access to technology and those who do not, by acquiring hardware and providing it, along with training, to members of the community in need. They plan to begin the program with Thrive financial coaching clients and families receiving assistance from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Holyoke and then expand it by working with area libraries in their service area.
  • Connect Western Mass is a community events calendar to provide a place for the people of Hampden County, Granby, and South Hadley to find events, virtual events, trainings, and so on that will focus on events by or to benefit area nonprofits. They plan to launch Connect Western Mass before the end of January 2021

Ruben Reyes, Executive Director of Lorraine’s Kitchen and Food Pantry, told 22News, “They have been in close contact with us for a partnership and how we can contribute to fill some of the food gaps in the city.”

“On January 10, 1921, we started our first Community Chest campaign with the same goal that drives us today – providing for our needy, helping them become self-sufficient, and improving their children’s futures. The new program enhancements we are announcing today will take us closer than ever to achieving this goal across our service area,” said Paul Mina, President & CEO, United Way of Pioneer Valley.

Anyone who wishes to volunteer should visit the volunteer portal for openings, and any organization that wishes to participate can contact Jennifer Kinsman, Director of Community Impact, at jkinsman@uwpv.org or 413.693.0212.

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