United Way of Pioneer Valley Announces 100th Anniversary, New Slate of Services

A gavel with the United Way of Pioneer Valley logo

Springfield, MA (1/11/2021)—United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) is excited to announce that as of January 10, 2021, we will officially reach our 100th anniversary of improving lives in Western Massachusetts. In recognition of this important milestone and our commitment to the people of Hampden County, Granby, and South Hadley, we have decided to start our 100th year with new services designed to provide the greatest impact with our donors’ hard-earned dollars, based on feedback we received from a survey of local UWPV stakeholders and community leaders conducted in July 2020.

“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.

Digital restoration of a drawing used in the Springfield Community Chest campaign, originally by Jessie Wilcox Smith, c. 1928.

UWPV’s new services include:

Feeding the Hungry

For decades, we have funded programs to feed the hungry in our 25-community service area, but our area is still at a deficit. To address this need, we are working closely with the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and have already come up with several additions to our 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 UWPV can help meet them
  • Opening the United Way Chicopee Cupboard to distribute food, cooking lessons & recipes, pet food, offer 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

UWPV is developing a youth development curriculum, called YouthGenerate, which we are providing with grant funding to out-of-school programs in our service area. YouthGenerate is a service-learning curriculum focused on leadership development and building life skills through mentoring, character/citizenship development, and community service.

Mass2-1-1/Call2Talk

While its primary offices are in United Way of Tri-County’s Framingham office, UWPV recently opened a satellite call center for Call2Talk, the mental health/suicide

prevention component of the Mass2-1-1 state-wide platform at our office in Springfield. 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.

2-1-1 Day, as declared by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to be February 11, is also coming up soon, and we are excited for the opportunity to recognize the hard work of our call-takers who have received a massive uptick in call volume during the pandemic.

Financial Stability

UWPV’s Thrive program, which provides free, one-on-one financial coaching, recently hired a new coach, Emmanuel Reyes, who recently completed the Financial Empowerment Learning Institute training series facilitated by United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. Reyes is our first Spanish-speaking financial coach, allowing the program to reach even more people in need.

Digital Divide

We are laying the groundwork for 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. We 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 our service area.

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

Connect Western Mass

Connect Western Mass is a first-of-its-kind 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 – with a focus on events by or to benefit area nonprofits. We plan to launch Connect Western Mass before the end of January 2021.

Volunteer Action Center

We recently created a new volunteer portal at volunteer.uwpv.org. which boasts features to make the volunteering process easier on volunteers, corporations, and nonprofits alike. Thanks to our investment, we can provide free accounts to our nonprofit partners with enhanced features of a $900/yr/partner value. Anyone interested in joining can visit volunteer.uwpv.org, and UWPV partners interested in taking advantage of the enhanced features we’re providing can make their partner account today at volunteer.uwpv.org/register/organization.

FEMA Emergency Food & Shelter Program

Megan Moynihan, Senior Director of Finance & Operations, is now administering the FEMA Emergency Food & Shelter Program (EFSP) grant funding for Hampden County. Phase 38 grants will launch by February and we will provide information for the application process as it becomes available.

Healing Racism

UWPV and the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley have made an agreement where we will become their fiduciary sponsor and work with their staff to provide more clientele to their program.

Venture Grant Funding

We will work with non-profit partners to identify their unmet needs and provide small capital grants for repairs and improvements.

Learn more about our 100th anniversary and direct service additions at uwpv.org/100th.

Category