Monday, March 30, 2015

City Hall to be Lit Blue for Brain Injury Awareness Month

Earlier this month, Governor Baker declared the Month of March "Brain Injury Awareness Month" in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Each year, in the state of Massachusetts, 67,048 citizens sustain a traumatic brain injury. Through increasing public awareness, the Commonwealth hopes to mitigate the devastating effects on people throughout Massachusetts.

To mark the conclusion of "Brain Injury Awareness Month," Holyoke's City Hall will be illuminated with blue light. 

"It's important to raise awareness about about traumatic and acquired brain injuries, because these can affect any of us at any moment," Rep. Aaron Vega said. "I am proud to support the Commonwealth's efforts to provide funding and support for individuals and families dealing with the the life-changing effects of brain injury." 

"The significance of lighting City Hall blue is to stand in solidarity with all who suffer from, or love somebody who suffers from, a traumatic brain injury," Mayor Morse said. "We want people to know they are not alone, and that their community cares for them."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

SPARK Launch Party to be Held on Monday, March 30 in Holyoke

Aspiring entrepreneurs, small business owners, stakeholders interested in local business development and the broader community are invited to attend the Launch Party for SPARK:Holyoke from 6-8PM, Monday March 30 at the Volleyball Hall of Fame, at 444 Dwight Street in Holyoke.

Guests will learn about the SPARK entrepreneurship program, have an opportunity for networking, and will hear from guest speakers and local business owners. Hors d’oevres and beverages will be served from local restaurants and brewers. 

“This kick-off is really just the beginning of a series of great resources for folks looking to start a business,” SPARK Executive Director Farid Khelfaoui commented. “We’ve assembled a core group of key stakeholders in the community that will be able to provide valuable resources that include live discussions, networking events, and training opportunities.”

The event is free but registration is required online at the Eventbrite link:

SPARK is a business and social venture accelerator initiative that emphasizes a whole-community approach to entrepreneurism and innovation. Holyoke received a $250,000 three-year implementation award for its SPARK Initiative (Stimulating Potential, Accessing Resource Knowledge) through the Working Cities Challenge program. SPARK aims to link Holyoke’s innovation economy strategy to its residents with an eye towards being inclusive and welcoming to the diversity of Holyoke’s demographic. The initiative is being led by the Greater Holyoke Chamber Centennial Foundation, and is further supported by partners across multiple sectors within the public, private, and nonprofit realm including: the City of Holyoke, Holyoke Community College, Nuestras RaĆ­ces, Holyoke Works, Career Point, Holyoke Food & Fitness Policy Task Force, the Holyoke Public Library, and the Innovation District Task Force

Monday, March 23, 2015

Valley Health Systems Names Tina Lesser as Corporate Director of Quality and Patient Safety

Spiros Hatiras, President and CEO of Valley Health Systems and Holyoke Medical Center, has announced the promotion of Tina Lesser to Corporate Director of Quality and Patient Safety for Valley Health Systems, the parent company of Holyoke Medical Center. She will oversee quality improvement initiatives for Holyoke Medical Center, the Holyoke Visiting Nurses Association and River Valley Counseling Center.

"Tina Lesser brings leadership in overseeing healthcare quality programs, which are integral in our ability to continually deliver the highest levels of patient care and satisfaction," said Hatiras. Lesser's appointment comes after Holyoke Medical Center received prestigious national recognition this past November for its outstanding record in patient safety by the Leapfrog Group, an independent industry watchdog group.

"It's incredibly gratifying to be part of the process of improving the care that we deliver to our patients and families. Quality is an attitude and culture, not a department. It's about being engaged and present, focused on the needs and wishes of our patients and families," said Lesser. "Simply put, Holyoke is the best place to come for the highest quality of care and a great place to work, as well." 

A recipient of the Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing, Lesser previously served as Director of Patient Safety and brings more than 10 years of clinical nursing experience to this role. This includes nursing experience in the Emergency Departments of Milford Hospital in Milford, Conn., and Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., and Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, Conn. She also served as Director of Quality at Milford Hospital before coming to Holyoke Medical Center.

Lesser is a graduate of the Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing (1995) and Sacred Heart University (2005). She is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, of the Massachusetts Association of Healthcare Quality (MAHQ) and the Massachusetts Society of Healthcare Risk Management (MSHRM). 

Lesser is a resident of Shutesbury.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tapas and Live Music of Love

Rescheduled from the originally postponed Valentine's Day brunch event. Celebrate love with a light dining event accompanied by a classical French music concert presenting songs of love, on March 28, at Gateway City Arts, 92 Race Street, Holyoke, MA. 

The small plates are served by seasoned chefs John Peter Wentworth and Tara Tulley from 2:00-5:00pm and features an innovative menu that incorporates quality local ingredients with global flavors.

The concert features acclaimed musicians, Mary Hubbell, soprano, and Judith Gordon, pianist, performing music on themes of l'amour by the French masters Erik Satie, Reynaldo Hahn, Claude Debussy, and Francis Poulenc. The program concludes with varied interpretations of the romantic waltz, including fanciful new works by Gregory W. Brown.

Admission is free to the public. Food ranges in price from $3+. Cash bar. Reservations are not necessary. For more information including a full bio of the chefs and musicians please visit Questions can be directed to Gateway City Arts at 413-650-2670,

Friday, March 20, 2015

Holyoke Local Cultural Council 2015 Grants Reception

The Holyoke Local Cultural Council (HLCC) is pleased to host a reception in honor of its 2015 grant recipients on Thursday, March 26, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Wistariahurst Museum, 238 Cabot Street. Grant recipients will share information about this year’s funded projects, and members of the HLCC will be available to answer questions about the 2016 grant cycle. A full list of award recipients is included below.

Representatives from the Massachusetts Cultural Council will also be on hand to present the Gold Star Award to the Holyoke Latin Jazz Festival. The Holyoke Latin Jazz Fest is one of three programs throughout the state to earn this year’s Gold Star designation.

The reception is free and open to the public, but Eventbrite reservations are necessary. For more information, or to make a reservation, please visit

“This event celebrates the vision, creativity, and commitment of artists and arts organizations in Holyoke,” said Navae Fenwick Rodriguez, chairperson of the Holyoke Local Cultural Council. “We are excited to fund such a variety of worthy projects.”

“Our community is blessed with many talented, dedicated artists who share their gifts with us and enhance quality of life for us all,” Mayor Alex Morse said. “I applaud the HLCC for their hard work, and I look forward to seeing these creative projects come to fruition.”

“This year’s recipients represent some of the best and most creative ideas and projects in Holyoke,” State Representative Aaron Vega said. “Once again, I thank all the members of the HLCC for their efforts and their advocacy for arts and culture in our city.”

The Holyoke Local Cultural Council is part of a network of 329 Local Cultural Councils serving all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. The LCC Program is the largest grassroots cultural funding network in the nation, supporting thousands of community-based projects in the arts, sciences and humanities every year. The state legislature provides an annual appropriation to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, which then allocates funds to each community.
This year, the Holyoke Local Cultural Council saw a 36% increase in grant applications. The Council funded 46 grants totaling $31,167. The HLCC will seek applications again in the fall for 2016 funding. Information and forms are available online at Applications are due October 15, 2015.

The 2015 grant recipients are:
Alicia Renadette -- Art installation for XFest 2015
Anna Sobel -- Fairies of the Seasons at the Holyoke Children's Museum
Art & Soul -- Then a Bird Flew Out of My Chest
Artistic Dance Conservatory -- The Velveteen Rabbit
Arts Extension Institute, Inc. -- Artist-in-Business Training
Blessed Sacrament School -- Field trips
Brendaliz Cepeda -- Holyoke Bombazo
Caleb Colon -- Arte Boricua
Casa Cultural -- National Hispanic Heritage Month in Holyoke
Davis Bates and Roger Tincknell -- Song & Story Celebration
Enchanted Circle Theater, Inc. -- Reading Alive: Literacy Through the Arts
Ensemble Musica Humana -- Pioneer Valley Early Music Day
Friends of the Holyoke Public Schools, Inc. -- 2015 Summer Strings Program
Gay Pride Holyoke -- Gay Pride Month in Holyoke
Hilltown Families, Inc. -- Hilltown Families Newsletter
Holyoke Flats Community Weaving Group
Holyoke High School -- The Wizard of Oz
Holyoke High School Drama Club -- To Kill a Mockingbird
Holyoke League of Arts and Crafts
Holyoke Local Cultural Council -- Holyoke Latin Jazz Festival
Holyoke Public Library -- Sarah the Fiddler & 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Campaign
Holyoke Youth Task Force -- Holyoke Stories
Holyoke, Chicopee, Springfield Head Start, Inc. -- Children's Museum passes for homeless families
House of Colors -- Field trip to Boston Youth Pride Parade
Iroko Nuevo
John Root -- Organic Gardening for Everyone
Kathiushka Perez-Delgado -- Freedom Arts
Kathryn Dunn -- Many Voices, Many Stories
Lisa Hersey -- Holyoke Inspiration
Massachusetts Academy of Ballet Educational Training Association -- Nutcracker and Sweets
Massachusetts Dance Festival
Matthew Larsen -- Dark Dining Room Concert Series
Multi-Arts, Inc. -- Family Arts Project
Nancy Howard -- Land Marks & The Dingle Revisited
Open Field Initiative -- XFest 2015
Puentes: Arts, Music, and Culture in the Pioneer Valley -- Tiple: The Universal Legacy of a Jibaro Guitar
Stacey Styles -- The Bohemian Quartet at the Wistariahurst
Stephen Lewis -- Not in Anyone's Backyard
The Great Holyoke Brick Race
Time to Tell -- Teach-In at The Care Center
Viva Great Holyoke Block Party
Voices from Inside/Out
Young@Heart Chorus -- Prison Project

Carl Cameron Named COO of Holyoke Medical Center

Spiros Hatiras, President and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center has announced the promotion of Carl Cameron, to Chief Operating Officer of Holyoke Medical Center (HMC). Cameron is embracing his new role implementing important changes to the institution, which includes transforming patient rooms, and the expansion of the rehabilitation unit, including Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Cardiac Rehab and Pulmonary Rehab. 

Cameron most recently served as Vice President of Operations and was also Chief Information Officer at HMC. "Over the past 14 years, Carl has continued to guide Holyoke Medical Center in an innovative direction, especially in the area of information systems. He has helped bring HMC to the forefront of electronic medical records, enabling HMC to be of the first in the state to have a Health Information Exchange and connect to the Mass HIway, securing the sharing of patient medical records with healthcare providers throughout the commonwealth. His guidance and expertise are key to moving our organization forward in transforming healthcare delivery in the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas," said Hatiras.

"Under the leadership of Spiros Hatiras, we are making a lot of positive changes within the organization, for our patients and for our employees, and I'm really excited to have the opportunity to be a part of that," said Cameron, a native of Holyoke who enjoys "making a positive difference within the community I grew up in." 

Cameron earned his B.A. degree in Business Administration from Western New England College (WNEC), and an M.S. degree in Information Systems from WNEC. He also earned a certificate in Lean Healthcare from the University of Michigan.

Prior experience includes serving as Director of Information Technology for the City of Holyoke and at Lennox Healthcare, a long-term healthcare company with 150 nursing homes throughout the United States.

Cameron is a resident of South Hadley and lives with his wife Joan, a teacher in the Holyoke Public School system and two children.
Holyoke Medical Center is a 198-bed facility with 1,200 employees serving individuals and families throughout the cities and towns of Holyoke, Chicopee, South Hadley, Granby, Easthampton, Southampton, West Springfield and Belchertown. The medical staff includes more than 300 physicians and consulting staff. Holyoke Medical Center is a nationally-accredited hospital and received a 2014 Top Hospital Award from the Leapfrog Group for excellence in quality of care and patient safety. Among some of top-rated services at HMC is the award-winning HMC Stroke Service which has been consistently rated as one of the best in the state by The American Heart and Stroke Association. Areas of clinical emphasis also include behavioral health, critical care, emergency care, orthopedics, oncology, rehabilitation, women's health services, and speech and hearing services. Holyoke Medical Center is a member of Valley Health Systems in Holyoke which also includes the affiliates Holyoke Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice Life Care, Western Mass Physician Associates and River Valley Counseling Center.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mayor Morse Appoints Navae Fenwick-Rodriguez as New Council on Aging Director

Mayor Morse recently announced that he would appoint Navae Fenwick-Rodriguez, who had been serving as interim director for the past two months, as the new director of Holyoke’s Council on Aging. Rodriguez, a Holyoke resident, is a long-time employee of the Council on Aging, having
previously worked as the Activities Coordinator, and has strong relationships with both seniors and staff. She is also the chair of the Holyoke Local Cultural Council.

“Navae has done great work for the Council on Aging, and I have no doubt she will continue to do so as the new director. Since she took over as interim director, she has done the job with the utmost class and professionalism,” Mayor Morse said.

As a community focal point for aging services, the Council on Aging provides a variety of programs and services to enhance and support the lives of older adults. The Council offers a wide range of health, education, wellness, social services, transportation, nutrition, recreation, volunteer and social opportunities for participants to enhance dignity, support independence and encourage community involvement. It is also a resource to the community providing information on aging and assisting family and friends who are entrusted with the care of older adults.

"I am grateful for this opportunity to continue my work with Holyoke's wonderful seniors," Fenwick-Rodriguez said. "The Council on Aging does great work for Holyoke's seniors, and I committed to maintaining this high level of care and service."