Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative

Meeting Notes

Date:    September 12, 2019

Time:    1:00pm to 2:30pm

Place:   Holyoke Public Library


Mission Statement: The Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative is a partnership between local, state & federal law enforcement; city & state government; civic & human service organizations; faith based organizations; the business community; education providers; property managers; and residents coming together with a goal to create safe, healthy & economically viable neighborhoods through information sharing, identifying at-risk youth, referrals and community efforts in specific Holyoke neighborhoods.

Welcome & Introduction                                                              1:00pm - 1:05pm         

Jennifer Gonzalez-Morales: Holyoke Public School Homeless Liaison                 1:05pm - 1:20pm

McKinny Vento Act protects individuals facing marginalized housing by helping remove barriers to education for individuals and families and also encouraged the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act along with Every Student Succeeds Act. These acts are aimed to assist children or youth who lack fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residency due to economic hardship, loss of housing or other similar reasons. These acts can apply to youth who are living in hotels/motels, emergency or transitional shelters, trailer parks, camp groups, a public or private place not designed for humans to live in such as cars, parks, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations or similar settings. Some classroom indicators that a student may be facing homelessness: lack of continuity of education such as attending many different schools, lack of personal records needed to enroll, and/or the inability to pay fees. Social and behavioral signs: poor/short attention span, poor self-esteem, unwillingness to form relationships with peers and teachers, and/or difficulty socializing at recess.

There are many effects of facing homelessness, such as: food insecurity, lack of medical/dental/mental health services, loss of connection to family/friends/community, more likely to drop out of school, educational gaps due to high mobility. Some barriers to education individuals facing housing instability may experience: stereotypes and lack of awareness, enrollment requirements (birth certificate, proof of residency, recent physical exam), poor health/fatigue/hunger, emotional trauma/depression/anxiety, lack of transportation/school supplies/clothing.

There are many educational rights in which youth facing marginalized housing have access to such as: school selection and enrollment – parents have the right to choose where their child receives their education. This may include their school of origin; school which was last attended, school attended when student became homeless, or enroll in the school that’s closest to the student temporary nighttime residence. Youth are also guaranteed transportation; each district has their own transportation policy which they follow under the McKinny-Vento Act and can vary from district to district. Each district must provide transportation to and from the school/preschool of origin. Nutrition may be provided under the McKinny Vento Act such as free lunch and free breakfast.

There is also a guaranteed equal access and comparable services available for those facing marginalized housing. Other services available for students under McKinny Vento: uniforms, hygiene products, shoes/socks/undergarments, winter coats/gloves/hats, backpack and school supplies, summer programs, weekends backpack program, etc.

Agency Overview and Updates                                                            1:20pm - 2:20pm

Rebekah Rennick: Tapestry

Looking to improve sexual education policies within Holyoke Public Schools. No formal sexual education currently in place for high schools in Holyoke.

Shelly Bathe Lenn: The Garden Center

She comes out to different schools to give safe space for youth to talk openly about those who have passed. The Garden does not put limits on how these individuals have died, where they died, or when. Services are available for individuals aged 5-18. Upcoming program on Sunday 29th from 2-4 PM.

Naroby Rosa-Soriano: One Holyoke CDC

Saturday September 21st will be the last city clean-up. She would like community members and agency representatives to come out to help with citywide clean-up. Sunday September 22nd will be hosting first co-ed volleyball tournament, available to community and agencies. Fall program will be ‘Knowing My Neighborhood’ and will be teaming up with Umass Amherst to decorate red fence at Kelly School – goal to have different agencies/schools to help sponsor or decorate different areas of the fence.

Stefany Garcia: Holyoke Public Schools

Open houses for Holyoke Public Schools are coming up quickly. If agencies are looking to have a table at open houses, they are welcome to; they just need to contact administration. Many open houses are happening on September 26th, all information is on HPS website. Some community members have expressed fears surrounding new middle schools and the effect on taxes, please review information on HPS website regarding the new schools. Hispanic heritage month is beginning 9/15-10/15 in city of Holyoke, HCC has official calendar of events on their website, official kick off will be at city hall with food trucks and performers which are connected with Hispanic heritage.

Jeremy Rodriguez: Motivational Speaker, Inspired by Unity

Trying to help individuals understand that many of the adulthood tendencies come from how they were raised and their tendencies which were formed during their youth. Trying to teach information to adults and children because with information you don’t know you cannot apply. Interested in being a caring adult in children’s lives.

Neil Desroches: US Attorney’s Office

Initiated lawsuit in Worcester against landlord due to accepting sexual favors for lowered rent or payment. Even if you are in a stable housing environment, it may not be an ideal situation. Everyone has the right to feel safe in their home and there are resources available. Can always contact civil rights unit of US Attorneys.

Rondey Allen: CrossPoint Clinical

Specialize in delivering services with a Christian based approach. Provide services, workshops, and various trainings to pastors along with educational sessions to help further understand mental health needs. Reach out to individuals who do not know how to accept services due to their faith or beliefs. Provide wellness coaching to provide deeper understanding between physical and mental health correlations. Free event “Meet Up – Faith, Food & Gut Connection” where wellness coach will be present Friday/Saturday for combination of wellness and nutrition services.

Yorn Traham: Right Choice Health Group

Closest location is in Chicopee. First time attending meeting and looking to connect with other agencies.

Glennice Ryan: River Valley Counseling Center

60 locations of inpatient, outpatient, and at home services. New services WISE, which is free, promote wellness. Looking for group of kids who may not have access to counseling and do not have diagnosis of a mental health need but need support due to other adversities they face. Also, prevention for substance use.

Sergio Vicente: MassHire Holyoke

Currently wrapping up summer programs. Collaborating with HCC for individuals who live in specific housing areas to go through their hydroponics course to further understand different ways to grow/sustain crops. There are limited openings within hydroponics course and are trying to break it into two different sessions. Hoping to kick off program in October, there will be a screening process involved, more information to come. YouthWorks is moving into year-round service as compared to only summer service to give youth more opportunities to be exposed to workplace opportunities.

Alijah Lembruno: MSPCC

Survivors Services MSPCC – include trauma counseling for youth ages 3-22 for youth who have survived abuse or witnessed violence, homicides, or other adversities. Grant funded program so able to accept any participants. Referrals are on website which is on flyer that was handed around. RSVP by September 20th for workshop, childcare will be provided as long as notified in advance.

Kelly Wood: YWCA

Passed out referrals and brochures. Offer parent support and promote self-sufficiency, whatever the parents or child needs they do their best to support.

Bill Hadley: Holyoke District Court Presiding Justice

Working on incorporating treatment within the court system rather than incarceration. Working and collaborating with probation office and clerk’s office. Office is located on corner of Race and Appleton Street. Will be expanding soon with recovery coaching and different treatment services for offenses such as shoplifting. Trying to change model of where a court date is set months in advance into more of an immediate intervention. Wednesday, October 30th will be holding public forum with Sheriff and DA along with recovery coaches for a panel presentation along with community aspect and open question, so panel is able to hear community recommendations. Tentatively holding meeting from 2-4PM will finalize timeframe and will produce advertising for meeting.

Antonio Padilla: Holyoke Probation Officer/Young Marines

Currently on 3rd recruit, working with youth age 8-18. Staff consists of individuals who are court officers, police officers, individuals who have served. Baystate comes in to teach CPR/first aid trainings. Encourages self-esteem and teamwork, youth put together schedule and planning. Based out of the Boys and Girls Club. Taking applications for 4th platoon. December 14th from 11-1 is next scheduled graduation, held at Boys and Girls club. – please consider attending! Interview process is extensive for program. In order to get promoted within program must do 50 hours of community service.

Elizabeth Plouffe: New Heights LLC

Still continuing brown bag initiative program on streets on Holyoke to help support individuals who may be homeless or unable to have access to food, also to get community feedback on where services are needed. Offer certified anger management services. Workshops for youth such as healthy relationships, domestic violence education, CPR/First Aid safety for young parents.

Kelsey Poole: Transition Specialist for HPS

Work with youth aged 18-24 who may have disability. Extension of the high school, all have graduated but have not been able to meet MCAS standards. Looking to connect to build additional partnerships, goal is to expose individuals with work-based experiences such as organizational experience, food prep, etc. Individuals are always accompanied by job coach from HPS.

Peer support center will be opening up later in September, will be similar to Hope for Holyoke and will be a Gandara program.

James Maloney: Hope for Holyoke

Currently participating in recovery month celebration. Will be closed Sunday and Monday due to recovery events being hosted. On September 20th, Liberty Prep High School hosting MA recovery event. Will also be closed September 21st due to recovery event. The 27th they will be hosting their own recovery event at Heritage State Park for a recovery march.

Luz Rolon: Americore Vista/ Way Finders

Community engagement for Holyoke residents.

Josh Pagan: Buudha Brothers

Looking to integrate into community more and open marijuana establishment. Establishment is through Cannabis Control and has very strict security and selling guidelines. Looking to provide training and employment opportunities for community residents.  Stressed that they are focusing on 21 and over.

Mara Schulman: Mental health advocacy program

Working to advocate for kids, just opened center in Holyoke. Provide free legal advocacy to families who have children who may have unmet mental health needs. May need access within or outside of school facilities. Open house on 9/26 at 1 PM at Enlace de Familia, refreshments provided.

Kimberly Fernald: River Valley Counseling Center

Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach, supporting individuals with substance use disorders age 12-24. Can be in community, school or at home services. Pro-social approach and works towards building up strengths, finding other healthy ways to enjoy and live life. Does referrals to MAT or inpatient treatment centers. Currently no wait list, if referral comes in then individual will be met with quite quickly. Insurance based first, anything not covered by insurance will be covered by the state. If individual has no insurance, still able to receive services.

Dolly Colon Rivera: Don’t Grab That Receipt

Adult/youth collaboration that spread awareness of chemicals within receipts to limit expose. Offer trainings for workers and cashiers. Do presentations in different high schools and work hand in hand with youth. Presentations are available online as well as in person.

Brittany Meadows: CleanSlate

Does work with other agencies if individuals could benefit from any referrals, goal is to fight opiate addiction. If individual does not have insurance, they will work one on one to see what they can be eligible for. Brochures and flyers passed out.

Jessica Cintron: Valley Opportunity Council (VOC)

Bridge class for individuals who are interested in attending college, can get GED/HISET training, citizenship classes and adult education.

Luis Arzola: CHD

Employment specialist CHD – help individuals get connected with resources in the area. At Holyoke library every Thursday from 10AM-2PM for individuals who may want to work on resume building or job searching along with personal development. Open to the public. Also have program for nurturing fathers which they take referrals for. Conference will be Through Her Eyes held on October 25th

Jamie Santiago: MSPCC

In home care for therapeutic care.

Domasco Santiago: Tapestry

Provide safer syringe access for IV drug users along with Narcan training. Can get people connected to MassHealth or detox services. Syringe hotline for if you find any syringes in the community for them to be picked up. Open M-F 8-4

David McCoy: HSNI Outreach

Attended opiate taskforce by DA office, HCAC at DA’s office meets once a month. If looking to get involved, please contact.

Thanks to Partners, Volunteers and Donors: Back to School Event                     2:20pm - 2:25pm

Looking for Coaches and Volunteers                                                                      2:25pm - 2:27pm

Old Business / New Business

  • Next Meeting is Thursday, October 10th at 1:00pm Holyoke Public Library

Close Meeting                                                                                                     2:30pm

Contact Information:

Edward Caisse

Hampden County Sheriff’s Department

(413) 858-0225

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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COVID-19 Resources

Click on the following links to find resources about coronavirus (COVID-19) to help individuals, people with substance use disorders and in recovery, providers, the justice system, communities, and states across the country:

Haga clic en los siguientes enlaces para encontrar recursos sobre coronavirus

(COVID-19) para ayudar a individuos, personas con trastornos por uso de sustancias y en recuperación, proveedores, el sistema de justicia, comunidades y estados de todo el país:

Website: HealTogetherMA.org/Holyoke

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Holyoke-HEALing-Communities-Study-Coalition-101711764886751

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