Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative

Meeting Notes

Date:   March 14, 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           

Ed welcomed everyone.

Holyoke Middle Schools Building Proposal (Dorrie Brooks)                             1:05pm - 1:20pm

This project has been in development for over a year with the goal to developing two new middle schools for Holyoke. Without the support of those who understand and value the impact of new educational sites and facilities, the project will not be possible. Over the years the educational system has changed from middle school model to K-8, where the change was too drastic and needed new structure to reduce population at elementary school by pulling middle schoolers out and replacing them.

The intent of the project include demolishing Peck School and constructing two new middle schools which could each hold 550 students – located at the current Peck School location and vacant lot next to Chestnut & Cabot Street. Argued two schools were necessary not only for educational purposes but also population control. Looking to open both by fall of 2022. These facilities would be the first new schools in over 30 years for Holyoke. It is important to the district to have schools where their families are located to encourage family involvement in school systems and children’s educations.

The intention of the project is to acknowledge more than the education growth, but also social/environmental/etc. factors which contribute to an adolescent’s growth. The estimated total cost for the project is $131 million dollars - cities share is 40% which is 55 million with the rest being paid for by the state. This would increase in taxes approximately $240/year per average household in Holyoke. Equity (each student would be in new middle school at same time), Cost (most effective, building sequentially would add several million dollars in inflationary cost) & Impact. Building new school can create areas which are now needed but have not been addressed in the past (young parents, special needs, etc). Break each grade level into two communities (90 students) to have “team teaching” in order to build relationships. Services are brought closer to the students rather than separate due to services required.

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

Andrew Batchelor (Mass AGO) 

There are currently grants available for summer jobs via the healthy summer youth job program. This encourages businesses to hire young adults/adolescents for the summer months. The deadline to apply for a grant is March 29th, and applications are available online.

Virginia Dillion: Homework House

Adult spelling bee being held on April 11th, looking for volunteers to help during event.

Rodney Allen: Cross Point Clinical Services

Pastor Luncheon will be held in coming weeks. Will be holding workshops on areas such as family matters along with managing technology.

Luis Perez: Food Bank of Western Mass

Support with applying for or managing food stamps. Mr. Perez is at MassHire almost weekly each Thursday 10 AM – 1 PM. There are new income guidelines for SNAP. Take applications over the phone as well.

Cheryl Labrie: YMCA

Healthy kid’s day Saturday April 27th, 12 PM – 2 PM @ Heritage Park.

Dennis Gonzalez: Hope for Holyoke

Currently collaborating with open pantry, targeting high risk populations with substance use and past incarcerations with gambling risks (March is gambling awareness month). Friday @ 1 PM will be holding meeting on gambling awareness.

James Maloney: Hope for Holyoke

Open mic event Saturday March 16th 6-10 PM and will be a sober event. Center is open Sunday during parade, buses routes will differ.

Melinda Stone/Clay Connor: Westover Job Corps

Will be brining variety of students to speak about their experiences

Emil Farjo: United Way

Offering free one on one financial coaching out of office in Springfield

Sandy Ward: Friends of the Holyoke Public Library

Updated flyers for mini golf event - free for children under 5, looking for volunteers/sponsors for some of the holes. Event is April 6th; sponsors need to have information in by Wednesday 3/20.

Denise Kelly: Disstrict Attorney’s Office, Juvenile Court

Presented on bullying, safety, threats, etc. to 6 middle schools in the Holyoke area. Will be presenting at 4 elementary schools on internet safety by the end of the month. There will be a job fair held at AIC in Springfield on April 15th.

Jennifer Gonzales: Homeless Liaison Holyoke Public Schools

Homeless advocate, passed out business cards to connect further to hopefully provide more services to those in need. Looking for 18 students who are currently homeless to engage in free workshop during spring break in April.

Rafael Santos: Hampden County Sheriff’s Department

736 state street in Springfield, support. Safe Neighborhood Initive Program is a program which offers community support through sports.

Melissa Garcia: Gandara Center

Offering a parents support group on March 19th surrounding topics such as cooking matters (healthy cooking). There is currently a low waiting list for intensive care coordination.

Alejandra Torres: Hampden County Sheriff’s Department

Holding a family fun night on March 22nd from 5-7pm at Morgan School, looking for volunteers to participate.

Nikita Perez: Holyoke Public Schools Family outreach

Holding a state of schools meeting on March 20th from 6:30-8PM on Main street. Some main topics will be addressing dropout rates and graduation rates.

Joseph Krupczyski: UMass Amherst

Working on public art project which promotes community engagement. On March 22nd an online fundraiser will be held on behalf of the project. Creative placement project to encourage Puerto Rican/Latino cultures to contribute and thrive.

Cynthia Espinosa: Nueva Esperanza

Holding a meeting on April 9th to highlight history within the community, along with hosting a comedian/artist from Puerto Rico.

Old Business / New Business

          Next Meeting is at 1:00pm Holyoke Public Library

          Resource Guide in progress – new ads needed, free of cost

          Back to school event @ MacNally field on 17th

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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If you have a loved one who struggles with opioid use disorder, have naloxone (Narcan®) nearby. Encourage your loved one to be trained, carry naloxone (Narcan®), and tell their friends where they keep it in case they overdose. Learn more: HealTogetherMA.org/Holyoke or at https://www.tapestryhealth.org/overdose-prevention-services/.

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