WWLP Highlight Coalition’s Family Day Efforts

WWLP Channel 22, the largest news station in Western Mass, covered the Coalition’s efforts at promoting quality family time on the evening news on Family Day! Check out the coverage HERE.

PEER Ambassadors create videos to celebrate Family Day!

In celebration of Family Day, the Coalition’s PEER Ambassadors worked with GCTV to create a video Public Service Announcements – check out the version in English and the one in Spanish! The videos highlight the many benefits of family dinners and quality family time and encourages people to set up routines that include regular time for family connection. National Family Day – which celebrates simple, everyday things parents do to connect with their kids – is the Fourth Monday in September each year. This year Family Day is September 26th. Check out the videos and then celebrate with your Family!!

2022 Parent Guide Released!

The Parent and Family Engagement Workgroup’s 2022 Parent Guide was released on Wednesday, September 21. This 16-page insert is distributed through the Greenfield Recorder and the Athol Daily News, and includes valuable information for local parents on topics including substance use prevention, mental health promotion, health and nutrition, online safety, and more, with an emphasis on local resources. This year’s guide has a great cover article on support systems for transgender young people and their families. It also includes lots of photos and contributions from the Coalition’s PEER Community Ambassadors (PEER=Parent Engagement, Enrichment, and Resources). Take a look and share it widely!

Shaundell Diaz Receives Coalition Leadership Award

The Communities That Care Coalition was excited to present the 2022 Sara Cummings Coalition Leadership Award to Shaundell Diaz of the Three County Continuum of Care at Community Action Pioneer Valley. Shaundell is also one of the Co-Chairs of CTC’s Racial Justice Workgroup.

Born and raised in Springfield Mass, Shaundell is a Spiritual Latina, married mom of 4, with Lived Experience of Homelessness.  She is currently the Three County Continuum of Care, Coordinated Entry Specialist with Community Action Pioneer Valley. Shaundell has worked in many roles over the last 14 years, including as a CNA in local Skilled Nursing facilities and a Skills Trainer and Options Counselor for Stavros.  Shaundell is a fierce advocate in anything and anyone that she can be a voice for.  She co-chairs the CTC Racial Justice Workgroup, is on the Rural Development Inc. Board of Directors, initiated the Hampden County Resource Network, facilitates the COC Equity and Inclusion Committee, and is a consultant for the “Re-Imaging Shelter” Project of the National Coalition for the Homeless.  Shaundell strongly believes that systemic change is needed to end homelessness, promote disability rights, dismantle systems of white dominant culture and oppression, and integrate Racial Justice and Equity into our Social, Economic, and School systems. 

Shaundell is brilliant, dedicated, warm, welcoming, kind, charismatic, and fun. She is a natural-born leader. The Coalition is delighted to present Shaundell with this award.

Regional Snapshot of How Franklin County and North Quabbin Schools are Advancing Racial Justice

On June 9, 2022, the Communities That Care Coalition released a report, How Franklin County and North Quabbin Schools are Advancing Racial Justice. Leigh-Ellen Figueroa presented a slideshow summary at the Coalition’s Biannual Meeting at Greenfield High School. The report is based on interviews with 41 key school personnel from all nine local public school districts, including administrators, teachers, counselors, nurses, and students. The report identifies strengths, challenges, needs, recommendations, action steps, and resources.

Please contact Leigh-Ellen (LFigueroa “at” frcog.org) for more information.

You can view and download the report below.

Recording Available of June 9, 2022 Coalition Meeting at Greenfield High School

The Coalition had it’s first back-to-in-person meeting on Thursday, June 9th, from 3:30-5:00 pm at the Greenfield High School Cafeteria.  We had approximately 35 people present in the room and 15 by zoom – with 10 more in the childcare room! And thanks to GCTV, you can check out the video recording that is being broadcast several times on GCTV. 

In case you missed it:

The Brick House will also be holding a follow-up discussion for families on Wednesday, June 15th from 3:30-5:00 with stipends, childcare, transportation, translation, and more.  Please contact Stacey slangknecht@brickhousecrc.org or 413-800-2496 for more information!

The coalition was proud to be able to offer childcare (thank you Greenfield High School), transportation (thank you Brick House and FRTA’s Access program), and Spanish interpretation (thank you Carolina) at this Full Coalition meeting! 

Kirsten Levitt Presented with Community Builder Award

The Coalition’s Mike Fritz Community Builder Award was presented to Kirsten Levitt of Stone Soup Cafe at the February 4th Full Coalition meeting. Click here for a video of Kirsten receiving the award.

The Communities that Care Coalition has 2 awards that travel around…and the fall is when we present the Community Builder Award in honor of one of our founders, Mike Fritz.  This award goes to a community member who demonstrates vision and leadership in promoting the goals of the Communities That Care Coalition in the community.

This past year the award has been with the incredible Kia Burton-King of Community Action’s Family Center, honoring her and her work supporting parents, young people and families.

This year (2021) we are delighted to give the award to Kirsten Levitt of the Stone Soup Café.

Kirsten has been serving the community for decades, including many years as a public school teacher, where she was particularly passionate about making sure children could read and write.  She started working with Stone Soup Café, just about 10 years ago, occupying many different roles (often simultaneously, while still teaching and attending graduate school!!).  Kirsten is currently the executive director of Stone Soup. She is an active member of the Franklin County Resource Network’s Hunger Task Force and is a community leader on food justice issues. She is also the Massachusetts coordinator for the Poor Peoples’ Campaign.

Stone Soup is a pay-what-you-can gourmet hot luncheon served by volunteers every Saturday afternoon in the All Souls Church in downtown Greenfield (so says the website!).  That is just the beginning of what Stone Soup is—it is a community-building organization, that creates a space where all are welcome to break bread together, to learn about and take action on Racial Justice and social issues, and to lift up lived experience as expertise.  The COVID pandemic has uncovered the extent of food insecurity in our region and revealed the great need to work together even more to meet the immediate need for food and to change the story and the systems that perpetuate food insecurity!  Stone Soup is currently cooking for 500 people/week, through direct pickup and delivery and in collaboration with the Franklin County Community Meals Program.  These are not just any meals:  They are made with locally grown and produced ingredients as much as possible, and support a variety of food needs including gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, and vegan.  And they are beautifully and deliciously created celebrations of the people in our community—all of them!!  They also run a free pantry store, and host a variety of community programs, most recently the virtual film festival in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Day. Stone Soup currently has 8 paid staff, 8 volunteer staff, and over 40 volunteers who support the café’s various activities.

Kirsten embodies many of the goals of Communities That Care.  She has always been a champion of people whose voices are silenced in many contexts, and fostering their leadership skills.  She is a collaborative leader, always working to lift up others, and is happy to work in the background (in the kitchen!) while others are in the spotlight.  She is fearless when it comes to questioning traditional ways of doing things, and always ready to try something different, and encouraging those around her to do the same.  And she is passionate about creating personal connection and fostering the kind of community where people can trust each other and count on each other.

Kirsten always reinforces the most positive aspects of our community and its residents and is a staunch champion of Franklin County and the North Quabbin region! Please join us in congratulating Kirsten Levitt on the Mike Fritz Community Builder Award!