Family Day, 2023

Family Day is a national holiday observed on the last Monday of September each year to celebrate the benefits of spending time together as a family.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2023

Monday, January 16, 2023 is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, honoring one of the most important leaders and thinkers in American history.  Dr. King was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesman and leader in the American civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.

Photo credit: “Martin Luther King, Jr. 1964 (source: Library of Congress)” by Mike Licht, is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

A “day on” instead of a “day off”

Martin Luther King Day is a great opportunity to reflect on Dr. King’s work, increase our understanding of his legacy, and take action to support movements for freedom and justice.

Dr. King believed in “cultivating a beloved community.” One way to contribute and stay connected with our communities is through volunteering at community organizations that also further Dr. King’s legacy of work on racial justice, activism, nonviolence, anti-poverty work, and mutual support. Stone Soup Café, Franklin County Community Meals Program (FCCMP), Center for New Americans, Just Roots, The Literacy Project, BBBS of Franklin County, Western Mass Showing Up for Racial Justice and other organizations have ongoing opportunities to get involved, some of which are open to youth and adults. 

Celebrating and building on Dr. King’s legacy is not limited to one day a year! May the momentum from the January holiday carry us into February’s Black History Month celebrations and beyond: into a year-round practice of working towards collective liberation.

Please explore and share these events and resources to inspire ongoing action:

Events in our region

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration at GCC
Monday, January 16, 10:00am-1:00pm
GCC’s Cohn Family Dining Commons
For over a decade, Greenfield Community College has been celebrating the legacy of Dr. King. This year’s event features a program appropriate for all ages, with keynote speaker Kwamane Harris, author of Pushing the Generations: Finding Your Purpose Through the Next Generation, and performances exploring immigration, migration and homelessness from the youth group “Twice as Smart.”
Please RSVP here.

Stone Soup Café’s 3rd Annual MLK Day Pick-Your-Own Film Festival!! We have a list of 4 incredible films/tv shows you can choose from. Make time to watch one (or two? or three!?) of these films before February 1st, then join together virtually with folks from Stone Soup on the first day of Black History Month to share about the films we watched.

Baystate Health’s virtual MLK Day celebration: “It Starts With Me: Cultivating a Beloved Community Mindset”
Friday January 13 from 12-1pm
This event will feature a keynote by Dr. Edison Bond, Jr., Director of Patient Relations at Baystate Health, winner of numerous awards for his leadership, commitment to advocacy, and organizing for social justice. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” musical performance will be performed by students from William N. DeBerry Elementary School.
Learn more here and sign up to attend here.

Writing Wrongs: In the Shadow of the Dream, a Community Conversation
Monday, Jan. 16, 12-2 pm
Edwards Church, 297 Main Street, Northampton, MA
Join this conversation (aimed at adults and older youth) about Ousmane Power-Greene’s novel The Confessions of Matthew Strong and a talk by the author, connecting the ideas and themes from his novel and the legacies of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. Sponsored by Self-Evident Education and The Collaborative for Educational Services (CES)  

Online Resources

The National Civil Rights Museum has a page on Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy. You also check out subpages on the following topics (each clickable within the linked page above): Justice; Poverty; Decent Housing; Better Jobs & Higher Wages; Quality Education; Peace; and more! 

Especially for educators, parents, and caregivers: Embrace Race’s article MLK Day and the Danger of A “Single Story” helps us to remember that it’s important to be careful of perpetuating a “hero” myth when we teach about Dr. King, and why it’s critical to connect Dr. King’s life with those who inspired and taught him. We all have the capacity to make a positive difference. 

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute supports a broad range of educational activities illuminating Dr. King’s life and the movements he inspired.  The Institute website includes links to documents, other sites, curriculum, and opportunities for further connections.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta, GA includes the places where Dr. King was born, lived, worked, worshipped, and is buried. Come hear his story, visit the home of his birth, and where he played as a child.  Walk in his footsteps, and hear his voice in the church where he moved hearts and minds.  Marvel at how he was an instrument for social change. Even if you cannot get to Atlanta, the website includes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy of Racial and Social Justice: A Curriculum for Empowerment

Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance) also has some great resources for educators/mentors.  Its collection of lessons, teachable texts and further reading helps educators bring the work of Dr. King to life in any learning setting.

Civil Rights Teaching is another source for educational resources for Teaching about Martin Luther King Jr. and beyond.

Dr. King’s speeches and writing

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, December, 1964

Dr. King is known for his speeches and writing.  Here is a link to some of his memorable quotations.  Make sure to research the source of the quotation to gain an understanding of the context in which Dr. King said or wrote it.

The Arts provide an embodied connection with Dr. King’s legacy.

Colorlines has a playlist of songs that sample MLK speeches or reference his legacy

Ultimate Classic Rock has 12 Classic Songs Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.

Check out the movie Selma, a 2014 historical drama film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb. It is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches initiated and directed by James Bevel and led by Martin Luther King Jr., Hosea Williams, and John Lewis.

Many artists have been inspired by Dr. King’s work, including Faith Ringgold, an Artist-activist who illustrated King’s Letter from Birmingham City Jail in eight serigraphs.

Other ways to take action throughout the year

Support organizations working on voting rights

Support Black-owned businesses

Black-owned restaurants, grocers in Springfield and across Western Massachusetts you can support

Amherst Area Minority / BIPOC-Owned Businesses

Support BIPOC-, Veteran-, Woman-, LGBTQ-, Disabled-Owned Businesses

CTC Celebrates 20 Years!

Image of members of the Communities That Care Coalition
The Communities That Care Coalition celebrates its 20th anniversary with a lunch at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield. Photo credit: Kat Allen

The Communities That Care Coalition just celebrated its 20-Year Anniversary! Click HERE to see the Greenfield Recorder’s coverage!

CTC Releases 20th Annual Student Health Survey Results

Over the holiday weekend, the Communities That Care Coalition released the results from their 20th annual survey of middle and high school students in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. Nearly 1600 students throughout 9 public school districts participated in the survey this past spring, adding to a wealth of information on substance use, mental health, and the rapidly changing landscape of pressures youth in the community are facing.

Encouragingly, drug and alcohol use among local youth has declined dramatically over the last two decades, falling to all-time lows in the height of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and remaining at-or-below pre-pandemic levels as in-person activities have largely resumed. Even vaping – which appeared suddenly in recent years and increased sharply to nearly a third of all students using vape products in 2018 – has since dropped to less than a fifth of students.

Cannabis use, however, has declined less than other substances, coinciding with students’ attitudes about its risks relaxing considerably. With a suite of major state policy changes since 2012 and a multi-billion-dollar commercial industry with highly-visible advertisement in its wake, students are acutely aware of new norms. “We do what adults do and what people who we think are responsible do”, said a local middle school student participating in a recent focus group on substance use. “If we think it’s cool or respectable, we want to replicate that behavior because that might make us cool or respectable.”

This year’s survey included an additional look at over 30 risk and protective factors that increase or decrease the chances of substance use, school dropout, teen pregnancy, violence, and mental health issues. These factors were last included in the survey back in 2018 – before the COVID-19 pandemic isolated youth and made them even more dependent on screens. Perhaps not surprisingly, overall protective factors have declined, a demonstration of just how much the pandemic continues to undermine young people’s systems of support.

Arguably the most palpable toll reflected in the data is on mental health. Indeed, symptoms of depression and anxiety among students had already been escalating since 2015, but have now skyrocketed to more than half of all students reportedly feeling sad or depressed most days, and two-thirds of students feeling anxious or worried most days. Further, relatively few students are feeling acknowledged for positive social interactions and achievements at home or in the community; and despite ample praise received at schools, students are feeling less committed than ever to their school.

There are many efforts underway in the community to support youth mental health, including expanded access to clinical therapies; LGBTQ+-affirming social groups; evidence-based social and emotional skill-building programs in local schools, arts programs, sports programs, peer-to-peer supports, and more. In the data release, the Coalition also underscored the importance of family attachment – a measure which the Student Health Survey data shows has improved considerably locally over the last 20 years. Contrary to what parents may think at times, the importance of young people feeling connected and supported at home cannot be understated, and is strongly correlated with improved mental health.

A slide show, narrated video presentation, and other materials for the 2022 Student Health Survey can be found at

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” for more information.

You can view and download the report below.