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January 26, 2017

Getting Your Message Out

COSA Board member Laurie Loisel, Director of Community Outreach and Education for the Northwestern District Attorney's office will lead a discussion about how to promote your organization by telling stories about the good work you do every day. 

Loisel worked in the daily news business for 30 years before joining the DA's office. She still writes freelance news stories. We'll talk about press release basics, what makes a good story, and how to reach out to the media. Come with questions and stumbling blocks to strategize about.

COSA meeting take place at Berkshire Children and Families
220 Russell St (Rt. 9) in Hadley.  Meeting runs from 9-10:30am
The Bridge
Programs starting Jan. 17

Helping Your Kids Heal
Learn to better understand your child's experiences and to increase skills that will help them feel safe, build resiliency, and continue to grow and experience joy. Group will run for 8 weeks beginning Tuesday, Jan.17th, 5:30-7 pm.
Building Resiliency In Kids
A program designed for children in families affected by substance abuse, mental illness, and domestic violence. The program is intended to help children find their voice, strengthen self-esteem, and promote resiliency. Group will run for 8 weeks beginningJanuary 17th from 5:30-7 pm.

Contact the Bridge to pre-register at 413-549-0297


Community Action
Free Tax Assistance

Our Free Tax-Assistance Program helps taxpayers with lower incomes maximize their tax refund or reduce their taxes due. Prepared by IRS-certified volunteers, taxes are filed electronically, allowing most taxpayers expecting refunds to receive their money within 5 to 10 days of filing. Volunteers are trained to look for specific eligibility requirements in order to help participants take advantage of the Earned Income Credit and the Child Tax Credit, and more. Services are offered February through April. 

This program is available for residents of Franklin and Hampshire Counties, and the North Quabbin towns of Athol, Petersham, Roylaston, and Philipston. 

Income limits for Tax Year 2016
Please note that our income limits have changed to better reflect the IRS's earned income tax credit (EITC) guidelines. 
Unmarried taxpayers
Number of Children     Annual Gross
0                    23,760
1                    39,617
2                    45,007
3+                  48,340
Married taxpayers
Number of Children     Annual Gross
0                     32,040
1                     45,207
2                     50,597
3+                  53,930

For more information, click here
Creating Your Advocacy Game Plan
Preparing for the Legislative Reception
January 12th, 9:00am - 11:30 am

This workshop, led by The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, will help you make the most of your interactions with legislators at this year's Legislative Reception. Whether you've attended in the past or if this is your first time, join us to learn how to have better quality, more effective and productive conversations with your legislators at this year's event.   COSA members receive a discount!

2017 Legislative Reception
Jan 27th, 8:00 am - 10:00 am

Join your colleagues, clients and community members as we engage with our state legislators at the annual HSF Legislative Reception. This unique event allows you to share a table with one of the western Massachusetts Representatives or Senators and speak directly with them on topics that are important to you. 

You and your concerns matter! Raise your voice and your issue, Legislators want and need to hear from you. You can impact policy decisions! Join us an share your story.  Let your representative know what policies and laws actually look like in action, in our families and our communities. 

Food for Fines

Overdue Library Materials?  The Jones Library and branches will be offering an amnesty period from January 9 - 31, 2017 for library patrons who return overdue library materials in exchange for donations of non-perishable, non-expired food for the Amherst Survival Center Food Pantry. Patrons are encouraged to bring in the food donations when they return overdue library materials during this time.  

Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity Housing Opportunities

We have THREE opportunities for home ownership!  Interested households are STRONGLY encouraged to attend an information session if they are interested.
  1. AMHERST - Two 3 bed and 1.5 bath condominium units on North Pleasant St in Amherst. Construction to begin spring 2017.   APPLICATION DEADLINE: February 22, 2017 .  Download application packet -  English  or  Spanish  *
    Information session: Amherst Jones Library - 43 Amity St,  Sunday Jan 22nd at 2pm, or  Thursday Feb 9th at 6pm

  2. GREENFIELD - 2 bedroom and 1 bathroom single family home on Smith St in Greenfield. Construction to begin spring 2017.   APPLICATION DEADLINE: February 22, 2017 .  Download application packet - English  or   Spanish  *
    Information session: Greenfield Public Library - 402 Main St  Monday Jan 9th 5:30pm, or Saturday Jan 28th 10am
  3. TURNERS FALLS RESALE - If you are interested in buying a Habitat built house that is currently up for resale please read more here!  No sweat equity or income requirements for this resale.  Asking price $167,900.
* The application form and documentation needed is the same for Greenfield and Amherst.  But each application packet contains project specific handouts.  Only one application needs to be submitted if you are interested in both the Amherst and Greenfield opportunity, but we recommend getting BOTH application packets so you can read about the unique aspects of each opportunity.

HAP Housing
The Way Home

Join us for The Way Home, opening our doors to friends and community partners. Each month, there will be two opportunities to attend a one-hour gathering that highlights several programmatic areas of impact. Stories of client transformation will be shared and our dedicated staff will discuss the paths taken to achieve success. At HAPHousing, we provide people with the tools they need to thrive and their communities flourish.

Upcoming Dates:
Wednesday, January 11th -  5:30pm to 6:30pm
Wednesday, January 25th - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Wednesday, February 8th - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Wednesday. February 22nd - 5:30pm to 6:30pm

Please contact Jason Montgomery for more information or to RSVP


United ARC Workshops

Transition Planning Process
January 30, 2017 - Athol, MA
FREE workshop for parents and professionals.  The Federation for Children with Special Needs will present an overview of the transition planning process for youth on an Individual Education Plan (IEP), ages 14-21.  Stephanie Baldwin, a Service Coordinator from The Department of Developmental Services will be at this training to give attendees an opportunity to ask specific questions.   Monday, January 30, 2017  at The United Arc/GAAAFSN office, 361 Main Street, Athol, MA from  6-8pm .
For more information or to register contact Sheila Butler,  sheilabutler@unitedarc.org978-249-4052 ext. 1047
or register online
Transition to Adulthood
February 22, 2017 - Turners Falls, MA
FREE workshop for parents and professionals.  Transition to Adulthood-Important Transition Information Every Family Should Know is presented by Doreen Boyer and Lynn Myers from The Department of Developmental Services.  This transition workshop will give families a general overview of the transition process as well as an opportunity to ask questions. Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at The United Arc, 294 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA from 4-6pm
For more information or to register contact Darlene Reilly, 413-774-5558 ext. 1042  or
Register online at

CES Puzzle of Parenting Series

Early Reading
Talking, singing, playing and reading with your child all build early reading skills.  Join us to learn how you can do more of these activities with your child and how these and other everyday interactions with your child provides preparation for reading.  Sessions are free
Date and Location
  • January 23, 2017, 10:00 am - 11:30am, West Brookfield Elementary School
  • March 2, 2017, 10:30am - 11:30am, Palmer/Monson Family Network
  • March 15, 2017, 10:30am - 11:30am, Southampton Library
  • March 21, 2017, 10:00am - 11:00am, First Congregational Church of Hatfield
Positive Solutions _ Session 1 - Making a Connection
In this session we will identify the importance of building positive relationships with children and discuss the "power" of using positive comments and encouragement with children. This workshop is part of the Positive Solutions for Families with Young Children series
Date and Location
  • March 6, 2017, 5:30pm - 7:30pm, Belchertown Family Center
  • April 25, 2017, 5:30pm - 7:30pm, Easthampton High School
Parent Conversations - Discussions About the Parenting Journey
Your child does the SAME thing? Parents, you are not alone! Join us for a cup of tea or coffee with other parents. These cafe-style conversations are an opportunity for parents to take a break and chat; sharing experiences and resources to support each other through the parenting joys and challenges we all face while raising young children.
Date and Location
  • March 9, 16, and 23 2017, 6:00pm - 7:30pm, Granby Free Public Library
  • March 28April 4 and 11, 20176:00pm - 7:30pm, Ware Family Center
To learn more, contact us at  Collaborative for Educational Services
Early Childhood Programs    413.586.4900 --Option 3
Grant Opportunities

The Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood supports innovative, creative projects and programs with the potential to significantly enhance the development, health, safety, education, and/or quality of life of children from birth through five years of age.
To that end, the foundation provides funding in the areas of early childhood welfare, early childhood education and play, and parenting education.  Letters of Intent due Jan. 31.   Link to RFP

The Hanley Family Foundation was created in 1987 with a focus on chemical dependency.   Grants awarded by the foundation support organizations and programs that advance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of alcoholism, chemical dependency, and addictive behavior, including support for related research and education.  


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