Career Centers Meet Network: Congratulations to all!

Yesterday afternoon at Holyoke Community College, 75 people attended a Network sponsored Career Services Training to learn about employment related resources available for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Special thanks to every Career Center in our region, as well as Way Finders’ Secure Jobs Program, for providing such an excellent training, especially to: Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Maegan Pedemonti, Way Finders Secure Jobs Program, Konrad Rogowski, FutureWorks, and Pamela Wojtkowski, BerkshireWorks, all of whom participated in an excellent presentation.  Stay tuned for the materials in an upcoming blog post.

And thanks to our Network partners who really brought home what it is to be a Network: from housing to health care to child care to domestic violence services to sheriffs’ offices to the Veterans Administration to multiple state agencies, almost every sector of our community across our four counties was represented in that room, all joined in the mission to make permanent housing a reality for all in Western Massachusetts.

Finally, a big thanks to Holyoke Community College for receiving a last minute call for space as a result of unanticipated overflow in numbers  for our initially reserved space.  HCC provided us the beautiful Kittredge Center space in an instant.  We are so grateful for the partnership.

Great work, everyone!

Family Services Meeting Minutes of 11/14/17

Family Services Committee Meeting
November 14, 2017

In attendance: Christina Aliengena, NEFWC, Jane Banks, DHCD, Shelley Benoit, BHN, Yoshi Bird, YWCA, Ellen Broadhurst, West Springfield Public Schools, Joel Cox, NEFWC, YWCA, Anthia Elliott, Safe Passage, Steve Huntley, VOC, Jill Fijal, Chcopee Public Schools, Holly Florek, CHD, Fran Lemay, Greenfield Family Inn, Jane Lindfors, DTA-DV, Heather Marshall, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Donna Nadeau, DHCD, Aisha Pizarro, YWCA, Stephen Plummer, Springfield Partners for Community Action. Jenni Pothier, TPP, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Tonya Sparks, WomanShelter, Janna Tetreault, Community Action, Janette Vigo, Way Finders, Lauren Voyer, Way Finders, Melissa White, VOC

Jane Banks, Assistant Undersecretary, DHCD:

We welcomed Jane as our special guest!

Jane provided the following update:

  • DHCD is currently planning meetings with Western MA shelter provides to provide support for housing placement efforts;
  • Planning for the FY19 re-procurement is underway.  A consultant has been retained to support the process. A statewide summit for both individuals and families is being planned for Feb., 2018, as well as regional meetings.  Looking forward to maximizing the input and the innovation around this process.
  • DHCD is working closely in concert with MEMA and FEMA around the relocation of families from Puerto Rico. DHCD has received 174 inquiries thus far and sheltered 4 families. Now with federally declared mandatory evacuations, families will have hotel benefits paid for by FFEMA through Jan. 13.  All providers should direct families to their local Family Resource Centers for information about available resources and support. (note: our school liaisons reported these numbers for new students from PR: Springfield 220; Holyoke 82; Chicopee 26).

More on the procurement process: DHCD is looking at the prospect of a stronger congregate model with larger facilities, 24 hour staffing, more active partnerships across agencies. There will likely be a move away from both scattered sites and co-sheltering. Consider the question: what do you think the shelter system should look like? Consider a vision that includes every relevant partner from schools to CAP agencies to health care providers, etc.

Discussion of Network funding and future: 

Pamela reported on the Network’s funding status.  As a result of the Governor’s veto of Network funding, the Network’s earmark is presumed unfunded. The Network Leadership Council met a couple of weeks ago and decided to use these last 2 months of the calendar year to plan for a new iteration of the Network that did not require staffing.  While the Network’s Interim Steering Committee meets later this month, Pamela will collect feedback from Network committees around if/how they would like to see the Network continue.  This is the first opportunity for that conversation.

The group today expressed a unanimous and strong commitment to continue to the Network; they expressed the critical value of collaboration and coordination to identify and address systemic problems; the importance of offerings such as the Resource Fair and other trainings; the value of a united umbrella for legislative advocacy.  Jane Banks shared the universal recognition of the Network’s strength on a statewide level and the importance of it continuing.

There was discussion about the possibility of a rotating core group that could convene the monthly meetings. There was a clear preference to continue to meet monthly (as opposed to bi-monthly).

We agreed we would continue to meet and plan for Network continuity at next month’s meeting.

Next meeting date:
December 12
1-2:30 pm
184 Mill St Springfield

Career Services Training for Providers Change in Time and Place for Tomorrow, 11/15

The demand for our Career Services Workshop for Providers Serving People at Risk or Experiencing Homelessness outstripped our space at CareerPoint (planned for 35, RSVP’s for 60!), so we scrambled and found space at the Kittredge Center at Holyoke Community College. The only catch is we had to move the workshop up by an hour (from 2-4 pm to 1-3 pm) in order to obtain it.
This training is now taking place on:
Wednesday, November 15
1 pm – 3 pm
Kittredge Center, Rooms 301/303
Holyoke Community College
Use Parking Lot E (or another one near by).
If you’re deciding last minute to attend, just email Pamela Schwartz at  There is space for you!
Thank you!

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting Minutes – 11/8/17

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Meeting 
November 8, 2017
In attendance: Rosemary Fiedler, HCC, Lisa Goldsmith, DIAL/SELF, Sharon Hall-Smith, Gandara, Charlie Knight, Rainville, Ann Lentini, Domus, Inc., Melvin Malave, ROCA, Gerry McCafferty, City of Springfield, Rebecca Muller, Grantworks, Kelly Patchell, ROCA,  Jean Rogers, CHD, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Jennifer Wands, Springfield Public Schools
Program updates:

ROCA: Melvin and Kelly shared news about their program, including the opening of a Holyoke location at 63 Jackson Street (the same space as the former Holyoke SSYI program, which ROCA is now managing).  ROCA serves young men ages 17-24 who have had direct criminal justice involvement.  ROCA is also starting a young mother’s initiative in Springfield for 35 mothers ages 16-24 years old who are high-risk (e.g., DCF involvement or housing unstable)
CHD – Jean announced the funding of their Transitional Living Program that will provide scattered site apartments to 5 youth ages 18-22 years old.  Program started October 1.
Gerry noted that she will bring together all Hampden County youth programs to discuss how best to implement coordinated entry among these programs.
Network funding and future update
Pamela reported to the group the Network funding status: by all accounts the Network’s earmark will not be funded (unclear whether the Senate overrode the Governor’s veto but regardless the message from the Governor’s office is to hold off on releasing funds for any earmarks).  She reported that at the Network’s last Leadership Council meeting, the Leadership Council decided to use the next 2 months to plan for a new phase of the Network that would allow it to become self-sustaining through partners’ efforts.  The interim steering committee is meeting on 11/20 to discuss further, including the possibility of retaining a consultant to facilitate a review of the Network’s functions and how best to preserve what is most useful to the region.  Pamela will facilitate in the committee meetings discussion of what each committee would like to preserve and how. Pamela expressed her conviction that through careful planning the Network can continue without paid staff.  Veterans and individual services committees have already expressed their intention to do so.
The youth committee discussion segued into the challenge of youth leadership development since that priority may intersect with the Network committee evolution.
Youth leadership development:
The group discussed next steps following last month’s youth engagement training.  How best to make meaningful progress around youth involvement and leadership?
Rebecca noted that with SAMHSA funds 2 new youth drop-in centers are opening, one in Springfield and one in Worcester.  All agreed that the challenge is to go to where youth already are as opposed to inviting them to a meeting. We need to meet youth in an environment where they already feel they belong and are in a position to advise adults in the field what it is they need and want. We brainstormed this challenge for a while with no clear outcomes but a clear identification of the challenges! We agreed we would continue this discussion at our next meeting.  Meanwhile:
  • Program leaders (Kelly, Jean, Sharon) will reach out to their youth programs and young people involved to ask for their feedback
  • Gerry and Pamela will reach out again to DCF and DYS to recruit their involvement in this effort
  • Gerry will explore the possibility of Davis Foundation funding to support youth training and leadership development
Advocacy on Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families:
Pamela shared the sponsorship request from MA Coalition for the Homeless on Senate Bill 1906/House Bill 2737, an Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families. There was unanimous agreement that this bill is extremely important to young people who frequently face the barrier from not having access to standard identification. Pamela will report back sponsorship and send out the advocacy alert to all in the Network.
Next meeting: Monday, December 11, 3-5 pm, HCC (Rosemary will report back on available space).