Community Resource Fair in Buckland connects residents with nonprofits

Jana Standish talks with Jessica Brooks, a co-responder with Clinical & Support Options, at the Shelburne Police Department’s booth at West County People Supporting People’s Community Resource Fair at Mohawk Trail Regional School last week.

Jana Standish talks with Jessica Brooks, a co-responder with Clinical & Support Options, at the Shelburne Police Department’s booth at West County People Supporting People’s Community Resource Fair at Mohawk Trail Regional School last week. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Conway resident Hank Horstmann talks with Jennifer Summers and Katie Fiander of UCP of Western Massachusetts at West County People Supporting People’s Community Resource Fair at Mohawk Trail Regional School last week.

Conway resident Hank Horstmann talks with Jennifer Summers and Katie Fiander of UCP of Western Massachusetts at West County People Supporting People’s Community Resource Fair at Mohawk Trail Regional School last week. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Registered Nurse Cathy Marchese prepares to vaccinate Shelburne resident Carol Foote against COVID-19 at West County People Supporting People’s Community Resource Fair at Mohawk Trail Regional School last week.

Registered Nurse Cathy Marchese prepares to vaccinate Shelburne resident Carol Foote against COVID-19 at West County People Supporting People’s Community Resource Fair at Mohawk Trail Regional School last week. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 10-30-2023 11:41 AM

BUCKLAND — Looking to connect people of all ages with helpful nonprofits, West County People Supporting People hosted a Community Resource Fair last week.

West County People Supporting People meets quarterly to discuss the needs of nonprofit and public organizations in the region and to collaborate on how to work together to provide services to people living in the hilltowns.

One of the drivers behind the group, Mary Lyon Foundation Executive Director Kristen Tillona-Baker, said one idea that came out of the group was to have a resource fair at Mohawk Trail Regional School to let the larger community know about all the ways nonprofits can help.

“With the resource fair, we are bringing everything to one place,” Tillona-Baker said.

She explained the resource fair partnered with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments’ COVID-19 and flu vaccine clinic to boost attendance. Buckland Pizza and Ice Cream Emergency provided food to give attendees an extra incentive.

“Everyone can have some dinner and dessert while they get educated on all the different resources in Franklin County,” Tillona-Baker said.

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With some of the resources being located in the county seat of Greenfield, Tillona-Baker said bringing the resources to Buckland can give residents of western Franklin County a better idea of what is available nearby. Thirty-one organizations participated and about 300 people attended during the three-hour event.

These services cover a variety of the needs. For example, the Center for Human Development provides therapy, outpatient services and recovery services at its Greenfield clinic, according to Clinic Supervisor Nancy Parland. The center also works with Mohawk Trail Regional School to offer services to students.

Julia Bailey with Trinity Church also set up shop at the Community Resource Fair to tell the public about the services the church offers. On Friday nights, it hosts a free community meal for people of all faiths, feeding anyone in need and allowing for a social gathering space.

Trinity Church also accepts clothing donations, Bailey said. Volunteers organize the donated clothes, and the church opens its doors on Wednesdays for guests to browse the selection of free clothes.

Community Resource Fair attendee Jessica Brooks, a co-responder with Clinical & Support Options, rides along with police officers to assist with responses to mental health crises in western Franklin County and parts of Hampshire County. She said the program is educational for the police officers as well as the mental health professionals who work in the program.

“We can help the police know what to look for,” she said. “It is helpful for us as well because the police can help when dealing with the situation.”

Brooks said it is important to have the co-response service available in western Franklin County because time is crucial when it comes to helping someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. The service might be less effective if a mental health clinician needed to respond to somewhere as far away as Rowe from Greenfield.

Another organization at the fair was Just Roots. The Greenfield community farm provides farm shares to people throughout the county and allows customers to pay using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) benefits. With these payment methods, the farm aims to expand its reach, getting nutritious produce to people of all income levels.

Communications and Programs Coordinator Emily Chiara noted Just Roots also offers farm share deliveries, so although the farm is in Greenfield, people living in western Franklin County can easily access its services.

Reach Bella Levavi at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.