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MARCH 2016



Removing the Stigma of Mental Illness

 Topic of Women’s History Month Book Signing Event     

Inspirational stories of courage and healing will take center stage during a book signing at the UMass Center at Springfield on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Authors Patricia P. Martin and Helene D. Houston will present readings and discussion from their book The Other Couch as part of Women’s History Month observance.


“We try to remove the stigma of mental illness and acknowledge that the wisest people are the ones that seek help,” said co-author Houston, M.S., APRN. “We provide a caution about our digital age and the increased isolation of the individual and the danger that the sharing of wisdom through stories will become a lost art.”


The Other Couch: Discovering Women’s Wisdom in Therapy explores the lives of 36 spirited women who struggle and overcome their challenges with courage, resilience, and commitment. Authors Martin and Houston focus on the wisdom patients bring to their therapists as they introduce women diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder, multiple personality disorder, chronic suicidal ideation, and substance abuse. Each chapter conveys an important life lesson about the human condition and touches on situations including abusive relationships, addiction, and the death of loved ones.

The March 23rd event will include a book reading and signing by the authors, an opportunity for networking, and light refreshments. This event celebrates the work of two local, female authors and is being held in conjunction with the Art for the Soul Gallery and UMass Center at Springfield in honor of Women’s History Month.


To RSVP for this free event, call 413-788-6277 or email Walk-ins are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.  The book The Other Couch, will be available for sale at Art For the Soul Gallery located adjacent to the food court on the second floor.




Skin Catering Products Now Offered at Big Y Markets!

SkinCatering owner Leanne Sedlak (right) poses with Kim Brunto,
SkinCatering Chief Formulator and aesthetics expert by their new
product display at Big Y.


Kudos to Tower Square tenants Skin Catering for landing a partnership with Big Y Markets enabling them to sell their incredible skin care products at the popular grocery store chain!


“Being inside Big Y stores will be so convenient for our skincare customers,” commented SkinCatering owner Leanne Sedlak.  “They won’t have to wait until an appointment or use their lunch hour to shop at our spa, or pay shipping charges buying it on line.  They can now grab whatever they need at the same time they’re getting their groceries.”


To start, twenty-two of SkinCatering’s products are available at five Big Y markets, including:  Springfield at the corner of Cooley and Allen streets, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Wilbraham on Boston Road and in South Hadley.  The products can be found in Big Y’s new “Natural and Organic” section at each store.


“It makes me so proud to grow our flagship company here in Springfield,” commented SkinCatering owner Leanne Sedlak.  “We’ll continue our positive presence in downtown but in a larger capacity, for sure.”


In fact on a side note, Sedlak recently opened a retail store across the street from Tower Square at 1341 Main Street called Cheeky City, which specializes in the sale of beauty brushes, make up, body butter and soap, and will also feature a bath powder bar.  So the expansion continues!


SkinCatering is located at Suite 220 at Tower Square.  413.282.8772.  Find out more at





UMass Center Expanding Info Sharing and New Digital Look



The UMass Center at Springfield has only been open for 18 months, but it’s already getting a new digital look and expanding the way it shares information with stakeholders.

The Center website recently underwent a redesign to make its website more informative and user-friendly. The new site features more detailed program information, current courses, news and events, and information about the Center’s institutional and community partners.   

A new interactive feature is the Weekly Poll on the homepage.  The new site also boasts online forms for requesting academic program information, requesting to reserve meeting space, mailing list sign-up and general information about the Center. Visit www.UMassCenterAtSpringfield.orgto view the redesigned site.

In mid-February the Center published its inaugural edition of the new, quarterly newsletter “News for U: Education Within Reach.”  The newsletter is available on the Center’s website.  You can also sign up for the E-Mail List to be among the first to receive the newsletter and other information about happenings at the Center.

“The newsletter highlights some of the many exciting academic programs, community outreach efforts and diverse events taking place at the Center,” said Daniel Montagna, Director of Operations. Hard copies of the newsletter are also available in the Center.  For more information about the Center’s Marketing and Community Relations efforts, please contact Jamina Scippio-McFadden (413-788-6277 or




Area Students to Compete in JA Pitch Contest



You will have a chance to sneak a peek at some great start-up business ideas by local high school students, which will be on display upstairs around the Center Court railing at Tower Square on March 3rd (snow date March 10) during Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts’ 2nd annual JA EnTEENpreneur Challenge hosted by the UMASS Springfield Center. Over 20 teams of future entrepreneurs will compete in a 90 second Pitch Contest and Trade Fair Competition. 

Students from Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, Chestnut South Middle School, Duggan School, Chicopee High, and Northampton High as well as a JA Afterschool program will compete. The students are part of the new JA Blended Company Program, which is designed to unlock the innate ability in students to solve a problem or fill a need in their community through an entrepreneurial spirit.


“My students are so excited to participate in this event,” explained Thomas LaMondia, Retail and Finance teacher at Putnam Vocational.  “I have some budding entrepreneurs who are ready to take their product ideas to the next step. As a teacher I am thrilled to see them so enthusiastic and engaged in this learning experience.”

Guest speakers and judges are mother and daughter Tracey Noonan & Dani Vilagie, creators of Wicked Good Cupcakes, who created the idea of a cupcake in a jar. Filling jars with fresh baked layers of cake, frosting and filling, they were able to create a product that would stay fresh up to 10 days without refrigeration that could be easily shipped.

In April of 2013, Noonan and Vilagie debuted their product in front of 10 million television viewers on ABC's hit reality show Shark Tank. They attracted the attention of judge Kevin O'Leary, and subsequently struck a deal that O’Leary has since called the best investment he's ever made on the show.

The event is sponsored by local businesses and colleges. The Competition and Trade Fair are open to the public, starting at 9:45 at UMass Center at Springfield on the second floor of Tower Square.  For more information contact Jennifer Connolly at (413) 747-7670 or email




Hot Table Challenge Makes it to CNN & the Today Show

Hot soup was high on the order list for those participating
in last month’s Hot Table Polar Vortex Challenge!

Photo courtesy of Don Treeger from MassLive.


A cold weather stunt designed to drive in customers as well as raise money for local folks in need, ended up making national news for Hot Table last month!

On President’s Day, Hot Table sponsored their third annual Polar Vortex Challenge at their Tower Square location, in which they offered free lunch to anyone who was willing to eat it outside on their patio. More than 125 people braved the single digit temperatures and light snowfall to dine outside amid inflatable palm trees.


A very visual event, the challenge brought members of the media out, including local NBC affiliate 22 News, which also fed the story to the Today Show and CNN.


Aside from the media exposure, Hot Table’s proudest moment was writing a check for $1,500 to the Springfield Rescue Mission, which was the philanthropy behind the event.  From the beginning, Hot Table owners said that they would match the dollar amount of the cost of the meals they gave away at the challenge event, and donate it to the Rescue Mission.


Congrats to Hot Table for a very successful Polar Vortex Challenge, and to the Springfield Rescue Mission for being the beneficiary of the proceeds.


Hot Table is located on street level at Tower Square.



Meet VVM’s New Startups – March 9!

Valley Venture Mentors is excited to announce the ten new startups recently accepted to their Springfield Wednesday Mentorship Program, and they are inviting you to come and meet all ten entrepreneurs, including:

·         Bravo Leather Co. – donating $2 of each belt to our troops
Brydge –
providing the Yelp of the social welfare industry

·         Hilodome Project – offering a cure for hunger, health & humanity

·         Listen2aBook – giving access to modern audio productions of the classics and emerging titles

·         My Human Helper – solving the needs of today’s pet owners

·         PEER – offering an app that will put you in the inner circle of every politician

·         RadSpringfield – treating the bicycle as a vehicle for transportation, health & empowerment

·         Teamwork Construction LLC – providing quality construction services in a timely manner

·         Y.E.S. Program – inspiring self-esteem in every child

·          Yummy Yummy LLC – changing the way America eats, one delicious sweet potato at a time

The meeting is set for Wednesday, March 9th from 5-8pm at the VVM World Headquarters on street level at Tower Square at 1500 Main Street, Springfield.  Find out more at







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