NORTHAMPTON — Florence Bank awarded a total of $150,000 to 40 area nonprofit organizations during its 22nd annual Florence Bank Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program gala.

The event, which took place at the Garden House in Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park on May 14, featured 13 nonprofits that were awarded the highest total of $5,000 for their future pursuits.

“It’s uplifting to know that so much great work is being performed up and down the valley to improve lives and make a difference in the communities we serve,” said Florence Bank CEO Matt Garrity during the ceremony portion of the event.

According to Garrity, each of the organizations who were awarded received at least 50 of the nearly 7,200 votes that were cast by Florence Bank customers throughout the 2023 calendar year.

Jim Hickey, the vice president/director of marketing operations for Florence Bank, told Reminder Publishing that Florence Bank customers had between Jan. 2 and Dec. 31, 2023, to vote for which nonprofits they felt should receive the grant money.

“We have a list of nonprofits that our customers can choose from, but people also have the option to write in a nonprofit of their choice,” Hickey said.

Florence Bank increased the grant pool from $125,000 to $150,000 for last year’s gala to celebrate the bank’s 150th anniversary.

“I’m pleased to announce that $150,000 is the new amount of the grant pool and will be for the foreseeable future,” Garrity said during this year’s ceremony.

Dakin Humane Society, the Amherst Survival Center, Northampton Youth Football, Abundance Farm, the Parlor Room and Safe Passage were among the 40 winners celebrated during the gala.

Dakin, which experienced a 48% increase in surrender requests at its adoption center, plans to use its grant money to bolster their ongoing efforts of supporting animals entering their care.

The Amherst Survival Center, which provided more than $1.4 million in meals to 10,000 neighbors in Hampshire and Franklin counties, will use the grant money for its food and nutrition programs in the wake of COVID-19.
With player safety continuing to be a top priority, Northampton Youth Football will purchase new helmets, shoulder pads, practice pads and other safety gear with its money.

Abundance Farm, which was one of three new recipients of the grant, will use its grant money to support staffing and other expenses related to its Pick Your Own Community Harvest program, which is run in partnership with the Northampton Survival Center.

According to the Northampton Survival Center website, Pick Your Own Harvest is a collaborative event with Congregation B’nai Israel and Lander Grinspoon Academy event that happens twice a week throughout the growing season and allows clients to pick their own vegetables, herbs and flowers to share with the community.

Safe Passage, located at 76 Carlon Dr. in Northampton, is using its grant money to support their housing and economic empowerment program, which helps survivors of domestic violence secure safe and affordable housing as well as banking, credit services, job training and placement.

According to Garrity, all of the nonprofit winners are based in Hampshire and Hampden Counties.

“It’s so rewarding knowing that folks like you are out helping others every single day,” Garrity said, addressing the nonprofits. “My sincere hope is that this program will continue to provide you with the confidence, inspiration and financial support to continue your mission of serving the community.”

Here are all the winners of this year’s program:

  • Dakin Humane Society
  • Cancer Connection
  • It Takes a Village
  • Friends of the Williamsburg Library
  • St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish
  • Friends of Forbes Library
  • Manna Community Kitchen
  • Goshen Firefighters Association
  • Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
  • Our Lady of the Hills Parish
  • Amherst Survival Center
  • Cooley Dickinson Hospital
  • Northampton Survival Center
  • Bark Incorporated
  • Friends of Northampton Legion Baseball
  • Amherst Neighbors
  • Easthampton Community Center
  • Friends of M.N. Spear Memorial Library
  • Northampton Youth Football
  • Williamsburg Firefighters Association
  • Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School
  • Friends of Lilly Library
  • Smith Vocational High school PTO
  • Northampton Neighbors
  • Therapeutic Equestrian Center
  • Grow Food Northampton
  • Edward Hopkins Education Foundation
  • Historic Northampton
  • Abundance Farm
  • Northampton Community Music Center
  • Parlor Room
  • Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School
  • Thomas J. O’Connor Adoption Center
  • Shriners Hospital for Children
  • Bright Spot Therapy Dogs
  • Kestrel Land Trust
  • Hospice of the Fisher Home
  • Belchertown K9 Unit
  • Safe Passage
  • Northampton Senior Center Council on Aging
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