CHICOPEE — For the fifth year, Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni announced the recipients of his annual Drug Forfeiture Community Support Grant Program.
Gulluni made the announcement on June 7 at the Chicopee Boys and Girls Club. Eight nonprofit programs were given grants totaling $62,000.
The programs completed an application process and Gulluni said the finalists were “truly worthy and truly do good work in the community.”
He explained that dealing with public safety issues starts with helping children. He noted society can not “police its way out of problems.”
All the programs honored by the grant provide services to teens and children in Hampden County.
In a written statement Gulluni said, “We are delighted and proud to provide funding to very worthy organizations doing important work to help people here in Hampden County. Through our diligent efforts, this money is ordered forfeited by the court and comes from the illegal narcotics trade, which, due to this program, is now being redirected to help kids in our communities stay safe and avoid crime. It is a wonderful way to turn negative forces into positive ones for our community.”
Under Massachusetts’ drug forfeiture law, district attorneys’ offices are allowed to expend funds received by way of drug forfeiture orders for the purposes of drug rehabilitation, drug education and other anti-drug or neighborhood crime watch programs.
This year’s recipients include:
•Boys and Girls Club of Chicopee, $4,833: To assist the Boys and Girls Club of Chicopee in reconstructing their outdoor basketball court, which will be named in honor of the late Chicopee Police Officer Angela Santiago.
•New North Citizen’s Council, $8,000: For the Deborah Hunt Prevention Education Drop-in Center to assist individuals in accessing vital services such as mental health, substance use treatment, recovery support and COVID-19 screenings. The funds will help individuals with transportation to treatment programs, access to telehealth screenings with care providers, as well as socks, gloves, hats, and hygiene kits.
•Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club, $3,216: The PVRC is dedicated to connecting residents of Springfield to healthy and active waterfront recreation. The grant will be used for local area residents’ Free Family Fridays by providing free kayak rentals and safety equipment.
•Springfield Together Inc., $13,000: Springfield Together, Inc. is a nonprofit organization, that with the assistance of its community partner Inter Produce, focuses on the problem of food insecurity by staging three food giveaways next winter with the distribution of 200 boxes of fresh fruits, vegetables, pasta, and bread for local families in the Forest Park area of Springfield.
•Western Mass Youth Flag Football Organization, $10,980: A co-ed youth flag football program for children ages 8 to 17 years old who are interested learning and playing flag football, the grant will fund field rentals and equipment.
•Academic Leadership Association of Greater Springfield, $9,000: This community youth program empowers youth to make positive changes within themselves through caseworkers serving as school-based mentors and advocates who provide supportive interventions to help students and staff. The award will help fund drug and alcohol awareness, as well as engaging and interactive activities to supplement a six-week summer camp for youth.
•Springfield Ballers, $8,600: The Springfield Ballers offers youth and families in low-income areas in greater Springfield affordable sports opportunities. The grant will fund a golf program, as well as a summer basketball league by purchasing equipment, transportation, and gym fees.
•Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County, $5,000: The long-term mentoring program matches youth in one-to-one mentoring relationships. These volunteers make a commitment to spend at least eight hours a month with their mentee for a minimum of one year. The goal of the program is to prevent drug use and alcohol abuse, as well as involvement and other types of juvenile crime. The grant will assist in the efforts in recruiting mentors through purchasing materials and boosting the agencies profile at community events. Gulluni called the program “a very well-known model and it works,”
Gulluni said of the awards, “We can’t wait to see that money put in action and continue to help people.”