Community Spotlight: Hilltown Food Pantry

I have worked as the Director of the Hilltown Food Pantry in Goshen for 25 years. When asked why I do this work, one thing that comes to mind is the good, old bumper sticker that reads, “think globally, act locally.” We all hear of the horrible hunger, even starvation for some, all over the world. But we also know that food insecurity and hunger exist right here in Hampshire County. In fact, today, Hampshire County is home to over 30,000 food insecure individuals.

Three decades ago the term “food insecurity” was not familiar to most of us. But some folks in the hilltowns were becoming aware of its reality. They thought that there needed to be a community response, a concerted effort to help our fellow neighbors who were facing a serious need. Hampshire Community Action Corporation (HCAC) responded to help the towns set up two pantries; one to serve the southern hilltowns and one to be located in the northern hilltowns. In 2005 when HCAC was in its final days, David Keilson of Chesterfield stepped forward to find a new parent agency for the Hilltown Pantry. His advocacy worked and the pantry was adopted by Northampton Survival Center.

The Hilltown Pantry had several different locations over the years before moving into the Goshen Town Office Building in the early 2000’s. The Town of Goshen has been a very welcoming and supportive host ever since. This is a regional program serving about 280 individuals from ten communities in Western Hampshire County: Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Haydenville, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg, and Worthington. Clients drive sometimes thirty minutes or more to access the pantry at its Rte. 9 location.

The clientele we serve is diverse, including the homeless; folks who are unemployed and waiting for food stamp assistance, or whose benefits have run out; families in crisis after the death or disability of a primary wage-earner; those struggling to reintegrate after serving in the military; and others for whom unexpected life events left them hungry and without a safety net. The children we help feed are growing up not just hungry, but in families that may be isolated, maybe with a parent fleeing abuse, or new to this country. 27% of clients are children under the age of 18, and 18% are seniors. We see about 30 new clients each year. Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown CDC Annual Meeting: Spotlight on Growing Successful Hilltown Businesses in Challenging Times

Hilltown CDC Annual Meeting at Goshen Town Hall on March 18th, 2010
Spotlight on Growing Successful Hilltown Businesses in Challenging Times

The Hilltown Community Development Corporation (Hilltown CDC) is holding its annual membership meeting on Thursday, March 18 at 6:00 pm in the Goshen Town Hall, located on Route 9 in the center of town.  Admission to the meeting is free and open to the public, with advance RSVP’s requested.  The Goshen Town Hall is handicapped accessible. There will be local business displays and door prizes.

The theme of the Hilltown CDC Annual Meeting is: “Growing Successful Hilltown Businesses in Challenging Times.”   Read the rest of this entry »

December Public Hearings in the Hilltowns: Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Offer your input at the Hilltown CDBG Public Hearings in December

You can help your Town compete for the Federal CDBG grants that are needed to fund local community services by attending  one of these Public Hearing in December, and/or fill out the brief Survey below:

Public Hearing Notice

Thursday, December 10, 2009 7:00 pm
Cummington Town Hall (Community House)
Main Street, Cummington

At this Public Hearing you will have the opportunity to discuss projects and services proposed for an FY10 regional CDBG funding application for the towns of Cummington, Peru, Plainfield and Worthington.

Public Hearing Notice

Monday, December 14, 2009 5:00 pm
Chesterfield Town Offices
(Davenport School Building)
422 Main Road, Chesterfield

At this public hearing you will have the opportunity to discuss projects and services proposed for an FY10 regional CDBG funding application for the towns of Chesterfield, Goshen, Westhampton and Williamsburg. The Town of Chesterfield will also review implementation of the FY08 and FY09 Northern Hilltowns regional CDBG grants that also include the towns of Cummington, Plainfield, and Worthington.

If you have questions about either of these hearings or would like special accommodations to help you participate, please contact Andrew Baker at Hilltown Community Development Corp: (413) 296-4536 ext. 18 or

Not able to attend? You can also help by filling out the very brief Survey below and/or forwarding this email to a friend or colleague who may need these community services. Click HERE to begin the Hilltown Program Assessment Survey. (There are 16 Yes/No statements you can respond to.)

You can also find this survey and a survey on Housing Needs at the Hilltown CDC web site:

Thanks for your help!

Northern Hilltowns Invite Residents to Update Community Development Strategies

Andrew Baker, Executive Director of the Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield, MA writes:

Each year, residents of the seven Northern Hilltowns gather in public community meetings to dust off their community’s “to do” list, note what they have accomplished, and gather ideas for future community improvement projects. The Northern Hilltowns are Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington. Their “to do” lists are also known as the town Community Development Strategy (CDS). And the annual review is a necessary part of each town’s participation in the Northern Hilltowns Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. This year a successful CDBG application secured over $1 million in federal funding to support programs and projects serving elders and families in the seven towns.

To follow is the schedule of public meetings, which take place in the Select Board meeting room of each town: Read the rest of this entry »

Wind Power Site in the Hilltowns

Downing & Kulik Announce Funding for a Renewable Energy Site Survey at New Hingham Regional Elementary School in Chesterfield, MA

State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) and State Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) are pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s Renewable Energy Trust (RET) has awarded up to $5,600 in funding for a Municipal Site Survey of a proposed wind site at the New Hingham Regional Elementary School in Chesterfield, MA.

“By exploring and identifying appropriate sites in western Massachusetts for renewable energy generation we ensure clean energy availability and future costs savings for our region,” said Downing. “We also have a responsibility to make sure our site selection is deliberate and that we strategically site wind projects in locations with minimal environmental impacts. This RET grant will help the New Hingham School community take the necessary preliminary steps to do just that.”

The site survey will provide valuable information used for identifying advantages and disadvantages of wind generation on the school’s property and whether the proposed site is of sufficient size and wind resource to warrant a detailed site survey. This preliminary survey will help the New Hingham Regional Elementary School Committee determine whether it is reasonable to conduct a more comprehensive feasibility study for a wind project on the site.

Representative Kulik said, “The high elevation and remote location of the New Hingham School presents a great opportunity to study the feasibility of wind power to provide greater energy independence and cost savings for the people of Chesterfield and Goshen. A successful wind project at the school will also be a great and inspiring educational tool for the children.”

The Renewable Energy Trust is an arm of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative which provides financial assistance to individuals and businesses to support renewable energy projects that maximize environmental and economic benefits to the Commonwealth. To learn more about the organization click HERE.

$40 Million for Broadband – in Goshen!

Andrew Baker, Executive Director of the Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield, MA writes:

Great news! Governor Patrick is coming to Goshen on Monday, August 4, 2008 to sign the $40 million Broadband Bond Bill recently approved by the Legislature (see your invitation to the ceremony below). The bill provides funds to assist telecommunications providers in bringing broadband service to all residents in all of Massachusetts’ unserved and under-served communities.

This is the long-awaited funding bridge to a universal access solution to the digital divide. Let’s come out and thank the Governor and our Legislators for approving this funding. If you plan to attend, RSVP to

See you at the Town Hall in Goshen.

—– Original Message —–
Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2008 2:30 PM
Subject: Invitation – Broadband bill signing

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

On behalf of the Patrick Administration, it is my pleasure to invite you to join Governor Patrick and many of our esteemed colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature for a special broadband legislation signing ceremony on Monday, August 4th at the Goshen Town Hall in Goshen, Massachusetts. The ceremony will begin promptly at 10:00 am, and we ask that guests arrive by 9:30 am.

Governor Patrick will sign into law recently enacted broadband legislation that will bring robust, affordable broadband services to the unserved citizens and businesses of Massachusetts.

This bill signing is an important step in closing the digital divide in Massachusetts. The new broadband services that result from this legislation will have positive and lasting impacts on education, healthcare, job growth, and the vitality of our Commonwealth’s economy.

If you plan to attend this event, we request that you RSVP to this email address by Friday, August 1st at 12:00 pm in order that we can plan accordingly.

We hope to see you in Goshen on August 4th.


Daniel O’Connell
Secretary, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development

Directions & Parking Information
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Suggested Events 02/02/08 – 02/08/08


We’re starting off February with several fun and exciting events to shake those winter blues away!

On Friday (02/01) over at the Children’s Art Museum is a Sand Mandala “playshop” for families to discover Tibetan culture through art. The playshop is from 4pm-6:30pm in Shelburne Falls, MA. Give Tony(a) a call at 413.625.2030 to reserve your spot. This is the first of three in a series of cultural explorations through art. The next one is Discovering Russian Culture with Matryoshka Dolls on Feb. 10th. Be sure to sign up straight away. (Co-sponsored by Hilltown Families). (Update: Postponed until Sunday, 02/03 @ 10am due to inclement weather.)

Then on Saturday (02/02) it’s Uncle Rock at 10:30am at the Florence Civic Center (90 Park in Florence, next to the Lilly Library) with a kid/family concert. You can hear Uncle Rock live on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child before the concert too. Tickets are only $6 per person and infants are free. Gather up your families and friends and come celebrate the mid-point of winter with a rockin’ kids concert! For more information call 413.296.0096. (Sponsored by Hilltown Families)

And on Sunday (02/03) join Marla BB for some dog sledding. Did you see last week’s article in the Hampshire Gazette about Marla’s adventures in Alaska, both at last year’s Iditarod and training for this year’s? She’ll be at DAR in Goshen from 10:30am-1:30pm Sunday (and from 1:30pm-4:30pm on Saturday) offering kids and their families an opportunity to mush with a full dog sled team. She’ll be MC-ing at the Uncle Rock concert on Saturday. Come by and find out more about her adventures. If you have a subscription to the Hampshire Gazette, click here to read last weeks article.

But that’s not all …

  • Peruse our list of Suggested Events below for a load more of fun and educational things to do with the family, include events for National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
  • Click here to see photos from the Deedle Deedle Dees concert last Saturday at Lyman Hall. Check out lead singer and stand up bass player Lloyd Miller rockin’ the house with his 2-year old daughter Hazel (what a trooper!).
  • Scroll down and check out our Groundhog’s Day links in the left-hand column under “the outside world.” This list of 100 web sites is added to nearly every day, offering new places on the web worth exploring.  We add educational web sites, curriculumn ideas, fun sites for kids, craft projects, articles, blogs, recipes … you name it.  So get off your blog reader and come check it out!



  • Become a Sponsor
  • To find out how you or your business can help support Hilltown Families by becoming a sponsor, drop us an email or give us a call at 413.296.0096 for more information. By having individuals in our community and area businesses become sponsors, Hilltown Families can continue to offer a weekly list of suggested events, a weekly podcast, updated resources, articles and much more.

    • Submit an Event

    If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, or would like to submit your event to the Hilltown Families calendar of Suggested Events, email Sienna at, or post your event on our community bulletin board. Comments are warmly welcomed!

    Local forecast | Get directions | Free Museum Passes | School Closings & Delays

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns
    The following key represents the sum cost of one adult and one child:
    (>$) Under $10; ($) Between $10-$19; ($$) Between $20-$44; ($$$) Over $45

    Saturday – 02/02

    Groundhogs Day

    8am – FAMILY RADIO – (Air Waves) While traveling around town, tune-in to WXOJ 103.3 FM in Northampton, MA, from 8-10am to hear fabulous family-friendly music on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child with UNCLE ROCK live in studio! [All ages] (Free)

    Uncle Rock on Feb 2nd 2008 at Florence Civic Center

    8am & 9:15am – KIDS BASKETBALL – (Worthington) Throughout the winter months, the Worthington Recreation Department is offering co-ed basketball program for kids at the town hall. Grades 1-2 begin at 8am. Grades 3-4 begin at 9:15am. No registration is necessary. 413.238.5500 [Ages 6-9] (Free)

    10:30am – KIDS CONCERT – (Florence) Indie kids musician UNCLE ROCK will be performing a rockin’ kid’s show the whole family will enjoy at the Florence Civic Center (90 Park Street, next to the Lilly Library off Route 9). Click here to discover Uncle Rock. 413.296.0096 [Families] ($6 per person, Infants Free)

    10am-2pm – LOCAL FOOD – (Greenfield) The Winter Fare begins today at the Second Congregational Church. Click here to read more about this week long event that supports local food. 413.773.5188 [Families] (Free, $)

    10am-2pm – BOYS & READING – (Holyoke) The Dangerous Boys Club will be happening at the Holyoke Barnes & Noble Booksellers. Activities include essential hands-on-activities to keep boys engaged in reading: Worlds Best Paper Airplane, How to Make a Battery, How to Juggle, Navigation, and more. 413.532.3200 [Boys] (Free)

    1:30pm-4:30pm – DOG SLEDDING – (Goshen) Dog sled rides for families will be offered at the DAR with Marla BB from Hilltown Wilderness Adventures. For more information call 413.296.0187. [Families] ($)

    4pm-6:50pm – ICE SKATING – (Amherst) There will be a public skate at the Mullins Center Ice Rink. Skate rentals available. 413.545.3990 [Families] ($)

    5pm-7pm & 6pm-8pm – PUPPET SHOW – [Easthampton] Come see a magical shadow puppet presentation of Jane Yolen’s classic book Owl Moon and learn about the seven native owl species in Massachusetts. After the show, we’ll take a walk in the dark, brisk winter woods to call for owls. We can’t guarantee that we will see or hear owls, but we will certainly have fun trying. After the walk we will return indoors to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate and a snack. Dress warmly since we will be outdoors for about 45 minutes. [Ages 5-10] (>$)

    6:30pm-10:30pm – MARDI GRAS PARTY – (Westhampton) Come in costume and celebrate Mardi Gras at the Westhampton Town Hall. There will be finger food, desserts, maskmaking, party favors, and music by The Gypsy Wrangers. [Families] ($)

    7pm-9:30pm – MOONLIGHT SLEDDING – (Buckland) Red Gate Educational Farm will host a special sledding night at the farm. Warm your hands by the bonfire before you go sliding down the hill. Climb back up to enjoy some cocoa and company and then take another run! Bring your own sled or borrow one of ours! No registration is required, but your RSVP is appreciated. [Families] (Free)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Food For Fines

    Northampton Survival CenterNext week there will be a great opprotunity for families to support their community while paying their overdue fines at the library. The Forbes Library in Northampton, MA, will be holding a Food for Fines week from Sunday, January 7th to Saturday, January 13th, 2007. During this week, families may pay any overdue fines on their account with a donation of canned goods (please check your expiration dates) or healthy non-perishable food items. All food collected will be given to The Northampton Survival Center for distribution.

    The Northampton Survival Center is an emergency food pantry which provides low-income individuals and families in 16 communities in Hampshire County with free food, clothing, household goods, and referrals for emergency assistance. The center serves 16 communities, including Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Plainfield, and Worthington. Read the rest of this entry »

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