SPRINGFIELD — A $500,000 donation made by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance coverage Co. to the City League of Springfield might be used to help the Black group by way of scholarships and upgrades to Camp Atwater.
Henry M. Thomas III, president of the Urban League of Springfield, mentioned the funding is an funding in the neighborhood.
“The donation got here unsolicited, it was not a request,” he mentioned. “They contacted us and mentioned they wished to spend money on organizations which can be uplifting the group and bettering fairness and lowering racial tensions.”
Thomas mentioned he hopes the donation will serve for instance of how firms and nonprofit organizations can collaborate.
“(MassMutual has) at all times had an awesome sense of company social duty and we admire that,” he mentioned. “If extra corporations weigh in and ask the straightforward questions — ‘What can I do to assist enhance the circumstance of power inequities that negatively influence livelihood?’ — MassMutual is demonstrating what may be carried out. In return we get a stronger and extra vibrant group as a result of you’ve firms and nonprofits working collectively to make it occur.”
Roger Crandall, chairman, president and CEO of MassMutual, mentioned the corporate chosen the City League of Springfield for its investments in training and financial improvement within the Black group.
“At MassMutual, we’re deeply dedicated to supporting efforts that set up better equality, struggle injustice, and dismantle systemic racism — and an necessary a part of that’s supporting the organizations which were doing this important work for a very long time,” he mentioned in an announcement. “We hope our contribution makes a significant influence towards these ongoing efforts, and we encourage others within the enterprise group to comply with go well with and help methods to convey sustainable, lasting change that can construct a greater world for all.”
Springfield Metropolis Councilor Tracye Whitfield mentioned she hopes to see among the funding targeted on greater training and financial improvement.
“I hope it goes in direction of serving to younger Black youth get into faculty, whether or not it’s a four-year establishment or one of many nice group faculties within the area,” she mentioned. “I hope it could go to financial empowerment and improvement to advertise Black-owned companies. We now have a whole lot of sole proprietors, however we’d like firms to make use of of us and assist the group reestablish itself.”
Thomas mentioned some cash might be put towards scholarships for Black youth.
“We already present about $40,000 a yr in scholarships to college students going onto faculty, however now we will put extra in direction of that purpose,” he mentioned.
Whitfield would additionally prefer to see enhancements to Camp Atwater, an in a single day camp for Black youth run by the City League in North Brookfield.
Thomas mentioned the camp, which is in its 99th yr, must maintain digital classes this summer season as a result of coronavirus pandemic. However he hopes the camp might be up and working with enhancements subsequent summer season for its centennial celebration.
“This funding will assist us restore this historic establishment. It’s the oldest African-American owned and operated summer season youth residential camp within the nation. It’s on the nationwide register of historic locations with over 80 acres,” he mentioned. “This donation will assist us leverage partnerships with different benevolent members of the group to assist us with among the capital enhancements that we need to do.”
Thomas mentioned he hopes investments just like the one made by MassMutual will assist promote satisfactory entry to well being and wellness providers, wealth constructing and a degree taking part in subject for all.
Springfield well being and human providers commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris mentioned the Black group in Springfield is disproportionately represented in each well being standing index together with heart problems and diabetes.
“One is weight problems. Notably round our youngsters, we’re seeing throughout town and the commonwealth that youngsters are gaining weight and changing into overweight at disproportionate numbers,” she mentioned.
Caulton-Harris mentioned the options embody prevention and intervention.
“Prevention is to ensure people are exercising and profiting from the power to get exterior,” she mentioned. “The opposite factor is ensuring Black people are going to their major care physicians to get the suitable analysis.”
Thomas mentioned Camp Atwater offers many alternatives for youngsters to take part in out of doors actions, from fishing and canoeing to mountain climbing and different each day train actions. The camp additionally focuses on selling private improvement.
“There are nice alternatives to work on the bodily and the non-public. We would like the children to go away with a way of who they’re and to know their story,” he mentioned.
Thomas mentioned MassMutual’s donation is a illustration of its funding within the empowerment of the Black group.
“I consider in E to the third energy, which stands for fairness plus excellence equals empowerment,” he mentioned. “Fairness is just not a assure that you’ll get the prize, it’s a assure that you’ll get an equitable likelihood to get the prize, whether or not it’s competing for a job or for an additional alternative. With out fairness and excellence, you don’t get empowerment.”
He mentioned an absence of empowerment is what leads an absence of engagement and participation in group occasions.
“If you don’t have empowerment you don’t take calculated dangers to enhance your situation,” he mentioned. “You don’t present up for conferences at college in your youngsters or on the faculty committee conferences for the finances. You don’t take part within the electoral course of, which is a purpose why Springfield has such a low voter turnout amongst registered voters, as a result of they don’t really feel they’ve the facility to make change. And that’s the work we do on daily basis on the City League, allow folks to turn out to be empowered in order that they will make a change of their lives and their communities.”
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