Contact: Mary Kate Farley-Dimino
Western Massachusetts Training Consortium
(413) 536-2401 x5511


Consortium Partners with Local Businesses to Support Frontline Workers

During a time of economic uncertainty, local businesses support each other as they fight on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

HOLYOKE, MA April 1, 2020 – With societal crisis comes the opportunity for mutual aid. As the COVID-19 pandemic grips the nation, community members and local businesses have sought opportunities to support each other during this time of need. One such partnership blossomed between the Western Massachusetts Training Consortium and local small businesses including Silk Deli & Bistro on Northampton Street, Simos Produce in Springfield, Fernandez Family Restaurant and the Delaney House in Holyoke.

Labels with message of appreciation for some staff members of the Consortium. They read: “May this food nourish your spirit and be a reminder of how much we appreciate you! :)”

The Consortium provides key community-based support to a number of programs and communities throughout Western Mass and beyond. One program, Home & Community Connections, supports eleven 24-Hour homes for people with Developmental/Intellectual disabilities throughout Hampden County. When COVID-19 struck Western Massachusetts, staff members began working seven-day shifts to minimize exposure both to themselves and to the people they support. Meanwhile, local food producers and restaurants were struggling to keep their doors open as businesses were shut down across the state. Seeing an opportunity to build and support community, the Consortium connected with Silk Deli & Bistro and Simos Produce to deliver prepared meals and boxes of produce to each of the eleven homes. More meals from the Fernandez Family Restaurant, a family-run Puerto Rican restaurant based out of Holyoke, were delivered Tuesday March 31st, and there is already a plan to distribute ready to eat meals from the Delaney House on 4/7.

Kristel Applebee, the Executive Director of the Consortium, expressed her appreciation to both local businesses and Consortium employees supporting people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Consortium has a 45-year history of creating conditions for community, so it only made sense, during this difficult time, to honor community by partnering with local food suppliers who are losing business. Silk, Simos Produce, Fernandez and Delaney House Restaurants are among the local businesses with whom we’ve purchased to bring delicious food to those who are directly supporting folks in our 24-Hour Supported Homes.  For our team members to have a hot meal or delicious produce hand delivered to them with encouraging words, by me and others, sends a message to them that we value their significant contributions at this most pressing time.”

Silk Deli & Bistro shared via Facebook how critical it was to partner with the Consortium, as it meant being able to continue supporting other customers in the community. “Thx to this local Agency, today we can keep our doors open and keep our business running to please our customers Thx a lot[.]”

It can be easy to get bogged down with feelings of despair and disconnect from local communities, particularly when practicing “social” or physical distancing. Yet the spirit to connect, build up, and collaborate lives on when channeled creatively. Using strong community relationships, the Consortium provides an example of how fear can be transformed into hope.

The Western Massachusetts Training Consortium, founded in 1975, is a learning organization, committed to creating conditions in which people with lived experience pursue their dreams and strengthen our communities through full participation. To learn more, visit their website at