Valley Community Development to Hold 30-year Anniversary Celebration

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The writer Charles Blow, photogaphed November 25, 2013, New York, New York. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

Keynote speaker, a New York Times op-ed columnist, to talk about social justice

NORTHAMPTON—In honor of its 30-year anniversary, Valley Community Development will hold a celebration on April 12 at the Hadley Farms Meeting House, and Executive Director Joanne Campbell is grateful to announce that the organization’s $400,000 anniversary fundraising goal has been met.

“Many donors this anniversary year are institutions, small businesses and individuals who have been long-time contributors to Valley Community Development,” said Campbell. “They stepped up to a higher level this year, and we are pleased and honored to have their support, which will strengthen the agency financially and programmatically.”

Campbell noted that $32,000 was also raised from first-time donors to the nonprofit.

She said the celebration is one new way to educate community members about the nonprofit’s mission to empower people with low and moderate incomes to manage and improve the quality of their lives through the development of affordable housing, economic opportunity and small business development.

The event is open to the public and will kick off with a cocktail reception from 6 to 7 p.m. Dinner and the keynote speaker, Charles M. Blow, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, will be offered from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets cost $125 and are available online by visiting

Blow writes about politics, public opinion and social justice. He is a CNN commentator, and, last year, was a Presidential Visiting Professor at Yale. He is also the author of the best-selling memoir Fire Shut Up in My Bones, which tells his story of growing up in the Deep South with a fiercely driven mother and four brothers, and his escape after a trauma.

At the celebratory event, Blow will speak on the general theme of social justice.

“It will be very timely and appropriate for the work we’re doing right now,” said Campbell. “Valley Community Development is involved in navigating the crisis in housing and serving people with very low incomes. We collaborate with regional and local organizations to work on these local issues.”

Campbell said financial giving this year is almost double that of a typical year, with many donors taking advantage of the Massachusetts Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program, which allows state and federal tax incentives for giving.

Increased support comes as the organization is expanding its reach. “We are hopeful that we will be able to expand and sustain our small business program, which is now staffed by a part-time coordinator,” Campbell said.

“The money we’re raising is also helping small businesses, and first-time and existing homeowners,” she added, noting that donations are still encouraged. “It’s a way to continue the programming we have and look for new ways to give to the population we serve as well as reach out to underserved populations, immigrant communities and households of color. We’re always looking for new ways to reach these groups.”

Since 1988, Valley Community Development has created 224 units of affordable housing in Northampton, Easthampton and Amherst. It has counseled over 8,000 homebuyers and homeowners and educated over 1,500 businesspeople.

The organization now has goals that call for expanding its geographic reach, creating deeper community connections and assisting more new homebuyers and small business owners.

Its development of The Lumber Yard in Northampton, which will create 55 affordable family apartments, is ongoing and expected to be completed in May 2019. Campbell said a second project in Northampton, expanding 15 traditional single room occupancy (SRO) units into 31 units each with a fully accessible bathroom and kitchenette at Sergeant House on Bridge Street is also in the early phase of development.

The agency is also looking for a location to develop an SRO in Amherst.

Sponsors for the anniversary celebration include: bankESB; Florence Bank; Greenfield Cooperative Bank/Northampton Cooperative Bank; PeoplesBank; Dietz & Company Architects with Western Builders; Goggins Real Estate; Jack Hornor and Ron Skinn; Dorothy Nemetz and John Todd; Pamela Schwartz and Joel Feldman; Freedom Credit Union; Sally and Al Griggs; Richard Abbott; Berkshire Bank; Country Bank; Ruth Elcan; Fierst, Kane & Bloomberg LLP; Greenfield Savings Bank; KSK Insurance Agency; and Way Finders.

Members of Valley Community Development’s Board of Directors are: president, Peter Jessop; vice-president, Amy Fyden; treasurer, Richard Abbott; clerk, Pat Byrnes; and members Maxene Anderson, Richard Bauman, Madeline Weaver Blanchette, Maureen Borg, William Fontes, Theresa LaValley, Donald Perry, Greg Richane and Carol Walker.

For more information about Valley Community Development, its five-year strategic plan, the anniversary celebration, to buy tickets to the 30-year anniversary celebration, or to donate, visit

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