COVID-19 UpdatesHCN News & Notes

Elms College Offers Housing to Chicopee First Responders Amid Pandemic

CHICOPEE — To assist its local community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Elms College is offering temporary housing to first responders from Chicopee.

Elms College will provide 20 rooms in its smallest campus residence, Devine Hall, to be solely used by the city of Chicopee for its police, fire, and EMS personnel during COVID-19 response operations through July 31, President Harry Dumay said.

“Our first responders are on the front lines of exposure to the virus. They need a safe place to go to at the end of their long shifts, away from their homes, as a precaution against transmitting the virus to their families and loved ones,” he noted, adding that the campus normally buzzes with springtime activities, including fundraisers, blood drives, collections for the needy, and other service projects. “I am happy to report that Elms College will still be able to serve its community by offering peace of mind and secluded space for the brave men and women who are Chicopee’s first responders during the pandemic.”

All campus residents were required to move out of the residence halls by April 1 as the college closed all housing through the end of the academic year in May. The college has moved its curricula completely online, and college staff and faculty are all working remotely. With the exception of essential personnel such as those in Public Safety, the campus has been virtually empty for weeks.

“Our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield, have served the ‘dear neighbor’ for more than a century, which in large part has meant caring for the sick, including during the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918,” Dumay said. “We are happy to be able to do our small part in this extraordinary time by providing assistance to these local heroes who put their own lives on the line to help so many.”

Once Chicopee’s first responders are no longer in need of this sanctuary, the building will be completely sanitized and cleaned by a professional company well ahead of time to reopen the campus, he added.

Devine Hall is accessible from Lot A of the college’s main entrance, giving first responders quick and easy access to their housing with no interaction with the rest of the campus.