HCN News & Notes

Happier Valley Comedy Awards ‘Free Happiness’ to Two Local Nonprofits

HADLEY — The Happier Valley Comedy board of directors announced their selection of two Western Mass. nonprofits as the fall 2023 recipients of its Free Happiness Program: Community Health Center of Franklin County (CHCFC) and Transhealth.

The Free Happiness Program offers a free Happier Valley Comedy private event, such as a professional-development event or private improv show, to local nonprofit organizations that benefit underrepresented, underserved, and/or BIPOC individuals and communities.

Community Health Center of Franklin County is a nonprofit agency operating medical clinics in Greenfield and Orange to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay or insurance status. It will use its award to bring a professional-development event called “An Improviser’s Guide to Building Resilience & Connection” to its fall retreat.

Transhealth is a trans-led Northampton medical center that provides affirming and empowering healthcare services to transgender and gender-diverse individuals and their families. It will use its award to help support the staff’s continued work in healthcare, advocacy, and education in the local trans community.

The Free Happiness Program is just one of several ways Happier Valley Comedy fulfills its mission to bring more laughter, joy, and ease to Western Mass. by providing financial assistance and increased access to its programming.

“Laughter has always been free, but there is often a cost to accessing the arts,” Program Manager Maddy Benjamin said. “We know that fulfilling our mission means removing financial barriers to improv whenever we can.”

Happier Valley Comedy’s equity pricing offers BIPOC students the opportunity to take any class for free or at half-price as reimbursement for the additional emotional labor of navigating the currently predominantly white community. Additionally, any student can get financial support through the Fun Fund, an exclusively community-funded school scholarship program. Happier Valley Comedy also facilitates access to its main-stage performances for EBT or WIC card holders, who can receive free tickets to Saturday shows through the Card to Culture program.

Applications for the Free Happiness Program are accepted on a rolling basis and awarded twice a year. Any organization who would like to be considered for future awards must be a registered 501(c)(3) and can apply at www.happiervalley.com/free-happiness. The next round of awards will be presented in the spring of 2024.