Holyoke Medical Center Partners with Chicopee Agencies to Keep Children Warm

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) announced a partnership with the RiverMills Senior Center in Chicopee and the Valley Opportunity Council (VOC) to keep children warm this winter.

“Holyoke Medical Center’s 2019 community health needs assessment found senior citizens to be struggling with isolation, which we know has since been exacerbated by the pandemic. In an effort to find some constructive things to engage this population of our community, we partnered with the senior center’s knitting club,” said Kathy Anderson, Community Benefit director at Holyoke Medical Center. “With materials purchased by the hospital, the knitting club is now making hats, mittens, and scarves for the children associated with the VOC.”

HMC also partnered with the RiverMills Senior Center to keep children warm last year. The recipient organization in 2021 was the Boys and Girls Club of Chicopee.

“This is the second year I’ve recruited knitters from the Chicopee Council on Aging’s RiverMills Center, and once again they have come through for the children in the community,” RiverMills Center Assistant Director Holly Angelo said. “They never hesitate to volunteer their time and knitting skills for a good cause. I hope their knitted mittens, scarves, and hats keep the kids warm through the winter, and I hope the children know they are loved by the older adults from the Chicopee Council on Aging.”

Holyoke Medical Center purchased enough yarn for the members to get started, put together a letter with instructions, and then the knitting club started knitting. In an effort to make a connection with the child and their personal knitter, the seniors were asked to fill out a card that would tell the child how long they have been knitting, who taught them how to knit, and why they wanted to knit hats and mittens for the children.

“As the winter of 2022 starts to set in and we are seeing extraordinarily cold temperatures, these mittens, scarfs, and hats are essential to make sure our kids can safely play outside as part of their day,” said Stephen Huntley, executive director of the Valley Opportunity Council. “Playing outside in the winter is a New England tradition, and with COVID-19, it’s now more essential than ever to get some fresh air and burn off some energy.”

HMC conducts a community health needs assessment every three years to understand the health and well-being of the communities the hospital serves. Collaborations are then created to provide programming and services to meet the needs of the challenges identified in the survey. The next survey will be conducted this spring.