Sunshine Village employees check here for all updates on our response to Covid-19.
We hope you are doing well while you are away from us. Below please find some ideas to make your days go by faster and easier – also some —– some helpful resources if you need them…
Nov. 19, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
On Monday, November 23rd, we will be reopening our Agawam location and, at this time, we are hoping to start off with serving 29 people in a combined Day Hab / CBDS program there.
I sent the following in an email to all active and furloughed staff on Monday…
As COVID cases are on the rise again, I wanted to remind you of the organization’s policies – and our commitment to keeping everyone safe.
Our COVID-19 CONTROL PLAN is located on our website – www.sunshine.us – on the COVID Policy Page.
Whether you are an active employee or on furlough, please continue to practice the safety measures that are in place: masks to be worn at all times in programmatic and common areas; frequent hand washing / sanitizing, appropriate respiratory etiquette and safe distancing. Please insure that you and your colleagues are following the cleaning protocols throughout the day. If you are not feeling well, please stay home.
The mass.gov website (www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19) www.mass.gov has additional information and updates regarding COVID. They also have an interactive testing map where you can locate a test site should you need to or feel the need to be tested.
As of today, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts deems only 4 states that are considered “safe” for travel: New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Hawaii. If you travel to another state or country, you will need to quarantine for 14 days upon your return.
There is positive news about the vaccine…so stay hopeful.
Nov. 12, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
As planned, the Agawam site will be opening on November 23rd. We have 22 clients from the Agawam and Springfield sites who will be attending – and then we hope to attract more clients from both of these sites – as well as new clients. We are also developing a small CBDS program for our current CBDS clients who live closer to the Agawam site. Next week, we will survey our clients to see if they are interested in participating in two hour sessions in a Great Indoors Program – where we would use the garage area and keep two of the overhead doors open.
Sunshine Village will be changing how it allocates Paid Time Off on January 1, 2021. It will take a year to transition all employees to this new system so it will be in full effect on January 1, 2022. We will be putting both the policy and a listing of Frequently Asked Questions on the Careers Page (under Current Employees) so you can review this.
Tomorrow – Friday, November 13th – is World Kindness Day. We will be collecting canned and boxed non-perishable food items and donating them to our partners that we used to volunteer with. If you would like to donate something – you can drop it off at the Friday Fun Day event – from 1:00 to 2:00 at the main campus at 75 Litwin Lane.
Open pantries are a great resource for so many people who have struggled or are now struggling because of circumstances beyond their control. If you or a loved one needs assistance – 413Cares connects people with community resources. You can find them at www.413cares.org You can also call our Employee Assistance Program at 800-252-4555. This is a FREE confidential service that you and your family members can use. We are carrying the EAP benefit for all employees who were laid off until December 31, 2020.
A thought for the day….when you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond. That’s where your power is.
Nov. 6, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
The Agawam site will be reopening to clients on November 23rd. With a change in plans from last week, Lisa Montero will be returning to manage the site which will now serve clients from both the former Springfield program and the Agawam program – as well as new clients. Five more direct care staff have been invited back.
We are trying to develop small CBDS programs at both the Three Rivers Program and the Agawam site. CBDS is also looking at potentially going into some client’s homes and providing sessions during the day.
We are continuing to offer the Great Outdoors program through November and then will look at potentially offering a Great Indoors Program in the garage area in Agawam. Zoom sessions are now being offered during the day – and in the evenings and on the weekends – in both CBDS and Day Hab.
The organization will be transitioning from a “front loaded” system of providing paid time off to an accrual system. We have utilized the “front loaded” system since our inception. In the past several years, management has considered transitioning but has not undertaken the process of converting to an accrual system because of the enormous difficulties it presented. Now, while we have a smaller census of employees, it is an opportune time to do this conversion that will allow for a more fiscally responsive process for SSV and more flexibility and control over paid time off by staff. We will provide information on the Careers Page next week and upon return, the Human Resources Department will explain how this new system works.
Oct. 29, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
Due to the impending inclement weather, we are rescheduling our SPOOKTACULAR Halloween Wave Parade to Monday, November 2, 2020 at 1:00.
Come take a spin around our parking lot – you’ll see frightful costumes and friendly faces (behind masks!) You can check out the winners of our pumpkin carving and scarecrow making contests! AND….we will be giving out treats! No tricks – please join us as we celebrate together….a little belatedly!
This week, we have begun planning to reopen our Agawam site. We are calling clients to see how many want to come back or transition to that site. Next week we should have a tentative roster – and then can look at bringing back more staff. At this time, Colleen Brosnan will be acting as the Manager of that site – though this is only a short term position. Hopefully, the census will grow enough for us to bring back another manager soon.
If you have questions or need advice about your 401K Retirement Plan, Dean Godek is available by phone to you. You can reach him at:
Dean Godek – firstname.lastname@example.org
MassMutual Financial Group
330 Whitney Avenue – Suite 600
Holyoke, MA 01040
Have a happy and safe Halloween and remember to turn your clocks back (and check your smoke detectors) on Sunday.
Oct. 22, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
The Three Rivers site has opened and all is going well. Unfortunately though, our census is very small – as we are only serving 17 clients – in a program where we used to serve 80.
Last week I spent some time advocating for Sunshine Village and the human service industry with our local legislators. Each day, the organization is losing money. Hopefully, in the months to come, we will get additional financial support from the federal and state governments.
We have identified the Agawam site to be the next site to be opened – and are currently assessing clients to see if there are enough clients who want to return to reopen that program. We hope to have a decision made in the next week.
An uplifting quote for you all from Snow White….“remember, you’re the one who can fill the world with sunshine.”
Oct. 15, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
The Three Rivers site had a soft opening this past Tuesday and it went well. On Monday, October 19th, we will be welcoming back 18 clients and they will be using transportation services arranged through MART.
There are no other new updates on the organization’s Reopening Plan.
We are updating our website – and creating a page specific for Current Employees – which will include our Personnel Policy Handbook and any additional policies that have been revised. You can find this page under the Careers section.
I hope to have more news on the agency’s progress in the next few weeks.
Take care and I will leave you with a thought about perseverance from Nelson Mandala:
“It always seems impossible until is it done.”
Oct. 8, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
A look back…
On March 17, 2020, Sunshine Village closed our doors to our buildings and our clients were forced to stay home due to the Emergency Closure by the State of Massachusetts. We were fully closed – excepting our newly developed VARS program and the fulfillment of our contract duties with WARB by employees – for 20 full weeks.
On August 3rd, we began our Reopening when we welcomed back our clients to their jobs at Westover Maintenance Systems and on August 24th, we opened one small combined day habilitation program in the Davis Building and welcomed back a small number of CBDS clients. On September 14th, we opened another combined day habilitation program in the Knights Building and will be opening our Three Rivers day hab on October 13th.
This is week 10 of our Reopening and it continues to be a difficult time. Many of our clients are unable to return because of personal risk issues – to themselves or people they live with – or other challenges such as lack of transportation. Others are unwilling to return because of fear of the virus or a resurgence of it.
During all this, we have to initiate two workforce reductions – losing over 150 valued employees. We also had to make the difficult decisions to close VillageWorks and not reopen our Springfield Day Hab program.
We are trying our best to keep everyone – clients and employees – safe in our programs – and weather this very difficult time. Our costs are exceeding our revenues – and the financial losses are mounting.
Nothing has been easy during this time of COVID-19 – for Sunshine Village professionally and for everyone personally.
I spoke at an Observation for National Employment Disability Awareness Month at Westover Air Reserve Base this past weekend – and I told them that even with the devastation that COVID has caused, Sunshine Village has been able to survive – and we are committed to keeping our founders’ dream alive. But our survival is at a cost – and in the weeks and months to come – perhaps we will have a better idea of what our future looks like.
For now, there is no new news. I committed to keeping this page updated on a weekly basis until the middle of October – and given that we are trying to move forward – I will now commit to continue weekly updates for at least the next month.
Take care and stay hopeful.
Oct. 1, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
It’s week 9 of the Sunshine Village Reopening – and this week, we are working to reopen our Three Rivers day habilitation program. The soft opening will be on October 13th and transportation will be provided by outside vendors starting on October 19, 2020.
Over the next few weeks we will be looking at how Sunshine Village can provide transportation to individuals within our CBDS program. At this time, the restrictions are stringent and our capacity is limited to meet the standards. But we are trying to figure out if we can do any transportation.
I announced today that a strategic decision has been made by Sunshine Village to not reopen our Springfield Day Hab. This is an excerpt of the letter we are sending to clients who attended that site:
I am writing to share some news with you about Sunshine Village and the Springfield Day Hab Program. As you might know, for almost a year prior to the Emergency Closure, we had been experiencing some significant issues with the site because of issues resulting from a business that moved into the complex. Additional issues were created from another neighboring business. We were working with our landlord and trying to make the best of a situation that was less than ideal.
Our lease for this property expires in June of 2021 and we have thought long and hard about whether to remain at this location – but have come to the conclusion that the issues we were grappling with prior to the Emergency Closure have not gone away. As we plan to reopen our programs, we believe it will be best for everyone to not reopen the Springfield Day Hab.
In 2019, we purchased a large building at 588 Silver Street in Agawam and this past spring, we completed renovations to increase the number of bathrooms. We had relocated our Westfield program to this building and planned on accepting new referrals when the renovations were complete. We have now decided to merge the Springfield program into this site – and relocate all clients from the Springfield program – to the Agawam site. If a client would prefer to attend a day hab program at our Litwin Lane campus or our program in Three Rivers, we can also discuss how that transition could happen.
Although I know that such a move may create some anxiety for you (your loved one), I want to assure you that we will do everything we can to insure an easy transition. Relocating the program to a building that the agency owns, as opposed to leases, will allow us to have full control over both the building and its parking lot – insuring that the setting helps make for a great day.
We do not have a date for the reopening of the Agawam site – or the Main Street site. Once those decisions have been made, we will let you know our plans.
We are continuing our Great Outdoors Program and are hosting a weekly Drive In Bingo, CAR-a-oke and Wave Parade. CBDS is also hosting a weekly Adventure Camp. These events allow clients who are not yet able or ready to return to a program to visit and see some friendly faces.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Louise May Alcott – “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
Sept. 24, 2020: A Message from the Human Resources Director
It’s week 8 of the Sunshine Village Reopening, and we continue to see progress! Autumn has arrived, and the sun has been shining!
We have been finalizing the plans to open the Three Rivers Day Hab, and we continue to work with transportation providers so that we may welcome more clients back.
We continue to deliver exciting and innovative programming, utilizing the outdoors as well as technology. 35 of our clients attended our Great Outdoors Bingo this week and 20 clients attended the Wave Parade last week. New activities are in the works for October, including “CAR-A-OKE” and an ice cream social! CBDS’ Great Outdoors Adventure Camp has been a success and we welcomed 4 clients this week into that program. Our Life Engagement online group has been very active on Zoom, with daily activities focusing on learning, wellness, and friendship.
All working and furloughed employees have been invited to participate in our flu clinic on Friday, October 9 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Call us in Administration at (413) 592-6142 to schedule your time slot. Sunshine Village remains committed to good health and wellness, and we are happy to provide this for you.
I am energized as I reflect on all of the amazing creativity, hard work, talent and heart that we are putting into our work here and I know that our future is bright!
Sept. 17, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
It’s week 7 of the Sunshine Village Reopening – and this week, we opened a small day hab program in the Knights Building at the Sunshine Village property.
his week, we also began looking at transportation. We are going to start working with local transportation providers to begin providing transportation for our day hab clients. In October, we will look at our own transportation department to see if we can coordinate transportation for our CBDS program.
We are now planning to open our Three Rivers Day Hab. This will most likely start small – and hopefully it will grow with the return of our clients – as well as new referrals.
Once Three Rivers is up and running, we will again assess interest – and look to reopen either another day hab or another location for our CBDS program – or maybe both.
We had 32 of our clients attend our Great Outdoors Bingo and are looking forward to seeing our clients participate in our Wave Parade. CBDS again hosted their Great Outdoors Adventure Camp and welcomed 6 clients into that weekly program.
Next Thursday, Chris Pollender, Director of Human Resources, will be providing information to you on this page – and if you have questions or concerns about your status or benefits – or need something from your personnel file – please call Chris or Nichole Chilson at 413-592-6142.
Sept. 10, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
It’s week 26 of the Sunshine Village Closure – and week 6 of the Reopening! We are moving slowly….but we are moving!
On August 3rd, we welcomed back many of our clients to their jobs at Westover Maintenance Systems. On August 24th, we reopened CBDS and a joint Day Hab program in the Davis Building. On September 14th, we will reopen our Knights Building for another joint day hab program.
While we are reopening, we continue to offer our VARS program and are now hosting a weekly Wave Parade and a Parking Lot Bingo – to allow our clients who are not able to return – or not comfortable to return – to see some friendly faces. CBDS is looking at other programming – such as the Great Outdoors Adventure Camp – for people who want to return very slowly.
Next week, we will begin looking at transportation – which remains a barrier for many of our clients – as well as our property needs.
I will continue to update this page weekly – so keep checking back each Thursday.
Sept. 3, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
And we keep moving forward!
This is the second week of our reopening – and it has been going very well. Clients and employees are getting used to the newly implemented policies and protocols.
I have posted the COVID-19 CONTROL PLAN on our website – look under Covid-19 Policy Page. You will see that our plan is very detailed – even including directions on how to perform tasks and specifics about products that can be used.
We have more clients who want to return to our day hab services so we will be opening our Knights Building at Litwin Lane to accommodate them. In CBDS, we have many clients who are unsure of their comfort level in returning – so we have developed a GREAT OUTDOORS ADVENTURE CAMP that we will be hosting once a week to allow people to sample what the service now looks like – outside where they are more comfortable.
We are continuing our outreach with clients and their families and residential providers. We sent another personalized greeting card and have seen the number of people joining our Private Facebook Pages increase.
Remember, our Human Resources Department is here for you – if you have any questions or need any documentation from your personnel file. Call Chris Pollender or Nichole Chilson at 413/592-6142.
August 27, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
As we began the 24th week of the Sunshine Village closure – we opened!
It was a small opening – but an opening!
We had 26 clients come into our newly form Davis Building Day Hab and 26 clients – some full time and some part time – also came back to CBDS. Our programs look different – with clients spending much more time sitting in one place and interacting with fewer people than usual. There are many protocols that are being followed – from wearing masks to frequent hand washing as well as respiratory etiquette and social distancing.
We are continuing to offer VIRTUAL SERVICES – and now with people coming back to programs, we can truly get back to delivering on the promise of a GREAT DAY!
In the upcoming weeks, we will again assess our clients and families and residential providers to see who wants to return in the fall – and hopefully we will be able to reopen even more programs.
Until then, please make sure you continue to take care of yourself. Eat nutritious foods. Drink lots of water. Exercise every day. Try to stick to a routine – going to bed and waking up at the same time each day – and – as always – being kind to those around you.
If you need assistance – we want to support you. Call Chris Pollender or Nichole Chilson in our Human Resources Department. Our office hours have returned to 8:00 am to 4:00 pm – so please call – 413-592-6142.
Gina Kos, Executive Director
August 13, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
Tomorrow, August 14th, will be the last day of employment with Sunshine Village for 87 people.
The decision to initiate this second workforce reduction was not made lightly – and was made with much regret. In July, we had to laid off 70 people and with this latest reduction, total lost employees will be 157.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has had a very negative impact on Sunshine Village – and the loss of our valued employees is the most devastating of the consequences.
We do hope that we will be able to welcome many of our former employees back to the organization sometime in the future.
I will be posting an update each Thursday on this Employee Page for the next two months – so please check back.
Remember – the number for our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is 800-252-4555. This is a FREE, confidential service – which you or any member of your family can use. We will be carrying this benefit for all current employees (including all who are being laid off or furloughed) until December 31, 2020.
To each of our employees who are leaving us – I want to extend my appreciation for your commitment to our mission and the people we serve. Thank you for all you have done – and please know that you will be missed.
Gina Kos, Executive Director
August 10, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
Please check your personal email account. We have sent you a message outlining the initial phases of the Reopening Plan of Sunshine Village and meetings that are being held to provide further updates.