Archive for LocalNews

February 2018 Newsletter

Dear Sister Zontians and Friends:

January’s dinner meeting honoring Amelia Earhart featured WPI PhD. student, Sharada Bhavanam.  Her enthusiasm was contagious—we can expect to hear more about this fabulous up-and-coming aviator and aerospace engineer!

All the clubs in Western MA are taking part in the 2018 Period Project. Feminine products are costly and are not covered by SNAP or WIC. For some women, that time of the month could not come at a worse time. Please help us raise awareness and collect pads, tampax, panty liners, soap, wipes, and underwear.  We are also accepting cash donations to be used to purchase items in short supply. Drop-off locations are listed at  On February 12th we will gather at the Ludlow Country Club with representatives of shelters, foodbanks and survival centers to assemble monthly kits. Contact Trish with guest list so we can have an accurate count for dinner.

The International Woman’s Day 2018 theme for gender equality in March is #PressforProgress. To appreciate that sentiment, we will  travel back in time to experience societal norms with Lucy Stone, who was born in West Brookfield MA in 1818. Actress and historical interpreter, Judith Kalaora, will perform her one-woman play as suffragist Lucy Stone on March 12th.  If you would like to ensure that students and others without means can experience this timely educational event, we invite you to send a donation (in any amount) to Zonta Quaboag Valley with a note in the memo: “Lucy Stone Free Admission.”  We will take care of the rest!

On the FIRST Monday of May, we will sponsor our 9th annual Silent “no more!” Auction—a festive and amazing fundraiser to benefit Zonta International Foundation, Solder On Women Veterans and one more deserving nonprofit to be determined. Let us know your thoughts on the third recipient and start gathering those themed baskets and gift certificates.

As February’s business meeting will be abbreviated, Committee Chairmen have kindly included their reports in this newsletter.  Please review in advance.

Thank you as always for your dedication and service!

Mary Knight


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January 2018 Newsletter

Dear Zontians and Friends:

Wishing all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.  As you craft your intentions for 2018, please consider: “Who is left out? Why? How can I be an instrument of change?”

We have a lot to look forward to in the next several months, and it’s a perfect opportunity to share these events with individuals who desire to be part of something much larger than themselves.

In January we honor Amelia Earhart and welcome an up-and-coming aviator and aerospace engineer, Sharada Bhavanam.  Please contact Trish to confirm your attendance for the January 8th meeting and provide names of guests.  We need an accurate number for dinner.  Thanks.

The public is invited to join us on Monday, January 8, 2018 starting at 5:30 at the Ludlow Country Club, Ludlow MA. A buffet dinner will be served at 6pm, followed by a short business meeting and the program.  Please RSVP by January 3rd (note any dietary restrictions). Either send a check ($18/pp) with names of all attendees to Mary F. Knight, PO Box 1034, Belchertown MA 01007-1034, or email with names of all attendees and pay $20/pp at the door – cash, check or credit card.

Between now and February 12th, all the clubs in Western MA are taking part in  #ThePeriodProject. Feminine products are costly and are not covered by SNAP or WIC. For some women, that time of the month couldn’t come at a worse time.   Read more….



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May/June 2017 Newsletter

Dear Sister Zontians and Friends:

Where has time gone?  Our meeting in June starts the new Zonta year and ends our meetings for the summer break!  As is our tradition, we have a Year-end Report in this issue of the Zonta Bog. We few have accomplished an awful lot of good work together!  Please take some time to review each summary. Questions and ideas are encouraged!

Our Silent “no more!” Auction in May was another great success.  Trish does an excellent job of summarizing highlights in her report on page 4. Kudos to all!  I know Marge was with us in spirit!

The June meeting will be a full one.


Palmer Domestic Violence Task Force

A message from Joyce K. Axelson, DV Task Force Coordinator
Town of Palmer, Massachusetts

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Maya Angelou tells us ‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you’…….

Break the Silence — Stop the Violence..

Over the past ten years I have worked with people who have been affected by domestic violence in their lives… I have witnessed and heard many men and women break their silence to stop the violence.
It has been a humbling experience to listen to the once untold stories of women and men who had been beaten down by a spouse, family member or boyfriend, or girlfriend, leaving them with no self-confidence, self-esteem or personal value.
Beaten down by someone they were in love with and loved someone who had fathered their children, maybe someone who had parented them, or perhaps a sibling.
Beaten down by the actions, words and attitudes of someone that was trying to gain control over their lives.
I have listened and heard stories that had been bottled up inside people for five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty and sixty years.

Stories from people who had been so sure:
1.    that the violence was their fault
2.    that if they told their story their children would suffer even more, perhaps even be removed from the home
3.    that they did not have the economic empowerment necessary to survive on their own
4.    that no one else cared about what they were going through
5.    there would be no assistance for them to flee the situation

Some of the ways a victim may break their silence –
•    Recognizing the situation is abusive
•    Sharing with someone they trust; someone who can listen and HEAR without judgement
•    Learning how to ‘safely’ say NO MORE
•    Often the Silence is broken by a significant event, a near death experience from the violence
•    Sometimes a victim works with a seasoned SafePlan Advocate in District Court to explore their options or obtain a Restraining Order
•    Sometimes people flee the situation, try to get into a shelter
•    Sometimes there is an incident that is reported by neighbors, police officers go to the location and try to determine who the perpetrator and who the victim are

What is the impact of breaking the silence for a victim?

  • Rejection from family, friends, lack of support
  • Judgmental attitudes from family, friends, community, faith based communities
  • Financial issues
  •  Housing issues
  • Employment issues
  • Health issues
  • Feeling ashamed, sad, isolated

One of the more significant dynamics of breaking the silence for a victim is that a floodgate of memories may come pouring into the stream of consciousness, memories of prior abuse that has been pushed into silence by the fear of what would happen to them if they told anyone.
Many times people I worked with would tell me that the event that brought them to Court or to work with me was the only event that had happened, or that the perpetrator was ‘drunk’ or high on drugs.
However, after a period of time other memories and ‘many’ events that had happened over the course of their relationship began to surface.
Often family support that is needed so much, is not there because families have grown tired of trying to help, or have become angry that the victim has not left the perpetrator after the abuse (even though through research we know that on average it takes a victim seven times of leaving and returning before leaving for good)

Why do the above happen?

  • Perhaps because of lack of information on how to help victims
  • Perhaps some do not know that there is help available and where that help is
  • Perhaps from a lack of educational resources within the schools and communities that we live in

One example of needing more education around Domestic Violence in the healthcare field.  The former Governor of Massachusetts put into law that when anyone goes to a hospital or medical practitioner is supposed to ask the question:  Do you feel safe at home?
This law was put into effect because the lethality rate of Domestic Violence Victims spiked so high one year the former Governor considered it to be a Public Health issue.
Here are two reasons more education is needed for the professionals asking that question—
1.    Recently after my Doctor asked me ‘do you feel safe at home’?  I answered her with the question — what   would you say if I answer no I do not feel safe?  She replied she didn’t know…I have asked many nurses and nurse practitioners the same question with the same reply…
A simple answer to a person when they indicate that they do not feel safe at home could be ‘ Do you want to talk about it’  ‘Is there any way I can help?’ or ‘there is help available, here is the information, please read that information here where you feel safe and you are welcome to use our phone to call for help’.
2.    Asking the patient the question at a time when they are alone with practitioner would be the most pro- active approach because the person who is with the patient may be someone who is currently  abusing them.

Here are some other things that a victim has to consider and think about when leaving…

  • How does the defendant react when silence is broken?
  • Possibly violence increases
  • The defendant stops paying child support
  •  Housing

o    Victim’s name not on the mortgage
o    Section 8 is in defendant’s name
o    Lease is in defendant’s name

  • Finances –

o    Victim’s name is not on checking, savings account
Or, all monies have been withdrawn
o    The defendant would not let the victim work I haven’t worked in years, how do I support myself and children? Is a question I heard over and over again

  • Phone will be taken away
  • I no longer have a babysitter for my children when I work

As I sat, witnessed and listened to these stories, my passion grew for:

  •   making a difference for victims
    •    motivating communities toward a change in attitude towards victims
    •    creating a space for victims to heal and go forward in their lives
    •    Educating our young people on healthy relationships

While I do not have the power to ‘save’ someone, I do have the power of my voice that is fueled by energy and passion to advocate for people who have experienced inter-partner violence.

BREAKING THE SILENCE, how can we help?

  • We can break the silence when someone we know or love comes to us and shares their story and saying to them in a nonjudgmental manner ‘there is help available to keep you safe–when you are ready come to me and I will get you to that help’…
  • Break the Silence by engaging in mindful discussions with others about Domestic Violence.-
  • Break the silence by having an educated opinion about Domestic Violence by reading, doing research.
  • Domestic and Sexual Violence affects everyone…and with the statistics remaining at 1 in every 4 women will be or has been affected and 1 out of every 7 men has been affected, there are people in this room who may have been a victim, or know a friend, a family member, a classmate, who has experienced Domestic Violence in some way.
  • Millions of dollars are spent every year in medical costs,   counseling, court costs, attorney costs and days out of work.
  • Domestic Violence does not discriminate — it takes lives of Moms, Aunts, sisters, daughters, Grandmothers, Fathers, brothers, etc….

We need to stop thinking this is a Victim’s problem, or a Perpetrator’s problem.  Domestic Violence is a Community Issue that needs Community members breaking the silence….Victims need a village to heal, they need support, they need jobs, they need rides to services, they need a smile and they need you to help them recover from the shame and devastation of thinking they are alone and no one cares.

Many participants that I have worked with say to me ‘I didn’t know that anyone cared’, ‘I never could have survived without the help of someone like you’, I didn’t know there were so many people who would support my recovery from Domestic Violence’, ‘ I never thought I could do this on my own’….

I have witnessed many women and men moving forward with success, keeping in mind that success is different for each person.  For some it is getting adequate housing, for some it is getting trained in a new position allowing them economic empowerment for themselves and their children, for some it is going back to school, for some it is moving to a new location

Every Victim has their own story about how someone they love has torn apart their lives in such a devastating manner that they thought they would never be able to face themselves, let alone the world, again…

The good news in the town of Palmer is there are people who are passionate about ending Domestic Violence in this town.

In the town of Palmer, Massachusetts there are many cases of DV that we note through our affiliation with the Courts and the Palmer Police Department.  We also know that there are many cases that we are not even aware of because people are afraid to report incidents or think that if they do not say anything it will change.
Our Task Force’s vision to eradicate domestic violence in Palmer with compassion, confidentiality, respect and integrity Is a vision that can be realized.

We know, because of all the research that has been done, that Education starting in early childhood and going right through College on Healthy Relationships and the warning signs of an un-Healthy Relationship is key to stopping Domestic Violence.

Currently, we are working with the High School to develop a program that is student driven.  This year Path Finder did the White Ribbon Campaign, and the library did an interactive display on Healthy Relationships and the dangers of Teen Dating Violence.

We are educating community members and Criminal Justice Systems on Batterer’s Intervention Programs that are available to people who have that issue.  These programs can be accessed through a Court Mandate or through personal decision to get help.

We also currently have plans to work with Head Start, the Senior Center, and other community organizations to educate and make them aware of the resources available to anyone who is suffering in a relationship where Inter-Personal Violence is occurring.

ADVOCATING – We are very fortunate to be able to offer services at Palmer District Court to assist people coming for Restraining Orders or who have been assaulted and perhaps do not have information about Restraining Orders and the legal system.
We offer two confidential support groups that are held each week one during the day and one in the evening, and have offered a confidential legal seminar and have a financial empowerment seminar, and self-defense seminar scheduled for later this year.

Break the silence Stop the Violence
NO MORE — What is your No More

When I meet other women who are as passionate as I am at STOPPING VIOLENCE TO WOMEN, I am so inspired.  With Zonta’s generosity of time and resources our Task Force would like to create an event in November that will have impact on all those who attend.  An impact that motivates them to get involved in BREAKING THE SILENCE as the women in Zonta have been willing to do.

I invite each of reading this to think about: — what your NO MORE IS FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE..  I know that women in Zonta support breaking the Silence, by their example, by their hard work and in supporting programs for women.

I am offering you this opportunity to take a deep breath and breathe out any weariness you may have, take another deep breath and breathe out anything that may be holding you back from experiencing the genuine joy that you bring to other women…

I invite each of you to stand with me and say the mantra that I have my clients say at the closing of each session or group that I do.
I can
I will
Thank you so much for having me this evening to speak in behalf of all of those people who have untold stories still within them…May your day be filled with mindful awareness of the beauty within and around you…and may you smile extra wide today. And a huge thanks you from the women that we work with and continue to educate and advocate for in their road to recovery and success.

JMK Women in Business Scholarship

The Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley is happy to once again offer the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship. This year the scholarship amount has been raised to $1000 and women of any age, pursuing a business or business-related program who demonstrate outstanding potential in the field and are living or studying in a Zonta district/region, are eligible. Note that applicants from geographic areas where no Zonta clubs are located will be considered and also eligible to apply for the district/region scholarship. Online students are also eligible to apply. The applications can be found in the financial aid departments of most local colleges as well as online by clicking here. The due date for submission to the Quaboag Valley Zonta scholarship chair is May 29, 2015. Please send applications to Dana Burton, Scholarship Committee Chair, 118 Jensen St., Belchertown, MA 01007

Kathy Picard Named Founder’s Day Award Winner

IMG_4238The Founders Day award is given annually to a woman in the greater Quaboag area who exemplifies the ideals of Zonta International, a global organization of professionals working together to advance the status of women and girls worldwide through service and advocacy.  Kathy Picard of Ludlow, MA has been chosen by the Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley to receive its 2014 Founders Day award. She will be honored with a reception and dinner on Monday, November 10, 2014 at Ludlow Country Club.

A graduate of Cathedral High School and a receptionist at Valley Communications in Chicopee, Kathy was nominated to recognize her tireless advocacy on behalf of children and adults who are survivors of child sexual abuse. Just this year, she was present to witness a new bill signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick that extends the statute of limitations from age 21 to 53 for sex abuse victims to file suit against their abusers. Kathy worked for 12 years for passage of the bill. She has now filed suit against a male family member who abused her between the ages of 7 and 17. In addition to speaking at the Dunbar Community Center, the YMCA of Greater Springfield and with other groups of all sizes, she has been instrumental in raising awareness through Children’s Safety Events and through Childhelp “Speak Up Be Safe” – a child abuse and bullying prevention education curriculum. Kathy received the Unsung Heroine award at the State House in 2006 and will also be recognized as a recipient of this year’s prestigious Pynchon Award.    Pre-registration is required. Email Pamela Albertson at with names of all attendees and pay $25/pp at the door – cash, check or credit card.
Like last year’s honoree, Yoko Kato, Kathy Picard is a keen supporter of our initiative called “Zonta Says NO” – a campaign focused on ending violence against women and girls. Zonta International considers this a societal issue. Maria Jose Landeira Oestergaard, President of ZI, notes that we need to “address root causes and focus on prevention through education to change attitudes in men and women.”   Kathy has brought that vision to Western MA with the help of

General statistics from ChildHelp: A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds. More than four children die every day as a result of child abuse. Approximately 70% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4. More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way. Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2008 is $124 billion.


Ware Students Recognized

Ware Students Recognized by AG for Dating Violence


Abuse-Domestic WARE, Mass (WGGB) — Adolescents and adults are often unaware that teens experience dating violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control 9.4% of teens reported being hit, slapped or physically hurt by a significant other.

Twenty-one high school students from Ware decided to make a video comparing an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one. They noted dating violence has been brought up a lot lately and they hoped this would show their peers that they should never feel alone.

The video made such an impact that the Attorney General brought all 21 students in and presented them with certificates of recognition.

“One woman stood up at the end and thanked us for everything we’ve done because she had been a victim for 32 years. Just knowing you’re making a difference in someone’s lives even if it doesn’t happen to you, you might not realize it but when someone tells you there story like wow it’s actually making a difference,” Sadie Simons, a student who helped to make the video, told ABC40.

The man behind the scenes was Mr. Dan Orszulak. He believes the key to getting the word out about such a topic is having the students teaching their peers.

“I think why we had the idea of the video is because it’s the kids. The kids at school know these people all the high school kids, familiar faces, people they look up to. So when they see them putting importance on this video it’s kind of contagious,” Orszulak said.

It’s already started to help students like Jillian Pittsley who had to speak to her girlfriend who Pittsley believed was being abused.

“It was hard to try to reach out to her, to tell her she needs to get help she had no idea anything was wrong. Two things realize it and fix it and get out of it,” Pittsley said.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of teen dating violence or domestic abuse. You can visit or use the 24 hour National Dating Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

MA Law About Domestic Violence

St.2014, c.260 (S2334) Act Relative to Domestic Violence (August 8, 2014). Significant changes to domestic violence law, including education for judges and prosecutors, new law and penalties for suffocation and strangulation, and much more.

LOCAL HOTLINE  ~ 413.967.3435


*The Carson Center at Valley Human Services (Ware) ~ 413.967.6241
~weekly drop-in support groups for vicims/survivors (child care provided)
~individual advocacy services.
*Womanshelter/Companeras (Holyoke) ~ 413.967.3435
*Safe Passage (Northampton) ~ 888.345.5282
*YWCA (Springfield) ~ 800.796.8711,
*GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project (Western MA) ~ 800.832.1901
*WomensLaw (provides information on domestic violence laws by state and assistance by e.mail)

*Love Is Respect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline ~ 866-331-9474
*Break The Cycle, Empowering Youth to End Domestic Violence
*Everywoman’s Center @ UMass/Amherst ~888.337.0800

Raffle Tickets to be drawn June 12th!

The Zonta Club of Quaboag Valley will draw the winning tickets for its 20th Annual Fundraiser Raffle on June 12, 2014.  Tickets are $2 each or $5 for three… available from any of our members and by contacting us by phone (413-219-8260) or email ( to arrange a purchase.

1st prize:  2 Red Sox vs Yankees 8/3/14 Tickets with Peter Pan Bus trip

2nd prize:  32″ Emerson Flat Screen TV

3rd prize:  $100 Lottery Tickets