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Donation helps keep program afloat

Last Wednesday members of the Hampden-Wilbraham Chamber of Commerce donated $7,500 to Minnechuag Regional High School's Entrepreneurial Program. The funds were raised thanks to the chamber's annual October golf tournament. Over the last four year's the chamber has donated more than $20,000. Reminder Publications photo by Natasha Clark
By Natasha Clark

Assistant Managing Editor

WILBRAHAM Thanks to the commitment of the Hampden-Wilbraham Chamber of Commerce, the Entrepreneurial Program at Minnechaug Regional High School continues to thrive.

As a sign of their unabated support, the chamber donated $7,500 in proceeds from their annual golf tournament, on March 26. The funds will go toward two $1,000 scholarships and purchasing seven computers and software.

Diane Jeserski, of Minnechaug's Career Center and the overseer of the Entrepreneurial Program, said the contributions from the chamber over the last four years has been "unbelievable."

"We've bought books, two laser printers, made professional business cards, flyers," Jeserski said, naming just a few of the items the center has been able to purchase thanks to the donations.

Another portion of the proceeds also help award monetary prizes to students who place in the Annual Business Plan Competition hosted in the Media Center at the high school. First place winners go on to compete in the Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) Annual Business Plan Competition Semi-finals. This years winners are Anthony Patullo, Corey Polom, Cara Polom, Sean Cooney, Ben DaRosa and Alex LaFreniere. Patullo and Corey Polom will go on to compete at STCC.

Students in attendance of the check presentation said they signed on to the program to learn leadership and management skills. Besides applying their knowledge through the competition, students also have the opportunity to show what they've got at the chamber's golf tournament.

"We're really fortunate. Our golf tournament has a good reputation of being fun," Barbara Perry, president of the Hampden-Wilbraham Chamber of Commerce, said. "It worked out and it's really been growing. At the golf tournament we have the students come in and they meet and greet the golfers and help out that way. Some come out that day and show their products to the participants. We give them a little coaching on professionalism proper ways to shake hands, 'don't be shy to tell them about your business,' [et cetera]."

Hampden-Wilbraham Chamber of Commerce Treasurer Joe Lawler said the proceeds wouldn't be possible without the support of the community and the businesses that participate in the tournament, including the Friendly's Corporation.

Perry attributes a large part of the tournament's success to Lawler, Elissa Langevin and Tom Manzi.

"Their heart and souls are in it. They really do a great job," she said, adding that she thinks the world of Minnechaug's program. "It's fantastic. I love our relationship with the entrepreneurial program. It's really teaching young people about business. Small business makes up the community."