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Rick's Place wins much needed grant

Date: 3/8/2010

March 8, 2010

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM - Rick's Place offers a unique and needed service for the youth in Western Massachusetts - it offers grieving families with children a place to remember their loved ones and to avoid the sense of isolation that such a loss can produce.

And it offers this care for free.

That's why a $5,000 grant from the Berkshire Bank Foundation, presented last Wednesday, means so much to those who run the organization.

"Our annual operating budget is $40,000," Rick Hill, a member Rick's Place Board of Directors, said. "To have Berkshire Bank cut a check for that amount [$5,000] means that we're comfortably able to look forward through 2010 and our operating budget will be covered. We feel blessed and appreciative."

Berkshire Bank Foundation Executive Director Peter Lafayette said he was delighted to give the award to Rick's Place.

As part of the launch of Berkshire Bank's new Web site and the bank's Join the Excitement campaign, the foundation hosted a contest to award a total of $20,000 to non-profit organizations in its four market areas - the Pioneer Valley, Berkshire County, New York and Vermont. Through the contest, the public could vote for their favorite non-profit and those receiving the most votes in each region received a grant.

Rick's Place garnered 1,283 votes; the runner up in the Pioneer Valley tallied 893. Lafayette noted that Rick's Place received the most votes of any organization in the contest.

Christina Bracci, a member of the organization's Board of Directors, explained what Rick's Place offers: they provide bereavement support to children ages five through 18 who have gone through any loss of a loved one, be it a parent, a grandparent, a sibling or anyone else important in their lives. Groups meet every other Tuesday during the school year to share information and memories in a safe environment.

"It's a place where they can meet with kids who are just like them," Bracci said. "A lot places offer adult support groups - as far as I know, we and The Garden in Northampton are the only ones in Western Massachusetts that offer this to kids."

"It's a free program, but it's not free to run," Bill Scatolini, president of the Rick's Place Board of Directors, stated. He told those from the Berkshire Bank Foundation how the organization began.

Rick Thorpe, a loved husband, father, brother, son and member of the Minnechaug Regional High School Class of 1984, lost his life in Tower Two of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. In his memory, Rick's Place was opened to provide bereavement support to grieving children and their families.

"We started with our pilot program in the fall of 2006 with six kids, and we currently have 22 in our spring program," Scatolini said. "We're very proud of what we've done so far."

To learn more about the work the Berkshire Bank Foundation does, visit To learn more about Rick's Place, located at 35 Post Office Park, Suite 3514 in Wilbraham, log onto the organization's Web site at