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Date: 9/4/2014

There is a French saying: “Quand on veut, on peut,” which translates to “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” 
   
Literally it means, “When one wants, one can.” Do the people of Western Massachusetts want a French Heritage Center? 
   
Judging by the attendance at every event sponsored by the French Heritage Center committee, the answer is a resounding “yes!” If the positive feedback following each event is any indication, the answer is an overwhelming “yes!” If the fact that people with French ancestry are one of the largest ethnic groups in Western Massachusetts, the answer is an unequivocal “yes!” What will be the deciding factor?  Community involvement.
   
For the past five years, the French Heritage Center has provided educational and enriching events for hundreds of people throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut. This past spring, the Center was presented with the “Hooah” award from the Soldier’s Home in Holyoke in recognition of preserving the legacy of D-Day and WWII, following the French Heritage Center’s 70th anniversary D-Day commemoration event.
   
These events were accomplished each year by a very small group of dedicated individuals.
   
The continuation of this endeavor is dependent on expanding the committee – success will be achieved by a community of persons working together. Now is the time to get involved. Now is the time to make a difference. Now is the time to come on board so that we may remain “Forever French.”
   
Joining the committee presents great opportunities for people of all skills and abilities. It affords the opportunity to meet like-minded people and preserve our rich French legacy. There is a place for anyone with an interest or a passion for Franco-American heritage.
   
Our ancestors stepped into the unknown future to come to New France 360 years ago – the journey continued from Canada to the United States. Now it is our turn to step into the unknown, to carry the torch and keep the French history, culture and language alive for future generations. The dream of a French center will become a reality only if individuals believe in the importance of keeping their heritage alive.
   
All other ethnic groups are represented in the area – it is time to fill in that missing piece of the puzzle! The French Heritage Center committee is seeking a donated building or space in the Springfield Street, Chicopee historic district, where the Irish and Polish Centers are located. Anyone who can help in this regard is asked to call or email the committee. (contact info below)
   
The first “Great Recruitment” meeting is Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. in Chicopee. Meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month. For further information, contact Jeanne Hebert at 594-9332, or at frenchconnection104@gmail.com.

Marie Proulx Meder
French Heritage Center
Chicopee