Velis: Addiction recovery, dairy farmers on senator’s agenda



By John Velis

October is upon us! I hope you all have a wonderful long weekend with your dear ones, enjoy it to the fullest.

I began this past week by meeting on Monday with Rep. Duffy and CEO Jay Breines of the Holyoke Health Center to discuss how the center is operating. The bulk of my day, though, focused on a hearing with the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery on bills related to parity and equity for people who use substances. I’m honored to be working as vice chair of the committee, and have been meeting with many addiction experts, medical professionals, and individuals impacted by substance use to help inform my work. Later in the afternoon, I had a call with Mike Tourville, the local author of “Voices from the Fallen: True Stories of Addiction, Grief, Recovery and Courage.” The book will take you on an intimate journey inside the lives of people who have experienced addiction, relapse, and recovery.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, educators across the commonwealth are begin recognized by Latinos for Education, a group focused on recognizing the contributions that teachers make the lives of Latino students and families throughout the commonwealth. Amy Piedra, an incredible teacher who has worked in the Holyoke Public Schools system for over 20 years, is among those being recognized. I was thrilled to visit her alongside Rep. Duffy on Tuesday in Holyoke to present her with a Senate citation and thank her for all she has done for students in our communities.

Wednesday was another busy day, as I was joined by the secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Mike Kennealy, and Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox, for an affordable housing tour in Holyoke. We toured the Appleton Mills, Lyman Terrace and the South Holyoke Project that have been made possible by a partnership between the state and the Holyoke Housing Authority. In a similar vein, I joined state and city officials in Easthampton on Friday to look at possible Mass Housing Development sites there as well. It’s so important we continue to expand affordable housing in our communities, and I was grateful to be a part of both of these events.

On Friday, I also joined the Massachusetts Association of Dairy Farmers for their annual picnic at Rockwood Farms in Granville! The importance of our country’s farmers goes far beyond making sure there’s food on the table, and I was glad to stop by and talk to farmers from throughout our district. I wrapped up my Friday with a legislative dinner with fire chiefs from throughout Hampshire County to discuss the issues they face and their needs from our communities.

If you’ve been craving a sweet treat lately, Chrissy G’s bakery on Elm Street in Westfield officially opens today! I’m looking forward to the ribbon cutting and I encourage you all to check out the bakery soon. At night, Westfield’s annual fireworks celebration will be held at the Westfield South Middle School field. As many of you know, Westfield was unable to offer this celebration of community and country the past two years as the coronavirus impacted planning and limited gatherings. I’m thankful we’ve surpassed this as a community and now have a full calendar of events through October!

As always, if there is anything I can do to assist you, please never hesitate to reach out to my office. I can be reached at my email: [email protected] or by phone: 413-572-3920 and you can find me online at senatorjohnvelis.com, where you can also sign up for my newsletter.


John Velis, D-Westfield, represents Westfield, Southwick and all or part of nine other cities and towns in the state Senate.

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