FROM YOUR STATE SENATOR
By John Velis
Hope you are all doing well as preparations for the holiday season begin! This week I was busy with events throughout the district, and it was great to see so many residents in person.
This past Tuesday marked the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I was proud to join Westfield community members at the Great River Bridge on Tuesday for a powerful ceremony in remembrance of the more than 2,400 American lives lost in the attack. Last Sunday I also attended Easthampton and South Hadley’s Pearl Harbor Day ceremonies. We will never forget those lives lost, and I am grateful to our communities for always honoring the sacrifices and service of our military members.
On Monday my team held office hours at both the Southwick Senior Center and Agawam Senior Center. My next office hours will be this upcoming Monday at the RiverMills Center in Chicopee from 10 to 11 a.m. After our office hours, I was thrilled to have Agawam officials join me to present $50,000 in state funding to the Senior Center that was secured in the fiscal 2022 budget.
Speaking of senior centers, bingo is back! On Wednesday I went over to the Southampton Senior Center to call some bingo games and spend some time with residents. You’ll be sure to see me calling more bingo games at senior centers throughout the district as games resume.
Some of you may have heard that this past week I organized and played in a basketball challenge with Holyoke high schoolers at the Greater Holyoke Boys & Girls Club. When I was first visiting the Boys & Girls Club as a candidate for Senate, I couldn’t keep myself from challenging kids in the gym to some games. Time passed, the trash-talk continued, and finally I called up Eileen Cavanaugh, president of the club, and said, “let’s organize this thing.” To up the stakes, I pledged to donate $500 to the Boys & Girls Club if my team lost.
After winning game one, Team Velis came up short in the next two games against the Boys & Girls Club team. In hindsight, we should’ve stopped after game one — those kids were fast! As promised, I handed over my donation on the spot, after the series. From my time as a mentor at the Westfield Boys & Girls Club, I know the incredible impact our clubs have on kids throughout our community, and I will always be a strong supporter. Nothing brings people together like sports, and there was something really special about being able to actually engage with the kids on the court and have some fun, even if I was a bit rusty. While they called me on my smack talk this time, plans for a rematch are already in the works and you should expect to see Team Velis on a court near you soon!
I began Thursday in Westfield for the Chamber of Commerce’s holiday breakfast. It was great to see so many business owners and local residents. Later on in the day I hosted a virtual briefing with the American Red Cross for members of the Veterans Committee. The Red Cross provides so many supports for our veterans, active military members and their families, and I am grateful to them for talking with our committee about their services and how we can help them.
Special shoutout to Mrs. Ward from Southampton Road Elementary School for letting me borrow my new favorite book, “House Mouse, Senate Mouse,” to read to Franklin Avenue Elementary School students on Friday morning. The kids loved it! On Friday I also spent some time volunteering as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army at Walmart, a holiday tradition I always love participating in.
Today is the Army-Navy football game! Last year my colleague Senator Rush, a Navy Reservist, and I made a wager on the game, with the loser having to sing the other’s fight song. We’re continuing that tradition this year, so be sure to check my social media to see the loser sing!
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 [email protected] or 413-572-3920, and you can find me online at senatorjohnvelis.com.
John Velis, D-Westfield, represents Westfield, Southwick, Montgomery, Russell and all or part of seven other cities and towns in the state Senate.