Around Town

WPS East Mountain Road transition services has a new home

Central Baptist pastor Kathleen O’Goley, East Mountain Transition staff Doris Love, Sarah Arnett, Luis Burgos, YouthWorks staff Sue Baran, Kim Adamczyk and Transition Specialist Sherry Elander met this week to brainstorm plans for the new location. (AMY PORTER/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

WESTFIELD – Central Baptist Church in downtown Westfield will be the new home for the former East Mountain Road community-based transition services of the Westfield Public Schools.
The church, located on 115 Elm Street, won the bid as the new location after Western Mass. Hospital needed the space it formerly rented to the student services to house its Department of Public Health.
East Mountain Road, which will now be undergoing a name change, offers transition services to youth ages 18-22 who receive special education services from the district. There, students are given the support and opportunity to achieve their goals, whether it is passing MCAS tests, connecting with local businesses for career opportunities, or taking college courses towards a degree. The program is considered a model for transition services in the state and beyond.
Transition Specialist Sherry Elander, who has been with the district for 20 years, said most of the work is done outside of their space as students pursue their goals, but having a new location downtown is ideal for transportation and proximity to businesses and community programs.
Elander said the new space in Central Baptist includes a kitchen, two handicap-accessible bathrooms, a washer and dryer, storage area, an office/conference room, a big social room that will be used for classes, a living room and dining area, and a sensory room space. She said she had wanted to put in a sensory room, complete with nice lights, lava lamps and scents in East Mountain Road, but could not find a spot for it.
Elander said that her staff and others will spend the summer painting and sprucing up the new location. The others which includes her interior designer sister, Brigitte Ostrander, will be donating her work to the project.
Kim Adamczyk, program director of Youthworks, is placing some students in summer employment to help paint, clean and move furniture around. They will be under the supervision of site manager Sue Baran.
The church will also be installing ramps and an elevator. Huntington architect Jeffrey Scott Penn is donating his services to design the lift, which has been approved by the Board of Trustees.
According to Rev. Kathleen O’Goley, pastor of Central Baptist, the church is thrilled to house the transition services. “We’re over the moon,” O’Goley said.
A recent donation of $2,000 by the Crippled Old Busted Bikers (COBB) club will also come in handy to help purchase some new appliances for the kitchen and other needed materials, Elander said.
Transition services staff member Doris Love said donations are always welcome, such as gift cards to Joann Fabric for material for new curtains. “We’re always thankful for gift cards,” Love said.
Elander said she preferred to wait until the space is ready for the transition students, who begin on Sept. 8, before taking pictures of their new location. At that time, they will also reveal their new name.

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