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Community Engagement

What is community engagement all about? It’s about activating residents to come together and to help their communities thrive. It’s about identifying challenges, big and small, and envisioning solutions. It’s about learning what works and building connections. Most importantly, community engagement is about inspiring resident learners to become resident advocates who know—and flex—their power to drive change. The results? Stronger, more vibrant, and more welcoming neighborhoods to call home. 

Since 2011, Way Finders’ Community Building & Engagement team has been meeting residents where they’re at, with an eye toward addressing systems and issues that benefit everyone in the community. We provide the training, tools, and resources to help residents grow into skilled, capable leaders. And we partner with organizations at the national and local levels who share our belief that healthy communities are best built at the community level.   

We are proud of what our collective team has achieved: From training residents of Springfield’s Mason Square on infrastructure advocacy—which brought improvements in street lighting—to helping Springfield residents learn about the connections between climate change, health equity, digital equity, and systemic racism. And from organizing cleanups in Holyoke’s Library Commons neighborhood to efforts to help close the digital divide—the gap between those who do and do not have ready access to technology.  

We are also proud to be a NeighborWorks America network organization. A collaboration of nearly 250 of the nation’s best community development nonprofits, NeighborWorks provides programs and support to help its members amplify the reach of their work.   

Are you a resident of Holyoke or Springfield? Check out what we’re working on in your area and let us know your ideas, too. Are you an organization looking collaborate? Let’s work in partnership. 

Resident Leadership Program

Want to build your skills as a resident leader? Each year, Way Finders selects a group of residents to take part in a training framework offered by NeighborWorks America. It’s designed to develop community learners into savvy community leaders—ready to advocate for the neighborhoods they call home.

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Digital Equity

Access to technology is essential for so many reasons: health, education, social connections. This was true before the pandemic—now it’s a critical issue, especially for low-income people. Learn how we are working to close the digital divide in our area. 

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AmeriCorps VISTA

Want to serve as a catalyst for change? Each year, the Way Finders Community Building & Engagement team is proud to sponsor a member of AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). During this one-year opportunity with us, put your passion and perseverance to work as you grow as a grassroots leader.  

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Chestnut Community Alliance - Yamaris Rivera

Yamaris Rivera, who works as a family engagement coordinator at the H.B. Lawrence School in Holyoke, has been involved with Way Finders and the Chestnut Community Alliance since 2016. Through this connection, she has gotten to know the community and its needs more closely, both of which have greatly benefited her work.

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Our Partners

We collaborate for impact! Our partners include:

  • Bay State
  • Dress for Success
  • Hampden Country Sheriff Department
  • Holyoke Police Department
  • Holyoke Public Library
  • HB Lawrence School
  • LiveWell Springfield
  • Mass Senior Action Council
  • OneHolyoke
  • Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
  • Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts
  • WalkBoston

The Team

Beatrice Dewberry

Community Building and Engagement Manager

Anna Cruz

Community Engagement Coordinator

Emily Thibault

Community Engagement Associate

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