Social Gaming Club Promotes Community

Members of GCC’s Social Gaming Club know there’s more to life than work and their goal is to help the GCC community have fun. “Social” gaming involves games where players sit at a table with other people, including traditional card and board games, as well as role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, collectible card games such as Magic the Gathering, war games using miniatures, and cooperative board games such as Pandemic. New this year, GCC’s Social Gaming Club was initiated by Chad Wright and others who regularly gathered in the Dining Commons to play Magic. The Social Gaming Club meets Wednesdays from noon to 12:50 p.m. in the MacLeish room (C307 in the Main Building). At meetings, students trade Magic cards and play brief games, introduce others to new games, or play Kung Fu or one of the cooperative survival games such as Forbidden Island. The club will hold a bake sale from noon to 1 p.m. on March 31 to April 2 on the first floor of the Core Building. They’ll use the proceeds from the bake sale to buy games to be stored at Student Life for students to borrow.

Chad, 40, is a liberal arts major with an emphasis on history and education. He lives in Greenfield and has been playing social games, specifically Magic the Gathering, since 1995. Chad said, “I wanted to create a club where like-minded people with a common interest could find new friends and player groups. The goals of our club are to recruit new members and spread the positive aspects of social gaming throughout the college. Every semester, we plan a social game day a week or two before final exams. With demonstration games, a Magic tournament, food, and prizes, the game day is a way we give to the GCC community and showcase the club.”

Many club members are also part of the gamer community that congregates at the game-playing space at Greenfield Games, a store in downtown Greenfield. Greenfield Games co-owner Seth Lustig said, “Our store motto is ‘we bring fun to the table.’ The whole point of this kind of game is people coming together around a table and having fun together. Community is as important to us as a store. We provide a welcoming, safe place to be yourself and encourage an atmosphere where people can get to know each other. We see a wide range of players at the store, from 10-year-olds to people in their mid-40s and players who are highly skilled and those who are just learning. Most of the players are 12-25 year-old men, although some women are involved. Greenfield Games has a lot in common with GCC, we’re both very community-oriented.”

Assistant Professor of English Trevor Kearns serves as the Club’s Faculty Advisor. A lifelong gamer, Trevor considers social games to be a healthy, rewarding hobby that uses people’s thinking, social, and communication skills. He said, “We live in a culture obsessed with work. Work in the modern sense does not define humanity, our capacity for play is what defines humanity. The whole breadth of arts, sports, and games are play and where people really live is in their play, whatever form it takes. What it means to be human is to imagine. Gaming affirms our essential humanity and our capacity for imagination.”

Chad agrees, saying, “Social gaming is about imagination, acceptance, and goodwill. Society in general could learn a lot from social gamers.”

For information about the Social Gaming Club, attend a meeting or contact Trevor Kearns at kearnst@gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

New ! Office Administration certificates meet workforce needs

Want to manage a modern technology-based office but don’t have the needed skills and credentials? Check out the General Office Administration and Medical Office Administration Certificate programs at Greenfield Community College. Students in the General Office Administration program learn the wide range of skills needed to manage small business, non-profit, and other offices, including management, bookkeeping, computer systems, written communication, human resources, and more. New to GCC this fall will be a Medical Office Administration Certificate that includes courses in the record-keeping and office functions used in medical office settings, including medical coding, insurance, billing, and managing electronic medical records. Students studying toward a Medical Office Administration Certificate also develop a well-rounded background in medical terminology and a holistic understanding of medical procedures. After completing the sequence of courses required for the Medical Office Administration Certificate, students are prepared take the exams for private certification as a Medical Coder. Both Certificates are offered at night and are designed for those who are working. They are also “stackable,” meaning they count toward the requirements for an Associate of Science degree in CIS – Office Management.

Trista Perrea, 25, from Westhampton works full-time for VNA & Hospice of Cooley Dickinson and is studying Medical Office Administration part-time at GCC. After high school, she started work in an oncology practice office and enjoyed interacting in an administrative role with patients in a medical setting. GCC classes have helped Trista understand the big picture of what she sees at work, including what happens in the background to make health care function. She’s learned about management, billing, coding, and accounting. Before studying at GCC, Trista had seen code numbers in patient bills. Now, those numbers make sense and she has a context for understanding what she and her coworkers are doing. Trista has also taken elective courses in psychology and sociology to learn more about the patients she deals with, many of whom have different beliefs and cultural traditions that impact their experience in health care settings.

Trista said, “Studying at GCC has been a great opportunity for me. It is really important to feel comfortable and be supported in a learning environment and I’ve gotten that support from professors and staff at GCC. Health care is growing so fast and there are so many more pieces to health care than the work of frontline clinical staff. GCC’s program really prepares you to work in a career with a future. I think I have the best of both worlds, working with patients and having the job security of being in a field with high demand.”

Thom Simmons, Co-Chair of GCC’s Business & Information Technology Department and Professor of Economics & Business, agrees with Trista. Thom said, “The Office Management concentration is one of our biggest Associate degree programs. The Medical Office Administration Certificate will be particularly valuable for people who want to work in health care settings. And, the medical coding system is changing. People with previous coding experience can learn about the new system in these courses. The General Office Administration and Medical Office Administration Certificates are quality programs for a growing job market in western Massachusetts.”

For information about the Office Administration programs, visit http://www.gcc.mass.edu/academics/programs/computer-information-systems-general-office-administration/

By Mary McClintock, ’82

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Regional program grows new careers in precision machining

Just a few months after the end of a new 12-week training program, eight students are employed by area companies and one is launching his own precision machining business. Gerald Barsh and Nathan Beauregard have launched new careers in precision machining thanks to the Middle Skills Manufacturing Initiative (MSMI), a training program and collaborative project involving area manufacturing companies, GCC, Franklin County Technical School, the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board, and the Career Center. Gerald now works at DuMont Company in Greenfield and Nathan works at Bete Fog Nozzle. They were two of 15 unemployed and underemployed students in the first of four cohorts that will attend the program.

“Students in the MSMI training learned hands-on skills on new CNC lathes and mills taught by a team of dedicated instructors from Franklin County Technical School and four precision manufacturers,” explained Alyce Stiles, Director of Workforce Development at GCC.

Gerald, 41, of Hatfield, had always worked as a cook and in the food industry, but had taken some engineering and AutoCAD courses at GCC. MSMI introduced him to the machining field and MSMI introduced him to the machining field and helped to place him as an intern at DuMont. Following graduation, he was hired full-time using On the Job Training (OJT) funds that encourage businesses to hire veterans and long-term unemployed workers. Gerald now works in an entry-level job in the production department, producing broaches, parts that are used to help cut and shape other material. He learned about metrology in the MSMI program and uses that understanding of precision and accuracy in measurements in his job.

Gerald said, “Prior to the MSMI program, I had spent about 30 seconds in a manufacturing shop environment. This program was one of the most tremendous experiences of my life. The MSMI helped me get the skills I needed to get a job in this field. The company I work for is expanding and many people in this field will soon retire. I have the skills to be able to move ahead in the field.”

Nathan Beauregard, 40, of Greenfield enjoyed his 20 years of work as a farmhand, but was looking for higher-paying steady work. He had taken several GCC Community Education courses as part of the Adult Educational Program with Franklin County Technical School, including Introduction to Machine Science. At Bete Fog Nozzle, Nathan operates a Haas lathe and is learning about testing nozzles.

Nathan said, “Along with helping me start a new career, I like that this program trains folks to do a job that this valley had MANY people doing, historically. I am glad to be part of the resurgence of this type of work in this area.”

Michael Baines, Project Coordinator for MSMI at the Regional Employment Board said, “Area precision machining employers realize their workforce includes many people who will retire soon and they don’t have the infrastructure to do their own training. The MSMI program is a great collaborative regional response to prevent a crisis. Precision machining is bringing jobs to this area, jobs with a bright future that pay a good wage.”

Students in the Fall 2013 MSMI cohort ranged in age from 22 to 59 years old. While all of the Fall cohort were male, four of the 14 students enrolled in the Spring MSMI program are women. The Spring cohort started Feb. 3 and recruitment for the Fall semester will start in June. There will be a strong focus on recruitment of qualified 18-24 year-olds without degrees for the fall program.

MSMI is funded by a Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund grant through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The grant program is administered at the state level by Commonwealth Corporation. The project funds training programs for four cohorts of students. Development of a new, project-based curriculum, including online instructional trainings, is provided by the MA Community Colleges & Workforce Development Transformation Agenda (MCCWDTA), which is 100% funded through a $20 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employment & Training Administration TAACCT.

Lead Employers VSS, Inc. and Bete Fog Nozzle contributed to the training plan, and an additional 12 employers signed on to support the training program, including Amherst Machine, Applied Dynamics, Argotec, the DuMont Company LLC, Hassay Savage Company, Mayhew Steel Products, Montague Machine, Poplar Hill Machine, L.S.Starrett, Rodney Hunt, Sisson Engineering, and SmallCorp. Many additional employers contributed substantially to a fund to upgrade the Franklin County Technical School machine shop where the training takes place.

For more information see http://www.gcc.mass.edu/msmi or http://fhreb.org or contact: Michael Baines, mbaines@fhreb.org (413) 774-4361 x375 or Alyce Stiles, stilesa@gcc.mass.edu (413) 775-1607.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

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Scholarship continues to provide access for community

When Greenfield Community College says it is accessible to everyone and committed to student success, it means it. In 2007, generous anonymous donors helped GCC establish the Community Access Scholarship Fund to provide the financial support future students need to help overcome their personal circumstances and allow them to make a successful transition to college. In addition to financial support, the Community Access Scholarship Fund provides a network of services at GCC and in the local community which support student success and advancement. Since 2007, the Scholarship Fund has provided over $900,000 assistance to hundreds of students and for college support services.

“This scholarship fund was established to reach out to those within the community who do not see themselves as college-bound,” said GCC President Robert Pura. “Too many in our community leave high school with a degree and begin to settle for less because they lack confidence or direction or both. Too many people of all ages in our community live without hope or aspiration. Far too many tell themselves that they do not belong; they fear that they cannot succeed. This program is created to contradict those messages with others that shout out ‘you do belong, you can succeed.’”

Sarah Scarchilli-Janus is the Academic Counselor for the Community Access Scholarship Fund. Along with assisting individual students on campus, Sarah works with social service agencies to connect with potential students and convince them they can succeed in college. Sarah said, “This Scholarship Fund supports a wide range of students: traditional college-aged and older students, people in crisis, single parents, people living in shelters, and those who were recently incarcerated. The Scholarship Fund helps those who are trying to patch together the finances to attend GCC, as well as students who need one-on-one support to overcome their own barriers to college.”

Recently, Sarah helped 19-year-old Shawn Englehardt from Gill. In 2012, Shawn transferred to GCC from Turners Falls High School via the College’s Educational Transitions Program (ETP), a program supported by the Community Access Scholarship Fund. The ETP allowed Shawn to finish his high school degree while completing his freshman year at GCC. Now in his second year at GCC, Shawn is majoring in Computer and Information Sciences.

While ETP and scholarships from Shawn’s father’s former workplace have helped pay for Shawn’s education, there isn’t money in the family budget to pay for Shawn continuing at GCC. This semester, Shawn started Comparative Politics with Buz Eisenberg, but didn’t know how he would pay for it. GCC’s financial aid office had offered Shawn a loan, but he wasn’t sure he’d be able to pay back a loan. Shawn’s advisor, Bryan Smith, told him to talk to Sarah Scarchilli-Janus.

Shawn went to Sarah’s office and told her about his tuition bill. Two hours later, Sarah emailed Shawn to tell him that through the Community Access Scholarship, generous donors had paid his outstanding bill. Shawn said, “It was fantastic! Without that, I would have had to drop the class. I was taken by surprise. I didn’t know how I would repay a loan. Now, my family and I don’t have to worry. I can focus on schoolwork rather than how I’m going to pay for it.”

Find out how to apply for GCC Scholarships on Monday, Feb. 24, Noon in Room C208 on GCC’s Main Campus. Come learn about what scholarships are out there, including our very own GCC Foundation Scholarships available through the support of our community! Learn how to apply to these scholarships to help fund your educational goals. Contact Bryan Smith at 413-775-1846 or smithb@gcc.mass.edu or for Community Access Scholarship information, call Sarah Scarchilli-Janus at 413-775-1336.

By Mary McClintock ’82

 

Marlboro College & GCC Partnership Help Non-Profits

Until recently, when local non-profit organizations wanted training for their staff and board members, they had to hire a consultant or travel to find training programs. Thanks to a partnership between Greenfield Community College and Vermont’s Marlboro College, such training is now available in Greenfield at GCC. Workshops in GCC Community Education’s Non-profit Management Series are taught by staff from Marlboro College School for Graduate and Professional Studies and have drawn participants from a wide range of non-profits from throughout the area. One of those organizations is Greenfield-based Just Roots, an organization that seeks to increase access to healthy, local food.

Last fall, at a meeting of the Just Roots Board of Directors, board members discussed how they could continue the transition from a working to a governance board. Board member Ari Pliskin, who had taken courses in non-profit management at GCC and Marlboro College, suggested contracting with Marlboro College to work with the board. They considered that option and wanted to be as cost effective as possible. Another board member, Ted Watt, looking at a copy of GCC’s Lifelong Learning guide said, “GCC has a whole series about non-profit management taught by Marlboro College staff, including a workshop on Best Practices for Boards. Why don’t we all go?”

“We went,” said Just Roots Board President Wisty Rorabacher, “and the quality of our work went up a notch or two or three. The day after the workshop, I was in three meetings related to different aspects of Just Roots. At each meeting, my perspective was much more in line with being a responsible board member, seeing the big picture. What we learned isn’t just academically powerful, it is functionally powerful. I don’t want someone to tell me just theory about something. I need help right now, I’m in the trenches. That workshop provided the help I needed.”

Ariel Brooks, Director of Non-Degree Programs at Marlboro College said, “The fall 2013 series drew a diverse group of students who shared their experiences and learned a lot from each other. Both GCC and Marlboro College seek to provide their communities with what they want and need. This program supports non-profit organizations that serve our communities. While educational institutions often are protective of their programs, GCC and Marlboro College are cooperating to offer programs that meet our communities’ needs.”

Bob Barba, GCC’s Dean for Community Education agrees. Barba said, “The collaboration with Marlboro College is a great example of two kinds of colleges from two different states working together to offer quality, affordable education in a professional area for which we have lots of demand. The partnership helps foster the growth of a group like Just Roots, which is doing truly transformative work in the community. This is what we strive for—that great blend of personal enrichment, professional and workforce development, and community engagement that make up the three-part mission of Community Education.”

Ari Pliskin, member of the Just Roots Board of Directors and Development Director of Stone Soup Café, was so impressed with what he learned taking courses through the GCC/Marlboro partnership that he completed Marlboro’s Certificate in Non-profit Management. He said, “Overall, Marlboro helped me move from working hard jumping from one opportunity to the next and putting out daily fires towards strategically coordinating my actions and those of others towards building a sustainable organization for the Stone Soup Café. It helped me move forward by working smarter instead of just working harder. I have more confidence developing, critiquing, and reviewing budgets, a stronger sense of what the board role should be, a better sense of developing marketing and fundraising campaigns, and greater confidence supervising volunteers and staff.”

by Mary McClintock, ’82

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