Around Amherst: Human Rights Commission to honor youth at festival

  • In this 2017 file photo, Debora Ferreira reads to a class at Wildwood School. At a recent Human Rights Commission meeting, Ferreira outlined the history and events planned for the Julius Ford Harriet Tubman Healthy Living Community Festival scheduled for this weekend in Amherst. Gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Monday, May 09, 2022

AMHERST — Several local teenagers and elementary school students will be recognized with Youth Human Rights Hero awards, for showing compassion and concern for others, at an event co-sponsored by the Human Rights Commission on Saturday.

The day of music, food and community, known as the Julius Ford Harriet Tubman Healthy Living Community Festival, begins at noon at Mill River Recreation Area in North Amherst. A basketball tournament will also be held.

At a recent commission meeting, Debora Ferreira explained that the festival is an opportunity for participants to speak out about local, national and global issues, and will feature food from restaurants owned by Black, Indigenous and people of color individuals.

The festival takes its name from the multiracial, intergenerational organization Ferreira’s late husband, a local social justice activist who died in 2009, co-founded with Gopi Krishna and Margit Galanter in 2007. The group has focused on youth leadership and intergenerational conferences on social justice and wellness, she said.

Ferreira said her son, joining with the daughter of Edgar Cancel of Northampton, came up with the idea for the festival as a partnership between the town commission and the organization.

Jennifer Moyston, assistant director for Diversity, Ewuity & Inclusion, said those being honored with awards, which are being presented for the 16th time, include 10th graders Darius Cage and Neil Cunniffe, seventh grader Olive Paradis, sixth graders Aaliyah Hall, Keiko Hayashi and Michael Russel-LaRiccia and second grader Ava Hall. The Sunrise Amherst group is also receiving an award.

Tree tour

The Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee is leading a tour of trees in downtown Amherst on Sunday, beginning at 2 p.m. in front of the Jones Library, 43 Amity St.

Committee member Henry Lappen said the hourlong tour starts with a discussion of the 260-year-old sycamore tree on the lawn of the Simeon Strong House, where the Amherst Historical Society is located. Funding was recently received for preserving that tree.

Diaper drive

A diaper drive for the Amherst Survival Center’s food pantry is being held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday on the Boltwood Avenue side of the Amherst Farmers Market.

Organizers will collect both adult and children’s diapers, with larger sizes 5 and 6 preferred. Statistics reveal that one in three families don’t have sufficient resources to buy fresh, clean diapers for their children.

Open houses

Senior citizens can attend an open house May 11 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Amherst Senior Center in the Bangs Community Center at 30 Boltwood Walk.

“We want to welcome seniors back to the Bangs Center and hope to encourage some new faces to visit,” Senior Center Director Hayley Bolton wrote in an email.

Various agencies are participating, including the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office and Consumer Protection Unit, RSVP Volunteers and the Commonwealth Care Alliance. Refreshments will be served, raffles will be held and Nico and Friends, a live jazz trio, will perform.

Call the center at 259-3060 for more information and to RSVP.

In Hadley, the Hadley Public Library and Hadley Senior Center are holding joint open houses at the town center sites Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

CRESS responders

The town of Amherst is advertising for the eight individuals who will work in the field for the new public safety department, Community Responders for Equity, Safety, and Service.

Those hired, who will be paid between $45,000 and $61,000, will respond to nonviolent community calls with an emphasis on approaching community members through an anti-racist and behavioral health lens, according to the job description.

The advertising began after the town completed impact bargaining with the Service Employees International 888, the union which represents those who will be hired. To see the advertisement, go to www.amherstma.gov/jobs

Clean-up Day success

More than 150 community volunteers joined town staff and elected members of the Town Council to clear trash and debris from streets, parks and playgrounds throughout Amherst on April 30.

The turnout for the first clean-up event in three days helped fill four large dumpsters with trash, and yielded an assortment of items, including tires, tire rims and cigarette butts.


MONDAY: Local Historic District Commission, 3 p.m.

TUESDAY: Jones Library Building Committee, 4:30 p.m.