Aug 22
"EASTHAMPTON – It took three years, an untold number of fundraisers and $13,000, but the Easthampton Community Center is finally accessible to wheelchairs and power chairs. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday, people with physical disabilities were able to enter the building at 12 Clark St., which holds a food pantry, thrift store and reception hall, more easily than ever before. “Three years ago, this was a dream,” said the center’s director Robin Bialecki. The center held fundraisers like dinners, bake sales and plays to pay for the 60-foot ramp at the rear entrance. Local banks made donations, as well, and “people would send in $5 here, $10 there,” said Bialecki. The reception hall can be rented out for events and classes. It hosts Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, art classes, karate lessons and much more. A community dinner is held most Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. These activities make handicapped accessibility crucial, and Commission on Disability chair Heidi Martin-Coleman said the ramp is “huge for the community.” “Just to know that this important service is available to the community is just enormous,” said Martin-Coleman, who uses a wheelchair and a service dog. “It’s very easy (to use) and it’s just wonderful. It’s nice and smooth. With the (wood) treatment on it, it’s going to last a long time.” Mayor Michael A. Tautznik, state Sen. Michael Knapik, R-Westfield, and state Rep. John W. Scibak, D-South Hadley, spoke at the ceremony and lauded Bialecki and the rest of the volunteer staff..." Read the whole article.