For Immediate Release - May 29, 2012


Public Invited to Attend as Secretary Honors Workers, Volunteers, and Area Leaders of the Tornado Recovery Efforts

BOSTON Tuesday, May 29, 2012 – The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) announced that Secretary Joanne F. Goldstein will honor leaders of Springfield’s tornado recovery efforts at Commonwealth Academy (One Ames Hill Drive, Springfield) today, May 29, 2012 at 2 p.m.


Stakeholders including Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno will join Secretary Goldstein as she tours the school’s campus, one of 14 work sites served by a $3 million National Emergency Grant (NEG) from the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant, which is administered by the Regional Employment Board (REB) of Hampden County, has provided temporary employment for 126 dislocated workers to date. Participants continue to assist with cleanup and recovery efforts related to the severe storms and tornadoes that struck the central and western areas of Massachusetts on June 1, 2011.


“The National Emergency Grant provided an opportunity for the region’s dislocated and longer term unemployed residents to roll up their sleeves and be a part of the efforts to clean up, reconstruct, and repair some of the damaged and destroyed public buildings and facilities,” said J. William Ward, President and CEO of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, Inc. “These workers learned new skills, and are better prepared to secure permanent employment opportunities.”


REB/NEG workers cleared Commonwealth Academy’s 14-acre Springfield property of debris and improved the functionality of its 12+ buildings. They maintained the grounds, provided security, and ensured that the campus stood as a symbol of a safe and respectful community. The public school will welcome its first class this fall.


"Commonwealth Academy is a middle and high school institution of higher learning; providing equitable and comprehensive access to a course of study preparing for college or university attendance,” said John A. Foley, Jr., founder of Commonwealth Academy. “Our goal is to bear witness to the flowering, limitless potential for discovery that lives within every child. Our brightest future lies with their future unfettered by the bonds of expectation."


Commonwealth Academy will serve predominantly low-income students who are at risk of not attaining a high school diploma. It will make use of community resources, including local military and history groups, to familiarize students with the historical context of the campus’ buildings. It will also offer entrepreneurial workshops that will cultivate ideas and allow for business experience.


“Governor Patrick, Lt. Governor Murray, and I remain committed to everyone whose lives these storms impacted, and I look forward to recognizing those who have led us from crisis to opportunity,” said Secretary Goldstein. “Commonwealth Academy stands as a reminder that Massachusetts is committed to investing in its future.”


“The City of Springfield is very appreciative of Secretary Goldstein’s continued efforts. Facilitating and putting people back to work is not only physically important but psychologically important. We are not only rebuilding structures and infrastructure but lives too,” said Mayor Sarno.


About the Patrick-Murray Administration’s Tornado Response Efforts

The Patrick-Murray Administration launched an immediate and comprehensive response to the June 1st tornadoes, and remains committed to helping impacted communities and residents use this crisis as an opportunity to rebuild, renew and rebound. Following the state’s multi-faceted emergency efforts last spring, the administration has maintained its presence in the region, dedicated significant resources to rebuilding projects and partnered with federal and local officials to get business and homeowners back on their feet. To date, individuals, homeowners and businesses have received more than $26.7 million in federal disaster assistance to cover uninsured losses. The Department of Housing and Community Development helped hundreds of families find emergency shelter and has so far funded $525,000 in home repair. The Division of Insurance served as a resource and advocate for consumers filing $200 million in claims. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has directed $2.3 million in state funding to repair more than 20 streets throughout the region.


About National Emergency Grants

National Emergency Grants are part of the U.S. Secretary of Labor's discretionary fund and are awarded based on a state's ability to meet specific guidelines. The grants temporarily expand the service capacity of Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker training and employment programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance in response to large, unexpected economic events which cause significant job losses. NEGs generally provide resources to states and local workforce investment boards to quickly reemploy laid-off workers by offering training to increase occupational skills. For more information, visit