Vets Helping Vets
6:00 PM18:00

Vets Helping Vets

  • Holyoke Community College extension (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Vets Helping Vets Group meets the fourth Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Holyoke Community College extension, 79 Main St., Ware, near Hannah Devine’s. New volunteers are always welcome to join us. We organize events and services to help local active-duty military and veterans, including National Guard, Reserves and all our Armed Forces.

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Almost Home workshop
9:00 AM09:00

Almost Home workshop

Learn about moral injury and how to heal from it, as well as how to build a more resilient community at this workshop, designed for veterans, active duty military, advocates, clergy, emergency responders, service providers, teachers and family members of any of the above.

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Vietnam Veterans Pinning Ceremony
12:30 PM12:30

Vietnam Veterans Pinning Ceremony

The pinning ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, March 15, after the Yoga Warriors class that Dennington credits with giving him a renewed resilience in his post-war and post trauma life. The pinning will begin about 12:30 p.m. at Central Mass Yoga and Wellness, 45 Sterling Street, No. 28, West Boylston, Mass (top floor of Causeway Mall — intersection of Mass. Rtes. 110 and 12).  Belinda Morrone, a retired Air Force colonel and nurse who supported U.S. military air evacuations from the Gulf wars through the ongoing post-911 Mideast conflicts, will present the Vietnam War Veteran pins.

Learn more

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Many Hands Project
9:00 AM09:00

Many Hands Project

The Many Hands Project is a unique opportunity for teens of different churches, mosques and synagogues to work together in community service. The first two service projects invite you to roll up your sleeves and work side by side helping  families and children in Central Massachusetts.

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Workshop: Welcoming Home Viet Nam Vets
10:00 AM10:00

Workshop: Welcoming Home Viet Nam Vets

Our Nov. 2 workshop for pastors and laity will help you Welcome Home Viet Nam veterans as well as teach you other ways to minister to veterans of all eras.

Most Viet Nam veterans have never been welcomed home by a community or congregation. In fact, many have painful stories of their reception when they returned from combat. Now fifty years after the war, congregations and communities are encouraged to find ways to honor the service and sacrifice of Viet Nam veterans in a public event to be held between Memorial Day 2012 and Veterans Day 2025. At this workshop you will:

Learn ways to formally welcome Viet Nam veterans home and publicly acknowledge their service and sacrifice.
Hear from Viet Nam veterans and better understand "unhealed wounds" both for veterans and for the community as a whole.
Discover ways to reach out to veterans of all eras, especially veterans and active duty military from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Find out what congregations around the state are doing to reach out to local veterans in order to stem the tide of homelessness, family violence and suicide.

The workshop will be held at the Congregational Church of Christ, 583 Main St., Leominster MA, on Wednesday, Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $25 per person, which includes lunch. 

This workshop is sponsored by the Brookfield Institute, the Massachusetts National Guard Chaplaincy and MA National Guard Family Program.

Register for the Nov. 2 workshop here.

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To Bend But Not Break — Leadership for Building Resilient Congregations
to Sep 24

To Bend But Not Break — Leadership for Building Resilient Congregations

Conflict and adversity touches each community of faith at one time or another — through financial challenges, leadership transitions, personal loss, difficult decisions and differences. With the right skills and perspectives, these tensions don’t have to lead to destructive altercation in the life of a congregation, but can be opportunities for creativity and spiritual growth. 

Dedicated to “inoculating” communities with greater resilience in order to respond to these challenges in life-giving ways, the day-and-a-half workshop is particularly designed for teams of pastor and lay leaders. Others who will benefit from the program include chaplains, educators, denominational heads and those involved with healing or working with congregations and communities in times of trauma, turmoil or transition. This interactive training incorporates the basic skills, theory and theology of trauma healing and conflict transformation while engaging hearts, minds and bodies in the process.

Come explore the basic ways a congregation gains greater resilience. Participants will learn to:

Clarify the Context Understanding the larger forces and patterns at play, the hidden effects trauma and conflict have on a community, and the critical need for resilience

Communicate Constructively Honing the essential skills of deep listening and dialogue

Create a “Container” — Dealing with an anxious organization, maintaining healthy boundaries, and an environment conducive to creativity and conflict transformation

Chart a Course Engaging in processes for restoring resilience including facilitating spiritual reflection, addressing pressing problems, incorporating rituals for healing, creating a new narrative, and wrestling with issues of identity. 

Program Information:
Pre-program preparation includes writing a brief “case” from your own experience to be shared during our time together and suggested articles and books to read as background for the training. Teams from individual congregations will have time to reflect together and create a concrete plan for sharing new skills and insights.

In addition, the program includes a two-hour follow-up support visit on-site with each participating congregation as they implement what they've learned.

The workshop will be facilitated by the Rev. Karen Nell Smith. For the past 20 years, she has assisted faith-based organizations representing a number of denominations and traditions throughout New England by providing facilitation and training as they work through issues of conflict, engage in discernment and visioning, or seek to strengthen the peacemaking skills as communities of faith. She is ordained in the United Church of Christ and is presently serving as pastor of the Congregational Church of Christ, UCC, in North Leominster, MA.

Friday, Sept. 23, 3 to 9 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 24, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Edwards House Meeting and Retreat Center
1 Badger Road, Framingham, MA

ncludes workshop supplies, notebook, and meals. Team of 3 (pastor + 2): $250. Advance payment required.

Space is Limited! 

Registration Deadline:
Sept. 16, 2016

Register Online

Questions? Email Andrea Bellaros


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Journey to Israel & Palestine
to Apr 21

Journey to Israel & Palestine

Take Part in a Life-Changing Trip

The Brookfield Institute joins NCCJ andMEJDI Tours inviting you to explore the Holy Land and learn from Israelis and Palestinians committed to nonviolent struggle, human rights, conflict transformation, and peace with justice. Join Christians, Muslims, and Jews seeking peace through understanding.

Those who have a genuine interest in the experience, hopes, dreams and humanity of all faith communities are encouraged to apply. Application deadline is November 15, 2015.  The group will include 30 adults and 10 high school youth.

Accompanying us are three religious and educational leaders from monotheistic faith traditions; Jewish: Dr. Yehezkel Landau, Muslim: Imam Yahya Hendi, and Christian: Reverend Dr. Karen Nell Smith. In addition, tour guides from both Israel and Palestine will lead us on the ground to provide a “dual narrative” perspective. 

Download a flyer, an Adult Application or a Youth Application.


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Journey Home From War
to Apr 6

Journey Home From War

WHEN: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 9:00 AM - Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 5:00 PM (EDT) - Add to Calendar

WHERE: Athol Congregation Church - 1225 Chestnut Street Athol, MA 01331 - View Map

HOSTED BY: Athol Congregational Church, UCC and the Brookfield Institute

REGISTRATION: Free for veterans; $27.37 general admission. Tickets available here.

Does your faith community or other organization want to better understand the experience of veterans and their families? 

Do you see our veterans’ journey home from war as a shared responsibility and an opportunity to walk alongside them in their return? 

This workshop — FREE for veterans — will build on the basic concepts of STAR (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience) and apply it to the experience of military families, including: 

  • The effects of trauma on the body, mind, and spirit;
  • Common responses to unhealed trauma;
  • Recognizing the symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury;
  • New skills and strategies to chart a healing journey 

In addition, participants will learn about the process of coming home: 

  • Stages veterans move through as they prepare for deployment and as they return;
  • Battlement: Unlearning some aspects of basic training in order to re-acclimate to life with their families;
  • The spiritual impact of war;
  • Creating a specific plan to support veterans and military families;
  • How to start working with veterans to record their stories or invite them to write their stories of combat and re-integration.

Veterans attend free but must register; general admission tickets are $27.37. Register here.

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to Oct 29

Build a Better Brain

A new program this fall will strengthen your brain. Really.

Build a Better Brain is being held Thursdays, 6:30-8 p.m., at the Hampden Town Hall on Main Street in Hampden, Mass. The first class is tonight, Sept. 24, but you can join at any time..
Studies show that stress, disease and trauma take large portions of our brain offline. Our health suffers, our work suffers, our loved ones suffer. We end up running faster but going nowhere. The key is to take time to teach our brains new tricks — to reintegrate our mind and, yes, build a better brain.
Farnsworth is a reintegration specialist, trained by The Brookfield Institute, the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology and Strategies for Trauma and Resilience (STAR).
Topics include:

Sept. 24: Our Muddled Brains How our brains become disconnected and some of the ramifications of living with a disconnected brain. Participants will practice mindfulness while beginning a Hikaro Dorodango.
Oct. 1: Reintegrating Our Emotions Participants will explore some of the feelings that keep our brains from working to full potential and learn Jin Shin Jyutsu to begin harmonizing our lives.
Oct. 8: Tapping on Blockages to Peace Sometimes despite our attempts to bring harmony to our brain, stressful life experiences create a block to full brain integration. The Emotional Freedom Technique taps on specific issues and events to unclog those disruptions to peace.
Oct. 15: Drawing on the Whole Brain Mandalas are a tool that allow us to focus on a particular issue and then let the creative part of the brain attend to the issue while we let the logical brain rest. Working together the brains often discover new meanings or solutions to untenable problems.
Oct. 22: The HaHaHa Experience the positive effects of laughter on the brain. Discover and practice paths to nurturing joy.
Oct. 29: Final Hurdles Nutrition? Exercise? Attitude? Overcoming the External and Internal "No." Participants will be given an opportunity to clear out any residual roadblocks to building a better brain. 
Cost for the workshop is only $60 per person. Call 413-566-2151 Ext. 208 to register. Each session will be held at the Town Hall, 625 Main St. Wear comfortable clothes.

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STAR   Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience
to Aug 28

STAR Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience

Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) is an evidence-based training that brings together conflict transformation, neurobiology, human security, spirituality, and restorative justice to address trauma and prevent escalating cycles of violence. The multi-faith, multicultural curriculum is adaptable to different contexts and provides approaches for addressing the needs of trauma-impacted individuals and communities.

By attending this training, you'll join more than 5,000 participants from 62 countries who have been equipped with strategies for handling post-traumatic stress and leading others beyond traumatic events, informed by the latest trauma healing research.

Cost    For the general public    $730

To register and for more information 



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Can We Talk?  An invitation to dialogue about the Holy Land
2:00 PM14:00

Can We Talk? An invitation to dialogue about the Holy Land

The conflict in Israel/Palestine is one of the most divisive subjects we face.  Yet, there is a persistent yearning to engage in compassionate listening and respectful dialogue about this ongoing, complex and painful conflict.  Join us on Sunday, May 3rd, to engage in small group conversation and to gain more insight about the challenge of dialogue by listening to the experiences of those intimately involved in the struggle for justice and reconciliation.  Featured speakers will include Dr. Yehezel Landau and Chaplain Shareda Hosein.

 Download a flyer or register now.

For more information, contact Karen Nell Smith,, 508-381-3081.

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