EASTHAMPTON — Riverside Industries is introducing a hybrid-style format for its popular fundraising auction this year — an ongoing silent auction and an in-person auction scheduled for this Friday.

The non-profit organization uses proceeds from the annual event in its mission to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live full lives.

The silent auction portion of the event kicked off last Friday with the ability to bid online at rsi.org on more than 180 items, ranging from a one-year Springfield Country Club membership, gift cards at local restaurants, including the Blue Heron restaurant in Sunderland. , and a getaway to Chatham.

Bidding is open for the silent auction until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 8.

Susan Lapointe, director of development and community relations for the organization, said that since taking on her current role in October 2018, the annual auction has raised more than $300,000 for Riverside through donations. sponsorships, cash donations and bidders. The past two years have been very different from previous years due to COVID-19, she said.

“Everyone is looking forward to this event as the beginning of spring,” Lapointe said. “Before the pandemic, over 400 community members gathered at One Cottage Street to participate in the auction and kick off the season.”

Riverside’s in-person auction, which will be limited to 100 people, will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. this Friday at CitySpace at Old City Hall, 43 Main St. in Easthampton.

“We thought this would be a great opportunity to partner with another nonprofit and show off the incredible work they are doing bringing Old City Hall back to life,” LaPointe said.

Among the items featured at the live auction is a package that includes a 30-minute flight for up to three people over Pioneer Valley and includes a $50 gift card to Fitzwilly’s at Northampton and a $150 gift card to downtown Northampton. The item is valued at $425.

The live auction also offers the opportunity to donate to Riverside’s “Support a Need” category. With this auction item, organizers asked staff to suggest a need that, if met, will help provide better services to people served by Riverside.

This year’s Support a Need plan is to fundraise for adjustable treatment tables.

Tickets for the live auction are available online for $50 per person and must be purchased in advance, with auctions starting at 7 p.m. For those unable to join in person, Riverside will be streaming the event live at https://bit.ly/3uF05gY.

Council backs debt-free future law

Easthampton City Council unanimously passed a resolution at its March 16 meeting backing a statewide push to create a program that covers tuition and fees for all Massachusetts residents. attending a state-run higher education institution.

Councilor Dan Rist and At-Large Councilor Koni Denham have written a letter to their fellow council members expressing concern about the rising costs of public higher education and its impact on young people in Easthampton. They claimed that expanding access to affordable higher education through the Debt-Free Futures Act (H.1339/S.829) would give more Easthampton students the opportunity to choose their path. in life without being blocked by insurmountable financial obstacles.

“I think it’s important for us to support this in part because 41% of young people in Easthampton are designated as economically disadvantaged, which impacts our community,” Denham said at the meeting. “We also talk about inclusivity, equity and access and that would have a huge impact on women and communities of color who are affected by it.”

Public viewing session in Westhampton

Westhampton’s Open Space and Recreation Plan Committee will host a public viewing session to further guide and inform the town’s Open Space and Recreation Plan. The session will take place from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday at the Westhampton Public Library, 1 North Road.

The session will include a presentation on the elements of the city’s green space and recreation plan, including existing conditions as well as the results of a public survey.

Committee members will also provide hands-on mapping to identify preferred and important locations and areas of vulnerability or concern, and conduct breakout sessions to discuss open space assets, needs, challenges and funding opportunities. and recreation related to conservation, water supply, wildlife, climate change, agriculture, forestry, trails and sites of historical significance.

Emily Thurlow can be contacted at [email protected]