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Senator Warren Visits Springfield Youth Program


Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren visited a mentoring program for at risk young men in Springfield today.  She urged local social service providers to be politically active.

Warren visited Suit Up Springfield, a recently launched non-profit that provides professional attire – suits, dress shirts, ties, and accessories – along with guidance and advice to young men who’ve had run-ins with the law but want to turn their lives around.

At the organizations store front headquarters in downtown Springfield Friday, Warren, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and other elected officials held a roundtable discussion with representatives from about a dozen local social service organizations.

" Part of what I learned today is to see first hand how a good idea with just a small amount of resources can start building opportunity throughout the community," she said.

The social service providers appealed for more funding for intervention and prevention programs and less for incarceration.   Warren said that is one area where the deeply divided partisan Congress has a chance to find agreement.

" The good news is we are starting to talk with each other about the possibility of change. Part of it is about mandatory minimum sentencing, which fills up our prisons and part of it is about funding," she said.

Warren implored the social service providers to be politically active.

" Where we spend our money should reflect our values," she said. " The only way that will happen is if the political process is not owned by the millionaires and the billionaires."

Suit Up Springfield founder Justin Roberts said it was a great honor for the program, which began just last fall, to be recognized by Warren.

"To have Senator Warren come to our store is a phenomenal opportunity for this organization," he said.  " A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into getting this off the ground since last October."

Warren was introduced to 17-year-old Jonathan Neris, the first beneficiary of the program.  He talked about growing up in absolute poverty. He said he wore plastic bags as diapers and later become involved with gangs.  Now he’s a senior at Commerce High School and a leader in the JROTC program.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said there is no question programs like Suit Up Springfield can help reduce crime.

" It is what we want to do as elected officials, help young people," he said.

Also, during her visit to Springfield, Warren announced an $800,000 federal grant for the Springfield Fire Department, which will be used to purchase new equipment.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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