By Garrett Cote
Chase Kupinsky’s already immense smile grew just a bit bigger when Springfield mayor Domenic Sarno handed him a large check worth $10,000 on Thursday, Sept. 15.
Kupinsky, a Springfield College senior, received the check while he was helping present new sports equipment to the students at Alice B. Beal Elementary School in Springfield. Kupinsky and Sarno were joined by the city’s C3 police unit, representatives from Dick’s Sporting Goods, and several members of Springfield Together, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for the youth to achieve success. They bounced around five different elementary schools, surprising children with basketball hoops, sneakers and tons of other equipment.
What originally had started out as $3,000 in grant money quickly turned into $10,000 as a reward for how well Kupinsky’s project turned out.
“Because everything went successfully, (Dick’s) upped it to $10,000,” Kupinsky said. “Now we have $7,000 more dollars. The day of the event they gave us this big oversized check that had 10K on it. We were stunned. That’s more than triple our original amount. We did so much with $3,000, now we can continue with a lot more.”
In May of 2021, Kupinsky, an English major and environmental studies minor, was alerted to a summer internship opportunity with Springfield Together by Anne Wheeler, the Chair of the Department of Literature, Writing, and Journalism. Immediately, Kupinsky was all in – and the commute wasn’t ever an issue for the Belchertown, Mass., native.
Kupinsky and his colleagues at Springfield Together began working on different events that could be scheduled throughout the course of the summer, including a giveaway of toys and games for local children to kick things off.
While with Springfield Together during the summer of 2021, Kupinsky met an alum of Springfield College, Maame Dufie Kyei (‘19), who was teaching a grant writing class he was taking. From there the two took Kupinksy’s plan and put it into action.
“I took the grant class, and I slowly started to learn the basics of it,” he said. “Eventually I had to come up with my own event. I chose a sporting equipment giveaway. That was something I designed myself. I wrote the different parts of the grant, and sent it off to Dick’s Sporting Goods.”
Grants are extremely hard work to draft, and there is certainly no guarantee it will get accepted. Kupinsky spent the majority of the summer with Dufie Kyei working on this grant, and finally submitted it in the fall of 2021.
It wasn’t until May of 2022 when he received an email from the West Springfield chapter of Dick’s.
“It started with $1,000 — the West Springfield store gave us that,” Kupinsky said. “The Hadley and Enfield (Conn.) stores teamed up and gave us $1,000 more each, so it turned into $3,000. We then started talking with [Community Marketing Manager of Dick’s Sporting Goods Dan LaBreck], and he was on board, so we kept going with the project.”
The moment was full circle for Kupinsky – almost too perfect.
There was exactly a year in between when he first got word of the Springfield Together internship from Wheeler to when he received the first email accepting his grant request.
But there was no time to be complacent. The real work had only just begun.
“After a lot of planning and coordinating the next steps, we worked with City Connects,” Kupinsky said. “They work with the students, teachers and parents to develop the relationships between all three parties. They help identify the needs of the schools, and we wanted to try to replenish equipment for afterschool programs and recess.”
The $3,000 then got split up between the five elementary schools in Springfield.
Sept. 15, 2022 was then appointed to be the day that all organizations and parties come together to deliver the equipment to the schools. The Dick’s marketing team rolled out a green carpet, set up a big backdrop with the Dick’s Sporting Goods logo and decorated the scene with hundreds of green and white balloons.
None of the kids knew they were receiving new equipment. It came as a complete surprise.
For Kupinsky, that was his favorite part of the entire process.
“One of the best things was just being able to see their faces, see their reactions,” he said. “To understand that the equipment was for them and the school to keep, that it was permanent stuff they can enjoy for years and years. That was really special. They showed up on a regular day of school, and they had no idea.”
Springfield Together now has $7,000 left over. Neil Philips, owner of Dunn and Phillips Law Office in Springfield and a founding member of Springfield Together, is in charge of the spending. Considering how long it takes to put an action plan together, and because Kupinsky is now resuming his duties as a full-time college student, he acknowledges that it’s unlikely he will be a part of the next project(s) before he embarks on his next journey – fulfilling his plans of attending graduate school.
“At least the money is in good hands,” Kupinsky said. “There are people who are capable of putting together plans and spending the money. I’m not quite sure how involved I’ll be. If I’m living across the country, I won’t be as inclined (to watch) over every little decision. My availability will change for sure in the next eight months.”
Whether Kupinsky is involved in the next steps Springfield Together plans on taking or not, he is forever embedded in this incredible act of service, and he, beyond any doubt, represents the Springfield College mantra of putting Humanics in action.
For more information on Springfield Together, visit https://www.springfieldtogether.org.
Photos Courtesy of Dick’s Sporting Goods and Chase Kupinsky