Message From Executive Director

As I officially come on as the new Executive Director of ACTS, I am filled with excitement and anticipation. During the last month, I had the opportunity to observe the dedication, hard work, and commitment of our staff, volunteers, and board of directors. I witnessed the wonderful relationships between our tutors and the children in our program as well as the connections made by our Site Directors with their parents.

The pandemic disrupted all our lives, especially the educational lives of school children. The early report from schools is that our children’s education has suffered during the past year and a half. The ministry of ACTS is needed now more than ever before. We’re working to reopen our sites and add new ones in the coming months. There are some challenges as we try to get to a “new” normal, but there are also some great opportunities for ACTS to grow and expand our work and ministry. I’m looking forward to working with our Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers as we continue to make a difference…one child at a time…one family at a time.

Together in Ministry,

        Rev. Dr. Barbara E. Headley

Meet Our New Executive Director

The Rev. Dr. Barbara Headley is the Senior Pastor of Zion Community Baptist Church in Springfield, MA. Prior to coming to ACTS, she served for eleven years as the Senior Pastor of Faith Congregational Church in Hartford, CT and 17 years as Deputy Chaplain of the Connecticut State Senate. Dr. Headley has worked many years as a leadership consultant, trainer and coach for community and faith-based organizations and as an adjunct professor of ministry leadership at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and as an adjunct professor in the area of leadership at Bay Path University in Longmeadow. MA. Dr. Headley served seven years as the Assistant Dean and Director of Degree Programs at Hartford Seminary, where she was also an adjunct professor and on the Board of Trustees. While at Hartford Seminary Rev. Headley help organize with Leadership Greater Hartford a city-wide conference addressing the issue of homeless students in the city of Harford.  She was the founder and former President of Faith Community Initiatives Inc., a church based nonprofit organization in the north end of the city of Hartford. She is the recipient of several awards for community service including the Trinity College Master Carpenter Certificate of Merit award for community service and the Hartford Urban League’s Community Service award. In 2006, she received a citation and recognition by the Connecticut General Assembly for her community work.  She was appointed in 2005 by then Governor Jodi Rell to the Citizens Council of the Connecticut State Office of Ethics.

Dr. Headley serves on the Board of Directors of The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts and is a member of the Greater Springfield Pastors Council.

Dr. Headley has a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy from Ithaca College, a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, a Doctor of Ministry degree with distinction from Hartford Seminary and a Graduate Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Bay Path University.  Dr. Headley is an ordained American Baptist minister.

News From The ACTS Director

Dear friends,

Welcome to ACTS, Springfield’s only faith-based one-to-one tutoring and mentoring program!

I’m pleased to welcome you to our online home. We have a passion for putting caring adults in the lives of Springfield’s elementary school students.  I hope you’ll see this reflected in these pages!

ACTS has grown remarkably over the past several years and our board, site directors, supporters and tutors are working to build on that success.  We are currently serving about 75 students at our locations throughout Springfield and it is my hope that, very soon, we can fill the current sites to their full capacity. Could you be a tutor?  Or do you know someone who could be?  Please let us know!  

And remember, high school students can make excellent tutors too.

Working with ACTS is a rewarding experience and evidence of God’s grace can be seen at every site, every week.  It is truly a privilege to part of the ACTS Family!

Blessings to all!

Burt Hansen, Director

Site Directors Needed

Do you enjoy working with children? Do you demonstrate a loving Christian concern for others in your daily life? Can you commit to spending 4 – 5 hours each week during the school year to be part of the ACTS Family? You could make an excellent site director! ACTS currently has openings for three site directors. Each weekly two-hour session includes snack time with students and tutors as a group, tutoring time in tutor-student pairs, and Club Time where we get back together as a group to read Bible stories, engage the students in conversations about people in the Bible, and do Bible-themed activities. Site directors plan Club Time and provide resources and guidance to tutors and students. The stipend is $100 per week.

“The Legacy”- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Legacy
Every year we pause to acknowledge the life work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
And every year I become increasingly aware of how brilliant he was, how deliberate he was and how young he was.
I am older than Dr. King was when he caught the bullet that was intended for him
He was ready
He was not as beloved at the time as he is now
He was radical
Disruptive
He broke laws
He angered politicians
He sacrificed time from his family
He made people uncomfortable
He challenged
He interrupted
He questioned
He showed up
He was a soldier in a war
And his legacy is in the spoils of the battle
This thought leads me to imagine the following:
When the work is done
When the time is up
When you are no longer required to be present
when your voice is an echo locked in a memory
when your fragrance is a familiar scent in a breeze
when your heart is no longer doing the thing that it is doing right now
when your flesh is dust on a mantel
or buried in a field beneath acres of flowers and trees and chiseled poetry
when you are sitting at the feet of your great great-great-great- grandfather
as he enchants you with stories about designing the pyramids
he speaks to you in a language you never heard but fully understand
every table has a feast prepared
everyone greets you with a loving embrace
Princess Diana is giving tours
Rosa Parks and Amelia Earhart are leading Tai Chi in the East
Buddha and Prince are comparing pancake recipes
Jesus and Mohammed are shooting pool and you marvel at how much they look alike
they call each other Brother
You see Dr, King and Coretta holding hands and giggling like teenagers
Your mind is instantly filled with all the answers to all the questions
Joy is permeating through your new body
there are no worries
no rushing no deadlines
no pain or heartache
just joy and peace
and a tiny miniscule barely detectable seed of regret
you begin to wonder what, if any part, of who you were, in that other place, remains
You are summoned
without introduction you are lead down a magnificent hall
and you are suddenly face to face with The Author
you bow and shake and cry and The Author is calm
and nothing like you imagined yet you recognized who it was immediately
you are given your new assignment
“Your regret, Beloved, is of no use here”
You are lead to the Purpose Room
The floor is covered with tiny bundles
Each one wrapped in a material which could best be described as light
Staffers in the room are sprinkling each bundle with -something
Whispering to it
Then they lift it and send it out
You are informed
“These are new lives. The staffers select their parents and dispense their talents; they also decide how much time they get on earth until they have to return to Paradise.
You have a special role. One that is reserved for those who come to Me with any regret. You
will be one of the whisperers you will give them their purpose.”
Before you can ask the question it is answered.
“Each purpose is the same. You will tell them all, to make it better.”
It is my belief that it is each of our assignments to make the world better than how we found it
Our work should be to see the human in each other
To encourage others to see the human in each other
To find a way to lend a hand
To use our gifts as vehicles for liberation
To spend as much time creating as we do consuming
Feeding as often as we are eating
Comforting as often as we are celebrating
Planting as often as we are chopping down
There should be something left of us that breathes when we cannot any longer
Something should be better because we were here
Let’s not arrive to Paradise carrying the useless baggage of regret
Are you serving your purpose?
How much time do you have left?
Lynnette Elizabeth Johnson ®
January 13, 2017

Peabody Challenge – Above and Beyond!

As we entered our usual late fall fund-raising season, the Amelia Peabody Foundation provided a challenge grant of $10,000 – as you know, that means they would match donations to ACTS dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000!

The very, very, VERY good news is, we not only met the goal, we far exceeded it! We recently reported to the Foundation that we raised $11,890.98. Contributions came in on Giving Tuesday Dec. 1, as a result of our annual Christmas Appeal, from some generous private donations, and from First Church of Christ in Longmeadow and Christ-the-King/Epiphany Churches in Wilbraham.

Several of our usual supporters made additional donations to help us meet the challenge – and that’s a beautiful thing! We also received encouraging notes with the contributions:

Enclosed is a contribution to help this wonderful ministry continue! Mariana B.
A little extra for a deserving organization. Ron A.
May 2021 allow you to get going again – the kids need their tutors! Thanks so much for this ministry! Laurel S.
With love & prayers! Dina H.

While tutoring is on hold, we’re waiting for the green light

Many members of the ACTS Family have been working toward re-opening for this school year but it’s just not possible – yet. Many of our host sites are closed – some that had opened are now closed again because of surging virus numbers – and Springfield is in the “red zone” in terms of the number of COVID infections.

So we really had no choice but to declare a “pause.”

Due to the pandemic, we’re experiencing a “perfect storm* of sorts involving three variables:

1. Host sites that aren’t open

2. Site directors who aren’t comfortable with in-person tutoring

3. Tutors who aren’t comfortable with in-person tutoring

Unfortunately, these variables play out in various ways at various tutoring sites such that none of the sites has the working combination of being open, having a site director and having tutors.

Sadly, many families are eager for their kids to have tutoring!

Looking to the future, we have put in place things we can control:

  • Protocols for arrival, tutoring and dismissal following COVID guidelines
  • Conversations with site hosts about their own requirements
  • Plexiglass “sneeze guards” so tutors and kids can face each other across the table
  • A supply of masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes made possible by a grant from the Black Men of Greater Springfield

As soon as we get the green light – host sites open and Springfield in the virus “green zone” – we are ready to open! Pray on behalf of our children that it can be soon!

Amazon Smile – Select Action Centered Tutoring and Contribute

Planning to do some shopping on Amazon?  Why not make a difference in the life of a child at the same time!  

Amazon has a Foundation called Amazon Smile at www.smile.amazon.com.  Every time you shop through this site, Amazon will donate  0.5%  of your purchase to a charity you select.  I hope you will consider selecting Action Centered Tutoring Services as your charity of choice.  The program provides free one-to-one tutoring for students in grades 1-5, and as a Board member and tutor, I can personally tell you what a positive impact this program has on children’s lives.

There is just one step required in signing up.  When you go to www.smile.amazon.com  for the first time and sign into your account, you will be asked to select a charity.  This is where you can type in Action Centered Tutoring Services.  Once the system has pulled up the program,  just hit the “Select” button and you are done!   The site is exactly the same as the regular Amazon site, but through your shopping,  you will be helping to provide free tutoring services to children in need–it doesn’t get any better than that!

Jennifer Cushman, President, ACTS Board