Young Professionals’ Group members get hands dirty for a good cause

GRAFTON, MA _ Members of HYPE9, an offshoot of the Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce that was developed in 2007 for younger emerging professionals between the ages of 21 – 40, volunteered the majority of their day to planting potatoes on June 15. When completely grown, the crop could yield up to 1,600 lbs. of potatoes.

Michelle Barnett, marketing services manager for PENTA Communications, Inc., was named HYPE9 chair in 2011, and is now currently co-chairing with HYPE9 member Lynn Cheney.

“One of our core values at PENTA Communications is to give back to our communities and to empower our team to contribute, grow and learn through their involvement in various charitable organizations,” said Deborah Penta, CEO. “Throughout the year, we provide our team with opportunities during the business day to evangelize our mission and carry-forth our philosophy of charitable giveback by dedicating time and talent. We are proud to support the Corridor Nine and its young professionals group, HYPE9.”

The Community Harvest Project is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that grows fruits and vegetables for hunger relief. The fresh fruit and fresh vegetables are donated to the Worcester County Food Bank, where they are distributed to hunger relief organizations within the Worcester County Food Bank’s network.

“Our organization gives community members the opportunity to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for hunger relief, and the Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce HYPE9 group has been an incredible partner in that effort. They have spent countless hours volunteering on the farm, and they’ve also helped us to connect to the business community,” said Community Harvest Executive Director Kristin Bafaro.

“We’re so thankful for their support!”

“We’ve been working with the Community Harvest Project for a number of years. We generally help out in June with planting, and then come back in September and help pick the harvest,” said HYPE9 Co-Chair Michelle Barnett.

“Michelle Barnett has been a leadership chair of the Corridor Nine Chamber’s HYPE9 young professionals group for the last year. Michelle has been part of the Advisory Board of HYPE9 since its inception in 2007, and she brings a wealth of ideas and enthusiasm to this group. With Michelle’s leadership and commitment, she has helped inspire other young professionals in the region to become actively involved with their community, develop relationships with their own peers, and become future leaders of Corridor Nine and our region,” said Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Clifford. “Most recently Michelle brought 23 young professionals together for a community service project at Brigham Hill Community Farm. They planted over 2,080 potato and sweet potato plants for distribution to the Worcester County Food Bank. Earlier this month Michelle participated in a forum between Corridor Nine, HYPE9 and six young Russian professionals visiting through the Open World Leadership Program, presented by International Center of Worcester (ICW).”

Barnett has been an active member of HYPE9‘s Advisory Board since its inception.

Additionally, since 2007 Barnett has been a member of the Corridor Nine’s Chamber of Commerce Membership Development Committee.

“I have truly enjoyed working with the business professionals who participate in this Group, and I have learned so much from each individual’s contribution,” Barnett said.

For nearly two decades, PENTA Communications, Inc. has been a longstanding supporter of the Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce with its employees serving on numerous committees including the School to Business Partnership Committee, Economic Development Committee, Membership Committee, HYPE9, and Board of Directors. Deborah Penta is a past Chair of the Corridor Nine Board of Directors and Executive Committee Member, and is currently the Co-Chair of the Marketing Committee.