By JIM DANKO firstname.lastname@example.org
AGAWAM - With its future in jeopardy, the Shriners Hospital for Children got a solid vote of support from the City Council on Monday night.
The council voted 11-0 to pass a resolution in support of the continued operation of the Springfield hospital, which was founded more than 80 years ago.
About 20 members of the Melha Shriners attended the meeting.
"It's been here 84 years, and we want to shoot for 100," Allen G. Zippin, of Longmeadow, said after the meeting. Zippin is emeritus chairman of the board of governors for the hospital.
Agawam joins Springfield's council as one of the region's governing bodies taking an official vote of support, according to Zippin.
Some of the councilors spoke about personal connections to the hospital, saying they had family members who were treated at Shriners.
"You do a lot of good work," said Councilor Joseph Mineo, who said his daughter was helped by the hospital.
"The services of Shriners Hospital are priceless," said Cecilia P. Calabrese, vice president of the council who attended a recent rally for the hospital. "This is something that is so vital to so many families here in Agawam."
Shriners from across the country will be asked to decide at a convention in July whether to close the Springfield hospital and five others in its nationwide network of 22 children's hospitals and burn centers.
The Springfield hospital has been classified as "under-utilized." It sees 18,000 outpatient visits each year and offers free treatment to children from around the world.