PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Spending time in the hospital can be depressing, even if one is surrounded by supportive people.
So Kimberly and Katye Mozo, who know firsthand about medical challenges and spending numerous days in hospitals, wanted to help lighten the days of others with the same experience.
They formed K&K Pill Bottles and used donations to decorate and fill the vials with suprises to send to people with chronic and long-term illnesses.
"We try to put smiles on others faces that might be going through a rough time because we know firsthand what it's like," said Kimberly Mozo, speaking on behalf of herself and her sister to a packed Itam Lodge at Berkshire County Arc's 63rd annual meeting on Friday. "And if we can make their day a little brighter than so be it, because that's our goal."
The Mozo sisters are connected to BC Arc through its Adult Family Care Program. It was their kind gestures, including buying toys for the children at Baystate Children's Hospital, despite their own hardships that earned them this year's Berkshire County Arc Citizenship of the Year Award.
Berkshire County Arc celebrated the efforts of clients like the Mozos and its employees on Friday morning and helped the Berkshire delegation get an idea of how critical the agency is in the lives of some of the county's most vulnerable.
"It's wonderful to see this huge crowd here made up of people we serve, families, business community, our legislative representatives and so many people from this community coming together to celebrated our 63rd annual meeting," said President and CEO Kenneth Singer. "We've had a really good year this past year, fun things and exciting things."
The agency provides support and advocacy for autism, and for brain injured and the developmentally challenged in the county, to live up to their potential. It has a budget of $34 million and has 700 employees working with more than 1,000 individuals and their families in Berkshire and Hampden counties. Services range from residential homes to employment training to the agency's Zip 'N Sort Mail Services to adult day care.
In the last year, it opened two new residential programs for those with brain injuries, bringing the number of homes to 12 and launched a new Autism Outreach Services Program. BC Arc also continued cooperative agreements with partners including the Pathways to Justice, which included a conference bring police, court and human services representatives together; a development program with Williamstown Theatre Festival; and with Berkshire Music School and CATA.
BC Arc presented two special awards for two community who have supported the agency in their official capacities: outgoing North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright and Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless.
"I love being at the Arc legislative breakfast and events because I always get a sense of pride, resilience, perserverance and, most remarkably, the sense of abilities that far surpass any disabilities," Alcombright said in last address to the group as mayor.
He said his tenure had allowed him the opportunity to develop relationships with a wide swath of the community across a diverse range of people.
"All of these interactions has made me a better human being and, additionally, being mayor has allowed me to craft relationships with so many good people around this region who are wokring to make positive differences," the mayor said.
Employee of the Year Shaun Hall is applauded.
Capeless and his office were recognized for "the extraordinary efforts put forth on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities," Singer said.
The district attorney said he was proud of the commitment of the people in his office and their work with Berkshire County Arc. When first appointed to his position, Capeless said his pledge had been to "not only serve all of the citizens of the county but, most importantly, I would put my energies to those who protect those who are most vulnerable. That includes seniors, children and, most importantly, the people who are here in this room. ...
"The criminal justice system can be a daunting situation for any person but for someone coming in with disabilties, that can be a very fearsome challenge and I'm glad we have been able to help out."
State Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, and John Barrett III, D-North Adams, spoke and Roberta McCulluch-Dews brought greetings on behalf of Mayor Linda Tyer. State Rep. Paul Mark was also in attendance.
Board Chairman Joseph P. Woitkowski welcomed the gathering and the invocation was given by Deb Lindsay. Robert Sinopoli read the nominations for officers for two-year terms: Woitkowski as chair, Debra Jarck as vice chair, Michael Ferry as treasurer, Thomas J. Hamel as assistant treasurer, and Sinopoli as clerk, and board members Kathy Clark, Linda Carnevale, Dr. Marc Pettus, Douglas Craighead and Tony Mazzeo. All were approved by voice vote.
Awards presented were:
• Employer of the Year: Walmart of Pittsfield and North Adams, accepted by Chris Bryant of the North Adams store and Brian Bissonnette of the Pittsfield store.
• Business Partnership Award: Peoples Bank, for its work with Arc's Zip 'N Sort Mail Services, accepted by Erin Young
• Citizen Advocate of the Year: Michelle Bedard
• Citizenship Award: Kimberly and Katye Mozo
• Achievement Award: Madeline Bialor, David Davlau
• Achievement in Personal Growth Award: Pierre Polite, Joshua Aldrich
• Work Achievement Award: Randall Dutton, employee of Guido's Market
• Entrepreneurial Work Achievement Award: Andrew LaPatin, an independent artist
• Joan Grant Self-Advocate Award: Christy Rich
• Carol Craighead Mission Award: Nicole Rivera
• Outstanding Support Staff of the Year: Rebecca Cachat
• Outstanding Vocational Employee: Jen Miller
• Outstanding Brain Injury Services Employee: Chris Negri
• Outstanding Day Program Employee: Ashley Griffin
• Outstanding Residential Services Employee: Albert Armah
• Employee of the Year: Shaun Hall
A number of employees were also recognized for years of service.
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