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Berkshires Beat: Habitat for Humanity Giving One Family Ultimate Christmas Present
01:10PM / Monday, December 11, 2017
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General Dynamics Build Day volunteers help put the finishing touches on the new Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity home, to be dedicated this weekend in Pittsfield.

Home at last

Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity will be dedicating a new home to a local family on Saturday, Dec. 16. The public is welcome. The formal presentation will begin at 1 p.m. with local leaders as well as state Sen. Adam Hinds and Roberta McCulloch-Dew, director of Administrative Services in the Office of the Mayor.
Thanks to the tremendous support of donors, volunteers, neighbors, community partners and construction leaders, the DelSonno family will be moved into their new home at 92 Clarendon Street, Pittsfield, just in time for the holidays. Days after the foundation had been poured, building commenced on May 6 with Habitat's annual Women Build event and ceremony lead by Team Women in Government, including state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Mayor Linda Tyer.

Norma and William DelSonno committed to becoming a Homebuyer Partner in July of 2015. They began working with their volunteer coach, Diane Sturtevant, to complete the homebuyer application process, attend Building for Tomorrow, a financial preparedness program, and accomplish 600 hours of sweat equity while working opposite shifts to optimize their time with their five children.

More than 700 volunteers and over 17,500 hours of volunteer labor helped build the DelSonno house during the last seven months. Countless community partners have made donations of materials and services; restaurant partners have provided over 860 lunches for 48 groups of volunteers and leaders with their ongoing generosity and support of affordable housing in the Berkshires.


Hello, Santa

The Pittsfield Department of Community Development Recreation Program will be conducting the annual North Pole Calling Program Wednesday, Dec. 13, and Thursday, Dec. 14, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Sign-up forms have been sent home with Pittsfield students in kindergarten and grades one and two but older children can participate, too, but submitting a form.

Forms are also available at the City Clerk’s Office in room 103 of City Hall, 70 Allen St., or through a link on the home page of the city's website. Completed forms must be returned by Wednesday, Dec. 13. In 2016, Santa called more than 130 children in the city.


Stocking the pantry

The Stephentown Food Pantry relies entirely on community donations of money and food items to keep operating. The pantry's team of hard-working volunteers sorts, shops, shelves, and shows up every Saturday to help our neighbors who need food assistance.

The Stephentown Food Pantry has been serving the community since 1983. Those who would like to donate money to the pantry can send checks to the Stephentown Food Pantry treasurer at P. O. Box 387, Stephentown, NY  12168. There also is a collection basket for nonperishable food donations (no glass containers, please) at the Stephentown Memorial Library.
The Stephentown Food Pantry offers short-term assistance to residents of Stephentown, N.Y.,  and Hancock, Mass. The pantry is an equal opportunity provider.  The pantry is open every Saturday morning, weather permitting, from 9 to 11 a.m. a.m. at the Stephentown Federated Church, Garfield Road (County Route 26).  Appointments are not needed, but new clients should bring identification showing their street address, such as a current utility bill.


Celebrating the Arc

Berkshire County Arc President Kenneth Singer presents the Employee of the Year to Shaun Hall.

Berkshire County Arc welcomed more than 200 employees, dignitaries, community members, and partners at the 63rd Annual Meeting on Friday, Dec. 8, at the ITAM Lodge. The meeting began with a "Year in Review" of the exciting activities and initiatives that BCArc has been involved in over the past year - from advocacy, spring break camps, picnics, The Buddy Walk and Sprout Film Festival, to Autism Awareness Month, opening new homes and community collaborations.

Gailanne Cariddi was recognized in spirit as her presence was sorely missed at this event she has attended for many years. Legislators in attendance were: North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright, Rep. John Barrett, Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, and Rep. Paul Mark. They spoke of their passion for human services and the work that is being done at the State level, by BCArc and many other organizations in the community advocating on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

Awards also were given out. Kimberly and Katye Mozo, recipients of the Citizenship Award, and sisters are connected to Berkshire County Arc through the Adult Family Care Program. They experienced chronic illnesses throughout most of their life and formed K&K Pill Bottles through the funding of a GoFundMe page where they decorate pill bottles and fill them with surprises to give to others who suffer from chronic illnesses. The Joan Grant Self-Advocate Award was given to Christy Rich, an individual who communicates mostly through vocalizations, pointing and occasionally using sign language. Achievement Awards also were presented to Madeline Bialor, David Daviau, Pierre Polite and Joshua Aldrich, and Work Achievement Awards were presented to Randall Dutton and Andrew LaPatin.

In addition, a special award was presented to Alcombright for his dedicated service and continuous support of Berkshire County Arc over the years. A special award was presented to District Attorney David Capeless and the District Attorney's Office for their compassion for individuals with disabilities and assisting I/DD in the navigation of the justice system. The Employer of the Year Award was presented to Walmart of Pittsfield and Walmart of North Adams, the Business Partnership Award was presented to Peoples Bank and Citizen Advocate of the Year was presented to Michelle Bedard for her commitment to her protégé and friend, Tina.

Employee Recognition Awards also were given, including the Carol Craighead Mission Award presented to Nicole Riviera; the Outstanding Vocational Services Employee Award presented to Jen Miller; the Outstanding Support Staff Employee Award presented to Rebecca Cachat; the Outstanding Brain Injury Services Employee Award presented to Chris Negri; the Outstanding Residential Services Employee Award presented to Ashley Griffin; and the Berkshire County Arc Employee of the Year presented to Shaun Hall.


4-H teens sought

Youths between the ages of 12 and 18 are invited to be part of the 4-H Teen Leadership group "Fair Association." The next meeting will be Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m. at Brattle Farm (600 Williams Street) in Pittsfield. Contact the 4-H office at 413-448-8285 with any questions.


Mill City Auditions

Mill City Productions will be holding auditions at the North Adams Public Library on Thursday, Dec. 14, for its winter series of staged playreadings. Actors may drop in any time between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Plays in the series include "Tally's Folly" by Lanford Wilson (to be performed Jan. 11), "Race" by David Mamet (March 15), and the female version of "The Odd Couple" by Neil Simon (April 5). Actors of all experience levels and genders are invited to audition, and while most of the roles are open to actors of any ethnicity, two of the roles in "Race" are specifically written for black/African-american actors.

Along with adults of all ages, interested high school & college students are also welcome to audition. Those auditioning will be asked to read scenes from the plays; no prepared monologues necessary. More information on Facebook.


In training

Several councilors-elect from North Adams joined other newly elected councilors and aldermen from across the state at a training conference held by the Massachusetts Municipal Councillors' Association, a member group of Massachusetts Municipal Association, on Dec. 2 at Framingham State University's Warren Conference Center in Ashland.

Councillors-elect Rebbecca A. Cohen, Marie T. Harpin and Jason M. LaForest attended the training conference. They will be sworn in on the first of January at City Hall in North Adams. Current City Councillor Lisa Blackmer, who serves as Immediate Past President of the MMA and MMCA Second Vice-President, moderated the forum on Open Meeting and Public Record laws.

The conference included four workshop sessions: You’ve Been Elected – Now What? Navigating Your Role as a Councillor; Introduction to Open Meeting and Public Records Laws; City Finance and Budgeting 101; and Navigating Constituent Services.

Attendees also learned about best practices, management tools, and actions essential to running municipal government efficiently and effectively in challenging times. Workshop speakers offered training and advice on a full range of topics that the new local legislators will use to shape the future of Massachusetts communities.


Way to go

Southwestern Vermont Health Care hosted a sold-out crowd of more than 330 people at the 8th Annual Harvest Ball on Sept. 9 at the Hubbell Homestead in Bennington. The event raised over $225,000.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock was the title sponsor of the event, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock's President and CEO Dr. Joanne Conroy attended with several members of her leadership team. At the event the SVHC Foundation presented the 2017 Vision Awards. Dr. Brian Cunningham received the 2017 Health Care Leadership Award and the Hoyt Family accepted the 2017 Distinguished Community Service Award. The Vision Awards honor recipients for their efforts to advance the health system’s vision of healthier communities.

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