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Northern Berkshire United Way Celebrates Spirit of Caring and Celebration
03:16PM / Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Richard Alcombright, Al Nelson and Christine Hoyt were honored at the Northern Berkshire United Way's first annual Spirit of Caring Awards & Celebration.



Mary-Kay Senecal and Cindy Brightly of Crane Stationery received the Outstanding Campaign Coordinators of the Year Award.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Northern Berkshire United Way held its first annual Spirit of Caring Awards & Celebration on Thursday, May 17, recognizing three individuals in the community for their length and breadth of service to Northern Berkshire United Way, its network, and the overall Northern Berkshire community: Alan Nelson, Richard Alcombright, and Christine Hoyt.

With more than150 guests in attendance to celebrate, James Birge, president of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, opened the program with a welcome before the awards ceremony. Jason Dohaney, board president, thanked all in attendance and the sponsors for attending the inaugural event, which will raise funds for the community.

Christa Collier, executive director of NBUW, opened the awards presentation. Hoyt was presented the Spirit of the Future Award. As a former member agency board member and community leader, "Christine was an instant choice for this award. She is not only an active and involved community member and selectperson but she understands the member agency perspective," Collier said.

Hoyt is assistant to the dean at Berkshire Community College and a former director of events and programs at the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. She has been a member of the board of Youth Center Inc. and Pro Adams and is serving her first term on the Adams Board of Selectmen. 

Alcombright, former mayor of the city of North Adams, was presented the Spirit of Community Award for his years of dedication as a former Northern Berkshire United Way and member agency board member.

"Dick truly cares, listens and understands the issues facing the member agencies and our community. He has been in the corner for each one of the community issues we face and we are all glad he will still represent the community in his new role at MountainOne," Collier said.

Alcombright has a long career in banking, to which he returned after four terms as mayor, and has been a member of numerous boards and commissions, including a regional task force on opioid abuse. 

Nelson was presented with the first annual Al Nelson Spirit of Caring Award, named after him for his years of dedicated service as former NBUW executive leadership member from 1981-1996. Since his retirement, he has continued to stay actively involved with NBUW projects and member agency boards, as well as spearheading programs in the community such as the Friendship Center Food Pantry.

"Al is still pounding the pavement trying to help the most vulnerable people be served with dignity and respect," Collier said.

Following the awards presentation, a video produced by Keith Foreman titled "Securing the Safety Net in Northern Berkshire" was shown. This video focused on NBUW's obligation to the community to fund member agencies that provide emergency and crisis programs. In addition to providing funding to member agencies that provide health, education and financial stability programs, NBUW is committed to provide funding in the area of safety net services. In order to illustrate this work, NBUW set out to produce this video to showcase the crucial work and need for this work in the community to show the impact on agencies that support the most vulnerable in our community, from the lens of the member agency leadership.

Ellen Sutherland, NBUW board member and vice president of campaign, presented the Outstanding Campaign Coordinators of the Year Award to Mary-Kay Senecal and Cindy Brightly of Crane Stationery to round out the celebration. During their time as campaign coordinators, Senecal and Brightly have increased their campaign and made it fun in the process, educating their employees about what NBUW does in the community, Sutherland said.

"This is not just about what our honorees have done for our agency. This night is about celebrating what they and what we all do to improve our community. Our honorees do the work they do, without expectation of recognition, but we want to recognize that their contributions have contributed greatly to the well-being of our community," Collier said.

The event was held at MCLA's Church Street Center. 

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