NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — More than 100 people and organizations were recognized for acts of kindness and community — large and small — at Wednesday's Neighborlies Awards.
They delivered snacks to first responders, organized local events, planted trees, mentored teens, shoveled walks, invested in historic buildings, raised funds for charities, fed the hungry and went above and beyond in their jobs to serve their communities.
This year saw the presentation of a new honor by the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition: the Stephen Green Neighbor of the Year Award. The first recipient was Kristen Tool of Lanesborough.
Green, a longtime volunteer and board member who was at NBCC's founding, died in September.
"Steve was a committed and generous member of the Northern Berkshire region. Steve could be found many places around town and volunteering his time and making sure people were being taken care of," said NBCC Executive Director Amber Besaw at the event held at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Church Street Center. "Every year, Steve could be found recognizing and simple celebrating the various neighborly acts in good deeds at this Neighborlies event. This event was meaningful to Steve and one he believed was important to growing gratitude and positivity in our world."
Tool was selected because of her volunteerism on Lanesborough boards, the Community Supported Agriculture farm she runs with her husband, and starting Heart and Soul Collective, which cooperatives with other farms to give free produce to seniors in need and soup made from the produce during the winter. She's also volunteered with NBCC as a community champion in its youth substance use prevention work.
"She has a cheerful presence who will lead lend to anyone at hand if she can," said Besaw in presenting the award with Susanne Walker, Green's wife.
NBCC has sponsored the Neighborly Awards for years as a way for the community to show its appreciation to those working to make it better. This year, some of the honorees shared their thoughts on prerecorded videos before the recipients in each category were announced.
"In all of the places that I've lived and worked ... this is the only place where I've seen this type of celebration of just being a good member of our community," said Benjamin Lamb, NBCC president in announcing the first certificate recipients.
But the end of the ceremony saw a turnabout as Mayor Jennifer Macksey in her closing remarks proclaimed the day NBCC Neighborly Award Day.
"Rather than give a boring speech because I know you're all hungry and you want to go home, I want to celebrate the NBCC and give them their own Neighborlies Award," she said to cheers and applause. "Because they support
us every day in every way possible. I have never called their office and not got an answer or smile or a 'keep going, mayor, we got this,' because they care and the caring is eminent tonight."
The evening began and ended with a performance by a student quartet from Williams College and was punctuated by numerous rounds of applause.
Walker said her husband had loved the Neighborly events.
"I just want to say as to why he loved this event, more than almost any other award ceremony that NBCC or anybody else gave out," she said. "Because it was about ordinary people doing simple kinds of things often sometimes complicated, as we've heard tonight, but it's really what community is all about. ...
"So Steve isn't with us anymore, and I'm very sad about that. But he would be so delighted to be here, he would have loved to have been here."
northadams.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Comments are closed for this blog. If you would like to contribute information on this blog, e-mail us at info@iBerkshires.com