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Berkshires Beat: Food Pantry Returning to Eagle Street Starting Aug. 12
10:38AM / Tuesday, August 04, 2020
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Starting Wednesday, Aug. 12, the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry will return to operating out of its home at 45 Eagle St. in North Adams.

Back home

Starting Wednesday, Aug. 12, the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry will return to operating out of its home at 45 Eagle St. in North Adams. At that time, the hours will change to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for those coming directly to the Friendship Center. Intake and food distribution will take place at the front door. Those who cannot physically come to the food pantry or who feel ill, may call 413-664-0123 on Wednesday during hours of operation to set up a delivery. Deliveries will take place between 10 a.m. and noon on Thursday, Aug. 13.

The Food Pantry will operate from the Holden Street side of the St. Elizabeth Parish Center one final Wednesday, Aug. 5, during two sessions, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The food pantry operation moved to the St. Elizabeth Parish Center at the end of March. This move allowed for food distribution with greater social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Back at 45 Eagle St., safety will remain very important, and staff asks members to continue to help all of us stay safe by maintaining social distance and utilizing face coverings. For more information and for future updates see the Facebook page or the website.


Basketball courts reopen

Basketball courts in the city of Pittsfield have now reopened for limited use in adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines. Signage with these directives will be posted at parks throughout the city.

In April, city basketball courts were among a list of public spaces that were temporarily closed, as part of the city’s mitigation efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Per the guidelines, the reopening of the courts will allow for practice and drills only. No pick-up games or scrimmages are allowed until further notice. Visitors are reminded to exercise social distancing and limit group size to 25 players or less.

Additionally, facial coverings must be worn when intermittent contact might occur and when participants are not actively engaged in an activity.


Zion Church grant

The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area (Housatonic Heritage) has received a $50,000 grant from the Department of Interior, National Park Service funded through the Historic Preservation Fund, African American Civil Rights grant program, for interpretive exhibit design at the historic Clinton A.M.E. Zion. Located in downtown Great Barrington, the former church is being restored for adaptive reuse as an African American visitor and cultural center that will educate the public about the life and legacy of civil rights pioneer W.E.B. Du Bois, and serve as a focal point for the presentation, interpretation, and documentation of African American history in the Upper Housatonic Valley.

The National Park Service African American Civil Rights grant award is part of $14 million awarded to 51 projects in 20 states that preserve sites and history related to the African American struggle for equality in the 20th century. Housatonic Heritage has played a pivotal role in the restoration of the historic church, working with the nonprofit Clinton Church Restoration, which owns the deconsecrated church, since its formation in 2016. This is the second African American Civil Rights the project has received. The first provided $388,508 for stabilization work at the National Register property, which is currently under construction. Clinton Church Restoration recently completed an interpretive planning process led by the exhibit design firm of Proun Design, and scholar/historian, Dr. Kendra Field.

Housatonic Heritage’s Executive Director, Dan Bolognani, voiced appreciation for the funding, noting that ongoing support from the Park Service is a strong signal of the project’s importance. "Clinton Church served as a hub of faith, action and social gathering for the Black community for more nearly 150 years," Bolognani said. "Returning it to the center of community life in the hometown of author, scholar and NAACP co-founder W.E.B. Du Bois is vital. Housatonic Heritage is pleased to play a pivotal role in this important and historic undertaking."


BArT deadline

Berkshire Arts and Technology (BArT) Charter Public School is currently accepting applications for students in grades six through 10 for the 2020-21 school year. The next enrollment deadline for the 2020-21 school year will be Thursday, Aug.  13 at noon.

More information on the school's enrollment and lottery process can be found online. Interested families should contact the school at 413-743-7311 or by email. Despite COVID-19 closures, teaching and learning continues at BART and enrollment is moving forward as usual. Please reach out to the Enrollment Team here with any questions.



Berkshire Music School presents "Drum2TalkTEENS" with Otha Day from Aug. 17-21 at 11 a.m. This week-long hands-on experience invites middle and high school students to have a lively and fun experience with drumming, while also connecting in conversation with each other.  There will be many opportunities for teens to process the varied emotions and experiences that they have encountered during the challenging and stressful year of 2020, including their own relationship to conversations about race, diversity, and belonging in America.

West African drums and percussion instruments paired with accessible and joyful rhythmic experiences will be a connecting element while participants have opportunities, through facilitated dialogue, to explore their own relationship to race, the context of racism in America, and the psychological impacts of racism on all communities and individuals.

"Drum2TalkTEENS" will be held on the tented lawn of the Berkshire Music School at 30 Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield. The one-week program is offered free to middle and high school students, but class size is limited and pre-registration is required. Students are asked to commit to participating for the full week, and may register by call 413-442-1411.


Summer Gala raises $78,000

The Spirit of the Summer Gala, an event designed to bring the Southwestern Vermont Health Care community safely together in a virtual way, welcomed more than 400 attendees and raised more than $78,000 from July 17-31. The event included a video presentation from SVHC leaders and a concert by world-renowned vocalist Maxine Linehan. The event's highlight was the debut of an original song Linehan and her husband, songwriter and producer Andrew Koss wrote together. It is called "Stronger Together." Written specifically for the event, the song honors of frontline healthcare workers locally and worldwide.

Virtual attendees were encouraged to order to-go meals from local restaurants on July 17, which supported the event with a percentage of the proceeds from event-related meals. Miller’s Toll in Bennington created a signature cocktail specifically for the event, and attendees who contributed $200 or more received a commemorative gift.  All proceeds of the event benefit SVHC’s efforts toward continued readiness for and recovery from COVID-19.


Healers and Horses grant

Berkshire HorseWorks, which provides EAGALA Model Equine-Assisted Learning and Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy sessions to at-risk youth, veterans, inmates, families and individuals, and Equine-Assisted Teambuilding to local and global organizations, has received $10,000 from the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County to support the "Healers and Horses" Program.

The "Healers and Horses" program was created specifically to help local healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic acclimate and reintegrate during and after their experiences battling the virus. The program's goal is to provide a safe platform where participants can identify, explore and process their feelings in a mutually supportive environment among other healthcare workers and family. Exercises will address trauma, offer outlets for expression and develop positive coping skills healthcare workers can use while still in the midst of the crisis. The EAGALA Model of Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy, which will be used in the Healers and Horses program, integrates horses in ground-based, metaphorical activities and is facilitated by a licensed mental health professional and equine specialist. Evidence-based, experiential and strength-based, the highly effective modality is an excellent complement to or replacement for traditional talk therapy when talk therapy is unsuccessful or with populations where communication is difficult, as with PTSD.

Participants in the program include staff from Volunteers in Medicine, who kicked off the program in July. Berkshire Health Systems Vice President of Human Resources Patrick Borek and Head of Wellness Maureen Daniels have partnered with Berkshire HorseWorks to select participants from different departments within their network. A combination of families and groups comprise the program, which includes five medical professionals and their families, plus the North Adams Emergency Department, Macony Pediatrics, and the Berkshire Health Systems HR department. At present, the "Healers and Horses" program is at capacity.


Exhibition to open

MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center and Gallery 51 will present a virtual exhibition titled "We Are More Than a Moment," curated by Genevieve Gaignard, the inaugural artist-in-residence at MCLA Artist’s Laboratory. This exhibition will go live on Wednesday, Aug. 5, during Gaignard’s regular Wednesday session as MCLA’s artist-in-residence. This exhibit is free and open to the public, and participants can register here.  

"We Are More Than A Moment" is a call to be heard. Gaignard, a Los Angeles-based artist whose work focuses on photographic self-portraiture, sculpture, and installation to explore race, femininity, class, and their various intersections, has curated this show as an exploration of those themes coupled with our nation’s most recent events. In July, artists were invited to submit work that echoes these themes and exemplifies the long-term prosperity of Black life.

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