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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

UNO Celebrates 15 Years

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Monday, September 26, 2005

Corbin Rumbolt, 4, celebrated the UNO neighborhood group's 15th anniversary with crayons.
North Adams – UNO neighborhood coalition president Shirley Davis stood looking at a collection of photographs that document the 15 years of the group’s accomplishments.

• Photos here

“I think that our biggest accomplishment is that we stayed together,” said Davis during a 15th UNO anniversary celebration held at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles Aerie #310 headquarters on Sept. 25.

The organization formed in 1990, after residents of Bracewell Avenue and surrounding streets decided to restore their neighborhood to its’ former status as one of the city’s “nicest areas,” Davis said.

“Our beautiful neighborhood started deteriorating during the 1980s,” she said. “There was crime and there was vandalism. We thought that if we started doing things, doing clean-ups and doing things for kids, we could change things.”

The UNO strategy proved to be right on target; the neighborhood has shown tremendous improvements thanks to UNO efforts.

“Things aren’t perfect now,” said Davis. “But things are a lot better than they used to be. The houses that were really bad [rundown] were torn down and now we have plenty of greenspace. People plant flowers and things look so nice. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that we did so much.”

The first organizers included city resident David Dunn and former North Adams City Councilor Keith Bona. In 1994, the city launched a community policing effort that made former city police Officer Leon Alvarez and current police Officer Francis Maruco familiar, friendly faces at UNO events.


7-year-old Abby Kline and 5-year-old Jordan Carpenter helped UNO celebrate its' 15th birthday at the Sept. 25 celebration.
Over the years, the group has hosted neighborhood clean-ups, and that undertaking was the basis for yearly city-wide clean-ups conducted by Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts students and community members. Halloween and December holiday parties are organization staples, and in 1998, the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition led construction of a new playground on Bracewell Avenue. Seasonal house-decorating contests gave residents a sense of good-natured competition and pride in their neighborhood, Davis said.

The Northern Berkshire Neighbors organization was a “spin-off” of UNO, said Davis. Since UNO began its work, additional neighborhood groups have launched throughout the city. Earlier this year, the neighborhood groups kicked off what may become a yearly event: neighborhood group youth softball competitions.

The UNO group has been awarded numerous grant revenues over the years, and Davis has been named as a NBCC “peacemaker” award winner and has also received the city’s Carol Hess Award.

UNO revelers enjoyed a hearty buffet during the group's birthday celebration at the Eagles Hall in North Adams.


A large, iced sheet cake displayed during the anniversary celebration seemed to say it all with sweet letters: “We Made A Difference!”
Local “adopted son” and writer Joe Manning attended the event. Manning perused the photographs and scrapbooks, and found many faces that are familiar to him.

“This is really a family album,” Manning said about the pictures and newspaper article clippings.

Nancy Whalen has served as a volunteer working with the Northern Berkshire Community Action office in the city. Whalen attended the anniversary party, and said that although she’s lived in Adams for 45 years, “my heart belongs to North Adams.”

And a great deal of her respect belongs to Davis, Whalen said.
“Shirley has done so much work through UNO and she deserves a lot of credit,” Whalen said.

A multi-photograph “UNO 15th Anniversary” slideshow can be found here

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net or by calling 802-823-9367.

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