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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Special Community, Special People

By Jen Thomas
06:50AM / Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bruce Hayden at work on a Fall Foliage Festival Golden Jubilee float. [file photo]
North Adams – The Northern Berkshire community is a haven of community-minded, generous and energetic folks who delight in creating goodness, according to those who attended a Northern Berkshire Community Coalition Community Recognition Awards event last night.

City Mayor John Barrett III joined the celebration that honored the individuals who work tirelessly toward improving the region through their acts and deeds.

"Even though we sometimes complain about the weather, it’s a special place because of the special people who live here," Barrett said in his welcoming address.

Rolling Up Ther Sleeves

Over 150 people gathered at the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue on Lois Street for the ceremony. The event honored 132 community residents of all ages for voluntary acts of kindness, neighborliness, generosity, and community service and spirit.

For the first time, "Community Betterment" honors were delivered to those whose efforts at their jobs exceeded expectations and produced significant benefits to community or individuals.

The event’s organizers, Kathy Keeser and Natalie Cain of the NBCC, honored volunteers from various local organizations, including Mass MoCA, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the YMCA, the COTY (Community Outreach to Youth) Center, and the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center.

"These are for neighbors who roll up their sleeves and help when they are needed," said Cain.

Five individual awards were presented as acknowledgement of continuos and exceptional community commitment and involvement.

Sadie Miller

Sadie Miller, an Americorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) at Williams College, has dedicated 3 years to the college, working to develop programs to educate students about volunteer opportunities.

"She has inspired students, as well as professors, to get involved," Keeser said. "We might not let her leave."

Pat Lescarbeau

The REACH Community Health Foundation’s Pat Lescarbeau was honored for her extra contributions to the staff and for her support in organizing and sponsoring events.

"She’s like the staff mom," said Cain. "And she does it with such pleasure and helpfulness. It's a great value that she does this everyday."

Delia Davis

Delia Davis, a resident at Mohawk Forest Apartments, dedicated much of her time to improving life at the apartment complex before her death in January. Family members accepted the award on her behalf.

Linda Bissaillon

The second grade class from the city's Brayton Elementary School honored their classroom foster grandmother, Linda Bissaillon. Three students read from the letter they wrote to the coalition nominating Bissaillon. Bissaillon is also active with the coalition's Northern Berkshire Neighborhoods initiative. Bissaillon is a former NBCC Peacemaker Award honoree.

"She helps us a lot," said one student.

"She’s the best," said another student.

A feature story that features Bissaillon's community efforts may be viewed here: www.iberkshires.com/story.php?story_id=17746

Bruce Hayden

Bruce Hayden was recognized by the Fall Foliage Parade Committee for his volunteer work in constructing Fall Foliage Festival Parade floats over the years.

“We’d like to thank him for donating his talent and time,” said Keeser.

A feature story that details Hayden's community contribution may be viewed here: www.iberkshires.com/story.php?story_id=18188

In closing, Rabbi Jeffrey W. Goldwasser left the audience with a special message.

"This place is made sacred by the people who come into it, and you all have added to the sanctity of this place."

Jen Thomas is a senior at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and a www.iberkshires.com correspondent.
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