Peacemaker Award, Volunteering Mark MLK DayBy Tammy Daniels
02:47PM / Monday, January 16, 2012
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The North Berkshire community capped a morning of community service by presenting the annual Peacemaker Award on Monday.
Mark Lincourt was this year's recipient of the Peacemaker Award.
This year's recipient of the award, selected by the Martin Luther King Day Committee, was Mark Lincourt, a founder of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative.
Lincourt was also one of more than 100 volunteers participating in the annual community service day with activities ranging from working with Habitat for Humanity, collecting food and redeemable cans and bottles, weatherizing homes, and knitting mittens and scarfs.
Committee member and organizer Kathy Keeser said the turnout was higher than last year and included Williams College students, AmeriCorps volunteers and both the men's and women's basketball teams from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
"It was very successful," said Keeser, noting the number of individuals helped by participants. Rose Rondeau, who had her house weatherized by volunteers and Williams students through Berkshire Community Action Council, told her, "I don't know if it's my imagination but it feels warmer in here already."
More than 729 pounds of nonperishable food has been collected over the past week, with a table full of donations from Stop & Shop at the parish center still to be weighed.
More than 130 adults and children returned to St. Elizabeth's Parish Center for lunch and activities. Quincy Goodman of the MCLA Allegretos sang and Otha Day lead the group in drumming.
The high point was the presentation of the Peacemaker Award to Lincourt by his friend and fellow All Saints Episcopal parishioner Susan Walker.
"He wants to make things happen in Northern Berkshire for people who are hungry, for people who struggle and are homeless and that's where his heart is," said Walker, adding that now Lincourt is retired, "He is finally able to do his calling ... he is a true hero."
Lincourt is a member of the Higher Ground, Northern Berkshire Systems of Care and Continuum of Care (Pittsfield) committees and of the Servant Leadership Center Advisory Board at St. Stephen's Church in Pittsfield. He participates in the Take and Eat food project at All Saints, which provides hot meals to seniors once a month. He is also the pantry manager for the interfaith initiative's Friendship Center on Eagle Street.
"Mark, your smile is not just on the outside it comes from your heart; your laughter is not superficial it comes from true happiness; your work ethic is not for show it is for real," said Mayor Richard Alcombright, a longtime friend. "While Mark goes about his services quietly what he does is very loud and, I would suggest, joyously loud for our community."
State Sen Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, applauded all who had participated in the community service day, "Each and everyone of you woke up today and said I'm going to do my part to improve the community that I live in, the commuity that has given you so much opportunity, and you want to make sure that opportunity is made available to everyone one else."
Recalling a quote by King, that "the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice," Downing said that Lincourt was "someone who wakes up every morning and says what can I do to bend it quicker toward his dream."
The program was made possible by the Martin Luther King Committee with thanks to St. Elizabeth's Church, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, the COTY Youth Center, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Price Chopper, MCLA, Williams College, Paul Marino and Northern Berkshire Community Television, David Carver and Scarfoni Realty for use of 107 Main St. as a food collection point, Boston Sea Foods, Stop & Shop, Northern Berkshire Container Redemption Center, 21st Century Drury Academies After School Program, faith-based institution partners, and a grant from the Massachusetts Service Alliance.