Barrett Fund Awards $75,000 to Eight Community Groups

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SHEFFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation announced today that the William J. and Margery S. Barrett Fund for Adams, Cheshire and Savoy recently awarded grants totaling $74,763 to eight nonprofit organizations in those three towns.

"Berkshire Taconic is proud to be the steward of Margery Barrett’s legacy,” said Jennifer Dowley, president of the foundation. “Margery was born in North Adams and spent most of her life as a teacher in Adams. Her dream was to enhance the quality of life for the residents of Adams, Cheshire and Savoy. She would be thrilled today to see the great good it has done over the years."

The Barrett Fund was established in 1995 by Margery Barrett using Pfizer stock inherited from her father and husband. Barrett remained anonymous until she died in 2000, when the remainder of her trust was added to the fund. The fund has since distributed more than $2 million to worthy projects.

The nonprofit groups that received Barrett Fund grants include: Adams Police Department ($10,000) for the Police Athletic League, a program that allows the department to work closely with area youth in a structured athletic setting through basketball; Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School ($7,003) for promoting health and wellness; Berkshire Nursing Families ($10,000) for the North Berkshire Lactation Project, a program that provides comprehensive breastfeeding support services for families in Adams, Cheshire and Savoy; Cheshire PTG ($4,200) for the Berkshire Theatre Festival Residency Program; Child Care of the Berkshires ($7560) to support  science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum; Elder Services of Berkshire County ($8,000) for Meals on Wheels and group meals for seniors; Elizabeth Freeman Center ($10,000) for the Child Safe Child Strong Program; and Youth Center ($18,000) for Community Programs and Outreach.

Child Care of the Berkshires will use its Barrett Fund grant to improve learning opportunities for young children in Adams and Cheshire. Anne Nemetz-Carlson, executive director of Child Care of the Berkshires, said, "Children are avid learners, and STEM will allow them to be involved in fun hands-on math and science activities. The grant we received will also help support the new STEM curriculum so that our children will be ready to enter kindergarten. We are very excited to have the opportunity to start this new project."

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity.
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Berkshires Beat: Mt. Everett Students Join Dance Exchange Program in India

International experience

As part of the World Education Alliance program, five Mt. Everett students traveled to India in the fall, joining a group of 29 students from around the world. At the start of this academic year, the Keswick Public School in Madurai hosted Dance Mela, a workshop and dance performance that brought together international youth to learn Indian dance and experience Indian culture.  

Produced by Chris Graham, station manager of CTSB, a short video detailing the performance and workshop is now available online on the Southern Berkshire Regional School District (SBRSD) website or on Vimeo. A documentary sharing the full story of the Mt. Everett student experience in India is in progress and will be released later in 2019.

In late September, participants were immersed in local Indian culture, spending a week with students from Confucius Hal Secondary School in Hong Kong, Keswick Public School, two other local Madurai district schools and German students who had been volunteering at the Madurai YMCA. In addition to the participants learning classical and Bollywood-style dance, Keswick students taught traditional crafts, language, games and other cultural traditions unique to India. Students bonded immediately, as they spent most of each day in workshops.

"As a teacher, it was satisfying to watch the students' interactions as they helped each other learn the complicated steps. They all bonded over their love of food of course, and in the architectural and natural wonders of India," said Stephanie Graham, director of the Global Education Program and instructor of Fine Arts at Mt. Everett. "We visited four Indian states, seeing a spectrum of landscape and local culture. Our host partner school Principals Maureen and Suresh Jayaraj created a multi-day program that promoted collaboration and bonding experiences with full days of fun and learning."

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