Community Volunteer Hailed as Pittsfield's 'Unsung Heroine'

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent
Print Story | Email Story
Mayor Daniel Bianchi reads a proclamation designating Yvonne West, right, the city's Unsung Heroine for 2013.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Officials honored local registered nurse and community organizer Yvonne West as this year's recipient of the "Unsung Heroine" award.

The distinction comes from the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, which each year recognizes women from their community for making a difference even if they don't make headlines.
"It's not the big things, but all those little things," said State Rep.Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, who was joined by Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, at Tuesday's City Council meeting in acknowledging West, who was among 83 Unsung Heroines recognized at the State House in Boston in April.
"I thought this year it would be nice to not only honor them at the State House, but to have that hero... be able to have a recognition here in their own hometown," said Farley-Bouvier.
"It was my great honor to attend the ceremony with Yvonne at the State House, and to show her around the State House with a group of other  honorees from Berkshire and Franklin county, and it is now my great honor on behalf of the Pittsfield delegation to present this citation tonight," said Mark.
West, a registered nurse of 22 years and mother of two, also runs the Women of Color Giving Circle and is president of Price Memorial Ame Zion Church's missionary group, as well as serving on the Pittsfield Human Rights Commission.  West was acknowledged not only for her community service but for the obstacles she has overcome, as a widow of 11 years who has battled addiction and survived breast cancer to make important contributions in the community.
In addition to presentation of the citation by the legislators, Mayor Daniel Bianchi read a proclamation recognizing West for her attainment of this distinction.
"Whereas Unsung Heroines make a difference by using their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others by mentoring, volunteering, and doing what needs to be done without expectation of recognition or gratitude," the proclamation read in part, "I, Dan Bianchi, mayor of the city of Pittsfield, on behalf of the citizens and the city officials, on this 28th day of May, 2013, do hereby recognize and praise Yvonne West for being our unsung heroine."
The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, and independent state agency, was formed in 1998, and established the Unsung Heroine Award in 2003. Past Pittsfield recipients in recent years have included Dana Dermody, Nicole LaChapelle, Heather McNiece, Carolyn Valli and Laura Mick.  

Tags: unsung heroine,   volunteers,   

0 Comments welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to

Adult Learning Center Grads Get New Lease on Life

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff

Student speaker Brittany Sullivan shared her story of how she turned her life around. More photos from there ceremony can be found here.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When Brittany Sullivan lost her sister, her life spiraled out of control. 
"When I was 14 years old, my sister died suddenly in a car accident. This sent me into a downward spiral that led me to drinking, smoking, and dipping into opioids, which eventually got me kicked out of my home at 17. Shortly after, I dropped out of high school," Sullivan said.
At the time Sullivan was already struggling with depression. She felt that she was "stupid and inadequate." That feeling had set in because she didn't start school until the age of 9 and when she did, she was far behind the other students. She was held back a grade and was constantly being pulled out of class to receive extra help.
"At the tender age of 9, I accepted the life that I was stupid and inadequate. I already struggled with anxiety and depression. It wasn't long before I started full-on panic attacks and self harming. I had already built a firm foundation of self-hate and acceptance that I was a failure and I hadn't even finished elementary school," Sullivan said.
View Full Story

More Pittsfield Stories