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Susan Burt, owner and administrator of Mountain Brook School for the last year, has decided to pass the reigns to the Berkshire Family YMCA

Berkshires Beat: YMCA Opening Childcare Center at Mountain Brook School in Lenox

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Making a change: The Berkshire Family YMCA will establish a new childcare center at the location of the current Mountain Brook School at 6 Holmes Road in Lenox, effective June 19. Susan Burt, owner and administrator of Mountain Brook School for the last year, has decided to pass the reigns to the Berkshire Family YMCA. Mountain Brook School is in good standing with its license.

“Mountain Brook School opened to provide high quality early childhood education in our community.  As we close at the end of this school year, the need for programs continues to grow and change. I believe the Berkshire Family YMCA's pursuit of additional programing to meet those needs are a positive thing for the children and families of our community and I wish them great success," Burt said.

The center is currently licensed for 15 preschool children ages 2.9 years to pre-kindergarten. The YMCA’s Childcare Director Laurie Vanuni has plans to grow it further. "We believe there is an opportunity to serve more children in the Lenox area, and we hope to expand the center's licensure to accommodate children from 15 months to pre-kindergarten which would allow us to serve as many as 25 youth," Vanuni said.

The YMCA's Pittsfield Branch childcare is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care for children 1 month to pre-kindergarten. NAEYC is a national, voluntary accreditation system that sets high standards for early childhood education programs.

Participants at the Lenox childcare site would receive a snack in the morning and afternoon. Full-time and half-time slots would be available, with a two-day minimum requirement. Children enrolled in the Y's childcare would receive a free youth membership to the Y and be able to take swim lessons or sports at a reduced rate. The YMCA also offers financial scholarships to those who qualify and accept vouchers. For more information regarding the new YMCA childcare site in Lenox, call 413-499-7650, ext. 145, or email


Humane Hero: Berkshire Humane Society will present its "Staff for the Day" reward to Humane Hero Elodie Theriault of Pittsfield, Mass., on June 27 at 10 a.m. Elodie will work alongside BHS staff for six hours, learning about the responsibilities of each department at the shelter.

Elodie, 13, began the Humane Hero program in 2014. Over the course of three years, her dedication to shelter animals has been exemplary. She has attended countless workshops and lectures on animal welfare, and has demonstrated leadership skills with the younger children in the program. At each of the BHS special events, Elodie has raised money for the shelter animals by selling her crafts.

"I have always dreamed of becoming a vet," said Elodie, "and I feel that volunteering at the Berkshire Humane Society makes it easier for me to reach that goal. Animals aren't just pets; they become your best friend and part of your family."

Over the last two years, Elodie has fostered 32 kittens for Berkshire Humane Society, and she has taken the task very seriously. According to her mother, "Elodie pays attention to the way the kittens look and how they behave. That is what has impressed me the most. She applies what she learns during the Humane Hero workshops to the real world. One of the foster kittens we currently have at home had some digestive problems. I talked to Elodie about it, and she gently pulled the skin over the kitten's shoulders. When I asked her what she was doing, she said: 'I am just checking if she is dehydrated.' Elodie has grown on many levels since she got involved with the Berkshire Humane Society. We are very thankful for all of its wonderful programs."

The Humane Hero program targets kids ages 8 to 14 years old. The program seeks to teach children about animal welfare including dog training, exotic animal industry, and even reading to the shelter animals. In addition to educational workshops, each child is asked to raise awareness for the shelter through various activities. Kids are invited to bring Berkshire Humane Society into their classrooms at school, start a pet food drive, or even aim to become a viral sensation by posting videos and photos about the shelter on social media. The program is free and details can be found online.

BCC North: Berkshire Community College is hosting an Open House for North County residents on Wednesday, June 14, from 4 to 6 p.m. at McCann Technical High School in North Adams. Prospective students who are thinking about college or changing careers will be able to learn about the admissions process and talk with an academic advisor about the 50+ associate degree and certificate programs offered by BCC.  Information about financial aid, student support services, sports opportunities and student activities will also be available.

Additionally, BCC's skills placement test for English and math, Accuplacer, is also being administered on June 14 at McCann at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. Accuplacer is required of most new students to determine their initial course placement.

McCann Technical High School is located at 70 Hodges Cross Road, North Adams. For more information, contact the Director of Off-Campus Sites at 413-236-5201 or email

Growing goods: The North Adams Public Library  2017 Summer Garden Program starts Monday, June 26, at 10 a.m. Youths ages 7 and older are welcome to join the six-week program.

This year's theme is "Preserving the Harvest." During the program, youth will grow and dehydrate vegetables and herbs, make butter, and gain a general understanding of gardening.  Program dates are June 26, July 10, 17 and 24, and Aug. 7 and 14, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Attendance is encouraged for all six weeks. Advance registration is required, as space is limited. Call 413-662-3133, ext. 14, for more information.

Be aware: Berkshire Bank will participate in World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 by hosting informational seminars at local senior centers and libraries across its footprint. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is acknowledged annually in June to spread awareness and increase understanding of the issues surrounding the physical, emotional and financial abuse of elders.  Elder Financial Abuse is defined as a crime that deprives the resources and independence of elders through the misuse of assets and exploitation of financial control.
To bring attention to this growing concern, Berkshire Bank is offering free educational seminars at various community centers across its footprint on June 15. These events will be facilitated by bank employees, who will conduct the workshop through directing an informational presentation. In Berkshire County, the seminar will take place from 12:30 to 1 p.m. at the Dalton Senior Center on Field Street.

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