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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Berkshires Beat: SVMC Hosts Breast Cancer Awareness Month Events

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Becoming aware: In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, observed each October, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, Vt., has scheduled two events designed to help area women lessen the effects of breast cancer on their lives.

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., SVMC's Executive Chef Laura LaCroix will demonstrate how she swaps the less healthy ingredients and cooking methods in favorite recipes for healthier ones. Attendees will learn how they can apply these changes at home, give a health makeover to their family favorites, and cook in ways that prevent breast cancer, other cancers, and many other diseases affected by diet. Representatives from SVMC’s OB/GYN, Women’s Imaging Center, and Cancer Center will be on hand to meet attendees and answer questions. In addition, local women fitness professionals, the Cancer Center Community Crusaders, and a representative from Ladies First, a Vermont Department of Health program that helps eligible women get breast, cervical and heart health screenings, will be there to share tips and resources. The event will be held in the Employee Cafeteria; register in advance online.

Then, from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 28. SVMC will offer screening mammograms at SVMC Women’s Imaging Center, suite 206 of the Medical Office Building located at 140 Hospital Drive. Although the day is open to any woman with a referral from her primary care provider or OB/GYN, the Women’s Imaging team would like to especially invite women who have never had a mammogram before. Women who are over 40 years old are encouraged to attend. Once patients obtain a referral, they may call 802-447-5541, ext. 2, to schedule. Each patient will receive a free gift.

Pittsfield resident Brett Westbrook was recognized as Alumnae of the Year.

In honor of: The Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center held their 104th Annual Meeting on Sept. 29. Several awards were given to honor staff and the community. Chief Executive Officer Kelly Marion recognized Barbara Astorino, Sharra Blache and James Scarpitto for 10 years of service to the agency.

The Pittsfield Police Department was honored as Volunteers of the Year.

In addition, Pittsfield resident Brett Westbrook was recognized as Alumnae of the Year. Westbrook started coming to Girls Inc. of the Berkshires as a young child, participated in after-school programs and finally worked for the Brigham Center as the assistant director of the ABC After School Enrichment Program. She obtained her bachelor's degree while working at the center.

Also, the Pittsfield Police Department was recognized as Volunteers of the Year for their extraordinary community service. Members of the department often stop by to shoot hoop with the school age children and chat about how things are going with them. They come each year to read to the children in the early education program and visit with them. They stop on their way by when they see toddlers walking from up street or playing at the Common Park, just to give high fives.

The Brigham Center, home of Girls Inc. of the Berkshires, serves children and youth throughout the Berkshires providing school age enrichment programs, early childhood education, youth empowerment services, aquatics programs and summer camp at Camps Stevenson-Witawentin.


Alan Vreeland from the Recovery Learning Center received the Citizen of the Year Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Berkshire County.

NAMI meeting: The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Berkshire County held its 33rd annual meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge. The Euince Zorbo Awards were presented.

Member of the Year went to Kathleen Fitzpatrick-Baltzell. This award recognizes a member as someone who contributes enthusiastically to NAMI Berkshire County’s activities in support of its mission to help families whose lives are affected by mental illness. Fitzpatrick-Baltzell, who began working with NAMI Berkshire County as a college intern in the fall of 2016, remained a dedicated volunteer and NAMI member after her internship was complete.

Citizen of the Year went to Alan Vreeland from the Recovery Learning Community. This award is given to someone who has shown an understanding of mental illnesses and advocates for improvement in treatment of those who live with mental illnesses and their caregivers. Vreeland, a peer worker, received the Citizen of the Year award due to his dedication to supporting individuals with mental illness through his work with the Recovery Learning Community and The Brien Center.

The Silver Ribbon Award went to Mary Sorensen from the Department of Mental Health. This award recognized an advocate in the mental health field whose work has shown a commitment to the care of those whose lives are affected by mental illnesses. Sorensen received this award for her work as an adult case manager with the Department of Mental Health, where she works with clients and their families to ensure they are able to lead independent and fulfilling lives.

Election of the 2017-2018 board of directors also took place during the meeting. Jason Bianchi was elected to a three-year term as treasurer. Kelly Kemp was elected to a three-year term as a member at large.

Worth the drive: The Rotary Club of Pittsfield's annual food drive will kick off on Oct. 26, chaired once again by long time Rotarians and board members H. Jay Bailly from Berkshire Bank and Shaun Heimann from Francis Investment Consulting Group.

The first collection will be on Saturday, Oct. 28, at WalMart from 9 a.m. to noon. Additional dates and locations include: Nov. 4, Stop & Shop, Merrill Road; Nov. 11, Stop & Shop, Merrill Road; Nov. 18, Walmart. Additionally, Rotarians will be working with Pittsfield elementary schools and the Berkshire Athenaeum who organize in-house collections of non-perishable food items.

Last year, the Club distributed grants for food programs and pantries at St. Mark's, First United Methodist Church, Berkshire Community College, the Christian Center, St. Stephen's Table, Christian Assembly Church, Reigning Love Church, Stop Hunger Now (through Lenox/Pittsfield Soccer Booster Clubs), St. Agnes in Dalton, Salvation Army, South Congregational Church, St. Joseph's as well as the Turkey Angels Program. Rotarians also participate in the Feed The Sheep program four times a year providing the meal for the community attendees.

Leading the way: The Berkshire Leadership Summit will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28, and Sunday, Oct. 29, in the Elayne P. Bernstein Center for the Performing Arts at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox. More than 20 nonprofit theater leaders, professional experts, and resource providers will be leading a cohort of 80 attendees from across the United States and Canada through a series of programs that will develop their vocabulary, skills and strategies for successful leadership.

Michelle Hensley, founder and artistic director of Ten Thousand Things Theater in Minnesota, will be providing the keynote address. Hensley will discuss her efforts, as an artistic director finding herself in a very male world, to create a place where she could work and live with her values intact - a central theme of this pilot event.

The keynote speech will kick off the weekend summit which is filled with panels, plenaries, and conversations. Sixteen skill building sessions will be offered on topics ranging from fundraising to board development, and will be led by over a dozen experts in the field.

The keynote address, plenaries and pinnacle conversation will be livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network online. More information about the Berkshire Leadership Summit schedule can be found online.

Civic duty: Berkshire Community College will host candidate events prior to the Nov. 7 municipal election. The forums are part of an ongoing series sponsored by BCC, Pittsfield Community Television  and The Pittsfield Gazette with additional support this year from the nonpartisan Berkshire chapter of the League of Women Voters.

The series starts Monday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m. in K111, televised live on PCTV, with a conversation to which the six school committee candidates have been invited. David Cachat, education and CityLink coordinator for PCTV, will host the discussion which will cover a range of issues facing the city public schools. Candidates running for Pittsfield School Committee include William Joseph Cameron, Dennis Powell, Joshua M. Cutler, Daniel C. Elias, Cynthia A. Taylor and Katherine L. Yon.

Then, at 7 p.m., former Mayor Sara Hathaway, a member of the LWV, will moderate a forum for the six at-large council candidates. Four of the six candidates will be elected to serve two year terms. Candidates running for Pittsfield At-Large seats in the City include: Peter Marchetti, Peter White, Melissa Mazzeo, Craig Gaetani, Edward James Carmel and Earl Persip III.
On Oct. 30, a forum for candidates in contested ward council races will take place at 7 p.m. at the Susan B. Anthony student lounge. Longtime radio announcer and newsman Larry Kratka will moderate the event, to which the candidates from the six contested wards have been invited. The event will feature both citywide questions and topics specific to particular wards. Contested ward races include: in Ward 1, Helen Moon facing off against Michael Cirullo; in Ward 2, Dina M. Guiel challenging incumbent Kevin Morandi; in Ward 3, James F. Gleason challenging incumbent Nicholas J. Caccamo; in Ward 4, William E. Wright challenging incumbent Christopher J. Connell; in Ward 5, William Keane challenging incumbent Donna Todd Rivers; in Ward 6, John Krol running unopposed; and in Ward 7, Rhonda L. Serre challenging incumbent Anthony J. Simonelli.

On November 7, polls throughout Pittsfield will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In addition to school committee and council, the ballot will include election of a city clerk. The public is welcome to attend the free events or watch live telecasts on Pittsfield Community Television. PCTV will also provide internet feeds (live and post-event on-demand) on its website.

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