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The judges were: back row, left to right: Brian Drake/Mountain One Financial, Mike Stoddard/Greylock Federal Credit Union, Bruce Grinnell/Grinnell Partners LLC, Mary Nash/Nash Insights, June Roy Martin/Carr Hardware, Ellen House/Jane Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, Leigh Davis/The Berkshire Eagle, Lori Gazzillo/Berkshire Bank, Lauri Klefos/1Berkshire. Front row, left to right: Jordan Wood/Guardian Life, Wendy Healey/Lee Bank, Abby Tovell/Pungl, Becky Cohen/North Adams City Council. Not shown: Don Kuczarski/TD Bank

Biz Briefs: Nonprofit Center Names Award Finalists

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The finalists are ...

The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires has announced the names of the 21 finalists for the Berkshire Nonprofit Awards. The winners in each of seven categories will be announced at the first Berkshire Nonprofit Awards Breakfast on Tuesday, May 22, from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Country Club of Pittsfield. Tickets for the Berkshire Nonprofit Awards Breakfast are $40 per person. Register online or call 413-645-3151.  

Nominations were solicited throughout February and March. A team of 14 judges from the business sector reviewed and ranked the nominations, choosing the finalists and winners at a meeting earlier in April at Berkshire Bank. The finalists are:  

Executive Leadership

Gwendolyn Hampton-VanSant (Multicultural BRIDGE)

Kristine Hazzard (Berkshire United Way)

Carolyn Valli (Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity)

Board Leadership

Linda Conway (Berkshire Children & Families)

James Mahon (Berkshire Food Project)

Amy Rudnick (Flying Cloud Institute)

Super Staffer

Darlene Ellis (Berkshire Food Project)

Jesseca Williamson (Berkshire Museum)

June Wolfe (Construct Inc.)

Rising Star

Hye An "Harry" Park (Berkshire Museum)

Kathleen Toomey (Berkshire United Way)

Jay Weintraub and Mark Lefenfeld (Backyard Bounty of the Berkshires)


Amy Guachione (Berkshire Children & Families)

Gary Leveille (Great Barrington Historical Society)

Jean Ryan (Barrington Stage Company)

Unsung Hero

Kelly Akroman (Moments House)

Katie Clarke (Community Access to the Arts)

Maurice "Pops" Peterson

Lifetime Achievement

Francesca Cote (Brien Center)

Deborah Parkington (Elizabeth Freeman Center)

Carole Seigel


Matching it up

Pungl, the Housatonic-based online marketplace for unique, meaningful fundraising projects customers can donate to, has announced a new matching-donation initiative. Through Pungl, nonprofits and other organizations can partner with local businesses and individuals, who then match donations received through the Pungl marketplace. This allows donors to double their impact with a single gift, providing much-needed funds to a variety of worthy causes.

The first matching donation will take place on May 1. T Square Design, a graphic design studio based in Housatonic, will match dollar-for-dollar all donations made that day to Music in Common's Amplify Berkshires fundraising project. Amplify Berkshires is a three-week program that kicks off with a MIC JAMMS workshop in which selected Amplify musicians will write and record their own song, giving young musicians from the greater Berkshires region and beyond a unique opportunity to work with professional musicians and producers. They will spend the remainder of the time learning and rehearsing a dozen JAMMS songs written by previous participants from around the world, which will be performed in a public concert on Aug. 26.

T Square will match, dollar for dollar, up to 10 donations, which will fund the entire Pungl project. Pungl plans to create monthly matching-donation days. On June 1, they will feature a second match, to fund Indwe Learning Center's Connecting through Adventure in South Africa project. To partner with Indwe by providing matching funds, send an email.


Doing Rite

Price Rite Marketplace is highlighting its sustainability efforts in honor of Earth Day and Earth Month. With 66 stores across nine states, including locally in Pittsfield, every Price Rite Marketplace store is committed to the community it serves and implements programs that allow the supermarket chain to donate food to those in need, conserve energy, reduce waste and create a more environmentally-friendly operation.

Price Rite Marketplace first implemented a Food Recovery Program in its Connecticut stores five years ago based on suggestions from its team members. Today, the supermarket chain has implemented the program in all 66 of its stores, including its newest store in Amherst, N.Y., which opened on April 15. Through partnerships with regional food banks and local food pantries, churches and soup kitchens, Price Rite Marketplace is able to provide meals to those in need and reduce food waste. The Food Recovery Program extends across perishable and nonperishable departments including produce, meat, dairy, frozen, deli and non-foods. In 2017, the program resulted in the collection and donation of more than 678,500 pounds of food – the equivalent of 565,417 meals – within the communities its stores serve.

In 2017, Price Rite Marketplace stores recycled more than 2.4 million tons, and another 11,790 tons of waste were recycled. Energy conservation is also taken into consideration as part of the overall design of Price Rite Marketplace stores, which feature some of the industry's leading "green technologies," including glass doors on dairy cases and energy-efficient lighting and refrigeration. Price Rite Marketplace also encourages customers to bring their own bags or purchase a reusable bag for 10 cents to cut down on plastic bag usage.

In addition, Price Rite Marketplace streamlines its product selection while providing great diversity across categories. In addition to carrying one or both of the leading national brands in each category and high quality private label brands, the supermarket chain also works to carry many of the local brands that its customers have come to love.


More Than Pink

Simon Malls and Simon Premium Outlets in New England have launched its Spring 2018 More Than Pink movement in support of Susan G. Komen and the fight against breast cancer. As part of its pledge to donate at least $1 million each year in 2017 and 2018, more than 170 participating Simon Malls, The Mills and Premium Outlets nationwide, including the Lee Premium Outlets in Lee, will once again be participating in a range of fundraising activities during the months of April and May.

Throiugh May 20, visitors to Simon Malls and Simon Premium Outlets in New England will be able to participate in a variety of programs to help support Susan G. Komen. In the Lee Premium Outlets, a $10 donation to Susan G. Komen will land shoppers a discount pass valid at participating retailers. The passes are available at Guest Services or the mall office. Also, customers can purchase a More Than Pink Visa Giftcard at Guest Services or the mall office. Simon will donate $1 for each More Than Pink Giftcard sold to Susan G. Komen. The giftcard is available for purchase year round.


Regional property sales down

A report detailing market results for the first quarter of 2018 in Fairfield and Litchfield Counties and the Shoreline in Connecticut, the Berkshires in Massachusetts, and Westchester County, New York, has been released by William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty. The report found all markets the company serves experiencing somewhat lower sales versus the first quarter last year. While the declines were not enormous, they were consistent. Westchester County was down by 6 percent in unit sales and 4 percent in dollar volume, with the southern county seeing a decrease of 7 percent in units and 3 percent in volume, and the northern county down 4 percent in units and 8 percent in volume. In Connecticut, Fairfield County saw unit sales decreasing by 2 percent and dollar volume by 3 percent, Litchfield County had unit sales about even and dollar volume declining 5 percent, and the Shoreline region of New Haven, Middlesex and New London counties saw unit sales dipping 5 percent and volume a slight 1 percent.

In the Berkshires, unit sales slid 14 percent, while dollar volume was flat.

Noting that it has been several years since the last time there was an overall decline in sales year over year, the report concluded that the passage of the new tax bill at the end of 2017 helped to prompt a pause in buyer activity during the fourth quarter, reflected in the lower rate of closings in the first quarter. In its analysis the report suggested that the new bill may have spread a degree of uncertainty among consumers, particularly in states where income and property taxes may be most affected.

Yet at the same time, economic indicators point to an ongoing strong foundation for the real estate market. These include the GDP, which saw the largest growth in consumer spending in three years in the fourth quarter; low unemployment and a growing job market; interest rates remaining low; and the stock market, while fluctuating, still standing high. Consumer confidence, historically the key leverage point in determining the outlook on real estate, remains at elevated levels with a March reading of 127.7 (1985=100) after a historic 18-year high of 130.0 in February, according to the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index.


Berkshire Bank grows again

Berkshire Bank has opened its newest branch in Simsbury, Conn., located at 16 Albany Turnpike, bringing the number of Berkshire Bank locations in Connecticut to eight. As part of the celebration, there will be grand opening specials only available at the new Simsbury location. The bank will also offer a Crack the Vault contest with cash prizes as well as a chance to win Amazon Echo Dots from Monday, April 23, through Friday, May 18.  In addition, the community is invited to visit the Simsbury branch during their open house week from Monday, April 23, through Friday, April 27, to meet the team, tour the branch, receive demonstrations of the new branch technology and have the opportunity to obtain giveaways.

Berkshire's new Simsbury branch features a modern interior design aimed at improving the customer experience with an open layout, MyTellerSM virtual teller technology with extended banking hours and comfortable meeting spaces where customers can talk privately with our bankers to plan their financial road map. MyTellerSM technology offers the combination of next-generation banking and the convenience of an ATM with the same personal assistance you would receive with a teller to help customers bank on their own schedule, offering extended banking hours.

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