Community Volunteer Hailed as Pittsfield's 'Unsung Heroine'

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent
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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.  

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Pittsfield School Committee Aims to Shorten Meeting Times

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — School Committee members recognize that meetings can be dramatically long and are looking to change that.

The policy subcommittee on Monday unanimously voted to limit them to three hours with a 2/3 vote needed to extend; to move agenda item 6: School Committee non-agenda participation; 7: approval of minutes from previous meetings, and 8: approval of reports to the end of the agenda; and to remove item 9: school presentations from the agenda.

Mayor Linda Tyer assembled the subcommittee to address the issue of meeting lengths. She said that in the past year, they have sometimes run for four or five hours.

"My real aim here is to shorten the length of meetings to make them meaningful and productive, but not to the point of exhaustion for the committee members," Tyer explained.

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