The 3-year-old was given a framed plaque recognizing him as a firefighter for life.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Three-year-old Tony Maschino would hear sirens, look for the lights, and wave to the passing fire truck or police cruiser.
"This is something he truly loves. He's always been a fan of the Police and Fire departments. We'd be driving down the street and he'd be wanting to put his window down to wave to them. They've always been so kind to him," his mother, Stephanie Maschino, said.
The toddler fell in October and was taken to the hospital. On Oct. 12, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He was given just six months to live but his cancer has progressed faster than expected. It is only a matter of days now.
On Tuesday, the Fire Department loaded up four engines and two cars and drove the caravan up to the Maschino house with lights and sirens flashing. They were there to make Tony an honorary firefighter for life, even presenting him with his own set of turnout gear.
"It came from everybody. We are like a little family and we all came up with the idea," firefighter Matthew Mazzeo said.
Mazzeo said one of the engines visited the family a few weeks ago and firefighters decided they wanted to do more. They ordered the turnout gear online, brought in some presents — including a "Marshall the Fire Dog" Paw Patrol toy — and a plastic helmet.
A benefit was at the Tavern at the A held over the weekend to raise money for the family and the plan had been to bring Tony to it on the fire truck.
"We wanted him to wear it to the benefit but he wasn't able to [attend]," Mazzeo said.
So on Tuesday, the firefighters brought the gifts and a plaque recognizing him as an honorary firefighter to his home.
Tony was carried into the fire truck where he could turn the sirens on and off. When he was carried out, he kept pointing back at the cab, wanting to stay in the truck a little longer.
"We are really grateful for opportunities like this. It is hard to take him out and about," his mother said.
Maschino said a big challenge is that Tony is cognitively normal but his body is failing, so the family has to find ways to keep him occupied inside the house. He's adapting well to the changes, she said, such as when he lost the ability to walk, he figured out how to still move around the house.
As for Maschino and her husband, Shawn Maschino, they are doing OK right now. A big part of that is because of the overwhelming support from the community.
The city's newest firefighter got to climb into the fire engine and play with the sirens.
"It is easy to be strong for him. We are scared for afterward and the future. But right now our focus is, we don't want him to be scared," Maschino said. "Things like this is awesome. He's been such a trooper. He hasn't complained or cried. He's just absolutely amazing."
The Pittsfield Police Department also paid a visit to the family two weeks ago to let Tony sit on a motorcycle and presented him with gifts. There have been a number of fundraisers throughout the community — with this past weekend's being the biggest.
"It was packed. It was standing-room only. We weren't expecting that at all," Maschino said. "We felt a lot of love in that room."
Tuesday's visited was organized and driven by the firefighters, which gave Chief Robert Czerwinski a sense of pride in his department.
"I'm honored and proud of these guys today for pulling together for this family. This little boy has suffered a lot. The family has suffered a lot. I'm glad we could be here for them. I'm glad the whole community has been there. There have been fundraisers and things going on in the community to support this family," Czerwinski said.
"It is just a little something we can do to put a smile on their face, brighten up their day, make their day seem a little nicer than all of the bad days they've had ... I couldn't be prouder of a group of guys to have them working for us and working for the city."
And brightening up the day of the Maschino family is exactly what the department accomplished.
"It has been a hard week so far and this has just been a really good way to turn it around," Stephanie Maschino said.
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Hancock Shaker Village Opening For Baby Animals, Outdoor Spaces
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Hancock Shaker Village will hold a limited opening on Thursday, June 4, as part of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's Phase 1 initiative.
The Village will open only its outdoor spaces — including its beloved baby animals in outdoor fenced-in areas — to the public Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This schedule will be in place at least through June, as the Village plans for a full reopening in Phase 3.
Leaders of the iconic living history museum have been working for weeks on a reopening plan with new measures in place to ensure the safety of visitors and staff. Such health and safety measures include online and timed ticketing, guest capacity limits, one-way paths to control guest flow, clearly designated distance markers ranging from 6 to 10 feet, enhanced cleaning protocols, more hand sanitizer stations, and COVID-19 training for all staff.
Visitors will be required to pre-purchase timed admissions, available online at hancockshakervillage.org or by phone at 413-443-0188. Members are always free, but must reserve a time slot prior to their visit. Guests and staff are required to wear face coverings.
"The health and safety of our community remains our top priority," Director Jennifer Trainer Thompson said. "With guidance from Governor Baker, we are looking forward to once again welcoming visitors and continuing our mission of connecting people to the Village and the stories of the Shakers."
The museum has been offering virtual programs such as a stream on YouTube of a dance performance by Reggie Wilson and Fist and Heel Performance Group in the Round Stone Barn and virtual talks with authors and Shaker collectors. The Village also expanded its social media presence, offering programs such as Facebook livestreams from the farm and popular Zoom with Baby Animals sessions. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Village also made the decision to plant its 5-acre vegetable garden, which supports a 65-member CSA and provides 15 percent of its crops to local families in need.
"We know people have been eager to visit the farm when it is safe to do so," Thompson said. “Self-guided discovery has always been important to the museum experience here, and with baby animals, the trails, the architecture, and the gorgeous gardens, we’ll offer what has always been a hallmark of the Village: an inspiring, holistic experience."
The donation, which was made in honor of all BHS employees and medical staff, will be designated to support two major programs that provide reliable access to healthy food for residents of Berkshire County. click for more