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Sen. Adam Hinds welcomes Great Barrington’s Unsung Heroine Gwendolyn VanSant and her husband Sam VanSant to Gardner Auditorium, used by the Massachusetts Senate as a temporary Chamber this year, in the Massachusetts State House on June 20.

Berkshires Beat: VanSant Honored as 2018 Unsung Hero

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Gwendolyn VanSant of Great Barrington was honored as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women’s (MCSW) 2018 class of Unsung Heroines during a State House ceremony on Wednesday, June 20.  State Sen. Adam Hinds nominated VanSant for this recognition because of her leadership in the Berkshires on matters of diversity, cultural competence and coalition building for justice and equity. In total, the Commission named 130 women from across the state their 2018 Unsung Heroines.  

VanSant is the chief executive officer and co-founding director of Multicultural BRIDGE, a grassroots organization dedicated to catalyzing change and integration through promoting mutual respect and understanding among diverse groups. BRIDGE is a resource to local institutions and the Berkshire County community at large, and provides resources and training in collaboration, education, training, dialogue, fellowship and advocacy.

VanSant has worked with corporations, schools, colleges and universities, law enforcement, hospitals, teaching and leadership institutes, and more.  In addition to designing cultural competence trainings, she is a frequent speaker and long-time activist deeply rooted in gender equity and positive psychology. Since 2012 she has served as an appointed official on the Berkshire County Commission on the Status of Women.

Most recently, she has served as co-curator and co-designer of the Du Bois 150th birthday festival commissioned by the town of Great Barrington. In spring 2017, she spearheaded the county-wide campaign and coalition "Not in the Berkshires" and, in partnership, stewarded the crafting and passing of her town’s Trust Policy. In 2016, she served as the Founding Director of Equity and Inclusion at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, her alma mater. In 2015-16 she was recognized as a “Berkshire Trendsetter” finalist and was named one of her county’s most dedicated and creative social entrepreneurs by Berkshire Magazine.

She is on the board of UU Mass Action Network and is a reactivation and annual member of the Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP.

As described by MCSW, the 2018 Unsung Heroines are women who don’t make the news, but make the difference. They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and towns. They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who do what needs to be done without expectations of recognition or gratitude. These women are the glue that keeps a community together and every community is better because of their contribution. The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women is an independent state agency that was legislatively created in 1998 to advance women of the commonwealth to full equality in all areas of life and to promote their rights and opportunities.


A birthday birthday

On June 10, 2018, Southwestern Vermont celebrated its 100th birthday, marking the centennial of the day the hospital first opened to patients. That same day, one local boy celebrated his actual birthday.

Under the guidance of Dr. Malcolm Paine, Rebecca Rigeny gave birth to Michael Todd Parker Jr. on June 10, at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. Michael is the son of Rigeny and Michael Todd Parker of Bennington, Vt.


Together again

For the months of July and August, the people of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and the people of Zion Lutheran Church will be worshipping together each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, 74 First St. in Pittsfield. The Rev. Cricket Cooper, rector of St. Stephen's, will be presiding while The Rev. Timothy Weisman, pastor of Zion Lutheran, is on sabbatical leave this summer. Members from both churches will have roles in leading a blend of Lutheran and Episcopal worship.

Zion Lutheran Church worshipped at St. Stephen's for seven months during a building renovation in 2017; during that project, air conditioning was installed in the sanctuary.


Pebble Beach raffle

The Boys and Girls Club of the Berkshires has announced is holding its first-ever raffle for a trip to the world renown Pebble Beach Golf Resorts located on the Monteray Peninsula of California. The winner and guest will stay in the world class luxury accommodations at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, which features an ocean side setting overlooking the famed 18th hole of  Pebble Bach Golf Links.  

The winning package includes one round for two of golf at the Pebble Beach Golf Links, and one round for two at Spyglass Hill Golf Course. The Pebble Beach Course, host for the 2019 U.S. Open Championship, is recognized as one of the most beautiful courses in the world as it hugs the coastline and opens up to the Pacific Ocean. The Spyglass Hill course is one of the most respected and revered courses in the world with ocean views and the natural beauty of the DelMonte Forest.  

The prize package includes up to $1,000 for travel and airfare. Only 150 raffle tickets will be sold. The cost of a raffle tickets is $100. The winner will be drawn on Tuesday, Sept. 4 during dinner at the Boys and Girls Club’s golf tournament. Winner need not be present to win. Tickets are available now by contacting Kristine Huggins at the Boys and Girls Club at 413-448-8258, ext. 10.


STEM for girls

Girls Inc. of the Berkshires, a core program of the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, has launched a new program for girls entering eighth grade that begins on Monday, July 9. The Eureka! program encourages girls to explore STEM-related subjects through a five-year program developed by the Girls Inc. national organization.

The Eureka! program engages girls entering eighth grade beginning with an intensive, no-cost, four-week summer program where they explore a variety of hands-on activities in science, math and technology. Girls participate in exciting and compelling activities directed by college professors and Girls Inc. staff, take field trips to see jobs in STEM-related fields first hand and take part in activities that promote healthy living and financial literacy. The summer program is the first step in a five-year program that continues throughout each school year and summers including another four-week college campus experience, paid internships and support navigating the college application process.

Currently, some openings remain for girls entering eighth grade in the fall who have an interest in exploring science, technology and math. The four-week program begins on Monday, July 9 and runs week days from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Friday, Aug. 3. There is no fee associated with the program and transportation to and from the Gladys Brigham Center on East Street in Pittsfield is included. Lunches are provided through arrangement with the Pittsfield Public Schools.

The Girls Inc. Eureka! program has received significant funding from Berkshire Gas Company/Avangrid Foundation, Cranwell Spa & Resort through the Hyatt Thrives Community Grant Program, Massachusetts Banker’s Association and General Dynamics Mission Systems making it possible for girls to participate in the program for no charge. For additional information about the Eureka! program or for an application, contact Sidney Hamilton, Eureka! Program Coordinator at 413-442-5174, ext. 19.


Golfing for a cause

Berkshire County Arc held its 24th Annual Golf Classic at Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield on Thursday, May 24, when 184 golfers on 46 teams raised $50,000 to support individuals with developmental disabilities and brain injuries throughout Berkshire and Hampden Counties. Approximately 100 organizations contributed sponsorships to the Golf Classic, including Corporate Sponsors Greylock Federal Credit Union and Greylock Insurance Agency and Berkshire Bank. In addition, 56 volunteers donated time to serve the players and more than 50 organizations donated raffle prizes and silent auction items.

To date, the agency’s annual Golf Classic has raised approximately $773,600 and awarded more than $93,000 in scholarships to graduating high school seniors who are pursuing careers in the human service field. Next year’s event will be a milestone event as Berkshire County Arc celebrates 25 years of their Annual Golf Classic.

The tournament results are as follows:

First Flight: First Place ($200/Team), Ivy, Moore, Gelinas, Denault, 58; Second Place ($140/Team), Messana, Bolotin, Bolotin, Pollander, 60*30; and Third Place ($100/Team), Lewis, Andrews, Norton, Nichols, 60*31.

Second Flight: First Place ($200/Team), Maxwell, Moon, Goodell, Matsen, 64; Seond Place ($140/Team), Casey, Caritey, Neville, Naughton, 65; Third Place ($100/Team), Ekzusian, Taylor, Canino, Jarck. 66.

Third Flight: First Place ($200/Team), Cramer, Messer, Kennedy, Baily, 60; Second Place ($140/Team), Krawczyk, Lesniak, Harlow, Morin, 66; Third Place ($100/Team), Lombardi, Virgilio, Farrell, Dodig, 68*35.

Fourth Flight: First Place ($200/Team), Mullett, Mullett, Kays, Crosier, 61; Second Place ($140/Team), Tatro, Croshier, Consolini, Brodeur, 69; Third Place ($100/Team), Dimaggio, Hunt, Harrison, Miller, 71*36.

Long Drive/Men: Joe Scalise

Long Drive/ Women: Wendy Goodwin

Closest to the Pin #3: B. Drake, 11’4”

Closest to the Pin #5: Nick Riccirini, 2’1” 

Closest to the Pin #7: Mark Tatro, 6’6”

Closest to the Pin #13: Todd Bolotin, 8’2”

Closest to the Pin #17: Chip Moore, 5’11”


Cartoon celebration

The Laumeister Art Center at Southern Vermont College presents an exhibition and sale of participating cartoons from “The New Yorker” from June 25 to Sept. 9. “The New Yorker” magazine, renowned for its serious fiction, essays, and journalism has featured cartoons since its first publication on February 21, 1925.

The participating cartoonists featured are: Harry Bliss, George Booth, Roz Chast, Tom Chitty, Frank Cotham, Matt Diffee, Liza Donnelly, Liana Finck, Emily Flake, Sam Gross, William Haefeli, Edward Koren, Bob Mankoff, Michael Maslin, Danny Shannahan, Barbara Smaller, Mick Stevens, Tom Toro, PC Vey, and Jack Ziegler.

A special celebration of the cartoons on exhibit from “The New Yorker” will be held at the Laumeister Art Center on June 30 beginning with a talk by former New Yorker Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff at 1 p.m. Mankoff believes that “being funny is being awake” and has successfully kept us all wide-awake for 40 years. A student of humor and creativity, Mankoff has devoted his life to discovering just what makes us laugh, and seeks every outlet to do so, from developing “The New Yorker’s” web presence to integrating it with algorithms and A.I.

A screening of “Very Semi-Serious,” an offbeat documentary about humor, art, and the genius of the single panel, will be presented at the Laumeister Art Center at 2 p.m. on June 30. The film goes behind-the-scenes at “The New Yorker” and introduces some of the cartooning legends and hopefuls who create the iconic cartoons that have inspired and baffled all of us for decades. The film won a 2016 Emmy (R) Award for Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming and was nominated for Outstanding Documentary Editing.

Following the screening of “Very Semi-Serious,” cartoonist panelists Tom Toro and Danny Shanahan discuss life as cartoonists. The panel is moderated by Jessica Ziegler, daughter of the late New Yorker Cartoonist, Jack Ziegler.

At 5 p.m. on June 30, enjoy an elegant dinner at Southern Vermont College’s 400-acre estate. Set on the side of Mount Anthony in Bennington, Vt., the College boasts one of the most breathtaking views in New England. At the pinnacle of the estate is the Everett Mansion, a 27-room English/Norman-style home built in 1911. As the main administration building of the College, the Mansion offers a variety of storybook settings, indoors and out, and is the perfect venue for this special dining experience.

At 7:30 p.m. on June 30, “Crown Prince of New York Cabaret” Steve Ross performs a compelling concert of songs from the Great American Songbook. Ross has performed around the country and around the world in every kind of venue – from Rio de Janeiro to Sydney, from Carnegie Hall to Lincoln Center, and from cabarets to theaters. An articulate man with a keen knowledge of the Great American Songbook’s music and history, Ross has hosted radio series and outdoor concerts. He conducts workshops and Master Classes and appears on the programs of Vocal Ease, a volunteer organization wherein performers contribute their time and talents in senior centers around New York City.

General admission for the exhibit is $10 for adults; $5 for seniors, veterans, and AAA members; and free for students and children are admitted free. The Laumeister Art Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but is closed on the Fourth of July.

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Dalton Finance Makes Interdepartmental, Reserve Fund Transfers

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
DALTON, Mass. — The Finance Committee made a number of interdepartmental and reserve fund transfers during its meeting last week. 
The reserve fund balance is currently $58,000, Town Manager Thomas Hutcheson said. 
The committee also approved a reserve fund transfer to the employee fringe benefits account for $1,200; the current balance is $183.55. The town originally appropriated $2,114.
It also approved the transfer of $1,500 from the reserve fund to the Medicare account, which currently has a balance of $4,510. The town originally appropriated $50,000. 
Finance Chair William Drosehn said these increases are due to additional hires, according to town Treasurer Dawn Fahey. 
Fahey said she feels confident that the requested amount will be enough, he said. 
Hutcheson said he does not foresee any more onboarding before June 30. 
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