image description
Brenda Carpenter, executive director of the Berkshire County chapter of NAMI, jokes at Wednesday's annual meeting that the organization is the 'little engine that could.'
image description
Mayor Thomas Bernard tells the gathering that the city is committed to 'inclusion, support, and respect for all residents.'
image description
The mayor signs onto the CEOs Against Stigma program.
image description
Dr. Andrew Gerber accepts the Member of the Year Award for the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge.
image description
David Brien of Berkshire Pathways thanks his staff after being presented a Silver Award.
image description
Zorbo Employee of the Year Linda Wooten, of the Brien Center, is thankful to be able to work with kids and help them every day.
image description

NAMI Marks 34 Years, Presents Awards to Mental Health Advocates

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story

Police Director Michael Cozzaglio, left, and Sgt. Albert Zoito speak at the NAMI annual meeting. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The North Adams Police Department was recognized on Wednesday for the work it's been doing to understand and address people with mental illness. 
Brenda Carpenter, executive director of the Berkshire County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, awarded the department with the association's Silver Ribbon that is given to those whose work has shown a commitment to the care of individuals affected by mental illness.
She noted every officer has undergone Crisis Intervention Team training, a NAMI program designed to foster collaboration between law enforcement, mental health and medical services, and the mental health community. 
Police Director Michael Cozzaglio said the training has given his officers another "tool in the toolbox" and he is fully behind the program.
"It is something that is invaluable. We see nationwide the struggles police officers are having. It is difficult to deal with people and we are dealing with them at their worst — at the worst part of their life, the worst part of their day, the worst part of their night," he said. "Clinicians and doctors can recognize the situation immediately, but we are just cops and we have to figure it out while keeping everyone safe."
Cozzaglio said officers use the training every day and that two weeks after the last training, they were able to successfully prevent a suicide.
Carpenter added that the department has received a grant that will fund a clinician on staff.
The police director said there is a cohesiveness between all the emergency services, mental health support systems, and the city administration that allows the city to be more proactive.
"Everyone works together very well ... there are no rifts and I think that is the secret to our success," he said.
The award was presented at NAMI's 34th annual meeting and award ceremony during a reception at the Holiday Inn and recognized important members within its own community and the larger community.
"A few years back I compared NAMI to the little engine that could well that little engine that could is still going strong," Carpenter said in welcoming NAMI partners and community members. "We continue to offer educational programs and support to the community as well as individuals with mental health diagnosis. ...
"We still have work to do but we are going strong."
After going through the annual report and touting the year's achievements and outlining future goals, Carpenter asked Mayor Thomas Bernard to say a few words.
"Programs like this that give someone the ability to say, 'I am not the only person' what you are doing is reinforcing that people are not alone," he said. "That is what helps to break the stigma. Individual experience may be different, individual family experiences may change but the truth is we are not alone in this struggle."
Bernard then signed on to the CEOs Against Stigma program.
"I want to reaffirm our commitment to inclusion, support, and respect for all residents," he said. "When we model these principles, we look to change attitudes, engage community and reduce mental health stigma."
A second Silver Ribbon was given to David Brien, program director of Berkshire Pathways, a Human Resources International program that offers support, training, education and recovery resources to people with mental illness.
Brien said he was honored to receive the same award his father had been presented posthumously and thanked his staff.
"I made them all come ... with administration stuff and advocacy I need someone to run the shop, so I want to thank my staff," he said.
Eunice Zorbo Awards given in honor of the late, longtime NAMI members were presented to Dr. Andrew Gerber of the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge and Linda Wooten of the Brien Center.
Gerber, who received the Member of the Year Award, said he immediately felt at home with Berkshire County NAMI.  
"I knew I was in the presence of people who care and truly have the best interest for those with mental illness in their heart," he said. "When you meet people who in their hearts really care about what they do and the family members and individuals with mental illness it makes it all worthwhile…being with you guys has made me feel part of something that makes me feel at home."
Wooten was given the Citizen of the Year award.
"Thank you I am very humbled by this award and I am very thankful for what I do," she said. "I love working with kids ... we are out there tirelessly working all of the time."

Tags: annual meeting,   mental health,   NAMI,   recognition event,   

1 Comments welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to

MaSCAC Cancels Fall Sports

Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference
WESTFIELD, Mass. - The Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference announced Thursday morning that the eight MaSCAC Presidents made the difficult decision to suspend the fall 2020 athletic season, including all indoor and outdoor athletic competition. 
“The MaSCAC Presidents know the value of intercollegiate athletics to our campus community and how important sports are to our student-athletes," said MCLA President James Birge, the chair of the MaSCAC Council of Presidents. "The news that we need to suspend the fall season is understandably disappointing, but the health and safety of our students and staff is of the utmost importance.
“These are unprecedented times and making the difficult decision to suspend fall athletics is equally unprecedented.  We will continue to monitor the facts and reevaluate the status of athletics as information and data evolves,” said President Birge.
The MaSCAC office has been meeting regularly with the presidents, athletic directors, athletic trainers and other essential staff to consider ways we can bring our student-athletes back to the playing field safely while adhering to all state, federal and NCAA guidelines with the health and well-being of our student-athletes and our staff as our priority. 
View Full Story

More North Adams Stories