PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Thanksgiving really isn't that far away.
At the South Congregational Church, volunteers are already gearing up for the Thanksgiving Angels program, which provides turkeys and all of the sides to thousands of local residents in need. On Wednesday, Berkshire Money Management helped kick off the season with a $2,500 donation.
"The week before Thanksgiving people start donating but it takes a long time to organize these events," said Nichole Dupont, community development director for Berkshire Money Management.
Years ago, Berkshire Money Management used to hold its own turkey giveaway and the donation helps carry on that tradition for the company. This year, the investment management firm wanted to get an early start on the giving season.
Dupont was joined by financial planner Zack Marcotte to present the check to the program's coordinators Mary Wheat and Mary Rentz.
"It shows great community support," Rentz said, adding that the Berkshire Bank Foundation is also expected to donate $2,500.
The program is massive. On the Monday before Thanksgiving nearly every year there have been lines of families overflowing the church and into the parking lot. Rentz said the pantry this year is moving a volunteer station that was in the center of the auditorium where the food was given out and moving it upstairs so more people can fit inside. In the last few years, the weather had been very cold and people were waiting in line.
Outside, Rentz said there will be more tents and Berkshire Health Systems and the Salvation Army will be on hand to provide such things as hot cider for those waiting.
"We're going to try to make our guests as comfortable as possible and get them in as quick as possible," she said.
Last year 1,450 households benefited from the free turkeys. This year the group is expecting 1,550. The program has been growing just about every year.
The South Congregational Church asks for people to sign up ahead of time to ensure there is enough for everyone. And with those numbers it becomes costly. Wheat said the turkeys alone will cost between $22,000 and $24,000.
The group said there is always a need for donations to make the program possible and those can be made to the church or online. They will also accept donated turkeys.
The church runs both the program and a regular food pantry. Rentz said the pantry serves some 500 families. Wheat said just in Berkshire County there are 34,000 people identified as being in need and countrywide food pantries served 1.9 million pounds of food to close to 1.7 million people.
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BBPW announces 2021 Scholarship recipients
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Business & Professional Women (BBPW) announced the recipients of its annual Career Advancement Scholarship Program.
After receiving a record number of applications for the 2021 program, BBPW awarded total of $20,000 in scholarships to 20 local women.
This year's scholarship recipients include: Denise Andre, Monica Bernal, Libby Boissy, Alyssa Dunham, Brittany Durand, Diana El Hariri Saie, Ashley Brooke Fox, Nicole Haas, Tara Jones-Nutting, Johanna Lenski, Erin Merrigan, Patricia Molina, Jennifer Parker, Doreen Perullo, Lisa Polidoro, Nataliia Riva, Joanna Nicole Rivera, Kristen Sparhawk, Laura Tubbs, and Jennifer Valente.
BBPW President Hannah DeLisle-Stall, a co-chair of the Scholarship Committee, said this year's scholarship recipients represent a wide variety of career goals and industries - including healthcare, social services, education, STEM, and business.
Team President Michael Comeau said the Polaris UTV will be a huge game-changer for BMSAR, as it will drastically increase the efficiency and the response time to remove a person from wooded or mountainous terrain and get them to safety.
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In total, Pittsfield is receiving almost $41 million in ARPA funds that have to be obligated by the end of 2024 and the funds spent by 2026. The first deposit of about $20 million is already in the city’s account.
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William Cameron, Mark Brazeau, Vicky Smith, Alison McGee, Sara Hathaway, Daniel Elias, and William Tyer covered a number of topics ranging from staff wages and building improvements to Taconic High School's mascot change and the recent superintendent selection process.
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The six-term representative said the people of the Berkshire district deserve a dedicated advocate in the Senate. He cited the devastation that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on its communities and small businesses and how it widened the divide between the wealthy and those struggling to put food on... click for more