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Last year's event raised more than $5,000 for the non-profit, nearly of all which went directly back to helping teachers.

Second Wine Tasting Scheduled to Support Pittsfield Educators

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Seven school teachers were able to hone their craft over the summer in ways they previously wouldn't have been able to.
One took courses on how to better teach children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, another to bolster literacy, another to work deeper with curriculum, another learned to speak Spanish to communicate better.
The seven teachers were all given grants to attend conferences or classes by the Pittsfield Education Foundation. The non-profit formed a year ago to help educators in the Pittsfield school system. The organization, formed by teachers, raises money to help educators do more.
"The challenge is that there is only a small pot of money you can get from the district. This is an additional opportunity to attend something that may not be paid for," said PEF President Kimberlee Chappell.
Not only has the organization been able to help teachers better their craft but it has even been able to help facilitate programs. The Berkshire United Way granted money for the organization to launch a health and wellness program and PEF helped fund a lecture by a South African artist.
That year of work all started with a wine tasting. The charity event last year raised more than $5,000 to support the organization's mission.
"Everything we earned, we pretty much gave back out," Chappell said.
On Friday, March 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Berkshire Hills Country Club, the second annual beer and wine tasting looks to generate the next round of funds for programming and professional development. It also will feature light hors d'oeuvres, a 50/50 raffle and the raffling off of some two dozen donations from local businesses. Ticket details can be found on the foundation's Facebook page.
"It's going to be a time for the community to get together, network, and have a good time for a good cause," Chappell said of the second annual event.
Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door and Chappell is expecting the event to be even better than the inaugural one. She said the organization has gained much more support from local businesses.
"We just have a little bit more support because people know who we are," Chappell said.
The wine tasting last year mostly drove the number of grants the organization could give out. The foundation was in its infancy and then went through the process to create a grant application, which was then dispersed to all of the teachers through Superintendent Jason McCandless.
Teachers were able to apply in May for funding, making pitches as to how the grant funds will improve education, and PEF's board then chose recipients and wrote the checks.
The types of grants the organization looks to award have few restrictions other than that they fit with the goals of "student support, student enrichment, and professional development." The grants can be for any subjects, for enrichment programs, tutoring, academies, or for teachers to get extra training.
The board of directors review the applications and asks the recipients to provide photos and testimonials about how the grant was used to better teaching and learning. 
Chappell said as the organization took shape, "we're getting better at everything." The hope is to continue growing in support and in reach to let people know about its mission.
"It's mostly whenever we can get somebody's ear," Chappell said of how they've been spreading the word.
The nonprofit held a second fundraising event in November — a wellness and fitness festival — and raised $1,500 but that first kickoff wine tasting proved to be the biggest fundraiser. Last year, the majority of the ticket sales were at the door and, so far it's looking the same this  year. 
"We're just looking to do as well or better than last year," Chappell said.

Tags: benefit,   education fund,   fundraiser,   wine,   

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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: Dc. 6-12

Enjoy sixteen different art shows featuring work by more than two dozen accomplished regional artists in Pittsfield's bustling Upstreet Cultural District during the on First Friday Artswalk and all month long! In most venues, artists will be present from 5-8 p.m. A free guided tour begins at 5 p.m. at the Intermodal Center @ BRTA, 1 Columbus Ave.

The Office of Cultural Development will host its 5th annual Wreath Art Auction at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts during the First Friday festivities. Almost 50 hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind wreaths, kissing balls and table pieces will be available for purchase and auction following the lighting of the tree in Park Square. Enjoy music and refreshments at a preview reception starting at 5 p.m., followed by a live auction at 6:30 p.m. Grab-and-go options will be available. All funds raised at this event go to the South Congregational Church Food Pantry. Admission at the door is $10, or purchase tickets in advance at the Lichtenstein Center or by emailing 

These events coincide with Downtown Pittsfield's 2nd annual Festive Frolic
, running on Friday from 5-8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Events include a North Pole Pub Crawl, snowman story time, ornament making, glow-in-the-dark Jingle Bell Rock, a craft fair, carolers, holiday lights, shopping opportunities and more!


Mr. Finn's Cabaret at Barrington Stage Company presents local singer-songwriters Billy Keane and Matt Cusson, who will join forces to kick off the season right, with holiday songs and lots of fun. 7 p.m. $20-$25. 
FRI North Pole Pub Crawl in Downtown Pittsfield FRI Blue Light Trio at Rainbow FRI Yule Jam at Hancock Shaker Village | FRI Grahm Sturz at Hotel on North | FRI JB's Acoustic Gravel at PortSmitt's | FRI Patient Zero Records Show at Crossroads | FRI Legacy at The A | SAT Dust Bowl Faeries at The Whitney | SAT Holidays Around the World Dinner at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT Mike McMann at Proprietor's Lodge | SUN Service of Lessons & Carols at Hancock Shaker Village | MON Cabaret Workshop Performance at Berkshire Music School | MON Jazz Night at Mission | TUE Vinyl Soul Night at Thistle & Mirth | WED Gruppo Mondo at Rainbow | THU Holiday Lights at Arrowhead | THU Marc Black's History of the '50s & '60s at Berkshire Athenaeum | THU The Picky B's at Mission


SAT Visit with Santa at The Beacon Cinema
Visit with Santa at the Beacon Cinema as part of the Downtown Pittsfield Festive Frolic! This is a family event where children can have their photo taken with Santa by a professional photographer! In exchange, please donate a brand-new, unwrapped item to the Berkshire Community Action Council's Warm Clothing Program. See website for list of needed itemsIf you are unable to bring an item, a donation of $5 will be accepted by BCAC volunteers. 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
FRI WeeMuse Adventures at Berkshire Athenaeum FRI Screening of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at Berkshire Museum FRI-THU Parenting Classes & Play Groups at 18 Degrees SAT Festive Frolic Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum SAT WeeMuse Art Lab at Berkshire Museum SAT FREE Kids' Crafts at Peace Train Tees SAT Chow Time at Berkshire Museum | SAT Make Holiday Ornaments at Berkshire Paint & Sip SAT We Can Be Heroes at Berkshire Museum SAT-SUN Brunch with Santa at Hancock Shaker Village SAT-SUN Albany Berkshire Ballet's The Nutcracker at Barrington Stage SUN Discovery Tank Program at Berkshire Museum SUN Billy Budd in the Breadbox Audio Book Launch at Arrowhead | SUN Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Dottie's MON Tiny Tots Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Dungeons & Dragons at Berkshire Athenaeum TUE WeeMuse Littlest Learners at Berkshire Museum TUE Graphic Novel Book Club at Berkshire Athenaeum WED WeeMuse Parent/Child STEM at Berkshire Museum THU Preschool Play & Learn at Berkshire Athenaeum THU Lego Club at Berkshire Athenaeum


SUN Restorative Yoga w/CBD Salve at BYDF
Join Amanda Marsh for a Restorative Yoga with CBD class at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness. You will be guided into a deeply relaxing restorative yoga flow, blending supported yoga postures, breathing techniques, and cannabis-infused salve to encourage letting go fully into each yoga posture. 5:30-7 p.m. $25 for the class and $65 for the class and salve. 
FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Running Center | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Family YMCA | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness FRI-THU Various Classes at Radiance Yoga | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Salsa FRI-THU Various Classes at Pilates Fit SUN Restorative Yoga w/Massage at Radiance Yoga | MON Common Yoga at Zion Lutheran Church | MON Let's Keep It Moving at Knesset Israel


SAT+ A Christmas Carol at The Colonial Theatre
Revel in the joy and redemptive power of A Christmas Carol, the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an infamous miser who is shown the error of his ways and reformed by four spirits. Journey back to Victorian England and experience the classic story filled with holiday carols and the wonderment of the season. $29/$39. A sensory-friendly performance will be held held on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m.
FRI-SUN Gingerbread House Contest at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT Holiday Craft Fair, Cookie Walk & Tag Sale at Zion Lutheran Church | SAT Lyme Alliance Meeting at Berkshire Athenaeum SAT-SUN Brunch with Santa at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT-SUN Cop on Top 10th Anniversary at Walmart SAT-SUN Albany Berkshire Ballet's The Nutcracker at Barrington Stage | SUN Brunch w/Genna & Jess at Dottie's | SUN Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Dottie's | SUN Jazz Brunch at Hotel on North | SUN Berkshire Concert Choir at Berkshire Museum | SUN Hilltown Choral Society Holiday Concert at Zion Lutheran Church | SUN FREE Eagles Band Holiday Concert at First United Methodist | SUN Service of Lessons & Carols at Hancock Shaker Village | THU Open Swim at Gladys Allen Brigham Center | THU Holiday Lights at Arrowhead | THU Holiday Market at Dottie's


TUE Paint "Holiday Pittsfield Park" at Paint & Sip
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