Berkshires Beat: 'Pleiades' Now on Permanent Loan to Ventfort Hall
'Pleiades' on display
Local sculptor Andrew DeVries has been for many years an exceedingly devoted friend of Ventfort Hall. His pair of bronze "Pleiades" - in ancient mythology seven sisters who became a cluster of stars - is now on permanent loan to Ventfort Hall.
The two Pleiades were first placed at Ventfort Hall when DeVries was the resident sculptor at the mansion in 2004 and 2005. After leaving Ventfort Hall for a time, they returned about five years ago and will now be on permanent display. DeVries sees this donation of the two Pleiades as a fitting way to thank Ventfort Hall, and everyone else, who helped in the rebuilding efforts of his Middlefield studio, as well as mark his 40th year as a sculptor.
His sculptures can be seen throughout the world, both in private and public collections. He continues to cast and finish all his sculptures at his studio and foundry, River Studio, in Middlefield, Mass. In 2002 he and his wife, Patricia, opened DeVries Fine Art International, their gallery in Lenox, Mass.
An Official Project of Save America's Treasures program sponsored by The White House, Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum was built in 1893 for George and Sarah Morgan, who was the sister of financier J. P. Morgan. The historic mansion is located at 104 Walker St. in Lenox. The museum offers tours of the historic mansion, as well as Tea & Talks, such exhibits as the Bellefontaine Collection, theater and other programs. This elegant Jacobean-Revival Berkshire "cottage," listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is open to the public year round and is available for private rental.
The Friends of the North Adams Public Library are collecting clean and gently used books, CDs, DVDs, puzzles and audiobooks for their book sale in September. The Friends ask people to refrain from donating textbooks, cassette tapes or VHS tapes.
Items can be dropped off at the library during regular hours.
Senior Tax Work-Off Program
Applications are now available for the City of Pittsfield's Senior Tax Work-Off Program for Fiscal Year 2020. Eligible candidates must be Pittsfield residential property owners 60 years of age and older at the time of the application. Program applications must be postmarked or received by the Assessors' Office by May 31, 2019. Active municipal employees are not eligible for the Senior Citizen Tax Work-Off Program.
There will be a limit of two participants per eligible property; however, the total abatement cannot exceed the maximum exemption of $1,000. Income eligibility shall be determined by using the locally adopted income eligibility guidelines of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 59, Section 5, clause 41C (plus an additional $5,000). The selection of participants will be based on need and shall be valid for one year. In the event that other opportunities become available, qualified volunteers not selected for this program will be placed on a waiting list in order of need. The city is not obligated to offer another position if a volunteer declines an assignment. Participants who leave the program either voluntary or involuntary will not be eligible for return the following fiscal year.
For a married individual, yearly income cannot exceed $36,840. For a single individual, yearly income cannot exceed $31,163. All volunteer work must be completed between June 1, 2019, and November 30, 2019. An application for this program can be found on the city website.
Pine Cobble scholarships
Pine Cobble School is offering endowed need-based scholarships, open to qualified new students entering grades four through nine. This year's scholarship opportunities include both partial and full tuition scholarships for each academic year the student attends Pine Cobble School, as long as the student remains in good standing.
Scholarships are awarded to select new students who have a love for learning, a natural curiosity, and a record of outstanding citizenship. As with all Pine Cobble applicants, students interested in applying for a scholarships must demonstrate the character pillars that are important to the Pine Cobble community: compassion, courage, honesty, respect, responsibility, awareness of self/others, gratitude, patience and cooperation. Scholars must be enthusiastic about joining Pine Cobble School’s community of talented students, strong leaders, and thoughtful individuals.
Applications will be accepted through May 31. For more information, visit the website.
Southwestern Vermont Health Care has designated Castleton University as its preferred partner for nursing education. With the impending closure of Southern Vermont College, SVHC anticipates there will be a shortage of registered nurses with a bachelor of science degree to fill vacant positions in the immediate future and beyond, which are necessary to sustain critically important services and meet the needs of the communities it serves.
To address the anticipated shortage at SVHC, Castleton University has submitted a substantive change request to the New England Commission of Higher Education to establish an additional location in Bennington to deliver its bachelor of science in nursing program beginning in the fall of 2019. Castleton plans to share space with Vermont Technical College.
Southwestern Vermont Health Care has made a commitment to offer employment to Castleton students who satisfactorily complete the BSN program, obtain licensure and meet pre-employment requirements. Additionally, SVHC will pay back (in full) tuition debt to those accepted employees that work six consecutive years within the health system.
Southwestern Vermont Health Care and Castleton University will also maintain its nursing education relationships with Vermont Technical College and Community College of Vermont and establish professional development opportunities for current SVHC employees.
Elder funds available
Elder Services of Berkshire County has funds available through Title III of the Older Americans Act, and requests proposals for subgrants targeted to individuals 60 years of age and older in Berkshire County for the following programs and services: Legal Assistance, Minor Home Repair, Heavy Chores, In-home Mental Health Assessment, Approved Evidence-Based Healthy Aging Programs (request list), Medical Transportation, Caregiver Support, Information and Education, and In-home Respite Services for Caregivers. All grants are subject to a competitive process and the availability of funding.
The process is open to nonprofit organizations and private for-profit organizations and businesses. Subgrant proposals must support and provide direct services to Berkshire County residents age 60 and older. The Older Americans Act identifies groups of seniors who should receive priority in the use of Title III funding, including rural elders, elders with the greatest economic and social need, racially or ethnically isolated individuals, limited-English-speaking seniors, frail or disabled individuals and the caregivers of such individuals, and elders facing cultural or social isolation, including LGBT individuals.
Interested individuals and organizations, especially those that serve seniors, should send a letter of lntent by June 3 at 4 p.m. Proposals may be submitted by a single organizational entity, or be collaborative ventures. Letters of Intent will be reviewed, and selected organizations will be invited to submit a response to the request for proposals by 4 p.m. June 24. Details can be found on the website. Successful proposals will be funded for one year, encompassing the period Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2020. An informational meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 28, at 10 a.m. at Elder Services, 877 South Street, Suite 4E in Pittsfield.
Every year, WAM Theatre donates a portion of the box office proceeds from their Main Stage productions to agencies that benefit women and girls locally, nationally or internationally. The success of the world premiere of "Lady Randy" enabled the company to present $8,000 to their 16th beneficiary, Tapestry Health Systems. Along with the $1,200 targeted gift to The MoonCatcher Project, this brings WAM's donation total since its founding in 2010 up to $65,700.
Tapestry will use WAM's donation to provide training to staff to improve their services to marginalized communities. "What WAM is doing is remarkable. We are so honored to be a part of this experience," said Katrina Mattson, Health Services manager at Tapestry’s Pittsfield location. "As we grow as an agency, we need to do better for marginalized communities. One of the ways we can do this is do train our dedicated staff in social determinants of health and increase our capacity by learning how to better serve our LGBTQ community, our poor, our undocumented, and others marginalized in today's society."
A targeted donation of $1,000 was earmarked for The MoonCatcher Project, but the total was able to be raised to $1,200 for this worthy cause. WAM's donation will provide more than 200 menstrual kits to MoonCatcher's work in Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Pakistan and India. This brings the WAM beneficiary total to 17.