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Volunteers threw a barbecue at Durant Park to get feedback from residents about the challenges they face.
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Working Cities Throws Annual BBQ to Highlight Successes

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Director Alisa Costa highlights some of the successes the organization had in the last three years.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Working Cities is in its final year of funding and believes it has made an impact.
The organization threw its annual barbecue on Wednesday that Initiative Director Alisa Costa said is a chance to not only share what the organization has been doing but also to get additional feedback. The organization put out sheets asking about the challenges and successes in the neighborhood. 
"When we started this work, residents reported feeling isolated and not welcome in many spaces in Pittsfield. You told us where you struggle and what you need. And we've been working together for three years toward a long-term, 10-yearr goal. Building a just, thriving, and safe city for everyone," Costa told the crowd.
She asked, "what have we accomplished together?" And then she answered
"We have seven community navigators on the ground in our neighborhoods working to connect their neighbors to opportunities. Whether that is a program, a job, food, or shelter, this team is connecting people to what they need," Costa said.
The navigators completed more than 500 hours of work in the community, helping connect people with the resources they need. The organization has provided 250 people with Bridges Out of Poverty training. It graduated 90 people from the Getting Ahead program. And it has hosted 20 community meetings reaching some 317 residents and where ideas on to how to help the community were pitched.
Of those, a bus program from Pittsfield to Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival was created to help low-income residents enjoy the arts and culture. A police outreach post opened in the same building as Working Cities and Habitat for Humanity on Columbus Avenue. Rose and Cole Co-op Transport was created to provide low-cost transportation options. And the Tyler Street Lab opened. Costa said the organization got involved in all of those partnerships because of the responses from the community.
The initiative began three years ago with funding through the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Berkshire United Way, Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and 1Berkshire. The focus of the group is to help low-income residents overcome "structural barriers such as inadequate access to education, transportation, jobs, and opportunities."
The group was funded for three years but Costa said the work is not done. She will be looking for funding to continue on into the future.

Tags: community development,   

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Tyer Cautions Public Health Data Will Inform Phase 2 Reopening

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In her weekly COVID-19 update on Friday, Mayor Linda Tyer asked residents to stay strong during the potential last week of Phase 1 of the reopening process.
She said as the state enters the third and potentially final week of Phase 1, residents need to continue to practice "safer at home" protocols.  
"I am confident that the city will do what needs to be done as we always do because even in the toughest times our community pride finds a way to shine bright," Tyer said. 
She reiterated that the beginning of the next phase will be guided by public health data and said the governor announced this week that the state was past the "surge."
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