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Mayor Linda Tyer reads a proclamation recognizing community leaders Manny and Vanessa Slaughter, left.

Pittsfield Honors Couple's Efforts Promoting Sports & Literacy

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two city residents who have provided a summer camp that's benefited hundreds of local children over the past two decades were recognized at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Mayor Linda Tyer read a proclamation honoring community leaders Manny and Vanessa Slaughter, who were awarded the Black Excellence on the Hill Award by the Black and Latino Caucus in Boston earlier this month.  
"They both have incredibly powerful stories and the size of the things they have done for the youth of our community as individuals," Tyer said. "They have some powerful personal stories and it is a privilege to know you, to learn from you, and stand here with you today."
State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier introduced the Slaughters and said they ran the Marilyn Hamilton Literacy and Sports and Literacy Summer Camp for more than 20 years, creating a safe place for students to engage in healthy activity while also staying engaged with reading and math skills. 
"This started years ago really with what they did on their own," she said. "They wrote grants, they begged a little and they started this camp. 100 kids would show up in a day. It is kind of crazy."
"It was safe but crazy," Manny laughed.
She said the camp prevented "summer slide" and when students returned to school they retained a lot of the information they learned the previous school year.
Farley-Bouvier added that unlike many programs Manny and Vanessa directly connected with families involved making it more successful. 
"We can have all of the good intentions that we want," she said. "We can have programs, we can have excellent curriculum, but if we do not have trusted members of our community reaching out to our families and letting them know that their kids are safe we ain't got nothing. ...
"That is what Manny and Vanessa have been to this community and I am proud to be a fellow Pittsfielder with you." 
Last year's honorees included Ty Allan Jackson, local author, literacy advocate, publisher and motivational speaker, and Shirley Edgerton, founder and director of the Rites of Passage and Empowerment Program, director of Youth Alive and cultural proficiency coach for the Pittsfield Public Schools.

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Federally-Backed & Local Loans Aim to Support Small Business in Crisis

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — As small businesses confront what some analysts already have called the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the phones of a small-business adviser have been relatively quiet.
"The main contact we're getting is through email," Keith Girouard said this week. "That is a lot more effective and efficient for us.
"We're working through phone and Zoom [video conferencing] as well. But the phone is not ringing off the hook. The emails are ringing off the hook."
Girouard is the Berkshire regional director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network. He operates one of five such centers across the commonwealth and a thousand in the United States and its territories.
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