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Members of Terra Nova Church and First Baptist Church of North Adams help move the Friendship Center Food Pantry into the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish Center on Thursday, March 26. The move is temporary during the COVID-19 epidemic to provide a safer environment to work from and more space to respond to increased need.

March 31 COVID-19 Briefs: Food Pantry Distribution Moves to St. Elizabeth's

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Friendship Center Distribution Moves

Starting Wednesday, April 1, the Food Pantry of the Al Nelson Friendship Center will temporarily operate from the St. Elizabeth Parish Center. The move from the location at 45 Eagle St. to the Parish Center, located at the corner of St. Anthony Drive and Holden Street, is being made to provide more room for social distancing and to adjust to increased need for emergency food during the COVID-19 emergency.

The food pantry operating hours will remain 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. The phone number will remain 413-664-0123.

Because of public health concerns, the center will continue to provide pre-assembled boxes of food based on family size. On Wednesday, April 1, staff will be distributing food from the double red doors on the Holden Street side of the facility, across from the BigY building. Signs will be put up indicating where to go. People should park along Holden Street and line up as necessary at an appropriate distance from each other. All other entrances will remain locked.

The center requests that people don't come to the pantry if they are ill and if possible send just one person per household to pick up food, ideally a person who can carry a loaded box to a car.

Volunteers from The First Baptist Church of North Adams and Terra Nova Church, also in North Adams, helped move the essentials to run a food pantry, including shelves, tables, three freezers and about 1,000 pounds of food from the Friendship Center to the Parish Center in less than two hours on Thursday, March 26.

Food Pantry organizers are look to build a database of potential and actual new volunteers. Some regular volunteers have stepped back temporarily because they fall into groups most threatened by COVID-19. Potential new volunteers should be in good health without underlying conditions and should be able to lift and move a 35-pound box. If interested, send an email or send a message through the website or the Facebook page.


Emergency Child Care

18 Degrees, Family Services for Western Massachusetts, will be operating as an Emergency Childcare Center starting Tuesday, March 31. Emergency Childcare services have been established to provide care for children whose families are providing essential services – health care workers, first responders, and grocery store staff are in that category.  Care will be available on a first come, first serve, basis starting from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 pm. on Tuesday, March 31, and then open Monday through Fridays through May 1. 

18 Degrees is not allowed to provide childcare for the organization's regular families unless they fit the eligibility requirements the state has established for Emergency Childcare. This care is ONLY to provide emergency, back-up, drop-in care for vulnerable families and workers who have no other option. 

18 Degrees staff continues to provide all other services to families remotely. "Staff is finding new and creative ways of connecting, supporting, and continuing to deliver the quality of services that we take pride in and for which we are known," said Colleen Holmes, president and CEO. 

More information about Emergency Childcare can be found by calling 413-448-8281, Ext. 211.  


SVMC Relief Fund

The Southwestern Vermont Health Care Foundation, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, has established a special fund to meet needs that have emerged as a result of the health system’s response to COVID-19.

"This is a time of unprecedented need," said Leslie Keefe, SVHC’s vice president of Corporate Development. "We are calling on our community to support the efforts of our hospital to save lives."

The COVID-19 Relief Fund will be used to create additional negative pressure rooms; purchase life-saving supplies, such as ventilators, respirators, additional Personal Protective Equipment; implement a surge plan to expand patient care areas, including an off-site Respiratory Evaluation Center; and support of employees in distress.

Southwestern Vermont Health Care’s Auxiliary will match all donations to the COVID-19 Relief Fund up to $100,000. "The Auxiliary has been working to meet crucial needs in our community for more than 100 years," said Auxiliary President Lila Cestone. "We are proud to help inspire others to contribute and to join us in the effort against COVID-19."

Donations may be made online. SVHC Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization, and all donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Spectrum Adds Springfield Station

WWLP, Channel 22 News, out of Springfield is now available to Spectrum cable users in Berkshire County. The station began airing Monday on Spectrum on Channels 14 and 204 for basic/starter and HD television Lee, North Adams and Pittsfield area lineups and on Channels 14 and 791 in West Stockbridge. View the current lineup of channels here.

U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey announced in February he had brokered a deal to restore WWLP, Channel 22, to cable viewers in the Berkshires after a three-year absence.

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Trail Conservancy Cautions Pandemic Care When Hiking

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Although most of the Appalachian Trail is still open, hikers are asked to practice common sense during the pandemic while on the trail or to just stay home.
COVID-19 has challenged people to find new ways to stay active while practicing social distancing and local trail volunteer Cosmo Catalano, Jr said although folks are encouraged to stay home, common sense needs to be used to maintain social distancing. 
"The AT, along with other trails on public lands provides an important resource for people to get outdoors in a healthy way," he said. "With care and common sense, it's relatively easy for people to maintain appropriate social distance and enjoy the outdoors."
Catalano said the trail organization structure is complicated and is organized by a number of entities. In Massachusetts about half the trail is on state forest lands managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The other half is on lands managed by the National Park Service.
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