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Beckett-Chimney Corners YMCA in Becket has been awarded $500 from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundationís Community Spirit 9/11 Mini-Grant program.

Berkshires Beat: Beckett-Chimney Corners YMCA Receives $500 Community Spirit Grant

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Beckett-Chimney Corners YMCA in Becket has been awarded $500 from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation’s Community Spirit 9/11 Mini-Grant program. An employee of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care nominated the organization for the award. Funds will be used to provide scholarships to campers in need. 

To commemorate those Harvard Pilgrim members who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, Harvard Pilgrim and the foundation created the Community Spirit 9/11 Mini-Grant program. This program allows each Harvard Pilgrim employee to award a $500 grant, completely funded by the Foundation, to the local charity of his or her choice each calendar year. Since this community grants program began in 2002, Harvard Pilgrim employees have directed more than $6.8 million to thousands of organizations throughout Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In 2019, 96 percent of Harvard Pilgrim employees participated in at least one form of service or giving through volunteering, the Mini-Grants program, or Harvard Pilgrim’s annual Employee Fundraising Campaign.

"We are so fortunate to have generous and dedicated employees who enrich our company and the communities in which we all live and work," said Karen Voci, president of the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation. "The mini-grant program is a wonderful way to support our employees as philanthropists and to help them make an impact in their own cities and towns.”


Trails opened

Mass Audubon has re-opened trails on many of its wildlife sanctuaries across the state, from Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket to Worcester County, the Connecticut River Valley, and the Berkshires. Its nature centers and other buildings remain closed at present, but after careful analysis and discussions with local officials and community leaders, the state's largest nature conservation nonprofit is welcoming its members and other visitors to miles of trails on two dozen wildlife sanctuaries.

In Berkshire Country, the newly re-opened trails include Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield, Lime Kiln Farm in Sheffield, Pleasant Valley in Lenox and Tracy Brook in Richmond.

The re-opened sanctuaries have been selected based on a variety of conditions, including being able to manage capacity for expected level of use (both on the trails and in the parking areas) as well as support from the communities where they are located. Additional sanctuaries will opening in the coming weeks. To see which sanctuaries are now open and learn how best to responsibly share their trail systems with others, visit the website.


Mayfest online

Construct will hold its annual fundraiser, Mayfes n Place" on Monday, May 18. Funds raised will go towards helping our neighbors who are laid off, working limited hours, or have lost their jobs entirely, which puts their housing in jeopardy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants who pay rent will also help landlords to maintain their units, providing safe housing for all their tenants; our teachers, nurses, store clerks, emergency staff: our neighbors. 

Supporters will purchase a ticket on line, as a donation, (which is 100 percent tax deductible), and on the evening of May 18, order take out from one of the many restaurants that have supported Construct over the years or make a nice meal at home. Friends of Construct are planning to invite friends to share a Zoom Mayfest in the safety of their own home. For updates and more information, go to the website.


Police union fundraiser

The Pittsfield Police Department Officers Union IBPO Local 447 started its spring fundraising campaign on May 14. The fundraising campaign will run through July 23, 2020.  

The union is attempting to raise funds to continue to contribute to the community as they have in the past. Fundraisers from the last several years has allowed the union to continue the IBPO Local 447 Memorial Scholarship program that awarded scholarships to numerous individuals from the area that will be attending college. This scholarship is meant to assist them with some of the financial burden of college tuition, room and board and study materials. The monies raised have also allowed us to contribute to various community organizations, high school arts and music programs, Special Olympic events and sponsor youth sports and events.

Residents should be aware that employees from the fundraising company, TCI America Inc., will be contacting businesses and residents soliciting for donations. At no time will any officers or members of the Pittsfield Police Department be contacting residents asking for donations. Due to concerns with COVID-19 and in an attempt to maintain social distancing, employees from TCI America Inc. will schedule appointments with businesses and residents to collect donations. For more information, contact Officer Shaun Gariepy, president of IBPO Local 447, at 413-448-9700, ext. 550.


Nonprofit awards

The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires is transforming the Berkshire Nonprofit Awards into a two-day virtual summit on nonprofit sustainability. The expanded event will be held on May 19 and 20. It will kick off at 10 a.m. on May 19 with the awards celebration, followed by keynotes, presentations and workshops throughout the afternoon and following day. Positive psychologist, Dr. Maria Sirois, will give the opening keynote address on the topic of resilience.

Tickets for the event are $20 for anyone to attend the awards celebration only, $30 for NPC members to attend the full two-day offering, and $40 for nonmembers. Registration is available online.


Hoosac Valley registration

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten registration is currently open for the 2020-21 School Year for the Hoosac Valley Regional School District.  Information is posted on the district website.  Families can register with paper-based packets or online using the link provided on the website.  Also, for your convenience, packets and a drop box are available at the meals site at Hoosac Valley Elementary School at 14 Commercial Street in Adams on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m.


Flushing schedule

Monday, May 18 marks the start of week three for the flushing of the city of Pittsfield’s water system. Water mains throughout the city will be flushed through hydrants to remove accumulations of pipeline corrosion products. Mains will be flushed Monday through Friday each week, except holidays, between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The upcoming flushing for this week may be expected to affect the following areas: 

• Several locations along Park Street, King Street and Onota Street near Von Nida Street, Walnut Street, West Housatonic Street, Fort Hill Avenue, South Street, and Velma Avenue.

• All of West Housatonic Street from South Street to Callahan Drive and all neighborhood streets in-between (i.e. Boylston Street, Cadwell Road, Lebanon Avenue and Cole Avenue).

• West Street from Park Square continuing to Fort Hill Avenue and all neighborhood streets in-between.

• Several locations along Center Street, Valentine Road, Pecks Road, Thomas Island, Upper North Street, outer Wahconah Street, Lakeway Drive, and Linden Street.

• Hancock Road starting at North Street intersection, which would include the Highland and Ridge avenue neighborhood.

Although flushing may cause localized discolored water and reduced service pressure conditions in and around the immediate area of flushing, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that proper levels of treatment and disinfections are maintained in the system at all times. If customers experience discolored water, they should let the water run for a short period to clear it prior to use. If discolored water or low pressure conditions persist,  contact the Water Department at 413-499-9339.


Route 20 roadwork

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will be implementing intermittent lane closures on Route 20 in Lenox from Monday, May 18, through Thursday, May 21, to facilitate daily rock blasting operations at approximately 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Crews will be conducting rock blasting operations along Route 20, specifically 0.4 miles east of the Route 7 intersection. The rock blasting is necessary for installation of a culvert in this area.

The traffic on Route 20 will be stopped for one to five minutes in order to ensure the safety of the public. MassDOT encourages travelers to be aware of these impacts. Traffic control devices and police details will be used to guide drivers through the work zone. Those traveling through the area should reduce speed and use caution.

These operations are weather-dependent and subject to change without notice.


Free Legal Advice

The Berkshire Center for Justice has been awarded $5,000 from Berkshire United Way's COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to offer free legal services for those impacted by COVID-19 for the entire month of May. Free Spanish interpreter services are available by request. For an intake, call 413-854-1955 or complete an intake on the website; click on the link for Free Legal Clinic. The pro-bono assistance will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Since 2006, the charitable nonprofit Berkshire Center for Justice takes approximately 250 cases a year and has served thousands of Berkshire residents to date. BCJ’s Free Legal Clinic Program is one program offered by the organization. Others include Know Your Rights, Justice for Elders, Self Advocacy Program, and Sliding Scale Fee services. This year, because of the pandemic, BCJ has already met with 111 clients, many with COVID-19-related questions. The agency works with 24 attorneys, two accountants and two mediators who volunteer pro bono as well as reduced-fee professional services to Berkshire Center for Justice clients. 

Serving the region's low-income residents, this agency is one of only 27 sliding scale fee nonprofit direct legal services providers in the country and provides clients with legal, social and community support. BCJ focuses on civil law, aiding clients with matters of divorce, landlord/tenant, debt, bankruptcy, Wills, health care proxies and power of attorney documents.


Adams Transfer Station hours

Effective May 14, 2020, until September 15, 2020, the Transfer Station in the town of Adams will be open on Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m.


BArT accolades

Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the 16th best public high school in Massachusetts in the organization's 2020 ranking of the 378 Massachusetts public schools. 

BArT was the highest ranking Berkshire County school, the only county high school in the top 50, and one of just two local schools included in the top 100 this year. Schools are ranked on college preparedness, their performance on state-required tests and graduation rates. 




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Jacob's Pillow to Launch Virtual Festival

BECKET, Mass. — Jacob's Pillow, home to the longest-running dance festival in the United States, is set to launch a virtual festival with eight weeks of free programming running from July 7 to Aug. 29. 

Jacob's Pillow announced the cancellation of its 10-week festival for the first time in the organization’s 88-year history in March, due to the novel coronavirus. 

Weekly highlights feature streams of popular performances from the past 10 years, a series of new PillowTalks with leaders in the dance field, an online version of the beloved intergenerational movement class Families Dance together, and a new Master Class Series from The School at Jacob’s Pillow. 

Attendees are encouraged to make a contribution in lieu of purchasing a ticket and 50 percent of donations for performances will be shared with the artists featured. Community engagement events will share proceeds with local community organizations.  

"After we canceled our on-site festival due to the global pandemic, we soon realized the need to fulfill our mission by engaging artists and audiences in a quintessential summer experience from Jacob's Pillow virtually," said Jacob's Pillow Executive & Artistic Director Pamela Tatge. "The civic organizing and protests confronting racism and inequality in our country greatly impacts our organization’s decision-making. The model we envision is one that is free for all, made more accessible by being entirely online, pays artists and scholars for their time, and provides artists with additional support during a time when many have lost their income. 

"I'm excited to think about all the people who will now have the chance to 'visit' our campus and experience the crossroads of dance that is Jacob's PIllow."

Fifty percent of donations received from performances are shared directly with the featured artists in support of their continued work. All donations for Families Dance Together will be contributed to the NAACP Berkshire County Branch. Fifty percent of proceeds raised from Dog Dance (Aug. 1) will be shared with the Berkshire Humane Society. And all donations for The Land on Which We Dance (Aug. 5) will be shared with the artists in support of their important work. 

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