Berkshires Beat: First Day School Students Donate Funds to SVHC
In mid-May, the Southwestern Vermont Health Care Foundation received a letter and donation from the First Day School of the Bennington Friends Meeting, a local group of the Religious Society of Friends, known more commonly as Quakers. The letter was written by 11-year-old Thea Newbold of North Bennington. She wrote on behalf of the other children of The First Day School, the Quaker equivalent of Sunday school, according to Amy Newbold, Thea’s mother.
In the letter, Thea explained that the adults had provided the children with funds to give to the charity or charities of their choice and that the children had chosen to send a third of the funds to the hospital. "We know that you are risking your lives to help people in need during this pandemic," Thea wrote. "And we are very grateful for your hard work. Please accept this gift … to help you get supplies like masks … to protect others and yourselves." The letter was signed by Addie, Gabe, Josef and Penelope.
"While we are deeply grateful for each of the donations we have received to the COVID-19 Relief Fund over the past several months, this one was particularly heartwarming," said Leslie Keefe, vice president for Corporate Development at SVHC. "Our health care providers take great comfort in the support of these compassionate and thoughtful children."
The health system invited The First Day School of the Bennington Friends Meeting to meet SVHC's clinical leaders — Chief Medical Officer Dr. Trey Dobson and Chief Nursing Officer Pamela Duchene — on the lawn at the front of the hospital earlier this month. "It is really special that the children chose SVHC as the local organization for their contribution," said Duchene. "It is wonderful that, at such young ages, they recognize the importance of caring for their community."
The children also supported Feeding America and the World Wildlife Foundation.
Humane society reopens
Berkshire Humane Society has reopened doors of its main shelter at 214 Barker Road in Pittsfield, effective June 16, after being closed to the public for three months due to COVID-19 precautions. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. The society's Family Dog School is also open.
Purradise, the Society’s satellite cat adoption and boarding facility in Great Barrington, remains closed until further notice. Cat boarding is still available at the main shelter.
Catwalk Boutiques, Berkshire Humane Society’s resale shops, reopen Thursday, June 18. Startup hours for the stores at 301 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington and 53 Church Street in Lenox, a new location, are Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 pm and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Procedures are in place at all locations to protect staff, volunteers and the public from COVID-19, including mandatory masks, scheduled cleaning of surfaces and monitoring of building occupancy.
Hancock Shaker Village dining to open
Hancock Shaker Village's Seeds Market Cafe will be open for al fresco dining beginning Thursday, June 18. The village, which is open outdoors for Baby Animals as part of the commonwealth's Phase 1, is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through June 28. Seeds Market Cafe will be open concurrently, offering the public outdoor tables with beautiful views of the historic village, rolling fields and meadows, and the surrounding Berkshire hills.
The menu, created by chef Brian Alberg, includes freshly made signature dishes and items with a twist, including potato leek and sweet pea soup; arugula, bacon, and fresh farm egg salad; a chick pea salad with avocado spread; and a homemade pie du jour. Pastry chefs Amanda Perreault and Cynthia Walton will be baking fresh pastries each day. The menu is always sourced from local farms, including Hancock Shaker Village, the oldest working farm in western Massachusetts. For a complete list of safety guidelines, visit the website.
Berkshire Community College is continuing to offer its Respiratory Care program and will enroll new students into its spring 2021 cohort. The college is offering a variety of virtual information sessions for interested students on Tuesday, June 23, at 9 a.m., Thursday, June 25, at 4 p.m., and Wednesday, July 1 at 12:30 p.m.
BCC’s Respiratory Therapy program prepares students to become Certified Respiratory Therapists and Registered Respiratory Therapists with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to meet current professional goals and be prepared for clinical practice as Respiratory Therapists. During the COVID-19 pandemic, respiratory therapists have been seen as incredibly important as frontline staff saving lives in the Berkshires and abroad.
This two-year program is a sequence of lecture, laboratory and clinical courses. Comprehensive on-site training provides opportunities for students to become skilled and confident in respiratory care procedures. Program graduates are eligible to take the National Board for Respiratory Care examination. To register, prospective students can go online.
Summer camp info sessions
The Dalton Community Recreation Association DYC Day Camp directors and staff will host information sessions for parents/guardians to address concerns about new rules and procedures at summer camp. There will be discussions about the policies in place to ensure the safety of every camper and staff member, and new procedures to keep campers, families, and staff safe during this unprecedented time. The staff will continue to work closely with local- and state-level health departments throughout the summer.
Directors and staff members will be available in front of the CRA on Wednesday, June 17, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, June 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. Masks are required. Visit the website for more information.
Child abuse reporting
The Berkshire District Attorney's Child Abuse Unit and partners in the multi-disciplinary Berkshire County Sexual Assault Intervention Network team remains in place to identify and hold perpetrators accountable while providing trauma-informed treatment to children across the county even with a concerning decrease in child abuse reports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office noticed a 52 percent decrease in reports of child abuse in the last two months compared to this time last year and a 33 percent decrease in newly opened investigations since the start of the year. Statewide, the Department of Children and Families reports a 51 percent decrease in child abuse reports.
The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office asks the public to be vigilant in reporting suspected child abuse and neglect. "The most important job of all adults in our community is to protect our children from abuse and trauma. Children often cannot speak for or defend themselves and need trusted adults to protect them. Our office has a dedicated unit of prosecutors and victim witness advocates working in collaboration with other child protection agencies to create a community where children can grow and thrive," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said.
Curbside library service
The Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s public library, is now doing curbside pickup service for library materials. While the library building remains closed to the public, patrons now have the opportunity to request and safely pick up library items. Books, audio books, movies, and music are available for curbside pickup service.
Here's how it works: Reserve items by using the online catalog available from the Athenaeum website. Or contact the Reference Department 413-499-9480 or by email to request holds placed on your behalf. When the requested item is available, you will be called to schedule a pickup time. Pickup appointments are scheduled at various times on weekdays, weeknights, and Saturdays. To accommodate the needs of all library patrons, requests are limited to five items per pickup, one pickup per day, and no more than three pickups per week.
Patrons are reminded to continue placing returns in the library book drops. Borrowed library materials continue to be renewed and expired library cards extended. At this time the athenaeum is not collecting overdue fines.