Police Officer Mitchell Miranti poses with his family after receiving a Neighborly 'for outstanding commitment to community and ensuring all communities had access to the supplies they needed to keep safe and healthy.' See more photos here.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Neighborlies celebrated good acts large and small on Wednesday that have made the community better.
The awards hosted by Northern Berkshire Community Coalition were held in person for the first time in two years after being disrupted by the pandemic. The crowd gathered at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Church Street Center was smaller than usual but more than 40 people were recognized for their contributions to the community.
"It feels so good to come back in these in-person events and see so many faces," said Amber Besaw, executive director of coalition. "We have loss of certificates and folks are recognized. So we're going to read off names give people a chance to come up."
Recipients were presented with a certificate by Stephanie Puc, family support and education coordinator, and then Jessi Byrne, health and wellness coordinator, took a photo of them with Mayor Thomas Bernard.
The Neighborlies are given out to people or organizations nominated by their neighbors in categories including businesses, health and wellness, and neighborly acts.
The recognitions ranged from helping children and families during the pandemic (North Adams Public Schools administrators) to serving food to people in need (the Berkshire Food Project, Peter Oleskiewicz of Desperados and Village Pizza) to always stopping on shift to pet dogs and talk to their owners (Police Officer Khalil Paul) to helping a neighbor adjust to life in a new country (Richard and Deborah Jones).
A few people received more than one certificate for individual and organizational work. Stacy Parsons, the public schools' school partnership coordinator, received three certificates
"To no one's surprise," said Besaw, and they were "for allowing kiddos to play in your yard and fry eggs in your driveway (an impromptu science experiment), for monitoring and advocating for kids and vaccine clinics, ... for coordination of volunteers at vaccine clinics, food banks and many other programs."
The mayor, who is ending his term in office, said he missed out on the last Neighborlies because he had been traveling out of the country.
"It really is wonderful to be back together in person. ... the chance for all of us to share gifts of gratitude with each other is itself a gift to share it with our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues, the people who mean so much to us in the community," he said. "And here in the Northern Berkshires, we have an amazing community. ...
"The Neighborly is our the recognition of the acts of kindness. And it's a two-way recognition it's recognizing the people who have done something noteworthy, something that has made us feel good and we want to them to feel good, we want to share that we want to share it with the people who made us feel good."
The mayor was also surprised with a small cake for his birthday and a little foam question mark as Besaw said his real gift from NBCC was delayed in the mail. (It arrived Thursday morning.)
After the ceremony, families gathered at the NBCC backdrop to take photos and have refreshments.
"Making our way out of a pandemic and into the holiday season, I think it's important to reflect on what we're celebrating tonight and how we are celebrating all of you," said Gina Puc, MCLA's vice president for strategic initiatives. "We are very grateful for our partners at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and the work that they do to fortify the strength of our community."
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North Adams Awarded $200K for Mohawk Marquee Restoration
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is receiving $200,000 in state funding toward the refurbishment of the landmark Mohawk Theater marquee.
North Adams was awarded $200,000 from the Regional Economic Development Organization program, which is administered through the Massachusetts Office of Business Development. Some $2.1 million in the competitive grants were announced on Wednesday for 38 projects across the state, including more than $600,000 in the Berkshires.
The status of the 1938 theater has been the center of numerous discussion on downtown development and not a few biennial mayor contests. The marquee was last restored two decades ago and, while it's had some maintenance since, its neon lighting is worse for wear.
A proposal to sell the theater two years ago prompted the City Council to insist on conditions that the marquee would be not be removed by the buyer. Requests for proposals on the building have contained language requiring the marquee be restored as part of any deal.