Hillcrest was able to accommodated visitors this holiday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Santa was good to the folks at Hillcrest Commons this year.
Each resident received a gift and a card or picture from generous people who enjoy giving back.
Almost 200 residents received presents thanks to Kristen Vella Wiliams, who began providing gifts to residents who did not have family members in 2014. The nursing and rehabilitation center could not be more thankful for Vella's program and the joy it brings to everyone at the facility.
"I really can't say enough as to what they do and how it's grown," Admissions and Marketing Director Deirdre Tozer Hayes said. "I mean, I think when she started it was like 24 gifts for the unit, Unit 3, that she started with."
One hundred and nine of the gifts were wish list items that residents requested, such as T-shirts, sweat shirts, and slippers. But the wish list items were not all apparel — one person requested a Chinese meal and received a gift certificate from Vella's elves.
The other residents were given items that anyone can appreciate such as blankets and stuffed animals.
"It also is a benefit to our staff," Tozer Hayes added. "Because when they see one of us or we give something to the staff to get to them, that reaction, that person being somebody they don't even know who's given them a card, even our staff talk about the joy that they see in that resident and how it warms them on that day as well."
For years now, residents at Hillcrest Commons have received holiday cards or pictures from people near and far. There were about 200 sent and every resident was able to receive one.
The facility has had a long-standing relationship with Crosby Elementary School, whose students send drawings. They are also sent cards from various individuals and this year, ones from a senior center in New Lebanon, N.Y.
The cards are sent yearly just by word of mouth. For the residents, it lets them know that strangers are thinking of them.
"It's amazing, we still get a variety of people and people from across the state to be honest, who send us cards, and send pictures and things like that," Tozer Hayes explained.
"That hasn't stopped, we've never made an additional request, I have one or two who might call saying, 'Would you still like them?' And we always say yes, because it really has a positive effect on our residents in terms of receiving that."
The week before Christmas, a DJ came in for a small party at which residents had egg nogand cookies.
For the holiday, Vella and her elves were able to personally deliver gifts to residents and there was a piano performance in the common area next to a Christmas tree.
In accordance with the state Department of Public Health, visitors are allowed with a screening at the front desk. Residents are also able to visit their loved ones.
This year's holiday festivities were especially important because the facility had to quarantine last year because of COVID-19.
At the end of 2020, the facility had a devastating surge and suffered the loss of 42 residents; 75 percent of residents were infected along with many staff members. The community stepped up during that time and Hillcrest Commons received more than 20 different forms of support from community members such as gifts, cards, food deliveries, caroling outside of residents' windows, and a parade around the building.
"We can't thank enough, people who take the time to send things into us, and are thinking of us," Tozer Hayes said. "And as I said, Vella and how she coordinates all her little elves, that purchase special gifts for our residents."
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New Funding Round for Shared Streets and Spaces Program
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), on behalf of the Baker-Polito Administration, and in partnership with the Barr Foundation, announced applications are now being accepted from municipalities and Regional Transit Authorities (RTA) for the Shared Streets and Spaces Program.
Since the program’s start in June of 2020, a total of $33 million dollars in grant funding has been provided to Massachusetts cities and towns to facilitate 310 projects.
Building on the success of the program first launched as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program continues to be a funding source for communities as they address ongoing challenges and seek to improve their transportation infrastructure. The grant funding is available to help municipalities and RTAs conceive, design, and execute improvements to sidewalks, curbs, streets, plazas, and parking areas in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce.
While multiple project types are eligible for Shared Streets and Spaces funding, this funding round will be placing particular emphasis on a specific type of roadway project: the management of vehicular speeds through design interventions.
During a COVID-19 update at Tuesday's City Council meeting, Director of Public Health Andy Cambi reported that there are 25 people hospitalized at Berkshire Medical Center for the virus and that a large number of these patients are unvaccinated.
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The councilors accepted a nearly $100,000 grant for free public Wi-Fi infrastructure, approved two orders from Mayor Linda Tyer to execute historic preservation restrictions for two Community Preservation Act projects, and approved the assignment of subcommittees.
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