The evening featured pictures, food, games and a drawing for gift cards.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The pandemic has meant a paucity of networking opportunities over the past two years.
The Northern Berkshire Events Committee is hoping to remedy that and encourage young businesspeople to get more involved in their communities.
"We're looking for younger people to come out and join the group, post college and early business years," said Jay Meczywor, president of the committee. "Join in, come say hi and market themselves. ... Hopefully, this is the beginning of something new to the area, keep it Northern Berkshire County because this is what we know, this is where we're from, this is what we love."
The committee is modeled somewhat on the Berkshire Young Professionals, which has not functioned in several years. 1Berkshire, BYP's sponsor, is working with the new committee and acting as its fiscal agent. Members said the focus is on North Berkshire but, should other groups form in central and Southern Berkshire, there might be potential for having some countywide events.
While the goal is to inspire younger professionals and business owners under the age of 40, its events aren't limited to that age group.
Vice President Tyler Bissaillon said an older cohort can provide advice and contacts to help younger people succeed.
There were a few post-college but definitely over 40 at the NBEC's first networking event on Thursday night. More than two dozen people attended the gathering at Mingo's Sports Bar & Grill to play games, eat and socialize, and a chance to win one of two $25 Visa card.
Bissaillon said the group was pleased with the number of attendees, considering they are just getting their name out. The committee was going to follow up with those who supplied email addresses to get a sense of what they liked and ideas for future gatherings.
Board member Veronica Szymczak arrived in Adams last year from central Massachusetts. Her significant other had a job at General Dynamics but she was working from home -- during a pandemic.
"I had no friends here, I didn't know anyone," she said. She reached out to some groups and was able to make contacts that led her to NBEC.
Szymczak said they love the outdoors and the access to hiking, biking and skiiing but also want to be more involved with the community.
She and Meczywor said they hear a lot about how there's nothing to do for young people and they're hoping NBEC helps to fill some gaps. Szymczak said the Berkshires is a beautiful area and that the long-term goal is to encourage young people to stay or come here.
"Honestly, create your own path," said David Bissaillon, president of Smith Bros.-McAndrew Insurance (and Tyler's father), the sponsor for the evening. "I think it should be you work hard, you play hard, you volunteer hard. ...
"You young people, and I say that very jealously, you've got a great opportunity to do amazing things."
He told of how his volunteering in the local football league had lead him to an insurance agent -- who later offered him a job that became a career.
"My point is, you never know where in your volunteer work you're going to make the right connection," he said.
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