Stacy Parsons was this year's Spirit of the Future recipient. She was presented the award by last year's winner, David Moresi. See more photos here.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Northern Berkshire United Way on Thursday celebrated three individuals for their service to the region with fourth annual Spirits of Caring Awards.
Alex Daugherty, Amy Giroux and Stacy Parsons were recognized for their efforts in making the community better; Adams Community Bank received the Campaign of the Year Award.
More than 100 attended the event held in Norad Mill's sunlit 3 West Events and catered by Grazie. Interim Executive Director Duffy Judge noted that the nonprofit supports some 20 member agencies that provide health, education and financial stability programs and asked representatives of those agencies and members of the board to stand up and be recognized.
"This is the first time in three years that we've been able to come together for this event. And it feels really good. It's wonderful to be here with you all today, and it's wonderful to be here supporting and celebrating our community," said NBUW President Leah Thompson. (The event wasn't held in 2020 and was virtual in 2021.) "These last 2 1/2 years have surely been an example of the resiliency that Northern Berkshire County has."
Daugherty is an adult probation officer through Northern Berkshire District Court who's volunteered with numerous youth causes over the years as well as volunteering with basketball and fishing programs, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, drug prevention groups and the Second Street Second Chance Program. He's been a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Committee, vice president of Haiti Plunge, and volunteer with Louison House and Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity.
In presenting him with the Spirit of the Community Award, McCann Technical School Superintendent James Brosnan said Daugherty was the first person he could think of who so willing gives of himself to the community. Anytime there were certain problems with students and families, Daugherty would help them sort through them, he said.
Brosnan added he wasn't sure when Daugherty had time for job and family because he's "always been advocating for us, advocating for a family, helping someone in need. Pick up the phone and call: 'Yes, I'll be there. I can help you out, help you do this.'"
Daugherty thanked his family first of all for giving him the time and support to pursue a commitment to the community, and then to the many familiar faces in the gathering.
"The commitment that I've given to this community — accent on community — because this doesn't get done alone. We don't live in a vacuum," he said, referring to the many partnerships he'd made along the way.
He thanked the people who had mentored him and who had engaged with him over the past 30 years in his efforts to work with youth, including his aunt, Sister Eunice Tassone, Steven Green, Alan Bashevkin and Spencer Moser.
"These people accepted me for who I am, what I wanted to accomplish when I came back to this community. In a selfish way, I engaged them and asked them to participate in things like fishing derbies, like basketball leagues ... ," he said. "I stand here before you accepting this award, and you can count on me. I'm not going anywhere. I tried to retire last month. I couldn't do it. My wife said I'm not ready."
Norad Mill owner David Moresi presented Parsons with the Spirit of the Future Award in large part because of her efforts during the pandemic as volunteer coordinator at the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in North Adams.
"[Parsons] had the honor of coordinating the outstanding roster of community volunteers that provided connection, comfort and a dose of humor for those attending the St. Elizabeth's vaccine clinics," Moresi, last year's recipient of the award, said. "Over the past two years, she has continued to convene a weekly community stakeholder group that provides a space for community leaders to share information and coordinate efforts to meet the needs of North County residents."
Parsons works for the North Adams Public Schools as the regional housing coordinator and state regional liaison for McKinney Vento, a federal program addressing educational needs for students with housing instability. She also serves on the Three-County Continuum of Care and the Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority boards, and coordinates the North Adams mobile food bank for Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.
"I had the honor of coordinating some amazing teams that were all about relationships," said Parsons, adding that the goal has been to amplify what everyone was doing and make the table bigger.
"While we took on very serious and heavy topics, we had tough days together, we never lost an opportunity to do something amazing and fun and to celebrate," she said. "We took every opportunity to rebuild the connections and relationships and I think it made all the difference.
"I appreciate that I have so many teammates here today, sharing it and it was so much fun and honestly an honor to be coordinating your group and being up here representing everybody and everything that we did over the last two years and to keep doing it together."
Giroux was unable to attend to receive the Al Nelson Spirit of Caring Award and Adams Community Bank President and CEO Charles O'Brien accepted on behalf of the 40-year bank employee.
The award was presented by Joseph and Kathy Arabia of the AYJ Fund, who received it last year. Kathy Arabia said it was a great honor to receive and present the award because the late Nelson had been such "a great human being" who had done so much for the community.
"The Spirit of Caring Award recognizes an individual for the length and breadth of service to the Northern Berkshire United Way, its network and the entire Northern Berkshire community," she said. "Amy committed herself to making the Northern Berkshires a better place for individuals by living, volunteering and working locally."
Giroux is past president of the NBUW board and served on its allocations committee, served on the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and Adams Finance Committee, and helped coordinate the Adams Movies Under the Stars. She's volunteered for local activities and helped fundraise for the lights at Valley Street Field.
O'Brien said Giroux and her husband, Alan, have shown how much they love their town, the North Berkshires and Berkshire County as a whole.
"When I realize how much Amy has given back to our our folks at the bank, our customers and our community, I can't think of any better recipient," he said.
O'Brien also accepted the Campaign of the Year Award for the bank, a platinum sponsor of the event, presented by Judge.
"You can't go to anything around here without seeing them as a supporter of some sort. It's incredible. The bank and its employees account for nearly 10 percent of our funds raised on an annual basis which is absolutely incredible," said Judge, noting two bank employees are current board members. "They're with us every step of the way, in which the community in their name truly means something to the people who work there. It's not just a word, it's an ethos."
O'Brien acknowledged the support by given by the other sponsors and said this recognition was very meaningful for the institution.
"It's something that's part of our DNA and we put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that," he said. "It really is meaningful to us and what we try to stand for as a community bank."
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