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Literacy Network President Merle Duskin Kailas speaks to the scholarship recipients, their families and network volunteers at Norman Rockwell Muesum on Thursday with Executive Director Leigh Doherty.
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LitNet Celebrates Keator Scholars and Thanks Donors

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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The event celebrated scholarship recipients who  have taken the advantage of tutoring in English and citizen test preparation.  Nineteen Keator scholarship recipients have become American citizens.
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Literacy Network of South Berkshire hosted a celebration Thursday at the Norman Rockwell Museum to honor its scholar and new Americans and the educators who helped guide them down the path toward citizenship.
 
Recipients received financial support to help cover the cost of the federal naturalization application and to obtain legal services during the screening and application process.
 
They are also assigned a tutor from LitNet who works with the applicant one-on-one in preparation for the citizenship exams. 
 
"The learners themselves have to have the bravery to get there, to do it, to reach out, to get things in line, to say 'yes, I would like this,'" Executive Director Leigh Doherty said ...
 
"We have children on the lawn tonight. Those are children whose lives have also been impacted by this. So families are changed. This isn't just about one person. This is about families being changed. So it's wonderful.” 
 
LitNet has been offering one-on-one adult tutoring sessions since 1991 with an expanding network of 145 professionals including bankers, physicians, business owners, editors, teachers, lawyers, speech pathologists, and more. 
 
After realizing the great need for lessons in English for speakers of other languages in Berkshire County, LitNet expanded its curriculum to include citizenship test preparation. 
 
"I think that welcoming new members to the Berkshire community is very important for all of us. And our world is so much better because we have so many new members. So I really believe in the big mission of citizenship and of course, literacy, too," LitNet education committee Chair Pamela Breslin said. 
 
Matthew and Hannah Keator Family Foundation offered its support by providing LitNet with the financial means to launch the Matthew and Hannah Keator Family Scholarship for New Americans. 
 
Since launching in 2019, 19 scholarship recipients have become citizens, with 11 of them so far this year and another eight expected this year or early next year.
 
During the celebration LitNet Board President Merle Duskin Kailas informed the audience that Matthew and Hannah Keator Family Foundation will be donating another $5,000 after being inspired by the great work LitNet is doing.  
 
Although 2022 was the most robust year for the Keator Scholarship program, LitNet also celebrated the Keator Scholars who received their citizenship in 2020 and 2021 and had their interviews postponed because of the pandemic
 
According to the 2020 American Community Survey five-year estimate on limited English-speaking households, there are about 4,550 households out of 54,785 that speak a language other than English in the Berkshires. 
 
More information on LitNet here

Tags: citizenship,   literacy,   recognition event,   tutoring,   

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Great Barrington Rally Seeks to 'Smash the Stigma' of Addiction

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Rural Recovery Resources will be hosting a rally and event this Saturday to "Smash The Stigma" surrounding addiction and to shine a light on the services available to people. 
 
"The spirit of 'Smash the Stigma' is exactly what the title is, to address the stigma that's attached to substance use disorder, and to normalize, having conversations about that," said project manager Gary Pratt said.
 
"So stigma, perhaps the hardest thing that anybody that's dealing with a substance use disorder can overcome. It's pervasive in the society and forever. It's just something that's not talked about."
 
When hard topics like addiction are ignored, it's harder to get the services needed for recovery, he said.
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