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Haddad owner George Haddad, left, Subaru of New England Love Promise manager Rebecca Carr, Strong Little Souls founder Madison Quinn, Haddad Subaru general manager Chris Kramek, Haddad Marketing Director Beth Maturevich.
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A celebratory lunch and presentation was held at the Subaru dealership on Tuesday.

Haddad Subaru Wins National Love Promise Award

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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General manager Chris Kramek, Strong Little Souls founder Madison Quinn and Haddad Marketing Director Beth Maturevich with national award presented to the dealership by Subaru. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Haddad Auto Group has become an integral part of the community through more than 90 years of donations and initiatives. 
Haddad Subaru's most recent collaboration was a family day with local non-profit for pediatric cancer Strong Little Souls, which earned it a National Love Promise award. This is the first time this dealership has won the national recognition given by Subaru of America. 
Subaru of America awards two out of its 630 retailers in the United States each month for community involvement beyond financial donations to nonprofits, Haddad Subaru general manager Chris Kramek said. 
The award is given to dealerships that have been involved and actively engaged in their community. 
Service manager Shane Rose established the dealership's connection with Strong Little Souls of Pittsfield, which has been a supportive part of the family's life since Rose's niece was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor five years ago at age 2. 
"Every event I've ever gone through to help support, I've just been blown away by [Strong Little Souls founder Madison Quinn,] by her commitment, by her ability to organize and bring people together, and her heart," Rose said.
"It's just absolutely amazing. I joke around and say that she's a better person than all of us combined, but it might be true."
In June, Haddad's Marketing Director Beth Maturevich, Kramek and Quinn collaborated to develop a "Family Fun Day" to bring together children and families affected by cancer. 
"These families go through so much they share a bond that you can't begin to imagine unless you walk this path of life," Quinn said at the dealership's luncheon celebration on Tuesday. 
"And I've always just wanted to find ways that the families can connect and these children can connect with other kids who are going through the same thing outside of the hospital."
Quinn was a student at Pittsfield High when she started the nonprofit in 2015, but she'd already been raising funds and sending gifts to children with cancer for several years.
Children with cancer faced increased isolation during COVID-19 due to restricted access to their usual support communities. The Family Fun Day provided these families a new route to get support and know that there are people in the community who care, Quinn said. 
"Because it can be hard to see anything besides the pure terror of a child battling cancer and find some hope for their families," she said. 
Maturevich leveraged her connections to find community members who jumped at the opportunity to donate their time and resources to the event including Biggin's Diggins owner Terry Bishop and his wife, Jennifer, and Liquid Courage band member Bill Farrell. 
"We are in the best community ever. Everyone in this community always shows up," Maturevich said, adding it was a dream come true to see how combining her passion for marketing, volunteerism and creative writing could have a significant impact.
The event also featured a mocktail truck, a bouncy house, family friendly activities and more. 
The festivities were brought to life in Maturevich's article, which is now encased on the award that was presented to the dealership on Tuesday. 
Subaru of New England leaders drove to Pittsfield to present the framed award and a donation of $1,000 to the Strong Little Souls foundation. Haddad donated another $250. 
In addition, Haddad owner George Haddad selected Strong Little Souls to be one of the two organizations that will take part in the national Subaru "Share The Love" event. 
From Nov. 16 until Jan. 2, the dealership will donate $300 for every retail vehicle sale to a local charity. Buyers will have a choice between Berkshire Humane Society and Strong Little Souls.
"We're hoping that they inevitably split right down the middle between the two of them for the cause," Kramek said
The Share the Love event has donated $85 million to charities across the United States in the last 16 years.
These donation efforts are what makes the Subaru of New England brand so strong, Subaru of New England Chief Operating Officer Jeff Ruble said. There are 64 other dealerships dedicated to giving back to their communities. 
"It's been a great business proposition as well as making us all feel really good about our customers and what we can give back," Ruble said. 
The thought process that Subaru of New England has toward giving back to the community is not one all manufacturers share, said Haddad, but Subaru is at the forefront.
Haddad said the auto group is looking forward to continuing to partner with Strong Little Souls to raise more money for families dealing with cancer. The impact of these initiatives is significant, he said. 

Tags: cancer,   donations,   recognition event,   

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W. E. B. Du Bois Center to Reflect on Democracy this Season

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.— The W. E. B. Du Bois Center for Freedom and Democracy held a pre-birthday reception on Feb. 22, at Saint James Place in honor of civil rights pioneer W.E.B Du Bois. 

During the event community members met the center's first Executive Director Ny Whitaker and Michael Blake, the inaugural visiting scholar in democracy. 

"As Du Bois contemplated our collective challenges, he also set out a vision for what our democracy could be and called us to action for the role that we could take in making it a reality," Whitaker said. 

The night hinted at some of the topics the center will showcase during this year's programming themed "Reflections on Democracy." The season will run from March through October. and will have a closing reception in November. 

Attendees also had a chance to have a first look at the preliminary designs for the restoration of Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church. 

During the evening, Whitaker asked audience members to reflect on the current state of our democracy. She also encouraged audience members to write down their hopes for the future of our democracy in 2024 on postcards that will be posted on their website and to continue the conversation outside of the evening's activities. 

More information on Whitaker, her goals in the position, and the center's restoration here

Blake, a scholar, a lay minister, entrepreneur, and educator who will be the moderator for the center's Visiting Scholar Salon Series, demonstrated how relevant Du Bois's ideas are today with one of his quotes: "he said ‘There can be no perfect democracy curtailed by color, race, or poverty. But with all we accomplish all, even Peace.' That is the reason why we're here not just for tonight, but what we have to do within the center and the work'."

"These words are still pertinent today when looking at what is happening in our country," Blake said. 

"Democracy is not about the protection of a particular party. Democracy is that we can be party of something greater for all of us. And that is what we do," Blake said. 

Blake recently completed a tenure as a visiting scholar at Harvard and was a White House aide under President Barack Obama. He also served as an Assembly member in New York for three terms and is the former Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee. 

Blake continued and quoted  President John F. Kennedy: "' Amongst a divided community…whenever there's a child without milk, so long as they are hungry parents and working farmers. So long as they are seniors without pensions. So long will be the need for leadership. And that is the beauty of democracy and that is the beauty of why we're here tonight," Blake said. 

Blake added it is not a coincidence that Whitaker, an afro-Latina, was chosen for the role of the center's Executive Director, he said. 

"To all the women in the room, you should be appalled by what we're seeing. what's happening in the country right now. And I say to people all day, every day, it doesn't matter your gender. I'm a man and I'm a feminist," Blake said. 

"And don't talk to me about what's happening in communities. If something's happened in one community, all of us should be upset, and all of us should be doing something. And that is the reason why we're here tonight and that is the reason I'm so grateful to be with you."

In his address, the center's secretary, John Speer, highlighted attempts throughout history to rewrite and erase historical accounts. Speer shared a personal anecdote of witnessing such tactics but experiencing a profound awakening during a trip to Ghana in West Africa.

When Speer went to Ghana this summer to walk the path of his ancestry, he said he went on an emotional journey of anger, power, and peace. He said he was angry because he believed the lie about the "cooperation of West Africa, in the enslavement of African peoples." 

He said he put his hands in the Assin Manso Slave River, and he chose power and peace because he was welcomed home by his family in Ghana who chose to give him "the power in the gift of truth," Speer said.

"And so I went from ignorance to truth. And in that truth, it gave me the courage to choose justice and to choose democracy and it's really important for me as a teacher, because our history has always been contraband."

Du Bois warned society not to fall for this, otherwise "we will continue to deny our political ideas and make a mockery of our philanthropic aims as a nation," Speer said. 

Speer urged attendees to participate and labor together in "not only reflecting on democracy but changing the trajectory of that history to honor and uplift who we are as people together because we must labor with and for one another."

More information on the center here. Photos from the event here


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