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The Zonta Club honors six women on Friday for their community work. Mayor Peter Marchetti presents each with a proclamation from the city.

Zonta Club Honors Six Women for Their Community Contributions

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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The dinner was Zonta Club's second annual event and was held at Berkshire Hills Country Club. See more photos here.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Zonta Club of Berkshire County recognized six women for their contributions to the community at Friday's International Women's Day Dinner Celebration.
"We have managed to pick the six best women for contributing to the Berkshires, contributing to women and girls, and making the world a better place," Zonta District 1 Director Sandy Carroll said at Berkshire Hills Country Club.
"And so, we're so thrilled to be able to do an honor for them tonight, put them in the spotlight a little bit, and allow them to have a moment to shine as well. 
This year's honorees are Roberta McCulloch-Dews, Linda Dulye, Barbara Malkas, Rachel Melendez-Mabee, Daltrey Turner, and Kelly Marion. They were selected from 26 nominations.
Each honoree received an award and a chance to speak during the event. Mayor Peter Marchetti concluded the evening by presenting them with mayoral proclamations. 
Marchetti asked his "strong partner in state government [Rep.] Tricia Farley-Bouvier," and City Councilor Alisa Costa to stand with him as they recognized the women being honored. 
"This is something that I know has been spoken before but I'm proud to be mayor serving with the City Council that has the most number of women ever in the city of Pittsfield," Marchetti said, adding later that he knew "that we all do the work that we do not to be recognized, but it really feels good to be able to recognize people and they deserve it."
International Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, Zonta President Chris Haley said. It was founded around 1911 by suffragists and marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.
These efforts align with the work of the Zonta Club of Berkshire County, she said. The organization has embarked on several initiatives that aim to improve the lives of women within the community. 
"This organization, Zonta, does so much for women and girls and most of the people here aren't recognized for the day to day work that they do," Farley-Bouvier said. "I think every single person here was inspired by the stories of the others and we've all more energized to go out tomorrow and do our very best work again."
The Zonta International aims to empower women through service and advocacy while instituting change regarding women's rights. The organization has close ties to the United Nations and its sustainability goals but the local club also aligns with issues in the Berkshires region. 
These initiatives include the Period Project collection and distribution, monthly toiletry collections, the Just Say No November campaign, the Just Say Now to Climate Change campaign, scholarships worth up to $6,000 annually, and more. 
"Our local chapter in Berkshire County does fundraising for projects to support women and organizations that support women and girls throughout our county. We are a volunteer organization, all of us have full time jobs," Haley said. 
The organization advocated for a long time to make child marriage illegal in Massachusetts, Zonta member Anne Meczywor said. 
"It was an incredible eye-opening thing for most of the people that we touched that this was completely legal in Massachusetts up until two years ago: a 12-year-old girl would be married off to a much older person with only parental consent and a little judge OK. It happened all the time and COVID made it so much worse," she said. 

The Honorees Stories: 

Roberta McCulloch-Dews

Roberta McCulloch-Dews
McCulloch-Dews received multiple nominations for her role as a mentor for adolescent girls of color and young people identifying as female or non-binary for the non-profit Rites of Passage and Empowerment, or ROPE.
"Roberta has exemplified everything ROPE stands for ... Roberta clearly must have more hours in the day than the average person because she serves widely our community in so many facets of public service," Carroll said.  "From her efforts to bring equity and diversity to the region, to lift up women and girls, to support the efforts of our immigrant population, and when leading the charge to make a difference to all people of the county."
McCulloch-Dews said although the recognition is nice that is not why she does the work. She cannot help but think of the people who mentored her -- her mother, stepfather, grandmother, and great aunt who were dedicated to helping her become the best version of herself. 
Her family and her teachers spoke to her with love, were generous with their time, shared encouraging words, and verbally set her straight when she was doing the wrong thing, she said. They are why she does this. She knew that she needed to provide the same support to young women. 
"There's no greater gift than seeing our scholars break out of their shell, leave their comfort zones, and blossom into well-adjusted young women ready to take on the world," McCulloch-Dews said.
"I've often said to our scholars that when they become the best versions of themselves and attain success in life, whatever that looks like to them, be sure to look back and bring someone else along with them. That is the ultimate value and is one of the best gifts that keeps on giving."
Linda Dulye

Linda Dulye
Dulye was described as a "fireball" dedicated to creating more leaders within the community through her volunteerism and as the founder of Dulye & Co. and the Dulye Leadership Experience. 
She uses the "philanthropic organization," Dulye Leadership Experience, "to reach those leaders who normally wouldn't have those opportunities," Carroll said. 
"Through that organization, she's been able to affect a lot of changes within Berkshire County. I think one of her points of pride is how many of her mentees have gone on to win awards themselves and have gone on to donate countless volunteer hours in the community."
The Dulye Leadership Experience is a flight academy for "developing the next generation of leaders that are essential for piloting a vibrant Berkshire economy," Dulye said.
Over the last 16 years, thousands have grown critical skills and connections through the year round fee free professional development programs, she said. 
The organization's mantra is "keep soaring" and the flight path to that is in four steps — observe, stretch, seize, speak, she said. That translates to proactively seeking opportunities, stepping out of your comfort zone, raising your hand to new roles and projects and initiating "intentional conversations."
"Find a mentor who can offer valuable advice and make introductions that can lead to new opportunities," Dulye said, and dismiss "debilitating fear about failing because setbacks bring learning that fuels forward progress."
Rachel Melendez-Mabee

Rachel Melendez-Mabee
Melendez-Mabee has contributed to making change through her volunteer efforts at multiple organizations in the Berkshires and as Greylock Federal Credit Union's vice president and diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, Carroll said. 
The former pro has been a Professional Golfers Association of America leader working to bring women, particularly women of color, up in the organization whether in the field or in management. 
"She was recognized nationwide for all the work that she had gotten in getting women an important place in the PGAA," Carroll said. "I would like to point out that she meets these challenges with a smile. She works so hard to build a better world and touches many, many lives and all of the work that she does."
It feels funny to accept this award because she loves to do the work, Melendez-Mabee said. 
"Call me a glutton for punishment because the work is hard. The work is very personal to me. The work is exhausting and the work is never done. And I love it. As they say, if it was easy, everyone would do it. So yay, job security," she said. 
Someone who inspires her and does not get recognized by her enough is her mother. 
"What I don't get to say very often, is that I'm inspired so much by my mother. She doesn't hear that often. Maybe that's fine," Melendez-Mabee said. "I often say 'you can see her, you can be here.' I'm so honored that I get to see her every day and I hope to be her." 
Barbara Malkas

Barbara Malkas
Malkas is widely known for her work as the North Adams superintendent of schools, where she has been instrumental in providing trauma-based services to the most vulnerable youth. However, she was nominated for her role as the president of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, Carroll said. 
"In that role, she was instrumental in the development of the Let's Talk Prevention Program that really talked about environmental health to students," Carroll said. "... her work challenged everyone to find solutions to environmental factors that are impacting women's health, and how communities and individuals can be responsible for eradicating breast cancer rather than just treating it."
Her journey started after hearing the words that nobody wants to hear during a routine physical, "I think you have a lump." During her time in treatment, she joined a "sisterhood."
"It's a pretty big sisterhood. It's a sorority nobody wants to join. One in every eight women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis over the course of her lifetime and for my sisters of color, that ratio is actually much smaller because it is disproportionate and inequitable in its distribution," Malkas said. 
One of her students who interned for the coalition introduced Malkas to the organization's Executive Director Cheryl Osimo. This connection started her participation in fundraising incentives, writing a curriculum, to now being the president of the board, as well as learning from scientists and advocates who work on legislation to prevent and identify cancer causing chemicals in the water supply. 
"It gave me the opportunity to give back to the women in my sisterhood who are just starting their journey so that they can be successful. And now I facilitate webinars with research scientists all over the country. Talking about the value of prevention," Malkas said. "We still need early diagnosis work, but that was already happening in the field. I wanted to work on prevention, so that I could make sure that the next generation of young women didn't have to enter the sorority. " 
Kelly Marion

Kelly Marion
Serving as chief executive officer of the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, an affiliate of Girls Inc., Marion has had a "visible and important role in our community, guiding the lives of young girls from infancy on through the years in all facets of their education, in their development, and in all parts of the ways that they can learn to thrive as young ladies," Carroll said. 
Marion participated in Girls Inc. since age 11 and has gone on to serve with the organization for 35 years. 
The Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center has been around for 110 years, dedicated to "empowering children and youth with a special emphasis on girls, to become responsible, competent, and personally fulfilled individuals," Marion said. 
Last year, the center supported 2,571 children, youth, and families, 61 percent of whom come from a household with an annual income of $35,000 or less, she said. The staff at the center help young girls achieve their dreams. 
"They are embraced by smart people who value them as individuals with essential worth who appeal to the best of them each and every day and to help them realize their full potential," she said. 
The staff help the girls feel fulfilled and show that they have the right to be heard, taken seriously, to dream big. The organization helps the girls develop the knowledge and skills to pursue those dreams. 
"Our girls feel uplifted by the strength of this organization that is proactive and tough and works on sensitive issues that are emerging for them. We evolve quickly so you meet their ever-changing needs," Marion said. "We are committed to them learning and growing and we hold ourselves to the highest standards. We want that girl who walks in our door to know and believe that she has a future without limitations."
Daltrey Turner

Daltry Turner
Turner has been volunteering for the Berkshire Community Diaper Project since its inception in 2014 and now serves as its board president and chair. The project has distributed almost 2 million diapers to 24 locations in the county.
The organization provides diapers to parents in need. Despite the great need, parents are unable to use their Women, Infants, and Children , or WIC, funds to purchase diapers, Carroll said.
"Change a diaper, change a life," she said. "... When you hear about the need that is happening and the lack of access to diapers that families are currently experiencing and the impact not just in cleanliness but in increased infections, even in lack of bonding with parents. It's amazing the difference it can make."
The organization was established in response to research that showed not having enough diapers had a worse impact on a mother's mental health than not having enough food, Turner said. 
"So, our provision of diapers supports not only infant health, but also supports families and working towards financial security. I'm so proud of how much I've dedicated group of volunteers have accomplished in the past nine and a half years," she said. 
According to the organization's website, "In Berkshire Country, 3,000 children qualify for one of three WIC Programs, Pittsfield, North Adams, Great Barrington, and dietary insufficiency usually goes along with diaper need."
Research done last year showed that one in two families in America struggle to afford the diapers they need, Turner said. 

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Two Large Scale Drug Traffickers Arrested and Arraigned

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — On May 23 and May 24, the Berkshire District Attorney's Office arraigned two individuals, Michael Caropreso and George Stewart, on drug trafficking charges. 
Both Defendants were arrested on warrants following prior investigations into drug trafficking. The investigations were conducted by the Pittsfield Police Department and the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force.
Michael Caropreso, age 50 of Becket, was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on May 23. When the Defendant was arrested, he possessed approximately 56 grams of cocaine. Caropreso is charged with Trafficking in Cocaine, 36 grams or more, less than 100 grams. He is being held on $150,000 cash bail.
George Stewart, age 44 of Pittsfield, was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on May 24. When the Defendant was arrested, he had approximately 300 grams of cocaine and an illegal firearm. Additionally, Stewart had an outstanding warrant at the time of his arrest. 
Stewart is charged with:
  • Trafficking in Cocaine, 200 grams or more
  • Possession of Firearm in a Felony
  • Possession of a Firearm Without an FID Card
  • Improper Storage of a Firearm
  • Possession of Ammunition without an FID Card
  • Firearm Violation With 3 Prior Violent/Drug Crimes
  • Stewart is being held on $250,000 cash bail.
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