image description
State Rep. John Barrett III, with Ellen Sutherland, Patti Messina and Sharon DeMyer-Nemser, is this year's recipient of the Al Nelson Spirit of Caring Award.
image description
Stacy Parsons presents the Spirit of the Future Award to Stephanie Mirante.
image description
Mirante is a North Adams Police detective and school resource officer who has put the community in community policing.
image description
David Bissaillon and Sue Walker present the newly named Steve Green Spirit of Community Award, named for the late sociology professor and longtime community volunteer.
image description
Netse Lytle accepts the community award on behalf of Wild Oats Market.
image description
Lytle thanks his team for their work they've done.
image description
NBUW's board President Kelly McCarthy presents Amy Moresi with the Campaign of the Year Award.
image description
Moresi is president of Adams Plumbing & Heating, a consistent supporter of NBUW since 2006.
image description
DeMyer-Nemser and Sutherland present the Spirit of Caring Award to Barrett.
image description
The state representative says he's glad to have the opportunity to help NBUW and its member organizations with the work they do.
image description

Northern Berkshire Celebrates Spirit of Caring Award Recipients

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story

NBUW Executive Director Patti Messina recognizes two 'dynamic' women retiring this year: Janice Broderick and Christine MacBeth. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Northern Berkshire United Way on Thursday saluted members of the community who have stepped beyond their roles to help and support others. 
 
Among them was state Rep. John Barrett III, former longtime mayor of North Adams, who was recognized not only for his efforts on behalf of the city for so many years but a "softer side" not always apparent. 
 
The celebration was NBUW's sixth annual Spirit of Caring Awards, held at Norad Mill and attended by its member agencies, sponsors and community members. The room was packed at 3 West for the presentations of the Spirit of the Future Award to Officer Stephanie Mirante, the newly named Steve Green Spirit of Community Award to Wild Oats and the Al Nelson Spirit of Caring Award to Barrett. Also recognized was Adams Heating & Plumbing for campaign of the year. Barrett also provided a proclamation from the House to his fellow recipients. 
 
Executive Director Patti Messina first wanted to recognize two women who are retiring after years of serving the community: Janice Broderick of the Elizabeth Freeman Center and Christine Macbeth, president and CEO of the Brien Center. 
 
"They leave behind a legacy of dedication, commitment and hard work to this community," she said. "We salute you and thank you for your accomplishments."
 
Sharon DeMyer-Nemser and Ellen Sutherland, both members of the board of directors, presented Barrett, elected to the House in 2017, with the award. 
 
"Although John really needs no introduction, we would like to take a moment to review John's past and storied history in our community," said DeMyer-Nemser, ticking off accomplishments including fighting for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and convincing political leaders that arts and culture are vital components in building a strong creative economy in the Berkshires during his 26 years as mayor and representing North Berkshire on Beacon Hill. 
 
"What's not included in John's impressive resume of the innumerable times John has provided support to those in our community, who are struggling with health challenges, particularly those battling cancer," said Sutherland. "Whether it's a phone call or a visit to check in on them, providing assistance with securing medical treatment, or even sending a care package of lobster rolls or gourmet ice cream and cookies to lift their spirits and remind them they are not alone. John quietly has supported many members of our community when they have been most in need."
 
She said Barrett was instrumental in bringing Relay for Life to North Berkshire for 25 years, helping to raise money and supporting it financially. 
 
"John is widely known for never being afraid to ruffle a few feathers to do what he knows is in the best interest of his community," said Sutherland. "And today, along with recognizing his work as a public servant, we also celebrate the softer and nurturing side of John Barrett."
 
Barrett laughingly thanked her "ruining my reputation" but more seriously said, "I'm a little emotional, I guess for a lot of reasons. As you get older, I guess you get more emotional with things but when they talked about cancer patients and, of course, I lost my wife to cancer many years ago. My partner in crime Kathy lost her husband to it, and so you go through that in life and our walk through life, you know, is a short one. But it can be an eventful one or it can be a sad one. It's what you make of it, I guess, more than anything else."
 
The representative said he was fortunate to be sitting in a room full of people who have the spirit of caring. 
 
"I'm just half-of-whatever politician who came along with thought he could make a difference. But it was the support of the people in this room and other agencies that made it all work," he said, adding he was "very humbled" by the award.
 
"I ran from the office only with planning on staying for a year and a half. And here it is nearly seven years later I still there working on behalf of the people and it's been the most satisfying job that I've ever had. ... But in this job, I've had the opportunity to help so many that you service, that you help in getting through their walk in life, which isn't a smooth one by any sense of the imagination."
 
Mirante, a detective and the school resource officer, was presented the Spirit of the Future Award by Stacy Parsons, a past recipient who has worked closely with Mirante on a number of projects. 
 
"She may be running our safety drills or reminding us to lock our doors or to actually get moving when there's a fire drill. But also her role, and she's expanded it, she might be bringing a bag of groceries to a family and crisis," said Parsons. "She's running around in late August making sure kids have backpacks and school supplies to start the school year with everything they need. She's organizing community events. I see her in the hallways with kids and it's not just making sure they follow the rules."
 
Mirante helped launch the resource closets at Drury High and Brayton Elementary that provide basic needs for families and networks to make sure they get what they need. She's been co-chairing with Parsons a Strong Communities Grant for violence prevention that focuses on community building and communication. Just in March, she was nominated as iBerkshire Hero of the Month for her efforts. 
 
The officer said she was "immensely grateful" to be nominated and thanked Parsons for "living in the gray area with me and always finding a way to be the smarts behind all of my crazy ideas." Over the past few years she's also made "countless relationships with individuals and agencies I didn't even know existed before."
 
"In my role a school resource officer making those relationships has single-handedly allowed me to accomplish all that I have," she said. "When there's a situation of school or community, I might not have the immediate answers to solve the problem. But I now have people to call to work jointly to get that answer. working directly with agencies and individuals has allowed me to use my resources to better assist the youth in our community. ...
 
"I thoroughly enjoy doing what I do as I feel as though it's part of who I am. My dad always told me that winning the support of others is the greatest success, knowing that people acknowledge the hard work and dedication is rewarding in itself."
 
David Bissaillon, last year's recipient of the Community Award, presented it this year to the team at Wild Oats. With him was Sue Walker, widow of the late Steve Green for whom the recognition is now named.  
 
"Community is something that human beings do. This is something that's very important," she said. "It was important to Steve and it's important to all of us. So I'm delighted that this award is presented and that we are here together."
 
Bissaillon said he had to figure out why the socially responsible co-op market in Williamstown was getting an award other than being a really cool store. So he met with general manager Netse Lytle and learned a lot, including how its mission to support local means there's more than 1,000 products from area vendors; it has a roundup option at the checkout that has so far raised $120,000 for local charities; a Feeding Families program in which guest members purchase 40 to 50 meals at discount over holidays to distribute to families in need; and information sessions on nutrition and local resources. 
 
"So in closing, what I thought was just a neat little funky store with some eclectic stuff turns out to be so much more of a jewel in this Northern Berkshire region," he said. "And due to their local leadership, their teammates, their guests, their new friends like me, they continue to make huge impacts in meaningful ways for people on a daily basis. 
 
"And what more could we be asking for when we're talking about a spirit of community? I am certain that Steve Green would be proud of this selection tonight."
 
Lytle said he didn't understand the co-operative model when he started at Wild Oats three years ago but has had the pleasure of working with "an amazing team."
 
"This is beautiful. As long as we never lose sight of the spirit of community there's no end to what we can accomplish together," he said. 
 
Amy Moresi, president of Adams Plumbing, accepted the Campaign of the Year Award. The company was founded in 1980 and has grown to 75 full-time employees and is now incorporated as a woman business enterprise. NBUW's board President Kelly McCarthy said the company has been a consistent supporter since 2006. 
 
"United Way is grateful for their consistent support to our organization as we work together to meet the needs of the community," she said. 
 
The evening also included catering from Grazie, a silent auction, raffles, chinese auction and wine pull. 
 
Messina said the annual event is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for NBUW and helps it fund some 20 nonprofit organizations from "Cheshire to Stamford and every city and town in between."
 

Tags: NBUW,   recognition event,   

If you would like to contribute information on this article, contact us at info@iberkshires.com.

Hoosac Harvest Annual Seedling Swap Returns

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Hoosac Harvest's Annual Seedling Swap returns to downtown this year on Saturday, May 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the North Adams Farmers Market in its new location on Main Street.
 
All seedlings are available at no cost; there's no requirement to bring any in order to take some home. Whether individuals are dropping off seedlings for exchange or visiting to browse, it's advisable to bring a tray for collecting new plants. Shared seedlings may include surplus vegetables or flowers purchased or cultivated, as well as cuttings or excess plants from personal yards. Participants are encouraged to bring and exchange whatever they can.
 
All donations go toward subsidizing CSA shares—weekly "shares" of a local farmer's produce over the course of an annual growing season—for people in the community. 
View Full Story

More North Adams Stories