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Danielle Nichole Munn has created a diverse community since opening her store Witch Slapped in Pittsfield.
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Munn keeps a community fund to help out those in need and is currently raffling off this 'manifestation station' designed and donated by Dianne's Designs for $10 at ticket.

Community Hero: Danielle Nichole Munn

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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Danielle Munn with friends in this photo courtesy of Casi Kristant, left. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Witch Slapped owner and founder Danielle Nichole Munn has been nominated for the May Community Hero of the Month.
The Community Hero of the Month series recognizes individuals and organizations that have significantly impacted their community. 
The series is in partnership with Haddad Auto and will run for the next six months. Nominate a community hero here.
Munn moved to the Berkshires in 2018 when she met her husband, Gary Munn, who grew up in the area. 
"I have never lived in a more diverse and more welcoming and more connected community ever and I've lived in 12 different cities," Munn said. 
She comes from an Italian Roman Catholic family but did not feel connected to that kind of faith.
"I didn't feel connected to that type of life, that type of faith, so I've spent most of my life growing through my belief systems," Munn said. 
Her mother was the first person to give her a dream book, which led her down the path of becoming a witch. 
When she first opened their store in 2022, the idea was to create a place where witches, pagans, or anyone in the spiritual faith can come and commune because they do not have their own churches. 
Since then, it has grown to be a welcoming environment where everyone belongs. 
"Our idea is to create a place where the outsiders belong," Munn said. 
"Where if you don't feel like you fit into society or the regular things that happen out there, this is probably your place."
By bringing together a diverse group of people with different experiences and expertise, the store has created a network that allows it to connect people to diverse resources. 
"I walked into the store a few months after she opened and immediately I could see how she connects with people and community. I'm surprised she's not a community organizer as someone who is a community organizer by trade," Councilor at Large Alisa Costa said. 
"She knows how to connect people and has so much empathy. And that's sort of the center of her business model, which is very unique, but it's really working."
It happens every day, where someone comes in expressing a need and another person just walks through the door with that skill or connection to the resource, Munn said. 
In addition, Munn helped spearhead several fundraising initiatives, including food drives, holiday hardship drives, domestic violence aid drives, book drives, and more. 
"We do quite a bit as a facility, as a community center, but as a community, as a coven, as a group of people that come together," she said. 
She has also opened her shop to organizations seeking space to host events that fund their initiatives, including the Elizabeth Freeman Center, Berkshire Pride, and others. 
"[Munn] really is the epitome of the new generation of businesses here in our downtown. She not only has come in and welcomed everyone within our community, but she works very well and collaborates with all of the businesses around her and really talks to the heart of the Berkshires," Rebecca Brien, managing director of Downtown Pittsfield Inc., said.
She is here in Pittsfield rooting for the other businesses and the people who come through her door. The world needs more people like Munn, Costa said. 
When she sees a problem, she immediately builds a community to help solve it, whether it's an individual who is struggling with homelessness, an abusive relationship, or other issues, she said, adding Munn is a natural leader in that way because everyone rallies around her and says "yes."
"Everyone deserves to live in a community where they feel like they belong. And I don't know anybody who's walked into the store and didn't feel welcomed and we all just connect," Costa said, 
Drag queen Casi "Poppy DaBubbly" Kristant has been able to utilize the space for her Poppy classes and drag story hour, so it has become a welcoming environment, Kristant said. 
"I been living in the Berkshires only about two months and stumbled upon the store, and [Munn] instantly welcomed me in, and the whole community that I currently have is because of [her,]" Kristant said. 
"[Munn] introduces like energies to like energies and makes friends, creates a warm space where people just really can feel comfortable and welcome, and included." 
The store has a food bank people can use that is currently getting a bit low, so she will be putting a call out to her community soon to let them know it needs to be replenished.
"We have more people in need than we have giving, but the process is working the best we can, and immediately when I asked for help, our people show up. They really show up for everything," Munn said. 
Witch Slapped has a general community fund dedicated to its outreach programming. The current fundraising effort is a manifestation station raffle.
A $10 raffle ticket offers the chance to win a "manifestation station" (a table and two chairs with astrological upholstery) valued at $500, designed and donated by Dianne's Designs. All the proceeds will go toward the community fund.
Since opening her store and center, Munn has grown her community. She hopes to expand one day by establishing a nonprofit section that is partially subsidized by the store. 
"The idea is that we created the store part so that the sales would not only pay for the establishment for the space and the overhead, but that the extra money there could then be put into the passions and the projects that we're trying to work on within our pagan community, but then within our neighborhood community," Munn said. 
The store has become more than a store for many people, she said. Since opening, it has reached between 5,000 to 7,000 community members, what some call coven members.
"I couldn't believe, actually, the attraction at first, but now that we've built, there are go-to people within our community, and I don't do this alone," Munn said. 
"I may be the representative of the person who says, 'OK, let's let's do this,' but it takes the entire coven, and those that are willing to give themselves in order to get this to work."
It is more than a store, she said. It is a judgment-free gathering place. People can come in, relax, feel safe, and don't have to buy anything.
"The Berkshires in general, but also Pittsfield, has just grown in how it's trying to expand its art, its community, and all of the diversity. And I think what [Munn] brings inside Witch Slapped is a hub of that," Kristant said. 
"It's a place where everyone can bring their art, their classes, their special skills, and just share together. So, the way it impacts the community though is [Munn] has really created that space where people can come and be together and grow together, which is awesome."
The area is constantly growing and changing and even in this small community, it can not always feel inclusive, Kristant said. 
"But Danielle created this space that is inclusive and allows people to grow and ask questions come in and ask questions come in and meet new friends. And for a community to grow. It needs space to grow and Danielle's created that space."
The lending library, for example, where people can come in and borrow as many books as they need and give as many books they can, Munn said. 

Kristant, aka Poppy DaBubbly, is one of the community members who uses space in the store for activities and story hours. 
What Munn has done with Witch Slapped should be a "shining example" of what other businesses can do, Brien said. 
"I really think that it allows everyone in our downtown, regardless of your background, regardless of your beliefs, and regardless of where you're from, to feel that they are welcome in her safe space," she said. 
Since starting to work at Witch Slapped, retail associate Bree McCusker has met so many more people and become much more connected to the community, she said. 
The outreach initiatives that Munn has done have had an "amazing impact in this small community in Pittsfield, as a whole in the Berkshire County, and larger," McCusker said. 
"I've seen people be supported in times of need. I've seen the community rally in a rush when there was an emergency with a family in need immediately." 
She has also seen her involvement in the community in a political way, working on fundraising efforts for Costa's City Council campaign. 
"That made me more aware and actually influenced me to vote. So it's had many rippling waves," she said. 

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