A Busy Day at the Friendship Center
Friendship Center Food Pantry Will turn 5 years old
Along the way, we have developed into a true Friendship Center, with access to numerous services available at our member intake point in the Eagle Street Room of the First Baptist Church of North Adams.
But more than numbers, it has really been about the people. The many friends we’ve made, and those we’ve said goodbye to, also – both pantry members and volunteers.
The NBIAI is a group of people of different faiths and denominations working together with others of good will to serve our community. For more information about the NBIAI, call Mark at 413-664-0130 or email email@example.com. To contact the Friendship Center, call 413-664-0123.
Kathy Hrach accepts Micah Award
Kathy Hrach, right, accepts her award from BIO 2nd Vice President Moira Jones.
Berkshire Interfaith Organizing honors unsung heroes
The 2016 Micah Awards Dinner, held at the former St. Mark’s School on Columbus Avenue on Sunday, Jan. 24, was yet another first for the group. Berkshire Interfaith 0rganizing is an interfaith group of clergy, congregations and regional affiliates who seek to make justice real in our communities.
Currently BIO’s focus is on issues of food security and transportation, with regular team meetings to set goals, discuss strategy and take action. The group played a part in its first year in securing $2 million more in funding for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Program, which provides goods for food programs throughout the state.
Building community and developing priorities through-one-to-one conversations, BIO concentrates on relationship building and leadership development, as well as systemic community change.
The groups and their nominees: Cathedral in the Night, Pittsfield: its volunteers; Congregation Beth Israel, North Adams, Ed Oshinsky; Congregation Knesset Israel, Pittsfield: Cindy Tatalovich; First Church of Christ, Pittsfield: Grace Hutchins, posthumous award; First Congregational Church, Dalton: Leslie Hazelton; First Congregational Church, Williamstown: Carolyn Behr; Lee Congregational Church, Lee: Judy Morehouse; Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative: Kathy Hrach; Sisters of St. Joseph: Sr. Kathryn Flanagan and Sr. Barbara Faille; South Congregational Church, Pittsfield: Mary Wheat; St. Mark Catholic Church, Pittsfield: Dick Murphy; St. John’s Episcopal Church, Williamstown: Jim Mahon; St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Pittsfield: Joan Evans.
Given that food security plays such a strong role both in BIO’s activism and in the extensive volunteerism of so many of the Micah Award nominees, it seemed appropriate that its members and guests gathered together for a meal, prepared by chef Robin Lenz, of St. John’s Episcopal Church, herself an active volunteer. Donations of food and supplies were made by BJ’s Wholesale, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace and Mazzeo’s Meats.
Before, during and after the awards program, members from the various congregations freely mingled, exchanging hugs, handshakes and stories. Though in different congregations or groups, many attendees have known each other for years and over time have volunteered for the same programs or attended community workshops together. And in a year plus of BIO, these bonds have only grown, through meetings and numerous activities, such as in numerous community organizing trainings or a
trip to Boston and the Statehouse that two vanloads of BIO activists took in September.
Berkshire Interfaith Organizing is part of a New England organizing network, with five other similar groups, called the InterValley Project, “Organizing for Justice in New England and the Nation.”
BIO is governed by an executive council made up of representatives from its member congregations and groups; it employs two community organizers and a communications specialist. Since November it has been headquartered at Shire City Sanctuary at 40 Melville St. in Pittsfield.
For more information about BIO, call Wendy Krom, Lead Organizer, at 413-464-1804, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her are the 2016 Micah award recipients. Sitting to Kathy's right is Ed Oshinsky, who has volunteered with us as a truck driver in the past; to her left is Jim Mahon, who is board president of the Berkshire Food Project. In the back row, third from left is Carolyn Behr of Williamstown who helped us greatly with two clothing sales and whose husband, Bob, volunteers at the Friendship Center.