The next meeting of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative will be held on Friday, Jan. 21, at 10 a.m., at the First Baptist Church in North Adams (use Eagle Street entrance). We will formally accept an offer of space on Eagle Street for our headquarters/operations, and discuss the possibility of soon using the space for service. We also will hold a discussion of food distribution with a representative of the Western Mass. Food Bank. All are welcome to attend. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mark at 664-0130.
Discussions have been moving along rapidly behind the scenes since our last meeting in December, and we will have a packed agenda for our meeting on Friday. In fact, depending how things go, I may suggest having another meeting in two weeks.
On Friday, Christina Maxwelll of the Western Mass Food Bank will be speaking to us and providing information about the food resources in our area. Also on our agenda will be formal acceptance of the space at 43 Eagle St., next to Papyri Books, which some of us toured after our last meeting. (See above photo).
As for the space, it may lead us into our first major service endeavor and serve as a temporary distribution point for food. We would start out slowly, being open a few hours for one day a week and from there build up gradually. The current vision is that participants in the Interfaith Action Initiative would staff this distribution point, building experience, recruiting volunteers and working out policies for a more robust effort to help those in need as time goes on.
The mid-term goal is to find a more permanent, accessible and perhaps centralized place to serve as a distribution point. Local agencies, faith communities, and others would help us in locating a more permanent location. When it is found, a corps of already mobilized and trained volunteers could lead the way in staffing it. Several people have expressed interest to me about volunteering if something like this started. I see this as a potential opportunity to get everyone from teens to college students to senior citizens working together to help those in need.
Over the long run, I see the space at 43 Eagle St. serving as a downtown headquarters and meeting place for Interfaith Initiative, particularly after a food/services distribution operation has moved on to a better site.
On a related note, agency food pantries are in flux now in Northern Berkshire. In fact, preliminary results of our survey of faith communities shows that several churches do food distribution periodically. There seems to be room for more coordination and cooperation.
Please let us know
At the suggestion of Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser, I am now sending our announcements to all clergy in Northern Berkshire for whom we have e-mail addresses. If any of you who have not been contacted yet about the Interfaith Action Initiative’s survey on what local faith communities are doing to meet basic human needs and would like to provide us this information, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com and I will send you a brief questionaire.
We have enough results at this point to issue a preliminary report, but with things moving along on other fronts I think we can afford to take some more time on the survey before drawing it to a close.
Other business: Vouchers, Louison House
In other important business, I would like here to thank Fr. Peter Elvin, of St. John’s Church in Williamstown, for speaking to us at our December meeting about the voucher system between churches that has been used in Williamstown to help people facing emergency needs. Unfortunately, this is going to be phased out in that town. Whether this can be continued on a wider scale will need to be dicussed in more detail at upcoming Initiative meetings.
Our efforts to work out a cooperative effort with Louison House are ongoing, and I hope we will have a verbal report on this for everyone at a meeting in the near future.
I would like to remind everyone that we have a faith sharing time at the beginning of each of our meetings, and everyone is invited to take a turn leading it.
I’m hoping that during this year we can see what’s going on on the interfaith level in the following communities: Bennington, Brattleboro and Pittsfield. Even if one or two of us go, we can come back and report to the group.
Finally, if I have left anything our, or if anyone wishes to make a comment, please feel free to do so.
That’s all for now. God bless, and hope to see you Friday.