Saturday, January 22, 2011

Real commitment, real results

Palpable excitement filled the air at the Friday, Jan. 21, meeting of the Interfaith Action Initiative as the group and represenatives of Berkshire County Community Action moved forward toward opening a food pantry at 43 Eagle St. in North Adams.

Details are being worked out, but BCAC will provide the necessary equipment, food and utilities and the Interfaith group supplying volunteers to open and operate the pantry.

Though several people who intended to attend the meeting could not due to several inches of snow overnight or previous committments, 15 people were present.

In subsequent e-mails after the meeting, it seems unlikely that a Feb. 2 opening (as had been hoped) for the food pantry is feasible, with mid-February seeming more realistic.

However, in order to further discuss the opening of the pantry, allow more Interfaith members to become more familiar with the space, and to identify and recruit more poential volunteers, a meeting will be held in the space at 43 Eagle St., next to Papryi Books, from 10 to 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 28.

Assessing the front window of the 800-foot storefront — which includes space for an office and a bathroom — for a temporary sign will be another task for the meeting this coming Friday.

As was discussed in the last blog entry, and during Friday’s meeting, the 43 Eagle St. storefront will likely be just a temporary location until a larger and more full-service location for the pantry can be found. At that time, the space at 43 Eagle St. would continue to serve as the Initiative’s headquarters, though our volunteers would be involved in an expanded services center.

To this end, we hope to develop a corps of volunteers of all ages, from teens to seniors. We may even have some training materials or training itself available through the Northern Berkshire Neighbors program of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. We would even hope eventually to incorporate some of those served as volunteers in an effort to build solidarity and to empower them.

The name of the center on our temporary sign will be the Interfaith Action Initiative Friendship Center. I will run the concept of such a sign by the mayor and the planning board.

Corinne Case had the wonderful idea of having a ceremonie/ceremonies by clergy to dedicate the new center. This would be fantastic. As soon as we have things up and running, this will be a top priority.

I again would like to thank Lois and Mike Daunis for their generous donation of use of this space for the Initiative and the food pantry.

While there are many details to be worked out, there seems to be plenty of will and plenty of means to make this dream a reality. The several months our Initiative spent trying to discern a course of action to serve the community are bearing fruit.

And bearing fruit not only in regards to the above initiative. For instance, Interfaith Action member Denise Krutiak is working to develop a mentoring arrangment with clients of Louison House. Our ongoing survey of what faith communities are doing to serve the less fortunate has already received a good response and made us more aware of what is going on and of opportunities for more cooperation. In addition, we are keeping in mind the possibility of an expanded voucher system through houses of worship for those in need in Northern Berkshire.

We also are providing a regular community forum where those motivated to community action by faith can freely share their ideas and concerns. For instance, at our Jan. 21 meeting both Denise and Sue Walker shared moving prayers and thoughts. Faith sharing and a period of silent prayer are a regular part of our monthly meetings.

Our next regular monthly meeting will be held on Friday, Feb. 18, at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church in North Adams (use Eagle Street entrance). The meeting will include a presentation by Christina Maxwell of the Western Mass. Food Bank, who could not attend the Jan. 21 meeting because of the snow.

Speaking of snow, as mentioned above several people who intended to attend our Jan. 21 meeting could not attend because of the weather. And in the hours before it started people had questions whether or not the meeting would in fact be held. In the future, look to this blog on the morning of our meeting in the event of a storm. I will post whether or not there will be a meeting by 8 a.m.

Hope to see you this Friday, Jan. 28th!

Please feel free to comment with ideas, reminders and comments on this blog. Thanks, Peace, and God Bless all of you,


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