Thursday, May 9, 2013

Catching up on some news


It's been a while since I've had the time to post any new developments with the Interfaith Action Initiative. Several great things have happened and several great things are coming up.

Letter Carrier Food Drive Saturday 

First, on Saturday, May 11, volunteers will gather at 107 Main Street in North Adams around noon to help sort all the food that will be collected by North Adams area letter carriers as part of the 2013 Letter Carriers Food. Come on down if you feel like helping out. 107 Main is an empty store front on the west side of the intersection of Eagle and Main Streets. This will be the third year that volunteers from the Friendship Center will sort the food.

The food drive was the topic of the May edition of the public access cable television program "In the Company of Friends" on Channel 15. We welcomed letter carrier Gary Ghidotti, North Adams Postmaster Joan Beck, Amanda Chilson of the Mass in Motion program, and Amber Besaw of The Family Place. The program, co-hosted by Mark Lincourt and Mark Rondeau, is shown on Channel 15 on Fridays at 5 p.m. and Mondays at 1 p.m.

The NBIAI and Mass in Motion cooperated to produce nice green canvas bags for people to put their donated food into — they both hold more and will be easier for the carriers to handle. Many were made available at St. Elizabeth Church, for instance, and were quickly snapped up. Mine already is full (photo) and ready to put on top of the park mailboxes Saturday morning. These are nice bags. Now let's see if they come back to us filled with food!

God willing, there will be plenty of photos from the Letter Carriers Food Drive toting and sorting operation in this space next week.

CROP Walk discussed at May Interfaith meeting

The next meeting of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative (NBIAI) will be held on Friday, May 17, at 10 a.m. in the Eagle Street room of the First Baptist Church of North Adams. All are welcome.

At the meeting, we will start planning to hold a Northern Berkshire CROP Walk in the fall; we will critique our handling of our end of the Letter Carriers Food Drive; and we will continue our discussion of transportation of food to people and people to food. The meeting will begin with our usual time of silent prayer, faith sharing, and announcements.

April Interfaith Meeting well-attended

On Friday, April 19, some 23 people attended our “food summit” meeting, at which among other things we discussed preparations for the Saturday, May 11, Letter Carrier Food Drive in Northern Berkshire. Above, Bryce Babcock, of the Williamstown Community Church food pantry program, and letter carrier Dick Dassatti.

Amanda Chilson, of Mass in Motion (foreground), Kathy Keeser of Hoosac Harvest, and Michelle Sylvester of WIC attend the April NBIAI "food summit."


Food Bank Director Visits Friendship Center

On Wednesday, April 17, the Friendship Center Food Pantry welcomed Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank of Western Mass., located in Hatfield, (above right, with Stuart Crampton and Mark Lincourt, in the Eagle Street room at First Baptist Church, where we are checking people in these days) to see us in operation. He seemed very impressed, particularly by the large number of volunteers we had during our morning session! Below, he talks with Tony Pisano (at counter) in the Friendship Center Food Pantry itself.

Friendship Center takes part in Eagle Street Rising

On Friday, April 26, we were pleased to be present at the North Adams Public Library when two of our great volunteers, Fran Berasi and Rich Davis, graduated from the Coalition’s Community Outreach Worker program. The next day, the Friendship Center held an open house during MCLA’s Eagle Street Rising makeover of that venerable street.

We raised more than $45 in donations — mostly proceeds from the organizers generously arranged to be donated to us from the sale of coffee and donuts — gave several tours, were interviewed for both a newspaper (the MCLA Beacon) and a film documentary, and signed up two new volunteers. A productive three hours! 

Mayor Dick Alcombright, left, talks with Joe and Carol Manning, of Northampton. Joe is a great friend of mine who has written the classic books about North Adams "Steeples" and "Disappearing Into North Adams." Below, Jennifer Munoz takes a couple of the special food drive canvas bags while Bert Lamb looks on.

Two Groups We Love

I do not have nearly enough time to detail here all that our friends at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition have done for us in the three years of our existence. In fact, we owe our very existence to the Coalition, for we grew out of a Coalition monthly meeting on faith and the community. Now, on Tuesday, June 4, the Coalition at its 2013 Annual Meeting will honor the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative with its Hero Award. The event will be held at the Williams Inn in Williamstown. It will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For more information, visit or call 663-7588.

The other group is the Berkshire Food Project that feeds those in need daily meals at the First Congregational Church of North Adams, serving many of the same people we see regularly at the Friendship Center Food Pantry. To see how to make a donation to support the BFP's work, visit 

Some Young Friends Visit

And finally, we were pleased to welcome in early April North Adams Girl Scout Troop 11097, which delivered 56 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to the Friendship Center Food Pantry. Thanks!

Thanks for reading this, and God Bless all of you,

Mark Rondeau

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