Monday, June 21, 2010

Our Second Meeting - Great Ideas

Our Second Meeting

Friends, below is the article I wrote for the July edition of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition newsletter about the June meeting of the Interfaith Action Initiative:

The Interfaith Action Initiative has held two well-attended and dynamic meetings, and participants are discerning long-term community needs they may fill.

The next meeting of the initiative will be held on Friday, July 15, at 10:30 a.m. at the First Baptist Church in North Adams. (Use the Eagle Street entrance).

In addition, the Initiative is planniing to present a drumming circle, led by local musician Otha Day at the North Adams Downtown Celebration on Wednesday, Aug. 25. This will be an outreach effort and information about the Initiative will be available.

At the June 18 meeting of the Initiative, the discussion centered around community needs we possibly could fill. These included findiing a centralized space available one or two days a week for the work of the Family Life Support Center.

Another possible area for service would be youth mentoring. Work with, or along the lines of, Big Brothers Big Sisters was discussed. One meeting participant suggested mentoring gay and lesbian youth, as they often feel particularly isolated and alone; this person also mentioned that there’s a need for mentoring of youth between the ages of 18 to 23 or so.

A third possible area would be provision of emergency housing for those men and women who cannot fit in at the Lousion House in Adams. These would be people on the fringe of our community, possibly recently released from incarceration. One participant asked whether an intermediate step could be creation of a kind of “social services hub” at a fixed location to help such people.

We also discussed the role of silent prayer and possibly faith sharing at our meetings.

At our July 15 meeting we will discuss our plans for the Downtown Celebration and each of the above service possibilities in more detail. Everyone is welcome to attend and bring their ideas.

The Interfaith Action Initiative grew out of the April forum of the Northern Berkshire Communiity Coalition, at which those present discussed the intersection of faith and community issues. All people of good will are welcome to participate in the Initiative.

For more information, e-mail; visit or call the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition at 663-7588.


In this more expansive blog forum format, a number of further items are worth noting and/or discussing. Basically this blog is sort of like meeting minutes, with some opinion thrown in. So if I leave something important out, or you disagree, please feel free to comment.

Check out Otha Day’s Website,

Where are the Adams people? And people from the hilltowns? Hopefully some from these places will become involved as the initiative moves forward.

Thanks to Denise Vigna for attending the June 18 meeting and inviting everyone to participate in the efforts of the local conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, located at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in North Adams. This conference does fine work helping people whose needs cannot always be met, or met quickly, by local service agencies. The phone number of the conference is 664-4835.

Thanks to Dave Babcock, a member of First Baptist Church in North Adams, for suggesting the possibility that faith communiities could fill in the gaps for the meals program headquartered on River Street in North Adams. He also spoke of First Baptist's outreach called Faith in Action, held twice a year, where participants go out on a Sunday and do service.

Thanks to Robin Lehleitner for her insightful ideas on how we might serve young people and for her mentioning the possibility of working with the Catalyst group at Williams College, which has tried to run a sort of social services hub in North Adams called “4th Monday.”

Thanks to Susan Jameson, of Lanesborough, for telling us about the World Prayer Day Interfaith Prayer and Peace Pot Luck Dinner that was held at her farm on June 21. I was not able to get this entry done in time to announce it ahead of time, but for more information about the intefaith work Susan is involved in, e-mail or visit

Thanks to Judy Grinnell for reminding us about the important Community Conversation about the future of the Hoosic River, which will be held at St. Elizabeth’s Parish Center in North Adams from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 26. Visit

And, of course, thanks to everyone who has attended our two meetings so far. It is exciting to see what great people we have and what exciting ideas we are putting forward.

Don’t hesitate to comment on this blog entry. Become a “follower” of this blog so you’ll know when people post on it. Bring a friend to our next meeting which, again, will be held on Friday, July 15, at 10:30 a.m. at the First Baptist Church in North Adams. (Use the Eagle Street entrance).