We need not have worried that no one would show up. Even with no publicity effort beyond signs put in the window that morning, 27 families — a “family” ranging from one person living alone on up — received food Feb. 23 during the first day of operation of the food pantry at the Friendship Center of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative.
The pantry, at 43 Eagle St. in North Adams, next to Papryi Books, is open on Wednesdays from 11 to 2 p.m. Depending on circumstances, evening hours may be added. Individual families may come every two weeks for food. The 43 Eagle St. location also serves as headquarters of the Interfaith Initiative. In accord with the faith-based nature of the effort, Henry Bounds, pantry volunteer and associate pastor of the Florida Baptist Church, led the volunteers in prayer before the pantry door opened.
The leadership team running the pantry consists of Mark Lincort as food distribution coordinator, with support from Joyce Lincourt; Stuart Crampton as treasurer, backed up by Al Nelson, and with support from Liz Boland; and Denise Krutiak as volunteer coordinator, backed up by Mark Rondeau. Al Nelson and Mark Rondeau remain as co-organizers of the Interfaith Initiative and serve as general coordinators of the food pantry operation.
Right now, Shirley McDonald of Berkshire Community Action in Pittsfield, is doing a fantastic job helping us open the pantry and signing up people to use it.
In addition, we have been blessed so far with several other great volunteers. Running the pantry is a large-scale operation and we will need plenty more volunteers as time goes on, particularly when we expand to evening hours.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the food pantry may contact Denise Krutiak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next meeting of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative will be held on Thursday, March 17, at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of North Adams (use Eagle Street entrance). Our meetings include announcements and a time of silent prayer and faith sharing. Our agenda will include the food pantry but also touch on other aspects of our efforts to serve the community, including a possible church voucher system and our ongoing survey of the local faith community.
For more information about the Interfaith Action Initiative, e-mail email@example.com, call Mark at 664-0130, or visit http://northernberkshireinterfaith.blogspot.com. In addition, the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative Friendship Center is now on Facebook.
• It was hectic but fun on Wednesday. In addition to friends getting food, we had plenty of friends who stopped in just to say hello. One woman even played piano for us for a while. We have to get her a chair!
• It should go without saying that our existence is not to take away from any of the existing food pantries in North Adams, Williamstown, Clarksburg or Florida. In fact, when we look at the level of need, we wish there were more up an running at this time time. I can say that I’m very pleased there is a first class operation such as the Charity Center taking care of Adams, Cheshire and Savoy.
• There will be a free basic Food Safety Education Class for those volunteering or interested in volunteering at the food pantry on Thursday, March 24, at 11 a.m. It will last about an hour. Please call Mark at 664-0130 by March 18 to pre-register. The class will be held at the Friendship Center.
• Everyone should know and should if possible support a food drive from Feb. 28 to March 11 to help stock the food pantry sponsored by the North Adams Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center:
Non-perishable food will be accepted at the following businesses throughout North Adams: Price Chopper Supermarket, Big Y Supermarket, Stop & Shop Supermarket, Hoosac Bank, TD Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Berkshire Bank, Legacy Bank, Landmark Credit Union, Village Pizza, Boston Seafood Restaurant, and the City Clerk’s office at North Adams City Hall.
Non-perishable food may also be dropped off at North Adams Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 175 Franklin St.
Maureen E. Goodreau, of at North Adams Commons (664-4041, ext. 243, or firstname.lastname@example.org) has generously invited me to appear with her on the Opinion program on WNAW at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, March 7. I hope to explain who were are and why as much food as possible is needed through this drive.
• In the interest of getting the word out and hopefully getting local youth involved in and active in support of the food pantry, I will be speaking to the North Adams Youth Commission this Thursday at 6 p.m. I hope to persuade them to get involved.
That’s all for now. Thanks and God Bless,
(Photos from our opening day. Including Shirley Davis from the loose item table. Thanks to Henry Bounds for documenting the day.)