Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK Day, Peacemaker, Friday's IAI Meeting

Mark Lincourt at the Friendship Center on the morning of MLK Day talking to our visitors from Americorps Vista. Joyce Lincourt is at the left in the photo. One of the volunteers is taking a photo of Mark. More photos can be found at the end of this blog entry.


Monday, Jan. 16, was the 19th Annual Northern Berkshire Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, and the third year that it was a day of service.

When I first arrived at the Friendship Center mid-morning on Monday, Mark Lincourt, our food distribution coordinator, who would recieve the Peacemaker Award at lunch later in the day, and Stuart Crampton, treasurer, were already there stocking the shelves with food. Helping were Americorps Vista workers connected, I think with, Berkshire Community College. Mark’s wife, Joyce, was there later on, followed by Darlene Elliis and her daughter, who donated some food, and Kathy Keeser. Darlene and Kathy are members of the MLK Committee.

I was pleased that State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, of North Adams, also helped sort food and stock shelves in the pantry.

By the time of dinner and the award at St. Elizabeth Parish Center, we had weighed more than 700 lbs of donated food and had accumulated cash donations also. By the time all is said, lifted and weighed, the Friendship Center probably be the recipient of more than 1,000 lbs of donated food.

And thanks to all who donated, either to 107 Main St. in North Adams or those who did so through local houses of worship. I know my church, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, donated at least a couple hundred pounds of food.

Here is the writeup about Mark in the 2012 MLK Day of Service program. The ceremony was moving and Mark’s remarks, which I did not record, were excellent. I’m sure the ceremony will be shown several times in the near future on Northern Berkshire Community Access Televsion.

Mark Lincourt

Mark Lincourt exemplifies service in the model of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and shares with him a significant desire to see to the needs of others. This is illustrated in his work with many groups: his church, All Saints Episcopal Church; the Higher Ground Committee; the Northern Berkshire Systems of Care Committee; the Continuum of Care Committee in Pittsfield; and the Servant Leader Advisory Board at St. Stephen’s in Pittsfield. These activities have involved Mark with issues of homelessness, housing for people in need, and support for families of children suffering severe emotional disturbances.

Beyond all of this, however, is Mark’s central involvement in seeing to the food needs of people in this region. At the simplest level, he participates in the Take and Eat food project through All Saints Church, helping to provide a hot meal to seniors one Sunday a month. More significantly, as a founding member of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative, Mark stepped forward to become the Food Service Coordinator for the Friendship Center Food Pantry when the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative established that organization a year ago.

Mark’s volunteer efforts for the food pantry make him a nearly fulltime worker as he oversees all that needs to be done to ensure that the pantry and its many volunteers are able to assure famllies in need that they will not go hungry. Mark does all of this without complaint but with the energy provided by the knowledge that there are people in need and he is in a positon to help.


Don’t forget Friday’s meeting of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative. Here is the announcement I sent out:

Affordable Assisted Living is Jan. 20 Interfaith meeting topic
NORTH ADAMS — The Friday, Jan. 20, meeting of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative will feature a discussion of affordable assisted living.
The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. the First Baptist Church of North Adams (use Eagle Street entrance). All are welcome to attend.
Ce Swanson, RN, program manager at North Adams Adult Day Health, has assembled a panel to help us discuss the issue, including the heads of the Adams, North Adams and Williamstown Councils on Aging and a representative of Elder Services. Affordable assisted living is one piece of the affordable housing issue which has come to fore locally in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.
The Interfaith Action Initiative is group of people from various faiths and denominations working with others of  good will to find ways to serve our community. Among its projects is The Friendship Center Food Pantry at 43 Eagle St. in North Adams.
For more information, call Mark at 664-0130 or visit our blog at or like the Friendship Center’s page on Facebook.

Thanks and God Bless. Hope to see you Friday!

Mark Rondeau

Our helpers from Americorps pose for a photo by Kathy Keeser, of the MLK Committee.

Mark Lincourt, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright and Sue Walker. Both the mayor and Sue — who is one of our great Friendship Center volunteers and Initiative members — had moving things to say about Mark.

Mark gets ready to say a few words upon receiving the award. Around him are Darlene Ellis, Mayor Alcombright, Sue Walker, MLK Committee Chairman Alex Daugherty, and Kathy Keeser.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mark Lincourt to receive Peacemaker Award

Mark Lincourt takes part in the first public event of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative, a drumming circle at the 2010 North Adams. Downtown Celebration. Two more photos below.

Since it was announced on the “Northern Berkshire Tonight” program on Northern Berkshire Cable Television on Friday night by members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, I feel free to note here that Mark Lincourt will receive the 2012 Peacemaker Award at the Martin Luther King Day celebration on Monday, Jan. 16.

Needless to say, Mark was a founding member of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative and serves on its Steering Committee. He is also the food distribution coordinator at the Friendship Center Food Pantry. He has been absolutely fantastic in this crucial role. 

Mark is also involved in several other community and church service activities, for which he also will be recognized on Jan. 16.

We have many key volunteers in the IAI and Friendship Center. One of these, Steve Green, who is also a member of the MLK Committee, had the pleasure on Friday morning of telling Mark about the award. We had gathered for a meeting about fundraising.

It will be well-publicized elsewhere, but, in brief, the Martin Luther King Day of Service will begin at 9 a.m. on Jan. 16 and there will be several service projects in Northern Berkshire. Some of this activitiy will benefit the friends of the Friendship Center.

At 12:30 p.m. everyone will return to St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish Center in North Adams for a free luncheon and community celebration, during which Mark will receive the Peacemaker Award.


I would just like to note here that community support of the Friendship Center both with food and monetary donations has been incredible during the holiday season and into the new year. I hope to give a better idea of this in a future blog post. 

Just a few statistics for the year 2011, during which we were open 45 weeks. For the first 20 weeks we were open for just one session; we opened both in the morning and the evening for 25 weeks. We have close to 700 member families, which is still increasing. We have been serving on average more than 90 households/families per month since July.

During the year we served 3,546 visiting households (many more than once, of course). Most of our households are in North Adams, with some in Clarksburg and Florida. Assuming 10 pounds of food per visit, that’s 17.7 tons of food!


The Friendship Center Food Pantry is open from 11 a.m.. to 2 p.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m. Families are eligible to come for food every two weeks. We are an entirely volunteer organization, a program of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative, as it says on the green sign hanging in the window.

The Friendship Center
43 Eagle St. 
North Adams, MA 01247

That’s all for now, hope to see you on Jan. 16.

Mark Rondeau

Mark Lincourt moves pallets of food at Berkshire Community Action Council headquarters in PIttsfield. Mark and wife Joyce on closed-off Eagle Street during WILCO weekend during the summer of 2011. We had an information table outside on that day.