Monday, October 20, 2014

Revived CROP Walk a Fine Success

The Walk proceeds across Ashland Street and down Main Street in North Adams.

On Sunday, Oct. 19, the first Northern Berkshire CROP Walk was held since 2009. It was a great success. It was lots  of fun and I hear that $2,700 was donated the day of the walk and another $300 is likely on its way. I'd say that more than 50 people walked. 

(The NBIAI raised $215 for the walk — thanks to those who donated!)

Spirits were high and fellowship great as we gathered together beforehand in the hall at First Congregational Church, where the Berkshire Food Project offers lunch to those in need.

The Rev. Ann Killam has led the revival of the walk. Internationally, CSW, Church World Service uses funds from the Crop walks to support hunger-fighting development efforts around the world. One-third of the money of each walk stays locally. This year the local recipients are Hoosac Harvest and the Growing Healthy Gardens Program.

Ann Killam rallied the people inside, with her dynamic and inspiring leadership style.

The CROP walkers start out from the church.

Above and below, walking down Main Street.

Up American Legion Drive

Ann Killam, center, walks down Ashland Street.

Proceeding down Ashland Street.

Pastor Dave Anderson of First Baptist North Adams, left, provided water and apples along the route.

The Rev. Mark Longhurst, center at carriage, brought along his child. He is past of First Congregational Church in Williamstown.

The walkers cut through the MCLA campus at Bond Street and headed north on Church Street.

After the walk returned to First Congregational, a good number of them continued on to the second half of the North Adams walking loop, going as far west as Brown Street and coming back toward downtown on West Main Street.

It's great having this inspiring interfaith event back in North Adams!

God Bless,


Monday, October 6, 2014

CROP Walk Against Hunger Oct. 19

The last CROP Walk in Northern Berkshire was held in 2008. Walk is being revived this year thanks to Rev. Ann Killam and others. Come walk with us!!!

Next Meeting on CROP Walk

The next meeting of the Interfaith Action Initiative will be on Friday, Oct. 17,  at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of North Adams. All are welcome to attend.

We will be discussing the North Adams CROP Walk, which will take place at Sunday, Oct. 19, from the First Congregational Church of North Adams, beginning at noon.

Teams and individuals will then walk their choice of loops on the recently established North Adams Walking Trail after the 1 p.m. kick-off. 

The Interfaith Action Initiative will have a team in the walk, which hasn’t been held here in several years, as will several other churches and organizations.

For more information, call me at 664-0130.
For more information on the CROP Walk, visit To join the NB Interfaith Action Initiative team or make a donation, visit

The way it works, 75 percent of the total donations go to Church World Service for its great international programs to fight hunger. Some 25 percent of each walk go locally. This year the local recipients will be the Growing Healthy Gardens Program and Hoosac Harvest.

The Growing Healthy Gardens Program (with Jen Munoz) helps relieve hunger through helping people in North Adams neighborhoods and public schools learn to grow food.  The neighborhood garden harvest is shared by all neighborhood participants who cooperatively grow their organic garden.  Food grown by students in North Adams Public Schools is donated to the Berkshire Food Project for their free community lunch.  Participants of all ages and abilities participate in this gardening program, and all activities are free to participants.

Hoosac Harvest is an all-volunteer organization, which works towards wider access to healthy fresh produce, through the Subsidized Shares program, the Share the Abundance Programs, and community events. Any funds donated go direct to the programs.  As an all-volunteer program, it has a modest budget and the proceeds from the Crop Walk, could enable it to meet the final funds needed for 2015. 

Hoosac Harvest has helped the Friendship Center Food Pantry greatly in recent years getting extra for local farmers markets for the pantry and also by gleaning what is left unpicked in local farm fields at the end of the growing season and giving the results to us and others. 

The CROP Walk has not happened here in about 5 or 6 years. Thanks to Rev. Ann Killam and others for reviving it. It is a great interfaith effort and way to work together.

Internationally, CSW, Church World Service uses funds from the Crop walks to support hunger-fighting development efforts around the world. 

CROP Hunger Walks help to provide food and water, as well as resources that empower people to meet their own needs.  From seeds and tools, to wells and water systems, to technical training and micro-enterprise loans, the key is people working together to identify their own development priorities, their strengths and their needs — something CWS has learned through some 67 years of working in partnership around the world.

20 attend September meeting on Addiction

That's Lois at right at our September Interfaith meeting.

At our September public meeting, Lois Duanis, co-chair of the NB21 North Adams/RX Heroin work group, spoke to us about the extent of addiction in our area. A total of 20 people attended.

Lois does great work and is a great friend to the NBIAI and FCFP. 

New food pantry record!

As the green line indicates, we've had our busiest September ever and have generally had more household visits each month compared to last year.

On Wednesday, Sept. 24, the Friendship Center Food Pantry set a new record by serving 212 households total. During our 10 to 2 p.m. session we served 154 families — also a first session record — and 58 families in our second session. During the first session, there was no break in the activity until 1:45 p.m. 

The last week of September seems to be a very busy date, as we set our previous record of 204 on Sept. 25, 2013. We matched that amount on Nov. 20, 2013. We also added 16 new members. Despite being so busy, we enjoyed interacting with our friends and things went smoothly. 

At the Eagle Street Room, we were joined by representatives of the Food Bank of Western Mass., the Elizabeth Freeman Center, the Family Place and our BMC nurse, Cindy Croce. Thanks to all our wonderful volunteers and all those who contribute space, funds and food to make it happen. 

In other developments:

• Through the efforts of Food Service Coordinator and NBIAI Board member Rich Davis, we received a grant to replace old refrigeration units with four new upright freezers with more capacity.

• Through the efforts of acting Treasuer and NBIAI Board member Fran Berasi, we now have all of our pantry registration records on computer, with five of our volunteer staff trained to enter new records and update existing ones during pantry operations.

• We are getting a good response to our 2014 Letter Campaign to support the food pantry operation. Those who didn’t receive a letter but who would like to donate, may do so by sending a check made out to the Friendship Center Food Pantry, c/o The Friendship Center, 43 Eagle St., North Adams, MA 01247. All donations are tax deductible through our fiscal agent.

That’s all for now. Thanks and God Bless,