Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dr. Tom Hyde awarded Northern Berkshire Hero Award

Dr. Tom Hyde at today's Coalition Annual Meeting.

At Wednesday's 29th Annual Meeting of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, Dr. Tom Hyde -- a weekly volunteer at the Friendship Center Food Pantry -- received the Northern Berkshire Hero Award.

A greatly respected Northern Berkshire pediatrician, Tom was recognized for his volunteer involvement with the Friendship Center Food Pantry, the Northern Berkshire RX/Heroin Work Group and with the Hoosic River Watershed Association (HooRWA) for which he serves as president.

Tom is a great guy and we are lucky to have him as a volunteer.

The meeting was poignant because it was the last annual meeting for Executive Director Al Bashevkin, the only director the organization has ever had, who is retiring. In his remarks, Al highlighted three lessons . One of them was for organizations to help out fledgling organizations. This happened back when the Coalition was born when MCLA (then North Adams State College) provided space and support.

So, in the same way, Al noted did the Coalition help out us (NBIAI/Friendship Center Food Pantry) when we started out, including as acting as our fiscal agent for several years. Al directed some of his staff our way when we were initially swamped with guests at our food pantry. 

Al also gave us, specifically me, some great advice along the way. 

He has huge shoes to fill and will be missed.

Tom Hyde and Al Bashevkin at today's event.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Information regarding June 19 Interfaith Programs and Events meeting

1). Here are the minutes of the May 15th Interfaith Action Initiative
Meeting, compiled by Sue Walker:

Thanks to all of you who attended our meeting to share outreach and
mission projects of Northern Berkshire faith communities.  There is
more information to be had, but this is a great and very inspiring
start.  What we learned (in the most basic form)--if incorrect, please
let us all know.

        A program for previous offenders
        Houses part of the Friendship Food Pantry, Ex-Offenders Follow-up
program through Berkshire
                House of Correction, No. Berkshire Comm. Coalition monthly meetings
        Work groups at Louison House
        School clothing drive at the end of August
        Warm clothing drive in November
        NA, AA, Fatherhood program for parolees
        Provides funding and staffing for Camp Ashmere
        Possible program with Soldier On

        Looking for volunteers for Louison House, such as adoption of
transitional families by churches, work
                groups for the House (perhaps work crews through Berkshire House of
Corrections), need for
                transportation to churches

        Has a garden in which is grown produce for the Frienship Center Pantry
        Meal delivery on weekends
        Drivers for Friendship Center (Terry Plum Clark)
        Alanon, AA, NAMI
        Christmas gifts for selected children

        Participates in voucher program for transients
        Weekend meals through Take and Eat
        Pajama drive
        Hosts No. Berkshire Comm. Coalition Neighborly Awards twice yearly
        Participates in Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, Berkshire
Interfaith Organizing
        Hopes to work out some outreach with All Saints Church (same parish
administrator for both congregations)

        Coat collection on Palm Sunday
        Gleaning for Friendship Center Pantry
        Christmas baskets and gifts
        Participates in voucher program
        Provided a grant from UMC of $100,000 to start a Youth Center (ages
14-22) for North Adams
                Need board members and volunteers, people with special skill

Frances Curns
        Well used by community groups for meetings, e.g., AA
        Take and Eat once a month on Sunday
        Thanksgiving meals to shut-ins
        Financial assistance for school children through schools
        Loose plate to an Outreach Children's Fund, occasional special needs
        Electronic re-cycle and shredding event twice yearly
        Beginning this summer, subsidized learn to swim program for 3rd
graders in NA schools at YMCA

        Volunteer drivers
        Funding for summer interns and research fellow in public policy
        Take and Eat
        Students available and interested during the school year

We discussed sharing worship by attending services at other churches
and inviting other faith groups to our own.
It would be useful for No. Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative to
create a subcommittee to look into more interfaith activities.  The
group needs a mission statement!

2). And here, in addition to better coordination of existing house of
worship activites, are some possible activies this committee could

Other ideas (not in any specific order of preference):

• Planning and presenting a Caregiver Appreciation Service.

• Planning and presenting an interfaith Thanksgiving service in the fall.

• Helping continue an interfaith hunger walk in Northern Berkshire.

• Working directly with the Berkshire Interfaith Organizing Project.,
which is working on issues of social justice.

• Ministry to the homeless and/or incarcerated

• Planning and presenting the existing NBIAI TV show, “In the Company
of Friends”

• Planning and helping present our monthly Interfaith public meetings.

• Doing some work along the lines of the group Interfaith Worker
Justice, visit

• Doing outreach to houses of worship on behalf of the NBIAI pantry
and voucher system.

• Other possible interfaith events or outreach?????

Hope to see you June 19th. For those who are coming directly to to the
blog, here’s information about our upcoming meeting:

First meeting June 19 of Interfaith Programs and Events committee

The Friday, June 19, public meeting of the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action
Initiative (NBIAI) will be the first meeting of the Initiative’s
Interfaith Programs and Events Subcommittee. All are welcome.
The meeting will be held in the Eagle Street Room of the First Baptist
Church of North Adams at 10 a.m. After introductions and a moment of
silent prayer, we will begin discussion of a mission statement, pick
out some activities to pursue and figure out the time and place of our
next meeting.

This meeting follows a very successful meeting of members of various
local houses of worship on May 15. Participants spoke of what their
churches are doing and shared ideas for further cooperation. The
minutes of this meeting, including participants, current activities
and areas of interest can be found at

Also availlable on the blog is a very preliminary list of other
possible interfaith projects. For more information about the NBIAI or
this meeting call Mark at 413-664-0130.