Sunday, November 5, 2017

New BFP Director, Recipes from EB-3, Micah Awards

Kim McMann, new director of the Berkshire Food Project, at our Oct. 20 public meeting.

We have some news to pass along.

On Friday, Oct. 20, old friend Kim McMann came to our public interfaith meeting. Kim is the new director of the Berkshire Food Project. Back when she was with North Adams with Target Hunger she helped us out when we were starting the Friendship Center Food Pantry.

Kim replaces out old friend Valerie Schwarz, who ran the BFP from its inception.

Kim talked about her plans for the Food Project. And we talked about areas of shared cooperation. We are very excited she's back in Northern Berkshire.

Kim McMann, Gordon Clark and Jonathan Schwartz at our Oct. 20 meeting. Nine people attended in all.

EB-3 at the Eagle Street Room

North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright at the Eagle Street Room for the EB-3 food sampling and recipe offering.

More recently, our friends from the North Adams Public School EB-3 alternative program, came to the Eagle Street Room on Wednesday, Nov. 1, with food samples from recipes they had been working on. They also had the printed recipes available for our pantry members.

The recipes included Seven-Layer Bean Dip, Spinach and Grilled Chicken Penne, French Toast Casserole, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Baked Ziti, Scrambled Eggs with Spinach & Parmesan, Rice Cakes, Black Bean Dip, Warm Cinnamon Apples, Potato Sausage Casserole, Chicken Stir Fry, Bacon, Egg and Cheese Bagel, and Pasta Salad.

This is not the first time EB-3 has worked with us. A couple of years ago they produced a very well-done cookbook for our food pantry members.

Another view of the EB-3 presentation (photo from North Adams Public School Facebook)

We honor two at Micah Awards Celebration

Corinne Case and Aubrey Armstrong. Photo from BIO 2nd Annual Micah Celebration program.

BIO First Vice President Jim Kolesar and Corinne Case at the celebration. (BIO photo)

You may know that the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative Inc. is a non-congregational member of Berkshire Interfaith Organizing. BIO's mission statement is: “We work together to make social justice real in our community and improve the quality of life for all in the Berkshires.”

How does BIO go about this?
“We bring together people of faith and values by sharing our stories to: Increase our power to act for justice; Develop skills to be more effective in the public arena; Take action on issues of common concern for our member groups; Ensure that those affected by the issues craft the solutions.

By doing this we: Build relationships and strengthen community Identify and develop diverse local leaders. Achieve systemic solutions.”

The annual celebration is based on the famous verse from the famous Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) book of Micah (6:8): “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

This year we nominated Aubrey Armstrong and Corinne Case for the award. Each BIO member organization had the opportunity to nominate one or two of its members.

The celebration was held on Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Stationery Factory in Dalton.

I wrote and read the nomination for our two nominees. Unfortunately, Aubrey was unable to attend, but Corinne did so.

In addition to Aubrey and Corinne, other of our friends and volunteers were honored at the Micah Awards by their congregations. For instance, BIO member First Congregational Church of Williamstown honored Phil and Susan Smith. Rev. Mark Longhurst, pastor of First Congregational, noted that Phil had the idea for the volunteer-driven rides-home program we now offer at the Friendship Center. He had heard how much we had been spending on taxi rides and resolved to do something about it! He and Susan were honored for a lifetime of service.

Phil and Susan Smith, center. The Rev. Mark Longhurst at right. (BIO photo)

St. John's Episcopal Church in Williamstown named Robin Lenz and Charles Bonenti as its nominees. Robin has participated in our rides program, and she and Charles run the church’s garden, from which they have given the Friendship Center plenty of produce.
To conclude, here my prepared remarks at the celebration:

The Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative (NBIAI) is proud to nominate Aubrey Armstrong and Corinne Case as our co-nominees for the 2017 Micah Award. They both exemplify an honest, humble and effective attitude of service in all they do.

Both women have represented the NBIAI on the BIO Executive Board and other BIO activities. 

Aubrey Armstrong until quite recently was a member of the NBIAI Board of Directors, which is primarily occupied with running the Friendship Center Food Pantry in North Adams, our major ongoing project. Aubrey has supported the pantry in numerous ways. She has been key in helping us find ways of better serving the homeless people we encounter in our work. Her advocacy has also included being a liaison between the NBIAI and the Berkshire Food Project. Aubrey was a key member in BIO’s task force responding to the closing of the Price Chopper in North Adams, where her knowledge of transportation issues was particularly helpful.

Aubrey’s positive attitude, thoughtfulness and detailed knowledge of many subjects will be missed as she moves on. We hope she will check in from time to time as she is able with both the Interfaith Action Initiative and BIO.

Corinne Case is one of a small handful of people who founded the NBIAI in 2010, an opportunity for “people of different faiths and denominations to work with others of goodwill to serve our community.” She helped found the Friendship Center Food Pantry in 2011, and served on the NBIAI Board of Directors for several years. Corinne’s professional training and passion for service has been a huge benefit to our work. 

These include her current and past work in such fields as Adult Basic Education and Tobacco Cessation, among others. In addition, Corinne’s understanding of the interfaith aspect of the NBIAI was key in establishing this as a non-negotiable part of our identity. She is a regular presence during food pantry day at the First Baptist Church of North Adams, ready to help out visiting friends with their education needs and more.

On a personal note, I first met Corinne when she was running a grief support group for the VNA and Hospice of what was then Northern Berkshire Health Systems. She was a great help to me as I dealt with the loss of two family members. A few years later, after another loss, she again helped me deal with it in an unofficial capacity. I will never forget her help with this.

The NBIAI thanks BIO for the opportunity to honor these two wonderful people with the Micah Award.

Several hundred people attended the BIO awards celebration.

That’s all for now. God Bless!