Sunday, April 29, 2018

Catching up on All Sorts of News

Letter Carrier Food Drive Saturday, May 12

In the years since I started this blog at the urging of Al Bashevkin, retired executive director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, I don't think I have gone this long without posting. At any rate, there's a lot to catch up on.

First of all, as the flyer above indicates, Saturday, May 12, will be the annual Letter Carriers Food Drive. The information on this flyer comes from our friend Amanda Chilson of Mass In Motion. On the day of the drive, we will be sorting the donations at the former Sears store in the Steeple City Plaza. See file photo below.

We sort the food the letter carriers pick up in North Adams, Clarksburg and Florida -- the same communities we serve as a food pantry.

We can always use volunteers. Let us know if you can help or just show up around 11:30 a.m. or so on the day of the drive.

Rich Davis at the former Sears space a few years ago. Volunteers will be sorting donated food there again this year on May 12. This is always a fun day. All are welcome to help out. Or just stop by and say "hi."

United Way to Recognize Al Nelson

Al wearing his light-up Patriots hat

We are very pleased to announce that our co-founder and co-director Al Nelson will be one of those recognized at the First Annual Spirit of Caring Awards and Celebration to be held on Thursday, May 17, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the MCLA Church Street Center. 

This event is being presented by the Northern Berkshire United Way. Al will be receiving the Spirit of Caring Award. Former North Adams Mayor Dick Alcombright, who did much to help the Friendship Center Food Pantry while in office, will receive the Spirit of Community Award, and Christine Hoyt of Adams will receive the Spirit of the Future Award.

Al is the conscience and personality of the NBIAI and the Friendship Center Food Pantry, perhaps the finest person I have ever met. I am looking forward to seeing him honored.

Individual tickets for this fundraiser are $50 each. RSVP by May 7. Northern Berkshire United Way, P.O. Box 955, North Adams, MA 01247. Phone: 413-663-9062. Email:

Al speaks to MCLA Lead Academy students in the early days of the Friendship Center

State. Rep. John Barrett III Visits Friendship Center

Our new Sate Rep. John Barrett III visited the Friendship Center Food Pantry recently. We had a productive discussion with him about the state's role in helping to meet food security needs in the state. 

This photo was taken by Kim McMann, director of the Berkshire Food Project, who attended the meeting. From right, counterclockwise, Michelle Geoffrey, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Rep. Barrett, James Swinchoski, MCLA senior and spring intern with us, and Al Nelson and Mark Rondeau, of the NBIAI/Friendship Center.

James, by the way, has been great to have around. He helped develop and conduct a survey for us of our food pantry friends and has worked on developing a website specifically for the Friendship Center!

North Berkshire Food Access Collaborative

The North Berkshire Food Access Collaborative held its second meeting on Friday, March 9, at the Green Space on Main Street in North Adams. More than 30 people attended. It was a very productive meeting and much interest was expressed by varied stakeholders from throughout Berkshire 
County in a Food Hub. What this would entail and mean has yet to be fully fleshed out but it could be quite exciting and many people are enthused about the idea.

The next quarterly meeting of the Collaborative will be on Friday, June 15. Stay tuned for more information.

Amanda Chilson speaks to part of those attending the March 9 meeting of the Collaborative. Below, the partial group discussion of a food hub generated much interest.

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

Mark Rondeau