Press Releases from Our Members


Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires, Inc., (VIM) the free health care clinic in Great Barrington, today announced the appointment of Ilana Steinhauer, FNP, as its new Executive Director.  Steinhauer, previously the Director of Medical Services, joined the organization in January, 2014 as its Clinical Care Coordinator.  She had served at VIM as an intern in 2006-7, which led her to pursue a career in medicine.

“In the short time that Ilana has been with VIM, she has already had a lasting impact, launching several new programs and services and leading an amazing corps of volunteer clinicians,” said Arthur Peisner, Chairman of the Board of Trustees.  “Her intelligence, energy, enthusiasm and dedication to her patients, along with outstanding clinical and management skills, ensure her success in this new role.”

“VIM is a vital resource for our patients and the work we are doing is incredibly rewarding. I am looking forward to this new challenge,” said Steinhauer.

For the past decade, VIM operated without an Executive Director.  A strong management team and a very active volunteer Board have kept the organization on track.

“A 60% increase in patient visits, the addition of new prevention programs and the expansion of our clinic space over the last few years has made clear the need for full time leadership,” Peisner said.  “Ilana is the right person at the right time.”

Steinhauer earned a BA (cum laude) from Wesleyan University and her RN and MSN degrees and Nurse Practitioner Certification from Simmons College in Boston.  She and her husband live in Sheffield with their twin boys.


Volunteers In Medicine Berkshires, Inc. provides access to comprehensive free health care services for income-qualified, uninsured and underinsured adults at its clinic in Great Barrington.  Since its opening in 2004, the clinic has served more than 2500 patients in over 35,000 individual visits with medical, dental, mental health, optometry, acupuncture, nutrition counseling and therapeutic massage services.  More than 150 volunteers, supported by a small paid staff, provide these services under one roof.  The organization is privately funded by generous donations from businesses, foundations and individuals and receives no state or federal funding or insurance reimbursement.

MacArthur Fellow David Montgomery And Abode Farmer Evan Thaler-Null Dialogue on Dirt

New Lebanon, NY – Noted geologist and geomorphologist David R. Montgomery will be joining with Evan Thaler-Null of Abode Farm CSA, as well as other local farmers, for an afternoon of down-and-dirty dialogue on issues related to dirt, farming, sustainability, and ecology at the Abode in New Lebanon on Friday, September 29.

Situated on 350 acres with four acres of cultivated soil, dirt is an important part of daily life at the Abode.  This program will offer a “theor-pragmatic” exploration that will unearth both the practical as well as academic lessons being learned from research and fieldwork.  Full program details can be found at:

Attendees will have the opportunity to interact as Dr. Montgomery and local farm operators dish on earth, soil and the socio-implication of dirt.  Montgomery will have his books available for sale and signing.

The schedule of events are:

2:30-3:45pm Presentation by David Montgomery

3:45-4pm Snack Break and Book Signing

4-5:15pm Dialogue and Panel including Q&A

5:15-6pm – Tour of Abode Farm

6-7pm – Farm-to-table Dinner and Book Signing

David R. Montgomery studies the evolution of topography and the influence of geomorphological processes on ecological systems and human societies. He received his B.S. in geology at Stanford University (1984) and his Ph.D. in geomorphology from UC Berkeley (1991). His published work includes studies of the evolution and near-extirpation of salmon, fluvial and hillslope processes in mountain drainage basins, the evolution of mountain ranges (Cascades, Andes, and Himalaya), and the analysis of digital topography. Current research includes field projects in the Philippines, eastern Tibet, and the Pacific Northwest of North America.  Dr. Montgomery received a MacArthur Fellowship (or Genius Grant) in 2008.

Evan Thaler-Null, Abode Manager of Ecology, has been working on the Abode land for the past five years. Evan moved to New Lebanon in 2012 to take over the management of the farmland at the Abode with his partner, Sarah Steadman, who grew up down the road from the Abode, the daughter of long-time Sufi parents.  As the co-founder and manager of Abode Farm CSA, Evan brings his connection to agriculture, ecology, and community to his role as Manager of Ecology for the Abode.

The Abode of the Message was founded in 1975 by universalist Sufi teacher, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, as an experiment in living the teachings and practices of his father, Hazrat Inayat Khan, the first Sufi teacher in the West.  Set on 350 acres of the historic Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, the Abode offers sanctuary for Sufis and seekers and as an Eco-Sufi Village is spiritual in nature, universal in message, and elemental in practice.


For further information on this weekend retreat, or general information about the Abode and its programs, please contact:

Ibrahím Pedriñán, Abode Director of Programs, at 518.794.8090 x125 or

Al Bellenchia, Abode Executive Director, at 518.794.8090 x122,


Patriot Award given to Local Business

The National Guard awarded Native Habitat Restoration LLC, a local business based in Stockbridge and Sheffield, with the Patriot Award. Nominated by service members, The Patriot Award is for employers who go above and beyond in their support of employees in the National Guard. Sargent First Class Denis O’Connor, Jr. and Sargent Gregory Elser, both currently serving in the National Guard, nominated co-owners Sari Hoy and Jessica Toro to receive this award. It was presented on Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 at noon at the Barrington Brewery by Bill Hebert, Area Chair of the Massachusetts Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, (RET) Command Sargents Major.

Contact: Denis O’Connor, Jr at or at 413-441-1034 for more information.

Native Habitat Restoration, LLC specializes in identifying and removing invasive plant species from wetlands, woodlands, meadows, river areas and rare habitats in order to return these settings to a more natural and balanced ecological state. As a women-owned business, our backgrounds in conservation planning, project management, managing invasive plant species, and restoring habitats allow us to offer a full range of options and services, which include:

  • Land management
  • Invasive Plant Control
  • Grant Writing & Administration
  • Conservation Planning & Consultation
  • Conservation Action Planning & Open Standards Facilitation
  • Project Management & Design
  • Project Implementation
  • Training, Education & Outreach
  • CR stewardship, including preparation of Baseline Documentation Reports and CR monitoring.

With more than 35 years combined experience in the field, and through the connections we have made with local and national conservation organizations, community leaders and noted industry professionals, we are in the unique position to help landowners understand the problem, consider their options, make thoughtful and responsible decisions, find and apply for funding, and manage their projects for environmental success.

Free Talk on Healing from Trauma at Mahaiwe

Mahaiwe and Berkshire United Way Co-Host
Free Talk on Healing from Trauma
by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
Great Barrington, Mass.— The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, in partnership with Berkshire United Way, will present a lecture by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk titled “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” on Thursday, October 26 at 7:00pm. The talk will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. This event is free; the doors will open at 6:30pm for general admission seating.

“We at the Mahaiwe are very glad for this opportunity to collaborate with the Berkshire United Way on such an important talk for our community,” said Mahaiwe Executive Director Beryl Jolly. “Dr. van der Kolk’s pioneering work in the healing of trauma—utilizing theater, yoga, mindfulness and similar therapies—resonates strongly with the resources available in our community, and should be of interest to many.”

“Our partnership with the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center is helping us further our countywide efforts to better understand trauma and how we can build resiliency in our lives and the lives of others.” said Karen Vogel, Director of Community Impact at Berkshire United Way.

Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. has been the Medical Director of The Trauma Center in Boston for the past 30 years. He is a Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School and serves as the co-director of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Complex Trauma Network. Though he identifies himself primarily as a clinician, he has published well over 150 peer reviewed scientific articles on various aspects of trauma, including his current projects: 1) yoga for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIMH); 2) the use of theater for violence prevention in the Boston public schools, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 3) the mechanisms of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR); 4) sensory integration in traumatized children; and 5) the use of neurofeedback in PTSD.

Dr. van der Kolk has written extensively using neuroscience research to identify appropriate treatments for PTSD and completed the first NIMH-funded study of EMDR. He has taught at universities and hospitals around the world. He is author of the New York Times bestselling book The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in Healing From Trauma (Viking Penguin, 2014).

About the Mahaiwe

Located in downtown Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center is the year-round presenter of world-class music, dance, theater, classic films, Live in HD broadcasts, and arts education programs for the southern Berkshires and neighboring regions. The intimate jewel box of a theater opened in 1905. Since 2005, the performing arts center has hosted over 1,000 events and welcomed over half a million people through its doors. More than 18,000 students from 61 different schools have benefited from the Mahaiwe’s school-time performances and residencies. For tickets and information, see or call 413.528.0100.

About Berkshire United Way

Berkshire United Way has served Berkshire County for over 90 years, mobilizing the resources necessary to address the most pressing issues and lead the way to a thriving community. As part of a global network, we focus on creating lasting change by giving parents the tools they need to be partners in their child’s success, leading to healthy decision making by youth and resulting in a successful, stable life. For more information about Berkshire United Way, please visit

Construct’s WALK-This-Way WALK

Great Barrington, MA. Construct will be holding its 29th Annual WALK-This-Way, WALK

  • On Sunday, October 15, 2017, Registration at 12:30, WALK at 1:00
  • Start Point is at Ski Butternut, 380 State Road, Great Barrington, MA
  • End Point is at Great Barrington Fair Grounds, South Main Street, Great Barrington

Construct will be holding its 29th Annual WALK-This-Way 2017 WALK on Sunday, October 15, 2017

You can preregister on line as an individual or as a team by going to, and follow the step by step directions.

“WALK contributions let Construct respond quickly-helping neighbors achieve, keep, or create a pathway to housing they can afford. Each dollar, each walker can make the difference between homelessness and homecoming”


Pittsfield — Berkshire United Way is seeking proposals to address its Economic Prosperity goals including connecting residents to available work and advancing career opportunities through exposure to various employment opportunities.  The Request for Proposal (RFP) is now available on-line at for funding from November 15, 2017 through June 30, 2020.

There are more than 17,000 individuals unemployed in Berkshire County, with only 2,700 of those collecting unemployment benefits with job placement support. An additional 26,000 were underemployed, not working 35 hours a week for 50 weeks a year. (Source: ACS 2011-2015 / Berkshire Benchmarks)

Job and income growth leads to a stronger local economy by increasing spending and the production of goods and services and stimulating economic activity. Social benefits to the community include reduced social costs related to crime, drugs, family disruption and strengthened security, education, and physical and mental well-being. Job creation further increases economic prosperity for all and promotes higher living standards.


Instructions for completing on-line eligibility as well as a complete list of eligibility requirements are included in the RFP.  Among the latter – organizations must be financially stable, located in and primarily serving residents of Berkshire County, structured as a not-for-profit, governed by an active, locally based, volunteer board of directors, and deliver programs and outcomes that align with one or both of the strategies: Employment Match Maker (Family Sustaining Employment-Pathways) and/or Adult Work-Based Experiences (includes College Internships).

All applicants must confirm eligibility through survey monkey using the link:

After submitting the required eligibility documents to , eligible applicants will receive email confirmation with instructions on completing the application and details on registering for the mandatory Bidder’s Conference. Applicants must attend a Bidder’s Conference on October 3rd. All applications are due by MIDNIGHT on October 20.

For technical assistance, email Julie Singley, at NO LATER THAN NOON on October 6. Questions will not be answered after 10/6.


The Literacy Network of South Berkshire (LitNet) is proud to announce the September 7 launch of its “COMMUNITY CARES INITIATIVE”–an opportunity for local businesses to participate in LitNet’s American Dream Campaign. The American Dream Campaign is a fundraising effort that celebrates the core values of courage, strength, and determination upon which our country was founded. Whether our families have lived here for one generation or ten generations, our ancestors came to this country in search of new opportunities and worked hard in
order to succeed. Their shared hope for a better life is the essence of the American Dream. Beginning September 7, LitNet volunteers will be calling upon local merchants to donate $50 to the campaign. They will receive a decal to place in their windows to demonstrate their participation in the initiative and share their support of our local immigrant community. Matt Masiero of Guido’s Fresh Marketplace stated, “At Guido’s, we’ve worked with LitNet for many years, and we know how important their services are to our community. We’re thrilled to see that the American Dream Campaign is reaching out to our local businesses and shop owners to share the LitNet mission.” Melissa Bigarel also welcomed the opportunity by saying that, “Louisa Ellis is pleased to support the Literacy Network of South Berkshire and its many volunteers and students who live and work in our town. LitNet’s Community Cares Initiative is a great way to show that the shop owners of Great Barrington are committed to fostering a vibrant, year-round community for all.”

Though some would argue that the American Dream is a thing of the past, LitNet’s tutors and staff can attest that the American Dream is alive and well in our community. It is plain to see in the daily lives of our students, about 90 percent of whom are immigrants, who have come to America seeking better lives and new opportunities. Lisa Landry and Flavio Lichtenthal, co-owners of No. 6 Depot Roastery and Cafe in West Stockbridge added, “We know first-hand the challenges of being immigrants, as well as the richness that immigrants bring to their new communities. No. 6 Depot is proud to be a partner in the Community Cares Initiative.”

By supporting this campaign, local merchants will also have the opportunity to say “Thank you” to their own patrons who are LitNet tutors and who volunteer hundreds of hours to enrich the lives of adults within our community. Business participants will also be listed as LitNet Community Partners on the LitNet website and given special visibility at the organization’s October 14 gala at Berkshire Country Day School in Stockbridge, where LitNet tutors will be the honorees. LitNet volunteer tutors–many of whom have their own family stories of immigration–comprise an ever-growing network of over 150 professionals: bankers, physicians, librarians, horticulturists, business owners, editors, teachers, lawyers, speech pathologists, nurses, actors, artists, journalists, scientists, graphic designers, playwrights, nonprofit leaders, and social workers. They are the mentors, teachers, and friends who help their LitNet students—slowly, but surely—to achieve their
American Dreams.

LitNet has been offering free, one-on-one tutoring sessions for adults since 1991. LitNet’s flexible, personalized approach to tutoring enables adult learners to succeed in their jobs, support their families, and engage with their local communities. The organization began by teaching reading skills, and LitNet quickly expanded its curriculum with lessons in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), citizenship test preparation, and adult basic education to better serve the large population of immigrants who live and work in the Berkshires. To learn more about LitNet’s American Dream Campaign, including a $30,000 matching grant offered by the Gilson Family Foundation, and to purchase tickets to the October gala, please visit or call 413-243-0471.

Jennifer Vrabel, Executive Director
Literacy Network of South Berkshire
P: (413) 243-0471

Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur Service Schedule Congregation Ahavath Sholom

The Kol Nidre melody, stirring the hearts of Jews for a thousand years, is recited at the beginning of the evening service of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is such an inextricable part of this service that many call the whole service Kol Nidre. The name Kol Nidre is taken from the prayer’s first words, “All vows.”  The melody is so beautifully haunting that it has also become an inspiration outside the synagogue. In the first talking film, “The Jazz Singer,” Al Jolson sang Kol Nidre.  Neil Diamond with his own rendition, followed years later in the remake. Jewish opera singers such as Richard Tucker and Jan Peerce recorded Kol Nidre.  Perry Como, a Christian, sang it annually on the High Holy Days in solidarity with his Jewish friends. Johnny Mathis chose Kol Nidre for his album “I Believe.”  The sixth movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet appears to be based on the melody and Max Bruch’s 1880 cello concerto is entitled Kol Nidre. In 1968, the rock band Electric Prunes produced “Release and Oath,” subtitled Kol Nidre.

What makes this music so fascinating and engaging?  Barbara Cohen, spiritual leader of Congregation Ahavath Sholom since 2005, has been singing Kol Nidre during High Holy Day services for the last 23 years. She says, “Singing Kol Nidre is not only a vocal and artistic challenge. It is a spiritual challenge, year after year, to infuse the text with emotional authenticity. Standing at the front of the congregation, I am spiritually supported in a holy space created by two congregants each holding a Torah scroll. Singing the text three times with varying style and tone requires understanding of the origins of the text and a profound belief in the power of words and promises. It is a time of awe and I take the sacred responsibility very seriously. I encourage anyone, Jewish or not, to find the opportunity to hear this powerful blending of music and prayer.”

Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur Service Schedule at

Berkshire Community Center, 15 Crissey Road, Great Barrington, MA.

Wednesday, September 20:     Erev Rosh Hashanah 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 21:        Rosh Hashanah 10:00 a.m. followed by Tashlich

Friday, September 22:             Rosh Hashanah 10:00 a.m.

Friday, September 29:             Kol Nidre, Doors open at 6:30. p.m.

Doors will be closed during chanting of Kol Nidre at 7:00 p.m.


Saturday, September 30:         Yom Kippur 10:00 a.m. including Yizkor

Neilah 5:00 p.m. followed by pot luck Break Fast

For Reservations and information:

Congregation Ahavath Sholom   413 528 4197

Media Contact:  Linda Josephs:

2017 ANNUAL HERITAGE WALKS ANNOUNCED Three Autumn Weekends of Free, Guided Tours


Three Autumn Weekends of Free, Guided Tours

The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area (Housatonic Heritage) announces the 16th annual Heritage Walks on three autumn weekends – Saturday & Sunday – September 16 & 17, 23 & 24, 30 & October 1.  This year, 80 FREE, guided interpretive tours will be offered throughout Berkshire County (MA) and Litchfield County (CT).

The public is invited and encouraged to participate in these informative, family-oriented, fun walks, offered in partnership with our region’s historic, cultural, outdoor recreation, and nature organizations and the National Park Service. The Housatonic Heritage Area’s mission is to “preserve and celebrate our local heritage”–and the annual Heritage Walks is the ideal opportunity to experience and learn about our region’s rich and varied heritage!

Expert historians, naturalists, and environmentalists will lead participants on 80 explorations through historic estate gardens and town districts, behind-the-scenes cultural site tours, nature walks, trail hikes, and tours of many of the industrial-site ruins that were once huge, thriving local industries.  Also included are Native-American history-centered walks, a canoe paddling trip on the Housatonic River and on Buckley Dunton Lake, bike touring rides on scenic country roads along the river and bike rides the Massachusetts’ sections of the new Western New England Greenway.

Detailed Heritage Walks brochures will be distributed in August to libraries and stores throughout the region.  The Walks schedule is also available at website

Brochures may be requested by emailing-

2nd Annual 1Berkshire/MCLA Business Bootcamp Announced

BERKSHIRE COUNTY, MA – August 21, 2017 – 1Berkshire, as part of its Berkshire Starts program and in collaboration with MCLA, is proud to announce the return of its annual Business Bootcamp. The Business Bootcamp, which  began as an idea in 2016, is now a fully formed program aimed at fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout the Berkshires. The objective of the program is to provide participants with a basic understanding of the essential elements involved in successfully starting and growing a business venture in the Berkshires.

We’re very excited to partner again with MCLA to offer this important educational resource for entrepreneurs. As the scope and breadth of small business ownership continues to evolve in the Berkshires, programs like these are critical to supporting the changing needs of those leading those businesses.” – Jonathan Butler, President & CEO, 1Berkshire

Last year, we accepted thirteen entrepreneurs into the program, we are looking to grow this number twofold and also looking to expand the program in general. The Business Bootcamp will provide 12 workshops, covering, the Lean Canvas Business Plan model, Legal Structure & IP, Funding, Marketing and Pitching Investors, with extra focus in Business Accounting and Design thinking. The 3-hour workshops will be co-presented by MCLA faculty paired with experienced business practitioners who serve as mentors in 1Berkshire’s Berkshire Starts program.

The Business Bootcamp is a free program open to students, entrepreneurs, and early-stage business owners. The workshops will begin on March 6th and run through April 12th, Tuesday and Thursday evenings in Pittsfield. The deadline to apply is November 15th and space is limited. Applications and more information can be found at

About 1Berkshire Berkshire Starts

Berkshire Starts is a series of programs and resources that assist entrepreneurs and small business owners initiate and grow their ventures. Berkshire Starts provides business consulting, planning and evaluation assistance, connects owners and entrepreneurs with skilled professionals, incentive programs, funding sources, mentors and more. Along with the Business Bootcamp program, we also host Entrepreneurial Meetups and educational seminars, all aimed at helping the Innovation and Entrepreneurship community thrive in the Berkshires. To learn more about Berkshire Starts, contact us at or call (413) 499-1600.

About 1Berkshire

1Berkshire is a county-wide organization focused on economic development and promotion of the region as a preferred place to visit, to live, and to grow a business. It provides programs that connect businesses with each other and with potential customers, as well works to develop future leaders and support entrepreneurs. For more information, visit