Member Press Releases

“BIFF SELECTS” Presents a Special Screening of the Critically Acclaimed Drama SOUTH MOUNTAIN with Director Hilary Brougher in Attendance

Great Barrington, Mass. — The Berkshire International Film Festival’s winter series “BIFF SELECTS” is presenting the critically acclaimed drama, SOUTH MOUNTAIN on Sunday, March 15th at 10:30AM the Triplex Cinema. 

The series, which highlights international and domestic narrative and documentary films, is intended to promote independent film throughout the year.  

SOUTH MOUNTAIN: Lila has built a fragile tranquility in the Catskill mountain home she shares with her husband Edgar and their teen daughters. Soon after the girls leave for summer adventures, Edgar reveals the birth of a child with another woman leaving Lila to a season of explosive loss and reconfiguration. Lila lashes out – exploring the light and dark corners of grief, anger, and desire through her friendship with a younger man. As Lila’s world overturns, those who count on her likewise come undone.  The film stars Talia Balsam and Columbia County resident, Scott Cohen.  Director Hilary Brougher will be in attendance immediately following the film for a Q&A.

Doors at the Triplex open at 10AM. Tickets are $12 for all films ($10 for REEL Friends at the door) and may be purchased online here OR that day at the Triplex Cinema with cash or check only. For more information, call the BIFF office at 413.528.8030.

The Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) is a world-class festival and an integral part of the cultural fabric of the Berkshires. During its annual three-day festival, BIFF showcases the latest in independent feature, documentary, short, and family films as well as lively panel discussions and special events focusing on filmmakers and talented artists from both sides of the camera. BIFF also hosts year-round screenings and opportunities for film lovers to get together.

Crescendo Presents: Music Across Borders

Now in its fifteenth anniversary year, the award-winning music organization Crescendo offers its spring concert program featuring Eastern European choral and instrumental works from both the 17th century and contemporary times. The Crescendo Chorus, soloists and period instrument orchestra with strings, Baroque trumpets and basso continuo will present rarely heard festive Baroque and hauntingly beautiful contemporary works from the Baltics and Central Europe.

This program takes us beyond the borders of the countries we normally associate with great Baroque music:  Italy, Germany and France, the home of beloved composers such as Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and Lully. Transcending these borders, we will embark on a musical journey discovering how the Baroque style became a trans-nation cultural phenomenon, as composers constantly forged new connections among diverse cultural centers across borders.

The Baroque works of ‘The Polish Handel,’ Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki , Johann Adam Hiller and Johann Valentin Meder (both Germany and Latvia), “Kryštof Harant (Czechia), and Bohuslav Matěj Černohorský (Czechia/Austria). They will be contrasted with contemporary a cappella vocal works by Ēriks Ešenvalds of Latvia whose “Stars” is accompanied with seldom-heard tuned musical glasses, and sacred motets by Paweł Łukaszewski of Poland and Zdeněk Lukáš of Czechia.

Performers are sopranos Jennifer Tyo, Jordan Rose Lee and Sarah Fay, countertenor Eric Brenner, tenor Gregório Taniguchi and bass Peter Becker. The Crescendo Chorus, and period instrument orchestra with Chris Belluscio, natural trumpet (Boston), will be conducted by Crescendo’s Artistic Director Christine Gevert.

Performances are Saturday, March 28, 2020 at 4pm at Trinity Church, 484 Lime Rock Rd., Lakeville, CT, and Sunday, March 29, 2020 at 4pm at Saint James Place, 352 Main St, Great Barrington, MA, Tickets are $35 general, $60 premium, $10 under 18. For more information and tickets: www.worldclassmusic.org.

Tenth Annual Berkshire South Regional Community Center Swim-A-thon Fundraiser for Adaptive Needs Announces Ambassador

Great Barrington, Mass. – Berkshire South Regional Community Center (BSRCC) is honored to announce Holly Vacchina as this year’s Swim-A-Thon Ambassador. A critical fundraiser for Adaptive Needs programs at Berkshire South, the Tenth Annual Swim-A-Thon will be held on Saturday, March 7, in the Norris Aquatics Center. Swimming begins at 8 a.m.

Holly Vacchina, 2020 Berkshire South Regional Community Center Swim-a-thon Ambassador at last year’s Swim-a-thon.

Vacchina is one of over 16,500 patrons who use the therapy pool annually, more than 50 each day. It is the only warm-water therapy pool of its type in South County. Berkshire South’s adaptive needs initiatives include free swim lessons, class modifications, fitness classes and specialized equipment for individuals of all abilities.

“Without Swim-A-Thon there is a whole population that might not be able to use our facility. This is an event in which we focus on the spirit of the participants,” said Jenise Lucey, BSRCC Executive Director.

Berkshire South’s Adaptive Needs programming teaches valuable life skills. Those who cannot walk independently on land are taught to navigate without restriction in water. Individuals with autism often find the water very calming, and after spending time swimming, are better able to focus and interact. Aquatic exercise improves range of motion and balance, while simultaneously increasing strength. All instruction is geared towards the unique strengths and challenges of each participant in our individualized classes which are taught by highly trained staff.

“Sign up to swim as an individual or as a relay team. You can also take an Aqua Zumba class, or an Aqua Aerobics class!” Lucey said. “Just come and participate. Help us continue to offer critical programming to those who need it throughout our region. Your involvement makes such a huge impact.”

Vacchina is proud to be this year’s ambassador. “My favorite thing is the lovely attitude of the Berkshire South staff,” she says. “They don’t treat me like I am different, but everyone encourages me. They [are] quick to tell me and congratulate me when I improve. I am thrilled to be the ambassador and I hope I can raise lots of money.”

Minimum participant donation this year is $20. All funds go toward BSRCC’s Adaptive Needs Programs. Swimmers have up to 2 hours to swim up to 200 pool lengths, but they are able to choose to swim any shorter length or timeframe they wish. Swim-A-Thon is open to swimmers of all ages and abilities. Register at the Berkshire South Front Desk, located at 15 Crissey Road, Great Barrington, or register or sponsor a swimmer at www.berkshiresouth.org/swimathon. For additional information, call 413.528.2810 ext. 29 or aquatics@berkshiresouth.org

A Library of Things Builds Community Connections: Housatonic Creates!

Great Barrington, Mass.February 27 – Need a Dremel to help finish the edge of a countertop? Do you have a graduation coming up that you would like to record? Have you always wanted to learn how to knit but wanted to try it first? You can now do all of these things, and more, at the Ramsdell Library in Housatonic.

After the public meetings and community surveys taken in 2018 by the library consultant firm of Kimberly Bolan & Associates, the Great Barrington Libraries applied for a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant specifically to create an art and makerspace focused Library of Things at Ramsdell Library. This grant was successful and the funds awarded are being used to meet the need expressed by the public for a community gathering space and creative workshops and art classes.

A Library of Things helps to reduce consumption and waste, while providing access to many items that patrons may be unable to purchase or store. “This movement brings the community together through shared experiences and social interaction,” said Library Director Amanda DeGiorgis. “We are actively seeking connections with local artists and artisans who wish to share their skills through public workshops and presentations.” This initiative, called Housatonic Creates!, will offer workshops in creative techniques such as wet and needle felting and book arts; as well as classes from the Small Business Administration outlining the best ways to start a home business. A few of the items in the Library of Things collection are: a 3D Pen; kits for crochet, knitting, and spinning; two looms (a Tapestry and a Rigid Heddle); two sewing machines and a serger, a set of leatherworking tools; a DSLR camera and a video camera; a Dremel 3000 sanding and grinding tool & attachments; a VR headset; and a podcasting kit.

Questions about the Library of Things may be directed to Ramsdell library, (413) 274-3738. For a full listing of the Library of Things collection, please visit the library website at gblibraries.org.

Borrowing starts March 9, 2020 at 2:00 pm!

Jasmine Rivera-Boucher Promoted to Director of Adult Foster Care at BFAIR

Jasmine Rivera

North Adams, Mass. February 26 – Jasmine Rivera-Boucher has been promoted to the Director of Adult Foster Care (AFC) and Shared Living services.  The Director is responsible for the day to day operations of both programs, the development and implementation of the AFC/SL, accreditation, policies and procedures as well as the fiscal administration of the AFC department. The Director ensures all funder’s regulations are met which includes oversight of the referral and intake process in collaboration with DDS, DMH and other funding/referral sources. 

According to Michelle Carleton, VP of BFAIR’s Residential Services, “Jasmine’s knowledge, energy, and enthusiasm for BFAIR’s AFC and Shared Living services made her the perfect choice for this well-deserved promotion.”

Prior to her promotion from Assistant Director, Rivera-Boucher worked at the Key Program in Pittsfield and graduated from MCLA with a degree in Psychology with a minor in Behavior Analysis. She also holds a degree in Gerontology from Maria College and certification as Dementia Friend Trainer.

About BFAIR

Since 1994, BFAIR providing adult family care (AFC), residential, in-home clinical services, employment and day services for adults and children with developmental disabilities, acquired brain injury and autism.   BFAIR is a proud member agency of the Northern Berkshire United Way and the Williamstown Community Chest.

CHP Expands Physical Therapy Staff in Great Barrington

Jennifer Valente, PTA

Great Barrington, Mass. – February 24 – Community Health Programs has expanded its physical therapy staff in Great Barrington with the addition of Jennifer Valente, PTA.

A licensed physical therapist assistant, Valente worked most recently at Berkshire Rehabilitation Skilled Care Center and the Farmington River School. She also works as a tutor and lab assistant in the physical therapist assistant program at Berkshire Community College.

She earned her associate degree in physical therapist assistant at Berkshire Community College, and received clinical training at Baystate Neurological Rehabilitation, Columbia Memorial Rehabilitation and Genesis Rehabilitation at Hillcrest Commons in Pittsfield.

Valente will work with CHP’s physical therapy team at the CHP Great Barrington Health Center.

About CHP

Community Health Programs, Inc., is a healthcare network based in Great Barrington, Mass. serving more than 32,000 Berkshire region residents with whole-person, comprehensive medical and dental services at multiple practice locations. Through its Family Services program, CHP provides a range of support, parent education and resources to families. CHP accepts most forms of private and public health insurance and offers sliding fee scales for qualifying patients. CHP is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

History Talk Replay — “O Bubble blast, how long can’st last?” An Unhappy Marriage in Puritan Boston

The Bidwell House Museum, in collaboration with the Monterey Community Center, is excited to again present the off-season program “History Talk Replay”.  Join friends and neighbors at the Monterey Community Center on one Sunday afternoon in January, February and March to view a broadcast of one of our popular summer History Talks.  The last lecture in the series will be held on Sunday March 8 at 1pm and is a talk from 2019 titled “O Bubble blast, how long can’st last?” An Unhappy Marriage in Puritan Boston. The History Talk Replay series is free, but donations are welcome.

In this talk by author Allegra DiBonaventura, hear the remarkable story of the marriage of Edward and Hannah Lane in 1650s Boston.  Hannah, a wealthy heiress and child abandoned by her divorced parents, was just seventeen when she married Edward, a merchant twenty years her senior. But it only took a few disastrous days in the marital bed for her to realize that her marriage simply would not work.  In a world where wives were expected to be obedient “helpmeets” with few legal rights exclusive of their husbands, Hannah had the audacity to sue for annulment, only to change her mind within two years. Seeking the domestic bliss that had eluded her parents would lead her take on the puritan legal establishment, and her ultimate triumph would be as improbable as it was extraordinary.

Allegra di Bonaventura is the Associate Director for Graduate Programs at Yale Law School. She received a Ph.D. in History from Yale and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Her 2013 book, For Adam’s Sake: A Family Saga in Colonial New England won the New England Historical Association’s James P. Hanlan Book Award and the Association for the Study of Connecticut History’s Homer D. Babbidge Award. It was named a Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year (2013).

The Bidwell House Museum is located at 100 Art School Road, Monterey, MA. The Monterey Community Center is located at 486 Main Rd, Monterey. The Bidwell House Museum is closed for the season but will re-open on May 25, 2020.  The gardens and grounds are open for free, year round.  For more information, please call 413-528-6888 or go to www.bidwellhousemuseum.org.

Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative & Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires Launch of the New Community Film Fund

Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative (BFMC) and Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires will officially launch their new initiative, the Community Film Fund, at a benefit dinner at Chez Nous, 150 Main Street in Lee, MA on Wednesday, February 12th. Dinner will be served from 5:00pm – 9:00pm. The Community Film Fund is a matching fund to help Berkshire region nonprofits create impactful videos for their branding, marketing and social media. Details of the fund will be announced and 15% of the evening’s proceeds will go to the new Fund thanks to the generosity of Chez Nous (merci)!

In today’s world, video messaging is becoming increasingly important. Wordstream, an online advertising company, states that the average user spends 88% more time on a website with video. Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text. An initial email with a video receives an increase click-through rate by 96%.

Yet, according to BMFC’s Executive Director, Diane Pearlman, “Many times, this essential tool is cut from a nonprofit’s budget. The Community Film Fund will help give a “voice” through video to our smaller nonprofit organizations, as well as create jobs for professional filmmakers in our area.”

BFMC has raised an initial $25,000 to launch the Fund. Information, guidelines as well as links to local filmmakers will be available on the BFMC website on February 14, 2020.

Liana Toscanini, Executive Director of the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires, says video is one of the most wished-for marketing tools in the nonprofit world. “Those who can’t afford to create a professional piece are at a disadvantage because digital storytelling directly impacts fundraising,” says Toscanini.  “If you don’t tell your story, people don’t open their checkbooks!”

To make dinner reservations for the February 12th  benefit, visit https://cheznousbistro.com/events or call 413.243.6397

Special thanks to the Community Film Fund major sponsors: Black Rock Foundation, GWFF, Jadana Productions, Jayne Atkinson & Michel Gill, Berkshire Bank, Sikalia Productions, Karen Zink, John Lawrence Ré, Greylock Federal Credit Union and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

For more information about the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative and the Community Film Fund, go to www.berkshirefilm.org or call 413.528.4223. For more information about the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires, go to https://npcberkshires.org or call 413.645.3151.

Fairview’s Heart Night at Berkshire South: Heart Night for Everyone in the Community

Great Barrington, MA – Fairview’s free Heart Night, scheduled for Friday, February 7, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Berkshire South in Great Barrington, will be the highlight of American Heart Month in the southern Berkshires as the 25-bed Critical Access Hospital promotes cardiac health and overall wellness and the clinical skills and services available at Fairview Hospital.  

Heart Night was launched by the Critical Care Nurses at Fairview Hospital in an effort to raise awareness of heart disease, known as “the silent killer” because the disease is often not recognized until an acute episode occurs.  The event is designed to give participants their own working plan for heart health-and better health- in the coming year.  

Beginning at 5:00 p.m, Dr. Adrian Elliot, an Emergency Department physician at Fairview, will speak followed by Maureen Daniels, Director of the Wellness Program at Berkshire Health Systems.  Following the presentations, information tables, screenings, food tastings and education will be offered free of charge. The evening will also educate participants on the signs of heart attack and what to do if you are experiencing the symptoms.  Interpreter services will be available.

There will be a raffle for attendees of the program including a grand prize of tickets to March Madness in Albany on March 19 (donated by Berkshire Bank), a massage by Emily Wagner, kayak lessons and many gift baskets.

Fairview Hospital offers a full range of cardiology services including cardiac consultation, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, cardiac diagnostic testing including EEG, EKG and stress testing, nuclear echocardiography and a wide range of support programs to improve access to information and care.

For more information, contact Fairview Hospital’s Community Relations Office at (413) 854-9609.

Call for Nominations for the 3rd Annual Berkshire Nonprofit Awards

Great Barrington, Mass. – January 31 – The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires, in partnership with The Berkshire Eagle, will present the 3rd Annual Berkshire Nonprofit Awards breakfast on Tuesday, May 19, from 8 to 10 a.m. at Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield. The award recognizes people who work tirelessly in the nonprofit sector to serve the Berkshire community. State Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli will serve as emcee.  

“The nonprofit sector employs a quarter of our workforce, said Liana Toscanini, founder of the Nonprofit Center. “It’s important to honor their commitment and accomplishments, especially in our community, which has one of the highest number of nonprofits per capita in the Commonwealth.” 

Nominations are being solicited from across the Berkshires in eight categories: Executive Leadership, Board Member, Super Staffer, Unsung Hero, Volunteer, Rising Star and Lifetime Achievement. A new category, the Samya Rose Stumo Youth Leadership Award, honors the memory of the Sheffield native who lost her life on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March of 2019. The 24-year-old was en route to Kenya for nonprofit work in global health development. 

NPC board member and contemporary of Samya, Auric Enchill, was deeply affected by the tragedy and her commitment to nonprofit work and suggested naming the award in her honor.

20 honorees (three in each of 6 categories, one youth leadership and one lifetime achievement) will be selected by a committee of business and nonprofit leaders. The nomination form is available online at npcberkshires.org. The deadline for submissions is March 26.

The NPC is currently seeking sponsors for this celebratory event. To date, major support comes from The Berkshire Eagle with additional support from Berkshire Bank Foundation, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Lee Bank and The Triplex Cinemas.


Founded in 2016, the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires serves as a clearinghouse for information and support, helping nonprofits connect, learn and grow. The NPC currently has 140 members. For more information visit npcberkshires.org.