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July 8, 2020
Berkshire Nonprofit Leaders Told to 'Take Care of Yourself'
Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires
May 19, 2020 — Nonprofit professionals who provide communal care should take extra effort to care for themselves, especially in a time of great change and stress such as the coronavirus crisis, western Massachusetts nonprofit leaders were advised today at a summit hosted by the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires, which also recognized workers and volunteers for their work with the Berkshire community.

Calling self-care "mandatory, not a luxury," Maria Sirois, a psychologist and wellness consultant, said, "You have chosen to put yourself in the position of communal care. To stay in the place of possibility, we must take care of ourselves."

She advised the 110 attendees that nonprofit leaders need to model practices that will help themselves, and the people they work with, respond constructively to stress. She cited specific steps they can take to mitigate pessimism or anxiety by identifying what calms, strengthens, and inspires them, and increasing their capacity to recognize positive possibilities.

During a period of change what was formerly true may no longer be, while a new, stable time has yet to emerge, Sirois said. Transformation and learning occurs between the two periods. "Learn something golden in this time and then apply it," she said.

Instead of a one-day, in-person event, which attracted 260 people last year, the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires, a Great Barrington nonprofit that serves as an information clearing house for area nonprofits, opted to host a two-day virtual event, featuring panel discussions, workshops, polling, chats, and live Q & A.

Following are this year's Berkshire Nonprofit Award honorees, who were recognized "for their outstanding commitment and contributions to the Berkshire community."

Lifetime Achievement
  • Wray Gunn, Sr., Clinton Church Restoration
Executive Leadership
  • Edward Forfa, Berkshire Retirement Home
  • Kathy Keeser, Louison House
  • Maureen O'Connell Atwood, The Pediatric Development Center
Board Leadership
  • Sue Doucette, Berkshire County Head Start Child Development Program
  • Ann Gallo, IS183 Art School
  • Arwen Lowbridge, WAM Theatre
Super Staffer
  • Dale Abrams, Mass Audubon Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries
  • Thasia Giles, Jacob's Pillow Dance
  • Aleta Moncecchi, Berkshire Community Action Council
Unsung Hero
  • Sabrina Allard, Railroad Street Youth Project
  • Joe Gunn, Barrington Stage Company
  • Mary Jo Ramos, Berkshire Immigrant Center
Youth Leadership
  • Raei Bridges, NAACP, Berkshire County Branch
  • Sara Rawson, Southern Berkshire Health Coalition
  • Alix Ziaja, ROOTS Northern Berkshire Teen Center
  • Melissa Myers, Berkshire Community College Alumni Association
  • Judith Nardacci, Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention
  • David Russell, Barrington Stage Company
Rising Star
  • Sharron Frazier-McClain, Barrington Stage Company
  • Jenney Maloy, Stockbridge Library Association
  • Caroline Wheeler, Sisters for Peace
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