Community Spotlight: Hilltown Food Pantry

I have worked as the Director of the Hilltown Food Pantry in Goshen for 25 years. When asked why I do this work, one thing that comes to mind is the good, old bumper sticker that reads, “think globally, act locally.” We all hear of the horrible hunger, even starvation for some, all over the world. But we also know that food insecurity and hunger exist right here in Hampshire County. In fact, today, Hampshire County is home to over 30,000 food insecure individuals.

Three decades ago the term “food insecurity” was not familiar to most of us. But some folks in the hilltowns were becoming aware of its reality. They thought that there needed to be a community response, a concerted effort to help our fellow neighbors who were facing a serious need. Hampshire Community Action Corporation (HCAC) responded to help the towns set up two pantries; one to serve the southern hilltowns and one to be located in the northern hilltowns. In 2005 when HCAC was in its final days, David Keilson of Chesterfield stepped forward to find a new parent agency for the Hilltown Pantry. His advocacy worked and the pantry was adopted by Northampton Survival Center.

The Hilltown Pantry had several different locations over the years before moving into the Goshen Town Office Building in the early 2000’s. The Town of Goshen has been a very welcoming and supportive host ever since. This is a regional program serving about 280 individuals from ten communities in Western Hampshire County: Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Haydenville, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg, and Worthington. Clients drive sometimes thirty minutes or more to access the pantry at its Rte. 9 location.

The clientele we serve is diverse, including the homeless; folks who are unemployed and waiting for food stamp assistance, or whose benefits have run out; families in crisis after the death or disability of a primary wage-earner; those struggling to reintegrate after serving in the military; and others for whom unexpected life events left them hungry and without a safety net. The children we help feed are growing up not just hungry, but in families that may be isolated, maybe with a parent fleeing abuse, or new to this country. 27% of clients are children under the age of 18, and 18% are seniors. We see about 30 new clients each year. Read the rest of this entry »

Community Spotlight: Valley Women’s Martial Arts & Lotus Peace Arts

There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable…
Rashani Réa

One crisp autumn evening in 1977, leaves swirling around our feet, a college friend and I entered the unfinished basement of a department store in downtown Northampton to attend a women’s karate demonstration. Sitting in a gray metal folding chair, I watched the teacher and several students perform bold moves, shouting and shining and breathing into the shadows. Women in the martial arts were just beginning to become more visible at that time. I had never seen such action before.

Decades have not dimmed the memory; in a single flash it was clear that the next phase of my life had begun. My spirit woke up more deeply that evening to a timeless and familiar sense. The young woman I was, facing fear and determined to grow, recognized the intrinsic wholeness in shards of uncertainty. Kara – Open. Te – Hand. I held out my palms to discover the lotus, unbroken and unshatterable, already in bloom.
Read the rest of this entry »

Community Spotlight: All Out Adventures

It’s not uncommon for me to find myself with my eyes welling up with tears at work. As the Executive Director of All Out Adventures, a Northampton-based nonprofit organization that provides outdoor recreation programming to people of all ages with disabilities, I am often involved in moments in people’s lives where they reclaim a skill or an experience that has had deep meaning to them. When people with disabilities realize they can ride a bike again, or paddle a kayak, or glide across the ice on skates, there’s often a crystal clear moment of awakening, of pure joy, and of the recognition of a future that is full of possibility. Sometimes those moments happen during our programs. Sometimes those moments happen at the earliest stages of contact when a family member or friend learns about our programs. Read the rest of this entry »

Community Spotlight: Intuitive Spirit Healing Arts

Carla Moodie is an intuitive, integrative, and therapeutic Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Yoga Teacher, and Reiki Master, who is dedicated to holistic well being and lifestyle. She offers her services at Intuitive Spirit Healing Arts in Pittsfield, MA. Below are techniques that you can use to help soothe your child’s growing pains and assist in cultivating a calm evening routine.

Nurturing Parent Massage

Nurturing Parent Massage came from me realizing that I needed to be there for my son. Growing up, I never experienced the troublesome ordeal of growing pains. However, being a parent to an active toddler gave me some real insight about what this experience was about. I learned real fast about how growing pains can affect our precious little beings. In my experience as a first time Mom, I was dealing with a double whammy.  Ever since my son was a baby, he refused to surrender to bed time. He fought it like a champ. Tack that on to intense leg sensations at night, and we are talking about a for-real nightmare. Read the rest of this entry »

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