NORTH ADAMS — The Snack Attack concession stand at Windsor Lake was formally opened on Monday with a willing workforce in place.
All workers at the freshly cleaned and painted concession are Berkshire Family and Individual Resources clients. BFAIR is an accredited human services agency working with people facing cognitive disabilities, autism, and acquired brain injuries.
There are about 15 people working part-time hours while the city-owned lake is open for the summer season. Some employees work with little or no supervision while others rely on job coaches who can provide assistance when needed, said Kelly Brennan, director of employment at BFAIR.
"Having a job is incredibly important," she said. "You can learn a lot of skills and I find the people we work with have a stronger work ethic."
Concession hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Saturday with a 9 p.m. closing time on Wednesday, when Concerts on the Lake are held. Offerings include Blue Bunny ice cream, frozen treats and soft drinks.
The concession stand operated sporadically during past years, and Alcombright said that he hoped the partnership between BFAIR and the city would create business stability. He noted the pleasant surroundings and joked about doing city business from a nearby grassy area.
"I'm thinking if we move that picnic table over there, there's probably room for my desk," he said.
Alcombright said that when he is asked why the city partnered with the agency for concession operations, he has a ready answer.
"Why not BFAIR," he said. "The employees they bring to us bring a lot to the job and it means so much."
BFAIR clients also hold jobs at places such as the Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink and City Hall, Alcombright said.
Employees were eager to share their work experiences.
"It's fun up here," said Mandi Scutt. "My favorite part is giving drinks to people."
"This job is good," Harriet Grandchamp said. "I like handling money and giving people change. People are nice and I am very good with greeting people."
Peter Bedard said he's held many jobs. He rated the snack bar as a wonderful environment.
"I stock coolers, I do inventory, I like sweeping and mopping," he said. "I do like work."
While city Mayor Richard J. Alcombright and BFAIR Executive Director Richard Weisenflue offered welcoming remarks, Lisa Lincoln and Ryan Alvarez operated the snack bar.
"It's good work," Lincoln said as she handed a customer an ice cream cone.
The financial aspects of employment are beneficial, said snack bar worker Germaine Monson.
"I like the cleaning and helping out," he said. "And I like getting paid."
Several workers earn a state mandated $10 hourly minimum wage and some are paid a sub minimum wage. BFAIR Assistant Director Ethel Altiery said federal and state labor laws include a provision for a sub minimum wage that may be adjusted. Those working for the lesser pay undergo two mandatory reviews yearly. The reviews, called "time studies," monitor progress made with skills, abilities, and proficiencies within the job.
"We are able to do time studies more often than twice a year," Altiery said. "You do have to have a federal and a state certification to implement a sub minimum wage."
"We have two workers who are now making minimum wage due to skill building, which was reflected by time studies," Brennan said.
Adams Boy Scout Troop 38 member Evan Canales painted the stand with the blue and green colors of the BFAIR logo as part of an Eagle Scout Community Service project. BFAIR workers are maintaining and cleaning the concession bathrooms.
"I chose this project because I knew that it needed to get done quickly," Canales said. "I needed a 24-hour project and this was it. I like the idea of BFAIR being here because it is good to have a job and have a chance to earn money."
If successful, BFAIR workers may staff the concession next year as well, Alcombright and Brennan said.
"This is a great opportunity to get some low-cost snacks and make some high-quality memories," Brennan said.