PITTSFIELD — A group of local merchants is banding together to raise funds for county residents who are dealing with mental health issues.
"Your Body Is Your Canvas," a free event held in conjunction with Downtown Pittsfield Inc.'s First Friday's Artswalk, will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Crawford Square building at 137 North St.
All proceeds will benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness' Chapter in Berkshire County.
NAMI Berkshire County, located on East Street in Pittsfield, is a community-based nonprofit organization that supports, educates and advocates for those in Berkshire County whose lives are affected by mental illness.
Twelve artists and local shop vendors are participating in the event. They include Baskets by B-Mile; Jewelry by Molly; Mary's Carrot Cake; Patee's Closet Accessories; Rodan + Field Skin Care; and Vintage Clothing. Also participating are Bo Bears, Lula Rose, Mary Kay, PartyLite; Stella Dot; and Tastefully Simple.
One of the participants, Realtor Beverly Milenski of the Kinderhook Group, said the fundraiser is being held both to thank the Crawford Square building's new owner for all the improvements he's made to the structure, and to help raise funds for NAMI, a cause that affects her personally.
"I have bipolar disorder; I've spoken publicly about this," Milenski said. "I feel strongly that with the money that's being taken away from mental health services that there is a real need for all of us to support NAMI.
"It's a service that needs to maintain itself, and it is having trouble with the money being taken away," she said.
This month's Artswalk event includes 15 different art shows featuring work by over 15 regional artists in Pittsfield's Upstreet Cultural District on North Street. Artists in most venues also will be present from 5 to 8 p.m.
As part of Artswalk, the Berkshire Alzheimer's Partnership will present, "Memories in the Making," a program of the Alzheimer's Association that provides art therapy for memory-impaired individuals to use for expression when words fail. That exhibit will take place at DPI headquarters at 33 Dunham Mall.
Artswalk kicks off with a free guided tour beginning at 5 p.m. at the BRTA's Intermodal Center, 1 Columbus Avenue.
A free afterwalk party will take place from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Whitney Center for the Arts at 42 Wendell Ave.
Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413 496-6224.