PITTSFIELD -- For the past nine years, a group known as the United Africans of the Berkshires Inc. has been working to support its own heritage and community members through various events, meetings and supporting businesses.

On Sunday, they’re coming together to help another population in the community they’re close to -- people with disabilities -- by holding the first annual Berkshire Disability Recognition Day. The free public event will feature live African music by Apollo N’Zima & Friends, a fashion show, potluck dinner and more, between 4 and 7 p.m. at Burbank Park on Onota Lake in Pittsfield.

"We have a lot of Africans in this community, and most of them work for human services agencies," said Jean Bede, a member of the organization.

Bede move to the United States 24 years ago, living in Boston for eight years before moving to the Berkshires.

He’s since worked at places like Hillcrest Educational Centers Inc., and Berkshire County ARC. He knows others in the Berkshire African community who’ve worked with people with special needs or behavioral challenges through these agencies and places like Berkshire Family and Individual Resources (BFAIR) and ServiceNet among others.

"These people live among us and we just wanted to give something back to the community and to show how we care about others in the community," Bede said.

He said the event will also be a way for United Africans of the Berkshires to do more outreach to all kinds of people.


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"We want to open up like the Polish Community Club," Bede said.

If you go ...

What: First annual Berkshire Disability Recognition Day, sponsored by the United Africans of the Berkshires Inc. and the Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development.

When: Sunday, from 4 to 7 p.m.

Where: Burbank Park at Onota Lake in Pittsfield.

Details: This event is free and open to the public, and will feature live music by Apollo N’Zima & Friends, a fashion show, potluck dinner and more.

Info: http://goo.gl/ydWmoy