Letter: Reasons for hope in North Adams
To the editor of THE EAGLE:
As a committed 12-year citizen of North Adams who grew up in the northern Berkshires and returned here at the dawn of the 21st century, I want to express my support for Mayor Richard Alcombright and appreciation for his July 22 op-ed. I do not agree with all of his decisions and policies, but I feel grateful that we have a leader of his skill, stature, and courage at the helm of the city that I have come to love.
Glass half full or half empty? I see both. I see the poverty in my own neighborhood above Church Street, kids playing in the street with no playground nearby; dilapidated houses on Meadow and East Quincy streets where poor families try to survive; adults in domestic conflict; neglected dogs running wild in the streets, threatening our dog and others; nighttime disturbances with police sometimes called. I could go on.
As an educator and a human being, what I care the most about, passionately, is the children of North Adams and their futures. For several years, as the head of community engagement at Williams College, I started and supervised the involvement of caring Williams students -- many from disadvantaged backgrounds themselves -- spending many hours tutoring and mentoring elementary school kids at Brayton, Greylock, and BART as well as an excellent program working with kids year-round at the low-income Mohawk Forest neighborhood. Thank you, Kathy Keeser.
Because of my close involvement with Brayton, I had the joy of working with staff and teachers like Sarah Madden, Noella Carlow, Linda Neville, and other dedicated educators, and I experienced first-hand the smiles, laughter, empowerment resources, and skill-building that they imparted to the kids.
For the most part, the many kids I have interacted with in my neighborhood and at the local schools are young people with enormous potential who have learned not only from books but from direct experience; they have learned about compassion for others as well as their own self-fulfillment. The kids and their hard-working teachers give me hope.
All of us in North Adams and the northern Berkshires need to give these beautiful children our full support in every way we can. I was especially gratified to read Mayor Alcombright’s mention of the opening soon of the new community and youth center at the old North Adams Armory. If done right, that could be the most hopeful development of all.