Pittsfield Community Connection names new director, program coordinator

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PITTSFIELD — Jon Schnauber has been named executive director of the Pittsfield Community Connection programs, which include Shannon Grant-funded efforts to combat youth violence and gang influences, Mayor Linda M. Tyer announced Thursday afternoon.

In addition, Eddie Taylor was named community liaison/program coordinator for the organization.

"Pittsfield Community Connection plays a critical role in supporting our community's youth," Tyer said. "In their respective paths, Jon and Eddie have demonstrated a commitment to service. Their enthusiasm is the foundation for the work ahead."

Schnauber will replace the program's first director, Adam Hinds, who left in the fall to become executive director of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition in North Adams. Scott Murray has served as interim director since September 2015.

Schnauber worked with Community Connection since March 2015 as director of case management. During this time, he developed the case management system utilized by the organization and was integral in program development for both the Shannon Grant program for teens at risk of gang influences and violence and the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative program, which works with at risk youth ages 14 to 24.

The state Shannon Grant program has funded a multiyear effort in Pittsfield for at risk teens and recently announced a $95,000 allocation to the city for 2016. That marked the fourth consecutive year of funding for Pittsfield as it has organized the Community Connection and developed collaborative programs providing mentoring and outreach work with at risk teens and their families.

The city also last fall received a total of $5 million in SSYI program grant funding spread over a 10-year period to work with older youth, some of whom are already involved in the criminal justice system.

Taylor, a Pittsfield native, is the founder and executive director of the S.E.E.D. Network Inc. (Social Education Engaging Diversity), which is focused on providing the local community with four core elements: mentoring, education, action and leadership.

He is the creator of the F.U.L.L. Program (Families United through Literacy), designed to work as an "institution-based program," which uses a combination of literacy and multimedia as tools for reintegrating short-term inmates with their children and families. The goal is to increase the literacy rate among incarcerated inmates and their children, while promoting a positive re-entry to society and reducing the recidivism rate in our county.

Last fall, Taylor also spearheaded a grass-roots campaign to change the name of Pitt Park to honor late community leaders, the Rev. Willard and Rosemary Durant.

Prior to working for PCC, Schnauber served as a military police sergeant with the Massachusetts National Guard, where he deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

After his return from combat, Schnauber founded the Veteran and Service Members Association (VASMA) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He assisted returning combat veterans to integrate into the university environment, and advocated at the state level to bring focus to issues and resolutions for returning veterans.

Schnauber was appointed the Northeast regional director for the Student Veterans of America, a national advocacy organization. He was responsible for a 30 percent increase in chapter affiliations during this time. He advised each of these organizations on development, fundraising, recruitment and advocacy.

Schnauber also worked as a clinician at Providence Hospital and subsequently at the Brien Center in Pittsfield. Schnauber received an associate of science degree from Berkshire Community College in 2003, a bachelor's degree from UMass in 2007, and a master of social work degree from Springfield College in 2012.

"I have had the pleasure of living and working in Pittsfield for many years. My children have been raised and educated here," Schnauber said in a release. "Like many parents and members of our community the violent events that have occurred within this city concern me. With concern there is also hope, through the Shannon Grant and Safe and Successful Youth Initiative Pittsfield has taken decisive action to curb the violence."

Working with the city police department, the mayor's office, Berkshire United Way and several other entities, he said the "PCC will have the means to make a substantially positive impact on the city and youth as a whole."

"I proudly joined the team at Pittsfield Community Connection to assist in bridging the gap between local resources and a youthful demographic, which has proven to be challenged by life, poverty and unfavorable circumstances," Taylor said. "The entire team at PCC is sincerely dedicated to providing today's youth with a better tomorrow."

Taylor is a student at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts with a double degree concentration in sociology and psychology and expects to graduate in May. "My job is to strengthen public and private partnerships to provide resources for the clients of the SSYI side of PCC," he said.

"Through this outreach, I am providing our clientele with diverse opportunities outside of the normal labor track for people with nontraditional backgrounds," he said. "The other thing is helping people to understand that though someone has made a mistake, that person still has value to add to the community."

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.


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