Pittsfield mayor embraces volunteers


Photo Gallery: Mayors Day of Recognition of National Service

PITTSFIELD -- Luke Kaplan has volunteerism in his blood.

The 24-year-old Lenox resident became an AmeriCorps volunteer, in part, because community service is in his genes.

"Everyone in my immediate family did national service: my sister did AmeriCorps, my mother VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and my dad for a physicians group," he said. "There's a certain ethic to it."

Kaplan, and VISTA's Nanci Pollard of Northfield, were among the local volunteers honored by Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi on Tuesday, the Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service, which debuted nationwide last year.

Kaplan and Pollard are currently assigned to Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity headquartered on Columbus Avenue. Kaplan helps organize Habitat volunteers who build affordable single-family houses for qualified Pittsfield-area families. Pollard works with Habitat families, teaching them how to budget their finances in order to run their own homes.

On Tuesday, Bianchi joined Kaplan and other Habitat volunteers to paint an office at Habitat for Humanity and praise the work of all who help improve the city.

"All our volunteer corps are incredibly important to Pittsfield and all communities, especially those struggling with budgets," he said as he applied a coat of olive green to a wall. "These organizations are a wonderful introduction for young people to public service."

Lou Coelho, president of the local habitat's board of directors, says Kaplan's involvement with the organization prior to enlisting in AmericCorps, makes his service invaluable.

"Having someone like Luke helps as he organizes our volunteers," Coelho said. "He's part of the glue of the organization that encourages volunteers to keep coming back."

To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6227

Habitat at a glance ...

Since 1993, Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity has built 26 homes on property donated by private individuals and businesses, or sold by the city to the nonprofit group for $1. A 27th project is underway on Goodman Lane. Habiat officials note the majority of their homes are occupied by the original owners, who purchased the residences using low- or zero-interest loans. For information, visit http://www.berkshirehabitat.org/


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