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MCLA Community Members Honored for ‘Neighborlie’ Efforts


Although many MCLA students, faculty and staff are regular volunteers in and around the community, eight were honored recently for their efforts when they were recognized at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition’s Fall Neighborlies Ceremony on Nov. 2.

The students recognized included Kayla LaVoice ’17 from Springfield, Mass. (pictured right with Chris Hantman ’14), for her work with area youth; Rebecca Godbout ’17, also of Springfield, who developed a new mentor program; and Kircys Canela ’18 of New York City, N.Y., for her work at the Roots Northern Berkshire Teen Center in downtown North Adams.

“I love building connections between college campuses and the surrounding community,” LaVoice said.

In addition to two years of service to the Adams Youth Center program as a mentor and a tutor, LaVoice is behind the Pathways to College program, which sends MCLA students to the nearby Drury High School to help high school students with professional development and college access-related activities.

Godbout developed a new mentor program at North Adams’ Colegrove Elementary School that includes a literacy lab for first- and third-graders; a classroom assistance program, where MCLA students go into various classrooms to help different groups of students in subjects such as English or math; and one-on-one mentoring with those who may need a little extra help socially or academically.

“This program is beneficial to everyone involved,” Godbout said. “I love to see my volunteers come up to me after they get back from mentoring and hear all the stories. They seem to love every second of it.”

Other “Neighborlie” recognition went to MCLA staff such as Christopher Hantman ’14, who received three awards, including for the time he spends as a Community Outreach Volunteer; and Amanda Beckwith, MCLA women’s head volleyball coach and coordinator of MCLA’s Center for Service and its Women’s Center, for her help to build a volleyball court at Windsor Lake.

Recognition also went to Brian Gallagher, coordinator of student conduct and community standards, who volunteered at the Mt. Greylock Hill Climb cycling event; Francesca Shanks, MCLA’s social media and marketing manager, for supporting local music through Sounds and Tones Records; and Corinne Case, an employment readiness coach and instructor for the Northern Berkshire Adult Basic Education Program, for being a champion for addiction recovery in the community.

Case, a licensed mental health counselor, said she was thrilled to receive the award. “It means so much to me that my three adolescents, and our neighbors and friends, are free from addiction,” she said. “Addiction and recovery is all around us. I couldn't live with myself if I did nothing.”

Hantman serves on the board of directors for the Berkshire Food Project, and also participated in the “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” event this past fall to benefit the Elizabeth Freeman Center.

“I want to leave my community better than when I found it,” Hantman said. “I want my neighbors to be happier for me being here.”