Alumnus Makes Community Involvement a Priority
Through his work with the College and in his personal life, Chris Hantman ’14 has long made a practice of being involved in the community in which he lives. Last summer, he took his dedication to that effort to the next level by becoming a “community action leader for North Adams.”
Hantman, who is MCLA’s community engagement coordinator, accomplished this by completing Northern Berkshire County Coalition’s Outreach Education training, sponsored by the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO). The program – run and attended by a number of MCLA alumni – requires a commitment to fulfill work training for six months, as well as 16 three-hour classes.
“Attending this training was the perfect fit to develop myself as productive citizen in my new home of North Adams, as well as my role as the community engagement coordinator,” Hantman said. “I wanted to learn more about the community, and be able to better connect the wonderful people of Northern Berkshires to the countless and under-utilized resources.”
Hantman didn’t waste any time in converting theory to practice as he some fellow trainees addressed area job and career readiness by organizing a fundraiser to support Employ North Berkshire.
“We came up with the Rockin’ Raffle Waffle Bar, featuring Flannel Dan and the Panhandle Band. This local rock group – also comprised of MCLA alumni who donated their time – provided an upbeat atmosphere for folks to enjoy delicious waffles and bid on various prizes from around town,” he explained.
In addition, the training introduced Hantman to a number of new agencies he hopes to work with or support in the future, either personally or professionally.
“It also gave me the opportunity to learn more about resources and groups that I already knew about, but learning more about what they do and how they do it gave me a new-found appreciation for so much of the work they do,” he explained.
Other participants included young alumni from both MCLA and nearby Williams College, as well as local residents from a variety of walks of life.
“This really helped me to learn more about the community from others’ perspectives, which was a great refresher as someone who had only seen it through my MCLA lens as a student, and then as a staff member,” Hantman said.
Some of the highlights of the intensive experience included the opportunity to meet with new agencies and change-makers in the community, and to learn their stories.
“The ability to pick the brain of so many local leaders of different styles was a great learning experience,” he said. “Whatever I do, I will do so more consciously. This program taught me how to better map my resources and work with a wide range of individuals to make a project come together.”