By Brittany Polito
05:02AM / Tuesday, July 26, 2022
The Civitan Club has been providing picnic food for the event for a number of years.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A portion of Robbins Avenue was filled with a celebration on Saturday as the Christian Center held its annual Community Day and marked 130 years as an organization.
"To be honest, for the last 130 years, the Christian Center has done essentially the same thing," Executive Director Betsy Sherman said, explaining that the center offers food, clothing, paths to jobs, and referrals to housing with the goal of helping people have a more secure life.
It was founded in 1892 as the Epworth Mission by the Methodist Church and has been at its current location since 1906. Sherman explained that in the late 1800s, many immigrants came to the West Side looking for a better life.
They were in need of basic necessities, which led to the first iteration of the Christian Center.
"All of these people needed housing, they needed food, they needed clothing, they needed a place to live," Sherman said. "And that's what we've been doing."
The free celebration included kids' games and prizes, arts and crafts, a bouncy house, and food provided by the Civitan Club of the Berkshires. Community agencies including Berkshire United Way were also present at the event to offer information about their services.
The Civitan Club is an all-volunteer, non-profit, service organization and has been providing food at the event for a number of years. The menu included hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta salad, chips, and dessert all free of charge.
"Our mission is to analyze the community's needs and provide service volunteers to help organize and do whatever needs to be done," President Janet Smargie said.
At the end of the day, any leftovers is donated to the Christian Center or another similar organization.
Sherman said the center got a small grant to address safety issues in the house for women and children and is looking to do that work in the near future.
"We're thinking of combining that with the fire safety week in October to make a big push for fire safety in the fall and winter and around Halloween," she explained. "So these are some things we've been talking about and they'll firm up."
The Christian Center offers a food pantry Monday through Thursday from 10 to 1 and on Friday from 8 to noon; a clothing and housewares boutique on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 to 1; a hot lunch Monday through Thursday from noon to 1 and a cold lunch on Friday from noon to 12:30 p.m.