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Friday, Aug 15, 2014

Welcoming neighbors

Since its founding in 1886, Berkshire has been a large-scale neighbor in Canaan and New Lebanon, NY, but its presence has been somewhat mysterious. Berkshire welcomed more than 50 local residents and homeowners to a Canaan campus barbecue on August 12, to introduce students, staff and Board members to residents of Queechy Lake and others nearby.

At a rainy day gathering in Novick Dining Hall, guests enjoyed games, dined on food prepared by Berkshire’s Culinary Program, and learned about the wide-ranging programs offered to youth locally and across New York State.

“We wanted to get to know our neighbors and give them a first-hand look at our campus and a better understanding of what we do here,” said Tim Giacchetta, Berkshire’s President and CEO. “We were delighted that the big hit of the evening were our youth and alumni,” he added.

imageBerkshire’s chef and Culinary Program coordinator Jon Newcomer supervised his students, deftly shifting the venue from lakeside to indoors. The Novick Dining Hall also hosts the Berkshire Pizzeria, which is now expanding its services to Queechy neighbors met during the barbecue. Newcomer says, “Of course, we’re happy to have more business. But more importantly, we’re helping our students see that customer relations come from the heart, as we develop a warm connection to those who live around the corner.”

imageNeighbors clearly enjoyed meeting some of our current students as well as recent graduates, who spoke about how their lives are changing dramatically in so many ways. Tariq and Khalid, two of Berkshire’s alumni, were spending their summers working on campus between semesters of college. Khalid is pictured (at left) with a guest at the barbeque. Many of our guests commented on the boys’ stories: The general consensus was that . . . “the young men are so polite, well spoken, and very bright!”

David Patzwahl, who lives in the community and is a member of the Queechy Lake Club Board, said the BBQ was a great idea. “This was a wonderful community outreach event and community members were very pleased to see first-hand what Berkshire Farm Center actually does,” said Patzwahl. “I heard a lot of comments about the remarkable capabilities the students have gained here and will be able to take home with them.”

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