Author Archives: swca

South Williamstown Community Association Newsletter – Fall 2017


South Williamstown Community Association Newsletter - 2017

South Williamstown Community Association Newsletter – 2017


Posted in SWCA News Leave a comment

SWCA Scholarships

The South Williamstown Community Association will support two scholarships of $750 each to benefit two children from South Williamstown in need of tutoring. Williamstown’s Reading Institute will administer the scholarships and provide reading support, from a certified reading teacher, twice a week, for eight weeks this summer. SWCA hopes to continue the scholarships by raising dedicated funds in the future.

Posted in SWCA News Leave a comment

SWCA Newsletter – March 2017

Download a PDF of our most recent newsletter

Posted in Local News & Views, SWCA News Leave a comment

Repair Café – Saturday October 14, 2017 from 1 – 4 PM

Screenshot 2016-03-19 21.51.23Come all ye broken lamps, socks with holes, blades that have seen sharper days, bicycles needing a little tenderness!

Come to Repair Café, co-sponsored by the South Williamstown Community Association and the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, at Sheep Hill, Saturday afternoon, October 14th from 1 to 4 p.m.

It’s an occasion for people to bring in things that need repair.  You can get advice, instruction or actual fixing of one or two items.  There will be volunteer “fixers” standing by with tools, lamp parts, sewing machines, darning needles.  You can make a donation if you wish, but it is all free.  Meanwhile, in addition to physical fixing, Williamstown’s Repair Café is also offering advice.

We’re partnering with the Bag Share project to make reusable shopping bags.  We’ll have materials and grommet machines to make them at Repair Cafe.  Come and learn how to make a bag.  It’s a good activity for older children, and it keeps all kinds of animal feed and barley bags out of the landfill.

We’re recruiting “fixers,” so if you have expertise you’d like to share, please get in touch.

Last spring, we were able to offer repairs, tool sharpening and expert advice from a lawyer, a realtor, a gardener, a knitter, a seamstress, a veterinarian, an elder services specialist, not to mention computer geeks.  AND, IT’S ALL FREE.  PLUS REFRESHMENTS, TOO.

It is good for all of us who aren’t so good at fixing things and it’s good for the environment.

Posted in Events Leave a comment

SWCA and HooRWA Clean Up a Local Stretch of the Green River

Green River Cleanup from WilliNet TV 2 on Vimeo.

On August 28, 2016, the South Williamstown Community Association and the Hoosic River Watershed Association, assisted by some members of the general public, collected  approximately 15 trash bags of glass and other debris from the Green River opposite Hart’s Trucking.

There was a town landfill there from about 1948 until 1960 and high water (especially  since Hurricane Irene) causes broken glass and other debris to be washed into the river.  SWCA Board Member Wayne Olivieri got in touch with HooRWA about this in 2015 and HooRWA arranged a site visit on October 6, 2015 attended by Williamstown’s Director of Public Works Tim Kaiser, Health Officer Jeff Kennedy, HooRWA’s Steve McMahon, Tom Hyde and Lauren Stevens, SWCA’s Mark Thaisz and Charles Clines and Dan Hall from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Clines and Hall came back to do a more detailed survey of the area in November and concluded that the landfill covers approximately four acres and appears to contain ash, metal, and glass and to run 400 linear feet along the river bank.  They recommend monitoring and expressed concern about any downed trees that direct the flow of water toward the river bank, producing further erosion.

With the assistance of Willinet’s Peter Iwasiwka, Pam Burger and Bette Craig have produced a video on the river cleanup and background of the issue which will be available on Willinet and on the SWCA website,

If you would like to support the work of HooRWA with a membership, go to the website, or email Executive Director Steve McMahon

Posted in SWCA News Leave a comment

Margaret Hart – A Talk by Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed

Margaret Hart – A Talk by Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed from WilliNet TV 2 on Vimeo.

Posted in History, Video Leave a comment

SWCA’s Get to Know Your Neighbors Bar-B-Q – Monday, August 7, 2017, 5:30-7:30 p.m

Come and Get It!

BBQ2012Bring a dish to share and we’ll grill burgers (including veggie burgers) or chicken to go with it along with providing beverages, tableware, and melon for dessert.  We’ll be under the tent at Waubeeka Golf Links (Waubeeka will be providing a cash bar).

It will give you a chance to see what your neighbors are up to and to bid on baked goods and items created or provided by South Williamstown community residents. Guests are welcome.

Posted in Events | Tagged , Leave a comment

Helping Immigrants Achieve Success

By Susan Stetson Clarke

I met Suni Ton, native of Vietnam, when she was doing my nails two years ago in North Adams. She told me she was going to classes at Berkshire Community College and struggling with English.  I said, “Maybe I can help.” That conversation began an experience that has given me great personal satisfaction. In our sessions, Suni quickly earned my great admiration with her retentive mind and dedicated concentration on her academic work. We began with pronunciations and grammar, then extended our work to rehearsing oral presentations for school classes (speak slowly, loudly and use words easy to pronounce), and to introducing her to resources in the community (for an environmental studies class, Hopkins Forest and the Rural Lands Foundation). Most importantly, we learned about the Berkshire Immigrant Center.

I knew only vaguely of the Center from serving on a board with Brooke Mead, Program Coordinator. I went with Suni to help her learn about her citizenship application, exam, and interview. Not only did Brooke advise her about what to expect in the citizenship session and how to prepare for it, she told us about the many other services offered by the Center. The mission of the Berkshire Immigrant Center is to assist individuals and families in making the economic, psychological and cultural adjustment to a new land, not only by meeting basic needs, but also by helping them to become active participants in our community. Their services range from provision of food and shelter funds and furniture and clothing donations to citizenship assistance and voter education.

Suni has now completed studies as an honor student at Berkshire Community College and has been accepted for transfer to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she plans to study accounting. With the help of the Immigrant Center, she has become a US citizen, registered to vote, and helped guide her family though the process of arranging for her sisters and nephew to come from Vietnam to join the rest of the family. She speaks highly of the Center, the staff’s immediate responses to questions, its affordable fees for services, and its generosity with free books, clothing and household items. After she has completed her studies, she plans to volunteer at the center as a Vietnamese/English interpreter.

I have no doubt that this capable, dedicated and generous young woman is well on her way to becoming a productive member of our society and will contribute in many ways to the betterment of our community. At a time when some Americans are opposed to foreigners, each of us can help new arrivals who will bring many benefits to our society. The Berkshire Immigrant Center welcomes volunteers and donors and provides the opportunity for individuals to experience great satisfaction from helping newcomers adjust to our country and to contribute to its welfare. Learn more at the Center’s website at

Services offered by the Berkshire Immigrant Center

  • Citizenship assistance including application support, disability and fee waivers, English as a Second Language/Civics classes, follow-up and advocacy with the US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Settlement Services: orientation, information, referrals and general counseling for recently arrived immigrants
  • Advocacy and public education including consultation, group information sessions and workshops, and outreach to communities and other not-for-profit organizations
  • Referrals to and enrollment in English classes or with private tutors
  • Work with state and federal legislators in support of immigrants’ initiatives
  • Monthly walk-in clinics
  • Referrals to immigration attorneys throughout the state
  • Referrals to other community services to facilitate access of daycare, health care, continuing education, career counseling, housing, and other social service needs
  • Voter education and promotion of civic participation
  • Interpretation and translation services
  • Information and distribution of forms for a variety of immigration issues including adjustment of status, green cards, visas, political asylum, work authorization and family sponsorship
  • Distribution of Federal Emergency Food and Shelter funds and furniture and clothing donations
Posted in Local News & Views Leave a comment

Margaret Hart Featured at SWCA Annual Meeting on June 7

Margaret Hart with Red Beret  8x10 300dpi (1)

Margaret Hart was one of the first students of color to graduate from State Teachers College at North Adams, now the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She graduated in 1935 and went on to earn a Master’s degree from Columbia Teachers College in New York. She was born in Williamstown in 1911, the daughter of Henry Hart Sr. and Kate Alexander Hart, and was part of the family who bought the Hart Farm in 1948 in South Williamstown.

Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed, a South Williamstown resident and a professor of History, Political Science and Public Policy at MCLA, gave a brief talk on Margaret Hart at the South Williamstown Community Association’s Annual Meeting on Tuesday, June 7th, at the Second Congregational Church.

Frances Jones-Sneed has taught and researched local history extensively and is co-director of the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail. She was instrumental in setting up the Margaret Hart scholarship at MCLA, to which SWCA contributed.

Margaret Hart died in 2004 at age 92 after a teaching career of more than 50 years. The Margaret Hart Scholarship was established in her honor in 2000 and has been awarded yearly, giving preference to African American students from Berkshire County. Frances Jones-Sneed said that Margaret Hart “came to the campus to meet the scholarship recipients and was very inspirational.” Dr. Jones-Sneed said “When students asked Miss Hart about her decision to teach at Hampton Institute (which she did for 30 years), she responded that she wanted the experience, since she had grown up and gone to school in the Berkshires and had not been to an area with a large African American population. She wanted to give back to people who really needed it.” She finished up with teaching at what is now Reid Middle School in Pittsfield for 26 years.

Dr. Jones-Sneed’s talk on Margaret Hart, illustrated with photos, will be available on Willinet.

Posted in History | Tagged Leave a comment

Repair Café on April 9 was a hit

Screenshot 2016-03-19 21.51.23

Repair Café on April 9 was a hit, and at the SWCA Annual Meeting on June 7,  many people expressed a desire for a reprise.  We’re talking with our collaborator Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation about doing it again this coming November or December.

Repairs made included:

  • 6 lamps
  • 2 vacuum cleaners
  • Sharpened 8 knives, 3 pairs of scissors, 1 axe
  • 1 Bicycle Repair
  • 2 Sewing Machine mends were done
  • 3 wood working items repaired
  • 1 wool sock darned

Although there were only about 25 people, most of our 19 volunteers brought things to be fixed, too, so volunteer fixers and advisers stayed busy.  Special thanks to fixers Mark Thaisz, Tony Pisano, Steve Nelson, Wayne Olivieri, James and John from Kapiloff Glass, Marianne Nelson who brought her sewing machine, Judy Summers who brought her darning egg, Maija Lindaas of the Purple Bike Coaltion as well as our advisers  veterinarian Dr. Katie Wolfgang, lawyer Stephen Pagnotta, genealogist Bart Saxbe, Pam Burger of the Williamstown Council on Aging, Katie Case who brought her knitting needles, realtor Carolyn Umlauf, gardener Robin Lenz, Van Ellet who advised on long-term care and health insurance for seniors, not to mention Matt Baya and Todd Noyes, who were constantly busy helping people with computer issues.  Oh, and let’s not forget our welcome desk and refreshment volunteers:  Claudia Ellet, Mickey Thaisz, Melissa Cragg, Bette Craig, and Alice Hadley.

Repair Café is an international network and in recent months, several European Repair Café organizers have gotten refugees involved to help repair items at meetings.

Posted in SWCA News Leave a comment